Live Coronavirus Updates and Coverage

Live Coronavirus Updates and Coverage

A last-minute dispute over jobless aid was delaying a final Senate vote expected on Wednesday to approve sweeping legislation to deliver $2 trillion in government relief for an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Four Republican senators said they believed the bill, which would provide a substantial expansion of unemployment insurance — including more generous benefits for a longer period of time, available to a more Americans — could incentivize some employees to leave their jobs and go on unemployment. The senators argued that the measure as written could result in some workers getting more in unemployment payments than their regular wages, and said they would object to fast-tracking a vote until their concerns were addressed.

“If this is not a drafting error, then this is the worst idea I have seen in a long time,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “We need to create a sustainable system.”

Republicans who wrote the provision with the Trump administration said there was no mistake, and that Mr. Graham and the other Republicans were misinterpreting the plan.

“Nothing in this bill incentivizes businesses to lay off employees, in fact it’s just the opposite,” said Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the Finance Committee chairman. He noted that people who voluntarily leave their jobs are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

But the Republican reservations had a cascading effect. Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont and a Democratic presidential candidate, said if Republicans insisted on their objections, he would block the bill for being too lenient on corporations.

There were other criticisms of the package. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that the bill “would really be terrible for the state of New York.”

The governor said the bill would provide the New York’s state government with only $3.8 billion, at a moment when its response to the virus is increasing expenses — and the economic shutdown is driving down tax collections. Mr. Cuomo said that the state faces a potential revenue shortfall of between $9 billion and $15 billion, far more than the stimulus bill would provide. “That is a drop in the bucket, as to need,” he said.

The bill contains $150 billion to help state and local governments. Last week the United States Conference of Mayors sent a letter urging lawmakers to send $250 billion directly to cities, writing, “Without significant federal assistance, we soon will be faced with having to make decisions that could include laying off employees, cutting budgets, and reducing or eliminating critically needed services.”

The legislation, which is expected to be enacted within days, is the biggest economic relief package in modern American history, dwarfing the Wall Street bailout of 2008 during the financial crisis. The aim is to deliver critical financial support to businesses forced to shut their doors and relief to American families and hospitals reeling from the rapid spread of the disease and the resulting economic disruption.

Senate leaders still hoped to vote on it later Wednesday, and the House was expected to follow suit on Thursday.

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York continued to grow — reaching more than 30,000 — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday that there were early signs that the state’s stringent restrictions on social gatherings could be slowing the virus’s spread.

Mr. Cuomo said that the city would begin a limited pilot program to begin closing some streets to automobile traffic to give pedestrians more space outside, and to institute new rules to limit density in the city’s playgrounds.

“No basketball,” he said.

The outbreak already led Broadway theaters to go dark, and on Wednesday the Tony Awards, which had been scheduled for June 7, were postponed until an undecided date.

Even as the crisis deepened in New York, which does not have enough hospital beds or equipment to handle the cases it expects, President Trump pressed to reopen the country for business by Easter, on April 12. The president issued his goal despite widespread warnings from public health experts that the worst effects of the outbreak were still to come and that lifting the restrictions now in place would result in unnecessary deaths.

The number of new coronavirus cases in the United States has rapidly increased in recent days, with more than 20,000 new cases diagnosed on Monday and Tuesday alone, in part because of expanded testing. That spike brings the country’s total cases to nearly 60,000.

Mr. Cuomo has said that with cases doubling every three days in New York City, as many as 140,000 people might need urgent care in the next few weeks. In New York City, the 1.8-million-square-foot Jacob K. Javits Convention Center — which was scheduled to hold an expo for exotic flowers this week — looked more like a front-line military depot as workers rushed to transform the complex into a hospital to handle an imminent surge of patients.

And the state was still in dire need of critical equipment, particularly the ventilators needed to keep critically ill patients alive long enough for them to fight off the virus. The Trump administration promised to send 4,000 from the national stockpile, but Mr. Cuomo said the state needed tens of thousands more.

More than 200 people have already died statewide.

Mr. Kendall said that only the federal government had the authority to take over the allocation of ventilators, both from manufacturers who are in the business of selling devices to the highest bidder, and state leaders who are unlikely to voluntarily let go of machines they fear they might need in the future.

“As the states become more desperate, someone has to referee the situation,” he said. “The marketplace isn’t set up to do that.”

Pennsylvania is poised to become the 10th state to delay its presidential primary election because of the coronavirus pandemic, with its State Senate voting in an extraordinary remote session Wednesday afternoon to move the contest from April 28 to June 2.

Gov. Tom Wolf, who has said he favors the delay, was expected to sign the measure as early as Wednesday evening.

With numerous states, including Indiana, Connecticut and Ohio, pushing or preparing to push their presidential primaries to June 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the votes that day will confer a huge bounty of delegates, second only to Super Tuesday in early March.

Although former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has built an all but insurmountable lead, June 2 — which is 10 weeks away — will be his first chance to clinch his party’s presidential nomination. Only then would he have a definitive reason to press for the withdrawal of his rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has shown no inclination to leave a race that feels frozen in place.

Members of the Pennsylvania Senate, voting unanimously, cited the pleas of county elections officials, who said the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak made it impossible to gear up for an election by the end of April. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved the delay earlier Wednesday.

The postponement will also affect a number of other elections in Pennsylvania, including congressional primaries.

Nine other states, as well as Puerto Rico, have taken action over the past two weeks to adjust the dates of their elections as the campaign calendar has been upended by the outbreak. Elections officials in New York are also considering postponing that state’s April 28 primary, with June 23 as the likely replacement.

Pennsylvania would be the sixth state to shift its primary to June 2, joining five other contests already scheduled for that Tuesday.

Officials at Buckingham Palace said Charles last saw his mother on Thursday, March 12. Doctors estimate that the earliest the prince could have been infectious with the virus was the next day, March 13, though it was not clear how they had arrived at that assessment.

The incubation period for the coronavirus varies by patient, according to the World Health Organization, with most people showing symptoms about five days from the date they were infected. But it can incubate for as long as 14 days, which, given when Charles began showing symptoms, would be before he met with his mother.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said “the queen remains in good health.”

The queen, who turns 94 next month, released a message to the nation last week urging Britons to stay at home for the greater good of the community.

“I am certain we are up to that challenge,” she said in the statement. “You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”

With the announcement, Charles joins a growing list of actors, musicians, athletes and public figures, including Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Prince Albert II of Monaco, who have also tested positive for the virus.

Some of the first actors to announce they had contracted the virus were Tom Hanks, Idris Elba and Daniel Dae Kim. Several N.B.A. players have tested positive, including two Utah Jazz stars and Kevin Durant, one of four players who has the virus on the Brooklyn Nets.

Several notable figures have died of complications related to the coronavirus, including Terrence McNally, a Tony-winning playwright; Aurlus Mabele, a Congolese singer; Floyd Cardoz, an international restaurateur and chef; and Manu Dibango, a saxophonist from Cameroon.

Calling for “discipline and responsibility” in confronting the coronavirus, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Wednesday ordered a weeklong national holiday starting Saturday and announced the postponement of a referendum next month on whether he can rule until 2036.

In a televised address to the nation from his country residence outside Moscow, Mr. Putin stopped short of ordering a nationwide lockdown — as India and several European countries have done — but still warned that, despite the relatively few confirmed infections so far in Russia, it was “objectively impossible” to stop the virus from spreading.

The decision to postpone until further notice a vote scheduled for April 22 to endorse constitutional changes that would allow Mr. Putin to crash through term limits means that the virus has achieved a feat that has eluded the Kremlin’s largely powerless opponents: It has slowed the previously relentless march toward a coronation of Mr. Putin as president for life.

Mr. Putin, in his first public address about the pandemic, said, “We managed to restrain the spread of the disease, but it is impossible to completely block its infiltration.”

He added: “Don’t think that, ‘this doesn’t concern me.’ It concerns everyone.”

Mr. Putin said the national holiday would not apply to shops, pharmacies, public transport, banks or government offices.

He left up in the air whether the Kremlin would continue as planned with its biggest event of the year — nationwide celebrations on May 9 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany. Current plans include a huge military parade through the center of Moscow and large gatherings of spectators.

Russia on Wednesday reported a sharp jump in confirmed cases, to 658. And while the figure is low compared with much of Western Europe and the United States, the 163 new infections on Wednesday constituted the largest one-day increase yet, stirring alarm that Russia could be following the same path.

Stocks on Wall Street rose on Wednesday, as investors sized up a $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package intended to shore up the American economy, but the gains faded late in the day as debate over the bill continued without a vote in the Senate.

The S&P 500 climbed 1 percent, adding to a 9.4 percent gain on Tuesday that had come as investors anticipated a bipartisan deal on the plans.

Some of the companies expected to benefit from government aid helped drive Wednesday’s rise. Boeing, whose stock price was below $100 a share as recently as Monday, closed at $158.73. Major airlines, including American, Delta and United, all posted double-digit percentage gains.

Funeral parlors in Madrid are now handling about seven times as many bodies as they were one week earlier, according to officials. And workers said they had not been given any of the protective gear promised by the government, Juan José López Vivas, the deputy president of the national association of funeral parlors, told the television channel La Sexta.

The conversion of the ice rink to a morgue resonated across the country, a vivid illustration of the desperation of the moment.

“This surface, which has given me so many good hours, as well as some difficult moments, can now help people who have lost their loved ones take them to wherever they wish,” Javier Fernández, the two-time world champion Spanish figure skater, told the television channel Antena 3. “If they need all the ice skating rinks of Spain, I’m sure they will do that.”

The crisis continued to mount across the globe.

France, under lockdown for a week, has been increasingly aggressive in penalizing those who violate social distancing rules, issuing more than 100,000 fines. In London, the military was helping convert the sprawling Excel convention center in London into the 4,000-bed “N.H.S. Nightingale Hospital.”

The government in Ireland said it would take control of all privately owned health care facilities and hospitals to create a single, free national health service to deal with the outbreak until the crisis had passed.

On Wednesday, the United Nations said it hoped to raise $2 billion to fight the virus in 53 countries — in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America — suffering from instability.

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington and the District of Columbia have opened enrollment under the Affordable Care Act to allow laid-off workers to get subsidized health insurance, and the Trump administration, which has been gunning to repeal the law, is considering opening the federal exchange to new customers.

Reporting and research were contributed by Michael Cooper, Karen Zraick, Alan Blinder, Lara Jakes, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Katie Thomas, Andrew Jacobs, Neal E. Boudette, Matt Richtel, Nicholas Kulish, Mark Landler, Emily Cochrane, Katie Robertson, Andrew Higgins, Johnny Diaz, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Patricia Mazzei, Julie Bosman, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Raphael Minder, Anna Schaverien, Ed O’Loughlin, Trip Gabriel, Iliana Magra, Jeffrey Gettleman, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Haley Willis, Robin Stein, Natalie Reneau, Drew Jordan, Matt Phillips, Noam Scheiber, Mike Isaac and Sheera Frenkel.

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