President Trump on Friday signed into law the largest economic stimulus package in modern American history, backing a $2 trillion measure designed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Under the law, the government will deliver direct payments and jobless benefits for individuals, money for states and a huge bailout fund for businesses battered by the crisis.
Mr. Trump signed the measure hours after the House approved it by voice vote and less than two days after the Senate unanimously passed it.
The legislation will send direct payments of $1,200 to millions of Americans, including those earning up to $75,000, and an additional $500 per child. It will substantially expand jobless aid, providing an additional 13 weeks and a four-month enhancement of benefits, and for the first time will extend the payments to freelancers and gig workers.
The measure will also offer $377 billion in federally guaranteed loans to small businesses and establish a $500 billion government lending program for distressed companies reeling from the crisis, including allowing the administration the ability to take equity stakes in airlines that received aid to help compensate taxpayers. It will also send $100 billion to hospitals on the front lines of the pandemic.
The law was the product of days of talks between members of Mr. Trump’s administration and Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress. And even before Mr. Trump held a bill signing on Friday afternoon, congressional leaders said they expected to negotiate more legislative responses to the pandemic in the coming months.
Officials in nearly 200 U.S. cities, large and small, report a dire need for face masks, ventilators and other emergency equipment to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey released on Friday.
The United States Conference of Mayors questioned officials in 213 municipalities and found serious shortages that underscored the “scope and severity” of the crisis. The organization, a nonpartisan association of mayors from across the country, urged the federal government to provide more support.
More than 90 percent — or 192 cities — said they did not have an adequate supply of face masks for police officers, firefighters and emergency workers. In addition, 92 percent of cities reported a shortage of test kits and 85 percent did not have a sufficient supply of ventilators available to local health facilities.
Roughly two-thirds of the cities said they had not received any emergency equipment or supplies from their state, the report said. And of those that did receive state aid, nearly 85 percent said it was not enough to meet their needs.
In total, the conference tabulated that cities need 28.5 million face masks, 24.4 million other items of personal protection equipment, 7.9 million test kits and 139,000 ventilators.
The survey included municipalities from 41 states and Puerto Rico, with populations ranging from under 2,000 to 3.8 million. Across the board, local officials said they were not getting the support and supplies they need.
“It is abundantly clear that the shortage of essential items such as face masks, test kits, personal protective equipment, ventilators and other items needed by health and safety personnel has reached crisis proportions in cities across the country,” Tom Cochran, the chief executive of the conference said in a letter accompanying the survey’s findings. “The result is that the safety of city residents and the health workers and first responders protecting them is being seriously compromised.”
For days Mr. Trump resisted using the Defense Production Act to mobilize private industry to produce the critically-needed supplies, arguing at points that private industry was stepping up on its own, and at other points suggesting dismissively that using it would be analogous to “nationalizing” businesses.
But on Friday afternoon Mr. Trump said that he had directed his administration “to use any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators.”
“Our negotiations with G.M. regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course,” the president said in a statement. “G.M. was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.”
Earlier on Friday, Mr. Trump lashed out at General Motors on Friday, blaming it for overpromising on its ability to make new ventilators for critically ill coronavirus patients.
In a series of tweets, the president had emphasized the urgent need for the ventilators, an abrupt change of tone from the night before, when he had told Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, that states were inflating their needs.
Mr. Trump appeared to be reacting to reports that the White House had dragged its feet in awarding contracts to G.M. and Ventec Life Systems, to start new production lines in a converted G.M. plant in Kokomo, Ind.
With the Federal Emergency Management Agency still evaluating a $1.5 billion proposal from those companies, Mr. Trump declared Friday morning that General Motors “MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!” (General Motors sold its Lordstown factory last year.)
He added, “FORD, GET GOING ON ventilators, FAST!!!!!!”
Shortly afterwards, General Motors and Ventec announced that they would begin producing ventilators at the Kokomo plant, and that the machines would be “scheduled to ship as soon as next month.” The statement did not directly address the president’s criticism.
“Depending on the needs of the federal government, Ventec and GM are poised to deliver the first ventilators next month,” the statement said, “and ramp up to a manufacturing capacity of more than 10,000 critical care ventilators per month with the infrastructure and capability to scale further.” G.M. said it was “donating its resources at cost.”
The competing tweets and announcements underscored the chaos that has surrounded the effort to ramp up emergency production.
Both the president and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the top health expert on his coronavirus task force, have played down the immediate need for a large numbers of ventilators in New York and other states in recent days, rejecting calls from governors and major hospitals to help them before their needs outstrip their supply.
“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” Mr. Trump said, discussing an urgent request from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York. “You know, you’re going to major hospitals sometimes, they’ll have two ventilators. And now, all of a sudden, they’re saying, can we order 30,000 ventilators?”
Mr. Cuomo, in an appearance on Friday morning at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, which is being transformed into a temporary hospital center, defended the magnitude of the state’s request.
“Look, I don’t have a crystal ball,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. But I don’t operate here on opinion; I operate on facts and on data and on numbers and on projections.”
New York is already home to the most coronavirus cases in the nation. Mr. Cuomo said that 519 people had died of the virus as of Friday, up from 385 the day before. More than 44,600 people in the state have tested positive for the virus, he said, an increase of more than 7,300 cases overnight. There were 6,481 hospitalized patients, of whom 1,583 were in intensive care.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the coronavirus and is suffering mild symptoms, he said on Friday. He is the first leader of a major Western country known to have contracted the virus.
“I’ve developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus,” Mr. Johnson said in a video posted on Twitter, noting that he was tested on Thursday after he began running a temperature and suffering a persistent cough.
The prime minister said that he would isolate himself in his official residence, 10 Downing Street, but would not relinquish his duties. On Monday, after resisting harsher measures for more than a week, Mr. Johnson imposed a lockdown on Britain to try to curb the virus’s spread. He has continued to meet with advisers and has appeared most days at a daily televised briefing, though he did not do so on Thursday.
“Be in no doubt that I can continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fight back against coronavirus,” Mr. Johnson said.
But a critical member of his cabinet, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, also tested positive, meaning that the two people most directly responsible for dealing with the virus are now afflicted with it.
The government’s chief medical adviser, Chris Whitty, also reported symptoms of the virus and said he was isolating himself. There are fears that other officials who have been in meetings with Mr. Johnson could also have been exposed.
If Mr. Johnson becomes incapacitated, his duties would be taken over by the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, who has tested negative for the virus. It is a head-spinning turn of events for a government that, just two weeks ago, was brimming with confidence after a landslide election victory in December.
Mr. Johnson’s diagnosis rattled a country that was already unnerved by news that Prince Charles, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and the heir to the throne, had tested positive for the virus. Buckingham Palace said the queen remained healthy and was sequestered at Windsor Castle. Mr. Johnson delivered his weekly briefing to the queen by telephone on Wednesday.
Mr. Johnson had staked out a more relaxed position than other European leaders about the timing and strictness of measures Britain should take to slow the spread of the virus. He initially balked at forcing pubs and restaurants to close and shutting down schools.
Last weekend, however, the government shifted its strategy and embraced the more draconian measures. Mr. Johnson has insisted he is guided by scientific advice and has timed the rollout of distancing measures so they are most effective and accepted by the public. Among the questions the government will face is how many people Mr. Johnson came into contact with over the last few days. Many officials had stopped working in Downing Street, participating in meetings via conference call. But a skeleton staff worked in the residence.
Mr. Johnson did not appear at the daily news conference on Thursday, at which the chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, rolled out the latest plan to protect workers who have lost wages. Mr. Johnson is working normally, a spokesman said, though he moved from his office to an adjacent building Mr. Sunak normally works. On Friday morning, Mr. Johnson took part in a daily emergency cabinet meeting remotely from his new quarters. Mr. Johnson plans to stay in isolation for seven days, with his meals left at the door.
No country has been hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic than Italy, where officials announced Friday that more than 950 people had died in the past 24 hours. It was the highest daily tally yet, lifting the national death toll to 9,134 — by far the highest in the world.
And within Italy, the Bergamo area, in the devastated Lombardy region, has suffered more than most. Sirens echo through empty streets. Patients line the corridors of overcrowded hospitals. The local paper is given over to death notices.
Our reporter and photographer visited Bergamo, which had been a quiet and wealthy province, and followed the Red Cross workers going door to door, carrying away the afflicted to offer a glimpse of what it looks like in the heart of the crisis.
Italy’s staggering toll suggested that its early attempts to stem the outbreak — first isolating towns, then regions, then shutting down the country in a porous lockdown — always lagged behind the virus’s trajectory.
And the country’s outbreak has yet to reach its peak, scientists warn. The country reported 86,498 coronavirus cases overall on Friday, surpassing the number of cases in China — an increase of 5,959 from the day before.
“Let me be clear, we are not in a phase where the numbers are declining,” said Silvio Brusaferro, the president of the Italian National Institute of Health.
Four passengers with flu-like symptoms died aboard the Zaandam, a Holland American cruise ship that is currently off the coast of Panama, the company announced on Friday. The ship is waiting for permission to cross the Panama Canal after being refused entry in South America; it does not currently have permission to transit the Canal to reach Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the closest available port open to the ship.
The Zaandam left Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and was originally scheduled to reach San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. But the pandemic has forced many ships to reroute, as more nations close their ports to ships with outbreaks on board.
On Sunday, the company, which is owned by Carnival Corp., said it had began to notice an influx of passengers with influenza-like symptoms, so all of the passengers were isolated in their cabins. There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board, with passengers from 34 nations, including 305 Americans and 247 Canadians.
By Friday, 53 passengers and 85 crew members were displaying symptoms; two have tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to a statement released by the company.
The Zaandam rendezvoused with a sister ship, the Rotterdam, on Thursday to evacuate healthy passengers after screening and to bring medical supplies and medical staff onto the vessel. Priority to evacuate is being given to seniors over the age of 70. People who are sick and their close contacts, and all of the crew, will remain on the Zaandam, the company said.
Stocks fell on Friday after a three-day rally as investors who initially cheered progress on a $2 trillion U.S. relief package saw signs of further economic troubles.
Congress approved the legislation on Friday. And while the plan is the largest emergency spending program in the nation’s history, some economists have said it might not be enough to counter the economic damage from the pandemic.
The S&P 500 dropped more than 2 percent on Friday.
Wall Street had surged for the past three days, as investors bid up shares of companies that were set to receive support from the aid bill. The S&P 500 climbed 6.2 percent on Thursday, even after the government reported a staggering jump in unemployment claims.
Declines in London, Paris and Frankfurt ranged from 2 to 4 percent on Friday. Earlier, Asian markets were generally higher, on the heels of Thursday’s 6 percent gain in U.S. stocks.
The coronavirus that is threatening the world’s older generations has penetrated the high walls of the Vatican and come to the doorstep of Pope Francis and the elderly cardinals who live on the grounds of the smallest country in the world.
“For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives,” Francis, who is 83 and had part of his lungs removed during an illness in his youth, said in remarks delivered on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica Friday evening.
The Vatican on Tuesday confirmed cases of the virus inside the walls; an Italian Vatican official who lives in the pope’s residence has tested positive and required hospitalization. Now the Vatican is testing scores of people and considering isolating measures for Francis, who has tested negative after two separate tests and said privately he doesn’t have the virus, according to top Vatican officials.
The pope spoke alone, before a vast and empty square, its cobblestones slicked with rain and reflecting the blue lights of the police locking down Rome to fight the virus. “We find ourselves afraid,” the pope added. “And lost.”
Pope Francis also expressed support and appreciation for “doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves.”
He concluded: “From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts.”
An unusual filing to the Supreme Court on Friday urged the justices to accept the new reality of the coronavirus and decline to end a program protecting young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers. About 27,000 of them work in health care, many on the front lines in the fight against the pandemic.
Aldo Martinez, a paramedic in Fort Myers, Fla., 26, came to the United States from Mexico when he was 12, and he is able to work thanks to a program announced by President Barack Obama in 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The Trump administration wants to end the program, and at a Supreme Court argument in November a majority of the justices seemed inclined to let it.
Mr. Martinez said it would be foolish to take an army of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians, researchers and other health care workers off the battlefield in the midst of a pandemic.
South Africa, Africa’s most industrialized nation, ordered most of its 59 million people to stay at home for three weeks starting today. It is by far the biggest and most restrictive action undertaken on the African continent to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The nationwide lockdown followed an alarming increase in confirmed cases across South Africa’s nine provinces. Three weeks after detecting its first infection, the country is now the center of the pandemic on the continent, with more than 1,000 confirmed cases, double the number of the next hardest-hit country, Egypt.
In Johannesburg, the country’s biggest city, shops and offices closed. A few delivery trucks, minibus taxis and ambulances were all that remained of rush-hour traffic. Gas stations, which are allowed to operate, were empty. Some residents lugged heavy plastic bags packed with food, unable to find public transportation to take them home.
While the deadly virus was slow to take hold in Africa, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths has gradually increased in recent days, raising fears about the continent’s readiness to deal with a pandemic.
To date, 46 African states have reported a total of 3,243 positive cases and 83 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Senegal have all reported over 100 cases, mostly imported by visitors from Europe.
So far the virus has spread fastest in some of Africa’s most economically developed countries, which have more air connections and commerce with Europe and China and also the capacity to do the testing to confirm positive cases.
France has extended its lockdown period for at least two weeks, meaning it will end no earlier than April 15.
“This period will obviously be extended if the health situation demands it,” Édouard Philippe, France’s prime minister, said at a news conference in Paris on Friday.
The country reported 32,964 cases and 1,995 deaths on Friday.
After 10 days of confinement measures, Mr. Philippe said, “it is clear that we are only at the beginning of the epidemic wave” that had already “overwhelmed” eastern France and appeared ready to do the same in the north and in the Paris region.
No single agency has provided the public with an accurate, up-to-date record of coronavirus cases in the United States, tracked to the county level. To fill the gap, The New York Times started a round-the-clock effort to tally every known coronavirus case in the United States. The data, which The Times will continue to track, is being made available to the public on Friday.
Individual states and counties have tracked their own cases and presented them to the public with varying degrees of speed and accuracy, but those tallies provide only limited snapshots of the nation’s outbreak. A publicly available tracker from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, updated five times a week, includes only state-level data. Another notable effort is by Johns Hopkins University.
For the last eight weeks, a team of Times journalists has recorded an array of details — locations, dates, ages and conditions, when possible — about newly confirmed cases reported by state and local officials.
Even as the country prepared for the worst, with an army of 500,000 volunteering to help ease the burden on government workers, London hospitals were already struggling to meet the demands of the first wave of patients.
And there was a deep awareness that much more will be asked of medical workers in the days ahead.
The dangers facing doctors, nurses and other caregivers has been demonstrated in every country where the virus has insinuated itself.
And the strains on strong health care systems — with protective gear and vital equipment in desperately short supply — underscored the possible tragedy in developing nations.
In Spain, health care workers have been infected at an alarming rate, accounting for more than 10 percent of cases.
The toll on doctors in Italy continues to grow, with at least 37 dying after contracting the virus.
In New York, the story of Kious Kelly, an assistant nurse manager at Mount Sinai West hospital in Manhattan, has gripped the nation.
Mr. Kelly texted his sister, Marya Patrice Sherron, on March 18 to say he had contracted the coronavirus and was on a ventilator in the intensive care unit.
He said he could text, but not talk.
“‘I’m OK,’” he wrote, Ms. Sherron recalled in an interview on Thursday. “‘Don’t tell Mom and Dad. They’ll worry.’”
After weeks of rising tensions, Mr. Trump called China’s leader, Xi Jinping, and offered words of sympathy and praise for the Chinese government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “We are working closely together. Much respect!”
Even for Mr. Trump, the shift in tone was striking, coming only days after he made a point of referring to the coronavirus as a “Chinese virus.”
A day before the call, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Washington that “the Chinese Communist Party poses a threat to our health and way of life, as the Wuhan virus outbreak clearly has demonstrated.”
Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi last spoke directly in February, and both took part in a video conference call of leaders of the Group of 20 nations on Thursday.
China’s readout of the two leaders’ conversation was more restrained. Perhaps mindful of criticism of the country’s early handing of the epidemic, Mr. Xi stressed in the call that China had been sharing information in “an open, transparent and responsible manner” with the World Health Organization and the United States.
“I am paying very close attention and worried about the development of the epidemic in the United States,” Mr. Xi said.
“China understands the difficult situation the U.S. is currently in and is willing to provide as much support as it can within its power,” China’s foreign ministry said, referring to Mr. Xi’s comment.
Children the world over — and their parents — are having to grapple with the new reality that in many places, schools are unlikely to reopen before the start of the new academic year in autumn, with closures likely to last for months rather than weeks.
For some students, the challenge runs even deeper.
In China, the outbreak and subsequent shutdown exposed a digital divide that saw some children left without access to online learning. Now the United States, which surpassed China in its number of cases on Thursday, is navigating the same territory.
Allia Phillips, a fourth grader on the honor roll, was excited about picking up an iPad from her school in Harlem last week after her school was forced to close. But the shelter she lives in with her mother and grandmother does not have internet. And her mother worries that she will be left behind.
An estimated 114,000 children in New York City live in shelters and unstable housing, and many worry that school closures will hit them the hardest.
In much of Europe, schools are preparing to be closed through the spring. In Spain, where the outbreak has exploded and schools remain closed indefinitely, parents are struggling to keep their children focused. An extension of an initial two week countrywide lockdown has made that task more challenging.
“During the first week, we were all about drawing and writing and practicing with numbers,” Clara Gonzalez, a 28-year-old mother of two, said. The second week was less about activities. “They sleep less, they have a holiday-like schedule.”
The Spanish government is trying to salvage the school year and the main exams, including ones for entering university, amid growing concerns that a prolonged lockdown could make that impossible. On Thursday, Isabel Celaá, Spain’s education minister, said she expected schools to reopen in May or June, so that the year would not be lost, but critics say that may be wishful thinking.
You can take several steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and keep yourself safe. Be consistent about social distancing. Wash your hands often. And when you do leave your home for groceries or other essentials, wipe down your shopping cart and be smart about what you are purchasing.
Huge crowds clashed with Chinese police officers on Friday on a bridge connecting the provinces of Hubei and Jiangxi, one of the largest signs yet of public frustration and unrest at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in China.
It was not immediately unclear what prompted the clash, which took place on a bridge spanning the Yangtze River. But Hubei residents have faced rampant discrimination and fear across China since the outbreak first emerged in the provincial capital, Wuhan. And this week is the first time in two months that they have been free to leave the province, after the government eased a lockdown ordered to contain the virus.
Videos on social media showed overturned cars, police officers with shields pushing against large crowds, and groups of people rocking what appeared to be police vehicles, or shattering their windows. One video showed hundreds of people marching across the bridge, shouting, “Go Hubei!”
A man who identified himself as Ma Yanzhou, the Communist Party leader of Huangmei, urged the crowds to disperse. He said he would speak with officials in Jiujiang, the city on the other end of the bridge from Hubei, to resolve the dispute.
“We strive to solve this problem immediately so that everyone can go to Jiujiang to work,” he said into a megaphone.
He added, “Everybody gathering on the bridge is extremely dangerous. First, there is a danger to traffic safety. Second, there is the danger of spreading the virus.”
Hubei residents, with the exception of those in Wuhan, have been free to leave the province since Wednesday if they obtain a “green” health code. But many have already faced difficulties finding transportation, or have been turned away by communities in their destinations.
Reporting was contributed by Michael Cooper, Alan Blinder, Emily Cochrane, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Maya Salam, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni, Mark Landler, Stephen Castle, John Eligon, Amy Qin, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Elian Peltier, Raphael Minder, Jason Horowitz, Fabio Bucciarelli, Nikita Stewart, Michael Crowley, Jason Horowitz, Elisabetta Povoledo, Lara Jakes, Jesse Drucker, Abdi Latif Dahir, Vikas Bajaj, Carl Hulse, Steven Lee Myers, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Steven Erlanger, Caitlin Dickerson, Annie Correal, Adam Liptak and Neil MacFarquhar.