Coronavirus Live Updates: White House and Congress Reach $2 Trillion Stimulus Deal

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

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 minoroty 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.

“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.

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.

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, the world’s second-most populous country, will order its 1.3 billion people to stay inside their homes for three weeks to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Tuesday.

The extensive lockdown order was declared a day after the authorities there grounded all domestic flights.

“Every district, every lane, every village will be under lockdown,” he said. “If you can’t handle these 21 days, this country will go back 21 years.”

Though India’s number of reported coronavirus cases remains relatively low, around 500, the fear is that if the virus hits as it has in the United States, Europe or China, it could be a disaster far bigger than anywhere else.



Coronavirus Has Hospitals in Desperate Need of Equipment. These Innovators Are Racing to Help.

Health care workers are facing a serious shortage of critical equipment needed to treat the coronavirus. We spoke to the makers who are building innovative protective gear and ventilators for them.

Health care workers around the world are asking for help. “What do you want?” “PPE.” “When do you need it?” “Now.” They’re in desperate need of more PPE, also known as personal protective equipment. Stocks of the critical gear are disappearing during the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors say they are rationing gloves, reusing masks and raiding hardware stores. The C.D.C. has even said that scarves or bandannas can be used as protection as a last resort. “I’ve met the doctors, and talked with them every day. I think there’s an interesting challenge here in that, currently, there’s such a need that if they had anything, they would deploy it.” The cries for help are mobilizing a wide range of innovators, some of them even joining forces through online messaging platforms like Slack. These are engineers, doctors and even high school students from around the world. They come from all walks of life, but say their goal is the same. “It’s amazing because no one’s asking which country are you from? They’re just like, how can I help? What do you need?” They’re pitching in by crowdsourcing designs for masks, face shields and even ventilators that could be reproduced around the world. This is Nick Moser. He’s an active player in one of the maker groups. His day job is at a design studio. Now, he’s designing replicable face masks. “We’re focused on three products: a face shield, a cloth mask and an alternative to N95-rated respirators. The face shield is the first line of defense for medical workers. It protects against droplets. If a patient coughs, it’ll hit the face shield rather than them.” Some designs are produced using 3-D printers or laser cutters. “There you go.” Then, the prototypes are field-tested by health care workers. Even some university labs are experimenting with DIY techniques. A group at Georgia Tech is working with open-source designs from the internet to develop products. “My lab works in the area of frugal science, and we build low-cost tools for resource-limited areas. And now, we’ve realized that I don’t have to go that far. It’s in our backyard, right? We need it now. So this is a plastic sheet I have — not too different from what you would get out from a 2-liter Coke or a soda bottle. I actually bought this from an art store. It’s just sheets of PET, so we can cut these out. We are calling this an origami face shield, and it’s the Level 1 protection. This is one idea. There are multiple different prototypes.” “This headband can be reused, and a doctor or nurse could just basically tear this off and basically snap another one on. We’re hearing that, in some cases, that they go through close to 2,000 of these a day.” Because the need is growing so rapidly, the makers are also thinking about how to increase their production. “So how do we get from this one that someone made at home on a laser cutter or a 3-D printer, and then get it in the hands of thousands of doctors and front-line workers?” They’re working with mass manufacturers that can take their tested designs, and replicate them at a larger scale. “We’ve been on the phone talking to a number of suppliers, material suppliers. So I think one of the neat things that we’ve done is not only the design, proving that you can make it rapidly, but then also trying to secure the entire supply chains.” This is Dr. Susan Gunn, whose hospital system in New Orleans has even started its own initiative to 3-D print equipment. “So it starts with an idea. We put the idea into place. And then we make sure that it’s professional-grade first. Infection control is looking at it, and we’re making sure that we’re using the correct materials that would be approved by the C.D.C. and the World Health Organization.” Dr. Gunn says the gear is a safe alternative for those who might otherwise face a shortage. “We’re creating face shields and we’re creating these different PPEs, and we’re putting them in the hands where people felt like they needed them.” Another critical piece of equipment is the N95 mask, and the supply is dwindling fast. Nick and his team are designing a robust alternative for this mask that can hold any filter material, and be mass produced. “It is easily printable. This one is used in medical situations where there’s an actively infectious patient. So nursing homes or obviously I.C.U. units would be the target to receive these.” “These are really hard objects to manufacture because you’re going to give it to a nurse, and then I want to be really confident that it will not let a virus through, right?” This equipment is not approved by federal agencies, but the designers are testing their respirator prototypes for safety. “That was basically the first, almost the first question that was asked. Can we do anything that’s actually going to be safe and helpful?” Some makers are pursuing even more ambitious projects. An engineer named Stephen Robinson in New Haven, Conn., is working on designing ventilators to help patients breathe. Countries are facing a dire shortage of the lifesaving machines. Right now, these DIY ventilators are still prototypes. “So really, this should be thought of as the seed of an idea that could potentially be grown with, and absolutely requiring, the medical and the tech communities.” But they could become key if critical supplies run out. “We’re in very uncertain times, and I see explorations and projects as kind of an insurance policy that could potentially be leaned on if there was extreme circumstances.” Health care workers are hopeful that these efforts could prevent an even worse outcome. “We don’t want anybody — let’s be clear — to use a bandanna to protect themselves. I hope it never gets to the point where we have to wear a bandanna. And I don’t think, with this initiative that we will get there.” For innovators like Saad, the challenge is personal. “I just can’t stop. I have to do stuff. And then I’m currently at a hospital. That’s why I have this uplifting little flower portrait. We’re expecting a baby boy, and what do we tell him when he grows up about what we did when society needed us?”

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Health care workers are facing a serious shortage of critical equipment needed to treat the coronavirus. We spoke to the makers who are building innovative protective gear and ventilators for them.CreditCredit…Christopher Saldana

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.”

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.

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 Emily Cochrane, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Raphael Minder, 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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