Congress and the White House are nearing an economic rescue package; stocks plunged again Thursday despite the Fed offering at least $1.5 trillion worth of short-term loans to banks.
Read the latest developments in the coronavirus outbreak here.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Economic package will include paid sick leave and free virus testing, aides said.
- Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian prime minister, has the virus.
- Latter-day Saints suspend all gatherings worldwide, including worship.
- Stocks plunge despite the Fed’s $1.5 trillion offer to banks.
- The suspension of the N.B.A. will last at least 30 days.
- The Biden and Sanders campaigns close offices and tell staff to work from home.
- Italian doctors confront unthinkable choices about life and death.
Economic package will include paid sick leave and free virus testing, aides said.
Congress on Thursday neared a deal with the White House on a sweeping economic rescue package to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
After a day of intense negotiations between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Ms. Pelosi told reporters that “we’ve resolved most of our differences” and that the House would vote on Friday on the measure, “one way or another.” It would then go to the Senate, which called off a recess that had been scheduled for next week.
The legislation, Democratic aides said, will include enhanced unemployment benefits, free virus testing and aid for food assistance programs. The package also ensures 14 days of paid sick leave, as well as tax credits to help small- and medium-size businesses fulfill that mandate. Language was still being drafted for provisions related to family and medical leave, according to a Democratic aide, as aides worked through the night to prepare the bill.
The fast-moving measure reflects a sense of urgency in Washington to enact a fiscal stimulus in the face of a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the financial markets, which have proven impervious to other interventions.
The negotiations hit snags as Republicans balked at the sweeping proposal to provide paid sick leave, something Senate Republicans had already blocked when Democrats sought earlier in the week to bring up a separate bill. Mr. Mnuchin, in a frantic attempt to keep talks on track, spoke by phone at least seven times with Ms. Pelosi, negotiating additional changes to the House legislation so it could have a chance of winning the support of Mr. Trump and Senate Republicans.
Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, warned that even a large stimulus package might not stop the fall in markets and that the worst may still lie ahead.
“What stops the fear is evidence that the rate of increase of infections is slowing — believable evidence,” he said. “Everywhere you would look for reassurance, for leadership, for policy action, for reliable information — all are absent.”
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian prime minister, has the virus.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the prime minister’s office said in a statement on Thursday night.
“She is feeling well, is taking all the recommended precautions and her symptoms remain mild,” the statement said.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Trudeau announced that he, Ms. Grégoire Trudeau and their three children had voluntarily isolated themselves at the prime minister’s residence in Ottawa as they awaited the test result. Mr. Trudeau continues to perform most of his official duties, although his meetings have become conference calls and he was absent from the House of Commons. He spoke with several world leaders during the day, including President Trump.
On the advice of physicians, Mr. Trudeau will continue to work from home for the next 14 days, the statement said, although he shows no symptoms and physicians are not testing him for the virus.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau had attended a charity event and was part of a panel.
Latter-day Saints suspend all gatherings worldwide, including worship.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on Thursday that it was suspending all public gatherings around the world. The church is the first major religious tradition to issue such a global edict.
The measure means that the church’s more than 16 million members will not meet for worship services or other activities until further notice. Local leaders are determining how to provide the sacrament rituals to members at least once a month.
Church leaders urged members to use technology to conduct necessary meetings remotely, and promised further guidance. “We encourage members in their ministering efforts to care for one another,” the church’s top leaders wrote in a statement to members. “We bear our witness of the Lord’s love during this time of uncertainty.”
The church previously suspended Sunday services for three months during the worldwide flu pandemic of 1918, said Matthew Grow, managing director of the church’s history department.
Also on Thursday, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington suspended all public Mass until further notice, and the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said it would not hold services for almost two weeks.
Stocks plunge despite the Fed’s $1.5 trillion offer to banks.
Stocks plunged in the United States on Thursday, after President Trump’s latest effort to address the coronavirus outbreak — a 30-day travel ban on people from most European countries — disappointed investors who have been looking for Washington to take steps to bolster the economy.
Trading was turbulent, with a brief rebound after the Federal Reserve offered at least $1.5 trillion worth of loans to banks to help keep the financial markets working smoothly. But the downdraft gathered pace again by midafternoon.
The S&P 500 fell about 9.5 percent, its biggest daily drop since the crash in 1987 that came to be known as Black Monday. Stocks in the United States are now firmly in a bear market, meaning they have fallen at least 20 percent from the most recent peak.
The travel ban hit shares in Europe particularly hard, with major stock indexes there down more than 10 percent. It also battered airline stocks. And with oil prices falling, energy companies were among the day’s biggest losers.
The suspension of the N.B.A. will last at least 30 days.
Adam Silver, the N.B.A. commissioner, said on Thursday that the league’s suspension of games because of the coronavirus would probably last “at least 30 days.” Mr. Silver, who was being interviewed on TNT’s “Inside the N.B.A.,” said it was also possible that the rest of the season would be canceled.
The N.B.A. announced on Wednesday that the season would be suspended after Rudy Gobert, a center for the Utah Jazz, tested positive for the coronavirus. Earlier in the week, Mr. Gobert had made light of concerns about the virus, which Mr. Silver referred to as a “huge mistake.” Mr. Gobert has since apologized on social media.
Charles Barkley, one of the hosts of “Inside the N.B.A.,” did not appear in the studio, joining instead by phone. He said he was self-quarantining for 48 hours after not feeling well after a flight from New York to Atlanta. He said he had been tested for the coronavirus but had not received the results. “I‘m just kind of in limbo right now,” Mr. Barkley said.
In England, the Premier League said it would go ahead with its scheduled slate of soccer matches this weekend, bucking a global trend that on Thursday saw leagues and competitions around the world cancel games, sometimes for weeks.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association called off the men’s and women’s Division 1 basketball tournaments, among the most-watched annual sports events. Major League Baseball halted spring training and postponed the start of the season by at least two weeks. And the N.H.L. paused its season with the Stanley Cup playoffs scheduled to begin in about a month.
The Biden and Sanders campaigns close offices and tell staff to work from home.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign told staff members to work from home, closed all its offices to the public and said it would begin holding smaller events and virtual fund-raisers, according to an internal campaign memo released Thursday.
Mr. Biden’s main rival in the Democratic primary, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, took similar precautions. Mr. Sanders’s campaign said that it had asked all staff members to work from home and that it would no longer hold large events or door-to-door canvasses, focusing on digital outreach instead.
Mr. Biden — who has a famously tactile campaigning style — acknowledged in a speech on Thursday the need for “radical changes in our personal behaviors” that could affect “deeply ingrained behavior like handshakes and hugs.”
The candidates’ shift away from big events is likely to hurt Mr. Sanders, who is trying against lengthening odds to overtake Mr. Biden in the nomination fight. His huge rallies have served as a show of force.
Italian doctors confront unthinkable choices about life and death.
Every day, the medical workers of northern Italy face an awful question: Which patients, whom you would have treated a few weeks ago, do you turn away now, or even allow to die?
With more than 15,000 infections diagnosed across the country, and more than 1,000 deaths, Italy is the hardest-hit region in Europe. It has turned into a test of the limits of a modern health care system swamped by an epidemic — and a terrifying glimpse of what other countries may soon face.
This week Italy imposed the most draconian measures outside of China — restricting movement and closing most businesses — to slow the spread of the virus.
But local officials report instances of overwhelmed doctors and nurses simply leaving some elderly patients untreated; hospitals sending people with pneumonia home; and hospital staffs having to choose who to deny the use of scarce equipment like ventilators. Medical workers are collapsing from exhaustion, and taking ill themselves.
“This is a war,” said Massimo Puoti, the head of infectious medicine at Niguarda Hospital in Milan, one of the largest in Lombardy, the province at the heart of the epidemic.
New York to ban most gatherings of more than 500 people, including on Broadway.
New York will ban most gatherings of more than 500 people, including at Broadway shows, and restrict smaller groups, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Thursday.
The restrictions, intended to slow a growing outbreak in the state, are expected to have a profound impact on the city’s cultural institutions, including theater, a multibillion dollar industry at the heart of New York’s tourist trade. The ban took effect at 5 p.m. Thursday for Broadway theaters and will do the same for other venues Friday at 5 p.m., Mr. Cuomo said. The Broadway League, a trade organization representing producers and theater owners, said the closing would last through April 12.
Later in the afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency and stressed that the city would be dealing with the effects of the coronavirus for the long haul.
“Going to this level is not done lightly but it has reached the point where it is necessary,” he said. He cited the potential for major job losses, evictions, business closings and people running short of food.
New York State had 328 total cases as of late Thursday; 96 were in New York City and 147 in Westchester County.
Are you prepared? How to stock your pantry and other tips.
Here are tips for stocking your pantry in ways that are practical and delicious; answers to some common questions about travel, and steps to take when talking to an anxious teen about coronavirus.
“This is the time to do it”: Schools shut down in Maryland, Ohio and Washington.
Officials in Maryland, Ohio and Washington State announced on Thursday that schools in those states would close for several weeks.
Ohio’s action was the most sweeping. Gov. Mike DeWine said that all primary and secondary schools would close for three weeks starting on Monday. Ohio has just five known cases of the virus so far, but the governor said the move was meant to get ahead of the spread and help save lives.
“This is the time to do it,” he said in a statement on Twitter.
Maryland officials ordered all public schools in the state to close from Monday until March 27.
And in Washington State, which has the most cases of any state in the nation, Governor Inslee said he had made the “very difficult decision” to close the schools in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, the heart of the outbreak in the Seattle area, probably through late April.
Widespread closures of K-12 schools are a significant shift in American life, upending child care plans and raising questions about meals and care for low-income and homeless students.
In New York City, where two public schools were closed on Thursday after a child tested positive, Mayor Bill de Blasio has resisted citywide closings, citing the extreme hardship that would cause for poor students and their working parents.
Argentina will halt flights from the U.S. and Europe.
President Alberto Fernández of Argentina said on Thursday that the government would suspend flights from the United States and Europe for 30 days in an effort to slow down the spread of the new coronavirus in the South American nation.
Mr. Fernández also announced strict quarantine protocols for people who arrive in Argentina after having traveled to places with a significant number of cases, including China, South Korea, Iran, Japan, Europe and the United States.
Argentina had 31 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Thursday, including one fatality.
It was not immediately clear when the flights would stop. But the measure appeared certain to leave thousands of passengers stranded. Argentina receives more than 20 flights daily from cities in Europe and the United States.
Pastors may have exposed thousands in Burkina Faso.
Husband-and-wife pastors from Burkina Faso who traveled to France in February were found to have the coronavirus after they developed symptoms following Sunday services at their 12,000-capacity megachurch in their country’s capital, Ouagadougou.
The possible mass exposure comes on a continent that has so far largely escaped the sweep of the virus across the globe. Egypt has the highest number of confirmed cases, with around 60, most of them aboard a Nile cruise ship. South Africa has 15, and there is a scattering of cases elsewhere in Africa, many involving Europeans.
Africa’s many megachurches and their vast congregations have been a source of worry for the spread of coronavirus, particularly after a large majority of the more than 7,800 cases in South Korea were traced back to the secretive Shincheonji Church of Jesus.
The pastors, Mamoudou Karambiri and Hortense Karambiri, had spent the week of Feb. 17-24 praying and fasting with more than 2,000 fellow evangelicals at an annual Lenten gathering in France, which has one of Europe’s highest caseloads. They then returned to their home church, Bethel Israel Tabernacle, and held a Sunday service on March 1.
According to Le Monde, a French newspaper, almost 40 others who attended the Lenten prayer week, held in Mulhouse, France, carried the virus to other parts of France and to Guyana.
A top U.S. health official says coronavirus testing is “a failing.”
One of the country’s top health officials said that the government’s coronavirus testing methods were inadequate in testimony on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Speaking at a House committee hearing on coronavirus testing, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fielded pointed questions about rising frustration over a lack of testing kits across the country.
“The system does not, is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for,” Dr. Fauci said. “That is a failing. It is a failing, let’s admit it.”
Dr. Fauci had stepped in to respond to a question, from Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, to Dr. Redfield about who was ultimately responsible for overseeing testing.
“The idea of anybody getting it, easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we are not set up for that,” Dr. Fauci added. “Do I think we should be? Yes. But we are not.”
U.S. restrictions on travel from Europe draw anger and confusion.
On both sides of the Atlantic on Thursday, the consequences of President Trump’s decision to ban most travel from Europe began to be felt economically, politically and socially.
Traveling Americans sought to understand what Mr. Trump’s plan meant for them, and European Union leaders sharply condemned the move, even as many nations on the Continent moved to tighten their own restrictions on the movement of people.
“The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” a statement from European leaders said. “The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.”
Italy’s government reported more than 15,000 infections through Thursday, a jump of more than 2,000, and more than 1,000 deaths. With the worst outbreak outside of China, Italy is under a national lockdown. In France, which has more than 2,280 cases, President Emmanuel Macron announced that the country’s schools and universities would close starting next week.
Mr. Trump imposed a 30-day ban on foreigners who in the previous two weeks have been in any of the 26 countries that make up Europe’s Schengen Area of open borders. American citizens, permanent legal residents and their families returning to the U.S. would not be affected; neither would cargo.
In appearances on several morning television shows on Thursday, Mr. Pence said that Americans returning from the affected area in the next 30 days would be required to self-quarantine for two weeks.