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10 things you need to know today: April 24, 2020

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1.

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a $484 billion coronavirus relief bill in a lopsided 388-5 vote. The Senate approved the package on Tuesday, and President Trump was expected to quickly sign it. The deal provides $310 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses continue paying employees as the coronavirus crisis shuts down much of the economy. The package also includes $60 billion for a separate emergency loan and grant program involving small banks in rural and urban areas, $75 billion for hospitals and health-care providers, and $25 billion for coronavirus testing. Republicans had pushed to fund just Trump’s request for $250 billion for the small business loan program, but Democrats insisted on adding money for hospitals and testing. [The Associated Press, The Washington Post]

2.

After a Homeland Security official explained that sunlight and bleach can kill the coronavirus on surfaces, President Trump suggested treating COVID-19 patients by hitting their lungs with ultraviolet or “very powerful light,” or injecting them with disinfectant. “Is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?” Trump said during the daily White House coronavirus briefing Thursday. Doctors said that injecting or ingesting cleaning products was a terrible, potentially deadly idea. “It’s a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves,” said Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and NBC News contributor. Dara Kass, associate professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, said a U.S. emergency room will “probably get a bleach ingestion because of this.” [NBC News, The Washington Post]

3.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced Thursday that her oldest brother, Donald Reed Herring, “died from the coronavirus” this week. He was 86. “He was charming and funny, a natural leader,” Warren said in a series of tweets. “What made him extra special was his smile. He had a quick, crooked smile that seemed to generate its own light — and to light up everyone around him.” Warren thanked the medical staff who took care of him, “but it’s hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say ‘I love you’ one more time — and no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close.” Warren, a frequent critic of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, often spoke of her brothers during her unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination. [CNN]

4.

Nearly 14 percent of 3,000 supermarket shoppers tested in the state of New York were found to have coronavirus antibodies in their systems, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Thursday. More than 21 percent of the roughly 1,300 tests on people in New York City came back positive. The accuracy of antibody testing in the United States has been questioned, but Cuomo said if the results provide a true picture, nearly 2.7 million people in the state and 1.7 million in New York City have been exposed, far more than the 250,000 infections officially recorded in the state. A positive antibody test doesn’t mean the people have COVID-19, but it indicates exposure that has prompted their bodies to build up immunity to the virus. “What does it mean?” Cuomo said. “I don’t know.” [The New York Times]

5.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 4.4 million Americans filed initial applications for jobless benefits last week. That means that 26.5 million Americans have now filed unemployment claims in the last five weeks as the coronavirus pandemic shut down businesses across the country. The United States has now lost all of the jobs it gained in the record-long hiring boom that followed the Great Recession. Other economic data, including a March plunge in new home sales, confirmed that business activity has fallen to an all-time low. “At this point it would take a miracle to keep this recession from turning into the Great Depression II,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York. [Reuters]

6.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) pushed back against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for suggesting the federal government let states struggling with the costs of the coronavirus go bankrupt. McConnell dismissed calls for Congress to approve more funding for state and local governments as “blue state bailouts.” Cuomo slammed McConnell for what he described as “obsessive political bias and anger,” calling the idea of letting New York and other states go bankrupt “one of the really dumb ideas of all time,” saying the U.S. economy would be devastated if New York couldn’t pay its bills. He also noted that New York sends the federal government billions more dollars than it gets back, while McConnell’s home state of Kentucky relies on billions in federal money. “Sen. McConnell, who’s getting bailed out here?” Cuomo asked. [CNBC, Politico]

7.

Mass coronavirus casualties could cost President Trump victories in battleground states in the fall election, potentially shifting electoral votes to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, according to an analysis published by academic researchers in the journal Administrative Theory & Praxis. “The pandemic is going to take a greater toll on the conservative electorate leading into this election — and that’s simply just a calculation of age,” said Andrew Johnson, the lead author and a professor of management at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. “The virus is killing more older voters, and in many states that’s the key to a GOP victory.” For example, about 11,000 more Republicans than Democrats 65 or older could die in both Michigan and North Carolina, which could swing tight races. [Politico]

8.

The Treasury Department on Thursday ordered big public companies to return loans they received but that were meant for small businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program that was part of coronavirus relief legislation. More than 100 publicly traded companies received loans under the program, which quickly burned through its $350 billion in funding and is now slated to be replenished with hundreds of billions more. Treasury gave large companies until May 7 to return the money. “Any borrower that applied for a PPP loan prior to the issuance of this guidance and repays the loan in full by May 7, 2020, will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification in good faith,” the department said in its guidance. Ruth’s Chris Steak House parent Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc. said Thursday it would return the $20 million it is getting in PPP loans. [MarketWatch]

9.

The Trump administration on Thursday deported 129 Haitians despite evidence that some had been exposed to the COVID-19 coronavirus at a detention center in the United States, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. “The U.S. is deporting all over the Americas without testing to see who may have picked up the virus in crowded ICE detention facilities,” said Steve Forester, the nongovernment organization’s immigration policy coordinator. “That’s unconscionable and a deadly time bomb for the receiving nations.” Haitian officials told HuffPost that they were worried that the arrival of deportees could speed up the spread of the virus in the Caribbean nation, which has a severely limited medical infrastructure. [The Washington Post, HuffPost]

10.

Children’s vaccination rates have fallen by as much as 73 percent as parents skip their children’s regular doctor’s visits due to the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reported Thursday. Data from 1,000 independent pediatricians showed that measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations dropped 50 percent between February and April, diphtheria and whooping cough shots fell 42 percent, and HPV vaccines plunged 73 percent. The trend has exacerbated the risk of children catching these diseases once they return to school. While official vaccination records from the past two months aren’t available yet, “anecdotal evidence and subsets of data are alarming,” according to the Times. [The New York Times]

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