“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 gi