Federal health officials warned Thursday that the coronavirus can be dangerous for young people, too, while lawmakers wrestled with details of an emergency aid package that could put $1,000 in the pockets of American adults as the life-changing pandemic continued to rattle the nation Thursday.
Italy was poised to surpass China in total deaths while China reported good news: The epicenter city of Wuhan and the surrounding province reported no new domestic cases.
In the U.S., deaths jumped to 154 across 22 states – including the first reported fatalities in Connecticut, Michigan, Missouri and Pennsylvania. There were more than 10,000 confirmed cases, up from about 1,600 a week earlier, when there were 40 reported deaths.
The global death toll passed 9,300; there were more than 229,000 confirmed cases.
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Young people endangered, too
Americans of all ages have faced serious health complications amid the new coronavirus outbreak, a federal health report says. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that among the roughly 12% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. known to need hospitalizations, about one in five were among people ages 20 to 44. The CDC report released Wednesday tracked the health outcomes from Feb. 12 to March 16 for the 2,449 COVID-19 patients in the U.S. whose ages were known.
The data still indicates older Americans face the higher risk of hospitalization, admission to an intensive care unit or even death, the report says.
– Ryan Miller
FDA: New coronavirus therapies in ‘3 to 6 months’
Food and Drug Commissioner Stephen Hahn said it could take “three to six months” to develop new therapies specifically designed to address coronavirus. Hahn said the agency also is looking at the value of several currently approved drugs.
“They’re looking at pushing that to the months period of time,” Hahn said. He estimated the approval of a vaccine at about 12 months.
President Donald Trump mentioned at least two drugs that researchers are studying. One of them, hydroxychloroquine, is a drug that has long been approved for malaria. Another drug, remdesivir, is an experimental antiviral. Trump expressed optimism about the drugs, but Hahn said the agency was still studying their efficacy.
– John Fritze
About that $1,000 for each of us…
The Trump administration wants checks of $1,000 per person and $500 per child to go out within three weeks of Congress passing a stimulus package, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said a deal was close.
“The plan is $500 billion in two tranches,” Mnuchin said on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria.” “The first one would be $1,000 per person, $500 per child.”
Six weeks later, if needed, “we’ll deliver another $3,000,” he said. Mnuchin said he also wanted $300 billion to go toward small businesses for “hiring people, keeping people on the payroll.” Another $200 billion would secure lending to airlines and other critical industries, he said.
– Nicholas Wu
Hundreds of Americans stuck overseas
Hundreds of Americans overseas are struggling to get home, trapped in a global freeze on international travel and mass quarantines. Besieged by pleas for help, the State Department and its embassies around the world have offered little to no assistance, some stranded travelers say. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has acknowledged the problem and says department staff are working on solutions.
Stuck in the Philippines, Chris Pierce and his wife, Nila, have contacted American embassies in Manila and Cebu via email and phone 70 times. No response, they say. “I do realize they are probably overwhelmed,” Chris Pierce told USA TODAY. “But at the same time, all U.S. citizens should be a priority. … I can’t help but feel we are abandoned.”
– Deirdre Shesgreen an Morgan Hines
US trajectory: Will we follow Italy?
The U.S. could soon find out whether it’s likely to be the next South Korea or Italy when it comes to the acceleration of coronavirus cases and deaths. South Korea managed to “flatten the curve” with aggressive action. A data analysis by USA TODAY finds that America’s trajectory is trending toward Italy’s, where circumstances are more dire.
“When you’re on an exponential curve every moment is dangerous,” Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told USA TODAY.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s worst-case-scenario is that up to 210 million Americans will be infected by December. Under this forecast, 21 million people would need hospitalization and 200,000 to 1.7 million could die. Collins said that if the U.S. takes drastic measures “we should certainly be able to blunt” the U.S. curve. “But let’s be clear: There’s going to be a very rough road.” Read more here.
– Kim Hjelmgaard and Jim Sergent
Congressman: ‘Worst cold I’ve ever had’
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., announced that he has tested positive, becoming the first known member of Congress to contract the rapidly spreading virus. Hours later, Rep. Ben McAdams, a Democrat from Utah, announced he had tested positive.
“I’m feeling pretty bad. I think this is probably the worst cold I’ve ever had, but (I am) getting by,” McAdams told NBC News’ TODAY from quarantine Thursday. He said his family is “not leaving the house for anything.” McAdams and some other members of Congress say lawmakers should be able to vote remotely to avoid traveling back and forth to Washington. At least 15 lawmakers so far have gone into self-quarantine.
– Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, and David DeMille, St. George (Utah) Spectrum & Daily News
Stock market opens lower, edges higher
U.S. stocks opened lower once again Thursday but rebounded to modest gains a day after Wednesday’s 6%-plus crash. The Dow has lost nearly all of its gains since Donald Trump’s inauguration. Shares in Asia failed to hold onto opening gains Thursday, skidding further after the latest selloff on Wall Street amid fears of a prolonged coronavirus-induced recession.
The New York Stock Exchange said it will temporarily close its trading floor and move to electronic trading effective next Monday. “NYSE’s trading floors provide unique value to issuers and investors, but our markets are fully capable of operating in an all-electronic fashion,” said Stacey Cunningham, president of the New York Stock Exchange.
– Jessica Menton
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Italy’s deaths spike, approach China’s total toll
Italy’s death toll rose by 475 on Wednesday, bringing the national total to 2,978, Italian Emergency Commissioner and Civil Protection Chief Angelo Borrelli said. Italy appeared likely to pass China on Thursday for the most deaths from the coronavirus crisis that began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December.
Italy, which is under national lockdown, has reported a total of 35,713 cases. Borrelli said the number of people recovering was on the rise, while the number of new cases appeared to be flattening out.
“It is necessary to limit movements as much as possible,” he said. “Today’s figures help us to think positively, but correct conduct must be adopted.”
NYC mayor mobilizing Medical Reserve Corps
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio urged retired health care workers to join the city’s battle against COVID-19, saying the 9,000-member Medical Reserve Corps would be mobilized immediately on a voluntary basis. The group includes mostly retired health care workers, but de Blasio said anyone with health care training would be welcome to volunteer.
“If you are a health care worker, you have any appropriate training, we need you and we need you right away,” de Blasio said in a recording published Thursday on social media. “Your city needs you now.”
The city is seeing a boom in cases, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the USNS Comfort will be deployed to New York harbor next month. The 1,000-bed hospital ship has 12 fully equipped operating rooms and “will significantly increase New York’s hospital surge capacity,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Wuhan, China, reports no new coronavirus cases
China’s National Commission reported no domestically transmitted cases of the virus Thursday, the first time since it started recording them in January. COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province, in December.
But the announcement also comes as China, South Korea and Singapore faced a spike in infections from abroad that could be the start of a second coronavirus wave. And in China’s case, it’s also not clear how reliable its data is because the country has clamped down hard on domestic and foreign reporting on the virus that has killed more than 3,200 people in China amid over 81,000 infections. Seventy-thousand have recovered.
Places in Asia such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Japan have been praised for their quick and effective testing, tracing and “social distancing” measures. China aggressively deployed similar tactics.
– Kim Hjelmgaard
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Fed moves to bolster ailing financial system
The Federal Reserve took another step to ease strains in the financial system as the coronavirus hammers the economy and markets, making loans available to financial institutions that buy assets from stressed money market mutual funds.
The Fed said the lending program, called the money market mutual fund liquidity facility, will be very similar to one launched during the financial crisis. At that time, money funds inundated with redemption demands could have had to sell short-term business loans, known as commercial paper, to meet the requests. Commercial paper provides companies with funding to meet payroll, buy inventories and pay other daily operating expenses.
– Paul Davidson
Florida distillery drops booze for sanitizer
A Florida craft distillery has halted making alcoholic beverages in favor of hand sanitizer – and it’s giving the stuff away for free. Copper Bottom Craft Distillery in Holly Hill announced the BYOB offer – you bring the bottle, they will fill it – on Wednesday. Within hours they had given away 20 gallons, mostly in 4-ounce pours. Customers included representatives from a sheriff’s office and a fire department. There were obstetricians, medical clinic workers, school teachers and service industry professionals.
“We’re just trying to spread some goodwill,” said Jenni Craig, who owns the business with her husband, Jeremy, and his parents. “This is a crazy time going on right now, and we want to do what we can to help.”
– Suzanne Hirt, Daytona Beach News-Journal
How many cases of coronavirus in US?
Here are additional important stories from USA TODAY on coronavirus:
Canned goods and non-perishables are selling out. Here’s where you can still buy them.
Some people refuse to “social distance.” Psychologists explain why.
Is there any “good news” related to the coronavirus? Perhaps, in reduced air pollution and carbon emissions — and in some places, lives saved.
The risk to pregnant women from coronavirus appears low. But there’s not enough data.
When will school reopen? No date in sight.
They booked Palm Springs trips before the pandemic. Now they can’t get refunds.
When will coronavirus end? What wartime and human kindness can tell us about what happens next.
Contributing: The Associated Press