Democrats and Treasury say they are close to a compromise on $2 trillion economic package.
The Senate’s top Democrat and the treasury secretary said on Monday night they were close to a deal on a nearly $2 trillion economic stabilization package to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came hours after Democrats voted for the second time to block action until they secured more worker protections and restrictions on bailed-out companies.
“We expect to have an agreement in the morning,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, told reporters just before midnight, as he wrapped up a final meeting with Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary. “There are still a few little differences,” he said.
Mr. Mnuchin said the two sides were very close to a compromise, though both sides cautioned there was no final agreement and the negotiations remained fluid. The two men called President Trump just before they broke for the night.
Mr. Schumer said the president’s response had been “very positive,” despite a tweet just minutes before in which Mr. Trump accused Democrats, led by the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of sabotaging the package and wanting “the virus to win.”
The apparent progress came after Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Schumer spent hours haggling behind closed doors. Among other areas of contention, Democrats had demanded restrictions and oversight requirements over a proposed $500 billion fund that would be used to bail out distressed companies.
Democrats voted against moving forward with the plan Monday afternoon, sending markets plummeting. But after more discussion, late Monday night Mr. Schumer said he was hopeful that both sides could now come together quickly, with a vote possible by Tuesday evening.
Public transit to start up again in Wuhan within 24 hours as concerns simmer about “silent spreader” cases.
The central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the global outbreak started, said on Tuesday that public transportation would resume within 24 hours and residents would be allowed to leave the city beginning April 8 as infections appeared to be dwindling after a weekslong lockdown.
Even as local infections across China appeared to approach zero, the Wuhan government on Tuesday said a doctor who was working in a local hospital tested positive, adding to evidence that Hubei Province, of which Wuhan is the capital, has not beaten the virus.
In Wuhan, authorities continue to turn up cases of people with the virus but without symptoms, fueling growing fears among the Chinese public that the government has failed to disclose or discover a much larger number of infections than the 81,171 cases that have been reported.
In China, officials only count patients with both symptoms and a positive test in its official tally of confirmed cases. The World Health Organization says that all people who test positive are confirmed to be infected regardless of whether they show symptoms.
China’s approach to counting raises questions about how many people with the virus are circulating freel. Even if these individuals do not become sick themselves, there is evidence that asymptomatic people can infect others.
The number of “silent carriers” — people who are infected but show delayed or no symptoms — could be as high as one-third of those who test positive, the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, reported on Sunday, citing classified Chinese government data.
After social media accounts circulated over the weekend that China was suppressing the numbers by failing to acknowledge these “silent carriers,” authorities in Wuhan said a patient in the city had tested positive despite not having symptoms.
The Wuhan health commission also stated that infected patients with no symptoms still need to be isolated for 14 days and that “a small number may progress to confirmed cases.”
Last week, China reported no new local infections for the first time since the outbreak began three months ago. But it is now struggling with imported cases, which continue to rise.
But for many public health experts, these developments add to doubts that the virus will be fully eradicated in China in the near term.
Density creates alarming virus “attack rate” in New York City, officials say.
New York City has about a third of the nation’s confirmed coronavirus cases, making it the new epicenter of the outbreak in the United States.
Nearly 1 in 1,000 people in the New York metropolitan area have contracted the virus, five times the rate of the rest of the country, Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said on Monday.
The New York metro area is experiencing a virus “attack rate” of nearly one in a thousand, or five times that of other areas Dr. Birx said. In epidemiology, the attack rate is the percentage of a population that has a disease.
New York’s population density may help explain why the “attack rate” is so high.
New York is far more crowded than any other major city in the United States. It has 28,000 residents per square mile, while San Francisco, the next most jammed city, has 17,000, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
All of those people, in such a small space, appear to have helped the virus spread rapidly through packed subway trains, busy playgrounds and hivelike apartment buildings, forming ever-widening circles of infections. The city now has more coronavirus cases per capita than even Italy.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York will issue an order requiring hospitals to increase capacity by at least 50 percent, he said on Monday. New York State saw a one-day increase of nearly 5,000 cases, putting the total at 21,689 as of Monday night.
After days of criticizing the Trump administration for not doing enough to help the city, Mr. de Blasio said he had a “very substantial conversation” with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday night about getting additional supplies, medical personnel and financial support.
President Trump hints at a short shutdown: “I’m not looking at months.”
President Trump, in a nearly two-hour coronavirus briefing, hinted on Monday that the economic shutdown meant to halt the spread of the virus across the country would not be extended.
“America will again and soon be open for business,” the president said, without providing a timeline for when he believes normal economic activity could resume. He later added, “I’m not looking at months, I can tell you right now.”
“If it were up to the doctors, they’d say let’s shut down the entire world,” Mr. Trump said. “This could create a much bigger problem than the problem that you started out with.”
Mr. Trump also suggested that he would soon re-evaluate the federal guidance urging social distancing. More states moved on Monday to impose their own sweeping stay-at-home orders, which will soon cover more than 158 million Americans in 16 states.
Washington, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Oregon became the latest states to announce sweeping directives to keep more people home in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Mr. Trump sent mixed signals from the White House podium, agreeing at one point with his surgeon general and saying, “It’s going to be bad,” then suggesting that the response to the virus may have been overblown.
“This is going away,” Mr. Trump said, citing jobs, “anxiety and depression” and suicide as arguments for restoring the U.S. economy.
He compared deaths from the novel coronavirus so far to deaths from other causes — influenza and car accidents — suggesting that the scale of those preventable deaths means economic restrictions may not be appropriate to prevent the spread of the virus.
While it is true that those causes of death outnumber deaths from the virus to date, projections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that deaths from Covid-19 could range from 200,000 to 1.7 million people. Estimates from other scientists place the potential deaths in a range from several hundred thousand to several million deaths, substantially more than annual deaths from car accidents and flu combined.
Britain is placed under a virtual lockdown.
Facing a growing storm of criticism about his laissez-faire response to the fast-spreading coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that he would place Britain under a virtual lockdown, closing all nonessential shops, banning meetings of more than two people, and requiring people to stay in their homes, except for trips for food or medicine.
People who flout the new restrictions, the prime minister said, will be fined by the police.
The steps, which Mr. Johnson outlined in a televised address to the nation, bring him into alignment with European leaders like President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who have all but quarantined their countries in a desperate bid to slow the outbreak.
“No prime minister wants to enact measures like this,” an ashen-faced Mr. Johnson said. “I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.”
But while these were the most draconian restrictions placed on the British people since World War II, Mr. Johnson is still leaving a bit of breathing room.
The prime minister said people also could leave their houses for exercise, either alone or with family members, and he did not close parks in London.
The number of confirmed cases in Britain rose to 6,650 on Monday, up from 5,683 a day earlier, while the death toll jumped by 54, to 335. British officials believe that those numbers are about to balloon.
Facebook has re-emerged as a news hub.
Before the coronavirus, Facebook could feel at times like the virtual equivalent of a sleepy bingo parlor — an outmoded gathering place populated mainly by retirees looking for conversation and cheap fun.
Now, stuck inside their homes and isolated from their families and friends, millions of Americans are rediscovering the social network’s virtues. That has lifted usage of Facebook features like messaging and video calls to record levels and powered a surge in traffic for publishers of virus-related news.
As of Thursday, more than half the articles being consumed on Facebook in the United States were related to the coronavirus, according to an internal report obtained by The New York Times. Overall U.S. traffic from Facebook to other websites also increased by more than 50 percent last week from the week before, “almost entirely” owing to intense interest in the virus, the report said.
A bed shortage looms in California as testing continues to lag.
Gov. Gavin Newsom estimates that California will be short about 17,000 hospital beds, although the state is frantically trying to source thousands more of them. And the pace of testing remains stubbornly slow in California.
New York State, with half the population of California, has conducted twice as many tests for the virus. As of Monday, New York has tested 78,289 people, including 33,000 in New York City. California had conducted 26,400 tests by Sunday, the most recent data available.
Officials in California have rushed to reopen hospitals that had been shuttered, buy motels to house the state’s more than 150,000 homeless people and retrofit college dormitories to serve as hospital wards.
Mr. Newsom said the state was also chartering flights to China to procure protective equipment and expressed concern for smaller states that might not have the same purchasing power. He has called up the National Guard to work at food banks, and President Trump ordered a Navy hospital ship, with a thousand beds, to sail to the Port of Los Angeles within a week.
In Texas and Ohio, abortion is declared “nonessential.”
A new front in the political fight over abortion has been sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
Texas and Ohio have included abortions among the nonessential surgeries and medical procedures that they are requiring to be delayed, saying they are trying to preserve precious protective equipment for health care workers and to make space for a potential flood of coronavirus patients.
But abortion-rights activists said that abortions should be counted as essential and that people could not wait for the procedure until the pandemic was over.
On Monday, Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, clarified that the postponement of surgeries and medical procedures announced by the governor over the weekend included “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
Failure to do so, he said, could result in penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time. It was not immediately clear if that included medication abortion, which involves providers administering pills in the earlier stages of pregnancy.
The move followed a similar action by health authorities in Ohio last week and has prompted a legal scramble by abortion rights groups to preserve access. Activists accused state leaders of using the coronavirus crisis to advance an existing agenda to restrict abortions.
Reporting and research were contributed by Jason Gutierrez, Sui-Lee Wee, Nick Fandos, Sabrina Tavernise, Thomas Fuller, Tim Arango and Jo Becker