Face mask shortage prompts CDC to loosen coronavirus guidance – msnNOW

Face mask shortage prompts CDC to loosen coronavirus guidance – msnNOW

Video by The Associated Press

A shortage of specialized masks has prompted federal health officials to loosen their recommendations on the face protection that front line health-care workers should use to prevent infection from the highly contagious disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Instead of recommending that health-care workers use specialized masks known as N95 respirators, which filter out about 95 percent of airborne particles, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted new guidelines Tuesday that said “the supply chain of respirators cannot meet demand” and that looser fitting surgical face masks “are an acceptable alternative.”

The more commonly worn surgical masks will limit — but not eliminate — the chance of inhaling large, infectious particles circulating near the face. Until Tuesday, the CDC had recommended that health-care workers interacting with coronavirus patients or suspected cases wear N95 respirators, along with gowns, gloves and eye protectors. The N95 filters must be custom-fitted and cost more than surgical masks.

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The CDC guidance has been in discussion for days, and more than a dozen unions had previously said they were opposed to any changes in recommendations because emerging diseases like covid-19 pose an occupational hazard for workers on the front lines, especially healthcare workers.

“We are strongly opposed to any measures that fail to provide optimal protection and infection control standards,” they wrote in a March 6 letter to CDC officials. The unions include National Nurses United, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Transport Workers Union of America. “Now is the time to use every possible tool available to guarantee the highest level of protection, guided by the precautionary principle, to prevent further spread of infection, protect healthcare workers, and preserve our capacity to respond to a widespread outbreak.”

The CDC guidance said the changes were prompted by the shortages. Surgical face masks will block the respiratory droplets produced by patients who cough or sneeze, which is the primary way the virus is spread.

The CDC is recommending that N95 respirators be reserved for protecting workers in the riskiest situations, where fine aerosol is likely to be generated. These include certain medical procedures like intubation, which helps a severely ill patient breathe. CDC’s guidelines also recommend that health-care facilities consider alternatives to the N95 masks, such as more elaborate (and expensive) powered air purifying respirators.

“I recognize that individual facilities may face shortages of certain types of personal protective equipment, including N95 respirators, but there is no evidence that surgical masks are adequate to prevent exposure of frontline health care workers to the virus that causes covid-19. CDC should prioritize conserving equipment and systematically addressing any shortages as they occur, instead of placing every health care worker at increased risk,” said Rep. Robert Scott, D-Va., who chairs the House committee on Education and Labor.



a pair of sunglasses on a table: Various N95 respirators at a laboratory of 3M, in Maplewood, Mn., which has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra marks in response to the country's coronavirus outbreak. (Reuters/Nicholas Pfosi)


© Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters
Various N95 respirators at a laboratory of 3M, in Maplewood, Mn., which has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra marks in response to the country’s coronavirus outbreak. (Reuters/Nicholas Pfosi)


During the height of flu season over the course of four years, researchers studied flu-infection rates among health care workers at seven U.S. medical centers. Some workers were randomly assigned to wear N95 respirators and others surgical masks. The two groups showed no significant difference in flu infection rates, according to the study, which was published in September in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States has highlighted one of the country’s biggest gaps in preparedness for battling the respiratory virus that causes covid-19. The United States has about 1 percent of the 3.5 billion respirators that experts estimate the health-care system needs a year to fight a severe influenza pandemic. That translates to 12 million N95 respirators and 30 million surgical masks, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has said. An additional 5 million N95 respirators may be expired, he has said.

State and local officials rely on a federal stockpile, known as the Strategic National Stockpile, for public health emergencies. But the federal government has not maintained the more than 1,000 items at the fullest levels in the stockpile. Biodefense experts blame bureaucracy and a lack of funding. Experts have also disagreed on the best way to replenish items because many supplies, including masks, have limited shelf lives. N95 masks last between five to six years, experts say, before their elastic and fibers degrade.

Federal health officials have announced plans to buy 500 million N95 respirators over the next 18 months for the stockpile, “part of a broader effort to maximize the availability of personal protective equipment for health care workers who are on the front lines” fighting spread of the virus.

At a briefing of the coronavirus task force Tuesday, Vice President Pence said the administration favors legislation that “would extend temporary liability protections, so [N95] masks made for industrial use could be sold so hospital workers could be protected.” Pence said such a measure would “make more N95 masks available.”

  • Slide 1 of 57: MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 24: 5-year-old Charlie Rose places a drawing of a rainbow in her front window as schools remain closed on March 24, 2src2src in Manchester, United Kingdom. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced strict lockdown measures urging people to stay at home and only leave the house for basic food shopping, exercise once a day and essential travel to and from work. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to at least 182 countries, claiming over 1src,srcsrcsrc lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

  • Slide 2 of 57: Medical gather around an ambulance during a transfer operation of people infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), from the Strasbourg railway station to western France hospitals, in Strasbourg, France March 26, 2src2src. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

  • Slide 3 of 57: A man walks past a poster covering the side of a building ahead of a 21 day lockdown aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cape Town, South Africa, March 26, 2src2src. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

  • Slide 4 of 57: FREMANTLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 26: The cruise ship Silver Whisper heads into Fremantle Harbour to refuel on March 26, 2src2src in Fremantle, Australia. West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has requested the Australian Navy direct the Artania cruise ship moored off the Fremantle coast to leave Australian waters following confirmation seven passengers had tested positive for COVID-19. WA health officials boarded the Artania on Wednesday testing and assessing people, but as no Australian passengers on board the state government does not want to allow anyone to disembark. The MSC Magnifica - which refuelled in Fremantle on Tuesday - has also returned after being denied access to ports in Dubai but the WA State Government has instructed the ship to return to its home port. The Vasco de Gama is due to dock in Fremantle on Friday, with all Australian passengers allowed to disembark and transfer to Rottnest Island which has been set up as a quarantine camp. Australia now has 2676 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the death toll stands at 11.  (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

  • Slide 5 of 57: People stand on designated areas to maintain social distancing as they queue outside a medical store during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Srinagar on March 26, 2src2src. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP) (Photo by TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images)

  • Slide 6 of 57: TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 26: Commuters wearing face masks make their way to work on March 26, 2src2src in Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike held a press conference last night to request citizens to refrain from going outside this weekend for nonessential reasons after 41 cases of new coronavirus infections were confirmed yesterday. She warned that Tokyo, one of the largest and most densely populated cities on earth, could face a lockdown if there is a surge in new coronavirus cases.  (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

  • Slide 7 of 57: NEW YORK, USA - MARCH 25: Healthcare workers are seen with face masks in Brooklyn, New York, United States on March 25, 2src2src. The coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. topped 8srcsrc on Wednesday, while the number of cases reached over 55,2srcsrc, according to latest figures by Johns Hopkins University. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

  • Slide 8 of 57: Workers and volunteer helpers set up a medical treatment centre for coronavirus patients in a market hall during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Hillesheim, Germany, March 25, 2src2src. Picture taken March 25, 2src2src. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

  • Slide 9 of 57: A worker wearing protective suit looks at signs partially covered in foam while cleaning and disinfecting an underpass to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in downtown Budapest, Hungary, March 26, 2src2src.

  • Slide 1src of 57: PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 25: Police officers gather at night on an empty Trocadero square in front of the Eiffel tower on March 25, 2src2src in Paris, France. The country has introduced fines for people caught violating its nationwide lockdown measures intended to stop the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic has spread to at least 182 countries, claiming over 1src,srcsrcsrc lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by

  • Slide 11 of 57: WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 25: Flanked by Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. President Donald Trump  speaks during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, in the press briefing room of the White House on March 25, 2src2src in Washington, DC. The United States Senate continues to work on a $2 trillion aide package to combat the health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by

  • Slide 12 of 57: ROME, ITALY - MARCH 25: A general view shows a deserted via del Tritone during the emergency to stop the spread of the coronavirus  on March 25, 2src2src in Rome, Italy. The Italian government continues to enforce the nationwide lockdown measures to control the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by

  • Slide 13 of 57: Empty yellow trailers used to hold airplane fuselages sit idle in front of a mural on a door at Boeing Co.'s manufacturing facility, Wednesday, March 25, 2src2src, in Renton, Wash., on the first day of a shutdown due to the spread of the new coronavirus. Boeing announced Monday that it was suspending operations at its Seattle area facilities.

  • Slide 14 of 57: People walk in an empty Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, Wednesday, March 25, 2src2src. Officials have urged Washington residents to stay home to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Slide 15 of 57: A sign is displayed at a coffee shop on March 25, 2src2src in New York City. - The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the United States reached 6src,115 on Wednesday while 827 people had died, a tracker run by Johns Hopkins University showed. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by

  • Slide 16 of 57: A cleaner disinfects an alley of the Vila Ipiranga slum during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Niteroi near Rio de Janeiro Brazil, March 25, 2src2src. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

  • Slide 17 of 57: Migrant workers walk with their children as they look out for transport to return to their villages, after India ordered a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ahmedabad, India, March 25, 2src2src. REUTERS/Amit Dave

  • Slide 18 of 57: A worker moves toilet paper at a storage facility of the Franz Mensch company in Buchloe, Germany, March 25, 2src2src. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

  • Slide 19 of 57: People join a queue to buy maize meal at a supermarket in Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, March 25, 2src2src.   Zimbabwe's public hospital doctors went on strike Wednesday over what they called a lack of adequate protective gear as the coronavirus begins to spread in a country whose health system has almost collapsed.  The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

  • Slide 2src of 57: People walk along Sandymount strand practicing social distancing as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Dublin, Ireland, March 2src, 2src2src. Picture taken March 2src, 2src2src. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

  • Slide 21 of 57: Indian firefighters spray disinfectants as a preventive measure against the spread of the new coronavirus on a street in Gauhati, India, Wednesday, March 25, 2src2src. The world's largest democracy went under the world's biggest lockdown Wednesday, with India's 1.3 billion people ordered to stay home in a bid to stop the coronavirus pandemic from spreading and overwhelming its fragile health care system as it has done elsewhere. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

  • Slide 22 of 57: WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 25: Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black speaks during a press conference ahead of a nationwide lockdown at Parliament on March 25, 2src2src in Wellington, New Zealand. New Zealand will go into lockdown from 11:59pm on Wednesday, as the COVID-19 alert level rises to four. All non-essential businesses will close at that time, including bars, restaurants, cinemas and playgrounds. Schools are closed and all indoor and outdoor events are banned. Essential services will remain open, including supermarkets and pharmacies. The New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expects measures will remain in place for about four weeks, and has said there will be zero tolerance for people ignoring the restrictions, with police able to enforce them if required. New Zealand currently has 2src5 confirmed cases of COVID-19. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

  • Slide 23 of 57: This combination of pictures created on March 25, 2src2src shows an electronic 2src2src Tokyo Olympic Games countdown clock on March 24, 2src2src showing remaining days to the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics before the postponement announcement (L) and the clock on early March 25 after the announcement showing today's date instead of the countdown days (R) outside Tokyo Station. - Japan on March 25 started the unprecedented task of reorganising the Tokyo Olympics after the historic decision to postpone the world's biggest sporting event due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that has locked down one third of the planet.

  • Slide 24 of 57: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 25: Staff close the main gate at Taronga Zoo on March 25, 2src2src in Sydney, Australia. Taronga Zoo has temporarily closed its doors to the public to help stop the spread of COVID-19, as the Australian government introduces stricter social distancing measures and the shut down of non-essential services. A new phase of shutdowns for Australian businesses comes into effect from midnight on Wednesday, with all libraries, museums, galleries, beauty salons, tattoo parlours, shopping centre food courts, auctions, open houses, amusement parks, arcades, indoor and outdoor play centres, swimming pools, and indoor exercise activities to be closed. These new measures are in addition to the closure of bars, pubs and nightclubs which came into effect on Monday, while restaurants and cafes are allowed to remain open for takeaway only. Weddings will now be restricted to five people including the couple. Funerals will be restricted to 1src mourners. All Australians are now expected to stay at home except for essential outings such as work, grocery shopping and medical appointments. Exercising outdoors alone is still permitted. There are now 2317 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and the death toll stands at eight. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

  • Slide 25 of 57: Police officers stop vehicles and check their papers on a highway during 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kochi, India, March 25, 2src2src. REUTERS/Sivaram V

  • Slide 26 of 57: MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 24, 2src2src: Russia's President Vladimir Putin wears a yellow protective suit on his visit to the Novomoskovsky multipurpose medical center for patients suspected of the COVID-19 coronavirus infection. Alexei Druzhinin/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS (Photo by Alexei DruzhininTASS via Getty Images)

  • Slide 27 of 57: Canada's Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez speaks in the House of Commons as legislators convene to give the government power to inject billions of dollars in emergency cash to help individuals and businesses through the economic crunch caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 24, 2src2src. REUTERS/Blair Gable     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

  • Slide 28 of 57: A picture shows the closed shops and cafes in an empty street, with the Eiffel Tower in the background, in Paris, at night on March 24, 2src2src, on the eight day of a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) in France. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo by

  • Slide 29 of 57: People practice social distancing as they sit on chairs spread apart in a waiting area for take-away food orders at a shopping mall in hopes of preventing the spread of the coronavirus in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, March 24, 2src2src.

  • Slide 3src of 57: A man walking a dog past graffiti with the writing,

  • Slide 31 of 57: Pigeons fly at a deserted Gateway of India monument in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, March 24, 2src2src. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decreed a 21-day lockdown across the nation of 1.3 billion people “to save India” from the coronavirus pandemic.  For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness.(

  • Slide 32 of 57: US President Donald Trump, with Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, takes questions during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House on March 24, 2src2src, in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by

  • Slide 33 of 57: A woman wearing a protective mask walks by a shop with bears installed in line to show social distancing in Paris, Tuesday, March 24, 2src2src. French President Emmanuel Macron urged employees to keep working in supermarkets, production sites and other businesses that need to keep running amid stringent restrictions of movement due to the rapid spreading of the new coronavirus in the country. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. (

  • Slide 34 of 57: Liverpool Street Station. March 24th 2src2src was the first day of enforced lockdown in the UK, in order to stop the spread of the Coronavirus Covid 19. On what would normally be a bustling business / week day in London, the city was deserted, with just a few people in masks out on the street, plus a few taxis and mostly empty buses. (photo by

  • Slide 35 of 57: SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 24: Members of the California National Guard 115th Regional Support Group help pack boxes of food at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley on March 24, 2src2src in San Jose, California. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has deployed the California National Guard to help distribute food at food banks across the state that have seen a huge decline in volunteers that usually help sort and pack food for the needy. (Photo by

  • Slide 36 of 57: Daily wage workers left jobless due to travel restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus, wait their turn to receive free food in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, March 24, 2src2src.  According to the World Health Organization, most people recover from the virus in about two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the illness. (

  • Slide 37 of 57: Two delivery boys on bicycles are seen, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain, March 24, 2src2src.

  • Slide 38 of 57: A woman looks at her mobile phone as she sits near a fountain which has its statues covered with mouth masks in Antwerp, Belgium, Tuesday, March 24, 2src2src. Belgium's stores, schools, restaurants and bars have closed and citizens have been asked to stay at home or to maintain a social distance from others. The highly contagious COVID-19 coronavirus can cause mild symptoms, but for some it can cause severe illness including pneumonia.

  • Slide 39 of 57: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of stacks of medical protective supplies during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which will be partially converted into a temporary hospital during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., March 24, 2src2src.

  • Slide 4src of 57: Tailors sew protective masks at a workshop of the Aviatsiya Halychyny brand, which changed its production lines from fashion clothing to produce protective masks to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lviv, Ukraine March 24, 2src2src.

  • Slide 41 of 57: A resident looks through a metal door while military police walk through the neighborhood to verify that the population follows the curfew order, as part of the measures against the spreading of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tegucigalpa, Honduras March 24, 2src2src.

  • Slide 42 of 57: A security guard stands by beds installed inside the Festival palace  as Cannes Mayor David Lisnard decided to open a part of the palace to welcome needy and homeless as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, March 24, 2src2src.

  • Slide 43 of 57: A woman walks her dog under a

  • Slide 44 of 57: A woman stands inside the disinfection chamber at Juanda International Airport, in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, March 24

  • Slide 45 of 57: Military vehicles cross Westminster Bridge after members of the 1src1 Logistic Brigade delivered a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas' hospital on March 24, in London, England. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced strict lockdown measures urging people to stay at home and only leave the house for basic food shopping, exercise once a day and essential travel to and from work.

  • Slide 46 of 57: Security personnel wearing facemasks patrol on the streets in Shaheen Bagh area after removing demonstrators continuously protesting against a new citizenship law, while the government imposed a lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in New Delhi on March 24.

  • Slide 47 of 57: The Ruby Princess Cruise Ship is seen off the coast of Sydney on March 24, in Sydney, Australia. A passenger of the Ruby Princess who tested positive to COVID-19 has died in hospital this morning. There have been 133 cases of COVID-19 connected to the Ruby Princess.

  • Slide 48 of 57: People wearing facemasks buy supplies at a crowded vegetable market at Piliyandala on the outskirts of Sri Lanka's capital city Colombo on March 24, as the authorities briefly lifted a curfew to allow residents to stock up on essentials amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

  • Slide 49 of 57: Community organizer Henry Liu maintains social distance while greeting a resident as InterIm Community Development Association delivers free food to seniors in the Chinatown-International District during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Seattle, Washington,  March 23.

  • Slide 5src of 57: David Vazquez, a street performer dressed as the Joker, waits in hopes of pedestrians who will pay to take pictures with him in Mexico City, March 23. Vazquez, who also worked as a trainer in a gym until it shut down today, said business for street performers has plummeted, with the few clients still stopping opting to take their pictures from a distance or posing beside him awkwardly, amid the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus.

  • Slide 51 of 57: Employees eating during lunch break at an auto plant of Dongfeng Honda on March 23 in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. - People in central China, where the COVID-19 coronavirus was first detected, are now allowed to go back to work and public transport has restarted, as some normality slowly returns after a two-month lockdown.

  • Slide 52 of 57: Employees eating during lunch break at an auto plant of Dongfeng Honda on March 23 in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. - People in central China, where the COVID-19 coronavirus was first detected, are now allowed to go back to work and public transport has restarted, as some normality slowly returns after a two-month lockdown.

  • Slide 53 of 57: President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Monday, March 23, 2src2src, in Washington, as Attorney General William Barr and Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, listen. (

  • Slide 54 of 57: Medical staff watch people waiting in line to get a coronavirus test outside the La Timone hospital in Marseille, southern France, Monday March 23, 2src2src. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (

  • Slide 55 of 57: TUNIS, TUNISIA - MARCH 23: Streets are seen empty after the nation-wide quarantine was declared as part of measures to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Sidi Bou Said town, near Tunis, Tunisia  on March 23, 2src2src. (Photo by

  • Slide 56 of 57: NITEROI, BRAZIL - MARCH 23: Members of a cleaning crew wearing protective suits spray public places with a disinfectant solution at Icarai neighborhood on March 23, 2src2src in Niteroi, Brazil. These measures are aimed at stopping the spreading of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. According to the Ministry of Health, as of Monday, March 23, Brazil had 1.546 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and at least 25 recorded deaths. (Photo by

  • Slide 57 of 57: Employees of the Vienna International Airport reload boxes with medical protective gear during the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, Austria March 23, 2src2src. Georg Hochmuth/Pool via REUTERS

The world is battling the COVID-19 outbreak that the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic on March 11.

(Pictured) 5-year-old Charlie Rose places a drawing of a rainbow in her front window as schools remain closed on March 24 in Manchester, United Kingdom. 

Medical workers gather around an ambulance during a transfer operation in Strasbourg, France on March 26.

A man walks past a poster covering the side of a building ahead of a 21-day lockdown aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cape Town, South Africa on March 26.

The cruise ship Silver Whisper heads into Fremantle Harbour to refuel on March 26 in Fremantle, Australia. West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has requested the Australian Navy direct the Artania cruise ship moored off the Fremantle coast to leave Australian waters following confirmation seven passengers had tested positive for COVID-19. 

People stand on designated areas to maintain social distancing in Srinagar, India on March 26.

Commuters wearing face masks make their way to work on March 26 in Tokyo, Japan. 

Healthcare workers are seen with face masks in Brooklyn, New York, on March 25. 

Workers and volunteer helpers set up a medical treatment center for coronavirus patients in a market hall in Hillesheim, Germany on March 25.

A worker wearing a protective suit looks at signs partially covered in foam while cleaning and disinfecting an underpass to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease in downtown Budapest, Hungary on March 26.

Police officers gather at night on an empty Trocadero square in front of the Eiffel tower on March 25 in Paris, France.

Flanked by Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic on March 25 in Washington, D.C.

A general view shows a deserted via del Tritone during the emergency to stop the spread of the coronavirus on March 25 in Rome, Italy.

Empty yellow trailers used to hold airplane fuselages sit idle in front of a mural on a door at Boeing Co.’s manufacturing facility on March 25 in Renton, Washington.

People walk in an empty Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington D.C on March 25.

A sign is displayed at a coffee shop on March 25 in New York City.

A cleaner disinfects an alley of the Vila Ipiranga slum, in Niteroi near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 25.

Migrant workers walk with their children as they look out for transport to return to their villages, after India ordered a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of the virus, in Ahmedabad, on March 25.

A worker moves toilet paper at a storage facility of the Franz Mensch company, in Buchloe, Germany, on March 25.

People join a queue to buy maize meal at a supermarket in Harare, Zimbabwe, on March 25. Zimbabwe’s public hospital doctors went on strike on Wednesday over what they called a lack of adequate protective gear as the pandemic begins to spread in the country.

People walk along Sandymount strand practicing social distancing, in Dublin, Ireland, as seen in this picture released on March 25.

Indian firefighters spray disinfectants as a preventive measure, in Guwahati, India, on March 25.

Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black speaks during a press conference ahead of a nationwide lockdown at Parliament on March 25, in Wellington. New Zealand will go into lockdown from 11:59 pm on Wednesday. New Zealand currently has 205 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

This combination of pictures, shows an electronic 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games countdown clock on March 24, showing remaining days to the opening ceremony before the postponement announcement, left, and the clock on early March 25 after the announcement showing today’s date instead of the countdown days, right, outside Tokyo Station.

Staff closes the main gate at Taronga Zoo on March 25, in Sydney, Australia. Taronga Zoo has temporarily closed its doors to the public as the Australian government introduces stricter social distancing measures and the shut down of non-essential services, while restaurants and cafes are allowed to remain open for takeaway only. 

Police officers stop vehicles and check their papers on a highway during 21-day nationwide lockdown in Kochi, India on March 25.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin wears a yellow protective suit on his visit to the Novomoskovsky multipurpose medical center for patients suspected of the COVID-19 coronavirus infection, on March 24, in Moscow, Russia.

Canada’s Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez speaks in the House of Commons as legislators convene to give the government power to inject billions of dollars in emergency cash to help individuals and businesses through the economic crunch, at Parliament Hill on March 24 in Ottawa, Canada.

Closed shops and cafes in an empty street, with the Eiffel Tower in the background, in Paris on March 24.

People practice social distancing as they sit on chairs spread apart in a waiting area for take-away food orders at a shopping mall in hopes of preventing the spread of the coronavirus in Bangkok, Thailand on March 24.

A man walking a dog past graffiti with the writing, “Wash Your Hands, We’re In This Together”, in Belfast, Northern Ireland on March 24.

Pigeons fly at a deserted Gateway of India monument in Mumbai, India on March 24. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decreed a 21-day lockdown across the nation of 1.3 billion people “to save India” from the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump, with Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, takes questions during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus at the White House on March 24 in Washington, D.C.

A woman wearing a protective mask walks by a shop with bears installed in line to show social distancing in Paris on March 24.

Liverpool Street Station during the first day of enforced lockdown in the UK, in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus on March 24 in Liverpool, England.

Members of the California National Guard 115th Regional Support Group help pack boxes of food at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley on March 24 in San Jose.

Daily wage workers left jobless due to travel restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus, wait their turn to receive free food in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on March 24.

Two delivery boys on bicycles are seen, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 24.

A woman looks at her mobile phone as she sits near a fountain which has its statues covered with mouth masks in Antwerp, Belgium, on March 24. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of stacks of medical protective supplies during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which will be partially converted into a temporary hospital during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, on March 24.

Tailors sew protective masks at a workshop of the Aviatsiya Halychyny brand, which changed its production lines from fashion clothing to produce protective masks to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lviv, Ukraine on March 24.

A resident looks through a metal door while military police walk through the neighborhood to verify that the population follows the curfew order, as part of the measures against the spreading of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on March 24.

A security guard stands by beds installed inside the Festival palace as Cannes Mayor David Lisnard decided to open a part of the palace to welcome needy and homeless as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, on March 24.

A woman walks her dog under a “don’t panic” sign hanging at the entrance of a food market that was shut down in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, in Tel Aviv, Israel on March 23.

A woman stands inside the disinfection chamber at Juanda International Airport, in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, March 24

Military vehicles cross Westminster Bridge after members of the 101 Logistic Brigade delivered a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas’ hospital on March 24, in London, England. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced strict lockdown measures urging people to stay at home and only leave the house for basic food shopping, exercise once a day and essential travel to and from work.

Security personnel wearing facemasks patrol on the streets in Shaheen Bagh area after removing demonstrators continuously protesting against a new citizenship law, while the government imposed a lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in New Delhi on March 24.

The Ruby Princess Cruise Ship is seen off the coast of Sydney on March 24, in Sydney, Australia. A passenger of the Ruby Princess who tested positive to COVID-19 has died in hospital this morning. There have been 133 cases of COVID-19 connected to the Ruby Princess.

People wearing facemasks buy supplies at a crowded vegetable market at Piliyandala on the outskirts of Sri Lanka’s capital city Colombo on March 24, as the authorities briefly lifted a curfew to allow residents to stock up on essentials amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

Community organizer Henry Liu maintains social distance while greeting a resident as InterIm Community Development Association delivers free food to seniors in the Chinatown-International District during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Seattle, Washington, March 23.

David Vazquez, a street performer dressed as the Joker, waits in hopes of pedestrians who will pay to take pictures with him in Mexico City, March 23. Vazquez, who also worked as a trainer in a gym until it shut down today, said business for street performers has plummeted, with the few clients still stopping opting to take their pictures from a distance or posing beside him awkwardly, amid the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus. “We have to pay rent, light, gas, telephone,” said Vazquez. “Where will we get that money? We all want to work.”

A child walks next to members of the “Psalm 100” evangelical church, dressed as angels and holding placards making reference to coronavirus (COVID-19) are seen during a demonstration at the Paso del Norte international border bridge as taken from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, March 23. 

Employees eating during lunch break at an auto plant of Dongfeng Honda on March 23 in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province. People in central China, where COVID-19 was first detected, are now allowed to go back to work and public transport has restarted, as some normality slowly returns after a two-month lockdown.

President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference in the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House on March 23 in Washington D.C.

Medical staff watch people waiting in line to get a coronavirus test outside the La Timone hospital, in Marseille, France, on March 23.

Empty streets in Tunis reflect the nationwide quarantine declared by the government to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus, in Tunisia, on March 23.

Cleaning crew in protective gear spray public places with disinfectant to halt the spread of Covid-19 in the Icarai neighborhood in Niteroi, Brazil on March 23.

Employees of the Vienna International Airport reload boxes with medical protective gear during the spread of coronavirus disease at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, Austria, on March 23.

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Slideshow by photo services

Emma Brown, Beth Reinhard and Amy Goldstein contributed to this report.

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