U.S. and global news on COVID-19

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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.

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This live coverage has ended. Continue reading March 27 Coronavirus news.

Six degrees of coronavirus? In NYC area, cases get personal

A man wearing a mask checks his phone in Times Square in New York on March 22, 2020.Kena Betancur / AFP - Getty Images

After returning from a European vacation three weeks ago, Vidal Chávez, a real estate broker in Manhattan, spoke to a friend who had fallen ill. His fever had spiked to 103 degrees.

It was the first conversation with someone he knew locally who may have contracted the coronavirus — but it wouldn't be the last.

Chávez, in his 40s, now knows more than a dozen people who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, or are sick with related symptoms but can't access a test or are awaiting results. Two people, including a fraternity brother at the University of California, Berkeley, have died, he said.

Read the full story here. 

White House expert explains the timeline and risks of creating a vaccine

Dr. Fauci describes the complicated timeline of creating a vaccine for a disease like COVID-19, including the different stages of development and the risks that have to be taken into consideration before releasing to the public.

Mark Blum, actor on 'Law & Order' and 'Succession,' dies from coronavirus

Veteran character actor Mark Blum — a union activist best known for movies "Desperately Seeking Susan" and "Crocodile Dundee," as well as television work in "Law & Order," "Us" and "Succession" — died of complications from COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus, his friends said Thursday.

He was 69.

"This is really tragic and my heart goes out to him, his family and his loved ones," Madonna, his "Desperately Seeking Susan" co-star, said on social media. "I remember him as funny warm, loving and professional when we made Desperately Seeking Susan in 1985!!"

Read the full story here. 

Texas orders quarantine for travelers from New York tri-state area and New Orleans

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order Thursday that restricted all travelers arriving from airports in the New York tri-state area and New Orleans to quarantine for 14 days. 

The order applies to those entering Texas from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut after New York surpassed more than 35,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. New Orleans is also on track to become a coronavirus epicenter as doctors speculate whether the more than 1 million spectators who arrived for Mardi Gras at the end of February could have spread the virus. 

Failing to comply with the Texas self-quarantine order is considered a criminal offense that is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to 180 days in jail, according to the governor's office. 

Trump to visit hospital ship headed for NYC on Saturday

 

President Trump is traveling to Norfolk, Va., on Saturday to "bid bon voyage" to a hospital ship headed to New York City, the current epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., the White House said in a statement Thursday. 

The hospital ship USNS COMFORT will bring over 1,200 medical personnel and critical supplies to New York City, the statement said. The ship has a dozen operating rooms and 1,000 beds.

The city has seen more than 21,000 cases, according to the state health department.

Earlier this week, the administration sent the hospital ship USNS MERCY to Los Angeles, another coronavirus hotspot. 

New Jersey governor: There is 'special place in hell' for coronavirus discrimination

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy denounced discrimination against Asian communities saying, "There is a special place in hell," for those vilifying communities in connection with COVID-19.

U.S. coronavirus cases surpass China

The United States now has more cases of the coronavirus than any other nation, including China.

As of Thursday, there were at least 82,474 cases in the U.S., according to NBC News data. Cases have been reported in every state. More than 1,100 people have died in the U.S.; there have been more than 3,000 deaths in China and more than 8,000 deaths in Italy. 

China has the second highest number of cases, at 81,961, according to the World Health Organization

New York, Washington and California remain the hardest-hit states. 

Coronavirus checks, direct deposits are coming. Here's everything you need to know.

Dollar note sheets sit in a stack in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 2015.Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — As the coronavirus crisis ravages the U.S. economy, millions of Americans are urgently awaiting financial help from Congress in the form of direct cash payments.

Congressional leaders and President Donald Trump announced a bipartisan deal Wednesday on a massive $2 trillion emergency economic package that includes direct cash payments to people across the country to help them through the crisis. The Senate passed the bill 96 to 0, and the House is expected to follow suit on Friday.

Read the full story here. 

Asian Americans report over 650 racist acts over last week, new data says

People walk along Chinatown's Grant Avenue on Feb. 26, 2020 in San Francisco, Calif.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file

Seattle resident Kari was at her local grocery store in mid-March when another shopper told her own child she couldn't be in the same line as the Korean American. She would get them sick, the shopper said. A week later at the same store, a cashier refused to check her out, saying she was going on break.

The encounter is one of hundreds of racist and xenophobic incidents that have been reported over the past week, new data reveals. The online reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate shared exclusively with NBC Asian America that since its inception March 18, it has received more than 650 direct reports of discrimination against primarily Asian Americans.

"We live in a scary world, but it's unbelievable that this is happening," said Kari.

Read the full story here. 

U.S. passes Italy in total coronavirus cases

Plant that makes MLB jerseys to produce 1 million medical masks and gowns

A person models a face mask and gown that the company is now producing.Fanatics

Major League Baseball is going to bat for hospital workers.

MLB and Fanatics, a company that manufactures official league jerseys, is shifting a manufacturing plant in Easton, Pennsylvania, to now make at least 1 million gowns and masks for health care workers and emergency personnel tackling the coronavirus outbreak.

The gear will go to workers in Pennsylvania, and then New York and New Jersey, which are seeing some of the largest numbers of cases in the nation.

The plan is to continue producing the gowns and masks as long as the need exists, Fanatics Executive Chairman Michael Rubin said. MLB's regular season has been delayed.