U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged a “big flare-up” of coronavirus cases, but divisions between the White House and Senate Republicans and differences with Democrats posed fresh challenges for a new federal aid package with the U.S. crisis worsening and emergency relief about to expire.
As the first round of U.S. federal coronavirus relief expires, the political stakes of providing more support to the American economy are high and rising ahead of the November election.
The Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-led House of Representatives have less than two weeks to hammer out a new relief package before enhanced unemployment benefits run out for tens of millions of American workers made jobless by the coronavirus pandemic.
Congress has so far committed $3 trillion US to the crisis. In the more than 12 weeks since Trump signed the last bill into law, the number of U.S. coronavirus cases has more than tripled to more than 3.7 million. The virus has killed more than 140,000 people in the United States. Both figures lead the world.
“We are nowhere near out of the woods,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
The number of cases was spiking in spots throughout the U.S., stressing the medical system, Americans’ psyche and the economy.
WATCH | Border opening would likely lead to importing cases:
Malls in San Francisco were ordered closed about a month after reopening. Four months after the San Francisco Bay Area became the first place in the nation to issue broad stay-at-home orders to prevent the virus from spreading, only one Bay Area county is not on the governor’s watch list for areas with rising infection and hospitalization rates.
In Chicago, the mayor imposed new restrictions on bars, gyms and personal services such as facials as health officials reported that the city again topped 200 daily cases on average. Officials attributed the rise primarily to young people going to bars and restaurants and Lake Michigan beaches.
In Florida, where nearly 9,500 people were hospitalized as of Monday, just 18 per cent of its ICU units were available.
Arizona said hospitalizations were at the lowest level in more than two weeks, while the number of people on ventilators and in intensive care also decreased.
WATCH | Phase 3 vaccine trials will track long-term health of patients:
In Texas, health officials in Houston were cautiously optimistic as the number of people requiring hospitalization “seems to have tapered off a bit.” But deaths in the second-largest state soared above 4,000, and officials in the border area of Starr County, where a team of navy doctors was sent to help the only hospital, said they were considering creating an ethics committee to discuss rationing hospital resources.
“It sounds cold, and I hate to think that we would even have to do it, but we need to at least consider what chances a patient has of surviving,” County Judge Eloy Vera said.
In California, which emerged as another coronavirus hot spot in July, Gov. Gavin Newsom said new infections, hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions were all still rising in the nation’s most populous state but not nearly at the pace of recent weeks.
“We are seeing a reduction in the rate of growth but a rate of growth nonetheless,” Newsom, a Democrat, said at a briefing in Sacramento.
“Hospitalizations and ICU [admissions] continue to be cause of concern in this state. That’s why we want everybody to double down on what we’ve been doing,” the governor said.
State governments not only face a strain on medical resources, but have been forced to borrow billions of dollars and slash costs by furloughing workers, delaying construction projects, cutting school aid and even closing highway rest areas.
After barely mentioning the pandemic in a nearly hour-long address on a variety of topics last week at the White House, the indications were that Trump would hold a coronavirus briefing late Tuesday afternoon.
“I think it’s a great way to get information out to the public,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Monday, saying he hopes to discuss progress on vaccines and therapeutics. Briefings were held on a nearly daily basis in March and April, including the weekends, but ended not long after the president’s off-the-cuff suggestion that injecting toxic disinfectant could help treat the coronavirus.
Sporadic briefings led by Vice-President Mike Pence have taken place since, with government health experts such as infectious diseases specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Robert Redfield otherwise largely relegated to congressional committee appearances and select media interviews.
In a contentious interview that aired Sunday, Trump called Fauci “a little bit of an alarmist” when it comes to coronavirus messaging, and also received pushback from Fox News host Chris Wallace when making erroneous claims about the U.S. mortality rate.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 7 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 111,126 coronavirus infections. Provinces and territories listed 97,474 of those as recovered or resolved, leaving 4,761 active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,891.
In Ottawa, MPs returned to the House of Commons on Monday to debate legislation introduced by the Liberal government that would reform the federal wage subsidy and provide relief to people with disabilities.
WATCH | Young adults accounting for about a quarter of new cases:
The new bill, C-20, would expand the number of companies that qualify for the wage subsidy, change the amount companies can put toward their workers’ wages and extend the program to the end of the year. The bill would send a one-time payment of $600 to people with disabilities and extend some legal deadlines for court cases.
The bill is likely to pass on Tuesday. While the Conservatives have taken issue with the complexity of its provisions, the Bloc Québécois has said its MPs will support the bill.
What’s happening in the rest of the world
Financial markets pushed higher on Tuesday, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street after scientists at Oxford University said their experimental vaccine had prompted a protective immune response in hundreds of people in an early trial.
The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization hailed the results as “good news,” but warned “there’s a long way to go.”
“We now need to move into larger scale real-world trials,” Dr. Michael Ryan told reporters in Geneva.
European markets are also likely to cheer EU leaders who, after four days of negotiations, clinched an unprecedented 1.8 trillion euro ($2.78 trillion Cdn) budget and coronavirus recovery fund to confront the biggest recession in the history of the region.
WATCH | Interferon appears to have some benefits, but more study is needed:
A 750 billion euro ($1.16 trillion Cdn) coronavirus fund will finance loans and grants for countries hit hardest by the virus. That comes on top of the seven-year, 1 trillion euro EU budget.
“We have laid the financial foundations for the EU for the next seven years and came up with a response to this arguably biggest crisis of the European Union,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The pandemic has killed about 135,000 people in EU countries.
India added more than 37,000 new cases for a national total that now exceeds 1,155,000, the third most behind the U.S., with more than 3.8 million, and Brazil, with 2.1 million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
India’s new cases have hovered around 40,000 a day in recent days, with experts warning a series of peaks lie ahead as the virus spreads in rural areas where the health-care system is weak. The Indian Council for Medical Research, the top medical research body, was urging state governments to add more labs and improve testing capacity for the country of 1.4 billion people.
Lebanon’s health minister said the financially troubled country, which had previously managed to contain the coronavirus, was sliding toward a critical stage with a new surge in infections, more than a fifth of them untraceable, after lockdown restrictions were lifted and the airport reopened.
“The danger of community spread is still possible because the country has opened up,” Health Minister Hamad Hassan said in an interview with The Associated Press late Monday.
Mexico continues to register high levels of new coronavirus cases, as the Health Department reports 5,172 new infections, bringing the total to almost 350,000.
Daily deaths fell to 301, for a total of almost 39,500.
The continued high rate of transmission has caused some Mexican tourist areas to walk back previous reopenings and crack down on mask rules. The southern area of the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo reimposed limits on hotel occupancy, and the Baja California resort of La Paz closed beaches again.
Worldwide, almost 610,000 people have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins, with more than 14.7 million people infected. Both numbers are widely acknowledged to be lower than the true toll of the disease.
Published at Tue, 21 Jul 2020 11:09:20 +0000