Coronavirus Live Updates: New York Death Toll Swells by 779; Democrats Seek $500 Billion in Additional Funds


A fresh debate in Washington over the next injection of federal dollars needed to rescue the struggling economy was well underway on Wednesday, with Democrats calling for double the $250 billion requested by the Trump administration and pressing for conditions on a fresh infusion of loans for businesses.

The counterproposal threatened to slow down the emergency aid for distressed businesses, which Senate Republicans had hoped to speed through as early as Thursday during a procedural session without the entire chamber present.

Democratic leaders announced on Wednesday that they wanted another $250 billion for hospitals, states and food aid. And they proposed reserving half of the loan program for businesses owned by farmers, women, people of color and veterans.

In a joint statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said they supported the administration’s request for an additional $250 billion for the small business loan program, but, they said, $125 billion of those funds should be directed to underserved businesses that might otherwise have trouble securing loans.

The Democratic leaders also said they wanted to add $100 billion for hospitals, community health centers and health systems — in part to shore up testing and the distribution of critical safety gear for health workers on the front lines — as well as $150 billion for state and local governments and a 15 percent increase in food assistance benefits.

In the statement, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer said after the quick infusion of funds, Congress would need to get to work on another economic relief package to “provide transformational relief as the American people weather this assault on their lives and livelihoods.”

A jail in Chicago is now the largest-known source of U.S. infections.

As of Tuesday, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail, said 272 inmates and 115 staff members had tested positive. But because the vast majority of the jail’s 5,000 inmates have not been tested, corrections officers have said the numbers are likely far higher. In late March, the jail had just two diagnoses.

The outbreak appears to confirm the concerns of many health officials, who warned that America’s overcrowded and unsanitary jails and prisons could be a major source of spread. Those warnings prompted authorities across the country to release thousands of inmates to try to slow the infection, save lives and preserve medical resources.

Still, hundreds of diagnoses have been confirmed at local, state and federal correctional facilities — almost certainly an undercount, given a lack of testing and the virus’s rapid spread — leading to hunger strikes in immigrant detention centers and demands for more protection from prison employee unions.

In Cook County, officials released hundreds of inmates early — all of whom had been convicted of nonviolent crimes like drug possession and disorderly conduct. Judges are continuing to examine the cases of each inmate to determine if bonds can be lowered for certain people. That would allow dozens, perhaps hundreds, more people to be released, officials say.

The sheriff, Thomas J. Dart, has set up a quarantine area for those who have tested positive and another to monitor those showing symptoms. The most serious patients are being taken to a hospital.

But inmates and corrections officers have complained that the jail’s safety measures are inadequate. A protest that included family members of inmates was held outside the jail on Tuesday. Advocates and family members have also filed a federal lawsuit seeking the early release of older inmates and those who have chronic medical conditions like respiratory illnesses and diabetes, which may make them particularly vulnerable.

The union representing corrections officers at the jail has complained that the sheriff’s office failed to provide adequate protective equipment to the jail’s staff and has provided only cursory instruction and training to avoid contracting the virus and limiting its spread.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont dropped out of the Democratic presidential race on Wednesday, concluding a quest for the White House that began five years ago in relative obscurity but ultimately elevated him as a champion of the working class, a standard-bearer of American liberalism and the leader of a self-styled political revolution.

“I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour,” Mr. Sanders said over a live stream Wednesday morning.

Mr. Sanders’s exit from the race establishes former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the presumptive nominee to challenge President Trump, and leaves the progressive movement without a prominent voice in the 2020 race.

In a race reshaped, and eclipsed, by the escalating coronavirus crisis, Mr. Sanders faced no realistic path to the nomination after a series of lopsided losses to Mr. Biden, beginning in South Carolina in late February and culminating with a string of losses last month in crucial states like Michigan and Florida.

With the public health emergency preventing both candidates from holding in-person campaign events, Mr. Sanders spent the last several weeks on the sidelines, delivering addresses via live stream and making occasional television appearances, while facing calls from fellow Democrats to exit the race and help unify the party behind Mr. Biden. Though Mr. Biden had been careful not to pressure Mr. Sanders, he had begun to move ahead as if the race were over, taking steps, for example, to begin his search for a running mate.

New Jersey is set to postpone its presidential primary from June 2 to July 7 because of the pandemic, according to two people familiar with the planning, but the decision by Mr. Sanders will most likely make the contest irrelevant.

The United States counted its highest coronavirus-related death toll in a single day on Tuesday, with 1,997 fatalities, bringing the total to nearly 13,000 on Wednesday morning, according to the latest figures in a New York Times database. The U.S. currently has at least 397,754 confirmed cases across every state, Washington, D.C. and four territories.

New York State continues to be the center of the outbreak, according to The Times’s data. The state, with a population of nearly 20 million, now has more confirmed cases than Italy, a nation of 60 million that was the first in Europe to be ravaged by the disease.

And in New York City, the virus has claimed more lives than the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The total number of deaths does not account for the number of people who have died in their homes.

“The blunt truth is coronavirus is driving these very tragic deaths,” Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking on CNN on Wednesday morning, said, referring to people dying at home. “We are talking about 100 to 200 people per day.”

The rising toll reflects the often considerable lag between the time people are infected and the day they die, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said. He has also warned that the slowing rate of infections could quickly be reversed if people stopped following social distancing protocols.

Like Italy within Europe, New York has had the misfortune of being the first place in the United States where the virus deeply seeded itself in the population. But a New York Times investigation also found that early missteps, including delays in closing schools and failing to break the chain of transmission within households, have proved costly.

Mr. Trump, who initially played down the threat posed by the epidemic, has warned that Americans faced a week of death and sorrow. And it surely will not be the last, as the virus spreads rapidly in other parts of the country and many states have still not felt the pathogen’s full wrath.

At the same time, economists are also warning of a long healing period for the economy after the health crisis subsides.

Small businesses, which are unlikely to have cash buffers to survive the economic shutdown, have been especially hard hit. Yet the federal agency responsible for disbursing $349 billion in emergency relief has not been able to cope with the explosive demand for funds.

Even as Congress discussed injecting billions more into the economy, Mr. Trump sidelined the top watchdog in charge of monitoring how the administration spends the $2 trillion in virus relief that Congress has approved. Democrats criticized the move as “corrupt,” saying the president wanted a less independent voice.

Mr. Trump also accused the World Health Organization of not being aggressive enough in confronting the dangers from the virus — the very criticism that has been leveled at his administration.

He threatened to cut off funding for the organization even as the virus continues to haunt the world. With the health care systems of wealthy nations stretched to the breaking point when confronted by an outbreak, there is growing concern about the damage the virus could inflict on poorer countries.

After weeks of drama that included Mr. Trump’s unproven accusation that General Motors was trying to “rip off” the United States, the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday that the carmaker would provide 30,000 ventilators to the nation’s stockpile for $489 million by the end of August.

The first batch — 6,132 of the machines — will be delivered by June 1, after most of the peak demand is expected to have passed from the first wave of cases at hospitals. But even that initial number amounts to roughly two-thirds of what is now believed to be left in the stockpile after thousands of ventilators were sent to New York and other hard-hit cities.

In an early-morning statement, the secretary of health and human services, Alex M. Azar II, said the contract would be among the first during the crisis issued under the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law that essentially allows the United States to assure that it is the first customer in line — and that it can control the price it is being charged.

“By rating contracts under the D.P.A., H.H.S. is helping manufacturers like G.M. get the supplies they need to produce ventilators as quickly as possible, while also ensuring that these ventilators are routed through the Strategic National Stockpile to where they’re needed most,” Mr. Azar said in a statement, clearly trying to patch up the president’s dispute with the company.

The formal contract comes two weeks after the White House pulled back from announcing what was intended to be a $1 billion contract for upwards of 80,000 ventilators. Mr. Trump had accused the company of “wasting time,” and he also attacked Mary T. Barra, the company’s chief executive, with whom he had clashed last year over the closure of a G.M. facility.

But Mr. Trump was essentially ordering the company to do what it had already announced it was doing, even in the absence of a contract. The Defense Production Act may help it secure supplies, and it makes clear that the ventilators will be routed through the federal government, at a moment that states are bidding against each other to secure ventilators and other equipment in short supply.

Federal and local officials are concerned about cases in the D.C. region.

As cases keep rising in and around the nation’s capital, stories of residents not complying with social distancing guidelines have been prevalent. On ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House task force, said, federal officials were “concerned about the metro area of Washington and Baltimore.”

As of Tuesday, there were 1,440 cases in Washington, and 27 deaths. The district’s latest data shows that nearly 60 percent of the dead were African-American people, though they make up about 46 percent of its population.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said that she was worried about the disproportionate impact the virus is having on black people — a concern that has also emerged in other places across the country.

“We know that underlying conditions, like hypertension and diabetes and heart disease, this virus is particularly hard on,” Ms. Bowser said on MSNBC on Tuesday. “And we know that African-Americans are living with those underlying conditions every day, probably in larger proportions than most of our fellow Americans.”

The district’s stay-at-home order went into effect on April 1, nearly a month after its first case was confirmed, on March 7. Like other orders, it makes exceptions for grocery shopping, medical appointments, and “allowable recreational activities,” like walking and riding bikes.

Before the order, the police had to block off roads to the Tidal Basin to try to control crowds jostling for views of the cherry blossoms, despite social-distance warnings. Images on social media have shown that small groups continue to gather, frustrating Ms. Bowser, who has said that models show that deaths could climb to about 1,000 and hospitals could become overwhelmed.

Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, the nonvoting delegate for the District, wrote to the acting director of the National Parks Service on Tuesday requesting the closure of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials amid reports that they had been attracting crowds, making it hard to maintain social distancing.

“Closure would protect the public and NPS employees, including U.S. Park Police officers,” the letter from Ms. Norton said. “Federal agencies need to lead by example and do everything possible to flatten the curve.”

The virus has found a foothold in rural America.

The coronavirus has officially reached more than two-thirds of the country’s rural counties, with one in 10 reporting at least one death. Doctors and elected officials are warning that a late-arriving wave of illness could overwhelm rural communities that are older, poorer and sicker than much of the country, and already dangerously short on medical help.

“Everybody never really thought it would get to us,” said Grace Rhodes, 18, who is from Southern Illinois and is studying to become a nurse. “A lot of people are in denial.”

With 42 states now urging people to stay at home, the last holdouts are the Republican governors of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Arkansas. Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota has suggested that the stricter measures violated personal liberties, and she said her state’s rural character made it better positioned to handle the outbreak.

“South Dakota is not New York City,” Ms. Noem said at a news conference last week.

But many rural doctors, leaders and health experts worry that is exactly where their communities are heading, and that they will have fewer hospital beds, ventilators and nurses to handle the onslaught.

Coronavirus illnesses and deaths are still overwhelmingly concentrated in cities and suburbs, and new rural cases have not exploded at the same rate as in some cities. But they are growing fast. This week, the case rate in rural areas was more than double what it was six days earlier.

Stocks on Wall Street are higher as investors weigh latest economic data.

Stocks in the U.S. climbed on Wednesday, as investors weighed data showing the extent of the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic against signs of progress in the effort to contain it.

The S&P 500 rose more than 2 percent, while major indexes in Europe were slightly lower.

U.S. stocks had ended slightly lower on Tuesday after a rally throughout the day. Through Tuesday, the S&P 500 was up nearly 19 percent from its March 23 low. It’s still more than 21 percent below its high, reached on Feb. 19.

Investors had in recent days found solace in signs that the outbreak was peaking in some of the hardest-hit parts of the United States and Europe. On Wednesday, China lifted its lockdown on the city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged, in another sign of progress.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain is stable and “responding to treatment” for the virus, but remains in intensive care, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

Mr. Johnson was admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital in London on Sunday and transferred the next day to the intensive care unit, where he received oxygen but was not put on a ventilator. He is not suffering from pneumonia, his aides said on Tuesday, but his illness has brought concerns about the government’s ability to make major decisions in the midst of the outbreak.

Downing Street declined on Wednesday to comment on what treatment Mr. Johnson was receiving or to say who was treating him, though it repeated previous statements that he is breathing without assistance apart from receiving oxygen.

The office also noted that he was in good spirits but made clear that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, initially asked to stand in for Mr. Johnson “where necessary,” was now doing so full time. The prime minister is able to contact those he needs to speak to, but is not working. Mr. Johnson is still the head of the government, but the seriousness of his illness means that could change quickly.

Federal immigration officials have begun releasing detained immigrants who are thought to be at high risk of contracting the virus, to lessen the risk of contagion in the nation’s immigration detention centers — a surprising decision for the Trump administration, which has pursued an aggressive immigration enforcement agenda.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has faced mounting pressure from lawmakers and immigrant advocates to address the health risk posed by the virus to the more than 40,000 adults and children being detained across the country on civil immigration charges. Jenny Burke, a spokeswoman for the agency, said on Tuesday that ICE had instructed its field offices to identify individuals who are considered particularly vulnerable, such as those who were over age 60 or pregnant.

Ms. Burke said the agency had thus far identified 600 such detainees, and that 160 detainees have been released.

The announcement of the releases, first reported by Buzzfeed News, comes after a series of ongoing lawsuits have prompted the release of various ICE detainees facing health problems such as cancer, diabetes and asthma.

ICE has said it is still conducting some high priority arrests, despite the pandemic.

California buys millions of masks and L.A. orders residents to cover their faces.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said late Tuesday that the state had secured nearly 200 million masks a month for health care workers, an extraordinary number amid a global shortage of masks.

He also expressed optimism that lockdowns were “bending the curve” and slowing the spread of the virus, buying time for the state’s health care system as it works to treat patients.

The rate of people going to the hospital and needing intensive care had eased, Mr. Newsom said.

“These are not the double-digit increases we were seeing in hospitalization rates or I.C.U. rates that we saw even a week or so ago,” he said, though he cautioned: “That’s not to suggest by any stretch of the imagination that we’ll continue to see these declines. It’s to only reinforce the importance of maintaining physical distancing and continuing our stay-at-home policy.”

A spokesman for Mr. Newsom said the state would buy millions of new masks from overseas manufacturers in two separate deals with a California nonprofit and a California company. The spokesman did not disclose the names of the nonprofit of the company, or the price.

Demand for masks has far outstripped supply in recent weeks, driving some prices 10 times higher than before the pandemic.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti stepped up precautions, ordering all residents to wear masks when visiting essential businesses starting Friday. “Cover up, save a life — it’s that simple,” Mr. Garcetti said.

Time is of the essence for disinfecting your home and hands.

You’ve been cleaning your home and washing your hands all these years, and probably never stopped to consider whether you were doing it effectively. But time matters when it comes to fully disinfecting your household surfaces and your skin.

In the case of some disinfectants, it can take up to 10 minutes for them to fully work. As for your hands? Scrubbing for a full 20 seconds is the way to go.

First it was the waitress whose restaurant closed. Then the waiter, the bartender, the substitute teacher, the hairdresser, the tattoo artist and the Walgreens manager.

One after the other, the tenants called and emailed their landlord, Bruce Brunner, to say they were out of work and the rent was going to be late. A week after the bill was due, some two dozen of Mr. Brunner’s 130 tenants had lost their jobs or had their hours reduced. He’s working out payment plans and using security deposits as a stopgap while directing tenants to the emerging patchwork of local, state and federal assistance programs.

“Six weeks ago, you could name your price and you’d have multiple people applying,” said Mr. Brunner, who lives in Minneapolis, where he owns and manages 20 duplexes and triplexes across the city. “Now you’re deferring and working out payment plans, and it’s only going to get worse.”

In interviews with two dozen landlords — including companies with tens of thousands of units, nonprofit developers who house the working poor, and mom-and-pop operators living next door to their tenants — property owners say their collections have plunged as much of the economy has shut down to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Nearly 10 million people have filed unemployment claims over the past two weeks. It’s too early to gauge how broadly these numbers will translate to the loss of rent: Many tenants are within the grace period before their rent is declared late. Some can stitch things together for a while by getting deferrals, applying their security deposits or paying with credit cards.

Still, early findings suggest that April is looking bad and lend credence to Mr. Brunner’s opinion that May will be much worse.

The federal stimulus bills enacted in March, including a $2 trillion economic relief plan, offer help for the millions of American small businesses affected by the pandemic.

Cash grants. Low-interest loans. Payments to offset some payroll costs for businesses that keep or rehire workers. There are also enhancements to unemployment insurance and paid leave.

Here are the answers to common questions about these programs. And we will update this article as we learn more about the details.

More information on help, including details on the stimulus checks that many people will be receiving, can be found in our F.A.Q. for individuals about stimulus relief and our Hub for Help. If you have questions, or have applied for small business aid and can tell us how the process went, we’d love to hear from you.

Religious ritual holds power not only because it connects people gathered in one space — it also connects people across time.

For generations Jewish families have gathered for the first night of Passover to recount the 10 plagues from the Book of Exodus — frogs, pestilence, death — and to remember how God delivered the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago.

Jews observed the Seder in the fifth century B.C. on the Egyptian island of Elephantine, and they observed it in 1943 as German troops liquidated the Warsaw ghetto. And on Wednesday in homes across the United States, families will once again light candles at the Seder table and ask why this night is different from all other nights.

Of course, with a literal plague in their midst, families cannot meet in person this year and may even tweak their Haggadahs — the text that is annually read aloud — to reflect the moment. But the power of Passover remains, perhaps even more so as a symbol of perseverance.

The New York Times asked families around the country to share reflections on the Passover story in this moment. Their words speak to the power of memory, the meaning of plague, and how crockpots and cookbooks can connect us with loved ones of generations past and future.

Reporting was contributed by Alan Blinder, Eileen Sullivan, Elizabeth Dias, Caitlin Dickerson, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Andy Newman, Jack Nicas, Stacy Cowley, Colin Moynihan, J. David Goodman, Sabrina Tavernise, Adeel Hassan, David E. Sanger, Emily Cochrane, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Conor Dougherty, Marc Santora, Dan Levin, Matt Stevens, Charlie Savage, Peter Baker, Timothy Williams and Danielle Ivory, William Grimes, Lisa Friedman, Julia Echikson, Patricia Mazzei, John Eligon, Audra D. S. Burch, Dionne Searcey, Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Vanessa Swales.



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