Mar. 26, 2020

REUTERS

The U.S. Senate's unanimous passage of a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill sent the unprecedented economic legislation to the House of Representatives, whose Democratic leaders hope to pass it on Friday.

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a $2-trillion bill aimed at helping unemployed workers and industries hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as providing billions of dollars to buy urgently needed medical equipment.

Governments stepped up efforts on Thursday to help airlines hammered by a virus-induced travel slump, with the United States offering $58 billion in aid, Singapore promising to keep its carrier aloft, and Australia easing competition rules.

Americans should receive cash payments within three weeks to help offset the financial hardships of the coronavirus crisis, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said, adding that the record jobless claims announced on Thursday are not relevant.

Britain has placed an emergency order of 10,000 ventilators designed at breakneck speed by bagless vacuum cleaner company Dyson, the first fruits of an industry-wide call to arms to prepare for the looming peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

Lebanon is set to extend a countrywide lockdown by two weeks until April 12 to combat the spread of coronavirus.

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russia could defeat coronavirus in less than three months if it imposed tough measures quickly as authorities suspended all regular and charter flights to and from the country from Friday.

The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to a record of more than 3 million last week as strict measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic brought the country to a sudden halt, unleashing a wave of layoffs that likely ended the longest employment boom in U.S. history. Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose 3.00 million to a seasonally adjusted 3.28 million in the week ending March 21, eclipsing the previous record of 695,000 set in 1982, the Labor Department said.

The U.S. military has decided it will stop providing some of the more granular data about coronavirus infections within its ranks out of concern that the information might be used by adversaries as the virus spreads.

A study in The Lancet Public Health journal suggested continuing Wuhan's shutdowns until April would push a potential second wave of COVID-19 - the disease caused by the new virus - until later in the year. That would give health services more time to recover and expand, potentially saving lives.

The U.S. government is expected to bring criminal charges against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and at least a half-dozen other Venezuelan officials on Thursday, accusing them of involvement in drug trafficking, a person familiar with the matter said.

The rapid spread of the coronavirus has sent a large number of federal workers home to telework, in some cases limiting government services, raising concerns that some of the nation's highly sensitive national security work, which can often only be done in secure facilities, could suffer.

The American government has a stockpile of 16,000 ventilators, the Center for Public Integrity reported Tuesday. The country's medical system has 160,000 ventilators in total. It isn't enough. Already, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says his state needs 30,000 more ventilators for the projected cases in the next two weeks, and the number of cases across the US that require ventilators could reach 960,000 overall.

AP Top Stories

The future of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline has been thrown into question after a federal court struck down its permits and ordered a comprehensive environmental review.

Two rockets slammed into the Iraqi capital's high-security Green Zone early Thursday, hours before US-led forces were set to pull out of a second base in the country.

Iran may face a second outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, a government spokesman said on Wednesday, as the Islamic Republic banned internal travel and traditional gatherings in parks during the Persian New Year holiday period.

As the novel coronavirus spreads in Mexico, doctors and nurses at public hospitals have begun protesting a shortage of personnel and basic supplies such as masks and gloves.

Companies like Facebook, Apple, and Goldman Sachs are donating their stockpiles of face masks including N95 respirators to healthcare workers. The companies have these masks in preparation for wildfires or from past epidemics like the avian flu or swine flu.

Home-testing kits which indicate whether you have ever been infected with the coronavirus will soon be rolled out across the UK, Members of Parliament have been told. Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, said the group had developed simple finger-prick tests which could soon be available. The tests could be available in chemists and online retailers like Amazon once they have been tested by the UK authorities.

BBC

Australia's Great Barrier Reef has suffered another mass bleaching event - the third in just five years. Warmer sea temperatures - particularly in February - are feared to have caused huge coral loss across the world's largest reef system.

A man suspected of planning to attack a hospital treating coronavirus cases in the US state of Missouri died after a shootout with the FBI, officials said. Officials said the man was motivated by racist and anti-government beliefs.

A maximum of 10 people will be allowed to attend funerals and five to attend weddings in Australia under new curbs in the fight against coronavirus.

Members of parliament in Kenya are considering whether to follow the example of President Uhuru Kenyatta by accepting a temporary pay cut in response to coronavirus. The MPs are among the highest paid in Africa. President Kenyatta announced on Wednesday that he and his deputy would be taking an 80% reduction in pay.

WND

Los Angeles County gun stores are being closed based upon the determination of Sheriff Alex Villanueva that they are not essential and therefore must be shuttered to comply with emergency regulations already in effect to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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