But that cushion seems unsustainable. Most small businesses do not have the financial buffer to pay workers for long if revenue dries up. And while larger public companies may have access to cash, they also have shareholders who want executives to watch the bottom line.
As the economic toll of the coronavirus has grown, the White House said that it supported the idea of sending cash payments directly to Americans. The measure comes as part of a broader $850 billion stimulus proposal that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed Tuesday with Republicans on Capitol Hill.
He later told senators that about $250 billion of the stimulus plan would cover the cost of sending checks to Americans to replace about two weeks of their wages, according to people familiar with his proposal. Mr. Mnuchin also said that Mr. Trump had instructed him to allow taxpayers to put off paying income taxes that are due April 15 for 90 days without penalty or interest.
There were also signs of support in Congress for the idea of sending direct payments to ordinary people. A group of Senate Democrats, led by Michael Bennet of Colorado, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, proposed legislation to send as much as $4,500 to nearly every adult and child in the United States this year, as part of a sustained government income-support program.
It’s unclear who is in charge in Iran as country faces 1,000 new cases a day.
Iran is enduring one of the world’s worst outbreaks, with more 1,000 new cases each day. More senior government figures have caught the coronavirus in Iran than anywhere else. Field hospitals have been erected in parking lots, stadiums and wedding halls to handle the overflow of patients.
Yet with so much at stake, nobody knows who’s in charge. Iran’s strategy for fighting the pandemic has been vexed by power struggles within its hierarchy that have erupted publicly.
A burst of contradictory messages in recent days has angered many of the country’s 80 million citizens, already stressed by severe American economic sanctions, unemployment and mistrust of their leaders.
Some are even hoping the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and other parts of the military will take charge and enforce quarantines. For many Iranians, such wishes were unthinkable just weeks ago, when the Guards crushed antigovernment protests and covered up the shooting down of an airliner, killing 176 people.
In interviews, supporters and opponents of President Hassan Rouhani’s government heavily criticized what they called its poor judgment, incompetence and failure to comprehend the severity of the crisis.
Many simply ignore government warnings now about exposure. Siamak Ghassemi, an economic analyst in Tehran, posted a photo Tuesday on Twitter of shoppers jamming Tehran’s bazaar in a buying binge before the start of the Persian New Year.
Report warns of more than 500,000 deaths in the U.K.
The British government’s sudden shift from its comparatively relaxed response to the coronavirus came after the publication of a startling new report on the virus from a team at Imperial College in London.
Imperial College has advised the government on its response to previous epidemics, including SARS, avian flu and swine flu. With ties to the World Health Organization and a team of 50 scientists, led by a prominent epidemiologist, Neil Ferguson, Imperial is treated as a sort of gold standard, its mathematical models feeding directly into government policies.
The report warned that an uncontrolled spread of the disease could cause as many as 510,000 deaths in Britain.
American officials said the report, which projected up to 2.2 million deaths in the United States from such a spread, also influenced the White House to strengthen its measures to isolate members of the public.
But outside experts pointed out that the report’s alarming conclusions — that the virus would overwhelm hospitals and that governments had no choice but to impose radical lockdown policies — had been made in previous reports on coronavirus or on social media sites devoted to the outbreak.
U.S. plans to swiftly turn back people entering from Mexico illegally.
The Trump administration plans to immediately turn back all asylum seekers and other foreigners attempting to enter the United States from Mexico illegally, saying the nation cannot risk allowing the coronavirus to spread through detention facilities and border patrol agents, four administration officials said.
The administration officials said the ports of entry would remain open to American citizens, green-card holders and foreigners with proper documentation. But under the new rule, border patrol agents would immediately return anyone to Mexico — without any detainment and without any due process — who attempts to cross the southwestern border. They would not be held for any length of time in an American facility.
Although they advised that details could change before the announcement, administration officials said the measure was needed to avert what they fear could be a systemwide outbreak of the coronavirus inside detention facilities along the border. Such an outbreak could spread quickly through the immigrant population and could infect large numbers of border patrol agents, leaving the southwestern border defenses weakened, the officials argued.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean isolation. Let us help.
The regulations around social distancing have forced many friends and family to change the way they communicate and spend time together. It is important to stay connected during these stressful times. Here are some ideas that may help:
Olympics will go ahead as planned.
Even as the coronavirus spreads across the world, overwhelming health care systems and cratering national economies, the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday doubled down on its commitment to hold the 2020 Games in Tokyo in July, stunning athletes who had been preparing for a postponement.
“The I.O.C. remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage,” said Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee.
The statement ran counter to the growing global movement to halt business as usual, including major sporting events, and to limit social contact for weeks or even months.
Shortly after the I.O.C. released its statement, the French Tennis Federation announced plans to move the French Open, scheduled for Paris in late May and early June, to a late September start. Late Monday, the Kentucky Derby, the world’s most important horse races, announced it was moving from the first Saturday in May to the first Saturday in September.
The E.U. bars most travelers for 30 days.
European leaders voted Tuesday to close off at least 26 countries to nearly all visitors from the rest of the world for at least 30 days in a bid to arrest the spread of the coronavirus, starting a long stretch of isolation like nothing in modern European history outside wartime.
The travel ban — which Britain did not plan to participate in — represented the first coordinated response to the epidemic by the European Union to the growing crisis.
Special exceptions would be made for European citizens and residents coming home, although some countries were asking them to self-isolate for two weeks, in some cases away from their families. Medical professionals and scientists would be exempt from the measures, as would people living in one European country and commuting to another for work.
Reporting was contributed by Ben Casselman, Sapna Maheshwari, David Yaffe-Bellany, Mark Landler, Stephen Castle and Farnaz Fassihi.
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