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    At first, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker tried to play nice. He limited criticisms of the federal government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and asked for medical supplies through official channels. But nothing came, so he went on television. The first-term Democrat blasted the Trump administration Sunday on CNN for failing to help states obtain masks, gloves and other protective gear. It got President Donald Trump's attention. After a Twitter feud and some mudslinging (Pritzker compared Trump to a “carnival barker”), the two got on the phone Monday, and Trump promised Illinois 250,000 masks and 300 ventilators. Facing an unprecedented public health crisis, governors are trying to get what they need from Washington, and fast. But that means navigating the disorienting politics of dealing with Trump, an unpredictable president with a love for cable news and a penchant for retribution. Republicans and Democrats alike are testing whether to fight or flatter, whether to back channel requests or go public, all in an attempt to get Trump's attention and his assurances. At stake may be access to masks, ventilators and other personal protective gear critically needed by health care workers, as well as field hospitals and federal cash. As Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D-Mich., put it, “I can’t afford to have a fight with the White House.' Underlying this political dance is Trump's tendency to talk about the government as though it's his own private business. The former real estate mogul often discusses government business like a transaction dependent on relationships or personal advantage, rather than a national obligation. “We are doing very well with, I think, almost all of the governors, for the most part,' he said during a town hall on Fox News on Tuesday. “But you know, it’s a two-way street. They have to treat us well.” On a private conference call Thursday with Trump, governors from both parties pressed the president for help — some more forcefully than others. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, urged Trump to use his full authority to ramp up production of necessary medical equipment, according to an audio recording of the call obtained by AP. But Trump said the federal government is merely the “backup.” “I don't want you to be the backup quarterback, we need you to be Tom Brady here,' Inslee replied, invoking the football star and Trump friend. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, meanwhile, was lavish in his praise. “We’re just so appreciative, but we really need you,” Justice told Trump. In an interview Thursday night on Fox News Channel's “Hannity,” Trump groused, “Some of these governors take, take, take and then they complain.” Of Whitmer, he said, “All she does is sit there and blame the federal government.” And he said Inslee 'should be doing more,' adding, “He's always complaining.” California's Gavin Newsom, usually a fierce Trump critic, is among those who have gone out of their way not to lay the federal government's failings during the coronavirus outbreak at Trump's feet. Newsom complimented Trump for “his focus on treatments' for the virus and thanked him for sending masks and gloves to California. He said the president was “on top of it” when it came to improving testing and said Trump was aware “even before I offered my own insight” of the state's need for more testing swabs. It's an approach informed by Newsom's past dealing with Trump during devastating wildfires. While Trump always has approved California's requests for disaster declaration following fires, just days into Newsom's tenure last year Trump threatened the state's access to disaster relief money. Trump has kept a close eye on the coronavirus media coverage and noted which local officials were praising or criticizing him, according to three aides who spoke on condition on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the president's private deliberations. In conversations, Trump has blasted Whitmer and praised Newsom, they said. There's no evidence that Trump has held up a governor's request for assistance for personal or political reasons. Still aides say it's understood that governors who say nice things about the federal response are more likely to be spared public criticism from the White House or threats of withheld assistance. Trump approved California's request for a statewide disaster declaration within hours of Newsom asking on Sunday. Trump also has sent a Naval medical ship as well as eight field hospitals. New Jersey will be getting four field hospitals after a phone call between the president and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who has not criticized the president during the crisis. Republican governors are navigating particularly difficult waters, knowing that any comments viewed as critical of the president could anger Trump's loyal fans in their state. Some Republicans spoke out against Trump's talk of reopening the U.S. economy by Easter in mid-April. Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, head of the nonpartisan National Governors Association, called the White House messaging “confusing.” GOP Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, who lead on the early action, described himself as “aligned” with Trump, but then also noted the state's model did not show cases peaking until May 1. DeWine appealed to Ohioans to continue to stay home to limit the spread of the virus. Those close to DeWine say he understands the importance of picking his battles. “I think he recognizes this unprecedented once-in-a-century situation is bigger than politics,” said Ryan Stubenrauch, a former DeWine policy and campaign staffer. It's unusual to see a president and governors publicly feuding and name-calling while their country teeters on the brink of disaster. In past recent crises, presidents and state leaders have gone out of their way to show that politics plays no role in disaster response, and to project the appearance of cooperation. In 2005, as Republican President George W. Bush's administration received criticism for its handling of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, there was never a sense he was withholding help for personal reasons, said former Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. “I never had to worry that President Bush would be angry with me, personally, so he wouldn’t help the people of my state,' she said. “I knew he wasn't a petty leader.” In this moment, some governors have zigzagged between compliments and confrontation, knowing the president responds to both. When Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., was frustrated last week that Trump had not stepped up the federal response to hard-hit regions, he tried a counterintuitive approach, going on cable news to praise Trump for changing his tone about the severity of the virus. In a call to the White House, Cuomo delivered the same grateful message privately, according to two officials with knowledge of the conversation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly talk about the private discussions. Trump later expressed happiness to aides and advisers that Cuomo had said such nice things about him, according to two White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing. A week later, when Cuomo delivered an urgent, frustrated plea for ventilators Tuesday, he didn't mention Trump by name. Shortly after, a White House official said 4,000 more ventilators would be shipped to New York. But later that day, Trump vented to aides, complaining that Cuomo made it seem like Washington had abandoned him, according to those White House officials and Republicans. His anger broke through during the town hall. When Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator for the coronavirus response, was describing testing problems and mentioned New York’s high transmission rate, Trump interjected, trying to push Birx to criticize Cuomo: “Do you blame the governor for that?” __ Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writers Alan Suderman in Richmond, Virginia, Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Washington, and Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.
  • Barely a week ago, David McGraw was cooking daily for hundreds of fine diners at one of New Orleans’ illustrious restaurants. Today, he’s cooking for himself, at home — laid off along with hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. in a massive economic upheaval spurred by efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. U.S. Department of Labor figures to be released Thursday are expected to shatter the old record for the greatest number of new unemployment claims filed in a single week. There are more suddenly jobless Americans than during the Great Recession — and more than in the aftermath of major natural disasters such as hurricanes, fires and floods. But McGraw, and others like him, don’t need official numbers to understand the new realities of life in one of the nation’s hot spots for the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. “The whole city, laid off. Everybody,” said McGraw, using an exaggeration that didn’t seem like much of one. 'Everybody who worked at a restaurant is laid off.” Restaurants, hotels, airlines, automakers and entertainment venues all have been hit hard as cities, states and entire countries have ordered the closure of non-essential businesses and directed residents to remain at home. The goal is to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. For most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. Virus precautions have affected the worldwide economy. Companies in Europe are laying off workers at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis in 2009, according to surveys of business managers. Official labor statistics for Europe are not yet out, but companies have been announcing tens of thousands of job cuts, both permanent and temporary. The rise in joblessness may not be as sharp as in the U.S., however, because it is harder to fire workers in Europe, where many governments are supporting companies financially to keep workers on partially paid leave. Some economists project that the U.S. could see around 3 million new unemployment insurance claims when figures are released for the week of March 15-21. That would be around 12 times as many as the previous week. 'It's going to be an astronomical increase,' said Constance Hunter, president of the National Association for Business Economists and chief economist at the accounting firm KPMG. “We don't have any recorded history of anything like this.” In Labor Department records dating to 1967, the largest seasonally adjusted one-week number of new unemployment insurance claims was 695,000 in October 1982, when the national unemployment rate was around 10%. Before coronavirus concerns escalated this month, the U.S. unemployment rate had been at a 50-year-low of 3.5% That is certain to rise as the number of laid-off workers soars. In Louisiana alone, 71,000 people filed new unemployment applications last week, compared to the usual 1,400 or 1,500 people per week, said state labor secretary Ava Dejoie. Louisiana has one of the highest per capita counts of coronavirus cases in the U.S. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has ordered nonessential businesses to close, limited restaurants to takeout and delivery, banned gatherings over 10 people and directed residents to remain at home. New Orleans restaurant owner and caterer Keisha Henry said she lost $10,000 in revenue last week after three big functions she was slated to cater ended up canceling. Meanwhile, she still has expenses related to launching a bar and lounge six months ago. Henry said she had to lay off several employees. “I wish I could just keep them on and pay them, but being a small business, I don’t have enough capital to pay for the employees when we are not putting out a product,” she said. Workers can seek unemployment benefits from their home state immediately after losing their jobs. But it typically takes two to three weeks before they receive any money, because state agencies first have to contact their former employers to verify their work history and then calculate the amount of their weekly benefits based on their previous wages. That wait could last longer because of the sudden spike in unemployment claims. People should expect “that first benefit payments will take much longer than 21 days,” California's Legislative Analyst's Office warned earlier this week. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that 1 million unemployment claims had been filed in his state since March 13, a span a little longer than the federal reporting period. Until last week, many state unemployment agencies had been staffed to handle a comparative trickle of claims. Now they are scrambling to add workers to handle the influx. “Nobody can ramp up that fast without a little bit of a hiccup,' said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, a New York-based group that advocates for low-wage workers and the unemployed. Legislation signed last week by President Donald Trump could distribute $1 billion among states to help with the administration of unemployment claims. But it could take a while for that money to reach the states. Under legislation pending Wednesday in Congress, unemployed workers would get whatever amount a state usually provides for jobless benefits, plus a $600 per week add-on funded by the federal government. That boost could last up to four months. Though the extra money could help, it may not eliminate the uneasiness among the newly unemployed. “I think we are putting a lot of hope that the system will return to business as usual in the coming weeks, and I just don't believe that to be true,” said Ian Smith, who was laid off from his job as a server at an Atlanta-area restaurant. “The biggest thing keeping many of us up at night is what will the new normal look like?” Many recently unemployed workers have reported frustrations with jammed phone lines and overloaded internet sites as they try to apply for unemployment aid. Corey Rickmers, of Rockville, Maryland, was furloughed last week from his job as a digital engagement manager for a publishing company. This was his first time filing for unemployment benefits, and his claim was complicated by the fact he had previously worked out of state. Rickmers said it took several hours of phone calls on Monday before he finally reached a person who could help him at the state's labor department. “The process is frustrating,” he said. “I can only imagine what millions of people around the country ... are having to fight for right now.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said a recent survey of more than 6,600 businesses in his state showed more than half have laid off employees. Normally, the state's Department of Economic Opportunity receives between 250 and 1,000 unemployment claims a day. But DeSantis said the agency received 21,000 claims on Monday. “We are working on getting them the relief,” DeSantis said. “But, man, that’s not only going to have an economic cost, that will have a health cost unless we work hard to remedy that as soon as possible.” Rene Morgan, a web developer who lives in Davie, Florida, is among those filing new claims. He had been working for only a couple of weeks at a biotechnology startup when he was let go earlier this month after the company’s supply chain from China was disrupted by the coronavirus crisis. He is putting his collection of iconic typewriters for sale on eBay to make money to pay rent while he waits to receive unemployment benefits from the state. “I check back every day, and it keeps saying that my application is being processed,' Morgan said. ___ Lieb reported from Jefferson City, Missouri. ___ Associated Press writers Michael Kunzelman in Silver Spring, Maryland; Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami; Carlo Piovano in London; Christopher Rugaber in Washington; Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; and Angie Wang in Atlanta contributed to this report.
  • President Donald Trump has a new daily ritual now that the pandemic has put the kibosh on the signature campaign rallies that helped him get elected four years ago: the coronavirus briefing. Standing on the once-abandoned White House briefing room stage flanked by public health experts, Trump holds court with reporters and directly addresses the American people, providing updates on his administration's efforts to combat the pandemic and trying to demonstrate that he's in charge. The updates are far more staid than his raucous rallies and lack the adoring crowds and “Lock her up!” chants of the political gatherings. But they include many of the same features as his now-on-ice mass rallies: plenty of self-congratulation and airing of grievances, press bashing, tirades against his critics and an ample dose of misleading information. That, combined with measured updates from public health officials, has created a sometimes confusing split screen for Americans watching at home, many under stay-at-home restrictions and anxiously tuning in to cable news for updates. “I don't want to stand here for two hours and do this,' Trump told reporters during Monday's marathon briefing, which stretched to nearly two hours. “But I think it's important. ... Give us any question about it because I think it's important for the public to know.” For the first few days of the crisis, the briefings were led by Vice President Mike Pence, who offered buttoned-up updates in a calming, paternal tone. But Trump, who never likes to cede the spotlight, quickly decided to make himself the star of the daily show. Now, every day of the week, including Tuesday, when he sat down for a separate Fox News town hall in the Rose Garden, Trump emerges from behind closed doors and reads a summary of his administration's latest efforts. Then he invites other administration officials to make remarks from the often-crowded stage where social distancing recommendations are flouted. Then he opens things up for questions, and the discussion can go in many directions. Trump's disposition varies. On some days, he has struck an urgent tone, calling on Americans to come together to defeat a common enemy. On others, he has angrily defended his administration's handling of the pandemic and lashed out at reporters, including those who have pressed him on the economic impact of mass closures, testing shortfalls and the struggles of doctors and nurses to find basic supplies. “I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people,” he told one reporter who had asked what message he had for frightened Americans. Some around Trump have suggested that less is more — that he only attend the briefings when there is big news to announce. 'You want to keep the air of importance any time he steps into the room,” said former Trump communications aide Jason Miller. But Trump has told people that he knows the nation is watching and that he doesn’t want to give up the stage to deputies, who in some cases have refuted his commentary in real time on stage. “I'll see you all tomorrow,' he assured as he left the stage Tuesday. Indeed, the briefings have been racking up ratings. During five of last week's briefings, more than twice as many people tuned in to the networks than had during corresponding times a year ago, according to the Nielsen viewer tracking company. And Friday’s lunchtime briefing reached 8.28 million viewers on Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC alone — up from 2.82 million viewers during the same slot last year. It's a dramatic resurgence for a format that had become must-see TV during the early months of Trump's administration. But he effectively killed the White House press briefing in March 2019 and it has now been more than a year since the last briefing by a White House press secretary. The Trump briefings, which often include information that is later clarified or corrected, stand in sharp contrast to those of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which have been widely praised. While the Democrat has generally tried to provide an even-keeled, fact-based approach aided by endless PowerPoint slides, he was far more urgent Tuesday as he pleaded with the federal government to do more to help the state as it struggles to cope with a flood of more than 25,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. 'What am I going to do with 400 ventilators?!' Cuomo bellowed in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's latest offer. “You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators!” He also pushed back on Trump's stated wish to reopen the country for business in the coming weeks to stanch a bleeding economy. “What is this? Some modern Darwinian theory of natural selection?” he asked. Trump, for his part, has said he believes the White House updates build confidence in the federal response while providing officials with fresh ideas. “Some of the questions lead to us solving a problem. You bring up problems that people didn't know existed,” he said Monday. The daily spots have allowed Trump to dominate the airwaves while his chief Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has largely ceded the spotlight to Trump the last two weeks. The former vice president told supporters during a virtual fundraiser Monday that his campaign has been working to set up an at-home studio to allow for him to do more live events and interviews. While it’s been “a little slow getting out of the gate to be able to do it correctly,” Biden said they should expect to see more of him going forward. Indeed on Tuesday, Biden appeared live on ABC's “The View” and CNN from his home studio. “Americans want to see their president out front and leading, in command of the effort to keep the country safe,' said Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh. 'That’s exactly what President Trump is doing.” Yet the press briefings have also raised questions about whether news outlets should be airing them live, without fact-checking, given Trump's penchant for exaggeration and misstatements. Margaret Sullivan, media columnist for The Washington Post, said Monday that the briefings were beginning to sound like substitutes for Trump’s campaign rallies and were working against the goal of giving the public critical and truthful information. “They have become a daily stage for Trump to play his greatest hits to captive audience members,” she wrote. MSNBC star Rachel Maddow went even further. “All of us should stop broadcasting it, honestly,” she said. “It’s going to cost lives.” ___ Associated Press writers David Bauder and Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report.
  • Six television networks began showing President Donald Trump's briefing on the coronavirus outbreak late Monday, but only Fox News Channel stuck it out to the end nearly two hours later. It was a notable turning point in coverage of the president's now-daily briefings. Networks had been starting to hear criticism of how much time they have been showing the president answering questions live, reminiscent of a similar debate in the past about showing Trump's campaign rallies. Still, there's a difference between political rallies and a White House discussion of a national emergency. ABC, CBS and NBC all covered Trump at the beginning of Monday's briefing, which began about 6:10 p.m. Eastern. After 20 minutes, they switched to the network evening newscasts, never to return to Trump. The president spoke until shortly after 8 p.m. The cable news networks have given Trump blanket coverage for his briefings, but CNN cut away Monday at around 7:20 p.m. MSNBC followed within five minutes. Of its own decision to stop showing Trump live, CNN said that “if the White House wants to ask for time on the network, they should make an official request. Otherwise we will make our own editorial decisions.” MSNBC, through a spokesperson, said that “we cut away because the information no longer appeared to be valuable to the important ongoing discussion around public health.” The network's top star, Rachel Maddow, had said Friday night that television networks should no longer show Trump live. She cited examples of what she called false or misleading statements the president had made in past briefings, from general suggestions that the government had the virus under control to more specific discussions about drug treatments. “All of us should stop broadcasting it, honestly,” she said. “It's going to cost lives.” The Washington Post's media critic, Margaret Sullivan, wrote Monday that the briefings were beginning to sound like substitutes for Trump's campaign rallies, and were working against the goal of giving the public critical and truthful information. “They have become a daily stage for Trump to play his greatest hits to captive audience members,” she said. On Monday, after he had dismissed most of the administration officials who had stood near him on the podium, Trump talked about his briefings. By then, only Fox was televising him. “I don't want to stand here for two hours and do this but I think it's important,” he said. “I call it getting it out of your system. We don't want to just answer two questions and leave.” He said some of the questions were repetitive, but others were good and led to problems being solved. “At least you can say I'm very transparent,” he said. He spoke to an emptier room of reporters. More space has been placed between reporters since it was revealed that one correspondent had a suspected case of the disease. The briefings have attracted public interest, perhaps in part due to more people being at home and able to watch. For the three cable news networks, five Trump briefings last week each had more than double the audience the networks had for the same time period a year earlier, the Nielsen company said. For example, Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC attracted 8.28 million viewers for Trump's briefing Friday, nearly half of them watching Fox. The audience for those networks a year earlier was 2.82 million, Nielsen said. “When people are tuning in in droves to watch a news event, that tells you that they're interested in it — and you have to pay attention to that,” said Jonathan Klein, a former CNN president. One option for news executives worried that Trump might try to mislead the public could be to air briefings on tape delay so inaccuracies could be pointed out, he said. Given the importance of the story, though, “I don't think they have a choice” but to air the briefings, said Klein, who spoke in an interview shortly after Monday's session began.
  • The Supreme Court on Monday threw out a lower court ruling in favor of a black media mogul and comedian who’s suing cable giant Comcast alleging racial discrimination. The justices agreed unanimously that an appeals court applied the wrong legal standard in allowing business owner Byron Allen’s $20 billion suit against Comcast to go forward. Allen has a separate $10 billion suit against Charter Communications that the justices' decision also affects. A federal appeals court in San Francisco had said that Allen needed to show that race was among the factors in Comcast's decision not to offer him a contract. But the Supreme Court said that Allen has to show that race was the decisive factor in the cable companies' refusal to carry his television channels. Comcast has said it declined to carry the channels because the programming isn’t very good. Comcast, which is based in Philadelphia, said in a statement it was pleased with the justices' decision. Allen's lawyer had said previously he would go forward with the case no matter what the Supreme Court decided Allen needed to show. In a statement Monday, Allen called the ruling “harmful to the civil rights of millions of Americans.” Allen’s Los Angeles-based Entertainment Studios has several television networks including Cars.tv, Comedy.tv, Pets.tv, Recipe.tv and JusticeCentral.tv. Allen also owns The Weather Channel and a movie distribution company. The Supreme Court announced its decision in an opinion posted online. Typically the justices take the bench to announce opinions, which are then made available online, but the justices didn't take the bench Monday because of the coronavirus. The court previously announced that arguments scheduled for this week and next would be postponed because of the virus. And the court building is currently closed to the public.
  • Top congressional and White House officials emerged from grueling negotiations at the Capitol over the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package saying they expected to reach a deal Tuesday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said they had spoken by phone with President Donald Trump during the long night of negotiations. While the two sides have resolved many issues in the sweeping package, some remain. At midnight Monday, they emerged separately to say talks would continue into the night. “We look forward to having a deal tomorrow,” Mnuchin told reporters after exiting Schumer's office. “The president is giving us direction,' Mnuhcin said. 'The president would like to have a deal, and he's hopeful we can conclude this.” Moments later, Schumer agreed that a deal was almost within reach. “That's the expectation — that we finish it tomorrow and hopefully vote on it tomorrow evening,' he said. The long evening of shuttle negotiations came after a long day trying to close the deal. The massive package is a far-reaching effort to prop up the U.S. economy, help American households and bolster the health care system amid the growing crisis. Mnuchin said talks were expected to resume at 9:30 a.m. EDT. Tensions flared Monday as Washington strained to respond to the worsening coronavirus outbreak, with Congress arguing over a nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package and an impatient Trump musing openly about letting the 15-day shutdown expire next Monday, March 30. As the U.S. braces for an onslaught of sick Americans, and millions are forced indoors to avert a spike that risks overwhelming hospitals, the most ambitious federal intervention in modern times is testing whether Washington can act swiftly to deal with the pandemic on the home front. “It’s time to get with the program, time to pass historic relief,” said an angry Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier in the day as he opened the chamber after a nonstop weekend session that failed to produce a deal. “This is a national emergency.” Fuming, McConnell warned Democrats — pointedly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — to quit stalling on “political games,” as he described Democratic efforts to steer more of the aid toward public health and workers, and push other priorities. Trump, who has largely been hands off from the negotiations, weighed in late Monday from the White House briefing room, declaring that Congress should vote “for the Senate bill as written,' dismissing any Democratic proposal. “It must go quickly,' Trump said. “This is not the time for political agendas.' The Republican president also sounded a note of frustration about the unprecedented modern-day effort to halt the virus' march by essentially shutting down public activities in ways that now threaten the U.S. economy. Even though Trump's administration recommended Americans curtail activities starting a week ago, the president said: “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. At the end of the 15-day period, we will make a decision as to which way we want to go.” “Let's go to work,' he said. “This country was not built to be shut down. This is not a county that was built for this.” Trump said that he may soon allow parts of the nation's economy, in regions less badly hit by the virus, to begin reopening, contradicting the advice of medical and public health experts across the country, if not the globe, to hunker down even more firmly. Pelosi assailed Trump's idea and fluctuating response to the crisis. 'He's a notion-monger, just tossing out things that have no relationship to a well-coordinated, science-based, government-wide response to this,' Pelosi said on a health care conference call. 'Thank God for the governors who are taking the lead in their state. Thank God for some of the people in the administration who speak truth to power.” The White House team led by Mnuchin worked on Capitol Hill for a fourth straight day of talks as negotiators narrowed on a bipartisan accord. In the nearly empty building, the virus continued to strike close. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who announced he tested positive for coronavirus, is now among five senators under self-quarantine. Several other lawmakers have cycled in and out of isolation. And the husband of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, is in a hospital with pneumonia after testing positive, she said Monday. First lady Melania Trump, meanwhile, has tested negative for the coronavirus, Trump said. With a wary population watching and waiting, Washington labored under the size and scope of a rescue package — larger than the 2008 bank bailout and 2009 recovery act combined. Democrats are holding out as they argue the package is tilted toward corporations and should do more to help suddenly jobless workers and health care providers with dire needs. In particular, Schumer, D-N.Y., wants constraints on the largely Republican-led effort to provide $500 billion for corporations, which Democrats have called a “slush fund.” Schumer wants the bill to limit stock buy-backs, CEO pay and layoffs. Yet, he said, “We're very close to reaching a deal.' Even so, another attempt to move the package forward snagged, blocked as Democrats refused to quit negotiating. Democrats won one concession — to provide four months of expanded unemployment benefits, rather than just three as proposed, according to an official granted anonymity to discuss the private talks. The jobless pay also would extend to self-employed and so-called gig workers. But Republicans complained Democrats were holding out for more labor protections for workers, wanting assurances that corporations taking federal aid will commit to retaining their employees. Pelosi came out with the House Democrats' own sweeping $2.5 trillion bill, which would provide $1,500 directly to the public and $200 billion to the states, as governors are pleading for aid. She urged Senate negotiators “to move closer to the values” in it. Trump has balked at using his authority under the recently invoked Defense Protection Act to compel the private sector to manufacture needed medical supplies like masks and ventilators, even as he encourages them to spur production. “We are a country not based on nationalizing our business,” said Trump, who has repeatedly railed against socialism overseas and among Democrats. From his home, Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden criticized Trump for stopping short of using the full force of emergency federal authority . “Trump keeps saying he’s a wartime president,” Biden said in an online address. “Well, start acting like one.” On the economic front, the Federal Reserve announced Monday it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments as well as extend its bond-buying programs as part of a series of sweeping steps to support the flow of credit through an economy ravaged by the viral outbreak. Central to the emerging rescue package is as much as $350 billion for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home. The package also proposes a one-time rebate of about $1,200 per person, or $3,000 for a family of four, as well as extended unemployment benefits. Hospitals would get about $110 billion for the expected influx of sick patients, said Mnuchin. But Democrats are pushing for more health-care dollars for the front-line hospitals and workers. The urgency to act is mounting, as jobless claims skyrocket and financial markets are eager for signs that Washington can soften the blow of the health-care crisis and what experts say is a looming recession. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. ___ Bev Banks contributed. Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Hope Yen, Mary Clare Jalonick, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Alan Fram and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report.
  • The coronavirus outbreak has grounded the 2020 presidential race — but not ended it. What we're watching heading into a new week of what we used to call the campaign trail: ___ Days to next set of primaries (if Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming don’t reschedule): 12 Days to general election: 225 ___ THE NARRATIVE Call it the Bully Pulpit Rule: The terms of any incumbent presidential election start at the White House. Donald Trump, whose chief political skill always has been media domination, seems ready-made for that. The Republican president also has an opposition party stuck in neutral. Joe Biden is the Democrats’ nominee-in-waiting, but Bernie Sanders remains in the race, with no official end in sight. Yet with all that going for Trump, the COVID-19 pandemic finally has presented the former reality television star with a very real crisis. The leader of the free world, no matter how many White House briefings he gives, cannot simply define, overwhelm or intimidate a deadly communicable disease as if it’s a conventional political opponent. And not even an American president can dictate how the world economy responds. Trump has all the advantages of incumbency. Now, he’s forced to confront the pitfalls. ___ THE BIG QUESTIONS Can Trump find his presidential footing? The president has been consistent about pledging action to confront the coronavirus but inconsistent in his follow-through. He’s called himself “a wartime president” and said he’s invoking the Defense Production Act, yet there’s no evidence the administration has directed private sector production to meet shortages in medical supplies including gloves, masks and ventilators. He’s backed the idea of an economic package approaching $2 trillion, including direct payments to a large swath of Americans. Yet the president doesn’t seem to be a central figure in negotiations. Trump has allowed Dr. Anthony Fauci to become a household name. But the president disagreed openly with the federal government’s top infectious disease expert during nationally televised briefings. Trump has plenty of opportunities to shift from reflexive cheerleader to commanding executive, but he doesn’t appear to be there yet. There is little evidence his political base will punish him for his response. But that chunk of the electorate alone can’t ensure his reelection. Can Democrats break through the coronavirus cacophony? A quasi-national quarantine has Biden grounded in his Delaware home. But he told donors on a Sunday telephone fundraiser that he’s remade his recreation room into a television studio and that he planned, beginning late Monday morning, to give the first of what will become regular briefings. Sanders is using online addresses to try to stay in the news. The most recent one was a Sunday evening effort that included several guests, notably Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. National party leaders are taking their crack at it, as well. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and others are holding a tele-conference Monday to mark the 10th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act becoming law. The 2010 health insurance overhaul — and Trump’s efforts to gut it — were expected to be a defining issue of the fall campaign. But see the Bully Pulpit Rule above. None of those Democrats is president. When will Biden officially launch his search for a vice president? Biden on Sunday evening teased at a way he could make headlines, telling donors he’d “start that vetting process” for his running mate “very soon, meaning in a matter of weeks.” Biden indicated he’ll look at “six or seven people.” If he’s giving donors those kinds of details, it’s almost certain that the wheels have started turning inside the campaign. Biden’s already committed to picking a woman. Even amid a pandemic, any movement in the 2020 veepstakes will put Biden in the headlines. What is Sanders’ next move? The Vermont senator knows he won’t be the Democratic nominee. But at 78, Sanders also knows this is his last round in the presidential spotlight. And the coronavirus outbreak presents him a new justification for his call to remake the American economy and political system. He offered a window into his thinking during his online event Sunday night. “In this unprecedented moment in American history, we must act in an unprecedented way,” Sanders told supporters who watched the livestream. He repeated his longstanding ideas ( a single-payer government insurance system ) and added some new specifics. He called for payments of “$2,000 monthly, every month, every man, woman and child until the crisis is over.” But he never took a shot at Biden. He sounded more like a senator discussing Capitol Hill business than a presidential candidate. What voting changes are next? There’s growing pressure for states to expand vote-by-mail systems, both for upcoming primaries and for the Nov. 3 general election. Oregon and Washington state already use mail voting for everyone. But there are logistical, psychological and political barriers in other states. Several have delayed primaries, but there are plenty of signs that the COVID-19 threat will not have abated by the end of primary season. And it’s virtually impossible to push back the general election. The date is set statutorily by Congress, but Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, is locked in by the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. ___ THE FINAL THOUGHT Not long ago, Trump made clear he wanted 2020 to be about his stewardship of the economy, a validation of his promise to “make America great again.” From the start of his campaign, Biden also invited a referendum on Trump, arguing that the president threatened the very “soul of the nation.” With seven months and change until Election Day, it’s clear: Both men will get their wish. ___ 2020 Watch runs every Monday and provides a look at the week ahead in the 2020 election. ___ Follow Barrow at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP. ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 372,000 people and killed over 16,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 100,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China. TOP OF THE HOUR: — Cyprus issues nationwide 3-week ban on outside excursions — Hungry rodents hunt for food on Bourbon Street — Navy ship heads to Los Angeles to provide extra hospital beds ___ NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus has stepped up restrictions on the movement of all citizens in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus with a nationwide three-week ban on all unnecessary trips outside the home. President Nicos Anastasiades says that a “disobedient, ill-disciplined and reckless” minority of people who continue to flout existing restrictions are potentially putting lives at risk. He warned in a televised address that the measure is necessary to head off the unchecked spread of the new virus that could lead to the collapse of the health system. Anastasiades ordered all citizens to remain indoors unless they have to go to work, pick up food and other essential supplies, visit the doctor or a pharmacy, go to the bank or help others in need. The order remains in effect until April 13. Anastasiades says all citizens who must be outside have to carry their I.D. card or passport and those who don’t conform could face criminal charges and an on-the-spot fine of 150 euros ($161). Cyprus has 116 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death. ___ NEW ORLEANS — Another complication as New Orleans fights the spread of coronavirus: rats and mice abandoning their hiding places in walls and rafters of now-shuttered businesses. They venture out to look for trash to munch on. Claudia Riegel, the city’s pest control director, says workers in protective clothing are placing poisonous bait in storm drains and setting out traps for rodents on the city's famed Bourbon Street. ___ SAN DIEGO — A U.S. Navy hospital ship set sail from San Diego and planned to spend a few days at sea getting its newly formed medical team used to working together before arriving in Los Angeles to help the city free up its hospital beds. USS Mercy commanding officer Capt. John R. Rotruck says the ship has 1,000 beds and will begin taking patients who do not have coronavirus from area hospitals a day after it docks in Los Angeles. The ship will have 1,128 active-duty medical personnel on board, 58 reservists and nine of its 12 operating rooms will be ready to perform surgeries. California Gov. Gavin Newsom had called on President Donald Trump to send the ship to the Port of Los Angeles because of the growing number of cases in the state. For now, Navy officials say the ship will remain in the area as long as it's needed. It could be sent on to other cities on the West Coast. The USS Comfort hospital ship is preparing to go to New York, where the governor has been pressing for medical help. ___ TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to avoid imposing a statewide lock down, saying he still believes targeting the counties hardest hit by the coronavirus for the most extreme measures is the preferable path. DeSantis says about a third of Florida's 67 counties have no confirmed cases and another third have few, so he doesn't yet see the need to impose a near shutdown on their businesses that have been imposed in large, heavily infected counties such as Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. DeSantis has ordered statewide closures of bars and gyms and limited restaurants to takeout and delivery and some counties have gone farther, closing not only nonessential businesses but also beaches, marinas and parks. DeSantis says he doesn't want to cause unnecessary financial hardship or create unintended consequences such as people fleeing the state and spreading the disease. Over 1,100 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Florida and 13 have died. ___ PARIS — France’s health minister says authorities reported 186 new deaths from coronavirus in 24 hours, taking the total to 860 in the country that is experiencing Europe's third-worst coronavirus-linked death toll. Olivier Veran says France has 19,856 infected people, accounting for about a 20% rise in just one day. He says 2,082 people are in intensive care with the virus across the country. ___ THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government has tightened its measures aimed at reining in the spread of the coronavirus, including banning all gatherings until June 1. Local mayors have been given emergency powers to shut down locations where people gather and fine people breaching the orders. The move came after thousands of people headed to beaches and forests around the country over the weekend, openly flouting the government’s appeal to keep a distance of 1.5 meters between one another. Announcing the new measures, Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus slammed the behavior as “sloppy, laconic and anti-social.” Before the latest measures, the government had banned gatherings of 100 people or more until April 6. The Dutch public health institute says 34 people died of the effects of the virus in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll in the outbreak to 213. Another 545 people tested positive, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 4,749. ___ RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says public schools will remain closed for the rest of the current school year. He had previously ordered a two-week closure. Virginia officials say the number of people testing positive for the virus continues to rise and is now at 254. ___ YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar has announced its first two confirmed cases of COVID-19, one in the nation's biggest city, Yangon, and the other in the western state of Chin. An announcement on the Facebook page of the Health Ministry says the Yangon patient is a 26-year-old male who had recently traveled from the United Kingdom and was hospitalized Saturday. The 36-year-old male patient from Chin State is said to have recently traveled from the United States and was hospitalized Monday. There had been widespread skepticism that Myanmar had no cases of the coronavirus until now, because it has a long, porous border with China and a decrepit health infrastructure which would have trouble detecting the disease. The government had already restricted the entry of visitors from countries considered to have serious outbreaks and canceled April's celebrations of the Thingyan annual traditional water festival. ___ LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to address the nation tonight amid mounting speculation that he is to announce more draconian restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson, who cancelled his daily afternoon news conference, is currently meeting with senior members of his government and health experts within the COBRA emergency committee. The prime minister is coming under mounting pressure to introduce tougher measures, even of an Italy-style lockdown, after many people were seen over the weekend not observing the government's social distancing recommendations. British government figures Monday show another 54 people who had tested positive for the COVID-19 disease had died from the previous day, taking the total to 335. The British government has also updated its travel advice and is now urging all British travelers to return home as soon as possible. ___ PRAGUE — The Czech government has adopted another aid package for the economy struggling amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus. At the same time, Finance Minister Alena Schillerova says the budget deficit for this year will increase five times to 200 billion Czech crowns ($7.8 billion). Schllerova says the economy might fall by 5.1% this year. Labor Minister Jana Malacova says the government agreed to pay up to 80% of the salaries of people who can’t work as a result of the epidemic and companies keep them on the payroll. “We don’t want the companies to lay off their employees,” Malacova said. The government also suspended a system requiring businesses to report all their sales online. The businesses don’t need to use the electronic reporting system during the current state of emergency plus another three months after the coronavirus crisis is over. The government had already agreed last week to use up to $40 billion to help the economy in direct aid and loan guarantees. ___ PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island is the latest state to postpone its presidential primary as the impact of the new coronavirus widens. Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Monday the state will move its planned April 28 primary to June 2. Rhode Island joins Connecticut, Maryland, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Ohio in postponing their April 28 primaries — dubbed the “Acela Primary” or “I-95 Primary.' ___ PORTLAND, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown has ordered Oregonians to stay at home and banned all non-essential gatherings to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Brown issued the executive order after people swarmed the state's beaches, hiking trails and parks over the weekend. The crowds prompted several coastal towns to order non-residents out and shut down their hotels. The order closes businesses such as malls, retail complexes, arcades, barber shops, hair salons, gyms and fitness studios, skating rinks, theaters and yoga studios. Also closed are playgrounds and sports courts. Oregon has had five deaths from COVID-19 and 161 confirmed cases. ___ WASHINGTON — A senior State Department official says roughly 13,500 American citizens stranded abroad because of the coronavirus pandemic are seeking help in returning to the United States. The official said Monday that thousands more Americans are expected to return on department arranged flights in the coming weeks, about 1,500 of whom are booked on flights over the next several days. The official said the repatriations are being done with a combination of military flights, chartered passenger planes and commercial airlines where airports are still open. The official said the Department of Homeland Security has also offered to bring Americans home on planes that it uses to return deportees to mainly Central American nations. The official says that since late January the department has helped to evacuate more than 5,000 Americans from 17 countries, including early repatriation efforts for 800 people from China and more than 300 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. Some 1,200 from were transported from Morocco last week, the official said. The official urges Americans abroad seeking help to enroll in the department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, at https://step.state.gov/ to get alerts from embassies. The official says the department had over the weekend doubled the capacity of the server that handles STEP enrollments to address complaints that the system was not working well. The department has also set up call lines for Americans needing assistance: 888-407-4747 (toll free) or (202) 501-4444. A second official says fewer than 30 State Department employees at 220 embassies, consulates and other diplomatic facilities have thus far tested positive for the virus and that the number of U.S.-based employees is in the single digits, with clusters of one or two testing positive at offices in Washington, Boston, Houston, Seattle and Quantico, Virginia. The State Department employs some 75,000 people worldwide. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak on the matter by name. ___ TORONTO — Canada's most populous province is ordering the closure of all non-essential businesses. Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the order will be effective at midnight Tuesday and will be in place for at least 14 days. Ford says he will release the list of businesses that will be allowed to stay open, but food will remain on store shelves and people will still have access to pharmacies. ___ ROME — Italy's day-to-day increases of new cases of COVID-19 have dropped considerably compared to figures from a day earlier. According to data released on Monday by Italy's Civil Protection agency, new cases rose from a day earlier by 4,789 cases. That's nearly 700 fewer new cases that were reported in the day's previous day-to-day increases. Italy has been anxious to see daily new case loads drop as it health system struggles to keep up with the world's largest outbreak after China. Day-to-day increase in deaths also were fewer than the day before: 602 compared to 651 reported by authorities on Sunday. Health authorities have said it will need a few more days to see if a positive trend holds, including in northern Lombardy region, which is the nation's worst stricken region. The latest numbers come nearly two weeks into a national lock-down in a desperate bid to contain Europe's largest outbreak. ___ ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's health minister says the country will begin the mass production of respirators for domestic use and to export to countries in need. Fahrettin Koca said the government will also employ 32,000 more health workers across Turkey to fight the virus. A number of health personnel had contracted the virus, Koca said, adding that the exact figure would be released at a later date. The minister also said that Turkey has imported and started using a drug from China that was effective in treating coronavirus patients there. The virus has claimed the lives of 30 people in Turkey while at least 1,236 people have been confirmed as COVID-19 positive. Koca said some of those infected have recovered, but would not provide numbers. ___ WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration is reporting that 24 screening officers at 10 airports around the country have now tested positive for the coronavirus. It also says an additional five employees who have limited interaction with travelers have also tested positive. Those numbers from Monday are up from just seven employees a week earlier. Hardest hit is New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport where five screening officers have tested positive. TSA says security lanes remain open there are fewer passenger than have ever been counted by the agency at U.S. airports. In addition to both New York City airports, officers have tested positive at airports in Newark, New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; New York City; Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida; Atlanta; Cleveland; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and San Jose, California.
  • As signature cherry blossom trees go through peak bloom in the nation's capital, officials in the District of Columbia are resorting to mass street closures to keep large crowds away in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Public officials are publicly pleading for low turnout and one prominent local chef has launched the #StayHomeCherryBlossomsChallenge to make low visitation numbers into some sort of community goal. Health officials have said limiting public gatherings and keeping a distance of about 6 feet from others would help stop the spread of the disease which has sickened about 300,000 worldwide. The Metropolitan Police Department closed down a a dozen different streets, bridges and traffic circles Sunday morning trying to limit the traditional crowds who pack the area around the Jefferson Memorial and the tree-lined Tidal Basin. The iconic cherry blossoms reached peak bloom on Friday and should stay that way for about 10 days. “It's getting weirder and weirder,” said National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst of his unprecedented challenge to keep one of Washington's crown jewels as empty as possible. Officials are instead steering cherry blossom fans to their live bloom cam and virtual video tours of the Tidal Basin. “It's educational and it gets you close to the blooms” said Karyn Le Blanc of the Cherry Blossom Festival. “These are strange times,” she added. The crowds, Litterst said, have already been “a fraction of what we would see in a normal spring.” Friday's crowd's were “manageable” he said, but Saturday brought a surge in visitors that convinced authorities to take extraordinary steps. It appeared to be working: At the Tidal Basin Sunday, visitors wandered in small clusters of three or four instead of larger groups. The multiple closures caused a few loud traffic snarls, but in some areas families with strollers enjoyed the newly pedestrianized streets. One man walked through the area in a white hazmat suit. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser on Friday pleaded with both residents and visitors to stay inside despite the sunny forecast. Washington's Metro system closed down a pair of stations nearest to the Tidal Basin in the hopes of lessening crowds. “Don’t treat this like a normal weekend, there will be more nice days,” Bowser said. She declared a state of emergency and closed all schools through the end of April. Health officials here say the total number of infections in the nations capital now stand at 97, with the second virus-related death announced on Sunday. Washington’s tally doesn’t include people who may have been infected in Washington but live in nearby northern Virginia or southern Maryland. D.C.-based celebrity chef and philanthropist Jose Andres took to Twitter Sunday morning to plead for community compliance in avoiding the Tidal Basin. Under the hashtag #StayHomeCherryBlossomsChallenge, Andres pledged to “cook a huge Paella for thousands of Washingtonians” next year if they kept the number down. His followers rallied around and started posting pictures of the cherry blossoms in their yards and neighborhood for all to virtually enjoy online. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. ___ The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Top-level negotiations between Congress and the White House churned late into the night over a now nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package, as the coronavirus crisis deepened, the nation shut down and the first U.S. senator tested positive for the disease. As President Donald Trump took to the podium in the White House briefing room and promised to help Americans who feel afraid and isolated as the pandemic spreads, the Senate voted Sunday against advancing the rescue package. But talks continued on Capitol Hill. “I think you'll get there. To me it's not very complicated: We have to help the worker. We have to save the companies,' Trump said. Later, the Republican president suggested the remedies may be more harmful than the outbreak, vowing to reassess after the 15-day mark of the shutdown. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” he tweeted. Inside the otherwise emptied out Capitol, the draft aid bill was declared insufficient by Democrats, who argued it was tilted toward corporations and did too little to help workers and health care providers. Republicans returned to the negotiating table. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, exiting the Capitol just before midnight, struck an optimistic note: “We're very close,' he said, adding negotiators would work through the night. “Our nation cannot afford a game of chicken,' warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., his voice rising on the Senate floor Sunday night. His goal is to vote Monday. The Senate will re-convene at noon. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, sounded an optimistic note. “This bill is going to affect this country and the lives of Americans, not just for the next few days, but in the next few months and years -- so we have to make sure it is good, he said. ''There were some serious problems with the bill leader McConnell laid down. Huge amounts of corporate bailout funds without restrictions or without oversight -- you wouldn’t even know who is getting the money. Not enough money for hospitals, nurses, PPE, masks, all the health care needs. No money for state and local government, many of whom would go broke. Many other things.' But Schumer said they were making progress in dealing with those issues. 'We're getting closer and closer. And I’m very hopeful, is how I’d put it, that we can get a bill in the morning.” With a population on edge and shell-shocked financial markets poised for the new work week, Washington labored under the size and scope of the rescue package that's more ambitious than any in recent times — larger than the 2008 bank bailout and 2009 recovery act combined. Democrats say the largely GOP-led effort did not go far enough to provide health care and worker aid and fails to put restraints on a proposed $500 billion “slush fund” for corporations. They voted to block its advance. Democrats won a concession — to provide four months of expanded unemployment benefits, rather than just three as proposed, according to an official granted anonymity to discuss the private talks. The jobless pay also extends to self-employed and so-called gig workers. While the congressional leaders worked into the night, alarms were being sounded from coast to coast about the wave of coronavirus cases about to crash onto the nation's health system. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had dire, urgent news from the pandemic’s U.S. epicenter: “April and May are going to be a lot worse,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” De Blasio, a Democrat, all but begged Washington to help procure ventilators and other medical supplies. He accused the Republican president of “not lifting a finger” to help. Trump urged Congress to get a deal done and, during the Sunday briefing, responded to criticism that his administration was sluggish to act. He cited his cooperation with the three states hardest hit — New York, Washington and California — and invoked a measure to give governors flexibility in calling up the national guard under their control, while the federal government covers the bill. But even as Trump stressed federal-local partnerships, some governors, including Republican Greg Abbott of Texas, expressed unhappiness with Washington's response. The president himself took a swipe hours earlier at Gov. J. B. Pritzker, D-Ill., saying that he and “a very small group of certain other Governors, together with Fake News' should not be “blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings.' This came as Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky announced he tested positive for the coronavirus. Paul, who is a doctor and close ally of the president, said in a tweet he was not showing symptoms and was in quarantine. Paul was seen at a GOP senators' lunch on Friday and swimming in the Senate gym pool on Sunday morning, heightening concerns. His office said he left the Senate immediately after learning his diagnosis. A growing list of lawmakers have cycled in and out of isolation after exposure, and two members of the House have said they tested positive. Five senators were in self-quarantine Sunday evening and could not vote. In recent days, Trump invoked the Defense Protection Act, a rarely used, decades-old authority that can be used to compel the private sector to manufacture needed medical supplies like masks and ventilators. Officials said Sunday that it would be used voluntarily and businesses would not be compelled to act. “We are a country not based on nationalizing our business,” said Trump, who has repeatedly railed against socialism overseas and among Democrats. Two days after he lashed out at a reporter who asked about his message to frightened Americans, Trump said, 'For those worried and afraid, please know as long as I am your president, you can feel confident that you have a leader who will always fight for you.” But minutes later, when he learned that rival Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, was one of those in isolation, he declared, 'Romney's in isolation? Gee, that’s too bad.' Trump said he was not being sarcastic. The urgency to act is mounting, as jobless claims skyrocket and the financial markets are set to re-open Monday eager for signs that Washington can soften the blow of the healthcare crisis and what experts say is a looming recession. Stock futures declined sharply as Trump spoke Sunday evening. Officials late Sunday put the price tag of the ballooning rescue package at nearly $2 trillion. That does not include additional measures being taken by the Federal Reserve to shore up the economy. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was leading a third day of nonstop talks on Capitol Hill, said the plan was meant to prop up the nation’s weakened economy for the next 10 to 12 weeks. Central to the package is as much as $350 billion for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home. There is also a one-time rebate check of about $1,200 per person, or $3,000 for a family of four, as well as the extended unemployment benefits. Hospitals, Mnuchin said, will get approximately $110 billion for the expected influx of sick patients. The treasury secretary said a significant part of the package will involve working with the Federal Reserve for up to $4 trillion of liquidity to support the economy with “broad-based lending programs.” But Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have pushed for add-ons, including food security aid, small business loans and other measures for workers. They warned the draft plan's $500 billion for corporations does not put enough restraints on business, saying the ban on corporate stock buy-backs is weak and the limits on executive pay are only for two years. “We're not here to create a slush fund for Donald Trump and his family, or a slush fund for the Treasury Department to be able to hand out to their friends,” said Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. “We're here to help workers, we're here to help hospitals.” The president, when pressed by a reporter, dodged a question as to whether his own business would seek federal funds. With Sunday's failed vote, McConnell angrily blamed Pelosi, who returned to Washington for a top-level meeting, saying she “poured cold water” over the draft plan. But any measure from the Senate also needs to pass the House. The details are coming from drafts of both bills circulating among lobbyists but not yet released to the public. They were obtained by The Associated Press. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. ___ Bev Banks contributed. Associated Press writers Colleen Long, Hope Yen, Mary Clare Jalonick, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Alan Fram and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report. ___ The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

The Latest News Headlines

  • Nearly 705,000 people worldwide – including more than 135,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. Live updates for Sunday, March 29, continue below: Insurers Cigna, Humana waive coronavirus treatment costs Update 11:18 p.m. EDT March 29: Two of the country’s largest health insurance companies said they will waive customers coronavirus treatment costs. Cigna and Humana said they would cover costs, including hospitalizations, ambulance transfers and co-pays, CNBC reported. “Our customers with COVID-19 should focus on fighting this virus and preventing its spread,” David Cordani, Cigna president, said in a statement. “While our customers focus on regaining their health, we have their backs.” The waiver will also include medications and vaccines when they are available, CNBC reported. “We’re taking this significant action to help ease the burden on seniors and others who are struggling right now. No American should be concerned about the cost of care when being treated for coronavirus,” Bruce Broussard, president of Humana said in a statement. Michigan Rep. Isaac Robinson dead from suspected coronavirus infection Update 10:44 p.m. EDT March 29: Michigan state Rep. Isaac Robinson, who represented part of Detroit, died from a suspected coronavirus infection. He went to the hospital Sunday morning after having trouble breathing the last couple days and died hours later, WXYZ reported. “He wouldn’t go to the hospital. I kept insisting the last three days. I kept saying, ‘You should go to the doctor, go to the hospital.’ Of course, he resisted,” his mother, Rose Mary Robinson, told Crain’s Detroit Business. “Tough guy.” Robinson, 44, had not been tested for the coronavirus, Crain’s reported. Robinson, a Democrat, was elected in 2018. He was serving his first term in the seat previously held by his mother, the Detroit Free Press reported. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer offered her condolences. “He dedicated his career to ensuring justice and security for those he served, and the impact he had on his community will continue to be felt for years to come,” Whitmer said on social media. “Rep. Robinson will be missed by many, including me. It was an honor to serve the people of Michigan alongside him.” There are more than 1,500 confirmed cases in Michigan, according to state health officials. Amazon workers plan strike at New York facility  Update 8:57 p.m. EDT March 29: Amazon employees at a New York facility plan to walkout Monday amid concerns about safety as the coronavirus spreads. As many as seven workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Staten Island, New York, facility, CNN reported. “The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized,” Christian Smalls, an assistant manager leading the strike, told CNN. “We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.” The strike could involve 50 to 200 employees, CNN reported. Amazon did not immediately comment. The Amazon employees are not the first to threaten a strike as the coronavirus spreads. Instacart shoppers said they will strike Monday after asking for additional compensation and safety precautions. There are more than 142,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map. First person in West Virginia dies from virus Update 7:39 p.m. EDT March 29: The first person in West Virginia has died from the coronavirus, health officials said Sunday. An 88-year-old woman from Marion County died, the state Department of Health and Human Resources said in a release. No other details were released. “We extend our sincere condolences to this family,” department Secretary Bill J. Crouch said in a statement. West Virginia was the last U.S. state to report a confirmed case. Hawaii and Wyoming are the only states that have no reported coronavirus deaths. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Trump extends social distancing guidelines another 30 days Update 6:36 p.m. EDT March 29: President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the federal guidelines for isolating for an additional 30 days in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines were set to expire Monday. Health officials said the rollback would increase transmission of the virus. Trump said last week he hoped to have the country “reopened” by April 12. The Associated Press contributed to this report.  Musician John Prine hospitalized with virus symptoms, ‘critical’  Update 5:49 p.m. EDT March 29: Musician John Prine is hospitalized with symptoms of the coronavirus. He was taken to a hospital Thursday and was intubated Saturday, the Prine family said on social media. “His situation is critical,” the Prine family said in a statement. “This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now.” Resident at Maryland nursing home dies from virus Update 5:36 p.m. EDT March 29: A resident at a Maryland nursing home where an outbreak of the coronavirus infected 66 people has died. The 90-year-old man was a resident at Pleasant View Nursing Home. He died Saturday, The Associated Press reported. Health officials said Sunday that the number of cases has not changed. There are still 66 residents who have tested positive and 11 who were hospitalized. The nursing home is seeing staff shortages, as employees are not coming into work. No staff member has tested positive. Country music star Joe Diffie dies from complications caused by virus Update 4:39 p.m. EDT March 29: Oklahoma-born country music star Joe Diffie died Sunday from coronavirus-related issues, according to his Facebook page. His family has asked for privacy at this time. Worldwide cases top 700,000; US cases at 135,000 Update 3:29 p.m. EDT March 29: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus topped 710,000 Sunday, according to the Coronavirus Resources Center at Johns Hopkins University. The number of cases in the United States has now passed 135,000, the website reported. The total number of cases passed 705,000 worldwide, and more than 33,000 people have died from COVID-19. according to the Resources Center. Sunday morning, the World Health Organization reported 638,146 confirmed cases across 203 countries, with 30,105 deaths. Moscow mayor issues quarantine order Update 2:57 p.m. EDT March 29: Moscow’s mayor issued a citywide quarantine starting that will begin Monday, The Washington Post reported. The stay-at-home order by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin came after the Russian capital’s confirmed cases of coronavirus topped 1,000, the newspaper reported. Residents are allowed to leave their homes for groceries or to pick up medical supplies, the Post reported. People are also allowed to take out their trash or walk their dogs within 100 feet of their residences, the newspaper reported. Cuomo: Death toll in New York state approaching 1,000 Update 2:02 p.m. EDT March 29: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s death toll because of the coronavirus is approaching 1,000, The New York Times reported. Cuomo put the number of disease-related deaths at 965, an increase from 728 in the last 24 hours, the newspaper reported. The majority of COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in New York City. At a news conference, Cuomo said figures released Sunday morning showed 678 coronavirus deaths in the city, the Times reported. Justin Trudeau will continue to self-isolate at home Update 1:33 p.m. EDT March 29: Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, said he will continue to self-isolate at home even though his wife has recovered from the coronavirus, The New York Times reported. Trudeau said he will continue to remain in isolation because he was living with someone who tested positive, the newspaper reported. Trudeau said his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, took their three children to the prime minister’s summer residence in Harrington Lake, Quebec, the Times reported. Plane evacuating patient crashes at Manila airport, killing 8 Update 12:34 a.m. EDT March 29: An plane on a medical evacuation mission headed for Tokyo crashed at Manila airport Sunday night, killing all eight people on board, The Washington Post reported. One American, one Canadian and six Filipinos were killed, according to Richard Gordon, the Philippines’ Red Cross chairman and a member of the Senate. Details of the medical mission were unclear, authorities said. “There was no confirmation or denial about the situation of the passenger,” Ed Monreal, general manager of Manila International Airport Authority, told the Post. Mnuchin: Expect stimulus check deposits within 3 weeks from Sunday Update 11:28 a.m. EDT March 29: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters at the White House that Americans can expect direct deposit of their checks from the stimulus bill in their accounts within three weeks from Sunday, CNN reported. Mnuchin also said small businesses should “Go back and hire your workers because the government is paying you to do that.' “(My) number one objective is now delivering to the American workers and American companies the needed money that will put this economy in a position where it get through the next eight-10 weeks,” Mnuchin said. Fauci predicts US could have more than 100K deaths Update 10:30 a.m. EDT March 29: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday the United States could have “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths, according to an Associated Press report. Fauci made the prediction while speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” program Sunday morning. The U.S. is currently reporting more than 124,700 cases and more than 2,100 deaths, the AP reported. UK announces 209 more deaths in past 24 hours Update 10:18 a.m. EDT March 29: There have been another 209 coronavirus related deaths in the United Kingdom over past 24 hours, Public Health England said Sunday. That puts the total death toll at 1,228, and there are 19,522 confirmed cases in the UK. US civil rights office working to prevent discrimination Update 9:57 a.m. EDT March 29: Roger Severino, the director of the U.S. health department’s civil rights office, said his department is opening investigations to ensure states do not allow medical providers to discriminate in deciding who receives medical care during the coronavirus pandemic. According to The New York Times, the probes will examine whether providers have been discriminated against on the basis of disabilities, race, age or certain other factors. “Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless utilitarianism,” Severino said in a statement. People with disabilities “should not be put at the end of the line for health care during emergencies,” the statement said. Severino told the Times his office had heard from “a broad spectrum of civil rights groups, pro-life groups, disability rights groups, from prominent members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, from ordinary people who are concerned about their civil rights in this time of crisis.” India’s prime minister apologizes to nation’s poor Update 9:46 a.m. EDT March 29: India’s prime minister asled the nation’s poor for forgiveness after a nationwide lockdown forced thousands of jobless laborers to walk from cities to their home villages. “I extend a heartfelt apology to all countrymen,” Narendra Modi said in a nationwide radio address, The Washington Post reported. “When it comes to my underprivileged brothers and sisters, they must be wondering about the kind of prime minister they have, who has pushed them to the brink. My wholehearted apologies, especially to them.” Modi’s government announced a $22.6 billion stimulus plan Thursday, the newspaper reported. Vietnam plans to halt incoming flights for 2 weeks Update 9:28 a.m. EDT March 29: to a government report released Sunday, Vietnam will halt incoming passenger flights over the next two weeks, CNN reported. Flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to other locations will also be reduced, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said. Netherlands rejects 600K defective masks made in China Update 8:52 a.m. EDT March 29: Health authorities in The Netherlands rejected approximately 600,000 Chinese-made masks from hospitals after learning they did not adequately protect health workers from the coronavirus, The Washington Post reported. Dutch health authorities that represented about half of a recent shipment of 1.3 million masks, according to NOS, the Dutch public broadcaster. “Due to shortages, we can find ourselves in a situation where the only protective equipment that is available does not meet the highest standards. This is an issue in all countries,” the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport said in a statement to NOS. The number of people who have tested positive in The Netherlands topped 10,000, the Dutch Ministry of Health said Sunday. Mexico tells citizens to stay home until April 19 Update 8:41 a.m. EDT March 29: Mexican health authorities asked citizens to help prevent the spread of coronavirus by staying home until April 19, according to CNN. “This can’t be postponed, it is our last chance to do it and do it now,' Mexican deputy health secretary Hugo López-Gatell said. 'And this requires that we massively restrict ourselves and stay at home.” Health authorities said there are 848 confirmed coronavirus cases and 16 deaths in Mexico. Spain reports record-high 838 deaths in one day Update 7:01 a.m. EDT March 29: Spain has reported that 838 people died from coronavirus in one day, marking a new, grim daily record for the country, officials said Sunday. According to The Associated Press, Spain saw more than 6,500 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, bringing its total number of cases to 78,797. The country’s 6,528-person death toll is the second-highest worldwide, the AP reported. Italy has reported the highest number of deaths, with 10,023, according to Johns Hopkins University. Canadian PM Trudeau’s wife recovers from virus Update 5:36 a.m. EDT March 29: The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recovered from coronavirus, she announced Saturday. According to The Associated Press, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau took to Facebook on Saturday night to share the news. “I wanted to give you all an update: I am feeling so much better and have received the all clear from my physician and Ottawa Public Health,” she wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me with their well wishes. And to everyone who is suffering right now, I send you all my love.” >> See the post here Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19 after she traveled from London back to Canada, her husband’s office said on March 12. Trudeau and the couple’s three children have been self-isolating and have not noticed any symptoms, the AP reported. CDC issues travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut Update 4:46 a.m. EDT March 29: President Donald Trump has decided against seeking a quarantine for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, opting instead to ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to issue a strong travel advisory” for the states, he tweeted Saturday night. “A quarantine will not be necessary,” Trump added. >> See the tweets here The advisory, which now appears on the CDC’s website, “urges residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” “This Domestic Travel Advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services and food supply,” the advisory reads. The states’ governors “will have full discretion to implement” the advisory, the website says. >> See the CDC’s tweets here Nordstrom partners with furniture store to produce more than 100,000 face masks Update 3:46 a.m. EDT March 29: After Seattle-based Providence Health put out a global request for more personal protective equipment for doctors, nurses and other health care workers, Washington state manufacturer Kaas Tailored and retail giant Nordstrom partnered together to answer the high demand. As part of Providence’s 100 Million Mask challenge, Kaas and Nordstrom are producing daily personal face masks and face shields at their facilities. Nordstrom recently partnered with Kaas, a Mukilteo furniture store, to make the masks. Members of the Nordstrom alteration teams in California, Oregon, Texas and Washington will be sewing more than 100,000 masks to be distributed to Providence Health in Seattle. Kaas Tailored typically makes furniture for aerospace clients. Founder Dan Kaas told KIRO-TV earlier this week it didn’t take long to setup an action plan after answering Providence’s call. “I said, ‘Hey, do you need help?’ and about five minutes later she texted me saying, ‘Yeah, we want to talk.’ And that was Wednesday, and there was a plan put in place by the end of the day,” Kaas said in an interview with KIRO′s Rob Munoz. In an online video posted to the Kaas Tailored website, Kaas details its new Essential PPE Network Equation, how it’s going about meeting the demands of the mask production and the structure working with other manufactures who also want to help. Kaas Tailored is continuing to make thousands of masks a day, but said it’s working at full capacity and cannot fill new orders at this time. Providence is referring manufacturers in Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Texas and Washington that are interested in making PPEs to reach out to Kaas. Manufacturers in other states that want to help make face masks can reach out to the American Hospital Association. Nordstrom will continue to offer additional support to local partners the Seattle Foundation, YouthCare and Hetrick Martin Institute. Nordstrom is also donating 1% of its gift card sales to support community grants and programs during the coronavirus relief efforts. Country singer Joe Diffie tests positive for COVID-19 Update 3:08 a.m. EDT March 29: Country music star Joe Diffie has tested positive for coronavirus, he announced on social media. In a Friday Instagram post, the Grammy Award-winning singer said he's being treated for the virus, which had infected about 665,000 people worldwide and more than 124,000 in the United States by Sunday morning. 'My family and I are asking for privacy at this time,' the statement read. 'We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.' >> See the post here According to The Associated Press, Diffie, 61, is best known for songs such as 'Honky Tonk Attitude' and 'Third Rock From the Sun.' He joins a growing list of celebrities and public figures who have tested positive for COVID-19, including Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Idris Elba, Harvey Weinstein, Jackson Browne, Placido Domingo, Britain's Prince Charles and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Samaritan’s Purse helps New York amid coronavirus pandemic Update 2:14 a.m. EDT March 29: The North Carolina-based organization Samaritan’s Purse is now bringing relief to New York amid the coronavirus pandemic. New York’s hospital system is already overwhelmed with patients. The group shipped a 68-bed field hospital with a special respiratory care unit Saturday. The organization said an advanced team got to New York on March 27 to begin assessments and prepare the site. “People are dying from the coronavirus, hospitals are out of beds and the medical staff are overwhelmed,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “We are deploying our emergency field hospital to New York to help carry this burden.” This comes a week after Samaritan’s Purse opened an identical unit in Cremona, Italy. U.S. cases soar past 124,000, including more than 2,100 deaths Update 12:49 a.m. EDT March 29: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 124,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Sunday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 124,464 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 2,191 deaths. Worldwide, there are 664,695 confirmed cases and 30,847 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 92,472 reported in Italy and the 82,057 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed deaths, 834 have occurred in New York, 189 in Washington state, 140 in New Jersey and 137 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 53,520 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 11,124 and California with 5,636. Four other states have each confirmed at least 4,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Michigan: 4,658, including 112 deaths • Washington: 4,310, including 189 deaths • Massachusetts: 4,257, including 44 deaths • Florida: 4,038, including 56 deaths Meanwhile, Illinois and Louisiana have confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus infections each, while Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia and Colorado have confirmed at least 2,000 cases each.
  • Amazon employees at a New York facility plan to walk out Monday amid concerns about safety as the coronavirus spreads. As many as seven workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Staten Island, New York, facility, CNN reported. “The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized,” Christian Smalls, an assistant manager leading the strike, told CNN. “We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.” The strike could involve 50 to 200 employees, CNN reported. Amazon did not immediately comment. The Amazon employees are not the first to threaten a strike as the coronavirus spreads. Instacart shoppers said they will strike Monday after asking for additional compensation and safety precautions. There are more than 142,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map.
  • The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recovered from coronavirus, she announced Saturday. According to The Associated Press, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau took to Facebook on Saturday night to share the news. “I wanted to give you all an update: I am feeling so much better and have received the all clear from my physician and Ottawa Public Health,” she wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me with their well wishes. And to everyone who is suffering right now, I send you all my love.” >> See the post here Gregoire Trudeau, 44, tested positive for COVID-19 after she traveled from London back to Canada, her husband’s office said on March 12. Trudeau, 48, and the couple’s three children have been self-isolating and have not noticed any symptoms, the AP reported. As of Sunday morning, more than 5,600 coronavirus cases and 61 deaths have been reported in Canada, according to Johns Hopkins University. Read more here.
  • Nearly 622,000 people worldwide -- including nearly 105,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Saturday, March 28, continue below: First federal inmate dies from virus Update 10:17 p.m. EDT March 28: The first federal inmate in custody has died from the coronavirus, officials said on Saturday. Patrick Jones, 49, an inmate at the Federal Corrections Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana, complained of a persistent cough March 19, CBS News reported. While at the hospital, he tested positive March 20 for the coronavirus. Jones, who has pre-existing conditions, was put on a ventilator. He died Saturday. He was serving a 27-year sentence for possession with intent to sell crack cocaine. More than 10 inmates have been taken to the hospital and at least 60 others are in isolation, The New York Times reported. Instacart employees plan strike over safety fears Update 10:17 p.m. EDT March 28: Instacart employees are planning to strike Monday over fears that they are exposing themselves to risk of the coronavirus and are not being adequately protected or compensated by their company. “Instacart has a well established history of exploiting its Shoppers, one that extends years back before our current crisis,” Instacart employees and Gig Workers Collective, an activist organization, wrote in a letter posted on Medium. “Now, its mistreatment of Shoppers has stooped to an all-time low. They are profiting astronomically off of us literally risking our lives, all while refusing to provide us with effective protection, meaningful pay, and meaningful benefits.” Employees are asking for an additional $5 on each order and personal protection equipment provided at no cost, including hand sanitizer and disinfectant sprays. It not unclear how many employees would participate. More than 200,000 people work as shoppers for the company, The New York Times reported. The company had plans to hire thousands more amid demand for delivery while people are quarantined and isolating. Instacart announced earlier this week new safety guidelines and said it would increase bonuses for its shoppers and extend sick and quarantine pay. “The health and safety of our entire community – shoppers, customers and employees – is our highest priority,” the company said in a statement, KNTV reported. 66 residents at Maryland nursing home test positive for virus Update 9:07 p.m. EDT March 28: A coronavirus outbreak has doubled the cases in Maryland after 66 residents at a nursing home tested positive for the deadly virus. Eleven of the 66 residents at Pleasant View Nursing Home have been hospitalized, WBAL reported. “Multiple state agencies are on the scene and working closely with the local health department & the facility to protect additional residents and staff who may have been exposed,” Gov. Larry Hogan said on social media. There have been 10 deaths in the state. US death toll surpasses 2,000, doubling in two days Update 6:39 p.m. EDT March 28:  More than 2,000 U.S. citizens have died from the coronavirus as of Saturday, the death toll doubling in about 48 hours, the Washington Post reported. The time between the first confirmed death and the 1,000th was about a month. There are nearly 120,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map. More than 30,000 people have died from the coronavirus worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins. Columbia Sportswear CEO cuts salary to $10,000 Update 5:59 p.m. EDT March 28: Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle has cut his salary to $10,000 while employees will continue to receive their regular pay. At least 10 other top executives took a voluntary 15% pay cut, The Oregonian reported. The company’s nearly 3,500 employees are receiving their regular paychecks through a “catastrophic pay” program while its stores are closed amid the coronavirus outbreak. The stores closed March 16 and will remain shuttered at least another two weeks. Boyle was paid $3.3 million in total compensation in 2018, The Oregonian reported. Infant in Illinois dies from virus Update 4:24 p.m. EDT March 28: An infant less than a year old died from the coronavirus in Illinois. The child is one of 13 new deaths in the state, health officials said Saturday. “There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant. A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death,” state Health Department Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us.” In China, a 10-month-old died from the coronavirus, the New England Journal of Medicine reported March 18. There are 3,491 cases of the coronavirus and 47 deaths in Illinois, according to health officials. Ireland imposes strict lockdown order Update 3:42 p.m. EDT March 28: Ireland’s prime minister announced a lockdown with strict restrictions in the country Saturday, The New York Times reported. “Freedom was hard-won in our country, and it jars with us to restrict and limit individual liberties, even temporarily,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in an address to the nation. As of early Saturday, Ireland had reported 2,121 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and 22 deaths, the Times reported. From midnight until at least April 12, Ireland’s residents have been ordered to stay at home except to travel to essential jobs, medical appointments, family care or “brief” exercise, according to the newspaper. Trump goes to Virginia, sends off Navy ship bound for NYC Update 2:49 p.m. EDT March 28: President Donald Trump spoke in Front of the USNS Comfort in Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday, before the Navy hospital ship before it departed for New York City. “This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York,” Trump said. Trump said the ship would not treat patients with coronavirus, but will provide aid for people with other urgent care needs, CNN reported. “Their mission will be to care for New Yorkers who do not have the virus but who require urgent care,' Trump said. “In other words, they’ll be using this, people will be coming out of hospitals who don’t have the virus and they’ll be on this ship where they have great operating rooms and great facilities and the places in-bound, on land will be where people that have the virus will be.” RI governor confirms 2 deaths, issues stay-at-home order Update 2:06 p.m. EDT March 28: Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo confirmed the first two deaths in the state and issued a stay-at-home order, telling citizens they could still make necessary trips for food, gasoline or medicine, the Providence Journal reported. Raimondo also ordered anyone entering the state by any means to self-quarantine for 14 days, she said at a news conference. The governor also said all “non-essential” retail outlets will close Monday until April 13, “These are the first deaths and certainly will not be the last two,” Raimondo said. “This is for me and for all of us, this a reminder of the stakes that we face.” Kansas gov. Kelly issues stay-at-home order Update 1:32 p.m. EDT March 28: At a news conference, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued a stay-at-home order for the state beginning Monday at 12:01 p.m. “As we speak, well over half of Kansas’ population falls under a local stay at home order of some kind. Even without the executive order I’m issuing today, Kansas’ most populous counties have already issued local state orders to their communities,' Kelly said at the news conference. “As governor, I left these decisions to local health departments for as long as possible. But the reality is that a patchwork approach is a recipe for confusion in our statewide fight to slow the spread of coronavirus that statewide uniformity will ensure. We’re all playing by the same rules, and it would help prevent an influx of new cases for local health departments, many of which are already stretched to max.” Cuomo: NY presidential primary moved to June 23 Update 12:39 p.m. EDT March 28: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference that the state’s presidential primary, scheduled for April 28, will be postponed until April 28. Cuomo said the prospect of many people congregating to vote in April was not wise. “I don’t think it’s wise to be bringing a lot of people to one location to vote,” Cuomo said. “A lot of people touching one doorknob, a lot of people touching one pen, whatever you call the new device on the ballots.” Cuomo also extended the tax filing deadline in the state to July 15. “This is good news for individuals, for businesses. You don’t have to file your state tax return. You file it with the federal tax return on July 15,' Cuomo said. “It’s bad news for the state of New York on a parochial level. That means we receive no revenue coming in until July 15.' UN to donate 250K protective masks to hospitals in NYC Update 12:29 p.m. EDT March 28: United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres said the organization will donate 250,000 protective face masks to medical facilities in New York City, CNN reported. The masks will be given to medical professionals “who have been working courageously, selflessly, and tirelessly in response to the spread of COVID-19 across the boroughs in the hope that they play some small role in saving lives,” Guterres said in a statement Saturday. UK death toll tops 1,000; Johnson tweets, ‘We’ll beat this' Update 11:02 a.m. EDT March 28: The death toll from the coronavirus in the United Kingdom passed the 1,000 mark, according to figures released by the country’s Department of Health and Social Care. That is an increase of 260 people, with the total at 1,019, according to the BBC. On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, “We’re going to beat it, and we’re going to beat it together.' Johnson tested positive for coronavirus Friday. “Thank you to everybody who’s doing what I’m doing, working from home and stopping the virus spreading from household to household,' Johnson tweeted. Death toll surges in Spain, Italy Update 9:31 a.m. EDT March 28: Spain and Italy reported record numbers in the death tolls in their countries. Spanish officials reported 832 new deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing its total to 5,690, The New York Times reported. Spain also reported that 12,248 people have recovered from the virus, the newspaper reported. Italian officials said 969 people have died in the past day, bringing its total to 9,134, the Times reported. Trump approves Michigan’s request for disaster relief Update 9:31 a.m. EDT March 28: The White House announced Saturday that President Donald Trump approved Michigan’s request for a disaster declaration. “Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Michigan and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected,” the White House said in a statement. The declaration means federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments, the statement said. Certain private nonprofit organizations also will be eligible for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, for areas in Michigan impacted by coronavirus. South Korea says 3 test-kit makers win FDA preapproval Update 8:42 a.m. EDT March 28: South Korea’s foreign ministry said three test-kit makers in the country have won preapproval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The move paves the way for kits to be sent to the United States, The New York Times reported. The ministry did not name the manufacturers but said the preapproval, under emergency use authorization, allowed the products to be sold in the United States, the newspaper reported. Global coronavirus deaths top 28K, worldwide cases near 608K Update 7:35 a.m. EDT March 28: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus hit 28,125 early Saturday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the three months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 607,965 people worldwide. • The United States has reported 104,837 confirmed cases, resulting in 1,711 deaths. • Italy has confirmed 86,498 cases, resulting in 9,134 deaths. • China has recorded 81,996 cases, resulting in 3,299 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 65,719 infections, resulting in 5,138 deaths. • Germany has reported 53,340 cases, resulting in 395 deaths. • Iran has recorded 35,408 cases, resulting in 2,517 deaths. • France has confirmed 33,414 infections, resulting in 1,997 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 14,754 cases, resulting in 761 deaths. • Switzerland has confirmed 13,187 cases, resulting in 240 deaths. • South Korea has recorded 9,478 cases, resulting in 144 deaths. Japanese PM warms of ‘explosive spread’ of coronavirus threatening urban hubs Update 7:20 a.m. EDT March 28: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued a stern warning during a Saturday news conference, urging citizens to prepare for a “long-term battle” as the novel coronavirus threatens an “explosive spread” across the country. The Washington Post, citing Japanese media coverage of the news conference, reported Abe said cases of unknown origin are spiking, especially in the urban hubs of Tokyo and Osaka. “An uncontrollable chain of infection could lead to explosive spread somewhere,” he said. Abe’s comments came one day after Japan recorded its largest single-day spike in new cases of 123, bringing the nationwide total to 1,499 and 49 deaths. Nearly half of those newest cases were detected in Tokyo. New coronavirus cases spike in South Korea following steady decline Update 5:13 a.m. EDT March 28: Following a week of significantly decreased volume, South Korea reported a spike of 146 new coronavirus infections on Saturday. According to the nation’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the new cases bring South Korea’s total infections to 9,478, but Friday’s uptick stood in stark contrast to the fewer than 105 cases reported each day for the past week. On a more positive note, the country’s CDC confirmed only about 4,500 coronavirus patients remain isolated for treatment, while more than 4,800 patients have been deemed recovered and discharged from isolation. Italy’s coronavirus cases surpass those in China Update 5:07 a.m. EDT March 28: The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Italy has reached 86,498, making it the second nation in as many days to surpass China’s total of 81,946. The United States eclipsed China’s infection total on Thursday – and currently reports slightly under 105,000 confirmed cases – but Italy’s death toll continues to climb as the outbreak ravages Europe.  Health officials confirmed 969 virus-related deaths in Italy on Friday, alone, making it the largest single-day death toll recorded by an country since the pandemic began. To date, the nation has reported a total of 9,134 fatalities, followed by Spain with 5,138 deaths and China with 3,295. U.S. Navy locks down Yokosuka base after sailors test positive for coronavirus Update 3:31 a.m. EDT March 28: The U.S. Navy has ordered a lockdown of its Yokosuka base after recording its second and third cases of novel coronavirus on Friday. The strategic Pacific base houses the Seventh Fleet. In a video posted to Facebook, Yokosuka Capt. Rich Jarrett encouraged residents on base to remain in their quarters “maximum extent possible.” “This is not a time to do lawn maintenance, take the dog for a long walk or go for a run. Time outdoors should be for necessities only and should be conducted as quickly as possible,” Jarrett posted in a Saturday morning update. Ginnie Mae poised to ease mortgage firms’ coronavirus fallout Update 3:18 a.m. EDT March 28: Mortgage firms are bracing for the crunch when borrowers begin falling behind on their payments, and Ginnie Mae sits poised to assist them in weathering the financial fallout of he novel coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported. Ginnie Mae, which already guarantees more than $2 trillion of mortgage-backed securities, told the Journal late Friday it will help companies such as Quicken Loans Inc. and Mr. Cooper Group Inc. with their anticipated cashflow interruptions. The agency will leverage a program typically reserved for natural disaster response. Read more here. Duke University develops N95 mask decontamination method to assist coronavirus fight Update 3:03 a.m. EDT March 28: Duke University researchers in North Carolina have developed a method for cleaning used N95 respirator masks, CNN reported. By Friday night, Duke’s Regional Biocontainment Laboratory team had already decontaminated hundreds of used N95 respirators without damaging them, so they can be re-worn several times, the network reported. More importantly, the researchers published their decontamination protocol, encouraging other medical centers and research facilities to follow suit. Specifically, the method uses vaporized hydrogen peroxide to kill microbial contaminants, CNN reported. Read more here. Trump issues order allowing Pentagon to reactivate former troops for coronavirus response Update 2:40 a.m. EDT March 28: U.S. President Donald Trump issued an order late Friday allowing the Pentagon to return certain troops to active duty in response to the mounting coronavirus crisis, The Washington Post reported. According to the Post, the order allows for the reactivation of former U.S. troops and members of the National Guard and Reserve to bolster the military’s ongoing efforts to help contain the virus’ spread. “Generally, these members will be persons in Headquarters units and persons with high demand medical capabilities whose call-up would not adversely affect their civilian communities,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said in a statement released early Saturday morning. Read more here. MLB, players strike deal should coronavirus cancel 2020 baseball season Update 2:14 a.m. EDT March 28: Major League Baseball owners and players ratified a deal Friday that sets terms should the novel coronavirus pandemic postpone or even cancel the 2020 season. According to NPR, players will be paid $170 million in advanced salaries over the next two months, and should the season ultimately be canceled, the advances will not have to be paid back. Meanwhile, players will receive “service time” credit for an entire year even if they only play portions of the 2020 season. The season had been slated to open Thursday and run through late October, NPR reported. Delta offering medical volunteers free flights to emerging US coronavirus hotspots Update 1:57 a.m. EDT March 28: Delta Air Lines announced Friday it will fly select medical workers to areas of the country hardest hit by the novel coronavirus for free. By early Saturday morning, the company had confirmed free, round-trip Delta flights will be offered to certain medical volunteers bound for Georgia, Louisiana and Michigan during the month of April. State-by-state breakdown of 101,242 US coronavirus cases, 1,588 deaths Update 12:44 a.m. EDT March 28: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 104,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Saturday morning. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 104,661 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 1,706 deaths. U.S. cases now outnumber those in any other nation, including the 86,498 reported in Italy and the 81,946 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed deaths, 519 have occurred in New York, 175 Washington state and 119 in Louisiana.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 44,635 confirmed cases – more than five times any other state – followed by New Jersey with 8,825 and California with 3,801. Five other states have each confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Washington: 3,723, including 175 deaths • Michigan: 3,657, including 92 deaths • Massachusetts: 3,240, including 35 deaths • Florida: 3,192, including 45 deaths • Illinois: 3,026, including 34 deaths Meanwhile, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Georgia each has confirmed at least 2,000 novel coronavirus infections, while Colorado, Texas, Connecticut, Tennessee and Ohio each has confirmed at least 1,000 cases. The figures include 21 people aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship and 49 repatriated citizens. The repatriations include 46 sickened aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and three others retrieved from the outbreak’s epicenter in Wuhan, China. CNN’s state-by-state breakdown – including presumptive cases – of at least 101,242 cases detected on U.S. soil is as follows: • Alabama: 638, including 3 deaths • Alaska: 69, including 1 death • Arizona: 665, including 13 deaths • Arkansas: 386, including 3 deaths • California: 3,801, including 78 deaths • Colorado: 1,734, including 31 deaths • Connecticut: 1,291, including 27 deaths • Delaware: 163, including 2 deaths • District of Columbia: 267, including three deaths • Florida: 3,192, including 45 deaths • Georgia: 2,198, including 65 deaths • Guam: 49, including 1 death • Hawaii: 120 • Idaho: 230, including 4 deaths • Illinois: 3,026, including 34 deaths • Indiana: 981, including 24 deaths • Iowa: 235, including 3 deaths • Kansas: 202, including 4 deaths • Kentucky: 302, including 7 deaths • Louisiana: 2,746, including 119 deaths • Maine: 168, including 1 death • Maryland: 774, including 5 deaths • Massachusetts: 3,240, including 35 deaths • Michigan: 3,657, including 92 deaths • Minnesota: 398, including 4 deaths • Mississippi: 579, including 8 deaths • Missouri: 670, including 9 deaths • Montana: 109, including 1 death • Nebraska: 89, including 2 deaths • Nevada: 535, including 10 deaths • New Hampshire: 187, including 2 deaths • New Jersey: 8,825, including 108 deaths • New Mexico: 191, including 1 death • New York: 44,635, including 519 deaths • North Carolina: 763, including 3 deaths • North Dakota: 68, including 1 death • Ohio: 1,137, including 19 deaths • Oklahoma: 322, including 8 deaths • Oregon: 414, including 12 deaths • Pennsylvania: 2,218, including 22 deaths • Puerto Rico: 64, including 2 deaths • Rhode Island: 203 • South Carolina: 539, including 13 deaths • South Dakota: 58, including 1 death • Tennessee: 1,203, including 6 deaths • Texas: 1,731, including 23 deaths • U.S. Virgin Islands: 19 • Utah: 480, including 2 deaths • Vermont: 184, including 10 deaths • Virginia: 604, including 14 deaths • Washington: 3,723, including 175 deaths • West Virginia: 96 • Wisconsin: 842, including 13 deaths • Wyoming: 70
  • American Airlines flight attendants are sharing their concerns after one of their co-workers tested positive for the coronavirus and then died. Paul Frishkorn, 65, was a Philadelphia-based flight attendant for American Airlines. Officials said he had other health issues that made him a higher-risk patient. On Friday, two separate American Airlines flight attendants told Channel 9 they have major concerns about the safety of employees and customers. They believe the airline should suspend flights for a few weeks to help the nation fight the virus. “They’re completely out of the hand sanitizing wipes, the Clorox wipes that we get on board,” said one American Airlines flight attendant, who asked to remain anonymous. “So, we have nothing to clean surfaces.' Both flight attendants said it wasn’t until this week that the airline limited food and drink service to passengers and allowed them to wear gloves and face masks. They said the changes come too late. In a written statement, one flight attendant said, “I’m scared to bring something home to my family.' American announced a decision Friday to reduce its schedule due to reduced customer demand. A spokesperson said wearing face masks and gloves isn’t recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the airline relaxed the rules to help flight attendants. It also took several steps to reduce flight attendant interaction with customers: Regarding cleaning supplies, a spokesperson said, 'Though these items are in high demand, we are currently provisioning these necessary products to our flight attendants for use while flying.' However, workers said halting service for a few weeks is the only option to keep employees and the public safe. “They need to shut down because we’re carriers. We are carriers,' said a flight attendant. American Airlines officials said their hearts go out to Frishkorn’s family. They also said employees with health issues and most mainline team members can consider a voluntary leave during this time or a voluntary early-out option. Frishkorn joined American Airlines in 1997 and was honored as a Flight Service Champion twice during his career. Statement from American Airlines: 'Earlier this week, we lost a respected, longtime member of the American Airlines family, who tested positive for COVID-19. Paul Frishkorn joined us as a flight attendant in 1997 and was based in Philadelphia. “Over the years he built a reputation as a consummate professional who was honored as one of American’s Flight Service Champions twice for his excellent service to our customers. “He was also a knowledgeable benefits consultant and servant leader for his colleagues through his work with the Association of Flight Attendants while at US Airways and later, with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. “Our hearts go out to Paul’s loved ones, many of whom work for American. We are working directly with them to ensure they are cared for during this extraordinarily difficult time. He will be missed by the customers he cared for and everyone at American who worked with him.

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