The Senate reached agreement on a sweeping $2T stimulus package overnight in a bid to battle economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Some provisions include direct $1,200 payments to many Americans, a $367B loan program for small businesses, and a $500B fund for businesses, cities, and states. The Senate is expected to pass the bill this morning, while the House is currently on recess with a number of members sick; leaders are considering passing the bill by unanimous consent, avoiding reconvening in DC.
The news came as President Trump said he wanted the economy up and running again by Easter (April 12), though the majority of stay-at-home orders and restrictions on schools and businesses have been set at the city and state levels. Many run through the end of April (or longer). You can see a state-by-state roundup of orders and restrictions, and what they mean, here.
Markets boomed on the positive news regarding the stimulus package and the economic emphasis by Trump, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 2,113 points (11%) on the day, followed by the S&P 500 (9.3%) and Nasdaq (8.1%). It was the Dow's best single-day performance since 1933.
New York has been hit particularly hard, with more than 25,000 confirmed cases, a number that has tripled roughly every three days so far. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the FDA would allow the state to move forward with an experimental treatment for critically ill patients. The White House issued guidance recommending anyone who visited the New York City metro area recently to self-quarantine for two weeks.
In the most sweeping global restrictions to date, India (562 confirmed cases, 10 deaths) announced a complete lockdown across the country, prohibiting nearly 1.3 billion people from leaving their homes for three weeks. Residents had four hours' notice before the order went into effect. A similar lockdown for South Africa (709 confirmed cases, no deaths) and its 57 million citizens goes into effect Thursday.
The US had 55,225 confirmed cases, with 802 deaths, as of this morning (real-time map).
In positive news, the number of new daily cases in Italy showed a peak three days ago, with officials cautiously optimistic quarantine measures are working. In China's Hubei province, where the virus first emerged, traffic jams are now returning to the city.
Power Struggle in Israel
Israel moved to the brink of a constitutional crisis yesterday after Yuli Edelstein, head of the country's parliament, said he would defy ($$, WashPo) a Supreme Court order to allow the body to vote on his replacement. Edelstein is both the speaker of the Knesset and a member of the center-right Likud Party. The party, led by current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, narrowly lost its parliamentary majority in a recent national election, taking 58 of 120 seats. After being sworn in Monday, 61 members signed a letter calling to replace Edelstein, who refused to convene the body - thereby preventing a vote. Edelstein has cited the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the fact that opposition head Benny Gantz hasn't formed a unity government as reasons for defying the court order. The court has ordered that a vote to replace Edelstein be held by the end of the day today.
The standoff is the latest in a deepening political paralysis that has gripped the country for over a year (see timeline).
Acclaimed Playwright Succumbs to the Coronavirus
Influential playwright and screenwriter Terrence McNally died yesterday from complications arising from COVID-19. Considered by many as the most famous contemporary playwright in American theater, McNally was well-known for works like "Love! Valour! Compassion!," "Master Class," and "Ragtime," among many others. His accolades include four Tony Awards, three Drama Desk Awards, a Primetime Emmy, and two Guggenheim Fellowships. He was also nominated for a Pulitzer for his play "A Perfect Ganesh," and received the 2019 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre (watch acceptance speech). McNally was in a group highly susceptible to the coronavirus, which attacks the respiratory system, both being elderly (81 years old) and a survivor of lung cancer. See how friends and family reacted to the news.
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Science & Technology
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Business & Markets
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Politics & World Affairs
> Massive 7.5 magnitude earthquake strikes off the eastern coast of Russia overnight; no reports of casualties with tsunami warnings canceled after three hours (More)
> Authorities in Mozambique recover the bodies of 64 migrants trapped in the back of a van; victims are believed to have died of asphyxiation (More)
> Six inmates on the loose in Washington state after more than a dozen escape from prison (More)
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Historybook: Legendary singer Aretha Franklin born (1942); HBD Elton John (1947); Martin Luther King Jr.-led march from Selma to Montgomery completed (1965); Saudi Arabian King Faisal assassinated by his nephew (1975); HBD race car driver Danica Patrick (1982).
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