Live Coronavirus US News and Updates

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A Trump administration request for $250 billion in relief for small businesses stalled in the Senate.

A Trump administration request for quick approval of $250 billion to replenish a new loan program for distressed small businesses stalled in the Senate on Thursday morning after Republicans and Democrats clashed over what should be included.

With Congress in recess and lawmakers scattered around the country, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, attempted to push through the small business loan funding during a procedural session, a maneuver that would have required all senators to agree.

“Treating this as a normal kind of partisan negotiation could literally cost Americans their jobs,” Mr. McConnell said. “Do not block emergency aid you do not even oppose just because you want something more,” he told Democrats.

But Democrats objected, proposing to double the size of the emergency relief bill by adding $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments.

“Yes, we know we need more money for this program,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland. “But for goodness sake, let’s take the opportunity to make some bipartisan fixes to make this program work better.”

Republicans, in turn, blocked the Democrats’ proposal, arguing that the small business program has a more urgent need for funds, and that additional demands for aid could be addressed in future legislation.

“We need to stop turning every conversation into a conversation about everything,” Mr. McConnell said. “We need to patch holes when we see them.”

The dispute is a prelude to what is likely to be a far more complicated and consequential set of negotiations over another sweeping round of government aid that lawmakers expect to consider in the coming weeks. But the interim package appears to face problems of its own, even beyond the Senate.

Without the modifications Democrats are advocating, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California warned on Wednesday that the administration’s $250 billion request would not pass the House. This latest round of negotiation comes on the heels of the $2 trillion stimulus law enacted late last month, which created the small business loan program. The program, which has been inundated with applications from desperate businesses, has been plagued with problems since its launch earlier this month.

New hospitalizations in New York fell for another day, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Thursday, even as he announced that another 799 people had died because of the virus.

The state’s fatality count increased to 7,067, and for the second consecutive day, Mr. Cuomo compared the toll of the virus to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2011, calling the virus a “silent explosion that ripples through society with the same randomness, the same evil that we saw on 9/11.”

Although the governor said that some data, like the shrinking number of hospital admissions, suggested that New York was making headway, he warned against relaxing compliance with restrictions that governments have imposed in recent weeks.

“The moment you stop following the policies, you will go right back and see that number shoot through the roof,” Mr. Cuomo said in Albany, where state officials are acutely aware that lower hospitalization numbers could be because fewer sick people are turning up, or changing admissions standards, or both.

At the same time, other New York officials have begun to envision — cautiously — an eventual return to some normalcy.

With transmission still widespread, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday he thought New York City could as early as mid-May move to the next stage: one with low-level spread of the virus, in which cases could be more easily traced.

“We can say that it’s time to start planning for the next phase very overtly,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. (Hours later, Mr. Cuomo was more reluctant to embrace a timeline: “I’m not going to guess when the data will say we should change our practices.” He said that the ability to test rapidly was necessary to restart New York’s economy and that state and federal officials were working to reach that capacity.)

New York has been the hub of the epidemic in the U.S., and in the city, the virus is killing black and Latino people at twice the rate that it is killing white people, according to statistics that the authorities released this week.

Speaking on NBC’s “Today,” Dr. Fauci warned that the country needs to be prepared to return to restrictive measures if the virus “starts to try and rear its ugly head.”

“When you’re talking about getting back to normal, we know now that we can get hit by a catastrophic outbreak like this,” Dr. Fauci said. “It can happen again, so we really need to be prepared to respond in a much more vigorous way.”

About 90 percent of hospitalized patients had at least one underlying condition, the C.D.C. finds.

On March 1, there were 88 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States. By month’s end, there were more than 170,000. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled data on people who were hospitalized from the virus during that month to get a clearer demographic picture of infected patients who have required the most serious medical care.

Approximately 90 percent of the 1,482 hospitalized patients included in the study released Wednesday had one or more underlying medical conditions. Older people infected with the virus were more likely to be hospitalized; men were more likely to endure severe cases than women; and black people were hospitalized at a higher rate than whites. The study also found that hospitalization rates for the virus have been significantly higher than for recent outbreaks of influenza.

The numbers reflected trends that were reported from other countries at earlier stages of the outbreak. Of the hospitalized patients in the C.D.C. study, 89.3 percent had underlying medical conditions. The most common of those was hypertension, in 49.7 percent of patients, followed by obesity, chronic metabolic disease (like diabetes), chronic lung disease (like asthma) and cardiovascular disease.

The data, based on hospitalizations from March 1 to 30, was taken from a network of hospitals in parts of 14 states, including New York, Connecticut, California and Ohio. The area studied includes only about 10 percent of the overall population of the United States, but is seen as a representative snapshot of the virus’s spread and the demographic breakdown of patients.

“It’s been amazing the outpouring of people helping each other through these tough times,” said Cyara Neel, who created the group “Unemployment Nevada Information and Help,” which now has more than 7,000 members.

California’s decision to ship hundreds of ventilators to other states this week has been met with alarm by some local officials, who expressed concern about a shortage.

Readying the supplies for heavily-hit states like New York and New Jersey, workers packed the equipment in cardboard boxes and wrote messages of support in black marker. “Prayers from the West Coast,” said one message.

“We couldn’t be more proud as a state to be sending those ventilators back east,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said a total of 500 ventilators would be split among Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Nevada, New Jersey and Washington D.C. He described the shipments as a loan.

But in places like Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, officials expressed concern about a “fragile” supply chain and said hospitals were anxiously preparing for a shortage in ventilators.

The county has been among the hardest hit in the state, with more than 1,100 cases, at least 32 deaths and an outbreak at a nursing home that forced older patients to be evacuated this week, after a beleaguered and sickened staff failed to show up two days in a row.

Officials said this week that the state had denied its request for ventilators, and that a second one was pending.

“We were denied, yet some of the state ventilators went out of the state,” said Karen Spiegel, a member of the board of supervisors.

She said counties often fall last in a hierarchy that prioritizes federal and state governments. “We are the last one down,” she said, “yet we are the first ones working.”

In Santa Clara County, where the need for hospital beds is expected to grow, the health officer issued an order asking everyone in the county to disclose inventories of supplies, including ventilators.

Even as the state gave away some supplies, Mr. Newsom announced one of the highest death tolls in California since the crisis started: 68 people died over the past 24 hours, he said on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to more than 500.

Officials cautioned that the number of cases had not yet peaked in California, the largest state in the nation, with 40 million residents.

California hospitals collectively have as many as 11,000 ventilators on hand, and the state had separately secured about 8,000 other ventilators, some of which were being refurbished, Mr. Newsom said. “We feel we are adequately resourced for the moment,” he said.

And Mr. Newsom described a broad effort to buy gowns, masks and other equipment. That included a deal to buy 200 million masks a month from factories in Asia, and a plan to spend $1.4 billion on personal protective gear for medical personnel, supermarket workers, employees of the state’s department of motor vehicles and any other “front-line employees walking the streets.”

The scale of the purchase was possible “only in California,” he said, “where our procurement capacity is quite literally second only to the United States itself.”

Oil spikes on word of a deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Oil prices spiked on Thursday in anticipation that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia would reach a deal to cut large volumes of production. News of a possible deal spread as OPEC, Russia and other oil producers gathered for a teleconference to discuss an oil glut that has caused a steep fall in prices.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, jumped nearly 12 percent to $36.40 a barrel, as the meeting started, but it gave up most of those gains soon after.

The meeting was called by Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader, after President Trump spoke to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s main policymaker, by telephone.

The volatile oil markets of recent weeks threaten to bankrupt energy companies, causing enormous job losses and threatening financial institutions that have backed the industry. In America, oil states including Texas and Oklahoma were faced with steep job losses.

The Saudis have been engaged in a price war with Russia following Moscow’s refusal to go along with a Saudi proposal in early March to trim output to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The spat threatens to swamp oil markets with vast oversupplies of crude.

The virus has killed more people in the Navajo Nation than in the whole of New Mexico.

Attorney General William P. Barr said Wednesday night that the White House should soon reconsider its recommendations that Americans stay at home to combat the coronavirus.

“When this period of time, at the end of April, expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have, and not just tell people to go home and hide under their bed, but allow them to use other ways — social distancing and other means — to protect themselves,” Mr. Barr said in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

The White House has asked that all people stay at home this month in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has begun to overwhelm hospital systems and, by some estimates, could result in more than 100,000 deaths.

Mr. Barr called efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus “draconian,” and he echoed President Trump’s assessment that the “cure cannot be worse than the disease.”

Mr. Barr also raised the specter that the government could improperly impose emergency measures to strip citizens of their civil liberties. He said that he was worried that the government would begin to declare “everything an emergency” and then impose “these kinds of sweeping, extraordinary steps.”

The C.D.C. issues new back-to-work guidelines for essential workers.

Need ways to preserve special days during this time? Check these out.

Stay-at-home orders don’t have to put a damper on things. Here are some ways to celebrate birthdays, weddings and the coming spring holidays.

Reporting was contributed by Alan Blinder, Eileen Sullivan, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Simon Romero, Peter Baker, Jim Rutenberg, David Waldstein, Emily Cochrane, Caitlin Dickerson, Maggie Haberman, Nick Corasaniti, Marc Santora, Brooks Barnes, Dan Barry, Conor Dougherty, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Manny Fernandez, Sheri Fink, Michael Levenson and Carl Zimmer.



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