“This is not a moment of celebration – but of necessity,” US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said as the White House and Senate lawmakers reached a historic $2-trillion stimulus deal early this morning, amid growing coronavirus fears. The Senate will reconvene at noon to vote on the plan. Wall Street surged, Asian markets rallied and US stock futures pared losses on the news.
And the relief couldn’t come soon enough. The World Health Organization says the United States has the potential to become the global epicenter of the pandemic, pointing to a “very large acceleration” in infections. More than half the population has been ordered to stay at home, but, to defeat the virus, WHO says more testing, tracing and quarantining measures are necessary.
Democrats, including NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, have slammed President Donald Trump for his bid to reopen the nation’s economy by Easter in order to spare business, despite health experts’ warnings. “If you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy, then it’s no contest,” Cuomo said.
Countries the world over are grappling with how best to prioritize human life, while balancing economic losses. Announcing a 21-day nationwide lockdown of the world’s fifth-biggest economy yesterday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “We will have to pay [the] economic cost of this, but to save every family member, this is the responsibility of everyone.”
The disease is hitting all sections of society. Today, British royal officials announced that the heir to the throne, 71-year-old Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus. “He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual,” a Clarence House statement said. He last saw Queen Elizabeth II on March 12.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
US could become global epicenter
New York is the epicenter of the outbreak in America with more than 25,000 coronavirus cases — nearly half the nation’s total — and an infection rate that’s doubling every three days. The situation is so dire that New York City has said it will move to release 300 prison inmates immediately. Anyone who has left the metro area is being instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days. A NY doctor, who survived Ebola, detailed his harrowing day for us in the emergency room and delivered this dire warning: “Social distancing is the only thing that will save us now.”
New York has been hit hard, but other states are suffering too. In recent days, the numbers in Louisiana, New Jersey and elsewhere have also been skyrocketing. California has warned it could be the next to face a spike.
In the absence of coherent guidelines by the White House, states and hospitals have been locked in a bidding war over key medical supplies, driving up prices and raising fears that regions in desperate need of immediate aid could be squeezed out and patients left to die. And while Trump insists “a lot is being done” domestically to fight the outbreak, he appears to be quietly seeking help on the sidelines to secure medical equipment, from South Korea and other allies.
Test, test, test
A coronavirus test can be developed in 24 hours. So why are some countries still struggling to diagnose? One German scientist created a coronavirus test in January to give countries outside China a head start on the battle against the virus. Three months later, many have squandered that opportunity, reports Julia Hollingsworth.
The German government was slow to take vital action, such as reducing social contact, and now has more than 29,000 confirmed cases. Yet even with similar numbers of infected patients as, for example, France, Spain and the US, the German mortality rate is much lower — about 0.4%. Kent Sepkowitz, an infectious disease specialist, breaks down what Germans are doing right.
And, as scientists try to break down data on deaths, another finding: coronavirus may be killing more men than women. Why? Researchers say it could be down to smoking, drinking and general poor health. While insights like these are crucial to how we fight the virus, the US is not releasing the basic nationwide data needed to understand who is most vulnerable, according to a CNN analysis.
Stop having coronavirus parties
A group of young adults held a “coronavirus party” in Kentucky to defy orders to socially distance. Now one of them has the disease. It’s a clear signal that no one is invincible. While Covid-19 has been more deadly for older people, and those with underlying health issues, officials are imploring everyone to practice social distancing, as asymptomatic carriers of the virus can contribute to its swift, silent spread.
For Saskya Vandoorne, a CNN senior producer based in Paris, social distancing has even extended to the imminent birth of her own child. Like many expectant mothers, she’s been told her husband cannot be with her when she delivers, a rule designed to help protect mothers and their children during the outbreak.
Presidents downplay virus warnings
Brazilians have been tricked by the media over a “little flu,” according to President Jair Bolsonaro. Families should still go out to eat despite coronavirus fears, says Mexico’s President Andres Manuél Lopez Obrador. And Nicaragua’s leader Daniel Ortega has all but disappeared, while political marches and rallies continue.
As global leaders race to contain the pandemic, a triumvirate of denial has emerged in Latin America, with the leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Nicaragua downplaying the danger of a looming outbreak, Matt Rivers and Natalie Gallón report.
She put off having children to compete at Tokyo 2020. Now it’s postponed. As the Olympic and Paralympic movement grapples with the postponement of the Summer Games, Mallory Weggemann offers a powerful example of mental fortitude. “As Paralympic athletes this is our job,” Weggemann told CNN Sport. “We are constantly in a fight with our bodies and we are constantly finding ways to adapt.”
Relief, sadness and goodwill – here’s what other athletes from around the world are saying about the Tokyo Games being pushed back.
ON OUR RADAR
- Scientists say the virus is not mutating quickly, suggesting a vaccine would offer lasting protection against it.
- From clothing retail giant H&M to luxury brand Balenciaga, the fashion industry is stepping in to help overcome shortages of masks and personal protective equipment.
- A small digital network is making free food deliveries to vulnerable neighbors in New York.
- A region in northern France banned the sale of alcohol while emergency coronavirus measures are in place. It didn’t last long.
- They may be in quarantine, but Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson still want you to join their voter registration party — whatever couch you’re stuck on.
- DJ D-Nice held a party on Instagram Live that reached around 100,000 people — one of them was Michelle Obama.
TODAY’S TOP TIPS
- Are you able to take care of yourself if you’re alone, or a loved one at home with you? Here’s how you can prepare for quarantine.
- Spring break was largely canceled, but what about summer vacation? This is what you need to know before booking travel.
- Still confused about how to social distance? These are a few fun ways to visualize the 6-feet rule.
- For those struggling to stay sober, coronavirus shutdowns have offered hope as well as temptation. Here are some resources to combat loneliness, and access recovery resources.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q: How can I strengthen my immunity to fight the virus?
A: First, there’s the not-so-great news. Despite claims you may have seen on the internet, there’s no magic food or pill guaranteed to boost your immune system and protect you against the coronavirus. But there’s uplifting news, too: there are ways to keep your immune system functioning optimally, which will help keep you healthy and feeling in control during this uncertain time. Step 1: improve your diet. Here’s what you should be eating.
Thousands of people have asked us questions about the outbreak. Send yours here.
FROM TODAY’S PODCAST
“I can’t stress enough how vital it is that you don’t use or consume anything unless specifically recommended by your doctor,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta says.
There is currently no proven treatment or cure for Covid-19, but scientists around the globe are working to find one. Gupta explains some of the drug names floating around and what we know about them. Listen now.