The White House and Congress may soon reach a deal on adding more money to the Paycheck Protection Program, the small business stimulus fund that ran out of money less than two weeks after it launched, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday.
The deal could be approved by the Senate on Monday and the House could vote on it by Wednesday, he said.
"We're very close to a deal today, and I'm hopeful that we can get that done," Mnuchin said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Later Sunday, President Donald Trump suggested that the deal could close as early as Monday. "We have some very good negotiations going on right now. And I think you could have a nice answer tomorrow, but we'll see," Trump said.
The Paycheck Protection Program was created to keep workers paid amid the economic shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic. The new bill would include $75 billion to help overwhelmed hospitals and another $25 billion to increase the capacity to test for the virus.
The U.S. coronavirus death toll hit a new plateau Sunday, topping 40,000 deaths. The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. was nearing 760,000 early Monday, according to John Hopkins University data. The number of worldwide cases was nearing 2.5 million, with over 165,300 deaths.
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New York state to begin mass antibody testing campaign
New York state will begin antibody testing thousands of residents this week to try and determine the breadth of the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday. Cuomo said a test was approved by the FDA and that testing will take place "in the most aggressive way in the nation."
Antibody testing reflects how many people have been infected by the virus. Health experts hope the antibodies provide people with defenses against COVID-19. Cuomo said new cases, hospitalizations and intubations all appear to be receding in his state. The most recent daily death toll, 507, was down almost 10% from the previous day and represented the lowest total in more than two weeks.
"All indications are that we are on the descent," he said of the outbreak. "That is in all the numbers."
New York, Florida, Texas among states easing restrictions
Various social distancing orders across the United States have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus, but states are feeling increasing pressure from protesters and at times the White House to begin relaxing restrictions. Now, some are outlining their plans to do so. On Monday, Vermont contracting companies, garden-supply stores, small construction crews and small offices will be allowed to operate with certain restrictions.
“We’re not declaring victory because we’re not out of the woods yet,” Gov. Phil Scott said. “But we are seeing some daylight.”
This weekend, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey opened up their marinas, boatyards and boat launches for recreational use. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said all stores in the state will be able to operate retail-to-go beginning Friday. And Floridians began flocking to the ocean after Gov. Ron DeSantis gave the green light for reopening some beaches.
– Brent Hallenbeck, Burlington Free Press
When will a second wave of the coronavirus hit, and what will it look like?
Before the first deadly phase of the COVID-19 pandemic has run its course, scientists are worried about the second wave of the disease.
COVID-19’s sweet spot could be the same as influenza, roughly October to May, with a peak between October and November, modeling suggests. If it does behave like influenza, it will move to the Southern hemisphere for winter there, then return to the Northern hemisphere for its cold months.
Until there’s a vaccine “it’s unfortunately not unlikely that we may see a second wave or even a third wave,” said Peter Marks, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, which oversees vaccines.
“I shudder to think of that, but I think we have to be realistic."
– Elizabeth Weise
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California's COVID-19 death rate alarmingly high for African Americans
California is seeing a disproportionately high number of coronavirus deaths among African Americans, according to data released by the California Department of Public Health on Saturday.
African Americans make up just 6% of the state's population of nearly 40 million but account for 12% of the 1,072 coronavirus-related deaths. Latinos, who make up 39% of the state’s populace, account for 39% and 31% of deaths, officials said.
In addition to high death figures among African Americans, the department said that Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders are another group "of heightened concern," although the death count for the population is small and "therefore limits statistical comparison." Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders make up 0.3% of the population but have accounted for 2% of the state's total cases and 1% of the state's total deaths.
Whites, who account for 37% of the population, have had 30% of the cases and 36% of the deaths. Asians, who are 15% of the population, have had 13% of total cases but 16% of deaths.
– Julie Makinen, Desert Sun
New Yorkers can get married by video
In New York state, couples will now be able to get married by video because of the coronavirus pandemic.
At his Saturday briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo seemed uncertain initially when asked by a reporter if marriages were possible during the crisis.
Asking aloud to his staff what they were doing about it, his chief of staff, Melissa DeRosa jumped in with the answer.
“We actually have thought about it,” she said. “We are today signing an executive order allowing people to get their marriage licenses remotely and allowing clerks to perform ceremonies over video. So if that’s an avenue people want to go down, it will be available to them.”
Cuomo quickly endorsed the idea.
“Video marriage ceremonies,” he said. “There’s now no excuse when the question comes up for marriage. No excuse. You can do it by Zoom: ‘Yes or no.’”
– Doug Stanglin
Walmart, Sam's Club to require employees to wear face masks
Walmart and Sam's Club will require employees to wear masks or other face coverings starting Monday to prevent the spread of the virus.
Shoppers also will be encouraged to wear face masks as part of the retailers' updated COVID-19 response. The retail giant announced the changes in a letter sent to employees that was posted on Walmart.com late Friday.
Employees can bring their own masks if they meet certain guidelines or the retailers say they will provide them after employees pass the daily health screens and temperature checks, which were first announced March 31.
– Kelly Tyko
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Contributing: The Associated Press