More than 80 million Americans will receive stimulus payments of up to $1,200 in their bank accounts Wednesday as the federal government works to reboot the country's economy amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The IRS began distributing the money on Friday via direct deposit and launched an online portal that allows Americans to input their direct deposit information. The U.S. Department of Treasury said a "large majority of eligible Americans will receive Economic Impact Payments within the next two weeks." The goal is to provide as much money as possible electronically rather than mailing checks, said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The deposit will be labeled as "IRS Treas 310" on bank statements.
The cash influx comes a day after the U.S. saw the highest number of deaths during the coronavirus crisis, more than 2,300, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The previous highest daily death toll was 2,108, on Friday.
The spike was likely related to new counting methods adopted by New York City, where health authorities began including people who probably had COVID-19 but died without being tested. The change came after officials acknowledged that statistics based only on laboratory-confirmed tests were failing to account for many people dying at home before they reached a hospital or even sought treatment.
“Behind every death is a friend, a family member, a loved one. We are focused on ensuring that every New Yorker who died because of COVID-19 gets counted,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, adding the new method will help "determine the scale and scope of the epidemic and guide us in our decisions.”
The U.S. death toll was over 26,000 early Wednesday, with more than 609,500 confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, the number of cases was nearing 2 million with over 126,800 deaths.
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Asian stocks sink after IMF predicts worst year since Great Depression
Asian stocks edged lower Wednesday after the International Monetary Fund said the global economy will suffer its worst year since the Great Depression of the 1930s due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Benchmarks in Tokyo and Hong Kong were flat, while Shanghai and Sydney declined despite Wall Street's overnight gain driven by buying of technology stocks.
The IMF's latest forecast said global economic output will shrink by 3% this year, a bigger loss than 2009's 0.1% decline. That was a marked reverse from the Fund's previous forecast in January of 3.3% growth before the virus prompted governments to shut down factories, travel and other industries.
"The IMF forecast a deep economic winter," said Hayaki Narita of Mizuho Bank in a report. However, Narita said, investors appear to be looking past that to the IMF's outlook for a "spring-back in growth" to 5.8% next year.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlines 'surge into suppression' strategy
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday six key indicators he and his team are watching to determine how and when to lift the statewide social distancing orders that have been in place since March 19.
While he didn't give a specific date, he indicated that officials will reevaluate their timeline in the next two weeks. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in California has started to slow, signaling the state is successfully flattening the curve.
"We move from surge into suppression," Newsom said, adding that officials see a light at the end of the tunnel. But, he cautioned, this is "perhaps the most difficult and challenging phase of all," and emphasized that "this phase is one where science, where public health, not politics must be the guide."
The indicators: monitor and protect communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed; preventing infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19; prepping hospitals and health systems to handle surges; developing therapeutics to meet the demand; ensuring businesses, schools, and child care facilities will support physical distancing; determining when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.
– Gabrielle Canon, The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, Calif.)
COVID-19 has sickened thousands of health care workers, CDC says
More than 9,000 health care workers across the U.S. contracted COVID-19 as of last week and at least 27 died, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC conceded the report's findings underestimate the number of cases among health care workers because of uneven reporting across the country. While in some states only 3% of COVID-19 patients were health care personnel, the number was closer to 11% in those with more complete reporting.
The report comes a day after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General reported hospitals were facing equipment shortages for N95 respirator masks, surgical masks, face shields, gowns and gloves.
– Adrianna Rodriguez and Ken Alltucker
New Rutgers University saliva test could revolutionize COVID-19 testing
A new coronavirus saliva test developed at Rutgers University that could dramatically accelerate the rate of collections and limit exposure to health care workers could be rolled out as soon as Wednesday.
The test, which can be self-administered, will allow for broader population screening than the current nose and throat swabs used at testing facilities, Rutgers officials said. The saliva test also lessens the need for valuable personal protective equipment during the testing process.
"All of this combined will have a tremendous impact on testing," said Andrew Brooks, a Rutgers professor who was involved in developing the test.
– Melanie Anzidei, NorthJersey.com
Donald Trump halts US funding for World Health Organization
President Donald Trump took aim at the World Health Organization on Tuesday, announcing a halt on funding to the group he said was “severely mismanaging and covering up” the coronavirus crisis.
Trump began the day’s White House task force news conference by attacking the WHO for the job it has done in recent months, claiming that it had “failed” and “must be held accountable.”
“We have deep concerns about whether America's generosity has been put to the best use possible,” Trump said. “The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.
“The WHO’s attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above life-saving measures,” Trump said.
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Major college football programs could stand to lose millions
While schools remain optimistic that a 2020-21 football season remains in play amid the coronavirus pandemic, at stake is at least $4.1 billion in fiscal-year revenue for the athletics departments at just the 50-plus public schools in the Power Five conferences.
That's an average of more than $78 million per school, a USA TODAY Sports analysis of schools’ financial reports to the NCAA shows.
That’s more than 60% of these schools’ combined total annual operating revenues, based on amounts reported for the 2019 fiscal year. These estimates do not take into account potential impacts on student fees or money from schools’ general funds, both of which likely would be reduced if students cannot return to campus as usual for the fall semester. Even within the Power Five, there are schools that receive significant amounts from those sources.
– Steve Berkowitz
Professional sports, including WWE, gain 'essential' status in Florida
Florida has declared professional sports league employees and their media partners "essential services" so professional wrestling's WWE can operate despite a statewide "shelter-in-place" order that will expire on April 30 at the earliest.
WWE has been airing matches – including a two-night, Wrestlemania 36 event that featured former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski – from its training center in Orlando without fans in the stands. "We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times," WWE said in a statement.
– Chris Bumbaca
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Contributing: The Associated Press