United States:

Num­ber of coro­n­avirus cases in US con­tin­ues to rise, with New York badly hit ‘Real peo­ple wanted to get back to work as soon as pos­si­ble,’ says Trump of pan­demic

The Irish Times - - Front Page - SUZANNE LYNCH in Wash­ing­ton

US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ac­cused the me­dia of seek­ing to close the coun­try “for as long as pos­si­ble” over the Covid-19 cri­sis:

US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has ac­cused the me­dia of seek­ing to close the coun­try “for as long as pos­si­ble” in or­der to dam­age his chances in Novem­ber’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Tweet­ing from the White House yes­ter­day, Mr Trump claimed that “real peo­ple” wanted to get back to work as soon as pos­si­ble. “We will be stronger than ever be­fore!” he said, as he de­scribed the “lamestream me­dia” as 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”.

His com­ments fol­low in­di­ca­tions from the pres­i­dent this week that he wants to have the US econ­omy re­opened by Easter, on April 12th. They came as the num­ber of coro­n­avirus cases in the United States con­tin­ued to rise, with New York state con­tin­u­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence the high­est in­stances of in­fec­tion. The num­ber of cases in the state is now past 30,000, with 285 deaths.

How­ever, gov­er­nor An­drew Cuomo said there were signs of progress. In Westch­ester County, which has the high­est num­ber of cases, the ex­po­nen­tial in­crease in cases had dra­mat­i­cally slowed, he said.

“That was the hottest clus­ter in the United States of Amer­ica. We closed the schools, we closed gath­er­ings, we brought in test­ing, and we have dra­mat­i­cally slowed the in­crease,” he said.

Next epi­cen­tre

Na­tion­wide, an es­ti­mated 62,000 peo­ple have been di­ag­nosed with Covid-19, while al­most 900 deaths have been re­ported. The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion

warned this week that the United States could be­come the next epi­cen­tre of the global health cri­sis that has led to wide­spread death and ill­ness in China and Europe.

Amid con­tin­u­ing mes­sag­ing from the White House that it is hop­ing to re­open the econ­omy sooner rather than later, the US Se­nate was poised last night to vote on a his­toric stim­u­lus pack­age in a bid to shore up an econ­omy buck­ling un­der the strain of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Though ne­go­ti­at­ing teams for Democrats and Repub­li­cans reached an agree­ment in the early hours of yes­ter­day morn­ing, an ex­pected vote later in the day was de­layed af­ter three Repub­li­can sen­a­tors de­manded changes to pro­vi­sions for un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits. This prompted Demo­cratic se­na­tor Bernie San­ders to threaten to with­hold his sup­port over con­cerns about sup­ports for busi­nesses in the deal.

Welfare pack­ages

The $1.8 tril­lion (¤1.65 tril­lion) plan con­tains a range of mea­sures, in­clud­ing bil­lions in di­rect pay­ments to tax­pay­ers, a $500 bil­lion fund for dis­tressed com­pa­nies, $29 bil­lion of which will be ringfenced for pas­sen­ger and cargo air­lines, and a four-month ex­pan­sion in un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits which can be topped-up by in­di­vid­ual states; $150 bil­lion for hos­pi­tals is also in­cluded. The di­rect cash pay­ments to Amer­i­cans will con­sist of a one-off pay­ment of $1,200 to ev­ery adult earn­ing up to $75,000, and an ex­tra $500 per child.

The pay­ments will be phased out for those earn­ing be­tween $75,000 and $150,000 a year, with those earn­ing above that point in­el­i­gi­ble for the emer­gency money.

Speak­ing on the Se­nate floor, Repub­li­can leader Mitch McCon­nell de­scribed the pack­age as “a wartime level of in­vest­ment into our na­tion”.

Even if passed by the Se­nate, the pack­age will need to be en­dorsed by the 435-mem­ber House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, be­fore pass­ing to the pres­i­dent for sign­ing.

‘‘

We will be stronger than ever be­fore” he said

Stocks rally on US stim­u­lus plans: Busi­ness

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