WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – The Senate is trying to overcome a partisan standoff Monday and pass a multi-trillion-dollar package designed to send a lifeline to Americans devastated by coronavirus and its economic ripple effects.
And, as some refuse to take the threat seriously, the U.S. surgeon general is issuing a stark warning: the crisis is getting worse.
The world health organization said Monday the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating and pressure is mounting on Congress to help worried Americans.
With a quarter of the U.S. population now under orders to stay home to try to contain the spreading coronavirus Americans are anxiously looking to Congress for relief.
The Senate is at an impasse over a $2 trillion stimulus package includes checks for laid-off workers, help for small businesses, and for hospitals facing urgent supply shortages.
Democrats say the bill needs stronger protections for workers and tighter rules for corporate bailouts.
Negotiations are ongoing even as Senator Rand Paul tested positive for the virus. He, and other lawmakers he had contact with, now in quarantine.
The husband of Senator Amy Klobuchar now hospitalized and so is Representative Ben McAdams of Utah.
In a potentially hopeful sign, New York’s governor announced testing will begin Tuesday on the malaria drug chloroquine to see if it works against the coronavirus.
But there are no guarantees and amid continued signs that Americans are refusing pleas to stay home. Hospitals are already becoming overwhelmed with patients.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams came out with this sharp warning Monday: “I want Americans to understand, this week it’s going to get bad and we really need to come together as a nation.”
At the same time, President Trump tweeted, “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” promising to reevaluate social distancing practices that have ground the economy to a halt. He said, “This was a medical problem we’re not going to let it turn into a long-lasting financial problem”
The Federal Reserve is trying to ease stock market panic by buying up debt and offering loans as another weapon in the two-front war to save the economy and American lives.
The secretary of defense said he’s ordering the military to set up five field hospitals, starting in the hardest-hit areas of New York and Seattle.