Credit to Author: Associated Press| Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2020 16:18:12 +0000
NEW YORK: United States deaths from the coronavirus pandemic have topped 1,000, in another grim milestone for a global outbreak that is taking lives and wreaking havoc on economies and established routines of ordinary life.
In recognition of the scale of the threat, the US Senate late Wednesday (early Thursday in Manila) passed an unparalleled $2.2-trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems.
The unanimous vote came despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough and capped days of difficult negotiations, as Washington confronted a national challenge unlike it has ever faced. The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in US history.
Worldwide, the death toll climbed past 21,000, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University, and the US had 1,050 deaths and nearly 70,000 infections.
Spain’s death toll has risen past 3,400, eclipsing that of China, where the virus was first detected in December, and is now second only to that of Italy, which has 7,500. Lidia Perera, a nurse at Madrid’s 1,000-bed Hospital de la Paz, said more workers were desperately needed.
“We are collapsing,” she added.
The Spanish parliament voted to allow the government extend strict stay-at-home rules
and business closings until April 11.
Such measures are becoming increasingly common in the US, where New York state is the epicenter of the domestic outbreak, accounting for more than 30,000 cases and close to 300 deaths, most of them in New York City.
Public health officials in the city hunted down beds and medical equipment and called for more doctors and nurses for fear the number of sick patients will overwhelm hospitals as has happened in Italy and Spain.
A makeshift morgue was set up outside Bellevue Hospital, and the city’s police, their ranks dwindling as more fall ill, were told to patrol nearly empty streets to enforce social distancing.
In Washington, President Donald Trump has called for Americans to dedicate themselves for 15 days to social distancing, including staying home from work and closing bars and restaurants to help try to stall the spread of the disease.
Yet, he’s also grumbled that “our country wasn’t built to be shut down” and vowed not to allow “the cure be worse than the problem” — apparently concerned that the outbreak’s devastating effects on financial markets and employment will harm his chances for reelection later this year.
“The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success,” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
Democrats said Trump was prioritizing the economy over the health and safety of Americans.
“I’d like to say, let’s get back to work next Friday,” said Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. ”That’d be wonderful. But it can’t be arbitrary.”
Biden said the congressional aid package addressing the outbreak “goes a long way,” but that “meticulous oversight” is required.
“We’re going to need to make sure the money gets out quickly into peoples’ pockets and to keep a close watch on how corporations are using the taxpayers funds that they receive, to make sure it goes to help workers, not rich CEOs or shareholders,” the former vice president said.