U.S. Senate Approves $480 Billion Stimulus Bill

The latest in COVID-19

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U.S. Senate Approves $480 Billion Stimulus Bill

Quick Take

  • NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Trump agreed to waive the state match for the costs related to using FEMA. 
  • The U.S. Senate passed a new $480 billion round of fiscal stimulus aimed for small businesses.
  • Doctors report sudden strokes in COVID-19 infected adults in their 30s and 40s.
  • Tyson Foods shuts down its largest pork plant as 91 workers test positive for coronavirus.

There are now more than 2.6 million global confirmed coronavirus cases with deaths topping 183k.

Senate Approves Next Round Of Fiscal Stimulus

The U.S. Senate passed a new $480 billion round of fiscal stimulus yesterday, in an effort to provide economic relief. The bill includes an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses, which ran out of funds last week.

Demand for the program has been sky high as small businesses, which have limited capital access, are in need of funds to survive the quarantine period. The latest round of funding should go a long way to help businesses who missed out on the first round of funds. However, it may still fall short of what is needed, which economists estimate to be $900 billion. The expanded program also likely won’t prevent some small companies from going under.

Economists at Bank of America say the bill will help address shortfalls, but even more stimulus is needed as they expect Congress to pass another large package worth up to $1.5 trillion that extends on provisions in the CARES Act. A vice president at Moody’s financial services, says many small businesses that are currently closed or operating at reduced levels could still struggle to remain financially viable, even if lockdowns are progressively lifted over the coming weeks.

Sudden Strokes In Young Adults

Doctors are reporting that coronavirus appears to be causing sudden strokes in adults in their 30s and 40s who are not terribly ill. Growing evidence shows that COVID-19 can cause the blood to clot unnaturally and therefore cause a stroke.

Dr. Thomas Oxley, a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, gave details of five people they treated, all under the age of 50. He said their reports show a seven-fold increase in the incidence of a sudden stroke in young patients during the past two weeks. Most of the patients have no past medical history and were at home with either mild symptoms or no symptoms. Two of the patients delayed calling an ambulance because they have heard hospitals are overwhelmed by coronavirus cases.

Dr. Oxley said it is not common for people so young to have strokes, especially strokes in the large vessels in the brain. Before coronavirus, the hospital has treated on average of fewer than two patients per month under the age of 50. A stroke in a large blood vessel causes severe damage if it is not removed right away. At least one of the patients has died and others are in intensive care.

Oxley said his team wanted to tell people to watch themselves for symptoms and to call 911 if they have any evidence of a stroke. He added on to say that the most effective treatment for large vessel stroke is clot retrieval, but it must be performed within 6 hours.

75% Of US Hotel Rooms Remain Empty

According to hotel data and analytics company STR, more than 75% of hotel rooms in the United States remain empty. Nationwide hotels reported an occupancy rate of 23.4% for the week ending Apr. 18th, which represents a 64% decrease from the same week last year. The numbers are slightly higher from recent weeks, but STR says the small increase is attributed to frontline workers. New York City, where some medical workers are being housed in hotels, posted an occupancy rate of about 33%, up from a low of 15%. Hawaii remains with the lowest occupancy of only 8%.

National Parks To Reopen

President Donald Trump has announced plans for the reopening of National Parks but was unclear as to when. The president urged states to reopen after coronavirus closures. Vice President Mike Pence later commented that the administration would work closely with governors to reopen parks and public lands. Texas already opened State Parks since Monday.

The National Park Service will work at the state level to open parks as individual states begin to reopen, but the expectation at the moment is that the administration won’t move to open parks before the states they’re located in move to at least Phase One of the federal reopening guidelines.

Trump To Waive FEMA Fees For New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said President Trump agreed to waive the state match for costs related to using FEMA. Normally, a state has to pay 25% of the FEMA cost. The governor said it’ll save the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Cuomo also said he talked to Trump about getting more state funding into the next stimulus bill. Cuomo also commented on the political pressure for local officials to reopen their economies, saying this is no time to act stupidly.

Cuomo also announced a contact-tracing program with New Jersey and Connecticut. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg will help develop the program and John’s Hopkins University and Vital Strategies will help with the tracing operation. Contact tracing is a virus containment strategy that involves finding sick people, isolating them, and then tracing everyone with whom they’ve been in contact with. Those contacts are then put into quarantine. At least 474 people have died from coronavirus in New York over the last 24 hours.

Tyson Close Its Largest Pork Packaging Plant

Tyson Foods is shutting down its largest pork plant as 91 workers have tested positive for coronavirus. The plant, located in Waterloo, Iowa, had already slowed production because many of its 2,800 workers had been calling out sick.

Last week, Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart called for the Tyson facility to be shut down. The mayor added that the plant’s closure may have come too late to prevent the disease from spreading throughout the city, which he said went from 21 cases of COVID-19 on April 9th to about 380 cases today.

Tyson Fresh Meats group president Steve Stouffer acknowledged that the plant’s closure may add to the current disruption of the nation’s pork supply chain, adding that the facility is “part of a larger supply chain that includes hundreds of independent farmers, truckers, distributors and customers, including grocers.”