March 25 coronavirus news

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3:42 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Ocasio-Cortez warns she may force House members to return for stimulus vote, potentially delaying final passage

From CNN's Manu Raju

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the high-profile freshman from New York, is leaving open the option of forcing House members to return to Washington to cast a vote on the $2 trillion stimulus package barreling through Congress.

Ocasio-Cortez has expressed her frustration with reports of the stimulus deal, suggesting it's too tilted towards corporations. The deal was reached between senators from both parties -- including the senior Democratic senator from her state, Chuck Schumer, and the White House.

And on Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez told CNN she is not ruling out asking for a recorded vote, which would force lawmakers to return to Washington and vote in-person, something that most members of Congress are eager to avoid amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Ocasio-Cortez said she hadn't seen the final bill text yet, "but I'm open" to asking for a recorded vote "if necessary."

Asked if she had concerns about forcing lawmakers to return, which would be an unpopular move, she said: "of course."

But she added: "With the health risks of travel, there is no easy choice here. But essential workers are showing up and putting their health at risk every day, and if the final text of a bill is set up to hurt them, it may be something we have to do."

The move would upset the plans of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who told Democrats on a Wednesday conference call that she prefers that the Senate measure is adopted by the House by unanimous consent, according to a source on the call. Any member could object to unanimous approval.

Another option: Allowing the House to vote by voice, which would allow the presiding officer to determine which side has the most votes. Yet members can ask for a recorded, roll-call vote, which would force the House members vote in person.

Pelosi told her caucus on a conference call that a House vote would not occur Wednesday, according to a source on the call. And House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he would give lawmakers 24 hours notice before scheduling a vote.

Pelosi also said she's in contact with the House physician's office about what precautions must be taken in case members are forced to return to Washington, a source on the call said.

A recorded vote could delay final passage for days.

3:35 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

US defense secretary orders a 60-day freeze for overseas US troops

From CNN's Barbara Starr

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has signed an order requiring all military forces currently overseas, or scheduled to deploy overseas from the US, to stay in their current locations for the next 60 days, according to three defense officials.

The freeze-in-place order will affect 90,000 expected scheduled deployments, including both troops scheduled to return home and troops scheduled to be sent overseas.

There will be several exceptions, including for naval vessels scheduled to return to the US.

4:18 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Chicago will begin issuing citations to people who break shelter-in-place order

From CNN's Omar Jimenez

Chicago Police will be issuing citations to residents who do not abide by the rules for congregations and staying at home starting Thursday, Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck said.

“The educational phase of this is over,” Beck said Wednesday.

He said failure to follow orders could result in a misdemeanor, or arrest if the violation continues.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she is “concerned with what we have seen in recent days,” and is now threatening to shut down the city lakefront and parks.

3:23 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Coronavirus death toll in France climbs by more than 200 in 24 hours

From CNN's Ya Chun Wang in Paris 

A total of 1,331 people in France have died after contracting coronavirus, the French Director General of Health Jérôme Salomon said Tuesday during a news conference, marking an increase of 231 in just 24 hours. 

According to Salomon, a total of 25,233 people have so far tested positive for the virus — 2,933 more than Tuesday's confirmed total. Of these cases, 2,827 are currently being treated in intensive care. 

2:42 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Does the bill include anything about student loans?

Your questions, answered

CNN's Phil Mattingly is answering your questions on the Senate stimulus package.

Here's what the bill says about student loans, according to Mattingly:

Federal student loan borrowers would get a reprieve from payments until October and any interest that would have accrued during that period would be waived. 
There are more things in the student loan section of the bill, but admittedly, we're still plugging through its nearly 900 pages, so we don’t have more detail on that front. But the primary feature will be the six month break from payments and interest. 
2:31 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

At least 11 states have reported more than 100 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday

From CNN's Liz Stark, David Wright and Amanda Watts

At least 11 states have reported over 100 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, according to updates from each state's Department of Health or state officials.

Here is the breakdown from each of these states:

  1. New York added over 5,000 cases
  2. New Jersey added over 700 cases
  3. Louisiana went up 400 cases
  4. Pennsylvania reported 276 new cases
  5. Texas increased by 259 cases
  6. Florida jumped over 215 cases
  7. Georgia went up 150 cases
  8. Ohio added 140 cases
  9. Indiana gained 112 cases
  10. North Carolina climbed 106 cases
  11. Virginia added 101 cases
2:52 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

WHO official: "The time to act was actually a month ago" 

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

WHO
WHO

The world should have responded to the coronavirus pandemic a month or two ago, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing in Geneva today. 

“This virus is public enemy number one," Tedros said.

He added that health officials still believe there are opportunities to fight the virus.

"The time to act was actually a month ago, two months ago. … but we still believe there is opportunity," he said. "This is a second opportunity, which we should not squander and do everything to suppress and control this virus. This is a responsibility for all of us — especially the political leadership is key."

2:44 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

More than 10,700 National Guard members now activated for US coronavirus response

From CNN's Ryan Browne

 Iowa Army National Guard members unload medical supplies on Tuesday, March 24, in Poca, West Virginia.
Iowa Army National Guard members unload medical supplies on Tuesday, March 24, in Poca, West Virginia. Tawny Schmit/Us Army/Planet Pix via ZUMA Wire

There are now more than 10,700 National Guard members activated around the US as part of the coronavirus response.

"Americans should know the National Guard has their backs throughout this crisis. We're in this together, and we'll get through this together," said Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, in a press release.

The National Guard is helping to deliver food to hard-hit communities, supporting local emergency management agencies with response and providing transportation and assessment support to healthcare, among other things during the pandemic.

2:23 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

County leaders across US bracing for economic fallout

 From CNN's Gregory Lemos

Calling themselves "the ground troops" in the fight against coronavirus, members of the National Association of Counties (NACo) told reporters on a call Wednesday that they are bracing for an enormous economic fallout during the coronavirus outbreak.

Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said that she is anticipating more than a billion dollar loss in her county, which includes Las Vegas, in the coming months as businesses have to close their doors to tourists. 

According to Kirkpatrick, hundreds of thousands of workers have been laid off in recent months as the state scrambles to mitigate the spread of the virus while implementing emergency economic measures.

A number of county leaders pointed to how expensive it is to transition essential government workers to a "work from home" solution.

"Our costs are rising at a time we don't anticipate new revenue coming in until August," Kirkpatrick said. "Economic impact based on tourism is very detrimental and could take us years to recover from."

Even as Congress appears on the brink of passing a $2 trillion dollar stimulus bill, which is expected to dump $150 billion dollars into state coffers, local officials fear it won't be enough.

"The big unknown right now is the lost revenue and the fact it doesn’t appear at first glance to capture lost revenue," said Matthew Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties.

NACo members also voiced frustration about the lack of federal response and discussed how they are working around the lack of access to testing.

Each leader on the call spoke about their directives to keep people away from one another, otherwise called the "Safer at Home" initiative.

"We can do things ahead of that testing in order to level the curve and not overwhelm health systems," said NACo President Mary Ann Borgeson. "The more we can do to try and prevent people again being in large crowds, public places."