U.S. surpasses 100,000 cases as Trump signs $2 trillion stimulus package

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President Donald Trump on Friday signed the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill that the House passed earlier in the day, while the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 100,000.

The legislation signed by Trump and also unanimously passed by the Senate on Wednesday provides relief for workers and businesses devastated by the outbreak.

The United States now has more reported coronavirus cases than any other country, including China, as the number climbed past 100,000, according to NBC News' count.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted he tested positive for the coronavirus.

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Arkansas truck driver battles worry and stress on the road

For truck drivers loading supplies across America, like Douglas Mcconnaughhay in Arksansas, it’s become harder to find a meal with restaurants closed and more worrisome to protect against the coronavirus as it continues to spread.

His wife shared what he's been going through lately in a now-viral Facebook post made before he headed back out on the road March 22. 

 

“She was going to take me to my truck. She came in there and took the picture. I didn’t know it until after the fact. I was just back there by myself,” he told NBC News.

Mcconnaughhay drives 70 hours a week Monday through Friday in a Peterbilt truck. He's among more than 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States, according to the most recent census data

“There was a lot of stuff that was going through my mind. My main issue is I can’t bring the virus back home to my wife because of her health issues. I just want to be able to be safe and make sure that my home stays healthy and safe,” Mcconnaughhay said.

Santa Anita cancels live racing

Santa Anita Park, one of the nation's most iconic race tracks, announced Friday that it's suspending live racing because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The picturesque horse racing track in Arcadia, California, just northeast of  Los Angeles, typically runs thoroughbreds three days a week and had the $100,000 Santa Ana Stakes on tap for Saturday. 

Horse racing is one of the last sports operating, albeit with no fans in the stands, as America deals with the pandemic. 

An overwhelming majority of tracks have closed, though the Florida Derby, a stepping stone to the rescheduled Kentucky Derby, is still set to run on Saturday at Gulfstream Park

Domestic violence rises across Europe amid lockdowns

As people are cooped up at home around the world in attempts to slow the spread of coronavirus, officials in Europe are sounding the alarm about an increase in domestic violence.

Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said Friday domestic violence is on the rise there, and France's Ministry of Interior announced the nation's pharmacies have agreed to serve as safe havens for victims of abuse during the national COVID-19 lockdown.

Spanish media reported a similar program in a few regions, where victims can go to pharmacies, discreetly request a "mascarilla 19," or face mask 19, and receive help.

In a statement Friday, the Duchess of Cornwall, wife of COVID-19 patient Prince Charles, urged victims to call the U.K.'s National Domestic Abuse Helpline for help. "I want you to know that you are not alone," she said.

Stay-at-home restrictions mean cleaner air for Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — Southern California, infamous for its clogged freeways and smoggy skies, is experiencing some excellent air quality because of spring rains and business closures triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, experts are saying.

The freeways are not only nearly empty, but the lack of cars is contributing to the clear skies, said Philip Fine with the South Coast Air Quality District.

Shipping is down in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, meaning fewer trucks and cargo vessels are running. There are also fewer planes flying and more construction projects on hold.

Emissions from that kind of heavy machinery accounts for nearly 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions in L.A. County, Fine told the Southern California News Group.

Photo: Coffins arrive from Bergamo

Coffins arriving from Bergamo, the epicenter of Italy's outbreak, are unloaded from a military truck at Cinisello Balsamo cemetery, near Milan on Friday.Claudio Furlan / LaPresse via AP

Plaintiffs, including NRA, sue to block gun store closures

Plaintiffs, including the National Rifle Association, sought in Los Angeles federal court Friday to block the local sheriff from shutting down gun stores.

The civil suit names as defendants L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who on March 19 ordered most business to close. The sheriff announced he would shutter gun stores, then paused over legal concerns, and finally announced Thursday that he would move forward with closing down firearms retailers.

Gun stores were not named by the state as "essential" businesses that would be exempt from Newsom's closures, but the governor said he would leave it up to sheriffs across the state to decide. 

The lawsuit, citing the Second Amendment right to bear arms, argues the government may not engage in "deprivation of constitutional liberties during a time of crisis."

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Teen whose death may be linked to coronavirus was denied care for not having health insurance, mayor says

A teenager in Lancaster, California, who may have died from the coronavirus last week, was turned away from an urgent care because he did not have health insurance, the city's mayor said.

In a video posted to YouTube on Wednesday, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said the 17-year-old had been sick for a few days and had no previous health conditions.

"The Friday before he died, he was healthy. He was socializing with his friends," Parris said. "By Wednesday, he was dead." Parris said the teen went to an urgent care March 18.

"He did not have insurance, so they did not treat him," Parris said, adding the boy was sent to a hospital.

Read the full story here

Trump invokes Defense Production Act to force GM to make ventilators

President Donald Trump invoked the sparsely used Defense Production Act on Friday to order the Department of Health and Human Services to compel General Motors to manufacturer ventilators after he sharply criticized the company for slow-walking production.

"Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course," Trump said in a statement. "GM was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives."

 

Trump, in a tweet on Friday, excoriated General Motors and its CEO, Mary Barra, for not moving quickly enough to produce needed ventilators amid the coronavirus pandemic and wanting “top dollar” for the contract.

Trump himself has been criticized for not quickly invoking his authority to use the act as the nation's hospitals and health care facilities are in dire need of critical medical supplies for workers. He announced he would use the act this month, but did not invoke it until Friday.

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