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Senate, White House reach deal on $2 trillion stimulus plan

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With roughly a third of the world under some form of lockdown, the White House and Senate leaders reached agreement on a landmark $2 trillion stimulus package to combat the economic impact of coronavirus.

The White House coronavirus coordinator asked people who have recently been in New York, where the death toll continues to climb, to quarantine themselves for 14 days, because they may have been exposed before leaving.

President Donald Trump is pushing for the country to get back to business by April 12, Easter Sunday, when he said he would like to see churches full of people. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, has warned that the U.S. could become the pandemic's new epicenter.

And as the number of cases in the U.K. reached 8,000 on Wednesday, Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, was confirmed to have tested positive for coronavirus.

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CORRECTION (March 25, 2020, 12:45 p.m. ET): An earlier version of the headline on this article misstated the status of the federal stimulus plan. The White House and Senate leaders have reached a deal, but the Senate has not yet passed the stimulus plan.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading March 26 Coronavirus news.

Live Blog

Thailand imposes state of emergency to control virus

Thai people wearing protective masks ride through a wholesale market in Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday. Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

Thailand's prime minister announced a state of emergency on Wednesday as the country tries to contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

In a nationwide address, Prayuth Chan-ocha said emergency measures will come into force on Thursday and last until at least the end of April.

Chan-ocha said large gatherings will be banned, and people under the age of 5 and over 70 will be asked to stay home.

Public venues including gyms, nightclubs and massage parlors will also be shut down. 

Thailand has so far reported 827 coronavirus cases and four deaths. 

Former Fed chairman sees ‘very sharp’ recession

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sounded an optimistic tone on the longer-term state of the economy, predicting in a CNBC interview Wednesday that while the U.S. is facing an acute recession, it shouldn’t last.

“It is possible there’s going to be a very sharp, short, I hope short, recession in the next quarter because everything is shutting down of course,” he said on “Squawk Box.”

“If there’s not too much damage done to the workforce, to the businesses during the shutdown period, however long that may be, then we could see a fairly quick rebound.”

During the financial crisis that exploded in 2008, Bernanke guided the Fed through its efforts to save the economy.

Read the full article here.

Obama: Social distancing needs to stay in place until testing is more widely available

Former President Barack Obama tweeted Wednesday that current social distancing policies need to stay in place until testing for the novel coronavirus is more widespread.

Obama's tweet comes as President Donald Trump has pushed in recent days for the U.S. economy to begin ramping up by Easter.

"These are the burdens our medical heroes already face in NYC," Obama tweeted, linking to a New Yorker magazine story detailing the struggles from inside New York City's stressed hospitals. "It's only going to get harder across the country. Another reason to maintain social distancing policies at least until we have comprehensive testing in place. Not just for our sake — for theirs."

In recent weeks, Obama has made use of his large social media platforms to address the coronavirus pandemic, posting like never before since leaving office. The former president has posted messages promoting safety measures, explained the reasoning behind strong new restrictions to combat the virus and shared stories he finds inspiring of individuals and organizations taking action during the crisis.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange denied bail after lawyers claim virus risk

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives in court after he was arrested in London last spring. Hannah McKay / Reuters fo;e

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is fighting extradition from Britain to the United States, was denied bail on Wednesday after his lawyers said he should be released from prison because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The 48-year-old is wanted by the United States on 18 criminal counts of conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law and says he could spend decades in prison if convicted.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser at Westminster Magistrates' Court ruled that he should remain in Belmarsh Prison in London.

Waffle House 'Index Red'

Waffle House has declared "Index Red," as it closes more than fifth of its stores in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Waffle House's approximately 2,000 restaurants are usually open 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Now, 418 locations are closed, a Waffle House Facebook post said Tuesday.

The Waffle House Index refers to the measure of destruction caused by a natural disaster based on how many Waffle Houses remain open or have closed. 

N.J. man charged with terroristic threats for allegedly coughing on grocery store worker

A New Jersey man was charged with harassment and making terroristic threats after allegedly deliberately coughing on a Wegmans grocery store employee and saying he had the coronavirus.

George Falcone, 50, of Freehold, in central Jersey, was charged Tuesday by the New Jersey attorney general with making the threats Sunday at a Wegmans in Manalapan.

Falcone was standing close to the employee near the store's prepared food section when the worker asked him to move back, the state attorney general said in a statement. Instead, Falcone stepped closer to her, leaned in and coughed, the statement said. He laughed, telling the woman he was infected with the coronavirus and also telling two other employees they were "lucky" to have jobs.

Read the full story here.

Tide of tourists admiring Japan's cherry blossoms turns to trickle

Osaka native Hiroshi Nakajima, 65, gazes at the cherry blossoms in Osaka Park.Cullen Bird

Normally the start of the cherry blossom season in Osaka Castle Park in Osaka, Japan, would be greeted by crowds of tourists walking up the paths and gates to see the its cherry trees in bloom.

But the few tourists seen now are a fraction of the usual crowds, even for a Monday morning, said Yasuyuki Funabiki, a volunteer tour guide with the Osaka Systematized Good-Will Guides Club.

“Only 1 percent,” Funabiki said, comparing the usual crowds to the handful of tourists and locals milling around the summit of the park.

Read the full story here.

Markets barely budge, despite long-awaited passing of massive stimulus plan

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by just 350 points at Wednesday's opening bell, as investors parsed whether the $2 trillion stimulus package would be able to keep pace with the compounding economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

Just one day after the Dow notched its biggest one-day point gain ever in anticipation of the bill's approval, the blue-chip index slumped overnight, falling by 200 points before rallying slightly Wednesday morning.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were both up by around 1 percent each.

Arizona mayors slam governor's edict keeping golf courses open

Five different mayors in Arizona sent a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey Tuesday cover his decision to classify some businesses like golf courses as “essential” during the coronavirus pandemic.

The mayors, including of the cities of Tucson and Flagstaff, sent the Republican governor a letter saying his executive order should not have included golf courses and payday lenders in the definition of “essential services” that cannot be shut down in response to the outbreak. They also requested a statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.

Ducey has agreed to pause evictions for 120 days for renters who are quarantining or struggling from the economic fallout.

U.K. launches self-reporting app to track spread of virus

Researchers in the U.K. have launched an app to help track the spread of COVID-19 in order to explore, in real time, who is most at risk. 

The Covid Symptom Tracker app asks participants to take one minute a day to report on whether they feel healthy, and to answer questions on a wide range of symptoms.

Researchers believe the data from the study will reveal important information about the symptoms, and why some people develop more severe or fatal disease while others have only mild symptoms.

Shoppers in India embrace social distancing amid world's largest lockdown

Shoppers in India's Gujurat state were waiting in circles to maintain social distancing as the country began the world's largest lockdown on Wednesday. 

More than 1.3 billion people, or nearly one-fifth of the world's population, have been told to stay inside. 

“To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tuesday night, acknowledging that the 21-day lockdown would be a major blow to the economy but saying that the alternative could set the country back 21 years.