The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 422,000 people and killed over 18,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 108,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— India's 1.3 billion people go under world's largest lockdown.
— White House and Senate leaders reach deal on $2 trillion U.S. aid package.
NEW DELHI — The world's largest democracy went under the world's biggest lockdown Wednesday, with India's 1.3 billion people ordered to stay home in a bid to stop the coronavirus pandemic from spreading and overwhelming its fragile health care system as it has done elsewhere.
The unprecedented move came as infections surged in Europe, New York scrambled to set up thousands of new hospital beds, and organizers delayed this summer's Tokyo Olympics until next year. Financial markets continued their wild swings, with Wall Street posting its best day since 1933 as U.S. Congress and the White House neared a nearly $2 trillion aid deal.
In India, everything but essential services like supermarkets were shuttered. Normally bustling railway stations in New Delhi were deserted and streets that just hours before were jumbled with honking cars were eerily silent with just a trickle of pedestrians.
“Delhi looks like a ghost town,” said Nishank Gupta, a lawyer. “I have never seen the city so quiet before.”
India has about 450 cases of the virus, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned that if he didn't take action now it could set the country back decades.
WASHINGTON — The White House and Senate leaders of both U.S. political parties struck an agreement late Tuesday on a sweeping $2 trillion measure to aid workers, businesses and a health care system strained by the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak.
The agreement came after days of often intense haggling and mounting pressure and still needed to be finalized in detailed legislative language.
Top White House aide Eric Ueland announced the agreement in a Capitol hallway shortly after midnight. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are done. We have a deal,” Ueland said.
The unprecedented economic rescue package would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home.
The package was aimed to combat what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had called "the most serous threat to Americans' health in over a century and quite likely the greatest risk to America's jobs and prosperity that we've seen since the Great Depression.”