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Coronavirus live updates: Trump signs $2.2 trillion stimulus bill, issues Defense Production Act for GM ventilators

The stimulus bill the president has signed will send $1,200 checks to most Americans, plus an extra $500 for each child.


Key updates 

  • The FDA has cleared a rapid test that can detect coronavirus in five minutes.
  • President Trump says that parts of the U.S. won't be back to normal after 15-day period. 
  • Trump signed the massive $2.2 trillion stimulus package including cash payments to Americans. He's also issued an order to require GM to produce ventilators.
  • Confirmed coronavirus infections have topped 100,000 in U.S. and the nation has the most confirmed cases in the world, with deaths at over 1,500, according to Johns Hopkins University tally.
  • Disney theme parks in Florida and California are closed indefinitely.
  • The WHO's emergencies chief says the pandemic has no clear end date.
  • Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly is the fifth known member of Congress to test positive. South Carolina Rep. Joe Cunningham is the fourth.
  • NBA analyst Doris Burke has tested positive for coronavirus.
  • The Navy hospital ship Mercy has arrived in Los Angeles.
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19.

The United States has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. passed both Italy and China Thursday. There are more than 586,000 cases around the world, with 26,000 deaths and 130,000 recovered.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. 

FDA clears test that can quickly detect virus

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared a new rapid test from Abbott Laboratories, which the company says can detect the coronavirus in about 5 minutes.

Medical device maker Abbott announced the emergency clearance of its cartridge-based test in a release Friday night. The company says that its test delivers a negative result in 13 minutes when the virus is not detected.

The U.S. has been trying for weeks to ramp up coronavirus testing after a series of problems with the initial government-designed test. The nation’s daily testing capacity has been increasing as more diagnostic makers and large laboratories have developed tests.

Trump authorizes activation of Selected Reserve, members of Ready Reserve of Armed Forces

President Donald Trump has authorized Defense Secretary Mark Esper to call up an unspecified number of federal reservists to help with the coronavirus response.

Trump said in a letter to Congress Friday that he had authorized Esper to order units and individual members of the Selected Reserve, as well as certain Individual Ready Reserve members, to active duty.

These reservists are part of what is called the Ready Reserve, which is the category of reservists most often called to active duty. They are separate from, and in addition to, National Guard members who have been mobilized by governors.

The reserve call-up likely is intended to fill gaps in medical expertise as the military deploys field hospitals to cities hard hit by COVID-19 and provides other forms of medical support to state and local authorities.

Apple launching app, website on coronavirus info

Apple is launching an app and website to give people information about the virus outbreak. The website and app, created with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House Task Force and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, lets users answer questions about the COVID-19 virus including risk factors and symptoms. It gives CDC recommendations on next steps, but isn't intended to replace instruction from health care providers. 

Apple said the website and app will keep all data private. You don’t need an Apple ID for access. Last week, Google sister company Verily launched a website to screen people who think they might have COVID-19 and point them to testing sites.

Trump: 15 days not enough time for parts of US

President Donald Trump said there are certain parts of the country that will not be ready to return to a semblance of normalcy when his administration’s 15-day guideline to stem the spread of the new coronavirus expires next week.

Trump, who issued his guidelines on March 16, said he will meet with Vice President Mike Pence, White House task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Monday or Tuesday to review data on the spread of the disease.

Trump in a letter to governors Thursday said that risk considerations based on geography would likely dictate the next round of guidelines from the federal government. The president has said he wants to broadly reopen the economy by Easter Sunday, April 12.

5th member of Congress tests positive

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of Butler County, Pennsylvania, said Friday that he tested positive for the coronavirus. In a statement, Kelly said he began experiencing flu-like symptoms and talked to his doctor, who ordered a test for COVID-19.
His test came back positive Friday afternoon. His symptoms are mild, he said. He was at home and was not in Washington for the vote on the $2.2 trillion economic rescue package. 

US coronavirus cases exceed 100K, most in world

The United States has become the first country to exceed 100,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.

The U.S. reached the grim milestone late Friday afternoon, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University. Deaths in the U.S. topped 1,500 on Friday.

Globally, the count of people with the virus was nearing 600,000.

Italy has the second-most cases with more than 86,000 and China is third with more than 81,000. Italy has the most deaths with 9,134.

Trump signs $2.2 trillion stimulus bill to provide payments to most Americans, rescue virus-hit businesses

President Donald Trump has signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law, after swift and near-unanimous action by Congress this week. The package will support businesses, rush resources to overburdened health care providers and help struggling families during the deepening coronavirus epidemic. As he signed the bill Friday, Trump declared it “will deliver urgently needed relief.” He thanked members of both parties for putting Americans “first.” 

The House passed the legislation earlier Friday by voice vote. The legislation will speed government payments of $1,200 to most Americans and increase jobless benefits for millions of people thrown out of work. Businesses big and small will get loans, grants and tax breaks.  

RELATED: Trump signs $2.2T stimulus after swift congressional votes

RELATED: Stimulus check calculator: See how much you'll likely be getting

Trump issues order in effort to force General Motors to produce ventilators under Defense Production Act

President Donald Trump has issued an order that the government can use to require General Motors to produce ventilators under Defense Production Act.

Trump signed the order Friday in the Oval Office as health professionals around the country lamented shortages of the machines that help patients with the coronavirus breathe.

In a joint statement, GM and Ventec Life Systems said they will build critical care ventilators at GM's manufacturing plant in Kokomo, Indiana, and start shipping them as soon as next month. GM also is to produce surgical masks at its plant in Warren, Michigan, that can be used by health care workers.

In a statement, the White House accused GM of wasting time in the contracting process.

"Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course," the statement said.

RELATED: President Trump seeks to force General Motors to produce ventilators

U.S. House passes $2.2T rescue package, rushes it to Trump for signing

The House has approved a $2.2 trillion rescue package, rushing it to President Donald Trump for his signature. The measure tosses a life preserver to a U.S. economy and health care system left flailing by the coronavirus pandemic.

The House approved the sweeping measure by a voice vote, as strong majorities of both parties lined up behind the most colossal economic relief bill in the nation's history. It will ship payments of up to $1,200 to millions of Americans, bolster unemployment benefits, and offer loans, grants and tax breaks to businesses large and small. It also will flush billions more to states, local governments and the nation's all but overwhelmed health care system. 

Trump said he would sign it immediately.  

Congressman Joe Cunningham tests positive for COVID-19

Congressman Joe Cunningham (D-SC) has tested positive for COVID-19. Cunningham had been in self-quarantine since March 19 after coming in contact with a member of congress who had tested positive for coronavirus.  

Cunningham said he was tested for the disease after realizing he was unable to smell or taste, a potential symptom of COVID-19. 

"While my symptoms have begun to improve, I will remain at home until I know it is safe to leave self-quarantine. I will continue to tele-work from home as Congress conducts its ongoing response to this public health crisis and my office will continue its urgent work of serving the people of the Lowcountry," Cunningham said in a statement. 

Cunningham becomes the fourth member of congress to test positive. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Rep. Ben McAdams (R-UT) all tested positive earlier this month. 

Italy overtakes China in coronavirus infections

Italy has become the second country to overtake China in coronavirus infections, reaching 86,498 cases. That came on the same day it recorded its single biggest rise in deaths, with 969 more victims. 

Italy has recorded more virus-related deaths than any other country in the world, with 9,134. Virus deaths are also surging in Spain and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he has tested positive for the disease. 

In the United States, the number of infections surged to more than anywhere else in the world amid warnings that the pandemic might be accelerating in major urban areas like New York, Chicago and Detroit.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the new coronavirus. He made the announcement early Friday on Twitter. 

"Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus," he wrote. "I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government's response via video-conference as we fight this virus."

Disney extends closure of Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts

Disney has decided to extend the closure of its two main resorts in Anaheim and Orlando "until further notice" to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

"While there is still much uncertainty with respect to the impacts of COVID-19, the safety and well-being of our guests and employees remains The Walt Disney Company’s top priority," the company said in a statement. 

Even though the resorts will be closed, Disney said they will continue to pay hourly park and resort cast members through April 18. 

NBA analyst Doris Burke tests positive for coronavirus

ESPN NBA analyst and sideline reporter Doris Burke has tested positive for the coronavrus. Burke made the announcement during a taping of the Woj Pod with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. 

"Basically my first symptoms looking back on it was March 11 which was the day I was broadcasting Denver at Dallas which was obviously when Rudy Gobert tested positive," Burke said.

Burke added that it took her eight days to receive the results from her COVID-19 test. 

Navy hospital ship Mercy arrives in Los Angeles

A military hospital ship that arrived in Los Angeles on Friday will provide 1,000 beds for non-coronavirus patients to relieve over-burdened medical centers expected to be hit with a surge of COVID-19 cases in the coming days.

The US Naval Ship Mercy pulled into port a day after Los Angeles saw a 50% jump in coronavirus cases. California has a total of 4,040 cases and deaths increased to 82, according to numbers kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The ship will have 1,128 active-duty medical personnel on board, 58 reservists and nine of its 12 operating rooms will be ready to perform surgeries.

FDA to allow machine modification to increase supply of ventilators

The Food and Drug Administration has enacted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to allow the modification of certain machines in to ventilators. According to the FDA, anesthesia gas machines can now be modified for ventilator use; and positive pressure breathing devices modified for use as ventilators, ventilator tubing connectors and ventilator accessories for emergency coronavirus patients. 

The announcement comes as the American Hospital Association estimates the need of upwards of 960,000 ventilators. Other studies from China show that nearly 17% of COVID-19 patients require invasive mechanical ventilation. 

Walgreens offers drive-thru shopping

Walgreens says, that in addition to prescriptions, select products can be purchased via one of their 7,300 drive-thru locations nationwide. 

Over 60 products are available through the drive-thru including select cleaning supplies, over-the-counter medicine, grocery items and medical supplies.

“We’re continuing to quickly introduce new and different ways to meet customers’ needs for greater convenience during the COVID-19 pandemic, while also promoting social distancing as one of the most important preventive measures we can take," Lisa Badgley, senior vice president of pharmacy and retail operations, said in a statement

Customers can confirm product availability at the pharmacy drive-thru window. 

South Korea to stop any passenger with a mild fever

South Korea says it will block any passenger with even a mild fever from entering the country starting next week to counter a rise in coronavirus cases linked to arrivals from abroad.

Health Ministry official Koh Deuk-young on Friday said all airlines flying to South Korea from Monday will be required to screen passengers for fevers and deny boarding anyone with a temperature higher than 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Koh says airlines will refund tickets for those who are denied flights.

16-year-old in France dies from virus

A 16-year-old French schoolgirl from the Essonne region has become the youngest person in the country to die from COVID-19.

The girl, called Julie and whose surname has not been revealed, was hospitalized Monday and died Tuesday evening at the Necker children’s hospital in Paris.

Her older sister, Manon, spoke to the French press to warn that “we must stop believing that this only affects the elderly. No one is invincible against this mutant virus.”

Russia reaches 1,000 cases

Russia's coronavirus caseload surpassed 1,000 on Friday, reflecting growing infection rate in the country which for weeks has reported comparatively low numbers.

The Russian government registered 196 new infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the country's total to 1,036, and the third death. Forty-five people have recovered, officials said.

Russian authorities have ramped up testing this week after wide-spread criticism of insufficient screening.

Southwest Airlines cutting flights Friday

Southwest Airlines will cancel approximately 40% of its daily flights starting Friday. It's the latest move by U.S. airlines to respond to the decreased demand in air travel as people stay home and practice social distancing.

American Airlines announced this week it will limit food and drink service in the main cabin based on the length of the flight and destination as a way to cut down on interactions. Passengers are welcome to bring their own food or drink.

South Africa reports first deaths

South Africa has announced its first two deaths from the coronavirus as the country's cases rise above 1,000.

The health minister says in a statement that the deaths occurred in Western Cape province.

South Africa has the most cases in Africa and as of midnight entered a three-week lockdown. The military is in the streets helping to enforce measures that include bans on alcohol sales. Concerns are high about water supply in crowded, low-income townships.

Appeals grow to close US national parks

National Parks are one of the places you can still go to get away from the anxiety of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Trump administration is sticking with its crowd-friendly waiver of entrance fees at national parks. That's even as managers at some parks try and fail to keep tens of thousands of hikers and tourists a safe distance apart and as communities appeal for shutdowns at some parks that are still open. 

Communities around Grand Canyon National Park are among those asking for a shutdown, saying they fear more local spread of the coronavirus. The Interior Department says there's been no decision on that request.

MLB may increase doubleheaders; hold playoffs at neutral sites

An agreement expected to be passed Friday between Major League Baseball and its players includes a "good faith effort" to schedule as many games as possible this year, subject to government rules, travel, player health and economic feasibility, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

They also agreed to consider playing past the usual end of the postseason in late October and early November, even if it involves using neutral sites and domes. They would consider a large increase in doubleheaders to get as many games in as they can, to play without fans and to revise the postseason format.

Seven-inning games for doubleheaders have not been given much discussion but also have not been ruled out.

MLB uniform maker begins producing masks, gowns

The company that makes Major League Baseball uniforms has switched to producing masks and gowns in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Fanatics has suspended production on jerseys at its factory in Easton, Pennsylvania, and is instead using the polyester mesh fabric to make protective wear. 

The new gowns and masks will go to hospitals in Pennsylvania and nearby states. Fanatics hoped to produce nearly 15,000 masks and gowns a day.  The company is making Level 1 masks, used for low-risk, nonsurgical procedures that are for single-use only.

R. Kelly asks for release from jail

Singer R. Kelly has cited the novel coronavirus in asking a federal judge to free him from a federal jail in Chicago as he awaits trial on child pornography and other charges.

A Thursday court filing by his lawyers saying scant precautions to stem the spread of the virus behind bars put Kelly's life at risk. The filing in U.S. District Court in Chicago says sanitizer and even soap is hard to come by in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, with most of its 700 inmates held in small, two-man cells that make the kind of social distancing called for to thwart the transmission of COVID-19 impossible.

Trump questions if New York needs 40,000 ventilators

During an interview Thursday with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Trump dismissed desperate calls from governors, including New York's Andrew Cuomo, who have pleaded for additional ventilators to help treat patients with COVID-19.

“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators," Trump said, referencing New York's request of the federal government.

New York City alone has more than 23,000 cases and 365 deaths, accounting for more than one-quarter of the U.S. total.

On a conference call with governors Thursday, Trump stressed the need to reopen businesses and to recognize regional differences in the virus’ impact.

“We all have to get smart,” Trump said on the call, audio of which was obtained by The Associated Press. “We have to open up our country, I'm sorry.”

Trump says that federal officials are developing guidelines to rate counties by risk of virus spread, as he aims to begin to ease nationwide guidelines meant to spread the curb the virus spread.

Health experts have made clear that unless Americans continue to dramatically limit social interaction, the number of infections will overwhelm the health care system, as it has in parts of Italy, leading to many more deaths.

RELATED: Trump says feds developing new guidelines to rate counties for coronavirus risk

EPA has stopped enforcing environmental laws

The Trump administration says it will forgo a sweeping range of public health and environmental enforcement during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the move Thursday, saying the pandemic could make it difficult for companies to comply with public health and environment laws.

The EPA says it won't fine businesses for failing to monitor or report hazardous pollutants if they can show the coronavirus played a role.

EPA chief Andrew Wheeler calls it a temporary measure for “extraordinary conditions."

Environmental groups and former EPA officials call it unprecedented and a license to pollute.

RELATED: Citing virus, EPA has stopped enforcing environmental laws

Evangeline Lilly apologizes

"Ant-Man and The Wasp" star Evangeline Lilly is apologizing for refusing to self-quarantine.

"I want to offer my sincere and heartfelt apology for the insensitivity I showed in my previous post to the very real suffering and fear that has gripped the world through COVID19. Grandparents, parents, children, sisters and brothers are dying, the world is rallying to find a way to stop this very real threat, and my ensuing silence has sent a dismissive, arrogant and cryptic message," Lilly wrote on Instagram Thursday.

In a March 16 post, Lilly reportedly downplayed the threat as a "respiratory flu" and that she felt the country was moving too close to martial law.

Ralph Lauren to begin production of masks and gowns

Fashion company Ralph Lauren says they are shifting production to produce 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns though its charitable arm. The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation will make Food and Drug Administration compliant products at their facilities in the U.S. 

The foundation also announced Thursday that they would donate $10 million towards the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

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