Saturday, March 28, 2020
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The Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill that it hopes will alleviate some of the economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

It is the largest economic rescue package in U.S. history, according to The Washington Post. The legislation will now head to the House where it will meet a vote on Friday. President Trump said that he intends to sign it right away. 

“Our nation obviously is going through a kind of crisis that is totally unprecedented in living memory,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. The Senate plans to recess until April 20 unless urgent legislative action is needed.

The bill will put $1,200 checks into many Americans’ pockets, with $500 additional for each child. The legislation also includes a $367 billion loan program for small businesses and creates a $500 billion lending fund for industries, cities and states. There will be $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds and $130 billion set aside for hospitals.

A record 2 million to 4 million Americans are expected to apply for unemployment, easily breaking the record of filers that was set back in October 1982 with 700,000 filing at the time. 

Prince Charles tested positive for coronavirus the prince’s office announced Wednesday. 

The heir to the British throne has mild symptoms and “remains in good health,” per The Washington Post. Medical staff believe the prince’s condition is stable and unlikely to develop into anything worse. His wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, tested negative.

“In accordance with government and medical advice, the Prince and the Duchess are now self-isolating in Scotland,” according to a statement from the prince’s office and residence in London.

Charles and Camilla will isolate for a week at Birkhall, his royal residence in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 

Queen Elizabeth’s last contact with Prince Charles was March 12 and medical staff indicated that the prince was infectious no earlier than March 13. The Queen is now isolated in Windsor Castle out of precaution. She has already cancelled a state visit by the Japanese emperor and empress. 

Apple told employees that some of its retail locations may reopen in April with remote work possibilities for some employees through April 5. 

“For all of our retail stores outside of Greater China, we will reopen our stores on a staggered basis,” said Senior Vice President of People and Retail Deirdre O’Brien in a memo to staffers, per Bloomberg. “At this time, we anticipate some stores may be able to open in the first half of April depending on the conditions in their community … We will provide updates for each store as soon as specific dates are established.”

The iPhone maker shuttered 458 of its stores earlier this month, with the exception of the stores in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, to reduce the spread of coronavirus. The company closed 42 China-based stores during the height of its pandemic, but they have since reopened.

O’Brien went on to note that Apple is “putting the health of our teams, customers, and communities first.” 

More than one million Californians have filed for unemployment less than two weeks into the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We just passed the 1 million mark, in terms of the number of claims, just since March 13,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday, per CNBC. The state and the cities within will receive $10 billion from a block grant as part of the relief bill that just passed the Senate.

To provide assistance to those who have been economically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the five biggest financial institutions have conceded extra time for residents of California to pay their home mortgages. 

Newsome said he has “personal commitments” from the heads of Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, JPMorgan Chase, and Citi to waive payments owed by customers “affected by COVID-19” for at least 90 days, per The Los Angeles Times. In addition, 200 state-chartered banks have agreed to similar measures. Bank of America will give customers only 30 days to catch up on payments.

While the state does not have oversight on the banks, the governor said he has “absolute certainty” the financial institutions will stay true to their word. 

Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow said Tuesday that he and his wife have tested positive for coronavirus.

Bacow said that he and his wife were unsure how they contracted the virus, but began experiencing symptoms on Sunday, including fevers, chills and muscle aches. 

“We will be taking the time we need to rest and recuperate during a two-week isolation at home,” Bacow said in a statement, per CNN. “I am blessed with a great team, and many of my colleagues will be taking on more responsibility over the next few weeks as Adele and I focus on just getting healthy.”

Harvard was among the first universities to move classes online and close down student housing. 

The Senate will vote Wednesday on a $2 trillion stimulus package to stabilize the economy during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) confirmed a deal at 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post. The Senate will convene today for a vote.  

The bill will put $1,200 checks into many Americans’ pockets, with $500 additional for each child. The legislation also includes a $367 billion loan program for small businesses and creates a $500 billion lending fund for industries, cities and states. There will be $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds and $130 billion set aside for hospitals.

The legislation will also supplement current unemployment insurance benefits, expanding eligibility and giving workers an additional $600 a week for four months in addition to what state unemployment programs pay. 

Even if the Senate passes the bill today it still must return to the House for a vote. The House is currently out of session and it is unknown how long it will take the legislative body to hammer out any further details.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk delivered 1,255 ventilators to Los Angeles from China to help hospitals cope with surges in coronavirus cases. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged the acquisition on Monday.  

“I told you a few days ago [Musk] was likely to have 1,000 ventilators this week,” according to Bloomberg. “They arrived in Los Angeles and Elon Musk is already working with the hospital association and others to get those ventilators out in real time. It’s a heroic effort.”

“Yup, China had an oversupply, so we bought 1255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators on Friday night & airshipped them to LA,” Musk tweeted. “If you want a free ventilator installed, please let us know!”

Musk was initially dismissive of the notion of a ventilator shortage. The head of Tesla had called the pandemic panic “dumb” and incorrectly asserted that children were “essentially immune.” He also argued with officials about “shelter-in-place” restrictions before finally pausing production at his Tesla assembly plant in Alameda County. 

India’s population of 1.3 billion people went on “complete” lockdown on Tuesday to curb the spread of coronavirus during the next three weeks. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the lockdown would last a minimum of 21 days and would apply to all states and territories, according to CNN. Essential services will continue, including water, electricity, health services, fire services, groceries and municipal services.

Shops, factories, workshops, offices, markets and places of worship will shutter and interstate buses will be suspended. The country also closed international borders to most travelers coming from Europe. 

“You have seen the worldwide situations arising from the coronavirus pandemic in the news. You have also seen how the most powerful nations have become helpless in the face of this pandemic,” Modi said. 

Modi’s measures are largely preventative rather than reactive, the country currently has just 519 confirmed coronavirus cases and 10 deaths. India maintains the world’s second largest population and fifth largest economy. 

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned Monday that the spread of coronavirus is quickening. 

There are more than 350,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally, according to FOX News. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, said that it took 67 days to confirm the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second outbreak of 100,000 cases and four days for the third outbreak of 100,000 cases. 

Ghebreyesus implored the leaders of the world’s wealthiest countries to work to combat the outbreak.

“We need unity in the G-20 countries,” he said. “Political commitment at the G-20 level means a very strong solidarity that can help us to move forward and fight this pandemic in the strongest terms possible.” 

Losing your sense of smell and taste may be a sign you’ve contracted Covid-19. 

Anosmia, the loss of sense of smell, may be an early indicator that an individual has coronavirus, according to The New York Times. Ageusia, a diminished sense of taste, also tends to accompany the loss of smell. Individuals who notice this symptom are being asked by some experts to isolate themselves for seven days. 

“We really want to raise awareness that this is a sign of infection and that anyone who develops loss of sense of smell should self-isolate,” Prof. Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society, wrote in an email to the Times. “It could contribute to slowing transmission and save lives.”

Other symptoms of the virus include fever, tiredness, a dry cough and, in severe cases, difficulty breathing.  

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Tuesday that it will postpone the Summer Games to the summer of 2021. 

The Tokyo-based games were set to start in July, but the IOC faced mounting pressure to push the event due to the coronavirus pandemic. Canada’s Olympic committee withdrew from the games on Sunday and Australia’s athletes were told not to train due to the risk, per The New York Times.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization discussed worst-case scenarios with medical officers connected to Olympic events. While holding events without spectators was an option, ultimately organizers decided delaying the games would provide enough time to let the pandemic subside. Japan has already spent $10 billion in preparation for the games.

The calendar shift to next summer will certainly cause some logistical issues, but will cause fewer problems than moving the games later in 2020 when NFL football, playoff baseball and the Premier League are still scheduled to play. The Olympics has not been canceled or postponed since World War II.

Britain went on virtual lockdown Monday to prevent the spread of coronavirus — prohibiting meetings of two or more individuals, closing nonessential businesses, and forcing people to remain in their homes.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said citizens who disobey the new order will face fines, according to The New York Times. People may leave their homes for trips for food or medicine and exercise alone or with family. Parks will remain open. 

The number of confirmed cases in Britain hit 6,650 on Monday, up from 5,683 on Sunday. The country has seen at least 335 deaths so far. Experts believe the country two weeks behind Italy in terms of spread and they expect to see those numbers surge.

“No prime minister wants to enact measures like this,” 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.”