Wednesday morning news – March 11, 2020

Biden widens delegate lead over Sanders with ‘Big Tuesday’ victories » As election results rolled in from last night’s Big Tuesday votes, Joe Biden supporters had more reasons to celebrate.

BIDEN: Looks like we’re gonna have a good night! [cheers]

Biden heard there after winning Mississippi, Missouri, and Michigan—three of the six states that voted last night. He also won Idaho. 

As of 1 a.m. Eastern Time this morning, North Dakota and Washington State were still too close to call. But in any event, it was in fact another good night for Joe Biden. 

BIDEN: Just over a week ago, many of the pundits declared that this candidacy was dead. Now we’re very much alive. 

Not just alive, but firmly in the driver’s seat. After the former vice president upended the race with a huge Super Tuesday showing last week, he added at least 152 delegates to his total last night. And he widened his lead over Senator Bernie Sanders, who now finds his campaign somewhat on the ropes. But as Sanders noted on Tuesday, the race is far from over. 

SANDERS: I think that at the end of the day, in a two-person race, when our record is compared to Biden’s, when our vision is compared to Biden’s, when we have that debate in Phoenix, I’m feeling pretty good. 

The presidential debate in Phoenix will take place on Sunday night. Arizona is one of four states that will vote next Tuesday.

Washington moves to ease economic impact of virus » Meantime, back in Washington, the White House and lawmakers are talking about plans to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus. 

President Trump pitched his proposed payroll tax break on Capitol Hill. Trump’s economic team joined in presenting the economic stimulus package privately to Senate Republicans.

TRUMP: We just had a meeting on stimulus, and you’ll be hearing about it soon, but it was a great meeting. There’s great unity within the Republican Party. 

Democrats are preparing their own package of unemployment insurance and sick pay for workers struggling to keep paychecks coming as the outbreak disrupts workplaces.

At the White House, Vice President Mike Pence met with health insurance executives about making it easy for Americans to get tested. 

PENCE: All the insurance companies here, either today or before today have agreed to waive all copays on coronavirus testing and extend coverage for coronavirus treatment in all their benefit plans. 

Pence also said coronavirus tests are available at public health labs in all states.

And he added that insurance companies have agreed to cover telemedicine for patients to get care without having to leave home.

State and local officials announce measures to slow spread of virus » Elsewhere in the country, officials are rolling out drastic measures to halt the spread of the virus. 

In a New York City suburb, schools, houses of worship and large gathering places are shutting down for two weeks in a “containment area” centered in New Rochelle. Governor Andrew Cuomo.

CUOMO: We’re also going to use the National Guard in the containment area to deliver food to homes, to help with the cleaning of public spaces. 

But Cuomo stressed that this isn’t a lockdown. People who aren’t personally quarantined will be able to leave their homes and go to work, and local businesses can remain open. 

The suburb of about 80,000 residents is at the center of an outbreak of 108 confirmed cases. 

In California, Santa Clara County’s public health officer, Dr. Sara Cody had this announcement on Tuesday. 

CODY: I have issued a legal order banning events with more than a thousand people in attendance. This order will take effect at 12 a.m. on Wednesday, March 11th. 

The virus has infected over 700 people in the United States and killed at least 27. Worldwide, at least 120,000 have been infected and over 4,200 have died.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. 

Proposal could could allow Putin to remain in power until 2036 » Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday voiced support for a proposed constitutional amendment that could allow him to remain in office for another 16 years. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The constitutional change would suspend a law that limits presidents to two consecutive terms. That would pave the way for the 67-year-old to seek reelection four years from now and potentially remain in power until 2036.

A lawmaker who is revered in Russia as the first woman to fly in space authored the measure. Former cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova proposed scrapping the term limit or stopping the clock so the law wouldn’t apply to Putin.

The Russian leader and the lower house of parliament quickly endorsed the proposal. Kremlin critics denounced the move as a corrupt power play. 

Lawmakers also passed a set of constitutional amendments proposed by Putin, including a measure defining marriage as a heterosexual union.

A nationwide vote on the amendments is scheduled for next month.

Putin has been in power for more than 20 years, and he is Russia’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

(Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, March 8, 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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