Friday morning news – April 24, 2020

House approves nearly $500 billion dollars of additional coronavirus aid » Congress delivered almost $500 billion of additional coronavirus aid on Thursday. 

The scene inside the House chamber was anything but typical. The room was at times eerily quiet as lawmakers shuffled in and out in small groups wearing face masks as they cast their votes. But in the end, almost everyone voted the same way.

AUDIO: On this vote, the yays are 388. The nays are 5, with 1 present. The bill is passed. 

About half of the money, $250 billion will go to refuel the now empty Paycheck Protection Plan program for small businesses. 

Republicans had pushed for a simple bill to replenish the program immediately and address other needs after that.

But Democrats negotiated additional funds and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democratic leaders improved the bill. 

PELOSI: $100 billion for hospitals and testing, quite a remarkable feat.

But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused Democrats of causing a costly one-week delay. He noted another week of dire unemployment numbers.

MCCARTHY: How many of those 4.4 million would have not have gotten a pink slip last week? 

The bill will also set aside $60 billion to focus on development in urban and rural areas ignored by many lenders. And there’s another $60 billion for loans and grants through the Small Business Administration’s disaster aid program.

The Senate approved the bill earlier this week, and President Trump has said he will sign it into law. 

Report: HHS secretary waited weeks to brief Trump on virus, downplayed threat » A new report suggests that the secretary of Health and Human services “waited for weeks” to brief President Trump on the coronavirus threat and downplayed the risks. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The Wall Street Journal reports that in the early stages of the coronavirus spread in the United States, HHS Secretary Alex Azar told the president that everything was under control. 

The Journal cites interviews with more than two dozen administration officials. It reported that “Azar waited for weeks to brief the president on the threat, oversold his agency’s progress in the early days, and didn’t coordinate effectively across the healthcare divisions under his purview.”

Eight days after officials announced the first coronavirus case in the United States, the president met with top officials, including Azar. He reportedly told Trump testing was ramping up fast, that this was—quote—“the fastest we’ve ever created a test,” and that more than a million tests would be ready within weeks.

But that was not the case. The CDC started shipping tests the following week, but then discovered a flaw, forcing it to recall them. 

The Journal said shortly after the White House declared a national emergency, the president largely sidelined Azar and put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of leading the response. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

NY antibody study suggests millions of New Yorkers may have been infected by the coronavirus » New evidence suggests that millions of New York residents may have already had the coronavirus. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state conducted an antibody test of about 3,000 people…

CUOMO: 13.9 percent tested positive for having the antibodies. What does that mean? It means these are people who were infected and who developed the antibodies to fight the infection. 

That could mean that more than 2 million New Yorkers may have carried the virus at some point in time. 

Cuomo cautioned that the data was preliminary. Participants were hastily recruited at shopping centers and grocery stores, which meant they were healthy enough to be out in public.

The New York study follows recent antibody studies in California. Testing in Santa Clara County around San Jose revealed that about 3 or 4 percent of residents had coronavirus antibodies. Another study in Los Angeles County came up with roughly the same results. 

But all of the studies indicated that far more people may have been infected than officials previously realized. 

Iranian general issues threat against U.S. Navy vessels » The leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard responded Thursday to a threat issued by President Trump a day earlier. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Iranian Gen. Hossein Salami warned that his forces “will answer any action by a decisive, effective, and quick counteraction.”

That followed Trump’s announcement that he has ordered Navy ships to fire on any Iranian military boats that threaten or sail dangerously close to American vessels. 

The Navy said last week that 11 Iranian gunboats had carried out “dangerous and harassing approaches” to American Navy and Coast Guard vessels in the Persian Gulf. 

Salami said “We have ordered our naval units” that if—quoting here—“units from the naval force of America’s terrorist army wants to jeopardize our” vessels … they must target those (American) warships or naval units.”

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Burrow top pick in NFL Draft » Sports competition may be on hold for now, but millions tuned in for last night’s NFL Draft. Top overall pick was no surprise—the man who led LSU to a perfect 15-and-0 national championship earlier this year. 

GAME SOUND: Burrow’s got time, launching for the endzone, Joe Burrow, touchdown!

The Cincinnati Bengals took Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. 

For the first time, the draft was held virtually, with hundreds of video feeds linked up for the event. The draft continues with rounds 2 and 3 today.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, April 3, 2020, in Washington. 

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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