Every aspect of modern life is being hit as sweeping measures are rolled out in an effort to stem the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump declared a national emergency Friday “to unleash the full power of the federal government.”
“No resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever,” the president said, as stocks rose sharply to regain some of their recent losses.
Hours later, the House overwhelmingly approved legislation to give direct relief to Americans impacted by the spreading virus.
Central to the aid package are free testing, sick pay and family leave provisions. The legislation also offers three months of paid medical and family leave. And small and mid-sized employers will be reimbursed through tax credits.
Voting in the Senate is not yet set, but senators were scheduled to return Monday. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said he expects most senators will want to “act swiftly.”
President Trump announced a range of actions including a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities with drive-through locations. He also denied any responsibility for delays in making testing available. His administration has been criticized for being too slow to respond.
Amid the outbreak – and the mounting response — Disney World is closing. Broadway shut its doors. Schools are closing and large gatherings are being banned. The Boston Marathon and the Masters Tournament are now postponed. The NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer have suspended their seasons.
While about half of the more than 145,000 people who have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 have recovered, the toll in human lives is staggering. More than 5,400 people have died, including dozens of people in the United States — and it’s expected to get much worse before it gets better.
-Contributing: The Associated Press