The $2 trillion relief package is the biggest in American history.
The White House and Congress struck a deal in the predawn hours to deliver $2 trillion in government relief to a nation increasingly under lockdown, watching nervously as the twin threats of disease and economic ruin grow more dire.
Reached after midnight, the stimulus deal was the product of a marathon set of negotiations among Senate Republicans, Democrats and the White House that had stalled as Democrats insisted on stronger worker protections and oversight of a $500 billion fund to bail out distressed businesses.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, announced the deal on the Senate floor well after midnight.
“At last, we have a deal,” he said. “In effect, this is a wartime level of investment into our nation.”
The sheer size and scope of the stimulus package would have been unthinkable only a couple of weeks ago. Administration officials said they hoped that its effect on a battered economy would be exponentially greater than its $2 trillion cost, generating as much as $4 trillion in economic activity.
“This is not a moment of celebration, but one of necessity,” the minority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, said as he took careful note of the changes his party had secured in the legislation. “To all Americans I say, ‘Help is on the way.’”
The legislation, which is expected to be enacted within days, is the biggest economic stimulus package in modern American history, dwarfing the $800 billion stimulus bill passed in 2008 during the financial crisis. The aim is to deliver critical financial support to businesses forced to shut their doors and relief to American families and hospitals reeling from the rapid spread of the disease and the resulting economic disruption.
Trump wants U.S. “opened up” by Easter as New York infections soar and Spain’s crisis deepens.
“We are your future,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York warned the nation as the infection rate exploded and hospitals began to confront a growing influx of patients. “Where we are today, you will be in three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, six weeks.” Alarmed by the scale of the epidemic in New York City, White House officials advised people who have passed through or left the area to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
But even as the crisis deepened in New York, President Trump pressed to reopen the country for business by Easter, on April 12.
Mr. Trump made his comments on the same day that India announced a “complete lockdown” of the country’s 1.3 billion people and the Olympic Games in Tokyo were postponed for a year.
The nightmarish situation in Spain deepened seemingly by the hour. More than 40,000 Spaniards have tested positive for the virus and 3,000 have died. The majority of the cases are in Madrid, where the mortuaries are full to capacity.
The country has asked NATO for assistance as it struggles to get the epidemic under control.
France, under lockdown for a week, has been increasingly aggressive in penalizing those who violate social distancing rules, issuing more than 100,000 fines.
A similar effort was underway in New York City, where the 1.8-million-square-foot Jacob K. Javits Convention Center — which was scheduled to hold an expo for exotic flowers this week — looked more like a front-line military depot as workers rushed to transform the complex to handle an imminent surge of patients.
Governor Cuomo said that with cases doubling every three days in New York City alone, as many as 140,000 people might need urgent care in the next few weeks.
And the state was still in dire need of critical equipment, particularly the ventilators needed to keep critically ill patients alive long enough for them to fight off the virus. The Trump administration promised to send 4,000 from the national stockpile, but Governor Cuomo said the state needed tens of thousands more.
More than 200 people have already died statewide, and there was broad agreement that the worst of the crisis would play out over the next few weeks.
Against this backdrop, Mr. Trump’s push to ease restrictions so soon seemed out of touch with the scale of the crisis both in the country and around the world.
When asked how he came up with April 12 as a target date, Mr. Trump did not cite any scientific evidence.
“I just thought it was a beautiful time,” he said.
Prince Charles tests positive for the coronavirus.
Prince Charles, first in line to the British throne, has tested positive for the coronavirus, a spokesman for the royal family said on Wednesday.
Charles, 71, had been experiencing mild symptoms for days, but has “otherwise remained in good health” and is working from home, according to a statement released by Clarence House, the prince’s official residence.
“The Duchess of Cornwall has also been tested but does not have the virus,” the statement said, referring to Prince Charles’s wife. Both are now self-isolating at home in Scotland.
“The tests were carried out by the N.H.S. in Aberdeenshire, where they met the criteria required for testing,” the statement added.
It was impossible to tell who Prince Charles may have caught the virus from “owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks,” Clarence House noted. Handshakes, meetings and public appearances are a daily reality for members of the royal family, and Prince Charles had taken part in a number of engagements this month.
Prince Charles is the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, who went into self-isolation last week, leaving Buckingham Palace for her country home, Windsor Castle. The queen, who turns 94 next month, released a message to the nation last week urging Britons to stay at home for the greater good of the community.
“I am certain we are up to that challenge,” she said in the statement. “You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”
Global stocks surge on news of U.S. relief package.
As Congress neared agreement on Tuesday to stabilize the faltering U.S. economy, the S&P 500 had its biggest daily gain since 2008, rising more than 9 percent. Shares of companies likely to receive bailouts, such as airlines, cruise lines and casinos, soared. Norwegian Cruise Lines was the best performing stock in the S&P 500 on Tuesday, jumping more than 40 percent, while Delta, American Airlines and United Airlines all rose more than 20 percent.
But investors are still fragile and could sour on stocks if the promised deal hits a snag again. The U.S. government will report weekly jobless claims on Thursday, and some analysts expect the data to show that millions of Americans became unemployed last week.
In India, Day 1 of lockdown for a fifth of humanity.
Across India, crowds swarmed into food stores and cleaned out the shelves. At a fancy market in New Delhi, one man stuffed his Mercedes with groceries on Wednesday afternoon and then jumped behind the wheel and zoomed off — wearing blue rubber dishwashing gloves and a clear plastic face mask that looked like it would fit with a snorkel.
This is Day 1 of how India is coping with the world’s biggest coronavirus lockdown after 1.3 billion people — nearly a fifth of humanity — were ordered to stay inside unless vitally necessary.
India has reported relatively few coronavirus cases — fewer than 600 so far — but with the population density so high and the public health system so weak, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has imposed stringent measures to try to keep the country from sliding into the disaster that the United States, Italy and other countries face.
On Wednesday, most Indians, from the snowbound valleys in the Himalayas to tropical islands in the Andaman Sea, seemed to be following the rules — though the price for some will prove high.
Outbreaks emerge across the U.S., but states’ responses vary.
With New York and California already instituting strict measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus, and doctors in Washington State dealing with the bleak reality that they may have to decide which patients to prioritize for care, the United States has begun to grapple with several major outbreaks nationwide at once.
In New York, the epicenter of the crisis in the country, cases exceeded 25,000 statewide by Tuesday, and in California, at least 2,500 cases had been confirmed, with those numbers expected to rise significantly in the coming days.
But even as the crisis escalated, the response to the pandemic has remained widely inconsistent. President Trump said on Tuesday that a national lockdown had never been under consideration and that he “would love to have the country opened up” by Easter, a goal that health experts have called far too quick.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas continued to resist calls to issue a statewide order to force millions to stay at home, but he did urge Texans to avoid going out.
A regulatory patchwork has unfolded in recent days in Texas — which has 700 confirmed infections and 11 deaths — with restrictions, curfews and stay-at-home orders that vary from county to county.
As states and local authorities grapple for adequate responses, the virus continues to claim more victims.
A 17-year-old California boy whose death was linked to the coronavirus on Tuesday may be one of the youngest victims of the outbreak in the United States, if the cause is confirmed by the C.D.C. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said that half of the 2,102 people who had tested positive for the virus in his state were aged 18 to 49.
In Georgia, a 12-year-old girl who has Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was placed on a ventilator this week. And in Kentucky, a person who went to a “coronavirus party” attended by young adults has tested positive, Gov. Andy Beshear said.
Spanish morgues run out of room for the dead as the nation pleads for help.
The Ice Palace, an Olympic-size skating rink in Madrid — a site of joy only months ago — is now being filled with the bodies of the dead.
The conversion of the sporting facility into a morgue underscored the dire situation in Spain, where the death toll passed 3,400 on Wednesday, ahead of China and second only to Italy in the grim tally of fatalities.
“This is a very hard week because we are in the first stages of overcoming the virus, a phase in which we are approaching the peak of the epidemic,” Salvador Illa, the Spanish health minister, told the nation.
As the crisis in Spain deepened, the country’s military made an urgent appeal to NATO for assistance. Like many other countries, Spain has been struggling with a lack of medical supplies for testing, treatment and the protection of front-line workers.
In a statement, NATO said Spain’s military had asked for “international assistance,” seeking medical supplies to help curb the spread of the virus both in the military and in the civilian population.
The request specified 450,000 respirators, 500,000 rapid testing kits, 500 ventilators and 1.5 million surgical masks. But it was not clear when or if help would arrive.
Funeral parlors in Madrid are now handling about seven times more bodies than a week earlier, according to officials. And workers said they had not been given any of the protective gear promised by the government, Juan José López Vivas, the deputy president of the national association of funeral parlors, told the television channel La Sexta.
The conversion of the ice rink to a morgue resonated across the country, a vivid illustration of the desperation of the moment.
“This surface, which has given me so many good hours, as well as some difficult moments, can now help people who have lost their loved ones take them to wherever they wish,” Spain’s two-time world champion figure skater, Javier Fernández, told the television channel Antena 3. “If they need all the ice skating rinks of Spain, I’m sure they will do that.”
Moscow mayor warns the situation is becoming serious in Russia.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, a country so far largely spared the ravages of the coronavirus, has been warned that “situation is becoming serious” and that the number of sick Russians is “much bigger” than official figures indicate.
At a briefing at the president’s country residence near Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of the Russian capital, told Mr. Putin that many of those returning from countries with major outbreaks had not been tested and were simply sheltering at home.
Russia on Wednesday reported a sharp jump in confirmed cases, to 658. And while the figure is low compared with much of Western Europe and the United States, the 163 new infections on Wednesday constituted the largest one-day increase yet, suggesting that Russia could be following the same path.
Mr. Sobyanin has taken the lead in trying to control the spread of the coronavirus as the head of Russia’s largest city — imposing mandatory self-isolation and other sweeping restrictions long before the rest of the country. From Thursday, all residents of Moscow over 65 will be forbidden from leaving their homes.
Mr. Sobyanin told Mr. Putin that other large cities now needed to follow the capital’s example.
The Kremlin worries that if Russia cannot escape the infection trajectory seen in other countries it will have to cancel or at least postpone two events of great personal and political significance for Mr. Putin: a referendum on April 22 on constitutional changes allowing him to stay in power until 2036, and a military parade on May 9 for the 75th anniversary of the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany.
A mass prayer proposed in Israel stirs concern.
The chief rabbis of Israel and leading rabbis around the world have called on the Jewish faithful to join in a huge global prayer around sunset on Wednesday, and to fast until midnight, to ward off the evils of the coronavirus.
But the group prayer could present dangers of its own: It is set to take place just hours before synagogues in Israel must close down under new government regulations to try to stop the spread of the epidemic. In the meantime, Israeli rabbis have issued instructions about gathering in synagogues — in groups of 10, with worshipers standing a safe distance apart from each other — that are at variance with government guidelines advising praying alone, at home.
An official letter issued on Tuesday by the two chief rabbis of Israel, representing the Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities, urged rabbis “of all cities, neighborhoods and communities in Israel and the world to hold the prayers in synagogues” in quorums of 10 people, standing two meters apart, and specified that additional quorums could gather in the separate women’s sections of synagogues or in adjoining rooms.
In the ultra-Orthodox community, where restrictions were initially slow to take hold, rabbis called for an alternative mass prayer but instructed their followers to pray from home.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel passed 2,000 on Wednesday. Five have died.
The prayers, on the eve of a new Hebrew month, are set to start at 4:30 p.m. and reach a spiritual peak at 6 p.m. The new government regulations are supposed to come into effect at 8 p.m.
Israeli research data released on Tuesday indicated that synagogues were the sites where the most cases of coronavirus had been contracted inside the country, followed by shopping centers and restaurants.
A spokesman for the office of the chief rabbis, Kobi Alter, said on Wednesday morning that the rabbinical authorities would announce and comply with the new regulations once they come into effect.
Innovators race to help as hospitals plead for equipment.
Health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic are in desperate need of more personal protective equipment. The C.D.C. has even said scarves or bandannas can be used for protection as a last resort.
This growing demand has mobilized a wide range of innovators, including engineers and high school students, many of them sharing information through online platforms like Slack. They’re pitching in by designing 3D-printable masks and face shields that can be reproduced around the world. Some of this equipment is already in the hands of clinicians, and the makers are looking to drastically scale up their production soon.
Doctors are hopeful that these types of efforts will prevent the problem from getting worse. “I hope it never gets to the point where we have to wear a bandanna,” said Dr. Susan Gunn, a senior physician in pulmonary and critical care at Ochsner Health. “And I don’t think with this initiative we’ll get there.”
Emerging markets could be crushed by the coronavirus.
As the coronavirus pandemic brings the global economy to an astonishing halt, the world’s most vulnerable countries are suffering intensifying harm.
Businesses faced with the disappearance of sales are laying off workers. Households short of income are skimping on food. International investment is fleeing so-called emerging markets at a pace not seen since the global financial crisis of 2008, diminishing the value of currencies and forcing people to pay more for imported goods like food and fuel.
From South Asia to Africa to Latin America, the pandemic is confronting developing countries with a public health emergency combined with an economic crisis, each exacerbating the other. The same forces are playing out in wealthy nations, too. But in poor countries — where billions of people live in proximity to calamity even in the best of times — the dangers are amplified.
Eleven states are letting uninsured sign up for Obamacare outside typical window.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington and the District of Columbia have opened enrollment under the Affordable Care Act to allow laid-off workers to get subsidized health insurance, and the Trump administration, which has been gunning to repeal the law, is considering opening the federal exchange to new customers.
New York governor emerges as a coronavirus star.
Mr. Cuomo, once considered a bit player on the national stage, is emerging as the party’s most prominent voice in a time of crisis. His briefings — articulate, consistent and often tinged with empathy — have become must-see television. On Tuesday, his address was carried live on all four networks in New York and a raft of cable news stations, including CNN, MSNBC and even Fox News.
In a sign of the way Mr. Cuomo has become the face of the Democratic Party in this moment, his address even pre-empted an appearance by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on ABC’s “The View” in New York. Mr. Biden called Mr. Cuomo’s briefings a “lesson in leadership,” and others have described them as communal therapy sessions.
The governor’s actions have not always been at the forefront: He waited several days last week, as the count of confirmed cases continued to rise, before instituting an order to close nonessential businesses and ask residents to stay at home, even as Gov. Gavin Newsom of California had already done so.
But Mr. Cuomo’s briefings have been filled with facts, directives and sobering trends: On Tuesday, the governor disclosed that the number of positive cases in New York had risen past 25,000, and that the state now projects it will need up to 140,000 hospital beds to house virus patients.
There were also signs that Washington was listening: after Mr. Cuomo spoke on Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said 2,000 ventilators were being sent to New York, with a promise of 2,000 more on Wednesday.
Seeing the coronavirus as a marathon fight? Here are some tips.
Experts say the coronavirus crisis is likely to last for a long time — and for many people confined to their homes, the novelty is beginning to wear off. Here are some tips to help you fight the burnout you may feel, manage your antsy teenagers, and even to freshen up your home.
Reporting and research were contributed by Mark Landler, Emily Cochrane, Andrew Higgins, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Raphael Minder, Mark Landler, Iliana Magra, Jeffrey Gettleman, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Haley Willis, Robin Stein, Natalie Reneau, Drew Jordan, Matt Phillips, Noam Scheiber, Mike Isaac and Sheera Frenkel.