Coronavirus Updates: Lawmakers Still Hashing Out Details of Economic Aid Package

By Ron Brackett and Jan Wesner Childs

March 25 2020 08:00 PM EDT

COVID-19 Cases on the Rise in Nearly Half the U.S.

At a Glance

  • The economic aid package would provide financial assistance to workers, businesses and hospitals.
  • Britain's Prince Charles has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • More than 65,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the U.S.
  • The New York Blood Center will collect plasma to help treat coronavirus patients.
  • South Africa has banned dog walking and alcohol sales.

Lawmakers were still hashing out last-minute details late Wednesday afternoon on a sweeping economic aid package aimed at bracing the U.S. economy against the coronavirus pandemic, but were still pushing toward a Senate vote on the bill later in the evening.

The White House and Senate leaders agreed to the measures early Wednesday morning, but as the day went on some questions and opposition arose from both Democrats and Republicans, The Washington Post reported, and House Democrats wouldn't say when they would vote on the bill.

Meanwhile, more details emerged about the proposal, the largest aid package in U.S. history.

The package will include direct payments of $1,200 per adult, $2,400 per couple and $500 per child, with amounts beginning to phase out at $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 per couple, according to the Associated Press.

The bill also includes some $500 billion in loans and other aid to businesses and state and local governments, including airlines and cargo carriers, and $350 billion targeted specifically to small businesses. There's also $260 billion for emergency unemployment benefits and $150 billion for the health care industry including hospitals.

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Debate over the bill comes as the outbreak continued to surge in the U.S. There were more than 65,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide as of Wednesday night, with more than 940 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has the third-highest number of reported cases in the world, behind China and Italy.

The number of cases reported globally topped 467,000. More than 21,000 people have died and at least 113,000 have recovered.

Latest Developments

United States:

-In an interview with Business Insider, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city's residents should prepare to shelter in place until at least May. "This will not kill most of us," he said, "(but) it will kill a lot more people than we're used to dying around us."

-Alabama officials announced the state's first COVID-19 death on Wednesday evening, a Jackson County employee.

-West Virginia and North Dakota have the lowest number of confirmed cases in the U.S., with each reporting 39. New Jersey, California and Washington, in that order, follow New York with the most cases.

-Idaho and Minnesota joined the growing list of states that have ordered residents to stay at home. The mandate is in effect for 21 days and exempts essential workers such as grocery store employees and those who work in health care or public safety. At least 18 other states have issued similar orders, with varying levels of restrictions. The orders affect more than half of America's population, according to CNN.

-Several major cities and counties area also under stay at home orders, including metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Orlando and Washington D.C.

-Morgues in New York City may be nearing capacity as the city is besieged with a surging number of coronavirus cases and deaths. The Department of Homeland Security was briefed on the situation, according to a report by Politico that cites two sources familiar with the issue. The report says that DHS officials were warned that morgues in the city would reach capacity next week. But Aja Worthy-Davis, a spokesperson for the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, told Politico that the situation may not be as bad as it sounds. “We have the ability to expand pretty dramatically,” Worthy-Davis said. “If you look back at what we did during 9/11, we have the ability to create mobile stations that allow us to house bodies if we run out of space.”

-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news briefing Wednesday afternoon that the state has not reached the peak of the outbreak, but a stay at home order and social distancing may be working to slow it. Cuomo said hospitalizations for COVID-19 were doubling every two days as of Sunday, but by Tuesday that rate had dropped to every 4.7 days. As of Wednesday, there were more than 30,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide in New York, according to the New York Times. At least 280 people have died, most of them in the city.

-U.S. unemployment claims could jump to historic highs this week, some economists predict. There could be as many as 3 million new claims, according to The Associated Press, about 12 times as many as the previous week. "It's going to be an astronomical increase," Constance Hunter, president of the National Association for Business Economists and chief economist at the accounting firm KPMG, told the AP. “We don't have any recorded history of anything like this.”

-New Mexico announced its first death from COVID-19 Wednesday. Deaths have now been reported in at least 38 states and the District of Columbia.

-Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a press conference Wednesday morning that New Yorkers continue to flood into Florida, fleeing the lockdown in their own state. DeSantis there were 0 flights from New York to Orlando on March 17, but that number has steadily increased to as many as 44 per flights day over the past week. New Yorkers arriving in the state have been asked to self isolate for two weeks, but it's not clear how that order is being enforced. The order also applies to residents of Connecticut and New Jersey.

-More than two dozen Transportation Security Administration officers working at airports in 11 states have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks, according to the TSA. The agency has posted a map and updates on its website.

-The New York Blood Center in New York City is collecting blood plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19 to use as a treatment for patients fighting advanced stages of the disease. The center is the first to launch such a program, according to a news release. The process, known as convalescent plasma, uses the antibodies in the donor's plasma to fight the virus in sick people. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the treatment Tuesday for use on a case-by-case basis.

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-A World Health Organization official said on Wednesday that there's still time to stem the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris told CNN the key is testing, tracking cases and identifying anyone who has come into contact with an infected person, isolation and quarantine. "Finally, getting the people who are ill to treatment - and when you do that, really, really protect your health workers," Harris said.

-Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told WGCL-TV that beds in intensive care units at the city's hospitals are already at capacity. More than 1,000 cases have been reported in Georgia and at least 23 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins.

A view of people wearing masks in Bellevue Hospital amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on March 24, 2020 in New York City (Photo by John Nacion/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A view of people wearing masks in Bellevue Hospital amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 24, 2020, in New York City.
(John Nacion/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


-People in South Africa aren't allowed to walk their dog or buy alcohol for 21 days as part of the country's lockdown policy, according to the AP. Police Minister Bheki Cele also said running is prohibited. South Africa has more than 700 cases of COVID-19, the most of any African country.

-Britain's Prince Charles, 71, has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The prince reportedly has mild symptoms and is in self quarantine at a royal estate in Scotland. His wife, Camilla, has tested negative.

-The death toll in Spain went up by more than 700 on Wednesday, according to the AP. At least 3,434 people have died in Spain, the second highest number worldwide behind Italy. Some hotels have been converted into hospitals and an ice rink in Madrid is being used as a temporary morgue.

-Italy remains the hardest-hit European nation, with more than 69,000 cases and 6,800 deaths, leaving doctors forced make a choice on who will receive desperately needed ventilators and who won't, the AP reported.

-New Zealand joined the list of countries ordering its residents to stay at home.

For the latest coronavirus information in your county and a full list of important resources to help you make the smartest decisions regarding the disease, check out our dedicated COVID-19 page.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.