Tribune News Service

International Budget for Thursday, March 26, 2020

Updated at 0330 UTC (11:30 p.m. U.S. EST Wednesday).

Additional news stories, including full U.S. coverage, appear on the MCT-NEWS-BJT and MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.


^Trump vows to sign $2 trillion economic stimulus package as Senate moves to vote<

CORONAVIRUS-STIMULUS-1ST-LEDE:LA — As the Senate move toward a historic vote, President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would sign a $2 trillion economic stimulus package — the largest ever — designed to pump money directly into Americans' pockets while also shoring up hospitals, businesses and state and local governments struggling against the coronavirus pandemic.

The $2 trillion price tag is equal to more than half the $3.5 trillion the federal government expects to collect in taxes this year, and is 9% of the nation's gross domestic product.

"It's going to take care of people," Trump said of the legislation during a news conference, vowing to sign the bill immediately.

1300 by Sarah D. Wire in Washington. MOVED


^Trump's refusal to use wartime powers to direct scarce medical supplies has left states fighting it out<

CORONAVIRUS-TRUMP-SUPPLIES:LA — When President Donald Trump invoked emergency war powers last week to fight the coronavirus outbreak, many were hopeful that the federal government would take charge in addressing the nation's dire shortage of ventilators, protective masks and other critical gear for patients and medical staff.

But Trump has not made actual use of the powers granted in the Korean War-era law known as the Defense Production Act, even though state governors, health experts and lawmakers of his own party have appealed to the administration to employ that authority to bulk up production of medical equipment and supplies, and just as critically, to ensure that they're distributed to areas of most urgent need.

1650 (with trims) by Don Lee and Jennifer Haberkorn in Washington. MOVED


^NY Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio warn of dire days ahead as coronavirus cases surge in NYC<

CORONAVIRUS-NY-1ST-LEDE:NY — New York's top leaders sounded the alarm Wednesday as coronavirus continued to strain the state's health care system and hold life in the Big Apple at a standstill as at least 81 people died of the illness in just 24 hours.

In a grim midday message, Mayor Bill de Blasio predicted that 50% of the city's population could come down with the deadly disease in the coming weeks as Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state now has more than 30,000 cases.

The city reported 20,011 confirmed cases of coronavirus Wednesday night, with 280 deaths, up from 199 deaths reported Tuesday.

950 by Anna Sanders, Dave Goldiner and Denis Slattery in New York. MOVED


^Britain's Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-PRINCECHARLES-1ST-LEDE:DPA — Prince Charles, 71-year-old son of Queen Elizabeth II and the heir to the throne, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the British royal family said on Wednesday.

Clarence House said Charles is self-isolating at home in Scotland with his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

"He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual," it said, adding that Camilla, 72, is not infected.

550 by Bill Smith in London. MOVED



^Countries should stop wasting time and fight virus, WHO says<

CORONAVIRUS-WHO:BLO — Governments should stop wasting precious time needed to fight the coronavirus after squandering an opportunity to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization's head said.

"We squandered the first window of opportunity," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "The time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago."

400 by Thomas Mulier, Corinne Gretler and Naomi Kresge. MOVED


^Spain reports deadliest day of outbreak as virus crisis deepens<

^CORONAVIRUS-EUROPE:BLO—<Spain reported another 738 deaths from the coronavirus on Wednesday, the deadliest day in the country to date.

The total number of fatalities rose to 3,434, and the number of confirmed cases climbed to 47,610, from 39,673, the Health Ministry said.

Spain has been rocked by the second-worst outbreak in Europe after Italy, which had its second-deadliest day Tuesday. That dashed hopes the toll of Italian fatalities is declining. Hospitals there are overflowing and the government is struggling to bring the crisis under control.

350 by Rodrigo Orihuela. MOVED


^Singapore says its app can slow spread of coronavirus; critics say it's government surveillance<

^CORONAVIRUS-SINGAPORE:LA—<The Singaporean government introduced an app that will alert users if they've been in close proximity to a confirmed case of the coronavirus, helping authorities slow the spread of a disease that has surged in the city state over the past week.

The app, called TraceTogether, works by exchanging short distance Bluetooth signals with other users of the app, giving officials a database to track potential COVID-19 carriers.

1500 (with trims) by David Pierson in Singapore. MOVED


^North Korea seeks international help for virus testing, newspaper says<

CORONAVIRUS-NKOREA:BLO — North Korean officials have sought urgent help from international contacts to increase coronavirus testing in a nation that could see its dilapidated health care system be crushed by an outbreak, the Financial Times reported.

At least 590 people have been tested, all of whom arrived from overseas in January and had negative results, it reported, citing one person directly familiar with the situation inside North Korea.

400 by Jon Herskovitz. MOVED


^Suspect in New Zealand mosque attacks pleads guilty<

NEWZEALAND-SHOOTING:DPA — The Australian man accused of killing 51 people and wounding dozens of others in two Christchurch mosques in March 2019 changed his pleas from not guilty to guilty, New Zealand police said Thursday.

The 29-year-old suspect, who appeared via video-link in a hurriedly arranged High Court session in Christchurch at the defendant's request, admitted to the 51 murder and 40 attempted murder charges, as well as one charge of engaging in a terrorist act, police said in a statement.

350 by dpa correspondents in Sydney. MOVED



^Yellowstone and other national parks are closing after waived fees led to more visitors<

CORONAVIRUS-NATIONALPARKS:CON — A week ago, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt waived entry fees to national parks across the country to encourage people to use the outdoors as safe escapes during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were limited restrictions and warnings for people to stay at least 6 feet apart to protect themselves.

Cabin-sick visitors eager to escape the confines of their homes came in droves, partly lured by warmer weather and blooming flowers. The large numbers prompted the National Park Service to close access to some parks this week, including some of the largest and most visited.

500 by Elvina Nawaguna in Washington. MOVED


^New York hospital workers forgo tests and gulp back fears<

CORONAVIRUS-NY-HOSPITALWORKERS:BLO — New York area hospitals are so inundated by COVID-19 cases that they are no longer able to test medical workers who fear their exposure to sickened patients may have made them ill.

With cases rising at an alarming rate in the region, hospital executives confirmed that dozens of their own medical workers have been stricken by the virus. Some hospitals are abandoning tests of workers who show no symptoms and are sending them back to care for patients. They are acting reluctantly and wary of alienating their staffs, but can do so within the emergency guidelines issued by the state and federal government.

1000 (with trims) by David Kocieniewski and David Voreacos in New York. MOVED


^NYC builds massive makeshift morgue at Bellevue Hospital<

^CORONAVIRUS-NYC-MORGUE:NY—<Giant tents and big refrigerated trucks have been set up outside Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan to accommodate thousands of dead bodies in case the coronavirus overwhelms the city's morgue system.

The city Medical Examiner's office set up the grim operation at the hospital in Kips Bay this week. The Bellevue campus also includes the Medical Examiner's headquarters.

200 by John Annese in New York. MOVED


^'Most since 9/11': NYC responders deluged with emergency calls<

CORONAVIRUS-NY-911CALLS:BLO — Calls to New York City's 911 medical services hit their highest levels since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to emergency workers' unions, stretching staffs that have already seen their own ranks thinned by coronavirus infections.

Medical emergency calls are up 40% to about 6,500 a day, according to Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507, a union that represents emergency medical technicians, paramedics, fire inspectors and dispatchers.

400 by Polly Mosendz in New York. MOVED


^California coronavirus cases continue to grow, reaching rate on par with New York<

^CORONAVIRUS-CALIF:LA—<California's top medical adviser said Wednesday that coronavirus cases continue to double in the state every three to four days, a fast pace on par with New York, where some hospitals are overwhelmed and nearly 200 are dead.

If that rate holds, California hospitals could see a surge in patients in one to two weeks, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's secretary of health and human services, during a Facebook news conference.

950 by Anita Chabria in Sacramento, Calif. MOVED


^How Silicon Valley became California's epicenter of the coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-SILICONVALLEY:LA — The Silicon Valley has long driven California's economic engine. When the coronavirus hit U.S. shores, the region also become California's epicenter of contagion.

Authorities in Santa Clara County, where more than 2 million people live, were well aware the virus would arrive. They tried to prepare. But without much federal help, they were unable to stop it.

1400 (with trims) by Maura Dolan and Susanne Rust in San Jose, Calif. MOVED


^Chaos brews in US with jumble of conflicting emergency decrees<

CORONAVIRUS-STATES:BLO — The limits of who has what emergency powers is being tested by the coronavirus outbreak as states restrict visitors and order residents to stay home — and as President Donald Trump mulls the lifting of precautions over the objections of governors.

Authorities can demand quarantines and the shuttering of businesses, Lawrence Gostin, a professor of public health at Georgetown University, said. That remains in force even if the president decides to urge the lifting of restrictions.

950 by Todd Shields, Chris Dolmetsch and Malathi Nayak in Washington. MOVED


^Cash-strapped rural hospitals face 'imminent closure' as coronavirus bears down<

^CORONAVIRUS-RURAL-HOSPITALS:LA—<Rural hospitals across the Pacific Northwest that were already struggling financially have seen steep declines in business this month, shunned by patients who fear exposure to the coronavirus as it spreads from urban areas.

Emergency rooms have been eerily quiet. Many operating rooms went dark last week after the governors of Washington and Oregon halted most elective surgeries to conserve precious masks, gowns and other protective equipment.

But instead of enabling them to prepare for an expected surge in COVID-19 patients, the hospitals say, the lull threatens to bankrupt them.

950 by Richard Read in Seattle. MOVED


^Pandemic and flooding? Science group predicts one-two punch<

WEA-CORONAVIRUS-FLOODING:CON — The sweeping coronavirus pandemic and extreme flooding are on track to collide this spring, a one-two combination that will hit rural areas particularly hard at a time when emergency and medical services are in short supply, the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science advocacy group, warned Wednesday.

UCS researchers found rural parts of the country, which tend to have limited health care facilities, are vulnerable to both the virus and flooding.

550 by Benjamin J. Hulac in Washington. MOVED


^Neither hurricanes nor 9/11 caused as big a surge in gun sales as coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-GUNSALES:MI — Gun shop owners have never seen such a surge in sales — not after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, not in reaction to mass shootings, not even when Category 5 hurricanes threatened to flatten South Florida.

Fear and uncertainty about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are motivating people to buy guns and ammunition as they seek protection from possible doomsday disintegration into lawlessness, with home invasions, looting, runs on banks, and fights over food, medicine, hospital beds and shelter across the land.

1450 (with trims) by Linda Robertson in Miami. MOVED


^Louisiana pastor defies stay-at-home order, holds services for hundreds<

CORONAVIRUS-LOUISIANA:LA — Despite a stay-at-home order this week from Louisiana's governor, the Rev. Tony Spell was praying over a woman in his Baton Rouge church Wednesday morning.

"God, in the name of Jesus, I want you to touch her; I want you to heal her body; I want the spirit of peace and God to go forth with her," the evangelical pastor intoned.

As city and state officials across the country ordered people to remain at home to combat the virus's spread, people have been defying those orders. But Spell's Pentecostal services pose a unique challenge in this deeply Christian state — one that pits constitutional rights to freedom of religion and speech against efforts to protect public health.

700 by Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston. MOVED


^Falwell's Liberty University says about 1,700 students returned<

^CMP-CORONAVIRUS-LIBERTY:BLO—<Liberty University said about 1,700 students returned to campus after the school's president, Jerry Falwell Jr., gave those enrolled the option even as the coronavirus outbreak worsened across the U.S.

Liberty spokesman Scott Lamb provided the figure Wednesday and said the school has about 15,000 residential students.

250 by Janet Lorin. MOVED


^South Florida clinic promotes antimalarial drug for coronavirus treatment<

CORONAVIRUS-FLACLINIC-DRUG:FL — The CEO of a South Florida-based chain of primary care clinics says he's convinced that the anti-malarial drug chloroquine can help reduce the coronavirus' attack on patients' respiratory systems, or prevent symptoms altogether.

1050 (with trims) by Ron Hurtibise in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. MOVED


^'Zoombombing' hits USC as classes are interrupted with racist remarks<

CMP-CORONAVIRUS-ZOOMBOMBING:LA — Top administrators at the University of Southern California apologized to the school community after some online classes fell prey to "Zoombombing," disrupted by people making racist remarks.

"Zoombombing" is a relatively new frontier in internet trolling in which someone takes advantage of features of the Zoom video-conferencing platform to interrupt meetings and lectures.

300 by Luke Money in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Q&A: A search for answers in 17-year-old boy's death that may be linked to coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-BOY-QA:LA — Officials are trying to determine whether a teenager in Lancaster died of coronavirus and are awaiting the results of more testing.

The boy's father, an Uber driver, is suspected of having the virus, but it remains unclear how the boy may have contracted it.

450 by Richard Winton in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Why hoarding of hydroxychloroquine needs to stop<

CORONAVIRUS-DRUG-HOARDING:KHN — A family of old anti-malarial drugs — including one that some patients rely on to treat their lupus or rheumatoid arthritis — is becoming harder to get in the United States, pharmacists say, partly because of remarks President Donald Trump has made, highlighting the drugs as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

But health officials have been quick to warn that enthusiasm for such a treatment is premature. Big clinical studies of the drug against COVID-19 are only just beginning, the head of the Food and Drug Administration has said; another study was set to begin in New York on Tuesday. And there are some good reasons to think cell studies that look promising in the lab won't pan out in real patients, other infectious-disease experts say.

Nonetheless, with all the buzz, American pharmacists are concerned about the hoarding of hydroxychloroquine by people who don't have an immediate need.

900 by Martha Bebinger in Boston. MOVED


^Senate's stimulus bill is full of disappointments for climate advocates<

STIMULUS-CLIMATECHANGE:BLO — There was hope among climate activists in the U.S. that the federal stimulus to address COVID-19 might be the moment to both heal the economy and advance a long-overdue transition to clean energy.

Whatever they'd envisioned, the $2 trillion bill agreed to by the Senate in the wee hours of Wednesday morning wasn't it.

1250 (with trims) by Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Leslie Kaufman in Washington. MOVED


^Space Force set for first launch Thursday as national security missions take top priority during coronavirus<

SPACEFORCE:OS — The U.S. Space Force is moving ahead with a crucial national security launch Thursday that remains on track, even as installations around the country move to telework due to the coronavirus outbreak.

450 by Chabeli Carrazana in Orlando, Fla. MOVED


^FAA says owner of WWII bomber that crashed at Bradley, killing 7, can no longer carry passengers<

^CONN-VINTAGEPLANE-CRASH:HC—<The Federal Aviation Administration, citing safety concerns, has revoked the Collings Foundation's permission to carry passengers aboard its historic aircraft, one of which crashed and burned at a Connecticut airport in October, killing seven.

The World War II B-17G bomber Nine O Nine developed engine trouble shortly after takeoff from Bradley International Airport on Oct. 2 and crashed as the pilot tried to nurse the crippled aircraft back to the airport. Five passengers who paid $450 each to fly aboard the historic aircraft, the pilot and the co-pilot were killed in the resulting crash and fire.

1000 (with trims) by David Owens in Hartford, Conn. MOVED


^Here's how the life-saving EpiPen might fail when needed. FDA issues an alert<

EPIPEN:MI — The FDA issued an alert Tuesday after the manufacturer issued a letter the day before to healthcare providers describing the reasons its EpiPen, EpiPen Jr and authorized generic versions might not work or be delayed working.

500 by David J. Neal in Miami. MOVED



^Tony Awards postponed indefinitely due to coronavirus<

^STAGE-CORONAVIRUS-TONYS:LA—<The 74th Tony Awards have been postponed indefinitely due to the novel coronavirus.

The Broadway-lauding ceremony was scheduled to air on CBS, broadcasting live on June 7 from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It was announced Wednesday that the event will be postponed and rescheduled at a later date.

300 by Ashley Lee. MOVED


^Appreciation: How Terrence McNally used laughter to lift us past loneliness and loss<

^MCNALLY-APPRECIATION:LA—<Timing is everything in the theater, and Terrence McNally, a Broadway maestro who exuded eternal gratitude for the life the stage had given him, knew the importance of making a meaningful exit.

Having survived the AIDS epidemic and lung cancer, he died of complications from coronavirus on Tuesday at age 81. As the nation and the world are left reeling from the new pandemic, McNally, whose plays and musicals preached a gospel of living more fully through an awareness of loss, urges us through his death to take this disease seriously and to care for ourselves and one other — just as he instructed us to do in an earlier plague when he was a playwright at the top of his game.

1000 by Charles McNulty. MOVED


^Amid coronavirus fears, here are 5 simple, social games that can restore your faith in humanity<

^VIDEOGAMES-CORONAVIRUS:LA—<As many of us transition to a life of social distancing, the bonding power of play will only become more important. And for many, play is already a powerful way to connect. Consider that "Fortnite" is as much a social media platform for friends and marketing events as it is a competitive game. And the way in which we share creations in a "Super Mario Maker" or a "Minecraft" is a sort of personalized digital postcard that we're unleashing to the world.

So at a time where meeting "IRL" is heavily discouraged, virtual play dates can become our salvation when it comes to socialization. No wonder so many were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Nintendo's "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" last week. While some may opt for old-fashioned board game nights, many of which can pair well across distances with a little effort, trust and a video-conferencing app, this also may be a good time to discover — or rediscover — a medium that is shaping modern entertainment.

1350 by Todd Martens. MOVED


^Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti on life in Italy amid coronavirus, the role music plays<

^MUS-CORONAVIRUS-CHICAGOSYMPHONY-MUTI:TB—<The last time Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti conducted a concert, Feb. 23 in Orchestra Hall, few of us realized that the music was about to stop.

By March 12, Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered a halt to large gatherings in the wake of the deadly coronavirus, shutting down large Chicago venues such as Symphony Center. A few days later, Pritzker expanded the moratorium to bars and restaurants, meaning that live music went silent across Illinois.

After Muti's last CSO concert, in which he performed Beethoven's Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5 and Nicolas Bacri's "Ophelia's Tears," the conductor returned to his home in Ravenna, Italy — and has been there ever since.

1750 by Howard Reich in Chicago. MOVED


^OP-ED <

^Commentary: First responders need protection: Let's not repeat the mistake of 9/11 as we fight coronavirus<

^CORONAVIRUS-NY-COMMENTARY:NY—<New York City is at the heart of the coronavirus crisis. Each day, we see the grim tally as hospitalizations and deaths rise. To beat this pandemic, our city is relying on health care workers, first responders and public servants.

But these workers cannot protect us if we don't protect them. I am deeply alarmed by the stories of rationed masks and hazardous working conditions that our frontline workers are facing.

700 by Andrew Gounardes. MOVED



^Why the IOC and Japan agreed to postpone the 2020 Olympics<

^OLY-CORONAVIRUS-POSTPONEMENT-1ST-LEDE:LA—<Olympic leaders had spent weeks buying time, watching the spread of the coronavirus, hoping for signs of improvement while stubbornly insisting the 2020 Summer Games would proceed as planned.

The numbers looked promising in Tokyo, the host city, but Sunday morning brought a fresh batch of statistics that caught the International Olympic Committee's attention.

COVID-19 was surging across Africa.

800 by David Wharton. MOVED


^Marcus Hayes: Olympics will heal us when they resume<

^OLY-HAYES-COLUMN:PH—<I hated the Olympics. I hated them the way I hated Super Bowls, and World Series, and every other mass gathering of mass media digesting mass stories for mass consumption.

Both summer and winter I avoided watching the Games, avoided talking about them, and I especially avoided covering them, with an amount of energy that eventually would embarrass me.

Because, in 2008, I was assigned to cover the Summer Games in, of all places, Beijing. And so I went. And so my ignorances, my prejudices, and my cynicisms evaporated, and I fell in love with the Olympics.

900 by Marcus Hayes. MOVED




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