President Donald Trump signed a nearly $500 billion interim coronavirus bill into law Friday that includes more money for the small-business loan program, hospitals and testing.
The bill includes more than $320 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, created by the CARES Act, which was passed late last month and provides forgivable loans to small businesses that keep their employees on the payroll.
Meanwhile, experts ripped Trump's idea of injecting disinfectant as a possible treatment for coronavirus infections. But during the ceremony, Trump walked back his comments from Thursday, saying he was being “sarcastic.”
The new legislation comes as the death toll in the U.S. topped 50,000 on Friday, according to NBC News' tally. The global recorded death toll has passed 190,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide, confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally.
- Stay-at-home orders across the country: What each state is doing — or not — amid widespread coronavirus lockdowns.
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Tennessee's businesses to reopen with new guidelines, but no enforcement
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Friday outlined his plans for businesses across the state to reopen starting next week — but he acknowledged that the state will not be enforcing the measures to make sure businesses are following them.
Restaurants will reopen on Monday in 89 of the state's 95 counties. Retailers will follow Wednesday, while businesses like salons and tattoo parlors that require close contact will take a few more weeks to resume operations.
In announcing his "Tennessee Pledge," Lee called on businesses that reopen to follow social distancing guidelines and operate at reduced capacity.
New restaurant guidelines call for the use of disposable menus and sanitizing chairs and table-top items after each table turn. Self-serve buffets, shared condiments, and beverage station re-use are discouraged.
Lee cited the state's "downward trajectory" for COVID-19 symptoms and economic outlook in calling for businesses to reopen. The state has experienced 8,266 COVID-19 cases and 170 deaths.
Trump signs coronavirus aid bill as tensions rise over next one
President Donald Trump signed a nearly $500 billion interim coronavirus bill on Friday that includes additional money for the small-business loan program, as well as more funding for hospitals and testing.
The bill passed the Senate earlier this week by voice vote and was approved by the House on Thursday on a 388-5-1 bipartisan vote.
The bill includes more than $320 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, created by the CARES Act, which was passed late last month. The program, which quickly ran out of money because of heavy demand, provides forgivable loans to small businesses that keep their employees on the payroll. About $60 billion of the additional PPP funding will be set aside for businesses that do not have established banking relationships, such as rural and minority-owned companies.
The bill also provides $60 billion in loans and grants for the Small Business Administration's disaster relief fund, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for coronavirus testing, but does not include the additional funding for states and local governments that Democrats had sought.
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Pennsylvania's cases of COVID-19, related deaths rise
Pennsylvania continues to have some of the highest totals of the coronavirus in the nation, with the state health department reporting 1,599 new cases on Friday, bringing the statewide total to 38,652.
The number of deaths increased to 1,492, an additional 71 from the day before, health officials said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday announced a three-phase plan for the state's economy, with a target date of May 8 for an easing of some orders and restrictions, including allowing certain businesses to reopen. The economic toll on the key swing state has been striking, and some political strategists have suggested that President Donald Trump won't have it easy there in November.
DHS warns health care facilities to guard against possible attacks
In a Friday bulletin to the health-care community, the Department of Homeland Security warned hospitals to be on the alert for potential attacks during the coronavirus outbreak.
“Terrorists and other violent extremists may attempt to exploit the situation or vulnerable individuals may be triggered by stressors to commit disruptive or violent acts targeted at the healthcare community<" said the bulletin. "This is particularly concerning as Healthcare and Public Health Sector continuity-of-operation is paramount to the national response to the pandemic."
Dr. Birx goes viral for reaction to Trump's 'injection' comments
Dr. Deborah Birx is getting her close-up.
Birx, the Trump administration's coronavirus coordinator, was caught on camera in the White House briefing room looking dejected as President Donald Trump floated the idea of light treatments to combat the coronavirus.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says polls will be open for June primary
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said polls will be open for the June 23 primary, but residents will have the option of voting absentee.
"There's only two options: Either people go to the polls or people vote by absentee. There's no other way to do it," he said at a news conference on Friday. "We're saying you have both options."
The governor said all New Yorkers will receive postage-paid applications for an absentee ballot in case they choose not to go to the polls.
Smithfield Foods sued over working conditions in Missouri during coronavirus
Smithfield Foods Inc., the world's largest pork processor, has been accused in a lawsuit of failing to adequately protect workers at a Missouri plant who have been forced to work "shoulder to shoulder" during the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in Missouri federal court claims Smithfield has created a "public nuisance" by providing inadequate protective equipment to workers at the plant in the town of Milan, refusing to give them time to wash their hands and discouraging workers who are ill from taking sick leave.
Workers have also been disciplined for covering their mouths while coughing or sneezing, because it could cause them to miss pieces of meat coming down the processing line, according to the complaint.