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Need to Know
Coronavirus Hits Congress
Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R, FL-25) announced yesterday he tested positive for the new coronavirus, becoming the first US lawmaker to contract the disease. The congressman received the results yesterday but had self-quarantined since the weekend after developing symptoms. It's unknown who, or how many people, he interacted with before isolating. Last night, Rep. Ben McAdams (D, UT-4) became the second member to announce a positive test. 

More details on a proposal countering economic disruption from the pandemic were revealed yesterday, with reports circling around a massive $1T aid package. The White House is pitching a "Phase 3" plan that includes two separate direct payments to a wide swath of Americans (the amount would be tiered on income and family size) and $300B to help small businesses avoid sweeping layoffs. Legislation needs to be passed and negotiations are ongoing, but you can see details of the proposal here.

The efforts come as President Trump signed a $100B "Phase 2" package yesterday that includes paid sick leave for some workers and extends unemployment insurance. He also said he would use the Defense Production Act to direct American manufacturers to produce needed medical supplies. 

US markets fell again, exacerbated by a plunge in oil prices, which dropped 26% to an 18-year low. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,338 (-6.3%), with the S&P 500 (-5.2%) and the Nasdaq (-4.7%) following suit. 

In Florida, the virus was detected in 19 senior care facilities; the mortality rate of the virus in patients above 80 years old exceeds 15%. The US and Canada jointly announced they would close their shared border to nonessential travel, though trade would continue. Italy reported 475 deaths yesterday - the biggest single-day jump in any country since the pandemic began. The European Central Bank announced an $820B bond-buying program to combat the economic crisis.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide neared 220,000 with more than 8,800 deaths. The US has reported 9,415 cases as of this morning, with 150 deaths (real-time map).

In positive news, the outbreak appears to be plateauing in China, where it began (see chart) - it remains to be seen whether the virus will reemerge after quarantine measures are lifted. The number of new cases in South Korea, which saw an initial explosion in cases but swiftly implemented large-scale testing, have been decreasing each day since late February. In both cases, robust testing infrastructure was deployed early on, something the US is still struggling with.
Quake Shakes Utah
About 73,000 homes and businesses lost power and an estimated 2.8 million people were left shaken yesterday after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck just southwest of the state capital of Salt Lake City. The tremors lasted for almost 15 seconds and no injuries were reported, but stoked nascent fears the region may be overdue for a larger quake. While Utah is not well known for earthquakes - yesterday's was the strongest since 1992 - the region sits in the Wasatch fault zone, made up of 10 smaller faults that can move independently. While there is low probability of a massive quake similar to those in California, researchers say there is a 40% chance of a 6.7 magnitude or greater quake within the next 50 years. For now, minor aftershocks are expected throughout the week and scientists were quick to dispel social media rumors that a massive 9.0 magnitude quake was imminent.
Maxwell Sues Epstein Estate
Ghislaine Maxwell, the former associate of sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein, filed suit against his estate yesterday, claiming the deceased billionaire had indemnified Maxwell, protecting her from costs arising from her employment. Referred to as Epstein's "madam," Maxwell allegedly played a key role in recruiting underage women into his orbit, effectively helping operate an underage sex ring. She is named as a defendant in civil cases brought by some of Epstein's victims and is under FBI investigation for her role in the child sex-trafficking conspiracy centered around Epstein. As such, Maxwell has incurred significant legal fees fighting the charges and for private security in the wake of numerous death threats - costs which she says would have been shouldered by Epstein had he not died by suicide in a New York jail cell while awaiting trial. 
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In the Know
Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Harvey Weinstein assigned to maximum-security prison in upstate New York after being sentenced to 23 years for rape and sexual assault (More)
> National Park Service to waive entrance fees at its remaining open parks (More) | New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, originally slated for late-April, is postponed until the fall (More)
> Former prosecutor portrayed in "When They See Us," about the Central Park Five case, sues Netflix and the show’s creator Ava DuVernay for defamation (More)
Science & Technology
> Stanford University engineers develop a free roaming soft robot that can change shape and handle objects (More, w/video) | Why are soft robots important? (More)
> Study of lampreys suggests the brain's cortex evolved at least 500 million years ago, making it more than twice as old as previously thought; the outer layer of the brain controls complex functions like vision, movement, and language (More)
> Mathematicians Hillel Furstenberg and Gregory Margulis win the Abel Prize, one of the field's most prestigious awards, for their work understanding chaotic systems (More) | Turing Award goes to two computer graphics pioneers Pat Hanrahan and Ed Catmull from Pixar (More) | Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden dies at age 88 (More)
Business & Markets
> Detroit automakers - GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler - to shut down North American plants as precaution against the coronavirus pandemic (More)
> New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to close famous trading floor starting March 23, will move to electronic trading after two people test positive for the coronavirus (More)
> New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to close famous trading floor starting March 23, will move to electronic trading after two people test positive for the coronavirus (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) says he will reassess campaign in coming weeks, signals he will stay in the race for the Democratic nomination (More)
> Germany bans hate group United German Peoples and Tribes, conducting raids in 10 states across the country (More)
> Myanmar (Burma) army withdraws criminal defamation complaint against Reuters news agency for reporting on the deaths of Muslim minority Rohingya after a military attack; army says it's trying to build better relations with the press (More)
The Man Who Saw the Pandemic Coming
Nautilus | Kevin Berger. Dennis Carroll won't say it, but he told us so. One of the world's leading experts on infections that can jump from animals to humans, Carroll has been sounding the alarm for decades. Will governments finally wake up to the threat of zoonotic diseases? (Read)
Timber and Limestone
Science | Christa Lesté-Lasserre. Take a detailed look at the mysteries laid bare by the devastating fire that ravaged Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral, as scientists continue what is expected to be a yearslong restoration. (Read)
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With Venice canals quiet, the city's waters are crystal clear.
... dolphins have even returned to the city's port
This explainer breaks down how soap kills the coronavirus.
Measuring the pandemic's impact from outer space.
Food waste generates nearly 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions
Washington, DC's famous cherry blossoms are almost in full bloom.
Ranking the world's most expensive cities to live in.
Emergency taco kit comes with four rolls of toilet paper and 30 eggs.
Clickbait: 93-year-old woman who waves at the school bus each morning gets a big birthday surprise.
Historybook: American novelist Philip Roth born (1933); HBD Glenn Close (1947); HBD Bruce Willis (1955); Texas Western, now UTEP, is first basketball team to win NCAA Championship with all-black starting lineup (1966); Iraq War begins (2003).
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