U.S. Coronavirus: Senate Passes Deal; Trump Vows Immigration Halt
This story on the new coronavirus is updated throughout the day with national news and developments from around our network of local Patches. Scroll down for links, helpful to day-to-day living and the most recent stories.
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President Donald Trump says he’ll issue an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the United States to fight “the attack from the Invisible Enemy” and to protect U.S. jobs. Those jobs received a boost Tuesday afternoon when the Senate approved a roughly $480 billion relief package to allow a depleted small-business lending program to help thousands more businesses waiting for their loans to be approved.
The latest coronavirus relief legislation will next need to be passed by the House before being signed by Trump.
The legislation would authorize the Paycheck Protection Program to spend an additional $310 billion, assign $75 billion to hospitals and $25 billion to coronavirus testing.
Senate Approves $480 Billion For New Relief Package
Trump’s vaguely worded tweet that he’s considering closing the nation’s borders to immigrants to protect “the jobs of the GREAT American citizens” echoed the same immigration hard-line approach that stirred many of his supporters in the 2016 election. It also comes amid criticism that his daily White House coronavirus briefings have replaced election rallies.
Neither Trump nor the White House have offered details about what immigration programs might be affected in an executive order. The issuance of new green cards and work visas has already been halted under the shutdown of nonessential services to slow the spread of the virus.
It’s also unclear what legal authority Trump would rely on to craft the order’s language. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany issued a statement Tuesday saying the “action is necessary” to protect U.S. jobs, but she also offered no details about the benefits to public health by closing borders.
“President Trump is committed to protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens as we face unprecedented times,” she wrote. “As President Trump has said, ‘Decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African American and Latino workers.’ At a time when Americans are looking to get back to work, action is necessary.”
It’s unclear what exceptions Trump might allow, if any, for workers who have been deemed “essential,” including health care and farm workers.
In an appearance on Fox News Channel, National security adviser Robert O’Brien framed the president’s intended action as necessary to protect the health of the American people, comparing it to limits Trump placed on travel to the United States from China in January.
“We’re trying to do everything, the president’s trying to do everything he can to put the health of the American people first during this crisis,” O’Brien said. “So this is one step. It’s not dissimilar to the restrictions on travel from China that he implemented back on Jan. 29 at the very outset of this public health crisis.”
Trump Says He’ll Suspend Immigration; Offers No Details
Tuesday’s Senate deal was hailed in a joint statement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.
“Congressional Democrats are proud to have secured an agreement on an interim emergency funding package that has been transformed to provide real support for the lives and livelihoods of the American people,” Pelosi and Schumer said.
Some aren’t willing to wait for assistance, however; Georgia’s governor said Monday that businesses in his state can start reopening Friday and the following Monday.
Senate Adds Tuesday Session In Effort To Pass Aid Package
As the small-business assistance talks continue to the House, so do complaints by states about testing supplies, along with more protests popping up in a number of states over their stay-at-home orders. The aid package includes additional help for hospitals and virus testing.
Also continuing was the increase in coronavirus deaths in the United States, which surged to almost 44,230 as of late Tuesday afternoon.
White House, Congress Near Deal On Small-Business Aid ProgramSmall Business Lending Program On Hold After Reaching Limit‘I’m Worried:’ Business Owners Apply For Grants To Stay Afloat
The additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses became necessary after the Small Business Administration reached the $349 billion lending limit approved in the last stimulus package.
Nearly 1.7 million loans have already been approved, and thousands of small-business owners whose loans have not yet been processed are waiting for Congress to approve additional funding.
MA Is Now A Coronavirus ‘Hot Spot’: Here’s What That Means
This past weekend was among the deadliest of the outbreak in Massachusetts, and there have now been more than 1,700 deaths across the state. The Boston Globe published 16 pages of death notices Sunday, painting a grim picture of the virus’s impact in Massachusetts.
Harvard researchers told CNN on Monday that the country needs to conduct at least 500,000 coronavirus tests a day before it can successfully reopen the economy. The United States is currently doing about 150,000 daily.
White House To Hold Call With Governors On Testing Supplies
MD Gov, VA Gov Slam Trump For False Tests Tweets
The president took to Twitter on Monday to comment on the federal government’s role in providing testing. Trump wrote it was “States, not the federal government, should be doing the testing — But we will work with the Governors and get it done.”
Trump criticized Democrats in the tweet for calling for more testing.
Trump’s tweet about testing comes the same day that Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland helped procure the state 500,000 COVID-19 testing kits from a South Korean company.
MD Buys 500K Coronavirus Tests From South Korea: Hogan
Meanwhile, protests over the ongoing shutdowns to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus continued Monday. Thousands of people gathered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to rally against the state’s stay-at-home order.
Similar protests have taken place in recent days in Michigan, Maryland and Texas.
Among the protesters were numerous state senators and representatives, according to Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who was at the event. “Social distancing is encouraged, but not mandated,” the event’s description reads.
As protesters gathered Monday in Pennsylvania, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top official on infectious diseases, warned that protests against governors’ stay-at-home orders will only further delay the reopening of the economy.
“Clearly, this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics and the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus, but unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen,” Fauci said on “Good Morning America.”
Fauci’s comments on the protests come three days after Trump signaled his support through a series of tweets for protesters holding demonstrations against their state’s stay-at-home orders.
“As far as protesters, you know. I see protesters for all sorts of thing,” Trump told reporters Sunday. “And I’m with everybody. I’m with everybody.”
Despite Fauci urging against reopening the nation too soon, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that beginning Friday gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians and massage therapists can reopen statewide, following social distancing guidelines.
The establishments will be subject to specific restrictions to aid in social distancing and sanitation.
When Hair Salons, Dining Theaters, Churches Will Reopen
Kemp also said theaters, private social clubs and dine-in service at restaurants will be allowed to reopen on Monday, April 27.
The governor made the announcement on the reopenings despite the state still being under a shelter-in-place order until April 30.
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