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

Trey Anderson




Here’s what you need to know:

Rushing to deliver government aid amid a spiraling public health and economic crisis, senators and Trump administration officials reached an agreement early Wednesday on a sweeping, roughly $2 trillion stimulus measure.

The deal would send direct payments and jobless benefits to individuals, as well as money to states and businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation, which is expected to be enacted within days, is the biggest economic stimulus package in modern American history, aimed at delivering 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.

Struck shortly before 1 a.m., it was the product of a marathon set of negotiations among Senate Republicans, Democrats and President Trump’s team that nearly fell apart as Democrats insisted upon stronger worker protections and oversight over a new $500 billion fund to bail out distressed businesses.

The deal was struck after a furious final round of haggling between Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, after Democrats twice blocked action on the measure as they insisted on concessions.

Mr. Mnuchin and Eric Ueland, the White House legislative affairs director, remained on Capitol Hill late into the evening Tuesday, shuttling between the Republican and Democratic leaders’ offices as they hammered out final details.

“We have a deal,” Mr. Ueland told reporters just before 1 a.m., adding that the text of the bill still needed to be completed. “We have either, clear, explicit legislative text reflecting all parties or we know exactly where we’re going to land on legislative text as we continue to finish.”

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, highlighting experts’ warnings that the virus does not only target the old.

The cause of the boy’s death still needs to be confirmed by the C.D.C., but Gov. Gavin Newsom said half of the 2,102 people who have tested positive for the virus in California are between the ages of 18 and 49.

Despite an increase in deaths across the country, 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. Leading health professionals were skeptical of the president’s desire, calling that timeline far too short.

New York City is now considered the epicenter of the national outbreak, with the case count doubling every three days, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Tuesday. The state projects that it may need as many as 140,000 hospital beds to treat virus patients; 53,000 are currently available.

Dr. Deborah Birx, of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that anyone who has passed through or left New York should self-quarantine for 14 days. Dr. Birx said that about 60 percent of all new cases in the country were coming out of the New York metro area.

In Texas, the nation’s second-largest state, Gov. Greg Abbott continued to resist calls to issue a statewide order to keep millions of residents in their homes, but firmly encouraged them to stay indoors. Lacking a statewide mandate, several cities and counties have issued their own stay-at-home orders for residents, covering cities like Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Fort Worth, Arlington and El Paso.

The S&P 500 had its biggest daily gain since 2008 on Tuesday, rising more than 9 percent, as Congress neared agreement on a stimulus bill to stabilize America’s faltering economy. 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.


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?”

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.”

Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak

The virus has infected more than 411,700 people in at least 168 countries.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, bowed to a groundswell of international resistance — from athletes, sports federations, national Olympic committees and health experts — and formally postponed the Games until 2021. They had been scheduled to begin in July.

As much of the world shuts down amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mexico City’s streets are bustling and the country’s president insists on calm.

Two weeks after the Italian government took strict measures to lock down the country, officials announced on Monday that, for the second day in a row, the number of new cases and deaths had declined. But the first indications of a flattening in a spike of new cases did not arrive soon enough for hospitals in the hardest-hit regions.

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.

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.

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 freshen up your home to make it better suited to meet your new needs.

Reporting and research were contributed by Emily Cochrane, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Haley Willis, Robin Stein, Natalie Reneau, Drew Jordan, Matt Phillips, Noam Scheiber, Mike Isaac and Sheera Frenkel.

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