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In the U.S. and across the globe, normal life shuts down amid pandemic

The Trump administration is pushing for a huge new economic relief package to fight financial damage done by the novel coronavirus. One hundred people have died nationwide out of 5,200 confirmed cases so far. Most Americans seem to be heeding government direction to stay isolated, but health officials urged young people still flocking to bars to change their behavior. William Brangham reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Trump administration is pushing tonight for a huge new economic relief package to fight financial damage done by the coronavirus pandemic.

    That comes as U.S. officials confirm 100 dead nationwide out of 5,300 cases, but with no word on how many have recovered.

    Meanwhile, Wall Street recovered some today, as the Dow industrials gained back 5 percent. And the European Union member states moved to close their borders.

    Once again, William Brangham begins our coverage.

  • William Brangham:

    As the financial pain from this outbreak grows every day, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin assured Americans that relief is coming.

  • Steven Mnuchin:

    We're looking at sending checks to Americans immediately.

    And what we've heard from hardworking Americans, many companies have now shut down, whether it's bars or restaurants. Americans need cash now, and the president wants to get cash now. And I mean now, in the next two weeks.

  • William Brangham:

    Mnuchin didn't specify an exact amount, but did say that it will be significant, perhaps $1,000 per person for many people.

    He did add that millionaires wouldn't be getting checks. And President Trump again today sought to calm fears about the growing pandemic.

  • President Donald Trump:

    By making shared sacrifices and temporary changes, we can protect the health of our people and we can protect our economy, because I think our economy will come back very rapidly.

    So it's 15 days from yesterday. We'll see what happens after that. If we do this right, our country — and the world, frankly — but our country can be rolling again pretty quickly. Pretty quickly.

  • William Brangham:

    The administration is also urging Congress to pass a huge economic stimulus package, one that could inject $1 trillion back into the U.S. economy.

    It reportedly will include a massive tax cut for workers, $250 billion for small business loans, and $50 billion to help airlines hit hard by a lack of demand for travel.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised swift action on the aid package.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

    And it's my intention that the Senate will not adjourn until we have passed significant and bold new steps above and beyond what the House has passed.

  • William Brangham:

    And Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer echoed that urgency.

    Democrats are working on their own version, one they say is focused less on industry bailouts and tax breaks.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    Our proposal is big, it's bold, but it is also targeted. It focuses on those Americans in the parts of the health sector and the economy most in need now.

  • William Brangham:

    In the meantime, much of the United States remains in self-imposed isolation at home. Many people seem to be heeding the White House's guidance from yesterday that people avoid groups of more than 10 people.

    But there are still many examples of young people packing into bars and restaurants.

    Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci pleaded with them to put their needs aside to protect others.

  • Anthony Fauci:

    Don't get the attitude, well, I'm young, I'm invulnerable. You are well — in some respects, you are certainly less vulnerable than I am.

    However, what you might inadvertently do — and I know you don't want to do that — you don't want to put your loved ones at risk, particularly the ones who are elderly and the ones who have compromised conditions. We can't do that without the young people cooperating. Please cooperate with us.

  • William Brangham:

    Dr. Deborah Birx also helps lead the federal response, and she praised efforts targeted at seniors, who are especially vulnerable.

  • Deborah Birx:

    I really want to applaud the private sector, who are now creating senior-only shopping times. I think that's extraordinary. I think that shows what America brings.

    And I think other countries will learn from us about how to really protect seniors in this type of way.

  • William Brangham:

    School districts across the country continue to close, and some districts, like this one in Oak Grove, Missouri, are now handing out breakfast and lunch to families who rely on their schools for meals.

  • Bryan Thomsen:

    We want to make sure that we're just erring on the side of safety and making sure that our student communities are as safe as possible.

  • William Brangham:

    Elsewhere, closures and cancellations continue to pile up. St. Patrick's Day celebrations were noticeably muted, after many bars and restaurants coast to coast were forced to close and parades were canceled.

    But some revelers still managed to enjoy their own personal parades. In three states, Arizona, Florida and Illinois, Democratic presidential primaries went on as planned. But there were reports of abnormally low voter turnout and of poll workers refusing to show up.

    Ohio postponed its state primary just hours before voters headed to the polls because of health concerns.

    And, in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis says he will let local authorities decide whether to close beaches, but he's ordered all of the state's bars and nightclubs to close for 30 days.

    Meanwhile, overseas, in Brussels, leaders of the European Union announced they're about to seal their external borders to contain the outbreak. Nearly all non-E.U. citizens would be barred from entering the 27-nation bloc for 30 days.

    Iran, which is among the hardest-hit nations in the Middle East, set up a highway checkpoint today to check travelers' temperatures. Iranian state television warned that millions could die in the Islamic Republic if people ignore public health warnings.

    In another troubling development, this novel coronavirus continues its spread across the African continent. Even though testing is scant, more than 150 infections have now been confirmed in at least 26 of the 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

    But, in China, in the city of Wuhan, which was the initial epicenter of this outbreak, there was just one newly recorded infection today.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.

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