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Coronavirus government response updates: Trump signs $2T relief bill after House passage

The federal government has been rolling out its response to the coronavirus crisis, trying to slow the spread and prop up the economy, which has taken a severe hit.

House lawmakers scrambled back to Washington Friday morning amid fears one GOP member of Congress would force a delay in the vote on the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed unanimously by the Senate.

But early Friday afternoon the House passed the historic measure and sent it to President Donald Trump’s desk.

Within minutes of signing the bill, Trump touted the aid on Twitter.

An aide to House Speaker Pelosi confirms that she was not invited to the White House to participate in the signing ceremony.

The last time the two spoke was Oct. 16, 2019, roughly five months ago.

Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

Here are Friday’s most significant developments in Washington:

  • The House passed a $2 trillion relief measure and President Trump signed it
  • House members scrambled back to Washington in expectation of a call for quorum, roll call vote
  • President Trump uses the powers of the Defense Production Act for the first time
  • Friday is the 12th day of the president’s 15-day guidelines to slow the spread
  • President Trump, at the daily White House briefing, said he would decide whether to extend or modify the guidelines next week
  • Here are the latest developments in the government response:

    Trump says he’s using powers of Defense Production Act

    For the first time, Trump has issued an order to use the authorities granted to presidents by the Defense Production Act.

    He signed a memo today to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar telling him to use authority granted by the act to requite General Motors to produce ventilators — after he threatened to do so earlier on Twitter.

    “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,” Trump said in a written statement. “GM was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.”

    Trump said in the memo that Azar “shall use any and all authority available under the Act to require General Motors Company to accept, perform, and prioritize contracts or orders for the number of ventilators that the Secretary determines to be appropriate.”

    While Trump has repeatedly threatened to use the DPA — and claimed he had “invoked” it several times — as far as it’s known he had not set in motion a process by which it would actually be used until now.

    He opened the daily White House briefing on he government’s response Friday evening by elaborating on his use of the DPA, which several governors pressured him to do in the last week, with some criticizing the president for not utilizing it sooner.

    “This invocation of the DPA should demonstrate clearly to all that we will not hesitate to use the full authority of the federal government to combat this crisis. We thought that we had a deal with, as an example, General Motors,” Trump said. “And I guess they thought otherwise. They didn’t agree. And now they do. They do agree.”

    The president then announced that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro will serve as policy coordinator for the Defense Production Act, calling it a “very important position” before asking Navarro to speak.

    “Over the last several days we ran into roadblocks with GM,” Navarro said, calling Trump a “wartime president” who takes action. “President Trump invoked the defense production act as a way of enhancing and accelerating this mobilization. I salute him for doing so.”

    Overall, Trump said 100,000 ventilators made by several companies will ship out to states in need over the next three months or so.

    “In the next 100 days — well, first of all, we’ve already delivered thousands of them, but within the next 100 days we will either make or get in some form over 100,000 additional units,” Trump said, adding that 100,000 was three times the number of ventilators normally made in the U.S. in a year.

    “No effort will be spared in winning this war. We’re going to win the war. Hopefully we’ll win soon and with as few lives as possible lost,” the president said, as the reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. topped 100,000.

    “If this should happen again — hopefully it won’t — but if a thing like this should happen again, we’ll be able to handle it very much more easily,” he said.

    After calling Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, a “failed presidential candidate” who “leveled out at zero in the polls” and claiming Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer “has no idea what’s going on,” President Trump was asked by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl what exactly he wanted from the nation’s governors in this time of crisis.

    “All I want them to do — very simple — I want them to be appreciative. I don’t want them to say things that aren’t true. I want them to be appreciative. We’ve done a great job,” Trump said.
    When pressed further on a lack of communication between the White House and certain governors, the president said, “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call them.”

    When Karl later asked the president if everybody who needs a ventilator will be able to get a ventilator, Trump refused to answer the question definitively.

    “I think we’re in really good shape. This is a pandemic, the likes of which nobody’s seen before,” he said. “We’ve distributed vast numbers of ventilators, and we’re prepared to do vast numbers.”
    When pressed for an answer, Trump told Karl, “don’t be a cutie pie.”

    “Everyone who needs one — nobody’s ever done what we’ve done. Nobody’s done what we’ve been able to do.” the president said.

    Trump said the coronavirus task force hasn’t made a decision on what to do on Monday, which will mark the end of the 15 days of government guidelines to social distance, work from home and self-isolate if showing symptoms, but said he will be sitting down Monday or Tuesday with doctors and medical professionals to decide what the government will suggest Americans do next.

    Asked if the guidelines might stay in place for months, Trump said he hoped not, but again said medical professionals would weigh in on the decision.

    “I certainly want to get it open as soon as possible. I don’t want it to be long, but we also want it to open safe. Otherwise, what did we do?” Trump said.

    House passes historic relief bill after brief drama

    The House of Representatives passed the historic coronavirus relief bill by voice vote Friday, a move that allowed for swift passage without having to call the entire House membership back to Washington.

    The $2 trillion package, which the Senate passed on Wednesday, is the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history. The measure now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.

    Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., announced he was objecting to the voice vote and called instead for a recorded vote.

    “I came here to make sure our Republic doesn’t die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber, and I request a recorded vote,” Massie said, objecting to the vote.

    The chair proceeded to override Massie’s objection, and the House broke out in applause when the bill passed.

    Color from the House chamber

    Inside the House chamber, lawmakers kept their distance from each other throughout Friday’s debate.

    Most members wiped down the microphones with a disinfecting wipe before speaking, following the new and unprecedented protocol the House Attending Physician and Office of the House Sergeant at Arms announced on Thursday.

    “Members will be required to cleanse their hands with waterless hand sanitizer before entering and departing the House Chamber and are requested to follow all health safety procedures while on the Floor. Seating in the House Chamber will be limited,” their memo stated yesterday.

    One member — freshman Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich. — put on pink latex gloves before speaking. In a dramatic moment, Stevens continued her remarks past her allotted time and began raising her voice despite objections from the chair.

    “I wear these latex gloves to tell every American to not be afraid!” she exclaimed.

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., also spoke out against the bill, noting she represents “one of the hardest hit” congressional districts across the country.

    “We have to go into this vote eyes wide open. What did the Senate majority fight for? One of the largest corporate bailouts with as few strings as possible in American history. Shameful! The greed of that fight is wrong,” she said. “There should be shame about what was fought for in this bill and the choices that we have to make.”

    House Democrats fear lone GOP member may object to quick voice vote

    The possibility of the House passing the Senate-passed coronavirus relief bill in the fastest available way — by unanimous consent or a simple voice vote — slipped away from Democrats Friday morning as expectations grew that Rep. Tom Massie, R-Ky., would force a delay the vote.

    Late Thursday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office urged members to return to Washington by 10 a.m. Friday to make a quorum, amid growing concern of COVID-19 spreading across the Capitol and country.

    For today, a quorum constitutes 216 members, and if Massie notes the absence of a quorum, he could stop the proceedings until quorum is reached.

    Once at least 216 members are present, the House could have a recorded roll call vote if one-fifth of the body — or 44 members — support it. If not, they could try to hold a voice vote again, and Massie’s objection of the absence of a quorum wouldn’t prevail.

    Three hours of debate on the bill are expected in the morning before an effort to pass it by voice vote.

    The eleventh hour concern over Massie prompted several House members to board near-empty planes headed to the nation’s capital Friday morning.

    Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota shared a photo of himself with three Minnesota lawmakers appearing to be the only passengers on a flight to Washington.

    Just after midnight, Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., posted a photo of a deserted LAX, noting he was traveling back to the chamber since other members can’t for health reasons.

    After calling Massie a “grandstander” at Thursday’s task force briefing, President Trump doubled down on his disapproval of the Kentucky congressman on Twitter Friday morning, even calling for Massie to be thrown out of the Republican party.

    In a series of tweets Friday afternoon, Massie indicated he would request the formal roll call vote.

    Trump changes tone, tells GM, ‘START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!’

    President Trump abruptly changed his tone on whether more ventilators were urgently needed as governors have been demanding.

    In a series of tweets, he once again threatened to use the Defense Production Act, which he says he has activated but not actually employed, to force General Motors to make them — as the federal government had been negotiating with the company to do so. He took aim at Ford as well.

    Trump said General Motors had agreed to produce 40,000 ventilators “very quickly,” but now, he said, they are saying it could deliver 6,000 ventilators in late April, “and they want top dollar.”

    He said “General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!”

    It was unclear if Trump’s tweeting “invoke ‘P'” — which he said in another tweet means invoke the Defense Production Act — is legal invocation of the measure, but appeared to be another threat.

    After Trump tweeted, Ventec and GM said in a statement they were poised to deliver their first ventilators by next month and would ramp up to a manufacturing capacity to more than 10,000 per month – although they did not say when they would reach that goal.

    The tweets come after the New York Times reported his administration had delayed going forward with a government contract because of cost concerns over the $1 billion or more price tag.

    On Thursday night, in a 40-minute phone interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump suggested the number of ventilators being requested by governors to combat COVID-19 isn’t necessary.

    “I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” he said. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?'”

    The president said that companies are stepping up and producing the “very, very expensive” ventilators and other pieces of equipment, but he also repeated that this was primarily a state responsibility.

    “Remember, we are a second line of attack,” Trump said. “The first line of attack is supposed to be the hospitals in the local government and the states. The states themselves.”

    Despite saying positive things about New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, Trump struck a sharply partisan tone at other moments. He called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state, calling him a “failed presidential candidate” who “should be doing more.”

    He also referred to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, another Democrat, as “the young woman governor” and said she wasn’t “stepping up.”

    What to know about coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: coronavirus symptoms
  • Tracking the spread in the US and Worldwide: coronavirus map
  • ABC News’ John Parkinson, Mariam Khan, Megan Hughes and Sarah Kolinovsky contributed to this report.

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    Coronavirus economic updates: Dow closes down more than 900 points after 3-day rally

    ABC News Corona Virus Economic Impacts

    The health crisis has increasingly become an economic one.

    The coronavirus pandemic has quickly evolved from a health crisis to a financial one, shuttering businesses, upending entire industries and sending financial markets reeling.

    Here’s the latest news on how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the economy. For more on financial resources available during the pandemic, click here.

    After 3-day rally, markets slip Friday

    After three days of back-to-back gains, U.S. financial markets slipped Friday as the coronavirus pandemic wages on.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 900 points, or over 4%, when U.S. markets closed Friday. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also both dropped by more than 3%.

    The fall comes as the United States now has nearly 86,000 cases of COVID-19, the highest number in the world. At least 1,300 people have died in the U.S.

    Moreover, in New York City — the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic — Mayor Bill de Blasio projected Friday morning that “over half the people in this city will ultimately be infected.”

    Equity markets have seesawed for weeks as the COVID-19 outbreak has sowed uncertainty among investors.

    A $2 trillion stimulus package to help lessen the blow of the outbreak on the economy was approved by the Senate earlier this week, leading to the three-day market rally ahead of Friday’s tumble.

    IMF chief predicts a ‘quite deep’ recession for 2020

    Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a briefing Friday that the organization representing more than 189 countries is now projecting a recession for 2020.

    Moreover, “we are expecting it to be quite deep,” she said.

    “We are very much urging countries to speed up containment measures aggressively so we can shorten the duration of this period of time when the recession is in standstill,” she said. “And also to apply well-targeted measures, primary focusing on the health system to absorb that enormous stress that comes from coronavirus and on people, businesses, and the financial system.”

    She applauded countries’ fiscal and monetary policy responses so far for both their speed and breadth.

    In a statement shortly after Friday’s briefing, Georgieva and the IMF’s Financial Committee Chair Lesetja Kganyago called for increased multilateral action among central banks and other financial institutions.

    “We are in an unprecedented situation where a global health pandemic has turned into an economic and financial crisis. With a sudden stop in economic activity, global output will contract in 2020. Member countries have already taken extraordinary actions to save lives and safeguard economic activity. But more is needed,” they said in a joint statement.

    It continued: “Priority should be afforded to targeted fiscal support to vulnerable households and businesses to accelerate and strengthen the recovery in 2021.”

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledges $25 million for coronavirus treatment funding

    Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Friday that he and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, will give $25 million to accelerate the development of coronavirus treatments, saying he hopes to get a vaccine to test developed in “months rather than a year or more.”

    “We’re partnering with the Gates Foundation and others to quickly evaluate the most promising existing drugs to see which ones might be effective at preventing and treating the coronavirus,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post Friday morning. “Since these drugs have already gone through clinical safety trials, if they’re effective, it will be much faster to make them available than it will be to develop and test a new vaccine — hopefully months rather than a year or more.”

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    National bills coming due, with risk; consumers see it, too

    The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Friday related to the global economy, the work place and the spread of the virus.

    ————

    UNDER REVIEW: This week, the U.S. reported that a staggering 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a five-fold increase over the last high sent in 1982. On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a $2.2 trillion aid package into law. Few believe it will be the last in the aftermath of this viral outbreak. Credit ratings agencies are taking note of the financial standing of the U.S., and other nations.

    Fitch is affirming the United States’ sovereign rating at “AAA,” but it sees risk, too. Fitch said high fiscal deficits and debt — which were already rising before the economic shock precipitated by the coronavirus — are starting to erode U.S. credit strengths. The risk of a near-term negative rating action has climbed given the magnitude of the shock to the economy and public finances from the virus and the fiscal policy response, Fitch said, particularly in the absence of a credible consolidation plan for the country’s preexisting, longer-term public finance and government debt challenges.

    Italy’s economic challenges will outweigh government support, according to Moody’s. The agency says the country’s weaker economy will weigh on its banks. Demand for a range of fee-generating banking services is expected to fall and problem loans are anticipated to rise. Italy on Friday become the second country to overtake China in coronavirus infections, reaching 86,498 cases on the same day it recorded its single biggest leap in deaths, with 969 more victims. The first was the U.S.

    Closures are also expected to pressure revenue for regions in Russia. But Moody’s says most regions it rates can maintain an adequate operating performance this year even with declines of up to 50% in corporate income tax revenue from the sectors most affected by the outbreak. Most regions are also anticipated to be able to withstand a combined 50% decline in corporate income tax and small business tax, as well as a 30% decline in personal income tax and still have a positive operating balance.

    TRAVEL IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC: Any sector affiliated with the travel industry is at high risk, particularly cruise lines. Because so many are incorporated off-shore (Carnival has its headquarters in Miami, but it’s incorporated in Panama), they could miss out on any rescue for U.S. corporations.

    Shares of Royal Caribbean and Carnival tumbled between 16% and 17% Friday.

    The International Air Transport Association this week said passenger revenue worldwide could fall as much as $252 billion, or 44%, compared with last year. Less than three weeks ago, the group estimated the virus could reduce airline revenue by up to $113 billion compared.

    AIRLINES LOOK TO GRANTS: U.S. airlines are seen as more likely to seek federal grants than loans from the huge economic-rescue package that passed Congress on Friday.

    The loans would carry tougher terms than the grants, which would provide cash to cover airline payroll costs and avoid layoffs for the next six months. The carriers, however, are waiting for the Treasury Department to set terms for both loans and grants over the next several days.

    President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, eager to avoid comparisons with the unpopular bailout of major banks more than a decade ago, say taxpayers will be compensated for extending $25 billion in grants and another $25 billion in loans to passenger airlines.

    “We have to keep our airlines going … now, maybe we will take a piece of the airlines for the country, for our country, where we loan money and we take a piece,” Trump said during a White House briefing.

    None of the airlines committed to apply for federal aid, but analysts expect airlines will take the grants.

    J.P. Morgan analyst Jamie Baker said airlines will take the grants but not the loans because the bill requires them to prove they have no other access to capital to get Treasury-backed loans — they have recently tapped the private credit market. Cowen analyst Helane Becker also said some airlines will bypass the loans, in part to avoid more government influence on their businesses.

    United Airlines warned Friday that job cuts will still be needed, even after the relief bill signed by Trump. United CEO Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby said they expect travel demand to remain weak for months, possibly into next year.

    “If the recovery is as slow as we fear, it means our airline and our workforce will have to be smaller than it is today,” they said in a note to employees. United and other airlines must promise not to lay off workers through Sept. 30 to qualify for grants totaling $25 billion.

    MARKET MAYHEM: After a three-day stretch that saw the biggest gains across markets in almost a century, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq lost steam. European markets also fell. Asian markets closed mostly higher.

    SOCIAL EDUCATION: 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.

    RETAIL ABIDES: More than 2,000 grocery stores across the country are offering free deliver to individuals over the age of 60. Grocers such as Piggly Wiggly, LifeThyme Natural Market, Le District, and Matherne’s will be waiving delivery fees on orders made by seniors and fulfilled by DoorDash. Freshop, GrocerKey, Mercato and Rosie are also participating in the initiative. Customers will also have the option to request a no-contact delivery at checkout.

    Conagra Brands is giving bonuses to employees at production and distribution facilities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Full-time employees in the U.S. will receive $500 and part-time employees will receive $250, with similar amounts provided to workers in Canada and Mexico. The company is also continuing to pay anyone that is away from work due to a COVID-19-related illness. Those employees will also be eligible to receive the bonus.

    Kroger plans to hire an additional 20,000 workers over the next several weeks. The company is also creating partnerships with local, regional and national businesses from the most-affected industries to create a shared-resource model to temporarily flex employees to Kroger roles. Some of the current partners include Marriott International, Sodexo, Sysco and VF Corp.

    YOU SAY ENERGY, MARKET SAYS SURPLUS: Most projections already foresaw slowing energy demand as the global economy cools. Then the pandemic hit. U.S. crude prices have plunged 55% over the past month. Now, a phenomenon last seen during the 2008-09 financial crisis is re-emerging.

    Energy demand has been so curtailed, there are fewer places to put the oil and natural gas that is still being produced, according to IHS Markit.

    The market analysis group forecasts an annual first half 2020 surplus of 1.8 billion barrels of oil, which exceeds the upper end of its estimate of available storage capacity of 1.6 billion. IHS Markit anticipates that the storage shortage will lead to more production cuts or shut ins than previously expected. Among the three largest oil producers, Russia has the least amount of available storage capacity at about 8 days, followed by Saudi Arabia at 18 days and the U.S. at 30 days.

    MALL MAUL: Data put out Friday by the U.S. on consumer behavior was largely discarded because it’s using data from February, seemingly a lifetime ago. It did point to an economy that was still humming as of February, when consumer spending edged up 0.2% in February, matching a January gain. Personal incomes rose a solid 0.6 percent.

    Private surveys, however, which take a more forward looking stance, paint a much darker picture.

    Nearly half of U.S. consumers are extremely concerned about the virus outbreak, according to CoreSight Research’s latest survey. That’s up 10 percentage points from a week earlier, meaning that the likelihood that they’ll keep spending is vastly diminished. About 70% of all economic activity in the U.S. is driven by consumers, so it matters.

    And according to the CoreSight survey, about 9.1% of people have lost their jobs, up from 4.2%.

    Americans are buying goods, but not where they did even two weeks ago. And 95% of respondents are avoiding public areas and travel, up from approximately 85% a week ago. Shopping centers and malls are the third most avoided location, following restaurants/bars/coffee shops and movie theaters, respectively.

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    Judge mulls request to release migrant children over virus

    A judge says she doesn’t want a sudden, large-scale release of immigrant children from U.S. government custody but wants to know why they’re still being held as the coronavirus spreads

    LOS ANGELES —
    A federal judge on Friday said she doesn’t want a sudden, large-scale release of immigrant children from U.S. government custody but wants to know why they’re still being held as the coronavirus spreads.

    U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles said she wants to be sure immigrant children who were caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border alone are released to suitable sponsors in an orderly fashion and aren’t put in danger. But she said she wants children out of government-contracted facilities who have been held longer than they should.

    Gee didn’t immediately issue a final ruling during the teleconferenced hearing, which came after immigrant advocates asked her to order the prompt release of immigrant children over coronavirus concerns.

    The Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, said four children in its custody in New York tested positive for the coronavirus, as well as eight staff, contractors or foster parents in New York, Washington and Texas.

    The office is tasked with the custody and care of immigrant children caught traveling across the border without parents or a guardian. It contracts with shelters across the country to house these children until they can be released to fitting sponsors, most often their relatives in the United States.

    There are currently about 3,500 children in the office’s custody.

    For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

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    Army helps make temporary hospital at New Yorks Javits Center one of the largest in the country

    There will be nearly 3,000 beds available at the Javits Center.

    With the Army’s help, the temporary field hospital at New York City’s Javits Convention Center will now hold 2,910 beds, making it one of the largest hospitals in America. Established in record time, the temporary hospital is an example of the surge of federal and military resources into New York to help with the novel coronavirus pandemic, including the Army Corps of Engineers, two Army field hospitals, and the Navy’s hospital ship the USNS Comfort.

    Over the last week the Army Corps of Engineers has been busy transforming the convention center’s expansive exposition halls into an overflow medical facility that beginning Monday will treat patients who are not infected with the novel coronavirus. The treatment of non-COVID-19 patients is designed to make it easier for medical facilities in New York to focus treatment on patients infected with the virus.

    Originally slated to house 1,000 beds composed of four Federal Emergency Management Agency field hospitals, the Army Corps of Engineers took advantage of the convention center’s design and the arrival of two Army field hospitals from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Fort Hood, Texas, to expand the number of beds at the temporary hospital.

    “We basically took that four [multiplied] by 250 is 1,000. We thought we could expand it by stretching the ratio,” Gen. Todd Semonite, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers, told reporters Friday. “So today we’re going to plan on having 2,910 rooms up by Monday morning in the Javits Center.”

    That number of beds will make the Javits Center hospital larger than the 2,600 bed capacity of New York- Presbyterian Hospital, the city’s largest hospital.

    “The Javits Center is an amazing facility,” said Semonite. “Every 10 feet there’s a great big steel door in the floor, you open it up in there is all the electrical; there’s cold water, there’s hot water and there’s a place for sewers, so you can actually do things like sinks, right in the middle of a convention center to be able to make that happen.”

    The hospital will be staffed by 350 medical personnel from FEMA and the two Army hospitals.

    Non-COVID-19 patients will be transported from hospitals in the New York City area to the convention center, just as they will be at the 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship the USNS Comfort when it is operational in New York Harbor on Tuesday.

    Earlier this week, three of the Army’s six field hospitals were ordered to assist in the treatment of non-COVID-19 patients with one of them headed to Washington state and the other two to New York City.

    Six hundred soldiers from those the 531st Hospital Center from Fort Campbell and the 9th Hospital Center from Fort Hood flew to the New York on Thursday, ahead of the arrival of their medical equipment that was being transported in 108 tractor trailer trucks

    “This is obviously the absolute top priority of the nation right now, and knowing that our very well-trained and capable [531st] Hospital Center is going to be part of this makes us really proud,” Maj. Gen. Brian Winski, the commander the 101st Airborne Division, told ABC News in an interview.

    “They’re well trained, they’re prepared and readiness is our watchword; they’re prepared to deploy in a moment’s notice, which is exactly what they did and they are going to make a huge impact,” he added.

    While the medical personnel from the 531st Hospital Center will not be treating non-COVID-19 patients, they will still follow guidelines to ensure they do not become exposed to the virus during their deployment.

    Prior to their departure, Winski told his soldiers that the length of their deployment to New York will likely be “a matter of months, not weeks” and that his command will do their best to ensure that they and their commands are kept informed of when they will come home.

    Their prolonged stay will also have an impact at Fort Campbell’s Blanchfield Army Community Hospital where most of the personnel from the 531st are normally assigned.

    “It is requiring us to reorganize,” Winski said, acknowledging soldiers’ deployment will lead to staff adjustments at Blanchfield to ensure that facility can treat COVID-19 cases at Fort Campbell.

    “We’re going to adjust how we’re organized up there to ensure that we are configured as best as we can possibly be for larger numbers of COVID-19 patients that require hospitalization.”

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    Sheriff: Girl, 4, found in woods; had been missing 2 days

    Authorities say a search team has found a 4-year-old girl in good condition after she had gone missing for two days in some woods in Alabama

    AUBURN, Ala. —
    Searchers on Friday found a 4-year-old girl who had been missing for two days in a wooded area in east Alabama.

    The girl was in good condition with a dog at her side when rescuers approached, authorities said.

    Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said searchers found Vadie Sides after two days of searching in some woods in that eastern Alabama county.

    Authorities said the child had disappeared from her babysitter’s sight Wednesday afternoon while they were walking in a backyard with a hound dog.

    Jones said the girl is in good condition despite her ordeal. The hound dog was at her side when she was found.

    “We are beyond happy,” Jones wrote in a text message about the discovery of the girl.

    Multiple agencies and hundreds of volunteers had searched remote woods with a creek running through it.

    A member of the search team that found the girl told media outlet WRBL-TV that they were searching the woods when they heard a dog bark, and then the girl “popped her head up” and they saw her bright red hair.

    He said the girl drank some Gatorade offered to her and was talking “like it was no big deal” what she had been through. The station reported that the dog initially ran away when rescuers approach, but later came home on its own.

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    UN chief says misinformation about COVID-19 is new enemy

    U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world is not only fighting the “common enemy” of the coronavirus “but our enemy is also the growing surge of misinformation” about COVID-19

    UNITED NATIONS —
    U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday the world is not only fighting the “common enemy” of the coronavirus “but our enemy is also the growing surge of misinformation” about COVID-19 disease.

    To overcome the virus, he said, “we need to urgently promote facts and science” and “promote hope and solidarity over despair and division.”

    Guterres said the U.N. is launching a COVID-19 Communications for Solidarity Initiative to rapidly inform people about the facts and science, “and promote and inspire acts of humanity around the world.”

    The U.N. chief also urged all nations “to stand up against the increase in hate crimes targeting individuals and groups perceived to be associated with the coronavirus.” He didn’t identify any targets but Asians, and especially ethnic Chinese, have reported being singled out for attacks.

    Miguel Moratinos, head of the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations, and Adama Dieng, the U.N. special adviser on the prevention of genocide, issued a joint statement Thursday expressing grave concern at the increase in stigma, hate speech and hate crimes over the pandemic.

    “We are all facing the same enemy, one which is invisible, rapidly advancing, taking lives away and causing havoc indiscriminately,” they said. “But allowing it to tear apart the fabric of our societies is perhaps one of the most serious upheavals that the COVID-19 pandemic is inflicting upon our world.”

    Guterres also urged countries to help achieve a positive response to his call for warring parties everywhere “to silence the guns and instead to help create corridors for life-saving aid and open precious windows for diplomacy.”

    The secretary-general called for countries to respond generously to the U.N. humanitarian appeal for $2 billion to fund the fight against COVID-19 in the world’s poorest countries.

    “We must come to the aid of the ultra-vulnerable — millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves,” Guterres said. “Recovery must address the inequalities, including gender inequalities, that are leaving so many more people vulnerable to social and economic shocks.”

    He spoke at the first joint video briefing for the 193 U.N. member nations that also included the presidents of the Security Council, General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council as well as a question and answer session. The video failed for about 10 minutes while the secretary-general was speaking, but then resumed.

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    California lawmakers plead: fight virus, dont pack beaches

    LOS ANGELES —
    With cases of coronavirus surging and the death toll rising, lawmakers are pleading with cooped-up Californians not to let a beautiful, sunny weekend tempt them into ignoring social distancing designed to slow the spread of the infections.

    It has been more than a week since Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order for 40 million residents, restricting them from all but essential outside activities such as buying food and including only outdoor exercise such as walking or running near home that doesn’t put them within 6 feet (1.8 meters) of another person.

    However, reports of people packing beaches and hiking trails has prompted local governments to close recreation areas.

    Los Angeles this weekend began a three-week shutdown of beaches, piers, beach bike paths and parking lots along with public trails, including one leading to the famous Hollywood sign. Golf courses, tennis courts and skate parks also were shuttered.

    “It’s going to be sunnier and warmer, springtime weather is coming out, you might say: ‘Now it’s time for me to go outside,’” Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday. “Don’t.”

    “Stay home. It’s that simple,” he said. “And I know it’s tough. But seeing our neighbors and loved ones die will be so much tougher.”

    In San Diego, the most popular beaches were blocked with yellow police tape and police were patrolling them to discourage people from congregating there. San Diego County sheriff’s deputies are stressing compliance with the state and county orders but spokesman Ricardo Lopez said scofflaws could face misdemeanor charges carrying a sentence of up to six months in jail.

    On Friday, Newsom and Garcetti said the surge in COVID-19 that health officials warned about will worsen.

    “We are now seeing the spike that we were anticipating,” Newsom declared while standing in front of the 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship Mercy that arrived in the Port of Los Angeles. It will take non-virus patients to free up rooms at hospitals for infection cases.

    Newsom said California’s cases grew 26% in one day even with 65,000 test results pending. Johns Hopkins University tallied more than 4,700 California cases Friday, with at least 97 deaths.

    After a slow start, testing has accelerated rapidly, from about 27,000 on Tuesday to 88,000 on Friday.

    In Los Angeles County — the nation’s most populous with more than 10 million residents — there were 678 new cases in the past two days for a total of nearly 1,500. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said if the trend continues, the city’s cases could double every two days. That would put Los Angeles on par with New York City’s outbreak in five days.

    “We will be where they are,” Garcetti said. “We will have doctors making excruciating decisions. We will be trying to figure out what we do with that surge, how to get ventilators, where to find beds.”

    New York City has more than 26,000 cases and at least 366 deaths.

    For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

    Regina Olivas, 55, of Los Angeles knows the risks well. She is an operation supervisor at The Angeles Clinic, a noted cancer research and treatment center. Oncology patients can have weakened immune systems, which can make them more vulnerable to serious impacts of infection.

    “I’m so inundated with it, I don’t even want to talk about when I go home,” she said of virus concerns. “I live and breathe it.”

    Olivas also runs the Santa Monica Mountain Goats, a longtime running group that typically brings together about 30 people.

    But in the wake of the outbreak, “we’re doing virtual runs,” said Olivas on Friday as she ran near her Porter Ranch home. “I’m having them run out wherever they want at 7:30 a.m., wherever they can, take a picture, post it. So we’re all running, we’re just not running together.”

    “Distancing is what’s going to keep us healthy,” she said.

    Her four sons seemed to be taking confinement in stride.

    “My 12-year-old said, ‘I don’t think I’ve been outside all day,'” Olivas said. “So he opened the door, stepped outside, and said, ‘OK, I’ve been outside.'”

    In San Francisco, where nearly 300 people have tested positive and at least three have died, Mayor London Breed pleaded with people to stay inside. Breed asked people to walk to their neighborhood park if they need fresh air, but not drive to the beach.

    “We know what happened last weekend,” she said. “Sadly, we saw a number of areas in our city that were just jam-packed.”

    Meanwhile, Marin County in the San Francisco Bay Area reported its first death related to the virus: a man in his 70s who had been a passenger aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship during a February voyage to Mexico. The man died Friday after being hospitalized for nearly three weeks, county health officials said.

    Federal officials announced Thursday that two men who had traveled on the ship had died.

    Thousands of passengers on the vessel were quarantined earlier this month after a passenger from a previous trip died and nearly two dozen passengers and crew tested positive for the virus.

    The virus has taken an economic toll as well. Nationwide, more than 3.3 million people have filed for unemployment benefits. About a third of those claims are in California, where thousands of businesses have been forced to close.

    On Wednesday, five of the nation’s largest banks plus hundreds of credit unions and state-chartered banks agreed to defer mortgage payments for people affected by the virus. Newsom took that one step further on Friday by ordering a ban on all evictions for renters through May 31. The order takes effect for rents due on April 1. And it only applies to tenants who are not already behind on their payments.

    ———

    Associated Press reporters Christopher Weber in Los Angeles, Adam Beam and Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento and Janie Har in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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    Website allows people to report coronavirus symptoms, track spread

    The site hopes to paint a more broad, accurate picture of the virus spread.

    As health experts and public officials have warned that confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus are likely nowhere near the actual number of people infected, medical professionals in Boston have created a website to help close the gap.

    “COVID Near You” allows the public to report coronavirus-related symptoms. The site asks users how they are feeling with the options of “Great, thanks!” and “Not feeling well” as answers.

    Those who answer that they’re not feeling well are asked to identify their symptoms and answer a series of questions, such as when they began to feel ill, if they have been in quarantine or isolation and whether they have traveled outside of the United States.

    Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital who helped develop the website, said that with more data it would be easier to identify emerging hotspots.

    He told ABC News that most people experience mild illnesses, so they often won’t go to a health care provider.

    “It’s so important to understand the mild illness,” said Brownstein, an ABC News Medical Unit contributor. “A mild illness in the community … that is what ends up leading to more complicated issues.”

    There are more than 590,000 cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, in the world, and at least 26,943 people have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

    A map on the website shows the number of people in the U.S. who have reported experiencing coronavirus symptoms, which can range from mild, like a slight cough, to more severe, including fever and difficulty breathing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The website was created by employees at HealthMap, a medical data tool at Boston Children’s Hospital, and is similar to one developed to track the flu.

    While Brownstein noted that it was possible for false information to slip through the cracks, they have established protections to limit it.

    “COVID Near You” collects a zipcode and IP address from those who use it, which, Brownstein said, make it easier to determine if one person is continuously entering incorrect data.

    And while the site has limitations — it will not give someone a diagnosis of coronavirus — Brownstein said he believes local officials will find it a very useful tool.

    “We’re putting the ‘public’ back in public health,” he said.

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    Significant severe weather outbreak forecasted, tornadoes possible

    In Peoria, Illinois, there is a moderate risk for long-track, strong tornadoes.

    A major storm is quickly intensifying Saturday morning in the central U.S. and will bring a significant severe weather outbreak to parts of the Midwest Saturday afternoon and evening – including the threat for dangerous, significant, long-track tornadoes.

    Radar Saturday morning is showing the organizing storm with a rain shield that stretches from the Great Plains through the Great Lakes and the Mid-Atlantic. Some of the thunderstorms Saturday morning, especially in northern Illinois, are capable of producing 1 to 2 inches of rainfall. There is a flash flood watch issued for parts of Indiana and Ohio, where 1-2 inches of rain is likely in the next 36 hours.

    Storms on Friday evening produced greater than baseball-sized hail in parts of Oklahoma and Missouri.

    On the colder side of the system, winter weather advisories, and blizzard warnings have been issued for the upper Midwest and the Plains, where locally up to 6 inches of snow is possible this week.

    There is a moderate risk area for severe weather in northern Illinois and the extreme eastern edge of Iowa. In Peoria, Illinois, there is a moderate risk for long-track, strong tornadoes.

    There is potential that an upgrade to a high-risk alert will be coming later Saturday from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.

    In the enhanced risk and slight risk areas, tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail will be possible. Regardless of the risk area, some strong tornadoes are possible Saturday. Some of the cities in the enhanced and slight risk areas include Nashville, Little Rock, Arkansas, St. Louis, Chicago and Indianapolis.

    Storms will approach the Midwest and Mississippi River valley by mid to late Saturday afternoon. The increased concern will occur later in the evening as we head towards dusk and first couple hours of night, when the low-level jet will strengthen along the cold front. This low-level jet will greatly enhance the shear with the thunderstorms, and allow the storms to rotate. Therefore, there is a possibility of significant severe weather during the night hours Saturday night.

    The storm will be sliding eastward on Sunday and some of the severe weather will try to move into parts of Ohio Valley and Western Appalachians. However, the intensity of the storms is expected to decrease with only general thunderstorms expected for now, with a couple of stronger storms possible.

    Additionally, some snow will be possible in parts of the upper Midwest, including Duluth, Minnesota and Minneapolis.

    By Monday, the storm will have cleared much of the country, with little weather impact remaining.