Here’s what you need to know:
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 passage of the bill buoyed financial markets in Asia and Europe, and the optimism looked likely to carry over to Wall Street, as trading in futures indicated a strong opening for stocks there.
The sheer size and scope of the stimulus package would have been unthinkable only a couple of weeks ago. Its total cost is several hundred billions of dollars more than the entire annual federal budget, and administration officials said they hoped that its effect on a battered economy would be exponentially greater, 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.
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.
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 tests positive for the coronavirus.
Prince Charles, first in line to the British throne, has tested positive for the coronavirus, a spokesperson 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.
Global stocks surge on news of U.S. relief package.
Markets across Asia and Europe were buoyant on Wednesday, as investors cheered a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package to shore up the American economy.
The positive mood looked likely to carry over onto Wall Street, with a strong opening expected there as well.
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.
India’s prime minister decreed a 21-day lockdown for the country of 1.3 billion.
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.”
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.”
Employee who crossed paths with Mike Pence at FEMA headquarters has tested positive.
A Federal Emergency Management Agency employee who was working at the agency’s headquarters on the day that Vice President Mike Pence visited an operations center there has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Trump administration officials and an email obtained by The New York Times.
The employee, who tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, works at the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA headquarters, which has become increasingly occupied by White House officials.
The employee was working at the center on Monday when Mr. Pence was there to host a conference call with governors, an official said. President Trump visited the center last Thursday, but it is unclear if the employee who tested positive for the virus was at work while he was there.
Neither the employee nor “any others known to have contact with” the employee came within six feet of Mr. Pence or the other members of the White House’s coronavirus task force, according to Lizzie Litzow, a FEMA spokeswoman.
Ms. Litzow said that on Tuesday, FEMA officials traced the movements of the employee to see if the person had made contact with any of the hundreds of employees who fill the coordination center. She added that all of the areas visited by Mr. Pence and the other task force members were disinfected before they arrived on Monday.
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 Emily Cochrane, 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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