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

Here are the latest updates from around the world.

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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.

Live Blog

What's in the $2 trillion coronavirus bill? Here's how it could help you.

The White House and Senate leadership came to an agreement early Wednesday morning on a $2 trillion bill aimed at providing economic relief to workers and businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Senate is expected to release the final text of the third coronavirus spending bill and could vote on it later Wednesday, sending it to the House for consideration.

Here's what we know so far about what's expected to be in the bill and how it might help average Americans.

Louisiana pastor defies order against large gatherings, draws over 1,000 people to services

A Louisiana pastor is apparently defying the governor's order against gatherings of more than 50 people by hosting over 1,000 churchgoers at a service Sunday and bringing together hundreds at another service Tuesday, according to the pastor and local media.

The pastor, Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, said he does not believe his congregation is at risk of getting COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus, according to CBS affiliate WAFB.

"It’s not a concern," Spell told the outlet. "The virus, we believe, is politically motivated. We hold our religious rights dear and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says."

Read the full story here.

NYU seeks to graduate medical students early in fight against pandemic

New York University said it will allow its medical students to graduate early so the newly established doctors can help in the battle against the coronavirus.

The private university said that the move is "in response to Governor Cuomo’s directive to get more physicians into the health system more quickly," according to NBC New York. Only students who receive the approval of the state's Department of Education and other regulatory bodies will be allowed to finish early, the outlet reported.

Read the full story here. 

Photo: Makeshift morgue set up outside NYC hospital

Workers build a makeshift morgue Wednesday outside Bellevue Hospital in New York City to handle an expected surge in coronavirus victims. Bryan R. Smith / AFP via Getty Images

Jerusalem's Church of Holy Sepulchre closed over coronavirus

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, considered one of the holiest sites in Christianity, has temporarily closed as part of a measure introduced by the government to shut down all places of worship for a week starting Wednesday, according to church officials. 

Though it is not yet clear whether the closing of the church will extend beyond a week, the timing of the closing is significant as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is identified by Christians as the site of the crucifixion and tomb of Jesus. The church has long been the center of Christian pilgrimages, especially during the Easter season. 

Church leaders on Saturday urged attendees to maintain physical distance from one another and instructed them not to enter the church in groups of more than 10 people to stop the spread of coronavirus, according to Reuters. 

Maryland governor asks Trump for presidential disaster declaration

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a news conference on Wednesday that he has asked President Donald Trump for a disaster declaration for his state.

"This disaster declaration will be another important step in our aggressive and coordinate response to COVID-19," said Hogan, a Republican.

The request comes as Hogan confirmed 423 cases of the coronavirus in Maryland, with 74 additional positive cases coming in the last 24 hours. The governor also said that a man in his sixties who died on Tuesday is the fourth coronavirus-related death in the state. 

New York governor estimates apex of hospital need still 21 days away

New York state has not reached the apex of coronavirus hospitalizations, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo warning Wednesday that it might not come for another 21 days, around mid-April.

That has left the state scrambling to secure enough beds and equipment, including ventilators, Cuomo said. "We're still on the way up the mountain," he said during his daily news briefing in the state capital of Albany.

But, the governor added, social distancing and isolation efforts in New York City seem to be having a positive effect as data shows hospitalization rates this week may be moving at a slower pace day over day.

The governor also said:

  • The state's "single greatest challenge" is procuring 30,000 ventilators. The state has 4,000 ventilators in the existing hospital system, and it has so far purchased 7,000 others. The federal government has sent 4,000.
  • The state has about 3,000 intensive care unit beds with ventilator capabilities, when it needs 40,000. A total of 140,000 hospital beds may be needed.
  • The state has 30,811 total cases of the coronavirus with 5,146 of them new. Of those, 17,856 of the total cases are in New York City with 2,952 of them new.
  • New York City will begin piloting the closing of streets to car traffic so that there is more room for pedestrians. Cuomo added that people are being asked to employ social distancing at playgrounds and parks on a voluntary basis, but if people are caught gathering, those places will be closed.

British neighbors sing 'Happy Birthday' to quarantined child

Neighbors on a British street hung out of windows and stood in gardens to sing "Happy Birthday" in unison to Sophia Thomas as she celebrated turning 8 in quarantine on Wednesday.

The display of community affection in Southampton, southern England, for the child spending her birthday indoors as part of Britain's ongoing lockdown response to the coronavirus was captured and shared online by her father, Rob Thomas, and has now been widely shared online, he said.

"Sophia is blown away, absolutely blown away by it. ... It's all going a bit crazy," he told NBC News.

Sophia's parents put out a request on a neighborhood WhatsApp group for cards and virtual messages to cheer up their daughter and were taken aback when the neighborhood agreed to the sing-a-long.  

New York City crime rates plummet, according to police stats

New Yorkers are staying put and committing less crimes, according to new NYPD statistics. Overall, crime in the city had been on a sharp rise in 2020 compared to last year, but the past week has seen a crash in the number of incidents. 

Citywide crime is down almost 17 percent compared to the same week last year, with dramatic drops in violent crime. Shootings are down 23.5 percent, rapes down 69 percent and assaults down 9 percent. Crime in the subway, which had grown significantly since the start of the year, was down 33 percent last week, compared to the year before.

Criminals are still stealing cars, though. Car thefts were up 52 percent compared to the same week last year.