GOP Trio may block coronavirus stimulus bill
The Guardian’s Lauren Gambino with more on Republican concerns over the economic stimulus package:
A trio of Republican senators have threatened to delay the historic $2tn economic relief package over concerns that a provision in the bill could incentivize unemployment.
The Senators – Tim Scott of South Carolina, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ben Sasse of Nebraska – said the bill included what they claimed was a “massive drafting error” that could theoretically make it possible to earn more money by being unemployed.
“This isn’t an abstract, philosophical point — it’s an immediate, real-world problem,” they said in a statement. “If the federal government accidentally incentivizes layoffs, we risk life-threatening shortages in sectors where doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are trying to care for the sick, and where growers and grocers, truckers and cooks are trying to get food to families’ tables.”
Democratic aides have said the reason for the provision is technical.
NEW regarding the unemployment issue w/ the bill.
A Senate Dem. aide involved tells me that the reason the bill did not pay “100%” of income is b/c Treasury/the admin. said that was technically going to be impossible for states to administer.
B/c each has diff formula/system.
As negotiators scrambled to work out the details, Senator Bernie Sanders threatened to put a hold on the bill if the Republicans did not drop their objections.
Unless Republican Senators drop their objections to the coronavirus legislation, I am prepared to put a hold on this bill until stronger conditions are imposed on the $500 billion corporate welfare fund. pic.twitter.com/7X0o9C4BoO
Senators say they still intend to vote on the bill today but the last-minute hurdles have scuttled any hope of a quick passage.
at 8.44pm GMT
Half of California’s coronavirus cases are people under 50
According to California governor Gavin Newsom, nearly half of the state’s confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus were of people between the ages of 18 and 49.
Gov. @GavinNewsom says death of CA teen is being investigated. Regardless, young people can be affected. Total cases in CA now: 2,535, up 17% from yesterday
“These stay at home orders are real … Don’t think for a second that we’re a day or two away from lifting that order.”
The developments continue to debunk previous notions that young people are uniquely resistant to the virus.
Nationwide, data shows 20% of all hospitalized patients and 12% of the intensive care patients are either millennials or Generation Z, meaning between the ages of 20 and 44.
Louisiana marks largest day coronavirus increase, now close to 2,000 cases
Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards updated reporters on a major spike in the Covid-19 death toll and contraction rate in the state, which remains a major coronavirus hotspot.
There are now 1,975 confirmed cases, a day-on-day increase of 407, and 65 deaths, a day-on-day increase of 19.
The numbers mark the largest day-on-day increases so far in Louisiana, and highlight that curve is not being flattened despite the governor’s statewide stay-at-home order issued over the weekend.
The governor has cautioned that the state’s hospital system is set to reach capacity by the first week of April, as he struggles to deliver ventilators to satiate demand.
“Our ventilator capacity is far from OK in Louisiana,” Edwards told reporters.
Last night the Trump administration approved a major disaster declaration in Louisiana, following similar orders in New York, California and Washington state, other states experiencing a major surge of coronavirus cases.
California unemployment claims jumped by 1 million
California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a briefing on Wednesday that 1 million people have filed for unemployment in the state since March 13th.
Gov @GavinNewsom says 1 million Californians have filed for unemployment since March 13. For context, CA usually gets 2500 claims a day, or about 22,500 in the 9 business days since 3/13. Instead: *one million.*#coronavirus #COVID19
More than 50 people have died of the coronavirus in California, with more than 2,100 people testing positive.
Congressman announces self-quarantine
Massachusetts congressman Seth Moulton announced Wednesday that he has self quarantined after experiencing symptoms similar to the novel coronavirus.
“On Thursday, I began feeling unwell with a low grade fever and a concerning tightness in my chest, to a degree I’ve never felt before, that lasted several days,” the congressman said in a statement. “As a general precaution consistent with office policy, well before I began experiencing these symptoms myself, I had proactively instructed my teams in Salem and in Washington, DC (except for two essential members) to work entirely from home and self-isolate”
He noted his wife, Liz, had also developed symptoms.
Moulton added that while the self-quarantine means he’ll likely miss some votes, he vowed to continue “fighting for health care workers who need PPE, for the unemployed who still need to put food on the table, for the sick who need respirators and access to care, and for small businesses who are the lifeblood of our economy”.
at 8.05pm GMT
How do coronavirus lockdowns look worldwide?
From squats to drones via fines and armed forces, The Guardian’s Maheen Sadiq takes a look at how coronavirus lockdowns are being policed around the world:
Squats, drones and angry mayors: policing coronavirus lockdowns around the world – video report
Learn more by checking out the full video here.
Economic relief may not come easy for America’s poorest
The US working class and poor may be left out of immediate relief from the $2tn economic stimulus package meant to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the NY Times, people who don’t have bank accounts may be especially vulnerable:
Democratic aides in the Senate said on Wednesday that eligible Americans with direct-deposit bank account information on file with the Internal Revenue Service for tax refunds — about 70 million people — should see their payments arrive within a few weeks of the bill being signed into law.
Anyone who doesn’t already have direct-deposit information on file with the IRS may not see their emergency funds for up to 4 months.
DHS warns New York City morgues are near capacity
The US Department of Homeland Security was briefed Wednesday that New York City’s morgues are nearing capacity.
Officials were told that morgues in the city are expected to reach capacity next week, per the briefing. A third person familiar with the situation in New York said that some of the city’s hospital morgues hit capacity over the last seven days. And a FEMA spokesperson told POLITICO that New York has asked for emergency mortuary assistance.
The media outlet confirmed that Hawaii and North Carolina have also asked for mortuary help. According to a spokesperson, the disaster response agency is currently reviewing the requests.
WHO: lifting public bans ‘last thing any country needs’
Here’s a clip of World Health Organization director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, condemning calls to bypass or lift social distancing restrictions.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus strongly warns against lifting social distancing measures too soon.
The comments come as US president Donald Trump has vowed to reopen America by Easter.
Washington Post: 140 nursing homes have coronavirus cases
The federal agency in charge of nursing homes nationwide confirmed that 140 have at least one confirmed coronavirus case. But the Washington Post reports the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are refusing to say which ones.
From the Post:
Citing data from the Centers for Disease Control, the press release tucked the new figure in the seventh paragraph. The release said although “147 is a small fraction of the over 15,000 nursing homes across the country, given the disproportionate effect on our nation’s older population, this is a cause for concern.”
Despite that concern, CMS officials referred The Post to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a list of specific nursing homes affected.
A CDC spokesman, Scott Pauley, told The Post he was “not sure [the list] will be released at this time.”
NPR affiliate will no longer broadcast Trump pressers
A Seattle NPR affiliate announced late Tuesday it is opting out of airing US president Donald Trump’s daily briefings on the coronavirus pandemic. In a tweet thread announcing their decision, KUOW Public Radio cited “a pattern of false or misleading information.”
KUOW Public Radio
However, we will not be airing the briefings live due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time. (2)
The local radio affiliate joined a growing list of media outlets who are vowing not to air the administration’s press conferences. Both the CDC and FDA have had to release corrections or clarifications to the Trump’s comments on public health guidance and vaccine availability.
From Vanity Fair:
A White House reporter had a more blunt assessment: “They are a clown show, just a daily advertisement for Trump. He’s smart to do them, dominating earned media and blocking out the sun for [Joe] Biden.” Are the briefings doing more harm than good at this point? “If he starts telling people to get out and go back to work,” the source said, “which I expect he will soon, then it’s not a close call: harm.”
Trump has now has started telling Americans to get back to work, much to the dismay of health experts.
Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, even offered blunt contradictions of Trump’s coronavirus guidance, telling Science magazine Trump “could lead to some misunderstanding about what the facts are about a given subject”.
at 6.51pm GMT
Biden: Trump ‘downplayed’ seriousness of coronavirus
Former vice president, Joe Biden, lashed out at Donald Trump Wednesday over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, insisting the president “downplayed the seriousness of this crisis for weeks.”
“As a result, this virus will hit all of us harder than it otherwise might have hit us, and it’s going to take us longer to recover,” he said. The vice president also criticized Trump for a delayed mobilization of American companies to help provide needed medical supplies and personnel.
Biden went on to reject Trump’s call to reopen America and get back to work by Easter:
“I’d like to say, ‘Let’s get back to work next Friday.’ That’d be wonderful. But it can’t be arbitrary,” he said. “If we don’t do that, we’re going to find ourselves worse off economically.”
Carly Fiorina: Corporations don’t need a bailout
Former Republican presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina, isn’t a fan of an economic stimulus package to combat the coronavirus outbreak, telling MSNBC:
“I think the corporate bailout was too much, too soon. Maybe we didn’t need it ever.”
The businesswoman and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard went on to suggest the US government should allow corporations like airliners to go into bankruptcy.
Fiorina comment’s are in sharp contrast with some Republican lawmakers.
Earlier Wednesday, Republican senators Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse and Tim Scott directed their concerns over the bill as it related to possible American workers freeloading off government unemployment benefits.
Sens Graham/Sasse/ScottSC: We must sadly oppose the fast-tracking of this bill until this text is addressed, or the Department of Labor issues regulatory guidance that no American would earn more by not working than by working.
With Biden as presumptive nominee, 12th Democratic debate unlikely
The AP is reporting the 12th and final democratic debate scheduled for April is unlikely to happen as the party increasing accepts former vice president Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee:
One of the Democratic National Committee’s lead debate organizers, Xochitl Hinojosa, said the party has not set a date or secured a television broadcasting partner for what would be the final encounter of the dozen that DNC Chairman Tom Perez promised at the campaign’s outset.
The AP added there’s no evidence that Biden’s camp is clamoring for a debate. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders announced late Tuesday he’d take part in a schedule debate.
But there’s doubt among both campaigns that one will occur.
at 6.12pm GMT
How do Indigenous tribes fair in the coronavirus bailout?
Native American sovereign nations have been sidelined in previous economic bailouts and health emergencies. So how do they fare in the $2tn emergency Covid-19 rescue package?
It’s a good start, according to Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
The deal will establish an $8bn ring-fenced tribal government relief fund which should provide tribes with flexible ‘one stop’ direct access to Covid-19 dollars for economic recovery and continuation of essential government services – depending on what each tribe needs.
The direct part is crucial as tribes do not have guaranteed direct access to many state and federal resources during emergencies including the national stockpile of medicines and medical equipment.
The rescue package also contains over $2bn in emergency supplemental funding for health, education and housing, including:
- $1.032 billion for the chronically underfunded Indian Health Service.
- $453 million for essential Tribal government programs including the purchase of protective equipment for emergency personnel – this money will be funneled through the Bureau of Indian Affairs
In a statement, Udall said: “No doubt these are key victories. But the fight to make sure Indian Country isn’t left behind in the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic must continue.
Congress must do more to respond to the unique Covid-19 related public health and economic crises in Indian Country and to uphold our trust and treaty responsibilities to all American Indians and Alaska Natives.”
There are 574 federally recognised tribal nations located across 35 states within the geographic boundaries of the US, including 229 in Alaska.
In 2010, 5.2million people or 1.7% of the total population identified as American Indian or Alaska native, and importantly in election year, 3.1million are of voting age.
Here is a clip of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s warning that Donald Trump’s plan to relax social distancing guidelines by Easter could prove “catastrophic.”
Biden criticizes Trump’s suggestion of opening economy by Easter, saying it would be “catastrophic” if we “sent people back to work just as we are beginning to see the impact of social distancing take hold, only to unleash the second spike in infections.” https://t.co/N1WPhbZg0J pic.twitter.com/E6h9wX92uW
at 6.02pm GMT
My colleague Joan E Greve was also watching Joe Biden’s virtual press conference, which began with the former vice president expressing his sympathy for young people during the coronavirus pandemic:
Biden is using his briefing today to reach out to young voters, who have overwhelmingly backed Bernie Sanders in the Dem primary. Biden made the below comment and complained the Senate bill does not go far enough on student loan forgiveness. https://t.co/cYW6b6iK7h
My colleague Lauren Gambino is following Joe Biden’s virtual press conference:
Biden says it would be “catastrophic” to send people back to work just as social distancing is beginning to slow the spread of coronavirus. He said a second spike in infections would be “far more devastating” then staying home for a lengthier timeline than Trump wants.