Friday morning news – March 27, 2020

House set to approve relief bill as unemployment soars » Lawmakers in the House are expected to send the Senate’s $2 trillion economic rescue package to the president’s desk today. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday… 

PELOSI: Tomorrow, we will bring the bill to the floor. It will pass. It will pass with strong bipartisan support. 

And relief can’t come soon enough for millions of Americans. Nearly 3.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week. That’s almost five times the previous record set in 1982.

Amid coronavirus fears and lockdowns, revenue has collapsed at many businesses.

Stephanie Myers is a waitress who was working two jobs to make ends meet. She lost both of them at the same time. 

MYERS: I’ve been pretty good about holding it together, and I just finally broke down and cried, because you have to think about what’s in that bank account, how you’re going to start paying bills. 

As job losses mount, some economists say the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13 percent by May. By comparison, the highest jobless rate during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, was 10 percent.

Still, Wall Street was optimistic Thursday that the coronavirus relief bill will at least soften the blow in the short term. Stocks soared, with the Dow surging 1,300 points. That’s almost a six-and-a-half percent gain—wrapping up its second-best three-day run ever.

Worldwide coronavirus cases pass 500,000, more than 1,000 U.S. deaths » More than 500,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus worldwide. Italy reported 6,000 new cases Thursday, pushing the global total over the half-million mark. Italy now has more than 80,000 cases. That’s almost as many as China, which has seen its infection rate drop dramatically.

But while the virus originally spread outward from China, infected travelers have been bringing new cases back into the country. To prevent that, the government is temporarily banning most foreigners from coming into China —beginning at midnight.

Dr. Anthony Fauci with the National Institutes for Health said Chinese doctors are cautioning other countries about lifting travel restrictions too early. 

FAUCI: And they wanted to warn us that when we get successful, make sure you very carefully examine how you’re going to release the constraints on input. 

Right now, many other countries are worried about American travelers. The United States now has the dubious distinction of leading the world in confirmed coronavirus cases—roughly 82,000 as of Thursday. And the country has passed a grim milestone, as more than a thousand people have now died in the United States. 

Health officials: New Orleans may be next coronavirus epicenter » New York City continues to wrestle with a mounting crisis as the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus. 

But officials warn that another major U.S. city may be the next critical hot spot—New Orleans.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards this week said his state, particularly the New Orleans area is on a frightening trajectory. 

BEL EDWARDS: In the last two weeks our growth rate has been faster than any state or country in the world. 

On Thursday the governor said Louisiana is now tied with New Jersey for second place in cases per capita in the country. He also reported more than 500 news cases and 18 new deaths, including a 17-year-old. In total, more than 2,300 people have tested positive in the state, and 83 people have died. 

Dr. F. Brobson Lutz Jr is former health director of New Orleans and a specialist in infectious disease. He said—quote—“It all boils down to Mardi Gras.” He called it “the perfect incubator at the perfect time.” 

Mardi Gras celebrations took place a month ago before bans on large public gatherings. 

Indianapolis 500 postponed » Another major sporting event will be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg has that story. 

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: For the first time in 75 years, The Indianapolis 500 isn’t scheduled to run on Memorial Day weekend. 

Roger Penske is the owner of IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He said Thursday “like our fans, I am disappointed that we have had to reschedule,” but he added “the health and safety of our event participants and spectators is our top priority.”

The race is now scheduled for August 23rd—three months later than its scheduled date of May 24th.

Weather has occasionally caused slight delays for the race over the years. But the last time it wasn’t scheduled for Memorial Day weekend was in 1945, during World War II. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg. 

U.S. indicts Venezuela’s Maduro, others on narcoterrorism charges » Attorney General William Barr on Thursday announced several narcoterrorism charges against disputed Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and members of his inner circle. 

BARR: The indictment of Nicolas Maduro and his co-defendants alleges a conspiracy involving an extremely violent terrorist organization known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, the FARC, in an effort to flood the United States with cocaine. 

The Justice Department unsealed indictments against 14 officials and government-connected individuals, and rewards of $55 million against Maduro and four others. 

Geoffrey Berman is the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York. He said members of the Maduro regime have clearly committed criminal acts. 

BERMAN: The scope and magnitude of the drug trafficking alleged was made possible only because Maduro and others corrupted the institutions of Venezuela and provided political and military protection for the rampant narcoterrorism crimes described in the charges. 

Sitting heads of state normally enjoy immunity from prosecution. But the U.S. government and many other countries say Maduro rigged the last election and is not the country’s rightful leader.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens) Wearing a respirator style mask and plastic gloves as a precaution against the new coronavirus, shopper Mohammed Litton checks his shopping list at the Al-Bakara grocery, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Thursday, March 26, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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