The Senate will reconvene at noon to take up the $2 trillion stimulus deal reached Wednesday that includes direct payments to most Americans and an unprecedented amount of money to small businesses.
The stimulus deal was revealed at about 1 a.m. following five days of talks. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a “bipartisan agreement on the largest rescue package in history.” The Senate will hold a vote to end debate and clear the way for final Senate passage, likely later Wednesday.
After its expected passage, the bill goes to the House for a vote before heading to President Donald Trump’s desk. The deal comes as confirmed cases in America, now over 55,000, have been climbing at an exponential rate – especially in New York – and more are expected as the U.S. increases testing.
The U.S. death toll was at 802 early Wednesday after eclipsing 600 on Tuesday. Globally, more than 19,600 people have been killed by the virus according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.
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Most Americans to get $1,200 checks
People earning less than $75,000 per year will get $1,200 checks under the stimulus agreement. Married couples earning less than $150,000 will get $2,400 and children will be worth another $500 each under the deal. The final language is still being crafted but the package includes $367 billion for small businesses, $500 billion for loans to larger industries, $100 billion for hospitals and the health care system and $600 more per week in unemployment benefits for those out of work.
Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said the goal is to ensure that every worker who is laid off or furloughed can pay their bills.
“And because so many of them will be furloughed rather than fired, if they have benefits, they can continue, and – extremely important – they can stay with the company or small business,” he said.
Prince Charles tests positive, displays ‘mild symptoms’
Britain’s Prince Charles, heir to the throne, has tested positive for the coronavirus, his official royal residence said in a statement. The statement said that Prince Charles, 71, has “been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health.” His wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, does not have the virus, a test showed.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has canceled a number of diary events “as a sensible precaution” amid the outbreak, but as late as last week she was still holding “audiences” with members of the public. Britain’s monarch is 93.
– Kim Hjelmgaard
Italy, Iran see spike in deaths; Spain passes China
Italy saw a jump in its daily death toll following two straight days of declines, the nation’s civil protection chief said Wednesday. Tuesday saw 743 deaths, up from 601 on Monday and 653 on Sunday. More than 6,800 have died since the outbreak swept into Italy last month. In Spain, where an ice rink has been converted into a morgue, 738 more deaths were reported for a total of 3,434 overall, surpassing China’s total.
Iran reported 122 deaths, bringing the total there to more than 2,000. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned that U.S. sanctions are impeding Iran’s efforts to fight coronavirus – and are putting the entire world in danger. “In a context of global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us,” Bachelet said.
US stocks open higher, Asian stocks leap Dow Jones’ historic surge
U.S stock opened higher Wednesday following the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s biggest surge since 1933. Global markets roared, however, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 index jumping 5.3%, Hong Kong adding 3% and Sydney climbed 3.6%. Tokyo share prices were also boosted by the decision to postpone the 2020 Olympics to July 2021 in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
That followed a stunning 11.4% surge Tuesday in the Dow. The S&P 500 index leaped 9.4% as a wave of buying around the world interrupted what has been a brutal month of nearly nonstop selling.
Hundreds of Waffle House restaurants go dark
Waffle House, known for weathering many a natural disaster, said it’s closing 365 of its restaurants. The chain posted a map on social media showing the closed restaurants, while another 1,627 across the southeastern U.S. remained open. The posts also featured the hashtag “#WaffleHouseIndexRed. The Facebook Post drew almost 1,000 comments, most of the reflecting alarm, such as “Oh geez, now we can worry” and “It’s getting real sir.”
The chain has its own “Waffle House Index” used during natural disasters to assess damage. If a store is closed, it’s likely in an area with significant damage.
As colleges send students home, Liberty University invites them back
Most of them won’t attend classes in person, but thousands of Liberty University students will return to the evangelical Virginia campus amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Most of the students are not at-risk because of their age, President Jerry Falwell Jr. argued in an interview with the News and Advance in Lynchburg. The president of the private, Christian college is a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump.
Liberty’s move is remarkable as the coronavirus spreads across the United States. Hundreds of universities have closed their campuses and asked students to leave crowded dorms. Some have allowed students who can’t move back home – international students or those without secure housing – but most campuses are becoming emptier, not fuller.
– Chris Quintana
Fever charting shows social distancing is slowing the spread of coronavirus
Early evidence suggests closing bars, restaurants and other businesses to keep people apart in places including New York City, has slowed the incidence of fevers that are an early indicator of coronavirus, according to a new analysis of fevers and symptoms across the U.S.
Data from health technology company Kinsa, which did the analysis using its digital thermometers, show the number of people with flu-like illness – atypical fever and symptoms – began dropping almost immediately after mandatory social distancing measures were implemented in some areas.
The company downloads fever readings from more than 1 million thermometers in use around the U.S. It predicted the 2018 spread of the flu and bad colds that were often mistaken for the flu last winter.
“When you shut down schools and businesses, you are breaking the chain of infections,” said Kinsa CEO Inder Singh. “The data are showing it is working and the clusters of fever we were seeing are leveling off and diminishing within days.”
– Jayne O’Donnell
Been in New York recently? Plan to self-quarantine, White House says
Members of the coronavirus task force are advising anybody who has been in the New York metropolitan area recently to self-quarantine for two weeks to avoid spreading the virus. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said recent visitors may have been exposed to the virus and should take measures to avoid infecting others.
“This will be very critical, that those individuals do self-quarantine in their homes over these next 14 days to make sure they don’t pass the virus to others based on the time they left New York,” Birx said. “So if they are four days out, it is just 10 more days.”
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said people in the New York City metro area have been infected at a rate eight to 10 times higher than elsewhere.
– Erick A. Smith
NYU will graduate medical students early, put more doctors in field
New York University will offer senior medical students an opportunity to graduate a few months early – provided they’ve met all their requirements and have all their credits – to put more doctors in the field to fight the coronavirus.
Students were told Tuesday night via email that details were still being worked out, but that they might be able to start working as soon as April.
NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine has made the offer to students “in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s directive to get more physicians into the health system more quickly,” the school said in a statement, according to media reports. New York state could be just two weeks from seeing 40,000 patients requiring intensive care in facilities equipped for only 3,000, Cuomo warned.
“We are not slowing it. And it is accelerating on its own,” he said in New York City. “We are now looking at a bullet train.”
– Lindsay Schnell
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Alaska, Hawaii, Florida mandate quarantines amid coronavirus
Alaska and Hawaii are the first two states to mandate a 14-day quarantine for all visitors and residents arriving at state airports. Alaska’s order goes into effect Wednesday and will be reviewed by April 21. Hawaii’s order is effective Thursday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also issued an executive order requiring anyone flying to Florida from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. That mandate took effect Tuesday.
– Nicquel Terry Ellis
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Contributing: The Associated Press.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus updates: Stimulus deal is ‘done’; US deaths, cases; Prince Charles