Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Lawmakers Reach $2 Trillion Aid Deal; N…


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.

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.

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.

In London, the military was helping convert the sprawling Excel convention center in London into the 4,000-bed “N.H.S. Nightingale Hospital.”

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, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.



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