March 25 coronavirus news
All travelers returning to Canada will have to enter a 14-day mandatory quarantine as of midnight Wednesday as the country deals with a significant spike in coronavirus cases and hundreds of thousands of people return home to Canada by both air and land border crossings.
“We have decided that now is the time to make that measure mandatory, I think we all really appreciate that is so important to have this self-isolation to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” said Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s deputy prime minister.
Canadian officials did not provide much detail as to how they would enforce this order. Canadian public health officials have been recommending the quarantine for travelers for several days.
Canada also announced it was nearly doubling its financial support to workers during the Covid-19 crisis with at least $36 billion being distributed directly to workers affected by the pandemic. This will mean that a family of four could collect as much as $3,100 per month for at least four months through a combination of a wage subsidy and a child benefit.
Fourteen million US jobs could be lost by this summer as businesses shutter in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Economic Policy Institute predicts in a new report.
That's more than 10% of all private sector jobs lost, the group writes. Retail, leisure and hospitality are expected to take the biggest hits.
These sectors "are likely to be disproportionately affected by the social distancing measures that are needed to slow this pandemic," said Julia Wolfe and David Cooper, Senior Economic Analysts at the EPI. "States like Nevada, Montana and Hawaii are projected to lose the highest percentage of their employment because a large amount of their workforce is employed in leisure, hospitality and retail sectors."
The EPI also estimates the US will need "at least $2.1 trillion in federal stimulus through 2020 to restore the country to reasonable economic health."
Even with $2 trillion, the group added that "many people will still need to remain out of work, potentially for months, in order to stop the virus's spread."
The stimulus bill includes $324 million for the State Department, and it specifically includes funds for “evacuation expenses,” according to a draft obtained by CNN. The proposed legislation doesn’t specify who would be evacuated, whether it’s US diplomats or American citizens living overseas, or potentially both.
A senior State Department official said that 9,300 Americans had already been repatriated. A different senior State Department official said the government was tracking 13,500 Americans seeking assistance abroad.
Why this matters: An estimated 9 million Americans live overseas. Last week, the State Department warned American citizens not to travel abroad during the pandemic. Because countries are shutting down their borders, Americans abroad “may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe,” the warning said.
In her second test for coronavirus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has tested negative, a spokesperson at the chancellery confirmed to CNN on Wednesday,
"The Chancellor's second coronavirus test was negative. She continues to work from home and there she will be tested again at the beginning of next week,'' the spokesperson confirmed.
Merkel went into self-quarantine late Sunday after learning that a doctor who gave her a vaccination on Friday last week tested positive for the deadly virus.
Nearly three dozen state attorneys general have called on Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart to fight price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic.
Novel measures by the companies to prevent overcharging have not been enough, the coalition wrote in letters to all five companies’ CEOs. (CNN has obtained copies of all five letters.)
"Even new protections by your company including heightened monitoring, bans on certain advertisements, and bans on selling certain items, have failed to remove unconscionably priced critical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the attorneys general wrote. “When consumers cannot get what they need to protect their homes and loved ones—or in this case, help prevent the spread of the virus—consumers suffer not only economic harm, but serious health consequences as well.”
The 33-member coalition behind the letters includes the top law enforcement officials of California, Louisiana, New York, North Dakota, Utah and Pennsylvania, among others. Some in the group have been tough critics of the tech industry and are in the midst of antitrust investigations into Google and Facebook.
More context: Earlier this week, Amazon said it has banned as many as 3,900 seller accounts from its platform for price gouging, and continues to use a mix of algorithms and human reviewers to fight price gougers. In a blog post Monday, the company said it has “zero tolerance” for price gouging and reports suspected price gougers to state attorneys general.
As recently as last week, CNN reported that ads for face masks still remain on platforms such as Facebook, despite the company’s pledge to ban them.
The companies named in the letters didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the letters.
The US Centers for Disease Control will get an additional $4.3 billion through fiscal year 2024 “to proven, prepare for and respond to coronavirus," according to a draft of the stimulus bill.
That money includes at least $1.5 billion for grants for states and localities to “carry out surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications and other preparedness.”
President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin are still pushing for an April 6 deadline of having direct payments issued to taxpayers who make less than a certain threshold, a White House official tells CNN, though lawmakers and Internal Revenue Service experts are warning it could take much longer than that.
Americans with direct-deposit bank account information on file with the IRS from tax refunds are expected to receive checks that way, according to aides, while those who don't will likely get a physical check in the mail, which could also take much longer.
The IRS has sent out economic stimulus checks before, and although those plans were slightly different, they can offer some insight into how long the process might take.
In 2001, it took six weeks for the IRS to start sending out rebate checks authorized by President George W. Bush's tax cut. Then in 2008, amid the Great Recession, it took three months for the checks to start going out after the law was signed by Bush.
The stimulus bill includes $88 million for the Peace Corps, an independent US government agency that sends American volunteers abroad, according to a draft obtained by CNN.
But the organization suspended all operations last week and evacuated its volunteers. Its director said operations will return to normal “when conditions permit.”
The Peace Corps’ budget was $410 million in the 2019 fiscal year, according to its website. So the additional stimulus funds, which is about 20% of their annual budget, would be a significant boost.
The stimulus legislation prohibits federally elected officials and their immediate relatives from obtaining funds from the Treasury Secretary’s $500 billion program, according to a draft copy of the bill text.
The legislation includes a prohibition on distributing funds to businesses that are owned or partly owned by “the President, the Vice President, the head of an Executive department, or a Member of Congress; and the spouse, child, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law.” The legislation says that it applies to anyone with a 20% or greater stake in a business.
This was a key provision for Democrats concerned that Trump would provide funds to his personal businesses in the stimulus package.