Senate, White House agree to stimulus plan, Prince Charles tests positive and your coronavirus confessions.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the spending bill "the largest rescue package in American history."
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin leaves the offices of Minority Leader Charles Schumer during negotiations on the $2 trillion economic stimulus in response to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
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The White House and the Senate reached a deal on an enormous coronavirus economic aid package, as President Donald Trump pushes to get the country back to work despite the number of infections growing at a rapid pace in the U.S. and Europe. And Prince Charles has become the latest celebrity to test positive for the virus.
Here's what we're watching this Wednesday morning.
The White House and the Senate reached an agreement on asweeping $2 trillion aid package to help Americans reeling from the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill, which would include direct cash payments to Americans, is the largest bailout in history. It would provide funding for small and large businesses battered by the economic downturn.
"The Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced from the Senate floor shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday. "In effect, this is a wartime level of investment for our nation."
McConnell said he expects the Senate to pass the bill later today.
The deal couldn't come soon enough. The World Health Organization warned that the U.S. could become the "virus epicenter" on Tuesday.
Here are some other updates:
There are over 55,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and the death toll has risen to over 800 in the U.S. as of Wednesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Despite the growing number of coronavirus cases in the United States, the clamor for a swift return to normal has started to pick up in recent days — particularly in the right-wing media ecosystem.
President Trump has led the charge, saying he "would love to have the country opened up and raring to go by Easter," during a Fox News town hall on Tuesday. That's less than three weeks from now.
His sentiments have been echoed by right-wing media pundits, despite warnings from public health experts that too quick a return would cause much more economic distress than continuing course for a while longer.
"It should not be lost on anyone that there's no such thing as a functioning economy and society so long as COVID-19 continues to spread uncontrolled in our biggest cities," Scott Gottlieb, Trump's former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, tweeted on Tuesday.
As New York coronavirus cases have surged to more than 25,000, public health experts warned of the challenges ahead to prevent the state from becoming the next Italy, where the virus quickly spread and caused more deaths than in China.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo painted a dire forecast of the outbreak on Tuesday, saying spread of the disease was accelerating and the state was in "desperate" need of ventilators and more hospital beds with the projected apex just 14 to 21 days away.
"We are not slowing it, and it is accelerating on its own," Cuomo said. "One of the forecasters said to me we were looking at a freight train coming across the country. We're now looking at a bullet train, because the numbers are going up that quickly."
In one glimmer of good news, the Food and Drug Administration said it will allow doctors across the country to begin using plasma donated by coronavirus survivors to treat patients who are critically ill with the virus under new emergency protocols approved Tuesday.
It's a shift that may finally dispose of the idea that Big Tech provides a "neutral platform" where the most-liked idea wins, even if it's a conspiracy theory.
"What you're seeing is the platforms' being forced into a public health stand more than they've ever been before," said Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.