The Senate overwhelmingly passed a massive stimulus package late Wednesday night aimed at softening the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic for American workers and businesses. The bill includes billions of dollars in credit for struggling industries, a boost to unemployment insurance and direct cash payments to Americans.
The fate of the bill now rests with the House, which will not vote until Friday, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
The U.S. reached a grim milestone as the number of deaths linked to the coronavirus passed 1,000 in the country, according to a count of reports of cases and deaths by NBC News. Globally, the death toll topped 20,000, with nearly half a million reported cases.
Meanwhile at the U.N., the Trump administration is pushing the Security Council to call attention to the Chinese origins of the coronavirus, four diplomats posted to the United Nations told NBC News, triggering a stalemate as the global body seeks to cobble together a response to the pandemic.
- Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments.
- MAPS: Where cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and worldwide.
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'League' of cybersecurity professionals band together to help hospitals
A growing group of cybersecurity professionals is volunteering their expertise to help hospitals fight off hackers while doctors and nurses fight the coronavirus.
Calling themselves the CTI League — Countering Threat Intelligence, and a nod to the superhero team the Justice League — the group has swelled from a handful of professionals to 450 members worldwide in less than two weeks.
“If some hospital gets attacked by some ransomware and wouldn’t be able to pay, people will die because they wouldn't be able to get the medical services needed," said the group's founder, Ohad Zaidenberg.
Coordinating over Slack, the CTI League identifies what types of vulnerabilities active hackers are using, then searches for hospitals and other medical facilities that might be vulnerable to them so that they can fix them first. "The first thing we want to do is neutralize attacks before they happen. The second is to help any medical organization after they are attacked," Zaidenberg said.
'Most photographed' Wall Street trader Peter Tuchman has coronavirus
New York Stock Exchange trader Peter Tuchman revealed in an Instagram post on Thursday that he has the coronavirus.
Tuchman of Quattro Securities, who has worked as a trader for 35 years, is known as the "most photographed" in his field.
In his Instagram post, he shares photos of a Corona beer and the prayer hands emoji. He writes that he is battling the virus "pretty hard" and has never felt so sick in his life.
"Great team of doctors no breathing problems that’s a good thing all the other problems that’s a bad thing will get to the other side of this I’ll be in touch... soon ... send prayers," Tuchman writes.
At least two other floor traders tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday despite strict measures taken to prevent those infected from entering the exchange while it remained open last week, according to a memo seen by Reuters.
Connecticut asks for federal disaster declaration
Connecticut on Thursday joined a growing list of states that have asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a disaster declaration to cope with the "severity and magnitude" of the coronavirus outbreak.
The state has seen at least 875 cases of the virus and 19 deaths, although officials said they believe there are "many more cases" that have not yet been confirmed. Gov. Ned Lamont said federal assistance could help residents gain additional resources, including for childcare and crisis counseling.
President Donald Trump in recent days has also declared disasters in New York, California, Washington, Louisiana, Iowa, Florida and Texas.
Pelosi says she doesn't think 'we've seen the end of direct payments,' calls for fourth aid bill
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressed confidence Thursday that her chamber will pass the third coronavirus relief bill on Friday, she’s already focused on writing a fourth phase of aid and suggested that in a future measure, Congress might consider providing more direct payments to Americans.
“I don't think we've seen the end of direct payments,” Pelosi said at her weekly press conference Thursday on Capitol Hill.
Pelosi said Americans are eager to receive the direct payments provided by the third relief bill, which the Senate passed late Wednesday and the House will consider on Friday. She pointed out that the version Democrats crafted for the third legislative aid bill would have provided “bigger direct payments.”
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Cuomo slams politicians for not providing financial support to state, local governments
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday slammed politicians in Washington, D.C., for not providing financial support to state and local governments in its $2 trillion aid package.
"I believe what they did failed to address our governmental need," Cuomo said, adding that he spoke to New York's congressional delegation. "I find it irresponsible. I find it reckless."
"When this is over," he added, "I promise I’m going to give them a piece of my mind."
The public health update
- Cuomo said as of Thursday 37,258 people tested positive, with 5,327 hospitalized, 1,290 people in ICU, and 1,517 patients discharged.
- There have been 385 deaths in New York, Cuomo said Thursday — up from 285 the day before.
- More than 8,600 mental health professionals across the country have made themselves available to New Yorkers.
- 18,650 tests were conducted on Wednesday.
- Cuomo highlighted an ongoing push to increase Increasing hospital capacity to 140,000 beds from 53,000. He said he has mandated hospitals increase capacity by 50 percent and try to increase by 100 percent.
New Jersey, the 2nd worst-hit state, declared major disaster
New Jersey on Thursday was declared a major disaster by President Donald Trump as the number of coronavirus cases in the state soared to over 4,400.
Gov. Phil Murphy said the designation would give the state access to more federal support “to help our residents through this emergency.”
New Jersey reported 4,402 coronavirus cases as of Thursday, the second highest number after New York, which has 32,741 cases.
Actors whose shows were canceled to get stimulus help
Actors who had been cast in shows that were canceled due to coronavirus will get unemployment help from Congress' massive spending package.
Normally, a person must have already been working to be eligible for unemployment insurance if they’re laid off. That requirement threatened to leave out thousands of stage and film performers who earn a living gig-to-gig and had booked a job that hadn’t started yet.
The Actors Equity Association, the union that represents professional stage actors and stage managers, lobbied for a provision to help performers in that situation. A provision was added saying that anyone who “was scheduled to comment employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of a COVID-19 outbreak” will be eligible for the unemployment insurance assistance in the stimulus bill.
All Broadway shows in New York have been canceled at least through mid-April.
Is there a deadline extension for getting a REAL ID?
The deadline for Americans to comply with the federal REAL ID program has been extended to Oct. 1, 2021.
"The federal, state and local response to the spread of the Coronavirus here in the United States necessitates a delay in this deadline," Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement. "Our state and local partners are working tirelessly with the Administration to flatten the curve and, therefore, we want to remove any impediments to response and recovery efforts."
The REAL ID Act was passed after the 9/11 attacks and sought to make all state-issued identification cards more secure with uniform national standards.
Trump on Monday announced the deadline would be pushed back but did not say until when.