Coronavirus updates: Trump signs $2T aid package; US tops 100K cases; Disney parks close indefinitely
President Trump signs the CARES Act, providing $2.2 trillion in economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic. USA TODAY
A bipartisan $2 trillion aid package was approved by the House of Representatives and signed by President Donald Trump on Friday, as the nation wrestles with unemployment and health threats from the coronavirus.
The stimulus provides $1,200 to most Americans along with funds for small businesses and unemployment insurance.
The U.S. reached 100,000 recorded cases of coronavirus on Friday, with nearly 1,700 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. More confirmations are expected as the U.S. ramps up testing. As of Friday evening, more than 595,000 people are known to have been infected globally, and more than 27,000 have died.
It's been yet another week of crisis and tumult across the globe as the pandemic changes cultures, health practices and the very fabric of human interaction. The U.S. became the global leader in cases and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for the coronavirus.
Our live blog is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news. More headlines:
• There's a desperate need for ventilators, but too few people know how to run them.
• 8 strains of the coronavirus are circling the globe. Here's what clues they're giving scientists.
• The basics on the coronavirus:What you need to know as the US becomes the new epicenter of the pandemic.
• A secretive cache of medical supplies to save Americans from deadly disasters for years lacked the funding to prepare for a pandemic, former managers of the stockpile told USA TODAY.
• Questioning authority in times of crisis is not unpatriotic. It's critical. Read The Backstory from USA TODAY Editor Nicole Carroll.
• Quarantine TV: Our list of 100 shows to watch.
House votes to pass $2 trillion relief package, Trump signs quickly
The House voted to pass a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package – the largest emergency aid bill in history – that will offer $1,200 checks to Americans, extensive unemployment benefits for those out of work and financial relief to businesses and the health care industry hard-hit by the worsening crisis.
President Donald Trump signed the measure – the largest stimulus in U.S. history – in the Oval Office hours after it was approved by the House of Representatives, an unusually rapid approval that underscored dire warnings of a recession as companies began to lay off workers and U.S. consumers hunkered down in their homes to avoid spreading the virus.
"I want to thank Democrats and Republicans for coming together and putting America first," Trump said at the signing.
While the president’s signature ended the legislative effort on Capitol Hill, it marked a beginning to the government’s work managing the crisis. Now the Trump administration must rapidly pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy in the form of direct payments, loans and grants to hard-hit industries such as the airlines.
– Christal Hayes
Disney parks to stay closed indefinitely
Citing an "increasingly complex crisis," Disneyland and Disney World are going to stay closed "until further notice" due to the pandemic, the Walt Disney Company said Friday.
The decision dashes hopes that the theme parks would reopen by next month, as had been previously announced. Earlier this week, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood announced they were extending their closures through April 19.
"The safety and well-being of our guests and employees remains the Walt Disney Company’s top priority," Disney said in a statement.
The company said the decision was "in line with direction provided by health experts and government officials."
– Bryan Alexander and Chris Woodyard
Stranded Americans brought home on U.S. immigration jets
Nearly 300 Americans stranded in Central America due to the spread of the virus have returned to the U.S. this week aboard flights used by U.S. immigration authorities to deport people back to their home countries.
The Americans have been brought back to the U.S. on the return legs of three separate removal flights to Central America, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said. Those return flights usually are empty except for pilots and staff.
Since Sunday, 273 Americans have flown back to the U.S. on removal flights, said Mary Houtmann, an ICE spokesperson.
The total includes 128 Americans flown back from Honduras to Alexandria, Louisiana on Sunday, 81 Americans flown back from El Salvador to San Antonio, Texas on Tuesday and 64 Americans flown back from El Salvador to Mesaon Wednesday.
– The Arizona Republic
Dozens of most popular stores say they will be closed for weeks - or more
Some of America's most iconic stores that temporarily shut down are now saying closures will last for many weeks – and possibly indefinitely.
The latest casualties from the coronavirus economic deluge include Apple, Express, Urban Outfitters and Guess? stores, all of which are closed "until further notice." Nike, meanwhile, says company stores "will remain temporarily closed in multiple countries around the world."
L Brands, parent company of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, announced Friday it "is not currently able to predict the timing of store reopening."
Nordstrom extended its two-week closures "for at least one week, through April 5," the department store chain said March 25. Kate Spade and Coach stores will stay closed an "additional two weeks" through April 10 while Men's Wearhouse locations are closed "until at least May 4."
– Kelly Tyko
Coronavirus death toll spikes in Italy
Italy suffered the deadliest single day since the coronavirus outbreak began three months ago in China, as the number of its deaths jumped by 919 people in 24 hours.
The country has the highest death toll of any country, with 9,134 fatalities, according to Italy's Civil Protection Department. The nation also surpassed China on Friday to take second place behind the United States with the most infections: 86,498 cases.
China recorded its highest single-day death toll of 150 on February 23, according to its National Health Commission.
Italian authorities have been hoping that aggressive lockdown measures taken in the country more than two weeks ago would start to yield conclusive results. But the data have been mixed, with the number of deaths and new infections each day this week fluctuating.
– Kim Hjelmgaard
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USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey gives a lowdown on the companies going through massive hiring sprees and why not to worry about your utility bill. USA TODAY
Mayors report acute shortage of face masks, test kits, ventilators
A nonpartisan survey of U.S. mayors found an overwhelming number said they did not have an adequate supply of face masks for their first responders and medical personnel nor enough coronavirus test kits.
The survey by U.S. Conference of Mayors between last Friday and Tuesday involved 213 cities in 41 states and Puerto Rico, ranging from towns of 2,000 people to 3.8 million.
Among those mayors responding, more than 90% noted the lack face masks and test kits, while 85% said they do not have enough ventilators for their hospitals.
In other categories, 88% said they did not have an adequate supply of personal protect equipment (PPE) other than face masks to protect police, fire, emergency medical responders and medical personnel.
The survey found that the cities cumulatively needed 5 million face masks, 4 million PPE items, 9 million test kits, and 139,000 ventilators.
New York to keep schools closed though April 15
New York will keep all schools closed until at least April 15 as the state continues to battle the spread, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
Cuomo said keeping the schools closed is the prudent decision as the number of virus cases continues to increase in New York. Previously, Cuomo had shuttered schools until April 1.
New York continues to be an epicenter of the outbreak, reporting almost 40,000 cases and 365 deaths.
- Jon Campbell
British PM Boris Johnson tests positive for virus
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first world leader to test positive for the virus Friday. Johnson confirmed the infection himself on his official Twitter account.
Johnson, 55, said he developed mild symptoms over the last 24 hours.
"I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus," he said.
Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II's son and heir to the British throne, tested positive for the coronavirus this week and was self-isolating in Scotland, according to his office. He only displayed mild symptoms, his office said.
– Kim Hjelmgaard
What about the Queen? She interacted with Johnson, Prince Charles; palace silent on if she’s had COVID-19 test
New Yorkers pulled over in Rhode Island over quarantining
The welcome mat is not out for New Yorkers. Governors in Texas, Florida, Maryland and South Carolina this week ordered people arriving from the New York area – including New Jersey and Connecticut – and other virus hot spots to self-quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival.
Connecticut officials have also pleaded with New Yorkers and others from out of state to avoid visiting unless absolutely necessary.
But, in the most dramatic steps taken to date, Rhode Island State Police on Friday began pulling over drivers with New York plates so that National Guard officials can collect contact information and inform them of a mandatory, 14-day quarantine.
The state police are setting up a "welcome center" to make sure that they get information for tracking people in cars with New York license plates. Police are patrolling the beach. Meanwhile, the ACLU is warning this it's not constitutional to stop cars simply because they have New York plates.
Gov. Gina Raimondo ratcheted up the measures Friday afternoon, announcing she’ll also order the state National Guard to go door-to-door in coastal communities starting this weekend to find out whether any of the home’s residents have recently arrived from New York and inform them of the quarantine order.
– Providence Journal
38 infected inside one of America’s largest jails
Dozens of people have been confirmed to be infected in Illinois’ Cook County Jail, which has more than 5,000 people incarcerated on a given day.
At least 38 detainees have tested positive, and six have tested negative, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. Another 123 tests were pending as of Friday afternoon. At least six employees have tested positive, but the sheriff’s office did not immediately say how many employee tests were pending or negative.
Amid fear over growing spread within the jail, the Chicago Community Bond Fund, an organization that raises money to pay off bonds, is working with other groups to pay over $120,000 in bonds to free more than 20 people from pretrial incarceration.
Cook County Jail is in the processing of releasing and screening non-violent, pretrial defendants who are older or have preexisting conditions.
More than 1,900 people have tested positive for the virus in Cook County.
– Grace Hauck
Stocks retreat following 3-day surge
U.S. stocks pulled back Friday following three straight days of gains as the massive relief package for the U.S. economy headed for congressional approval.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 800 points, as the U.S. eclipsed China as the global leader in virus cases. The blue-chip average has rallied 21% over the past three days, its biggest gain in that span since 1931. Heading into Friday, the Dow was on track for its best week in nearly 90 years. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 3%.
Traders say the pending passage of a $2 trillion fiscal stimulus bill has helped drive the stock market’s double-digit percentage gains this week. Congress and the Federal Reserve have promised an astonishing amount of aid for the economy and markets, hoping to support them as the pandemic shuts down more businesses each day.
– Jessica Menton
More coronavirus news, tips and information from USA TODAY:
• Americans are suffering today because officials botched the rollout of testing, derailing containment. Federal officials misled scientists about problems with their test, wasting weeks before letting others fix. Hospitals and labs are paying the price. Read our investigation.
• Dr. Jessica Kiss’ twin girls cry most mornings when she goes to work. They’re 9, old enough to know she could catch the coronavirus from her patients and get so sick she could die. A look at the reality America's health care workers are facing.
• The next coronavirus epicenter? Florida is seeing more coronavirus cases, but hospitals say they don't yet have the needed capacity to test people in a state filled with the elderly.
Trump questions Cuomo's bid for 30K ventilators
President Donald Trump questioned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's call for 30,000 ventilators to meet an expected surge of patients in the coming weeks.
"I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators," Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday. "You know, you go into major hospitals, sometimes, they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they're saying, 'Can we order 30,000 ventilators?'"
Cuomo has said he needs 30,000 of the machines "at a minimum" to meet the peak of the outbreak in his state in a couple of weeks.
New York , which had 39,140 confirmed coronavirus case and 461 deaths as of Friday, has been at the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S.
The state has only about 4,000 ventilators, which are needed to help patients breathe as they battle a virus that attacks respiratory systems. Cuomo said the state is converting some anesthesia machines into ventilators and adding a second tube to some ventilators.
Death rate soars in New Orleans; city could become next epicenter
The number of known cases in Louisiana jumped to over 2,300 on Thursday, an increase of 510 cases from Wednesday, and a total of 83 deaths, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. Nearly half of Louisiana's cases — 997 — came from New Orleans.
Throngs of revelers may have brought the virus to New Orleans during Mardi Gras celebrations.
But the city’s poverty rate, lack of healthcare and affordable housing, coupled with high rates of residents with preexisting medical conditions, may be driving its explosive growth and could make it the next U.S. epicenter of the outbreak.
The city reported Thursday that a 17-year-old teen died after contracting the virus, bringing the city's coronavirus death tally to 46 -- more than half of the state's total death count.
New Orleans Homeland Security Director Collin Arnold said hospital capacity in the New Orleans region is dwindling and the city will need additional hospital beds within weeks.
– Rick Jervis, Maria Clark and Lorenzo Reyes
Record 3.3M Americans apply for unemployment benefits amid coronavirus
The number of Americans filing initial applications for unemployment benefits jumped nearly twelvefold to a record 3.3 million last week, the Labor Department said, offering the most vivid evidence yet of the coronavirus’s widespread damage to the economy. The total was well above the 1.5 million claims economists had forecast, according to the median estimate of those surveyed by Bloomberg.
The pandemic has set off the most abrupt near-shutdown of the economy in history. Many restaurants, shops, movie theaters, sports arenas and other gathering spots were compelled to close their doors or scale back service – and lay off staff.
– Paul Davidson
Ariel drone shots capture Chicago's deserted streets and empty attractions creates an eery feeling throughout the city like a scene from a movie. Wochit
Three migrant children in US custody in New York test positive for COVID-19
Three unaccompanied minor children in U.S. custody in New York have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Thursday.
The children, whose ages and nationalities weren't released, are in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The office is responsible for housing migrant minors.
The agency said it is doing an evaluation of the children and will not release them from New York care provider facilities. It has stopped placements of unaccompanied minor children in the states of California, New York, and Washington, which have been the hardest hit by the coronavirus. With more than 30,000 cases in New York, the state has become the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States.
– Monsy Alvarado, Bergen Record
Will Florida be the next New York?
Florida has come under fire after its beaches remained jammed with spring breakers last week, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has ignored calls to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order.
That may contribute to the state becoming the next hot spot for COVID-19, a chilling possibility considering the elderly are the most likely to die from the disease and Florida is home to nearly four million people 65 and over, the second-highest number in the U.S. behind California.
Hospitals and doctors around the state say they still don't have nearly enough testing kits and can't get the ones they have analyzed fast enough, echoing complaints from state health officials across the country. Health officials have completed 27,000 tests so far in Florida, while New York is doing more than 18,000 tests a day.
- Alan Gomez
4 elderly passengers have died on cruise line stuck off Panama
Four elderly passengers have died on board Holland America's MS Zaandam, which is anchored off Panama because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Two people aboard the ship have tested positive for coronavirus and 138 have complained of flu-like symptoms, which are similar to coronavirus symptoms.
Due to privacy regulations, Holland America Line said it could not disclose whether the four deceased passengers had reported coronavirus symptoms.
The sick still aboard the ship include 53 passengers and 85 crewmembers. There are 305 Americans aboard the MS Zaamda, which carries 1,243 passengers and 586 crew members.
The ship did not have coronavirus tests until Thursday evening when it rendezvoused with Holland America's MS Rotterdam for additional supplies and medical personnel.
The ships received permission to anchor off the coast of Panama to transfer supplies and passengers. However, the plan for disembarkation is not yet finalized.
Holland America Line, along with major cruise lines worldwide, announced March 13 it would suspend cruise operations for at least 30 days and end its cruises in progress. But some ships have been denied ports and remain stuck at sea.
More about the coronavirus you need to know:
• Tracking coronavirus: See how the coronavirus has spread across the US and in your state with daily updated maps and total cases.
• Looking for diapers? Here's where you can still get them.
• These 10 essentials are selling out:Here's where you can still get them.
• Could your December cough actually have been coronavirus? We checked the facts.
• Bodies could start to stack up from the coronavirus. Coroners and funeral homes say they're ready.
• The all-or-nothing symptoms of COVID-19: 'This virus just has the whole kit and caboodle.'
Contributing: The Associated Press.
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