Congress passes huge financial stimulus package

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US Democratic Representatives Practice Social Distancing While Discussing Stimulus Law

The US Congress approved its largest financial stimulus package ever, worth $ 2 trillion, when the country faces the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Chamber of Deputies passed the bill two days after the Senate. President Trump says he will sign.

On Wednesday, the number of Americans asking for unemployment rose to a record 3.3 million people.

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The United States has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country, with more than 86,000 positive tests.

On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced eight temporary hospitals to meet an expected increase in cases.

He said 519 people died in the state – the hardest hit in the U.S. – and there were 44,635 confirmed cases.

What happened at the congress?

Democrats and Republicans in the Democratic-led House approved the stimulus package by voice vote after a three-hour debate

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"Our nation is facing an economic and health emergency of historic proportions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the worst pandemic in over 100 years," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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House members were ready to conduct voting in their homes, but were forced to return to Washington at the last minute, after a Kentucky Republican representative demanded the presence of a half-chamber quorum.

Thomas Massie – who objected to the stimulus package saying it contained too much spending – also tried to postpone the process by demanding a formal recorded vote, as opposed to a voice vote, but it was overturned.

Trump exhaled his fury at Massie on Twitter, calling him a "third-rate tribune" and demanding that he be expelled from the Republican party.

What's in the stimulus package?

It allows direct payments to individuals and companies whose livelihoods and businesses have been affected by the pandemic.

It aims to deliver $ 1,200 to every American who earns less than $ 75,000 a year and $ 500 to the parents of all children.

It also donates money directly to state governments and reinforces the unemployment benefit program.

According to the law, unemployment benefits will be extended to those who are not normally covered, such as freelancers and concert economy workers.

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Media captionCoronavirus: millions of unemployed Americans

The project also offers loans and tax breaks for companies facing bankruptcies, as one in four Americans is ordered to stay home and leave only to meet essential needs.

US officials have closed restaurants, bars, cinemas, hotels and gyms in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Car companies stopped production and air travel fell dramatically. According to economists, a fifth of the US workforce is under some kind of blockade.

What else is happening in the USA?

With almost 1,300 virus-related deaths, the death toll in the US remains lower than in Italy and China. But there are virus hotspots in New York, New Orleans and Detroit.

Cuomo said that in any "realistic scenario" cases of people seriously ill with the virus would overwhelm New York's healthcare system.

He said the state has an "astronomical" deficit in the number of ventilators – which support patients who are unable to breathe on their own.

Demand for fans has also doubled in southern Louisiana. Governor John Bel Edwards said New Orleans will be without ventilators until April 2 and possibly without hospital beds until April 7, if the number of new infections does not decrease.

"It is not a fragile theory. This is what will happen," he said.

Medical staff across the country are also reporting a shortage of personal protective equipment.

On Friday, the head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the "chronic global scarcity" of protective equipment was one of the "most urgent threats" to the ability to save lives.

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence said that coronavirus tests now exist in all 50 states and that more than 552,000 have been carried out across the country.

Trump set a much-criticized goal on Easter Sunday, April 12, to reopen the country.

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