THURSDAY, March 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- President Donald Trump signed an $850 billion coronavirus relief package into law late Wednesday. The package will provide sick leave, unemployment benefits, and free COVID-19 testing.
Even as the legislation became law, the drafting of a $1 trillion economic stabilization package is also already underway. That package would send $500 billion in direct payments to taxpayers and provide loans to businesses, and has already begun. Trump also invoked a wartime law on Wednesday that would allow the federal government to direct companies to produce medical supplies if needed, the Associated Press reported.
As countries around the world wonder what is in store for their citizens in the coming months, one glimmer of hope emerged: For the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak began, China on Thursday reported no new local infections for the previous day. The country of 1.4 billion is not out of the woods yet, since experts say there will have to be at least 14 consecutive days without new infections for the outbreak to be deemed over. Whether the virus will re-emerge once daily life returns to normal remains to be seen.
The good news in China stood in sharp relief to what is unfolding in Italy, as that European country appeared poised to pass China's death total by the end of Thursday. Italy reported a total of 2,978 deaths on Wednesday after another 475 people died, the AP said. Since Italy has been averaging more than 350 deaths a day since March 15, it almost certainly will pass China's 3,249 dead by the end of Thursday.