Wednesday morning news – March 4, 2020

Biden and Sanders Divide Super Tuesday, turn Democratic nomination into two-man race » Voters went to the polls in 14 states last night, and however you slice it, it was a big night for Joe Biden. 

BIDEN: They don’t call it Super Tuesday for nothin’! 

He swept the south, winning Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma. He also won Virginia, Minnesota and Massachusetts. 

BIDEN: It’s still early, but things are looking awful, awful good!

And as Biden noted, just days earlier, many said his campaign was on life support. 

BIDEN: For those who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign!

But Senator Bernie Sanders had a few big victories of his own. He easily won Colorado and Utah, and he cruised to victory in his home state. 

SANDERS: Thank you, Vermont!

And crucially, he also grabbed the biggest prize of the night, winning in California. 

SANDERS: Tonight I tell you with absolute confidence, we are going to win the Democratic nomination!

But as of 2 a.m. Eastern Time this morning, two states were still too close to call—Texas and Maine. 

Biden held slight leads over Sanders in both states. The margin was less than one percent in Maine, about 3-and-a-half percent in Texas. Assuming his lead holds up in the Lone Star State, the former vice president will emerge from Super Tuesday as the new frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

Tornadoes devastate Tennessee » Families in Tennessee are mourning and surveying the damage today after tornadoes ripped across the state early Tuesday. The twisters killed at least 22 people and shredded at least 140 buildings. Governor Bill Lee said the tornadoes left an unprecedented trail of destruction.  

LEE: This stretches all the way, you know, from the middle of the—actually from one end of the state to the other. 

One twister caused severe damage across a 10-mile stretch of downtown Nashville, wrecking businesses and homes and destroying the tower and stained glass of a historic church. 

One visitor staying at a Nashville hotel said guests huddled in the stairwell. 

AUDIO: The roof from the other building next to us was blown off of it, and our roof or our wall and windows and the roof our hotel below us was ripped off, and it was hitting our stuff. And, yeah, it was pretty scary. 

On Tuesday morning, Nashville residents walked around in dismay as emergency crews closed off roads. Uprooted trees and debris littered streets and sidewalks. Walls were peeled away, exposing living rooms and kitchens in damaged homes. And snapped power lines caved in the roofs of cars.

President Trump offered his support on Tuesday. 

TRUMP: We send our love and our prayers of the nation to every family that was affected, and we will get there, and we will recover, and we will rebuild, and we will help them. 

The president said he’s been in touch with the FEMA director and the governor, and he plans to survey the damage in person on Friday. 

Coronavirus continues to spread in U.S. » Tensions over how to contain the fast-spreading COVID-19 coronavirus escalated Tuesday in the United States as the death toll climbed to nine. 

All of the deaths have occurred in Washington state, and most were residents of a nursing home in suburban Seattle. The number of cases in the United States overall climbed past 100. 

Dr. Nancy Messonnier is with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

MESSONNIER: We expect to continue to find new cases. These will probably result from a mixture of travel related, contact related, and community associated cases where we don’t immediately know where people became exposed. 

She said “What is happening now in the United States may be the beginning of what is happening abroad.” She noted that older and sicker people are about twice as likely to become seriously ill. 

Worldwide, more than 92,000 people have been sickened and 3,100 have died, the vast majority of them in China.

Fed cuts interest rate to counter COVID-19 threat to economy » Meantime, in a surprise move, the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate by a half-percentage point Tuesday. That in an effort to bolster the economy in the face of the spreading coronavirus.

Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters… 

POWELL: We do recognize that a rate cut will not reduce the rate of infection. It won’t fix a broken supply chain. We get that. We don’t think we have all the answers. But we do believe that our action will provide a meaningful boost to the economy. 

It was the Fed’s first move since last year, when it reduced its key short-term rate three times. It’s also the first time the central bank has cut rates between policy meetings since the 2008 financial crisis. The Fed’s policy committee backed the move unanimously, lowering its benchmark rate to a range of 1 percent to 1.25 percent.

(AP Photo/Wade Payne) People walk along Hwy 70 between downed power lines Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Cookeville, Tenn. after a tornado hit on Monday night.

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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