Positive coronavirus tests rise with age, White House data shows.

The White House coronavirus task force released a breakdown of testing data Thursday that gave a sense of how hard the virus is hitting different age groups, further confirming that older people are the most likely to contract it.

Among people who were tested:

  • 11 percent of those under 25 were positive.

  • 17 percent of those between 25 and 45 were positive.

  • 21 percent of those between 45 and 65 were positive.

  • 22 percent of those between 65 and 55 were positive.

  • 24 percent of those over 85 were positive.

The test results also give an idea of the number of people who have symptoms of a respiratory illness but are not infected with the coronavirus, said Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House.

Tests for the coronavirus are provided if people show symptoms such as a dry cough, fever or shortness of breath. Women are slightly more likely to get tested than men, although men seem to be more susceptible to the coronavirus, Dr. Birx said. Among women who were tested, only 16 percent were positive, while 23 percent of men who were tested had coronavirus infections.

The data, while disturbing, do not come entirely as a surprise. Similar trends have been observed in China and Italy, where men were both infected and succumbed to the coronavirus at higher rates than women.

“To all of our men out there, no matter what age group, if you have symptoms, you should be tested,” Dr. Birx said.

But one American man did not seem all that excited about wide-scale testing: President Trump.

The president expressed reluctance to wait for comprehensive national testing before reopening the country for business and social life again. While he boasted that testing has increased drastically in recent days, he said it would be implausible to expect that the whole country could be screened for the virus as a condition of restoring normal life.

“Do you need it? No,” he said at his daily briefing. “Is it nice? Yes. We’re talking 325 million people. That’s not going to happen, as you can imagine.”

He said that parts of the country were less affected by the virus, but what “we’ll be doing in the very near future is going to certain areas of our country and doing massive testing.”

But efforts to bolster the relief package stalled in Washington. The Trump administration asked Congress to quickly approve $250 billion in spending to replenish a new loan program for distressed small businesses, but it hit a roadblock in the Senate on Thursday morning after Republicans and Democrats clashed over what to include.

Democrats want to double the size of the new emergency relief bill by adding $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments, which are facing enormous shortfalls as the outbreak drives their expenses up and their tax collections down.

But Republicans argued that the small business program had a more urgent need for funds, and that additional demands for aid could be addressed in future legislation.

With Congress in recess and lawmakers scattered around the country, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, tried to push through the small business loan funding during a procedural session, a maneuver that would have required all senators to agree. But Democrats objected.

The House, which is scheduled to convene Friday in a procedural session, is not expected to try to pass either party’s proposal. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said in a telephone news conference that “it’s about what is timely at the moment” and pushed back on the swift timeline demanded by the administration and Republicans.

“We need more data, and we need more oversight,” she said.

With help from Congress uncertain, the Federal Reserve on Thursday took action on its own round of emergency measures to help the economy. The central bank said it would use Treasury Department funds to buy municipal bonds and expand its purchases of corporate bonds. The efforts are aimed at shoring up companies as well as state and local governments, whose budgets are strained.

Across the United States, more and more people cannot pay rent. Food banks are so crowded the National Guard has been called to stuff boxes. Construction sites sit abandoned, shopping malls are ghost towns, and roughly 80 percent of hotel rooms are empty.

But with no vaccine, no reliable drug therapies and no widely available test to determine who might have been exposed to the virus, shelter-at-home orders remain the only reliable method to slow the spread. Mindful of that, public health officials warned that in most places, now was not the time to ease up on restrictions.

Even though more than 1,000 people are now dying every day in the United States, new infections have slowed in places where stringent measures have been in place for more than two weeks, offering a glimmer of hope.

European Union finance ministers on Thursday agreed to the outlines of a loan package worth more than half a trillion euros to help the bloc’s nations relieve the severe economic blow from the pandemic.

The measures, which must be approved by the bloc’s leaders, could total up to €540 billion, or $590 billion, a show of solidarity as the economic and health crisis brought on by the virus strains bonds among the member countries.

The agreement includes 100 billion euros to fund unemployment benefits, €200 billion for loans to smaller businesses, and up to €240 billion lent by the Eurozone’s bailout fund to member states, to cover potentially crippling health care-related costs.

Some details, most notably on the terms and conditions of loans to countries from the bailout fund, were still unclear and could prove contentious. Countries like Italy that are likely to tap those loans want to ensure they don’t come with austerity conditions attached.

The ministers did not agree to issue bonds backed by the entire bloc, which had come to be known as “coronabonds,” in a defeat for Italy and Spain, the two worst-hit countries. Germany, the Netherlands and other richer northern European countries had staunchly opposed joint debt issuance.

European Union leaders are set to meet next week to approve the package and flesh out any remaining details, as well as to decide if some kind of joint bonds can be agreed on, or if the idea will be shelved.

OPEC and Russia reach a deal to cut oil production, as the pandemic drives down demand.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and others including Russia on Thursday reached an agreement to temporarily cut large volumes of production, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

OPEC and the other oil-producing countries agreed to cut about 10 million barrels a day, or about 10 percent from normal production levels, in May and June, said this person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not been made official.

Possible further trims could come from a meeting of the Group of 20 nations on Friday.

OPEC, Russia and other oil producers gathered for a teleconference on Thursday. The meeting was called by Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader, after President Trump spoke to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s main policymaker, by telephone. Mr. Trump said at his daily news briefing that he also had spoken with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, on Thursday afternoon.

The Saudis have been engaged in a price war with Russia after Moscow refused to go along with a Saudi proposal in early March to trim output to deal with the effects of the pandemic. The spat threatened to swamp oil markets with vast oversupplies of crude.

Still, crude oil prices fell sharply on Thursday afternoon, in part because the production cuts were not expected to offset the fact that slowing economies and virus-related shutdowns have dampened demand for oil.

Stocks rose on Thursday after the Federal Reserve announced an expansion of its emergency lending powers in another bid to backstop the U.S. economy, but the gains faded in the afternoon after oil prices fell and shares of energy companies followed.

Still, the S&P 500 rose about 1.5 percent, bringing its gains this week to 12 percent. Markets in the U.S. are closed on Friday, ahead of Easter.

Insistent calls and emails pile up each day for Dr. Andre Kalil at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Patients and their doctors are clamoring for untested virus treatments, encouraged by President Trump, who said that ill patients should have ready access to experimental medicines, like the anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

Dr. Kalil, 54, is a principal investigator in the federal government’s clinical trial of drugs that may treat the virus. It is starting with remdesivir, an antiviral drug. The first results will be ready within weeks.

Dr. Kalil has decades of experience grappling with questions about the use — and misuse — of experimental drugs, and he has rarely been more frustrated. He has seen what happens when desperation drives treatment decisions. “Many drugs we believed were fantastic ended up killing people,” he said in an interview. “It is so hard to keep explaining that.”

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, Dr. Kalil said, have never been found to work against any viral disease, including Ebola. (Malaria is caused by a parasite, not a virus.) And the drugs have side effects, some of which could be fatal.

As patients and the president alike demand treatments, Dr. Kalil wants people to understand that testing is proceeding as quickly as possible.

Although remdesivir is not approved for treatment of any illness, Gilead, which makes the drug, provided it to Covid-19 patients under legal exceptions for “compassionate use.” But demand escalated to such an extent that the company announced last month that it would stop giving out the antiviral.

“I would never give this or any other experimental drug off-label to my patients,” Dr. Kalil said. “There is nothing compassionate about compassionate use. You are treating emotion.”

Thirteen cruise ship passengers who have been on board the Coral Princess for more than a month will have to spend two weeks in quarantine at sea with the crew, because travel restrictions in their countries of origin prevent them from going home, the cruise line said Thursday.

The authorities in Miami, where the ship has been docked since Saturday, have not allowed the passengers to stay in local hotels, the company said.

The Coral Princess, a ship owned by the Carnival Corporation, arrived in Florida last week with more than 1,000 passengers on board — two of them dead and at least a dozen with positive tests for the coronavirus. A third passenger waited hours on the dock for an ambulance and later died in a Miami hospital.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention required the cruise company to arrange charter flights to get passengers home. But four countries that have closed their borders to stop the spread of the coronavirus — Colombia, Ecuador, Russia and Serbia — would not accept the passengers, even though they are their own citizens.

After everyone else evacuated the ship over the past four days, the remaining guests were to join the crew and depart Thursday night for a 14-day quarantine at sea.

California’s decision to ship hundreds of ventilators to other states this week has been met with alarm by some local officials, who expressed concern about a shortage.

California was not the only state sending resources to areas with more pressing needs. On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington announced that an Army field hospital that the federal government had built next to CenturyLink Field in Seattle would be removed. Officials indicated that concerns about hospital capacity had waned in recent days.

The White House gave virus tests to reporters, and Melania Trump promotes the face coverings her husband eschews.

The White House for the first time conducted rapid coronavirus tests Thursday on all journalists attending the daily briefing led by President Trump after a reporter who was in the building earlier this week fell ill.

Journalists were tested one by one in a vacant office, with results delivered before the briefing.

Last week White House doctors began administering rapid tests to others who came into “close proximity” to Mr. Trump or Vice President Mike Pence, but this was the first time that journalists have been tested.

An unidentified news organization employee who was at the White House as recently as Tuesday has reported experiencing symptoms consistent with the coronavirus and is expected to have test results back later on Thursday.

Melania Trump, the first lady, posted a video on Twitter on Thursday advising Americans to wear face coverings in public, echoing public health recommendations that Mr. Trump has personally eschewed.

“Mrs. Trump understands and recognizes the people of this country feel uncertain right now, and wants to do all she can to educate families and children about the importance of social distancing and proper hygiene,” Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “The East Wing is still operational, but most staff is working remotely per C.D.C. and White House guidelines and recommendations.”

Need ways to preserve special days during this time? Check these out.

Stay-at-home orders don’t have to put a damper on things. Here are some ways to celebrate birthdays, weddings and the coming spring holidays.

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Brooks Barnes, Dan Barry, Alan Blinder, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Emily Cochrane, Patricia Cohen, Michael Cooper, Nick Corasaniti, Caitlin Dickerson, Scott Dodd, Conor Dougherty, Manny Fernandez, Sheri Fink, Matthew Haag, Maggie Haberman, Miriam Jordan, Mark Landler, Michael Levenson, Sarah Mervosh, Andy Newman, Stanley Reed, Frances Robles, Simon Romero, Jim Rutenberg, Marc Santora, Knvul Sheikh, Jeanna Smialek, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Eileen Sullivan, David Waldstein and Carl Zimmer.


- Advertisement -