The latest news from around the U.S. and the world on coronavirus:

TRUMP CALLS FOR PAYROLL TAX RELIEF TO CALM MARKETS

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Monday that his administration will ask Congress to pass payroll tax relief and other quick measures, as a public health and economic maelstrom brought on by the coronavirus drew closer to him personally.

Intending to calm the fears of financial markets over the impact of the epidemic, Trump told reporters he is seeking “very substantial relief” to the payroll tax. Trump also said he was seeking help for hourly-wage workers to ensure they’re “not going to miss a paycheck” and “don’t get penalized for something that’s not their fault.”

Trump said he would hold a press conference Tuesday to outline the proposals, saying his administration and Congress would be “discussing a possible payroll tax cut or relief, substantial relief, very substantial relief, that’s big, that’s a big number. We’re also going to be talking about hourly wage earners getting help so that they can be in a position where they’re not going to ever miss a paycheck.”

Global stock markets rebounded Tuesday from record-setting declines.

Oil prices also recovered some of their losses in Monday’s record-setting plunge.

London opened 1.8% higher and Frankfurt advanced 1%. China’s main stock index rose 1.8% and Tokyo closed up 0.9%.

On Wall Street, which suffered its biggest one-day drop since the 2008 global crisis on Monday, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index picked up 3.9% and the contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.8%.

As Trump grappled with an epidemic whose consequences he has repeatedly played down, the White House asserted it was conducting “business as usual.” But the day’s business was anything but normal. Lawmakers pressed for details on how the Capitol could be made secure, handshakes on the Hill were discouraged and a Pentagon meeting was broken into sub-groups to minimize the number of people in the same room.

The president dove into handshakes with supporters earlier in the day, when arriving to headline a fundraiser in Longwood, Florida, that raised about $4 million for his re-election campaign and the Republican Party.

On his flight back to Washington he was accompanied by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who later went into a voluntary quarantine. Gaetz was one of several Republican lawmakers who were exposed to a person at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference who tested positive for the virus. His office said he was “mid-flight” on Air Force One when CPAC informed his staff that he had been in contact with the attendee who had the virus. Once the plane landed, Gaetz was tested.

Vice President Pence, who also spoke at CPAC, said he has not been tested for the virus. He said he did not know whether Trump had been tested.

On Capitol Hill, leaders have so far shown little willingness to close the Capitol, but meetings were scheduled throughout the day to discuss preparations.

On Monday, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Gaetz put themselves in voluntary quarantine because of their contacts with someone at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Both said they did not have any symptoms but would wait out the remainder of the 14 days since the contact at home. Gaetz wore a gas mask to the House vote last week on the emergency funding bill for the virus response and said he wanted to highlight how Congress could become “petri dish” for the virus.

Collins met Trump on Tuesday night at the White House and shook hands with him Friday when the president visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Atlanta headquarters.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., also placed themselves in quarantine after coming in contact with the same person at the conservative conference. And Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., said she met last week with a person who has since been diagnosed with the virus. She closed her office and said she and her staff are “self-monitoring and maintaining social distancing practices.”

PEARL JAM POSTPONES NORTH AMERICAN TOUR 

Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder from the band Pearl Jam performs at the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Barclays Center in New York. Pearl Jam is postponing multiple U.S. and Canadian shows on their Gigaton tour because of coronavirus concerns. Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

LOS ANGELES — Pearl Jam is postponing the North American leg of its Gigaton world tour because of concerns over the new coronavirus, the band announced Monday.

Seventeen U.S. and Canadian performances, beginning on March 18 in Toronto through April 19 in Oakland, California, were indefinitely postponed, according to the band’s website.

Pearl Jam said it was announcing the postponements “with deep frustration and regret.”

“The levels of risk to our audience and their communities is simply too high for our comfort level,” a band statement said. “Add to that we also have a unique group of passionate fans who travel far and wide. We’ve always been humbled by this and respect their energies and devotion. However in this case, travel is something to avoid.”

New dates will be determined and current tickets will be honored for those dates, the band said.

For now, the European shows from June 23 to July 23 are still scheduled along with two September shows in Asbury Park in New Jersey, and Dana Point in California, according to the band’s website.

Band members said they were personally being affected by the COVID-19 health fears. The band is from Washington state, where two dozen people have died, most of them at a Seattle-area nursing home.

“As residents of the city of Seattle, we’ve been hit hard and have witnessed firsthand how quickly these disastrous situations can escalate,” the band said. “Our kids’ schools have closed along with universities and businesses. It’s been brutal.”

Band members also criticized a lack of clarity from the government when it comes to staying safe and going to work, saying they didn’t believe the virus would be controlled in the coming weeks.

“The tour we’ve been busy planning for months is now in jeopardy,” the band said. “We have and will always keep the safety and well-being of our supporters as top priority.”

INCOMING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF QUARANTINES HIMSELF

WASHINGTON — The incoming White House chief of staff, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, was among three Republican congressmen who said Monday that they were quarantining themselves because of suspected contact with a confirmed carrier of the coronavirus.

A spokesman, Ben Williamson, said Meadows learned this weekend that he “may have come in contact” with the person who attended the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington late last month. Meadows tested negative for the virus and is not displaying symptoms but is remaining home in self-quarantine until Wednesday, Williamson said in a statement.

Trump named Meadows his chief of staff Friday evening, replacing Mick Mulvaney. Williamson’s statement did not address whether Meadows physically interacted with Trump since the conference last month.

The expanding coronavirus threat is forcing top congressional leaders to balance the need to go about the people’s legislative business and the risk of operating what could be a giant, marble-enclosed petri dish as the pathogen spreads.

Another consideration that some congressional aides have acknowledged is the increased risk that the coronavirus poses to older people. The average age in the House is 57.6 years, with 76 members 70 or older. For the Senate, the average is 62.9 years, with 27 age 70 or over.

ISRAEL TO QUARANTINE EVERYONE FROM OVERSEAS

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates —Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his government has decided to place anyone arriving from overseas into quarantine in a move to contain a growing coronavirus outbreak.

Netanyahu announced the 14-day quarantine on Monday after consultations with Cabinet ministers and senior health officials.

“This is a difficult decision, but it’s necessary to protect public health. Public health comes before everything else,” Netanyahu said.

The decision comes weeks before the busy Passover and Easter holiday seasons.

FORTY-ONE PEOPLE IN MASSACHUSETTS TEST POSITIVE

BOSTON — The number of people in Massachusetts who have tested positive for the new coronavirus has jumped to 41 — up from the 28 reported Sunday, state public health officials said Monday.

Of the 41 confirmed or presumptive positive cases, 32 are associated with a Biogen employee meeting held in late February at a Boston hotel. The cases are either employees or close contacts of employees.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also announced late Monday that the city has decided to cancel its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade as a precautionary measure.

State Department of Public Health officials said that all of the new presumptive positive cases are in isolation at home or are in a health care setting. Of the 41 cases, four individuals have been hospitalized.

There remains one confirmed case in Massachusetts. The other cases are considered presumptive until confirmed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to those cases associated with the Biogen conference, four cases are considered travel-related and five are under investigation.

CANADA REPORTS FIRST VIRUS DEATH

Canadian health officials say a man has died of the new virus at a seniors care home in North Vancouver in what is believed to be the first COVID-19 death in that country.

British Columbia Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced on the weekend that two elderly residents of the Lynn Valley Care Centre facility had been diagnosed with the virus.

Henry says the diagnoses followed an earlier diagnosis of a worker at the care home, making the cases especially concerning as examples of community transmission.

Health officials described the situation at the care center as an “outbreak.”

There are now 32 cases of the new coronavirus in British Columbia and more than 70 in Canada.

SEVERAL HUNDRED IN D.C. ASKED TO SELF-QUARANTINE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Several hundred people are being asked to self-quarantine after potential exposure to the first confirmed case of the new coronavirus in Washington DC, identified as the rector of prominent Episcopal church.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday that anyone who entered Christ Church Georgetown on Feb. 24 or between Feb. 28 and March 3 is requested to self-quarantine for two weeks from the date of their entrance to the church.

The new precautions come as the virus continues to roil the normal routine in the nation’s capital. A popular convention city and a springtime destination for hundreds of school trips and thousands of tourists, Washington officials have insisted that the city remains open for business. But tourism leaders admit that they expect virus fears to cut into the visitor numbers — including for the popular Cherry Blossom Festival, which starts on March 20.

Officials on Saturday had announced the district’s first positive test, but identified the victim only as a man in his 50s. A second local positive test involves a man who visited the Washington area from Nigeria, but he was being hospitalized in Maryland.

Rev. Timothy Cole, the church rector, announced Sunday that he was the person whom city officials had been referring to as “patient 1.” He remains hospitalized in stable condition and the church has canceled all activities until further notice.

IRELAND CANCELS ALL ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADES

Ireland has canceled all St. Patrick’s Day parades across the country in an attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced the cancellation and said “further advice about mass public gatherings will be issued in the next few days.”

The annual March 17 parade in Dublin is one of Ireland’s biggest tourist events, and typically draws half a million people onto the city’s streets. Tens of thousands more flock to parades in Ireland’s second-largest city, Cork, and smaller communities.

Ireland has 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

TRACK CONFIRMED U.S. CASES

SAUDI ARABIA CLOSES OFF AIR, SEA TRAVEL

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia closed off air and sea travel to nine countries affected by the new coronavirus Monday as Mideast stock markets tumbled over fears about the widening outbreak’s effect on the global economy.

The state oil giant Saudi Aramco led the financial losses, dropping by 10% on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange and forcing a halt to Aramco’s trading.

In the Mideast, there have been over 7,600 confirmed cases, with the vast majority in hard-hit Iran. The country’s health ministry said the new coronavirus has killed another 43 people, pushing death toll to 237 amid 7,161 confirmed cases. Experts worry Iran may be underreporting its cases.

The drop came as global oil prices suffered their worst losses since the start of the 1991 Gulf War. Other Mideast markets fell as well as the new coronavirus has affected global energy prices and OPEC failed to make a production cut deal with Russia last week.

STATES WITH POSITIVE CASES

 

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: