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A shutdown in Westchester, tips to cope with a quarantine

Welcome to Tracking the Coronavirus, our daily guide to the latest developments in the outbreak and its effects on Long Islanders. We’ll send this to your inbox every weekday afternoon to keep you up to date and share tips to cope as the virus begins to intrude on our daily lives. Today's newsletter includes the latest numbers, a big step to control the virus in New Rochelle, tips for being under quarantine, some words of advice from the head of Northwell Health and more. 

Closings and caution

New York State led the nation in number of cases, with 173 as of Tuesday afternoon, and 20 of those confirmed cases were on Long Island. The numbers are still far smaller than those for the seasonal flu, but the uncertain course of this new illness prompted the government, schools, businesses and community groups to close their doors or cut back on public activities to prevent the spread of the virus.

The shutdown was most extreme in New Rochelle, the Westchester city that is the state's epicenter, as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called in the National Guard for a one-mile "containment zone."

National Guard on way to Westchester

Cuomo said Tuesday the state will send the National Guard to New Rochelle as part of the plan to slow the spread. More than 100 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Westchester County.

The zone is a one-mile radius around a synagogue believed to be at the center of the cluster. Starting March 12, schools and facilities in the area will be closed for two weeks, and the National Guard will help deliver food and to clean public spaces.

“New Rochelle is a particular problem,” Cuomo said at a news briefing in Albany. “It’s a cluster. The numbers are going up. The numbers continue to go up. We do need a special public health strategy for New Rochelle.”

Schools shut doors in face of virus

Fears of coronavirus played out in real time at schools across Long Island and the region, as several districts canceled classes and colleges and universities opted for online instruction over face-to-face meetups. Here's a list of the districts.

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Even those that stayed open were monitoring developments closely and disinfecting classrooms and other spaces where students and staff come together. 

Stocks fight back

Stocks closed sharply higher on Wall Street Tuesday after whipping up and down all day along with hopes that the United States and other governments will cushion the global economy from the effects of the coronavirus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared more than 1,100 points by the close of trading.

 Investors became more hopeful after President Donald Trump pitched his ideas for a break on payroll taxes and other economic relief to Senate Republicans. The gain made up about half of the Dow's loss from a day earlier, but market watchers say more big swings are likely.

LI businesses cancel travel, allow work from home

Blumenfeld Development Group in Syosset is training employees on the software needed to work remotely and has put tissues and hand sanitizer on every desk.

Henry Schein Inc., Long Island’s largest public company by annual revenue, has banned business trips outside the United States through mid-April and is emphasizing small meetings of short duration over large meetings.

The accounting firm Grassi, which has offices in Jericho and Ronkonkoma, is requiring employees to work from home if they show any symptoms of coronavirus.

They're among many Long Island businesses taking action to protect employees, and their businesses, from the illness.

Tips for a quarantine

Be prepared: Stock up on food. Fill your prescriptions. And get at least five rolls of toilet paper — per the federal government’s emergency rations suggestions — for when nature calls.

For thousands of New Yorkers in self-isolation, exposure to the coronavirus has meant staying away from other people, away from work, school, family gatherings — the daily routines of life.

Here’s how to prepare in case you find yourself home for the 14-day period of isolation recommended in coronavirus cases by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 
More to know:

Long Island and statewide high school basketball tournaments are scrambling for venues after the colleges that planned to host them either pulled out or restricted fan access. Farmingdale State decided not to host boys games featuring Amityville, Baldwin, Brentwood and Elmont; St. Joseph's declined to host girls games featuring Baldwin, Northport, Locust Valley and Westhampton. Fordham University said it would host the state Federation high school basketball tournament scheduled later this month but would not allow spectators

A major trial against opioid manufacturers and distributors in New York State has been postponed because of the coronavirus, according to the New York State attorney general’s office. The trial between New York State and Nassau and Suffolk counties against opioid manufacturers and distributors was scheduled to begin March 20 in Central Islip.

"Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” will tape without studio audiences in response to the ongoing virus outbreak. And the rock band Pearl Jam postponed the first leg of its tour, which included a show at Madison Square Garden. 

News for you 

Myths abound about coronavirus, and Newsday is here to separate fact from fiction. No, you can’t take a hot bath to kill the virus. No, a vaccine almost certainly isn’t coming anytime soon. No, contrary to some early news reports, Americans aren’t so gullible to believe the virus is connected to Corona beer. But yes, you can contract the virus in public places like mass transit, although it’s unlikely.

Commentary

Michael Dowling, president and chief executive of Northwell Health, says while there are legitimate concerns over the virus, properly known as COVID-19, there is no need to panic.

Most health care organizations have been preparing for the virus to hit the United States for weeks. And there has been collaboration among health systems and local, state and federal health officials.

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

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