Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. to Issue New Social Guidelines as Jobless Figures Are Set to Soar

Trump administration pushes to restart the economy, but shortages of tests complicate efforts.

President Trump is set to issue new federal guidelines on social distancing on Thursday in a bid to move the country closer to reopening for business, even as public health officials warned that it was far too early for any widespread return to public life.

Governors in many states are making their own plans, often in consultation and solidarity with their neighbors. But their actions will depend on the widespread availability of tests to track the coronavirus, an effort that is woefully lagging.

Although capacity has improved in recent weeks, supply shortages remain crippling, and many regions are still restricting tests to people who meet specific criteria. Antibody tests, which reveal whether someone has ever been infected with the coronavirus, are just starting to be rolled out, and most have not been vetted by the Food and Drug Administration.

Similar problems have plagued Britain, where the government is expected on Thursday to announce a three-week extension of stay-at-home orders.

Across the United States, officials have said that they will look to other nations to learn lessons as they move forward.

And even in countries with more comprehensive testing and tracking, the path out of the crisis can be rocky. Singapore, which was widely praised for taking early and strong measures to stop the virus, is now seeing a resurgence.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said that the country’s relative success in containing the virus was “delicate” and warned that “we have to live with this until there is a medicine or vaccine.”

The country will allow small shops — those under 8,610 square feet — to reopen on April 20. Schools will slowly reopen on May 4, but only for some students, and they will have to follow strict hygiene protocols. Hair salons will also open under restrictions.

But bars, restaurants and theaters will remain closed and people will still not be allowed to gather in groups outside the home.

When big convulsive economic events happen, the implications tend to take years to play out, and they spiral in unpredictable directions.

Who would have thought that a crisis that began with mortgage defaults in American suburbs in 2007 would presage a fiscal crisis in Greece in 2010? Or that a stock market crash in New York in 1929 would contribute to the rise of fascists in Europe in the 1930s?

The world economy is an infinitely complicated web of interconnections. And that, in part, is what is unnerving about the economic calamity accompanying the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In the years ahead, we will learn what happens when that web of connections is torn apart, when millions of those links are destroyed all at once. One obvious candidate to be altered forever is globalization, in which companies can move production wherever it’s most efficient, people can hop on a plane and go nearly anywhere, and money can flow to wherever it will be put to its highest use.

The idea of a world economy with the United States at its center was already falling apart. Now, the world may be facing a global economy completely different from the one that has prevailed in recent decades.

“As much as I hope we are able to get ordinary economic activity back up, that’s just the beginning of our problem,” said Adam Tooze, a historian at Columbia University. “This is a period of radical uncertainty, an order of magnitude greater than anything we’re used to.”

The call for body bags came late Saturday.

By Monday, the police in a small New Jersey township had gotten an anonymous tip about a body being stored in a shed outside one of the state’s largest nursing homes.

On Jan. 22, two days after Chinese officials first acknowledged the serious threat posed by the new virus ravaging the city of Wuhan, the chief of the World Health Organization held the first of what would be months of almost daily news briefings, sounding the alarm, telling the world to take the outbreak seriously.

But with its officials divided, the W.H.O., still seeing no evidence of sustained spread of the virus outside of China, declined the next day to declare a global public health emergency. A week later, the organization reversed course and made the declaration.

Those early days of the epidemic illustrated the strengths and weaknesses of the W.H.O., an arm of the United Nations that is now under fire by President Trump, who on Tuesday ordered a cutoff of American funding to the organization.

With limited, constantly shifting information to go on, the W.H.O. showed an early, consistent determination to treat the new contagion like the threat it would become, and to persuade others to do the same. At the same time, the organization repeatedly praised China, acting and speaking with a political caution born of being an arm of the United Nations, with few resources of its own, unable to do its work without international cooperation.

Mr. Trump, deflecting criticism that his own handling of the crisis left the United States unprepared, accused the W.H.O. of mismanaging it, called the organization “very China-centric” and said it had “pushed China’s misinformation.”

But a close look at the record shows that the W.H.O. acted with greater foresight and speed than many national governments, and more than it had shown in previous epidemics. And while it made mistakes, there is little evidence that the W.H.O. is responsible for the disasters that have unfolded in Europe and then the United States.

Alexandra Cross, a newly minted state public health worker, dialed a stranger’s telephone number on Monday, her heart racing.

It was Ms. Cross’s first day as part of a fleet of contact tracers in Massachusetts, charged with tracking down people who have been exposed to the coronavirus, as soon as possible, and warning them. On her screen was the name of a woman from Lowell.

“One person who has recently been diagnosed has been in contact with you,” the script told her to say. “Do you have a few minutes to discuss what that exposure might mean for you?” Forty-five minutes later, Ms. Cross hung up the phone. They had giggled and commiserated. Her file was crammed with information.

She was taking her first steps up a Mount Everest of cases.

Breaking leases, paying rent and other housing questions answered.

Whether you’ve moved back with your parents, or simply to a different space to ride out the pandemic, do you have any options if you want to break your lease? Or are you looking for your next house and considering a life-changing purchase during these strange times? We have the answers you need.

Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s eldest daughter and a senior White House adviser, has positioned herself as one of the leaders of the administration’s economic relief efforts and one of its most vocal advocates of social distancing.

“Those lucky enough to be in a position to stay at home, please, please do so,” Ms. Trump said in a video she posted online, encouraging Americans to follow federal guidelines about social distancing, which advise people stay at least six feet apart. “Each and every one of us plays a role in slowing the spread,” she noted.

But Ms. Trump herself has not followed the federal guidelines advising against discretionary travel, leaving Washington for another of her family’s homes, even as she has publicly thanked people for quarantining themselves. And effective April 1, the city of Washington issued a stay-at-home order for all residents not performing essential activities.

Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who is also a senior White House adviser, traveled with their three children to the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey to celebrate the first night of Passover this month, according to two people with knowledge of their travel plans, even as Seders across the country were canceled and families gathered remotely over apps like Zoom.

A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Reporting was contributed by Donald G. McNeil Jr., Richard Pérez-Peña, Ellen Barry, Marc Santora, Jim Tankersley, Emily Cochrane, Emily Flitter, Matt Stevens, Karen Barrow, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Caitlin Dickerson, David Gelles, Abby Goodnough, Neil Irwin, Danielle Ivory, Miriam Jordan, Sheila Kaplan, Annie Karni, Kate Kelly, Simon Romero and Katie Thomas.