Coronavirus live updates: $2 trillion stimulus deal; Prince Charles sick; US deaths top 800

The White House and congressional leaders from both parties reached a $2 trillion stimulus deal early Wednesday that will include direct payments to most Americans and an unprecedented amount of money to small businesses that have been pushed to the brink amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hours later, it was revealed that Britain’s Prince Charles tested positive for the virus.

The stimulus deal was revealed at about 1 a.m. following five days of talks. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a “bipartisan agreement on the largest rescue package in history.”

The deal comes as confirmed cases in America, now over 55,200, have been climbing at an exponential rate — especially in New York — and more are expected as the U.S. increases testing. Globally, more than 19,000 people have been killed by the virus according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.

The U.S. death toll was at 802 early Wednesday after eclipsing 600 on Tuesday.

Our live blog is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news. More headlines:

Most Americans to get $1,200 checks

People earning less than $75,000 per year will get $1,200 checks under the stimulus agreement that caps five days of negotiations. Married couples earning less than $150,000 will get $2,400 and children will be worth another $500 each under the deal. Another $250 billion set aside for direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said that every worker who is laid off will have their salary remunerated by the federal government so they can pay their bills.

“And because so many of them will be furloughed rather than fired, if they have benefits, they can continue, and — extremely important — they can stay with the company or small business,” he said.

Prince Charles tests positive, displays ‘mild symptoms’

Britain’s Prince Charles, heir to the throne, has tested positive for the coronavirus, his official royal residence said in a statement. The statement said that Prince Charles, 71, has “been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health.” His wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, does not have the virus, a test showed. 

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has canceled a number of diary events “as a sensible precaution”  amid the outbreak but as late as last week she was still holding “audiences” with members of the public. Britain’s monarch is 93.

– Kim Hjelmgaard

Italy, Iran see spike in deaths; Spain passes China

Italy saw a jump in its daily death toll following two straight days of declines, the nation’s civil protection chief said Wednesday. Tuesday saw 743 deaths, up from 601 on Monday and 653 on Sunday. More than 6,800 have died since the outbreak swept into Italy last month. In Spain, where an ice rink has been converted into a morgue, 738 more deaths were reported for a total of 3,434 overall, surpassing China’s total.

Iran reported 122 deaths, bringing the total there to more than 2,000. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned that U.S.  sanctions are impeding Iran’s efforts to fight coronavirus – and are putting the entire world in danger. “In a context of global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us,” Bachelet said.

Following Dow Jones’ historic surge, Asian stocks leap

U.S stock futures pointed mildly lower Wednesday following the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s biggest surge since 1933. Global markets roared, however, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 index jumping 5.3%, Hong Kong adding 3% and Sydney climbed 3.6%. Tokyo share prices were also boosted by the decision to postpone the 2020 Olympics to July 2021 in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

That followed a stunning 11.4% surge Tuesday in the Dow. The S&P 500 index leaped 9.4% as a wave of buying around the world interrupted what has been a brutal month of nearly nonstop selling.

As colleges send students home, Liberty University invites them back

Most of them won’t attend classes in person, but thousands of Liberty University students will return to the evangelical Virginia campus amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the students are not at-risk because of their age, President Jerry Falwell Jr. argued in an interview with the News and Advance in Lynchburg. The president of the private, Christian college is a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump. 

Liberty’s move is remarkable as the coronavirus spreads across the United States. Hundreds of universities have closed their campuses and asked students to leave crowded dorms. Some have allowed students who can’t move back home – international students or those without secure housing – but most campuses are becoming emptier, not fuller. 

– Chris Quintana

Fever charting shows social distancing is slowing the spread of coronavirus

Early evidence suggests closing bars, restaurants and other businesses to keep people apart in places including New York City, has slowed the incidence of fevers that are an early indicator of coronavirus, according to a new analysis of fevers and symptoms across the U.S.

Data from health technology company Kinsa, which did the analysis using its digital thermometers, show the number of people with flu-like illness — atypical fever and symptoms — began dropping almost immediately after mandatory social distancing measures were implemented in some areas.

The company downloads fever readings from more than 1 million thermometers in use around the U.S. It predicted the 2018 spread of the flu and bad colds that were often mistaken for the flu last winter.

“When you shut down schools and businesses, you are breaking the chain of infections,” said Kinsa CEO Inder Singh. “The data are showing it is working and the clusters of fever we were seeing are leveling off and diminishing within days.”

– Jayne O’Donnell

Been in New York recently? Plan to self-quarantine, White House says

Members of the coronavirus task force are advising anybody who has been in the New York metropolitan area recently to self-quarantine for two weeks to avoid spreading the virus. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said recent visitors may have been exposed to the virus and should take measures to avoid infecting others.

“This will be very critical, that those individuals do self-quarantine in their homes over these next 14 days to make sure they don’t pass the virus to others based on the time they left New York,” Birx said. “So if they are four days out, it is just 10 more days.”

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said people in the New York City metro area have been infected at a rate eight to 10 times higher than elsewhere.

– Erick A. Smith

NYU will graduate medical students early, put more doctors in field

New York University will offer senior medical students an opportunity to graduate a few months early — provided they’ve met all their requirements and have all their credits — to put more doctors in the field to fight the coronavirus.

Students were told Tuesday night via email that details were still being worked out, but that they might be able to start working as soon as April.

NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine has made the offer to students “in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s directive to get more physicians into the health system more quickly,” the school said in a statement, according to media reports. New York state could be just two weeks from seeing 40,000 patients requiring intensive care in facilities equipped for only 3,000, Cuomo warned.

“We are not slowing it. And it is accelerating on its own,” he said in New York City. “We are now looking at a bullet train.”

– Lindsay Schnell

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Alaska, Hawaii, Florida mandate quarantines amid coronavirus

Alaska and Hawaii are the first two states to mandate a 14-day quarantine for all visitors and residents arriving at state airports. Alaska’s order goes into effect Wednesday and will be reviewed by April 21. Hawaii’s order is effective Thursday.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also issued an executive order requiring anyone flying to Florida from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. That mandate took effect Tuesday.

– Nicquel Terry Ellis

How many cases of coronavirus in US?

Cases of COVID-19

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Contributing: The Associated Press.

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