Biden sweeps to victory in coronavirus affected primaries – live updates


Powered by article titled “US Senate votes to expand free Covid-19 testing and paid leave – as it happened” was written by Maanvi Singh in San Francisco (now), Joan E Greve, Adam Gabbatt and Martin Belam (earlier), for on Thursday 19th March 2020 00.25 UTC

12.22am GMT


  • Ice will temporarily shift its priorities amid the coronavirus pandemic, delaying arrests of foreign nationals except for those who have committed crimes.
  • A Florida representative said that he tested positive for coronavirus, marking the first case in Congress.
  • The iconic New York Stock Exchange will close floor trading beginning on Monday. Electronic trading will continue.
  • After invoking the Defense Production Act to help make up for medical supply shortages, Donald Trump walked back the move, adding to the confusion surrounding his administration’s coronavirus response.
  • The Senate passed the second coronavirus bill, which expands paid sick leave and provides funding for free testing, on a vote of 90-8. It now heads to Trump’s desk for his signature.
  • The Dow closed down more than 1,300 points, marking another dismal day for the markets as investors panic over the coronavirus crisis. With today’s drop, nearly all the stock market gains since Trump took office have been wiped out.
  • Bernie Sanders’ campaign said he was assessing the path forward for his presidential bid, after Joe Biden completed a three-state sweep last night and moved closer toward securing the Democratic nomination.
  • The US-Canadian border will be closed to all non-essential travel in the hope of mitigating the spread of coronavirus. Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the two countries had mutually agreed to the closure.

Updated at 12.25am GMT

12.04am GMT

The temporary policies that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced in response to the coronavirus pandemic resemble the Obama administration’s “felons, not families” approach.

Under the previous administration, immigrants without serious criminal offenses were often spared deportation. Donald Trump changed priorities, and his administration has often underscored that all undocumented immigrants are subject to deportation.

The new Ice policy comes after immigration lawyers joined with labor unions representing Ice prosecutors and immigration judges to ask the Justice Department to temporarily close the immigration courts. Though there are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ice detention facilities, doctors and public health officials have warned that detained populations are at high risk.

It’s unclear whether the 37,000 people already in Ice detention will remain there. Overcrowding at detention facilities puts not only those who are detained but also enforcement agents and officers at risk, according to the internal watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Ice.

Although no cases of coronavirus have been confirmed at detention centers, one person was evaluated with coronavirus symptoms at a facility in San Diego. Another center in Washington state’s King’s county closed for two weeks due to concerns that an employee was infected.

The enforcement agency has not said for how long the new policies will be in place.

Updated at 12.15am GMT

11.47pm GMT

FLOTUS to star in coronavirus PSAs

Melania Trump
Melania Trump
Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Melania Trump will appear in public service announcements that “address the “important ways Americans can protect themselves and those most at risk” from contracting and spreading the coronavirus, according to the White House.

Coronavirus PSAs featuring Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx and other officials will also be nationally broadcast. It’s unclear when these will launch.

Melania Trump has been notably disengaged from the White House’s messaging on coronavirus thus far. On Tuesday, she tweeted, “Consider taking advantage of time working from home to connect with your loved ones via email or FaceTime, spend time w family, or work on your well-being by reading a book or spending time on a hobby,” apparently unaware that most people who work from home have to spend their time … working.

11.28pm GMT

Miami-Dade County will restrict of close all non-essential business, its mayor announced. Starting tomorrow, non-essential retail, private educational facilities and casinos will be closed.

“These actions are necessary to keep our community safe from the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring the continuity of essential services,” officials said in a statement.

The county declared a state of emergency last week. Now, food service establishments, bars and clubs have been ordered to close. Restaurants can remain open for takeout and delivery. Miami shut down its beach earlier after spring break revelers failed to practice social distancing.

11.14pm GMT

Ice confirms that it will “temporarily adjust its enforcement posture”.

The agency will focus “on public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds,” it said in a statement. In all other cases agents “will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate,” the agency said.

10.59pm GMT

Ice to change enforcement policies

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is reportedly making changes to its policies, in response to the coronavirus pandemic according to multiple reports.

Updated at 11.40pm GMT

10.53pm GMT

Representatives reports first coronavirus case in Congress

Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican of Florida, has tested positive for coronavirus, he said in a statement. “I’m feeling much better,” he said. “However, it’s important that everyone take this seriously.”

Diaz-Balart appears to be the first member of Congress who has tested positive for the disease.

Updated at 11.41pm GMT

10.44pm GMT

Donald Trump’s walk-back of his decision to invoke the Defense Production Act isn’t the first time he’s vacillated. The president’s response to the pandemic has been hot and cold, writes Luke O’Neil:

On Monday this week Trump, seeming to finally take the threat seriously, said: “We have a problem that a month ago nobody ever thought about.”

The next day, attempting to rewrite history, he said he felt it was a pandemic long before it was declared a pandemic.

And then, on Wednesday morning: “I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the ‘borders’ from China – against the wishes of almost all. Many lives were saved.”

10.25pm GMT

The New York Stock Exchange’s decision to temporarily close the floor was prompted by the positive coronavirus test results of two people, Stacey Cunningham, President of the NYSE, told CNBC.

“We implemented a number a number of safety precautions over the past couple of weeks, and starting on Monday this week we started pre-emptive testing of employees and screening of anyone who came into the building,” Cunningham said on “Closing Bell.” “If that screening warranted additional testing, we tested people and they were sent home and not given access to the building. A couple of those test cases have come back positive.”

This is the first time the physical trading floor will be shut while electronic trading continues. The floor was previously closed during World War II and in the aftermath of 9/11.

10.16pm GMT

After invoking the Defense Production Act to help make up for medical supply shortages and deploy hospital ships to help mitigate the coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump appears to be walking back the move.

Trump tweeted that he’d only signed an executive order signaling he’d invoke the DPA “should we need to invoke it in a worst case scenario in the future.”

The message contradicts his earlier statements. During the White House press briefing today, Trump said he sees himself “in a sense as a wartime president” after invoking an act established in 1950 in response to production needs during the Korean war as a response to the coronavirus crisis.

Trump’s executive order said he’d use the DPA to help provide “health and medical resources needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19, including personal protective equipment and ventilators.”

Updated at 10.19pm GMT

9.53pm GMT

McDaniel is one of nearly 60,000 people who have been tested in the US, as public health experts continue to raise concerns about shortages. The Guardian’s Lauren Aratani reports that not everyone who needs a test has been able to get one:

Who is getting tested in the US?

Decisions about who is getting tested are being made at the county and state level.

Broadly, CDC guidelines to healthcare professionals say that those tested must be showing symptoms, and priority is given to those who are in hospital, are at risk for the virus’s most deadly effects (elderly people and those with chronic medical conditions or weakened immune systems) or had known contact with a person who tested positive as priorities for testing. The CDC also says those who have a history of travel from “affected geographic areas” – China, Iran, South Korea and parts of Europe – should be prioritized.

But there appears to be no guarantee of a test. Over the past few weeks, there has been a flood of stories of people who are symptomatic and should be prioritized by testing, but were not: for example, the elderly husband of a coronavirus patient who died from the illness, healthcare workers who may have been exposed to the virus and countless numbers of symptomatic travelers to countries with known outbreaks.

Those who have been tested have often described frustrating experiences of being sent from one place to another seeking a test.

Fueling the frustration are stories of high-profile figures who have managed to get tested. The NBA got 58 tests within six hours for players of the Utah Jazz, though it is unclear how many players were actually showing symptoms. A fashion influencer who had body aches and a fever was tested with the help of a friend, after other doctors she spoke with told her she did not qualify for testing in New York state.

Updated at 9.54pm GMT

9.49pm GMT

The chair of the Republican party has tested negative for coronavirus.

Ronna McDaniel was tested, “on the advice of her doctor,” according to a spokesperson. “That test has, fortunately, come back negative.”

9.45pm GMT

One Native American tribe’s trailblazing coronavirus response:

The Lummi nation, a sovereign Native American tribe in the Pacific north-west, will soon open a pioneering field hospital to treat coronavirus patients, as part of a wave of strong public health measures which have gone further than many governments.

Tribal leaders have been preparing for Covid-19 since the virus first appeared in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, with medical staff beefing up emergency plans, reorganizing services and gathering medical supplies, including test kits and personal protective equipment.

The Lummi reservation is located in Whatcom county – 115 miles north of Seattle, Washington, where the first US Covid-19 case was confirmed in January, followed by the first death in February.

So far, the tribe has reported three Covid-19 cases, but expect numbers to rise as the pandemic progresses.

As the Trump administration stalled, the tribe swiftly introduced mitigation and prevention measures such as social distancing, drive-through testing, telemedicine clinics, and a home delivery service for the elderly.

The tribal council declared a state of emergency on 3 March – 10 days before Donald Trump did the same in the US – and approved m to prepare and respond for the evolving pandemic, which includes setting up the hospital.

9.33pm GMT

Donald Trump announced plans to formally nominate Russ Vought to direct the Office of Management and Budget. Vought has served as the acting director of the office for more than a year.

Vought has come under fire for doubling down on proposed cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last week, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, Matt Cartwright, a Democratic representative of Pennsylvania, pushed Vought on Trump’s proposal to cut Health and Human Services funding by .5 billion. The cut included a .2bn decrease to the CDC and a m decrease to the Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund’s annual contribution.

“If you’re asking if I’m sending up a budget amendment, no, I’m not sending up a budget amendment,” Vought said.

The OMB later said that the CDC cuts in the budget didn’t affect infectious diseases and that Trump’s budget request included .3bn in funds for Infectious Diseases and Preparedness.

9.17pm GMT

Hi, there — this is Maanvi Singh, taking over from the West Coast.

The New Yor Stock Exchange will temporarily switch to electronic trading starting on Monday. Floor trading will be suspended in order to protect everyone from the spread of coronavirus.

“The decision to temporarily close the trading floors represents a precautionary step to protect the health and well-being of employees and the floor community in response to COVID-19,” said Intercontinental Exchange, Inc, which operates global exchanges and clearinghouses.

9.04pm GMT

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • The Senate passed the second coronavirus bill, which expands paid sick leave and provides funding for free testing, on a vote of 90-8. It now heads to Trump’s desk for his signature.
  • The Dow closed down more than 1,300 points, marking another dismal day for the markets as investors panic over the coronavirus crisis. With today’s drop, nearly all the stock market gains since Trump took office have been wiped out.
  • Bernie Sanders’ campaign said he was assessing the path forward for his presidential bid, after Joe Biden completed a three-state sweep last night and moved closer toward securing the Democratic nomination.
  • The US-Canadian border will be closed to all non-essential travel in the hope of mitigating the spread of coronavirus. Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the two countries had mutually agreed to the closure.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

8.57pm GMT

Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke over the phone shortly after the president announced the US-Canadian border was being closed to non-essential travel.

“The two leaders discussed the coronavirus pandemic and the close cooperation on efforts to combat the virus, including the agreement to reduce movement across the United States-Canada border to essential travel only,” the White House said in a statement.

“President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau agreed it was important to preserve supply chains and trade, regardless of travel restrictions.”

8.41pm GMT

Before an event with nurses at the White House, Trump spoke to reporters about the “Chinese virus,” despite widespread criticism of his usage of that term to describe coronavirus.

Trump said his press conference with FDA officials, which he previewed on Twitter earlier today, would take place tomorrow. “The FDA will be working very very hard, and I appreciate what they’re doing,” Trump said.

The president also said he was impressed by the “tremendous spirit” he was seeing in the country.

“Even Republicans and Democrats are getting together, for the most part, but they’re getting together,” said Trump, who has repeatedly criticized Democratic lawmakers amid the crisis. “So that’s a good thing to see.”

8.21pm GMT

Eight Republican senators — Marsha Blackburn, Jim Inhofe, James Lankford, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ben Sasse, Tim Scott and Ron Johnson — voted against the second coronavirus bill.

Some Republicans had raised objections about how the paid sick leave outlined in the bill could affect small businesses.

With the legislation passed, senators will now focus on the third coronavirus bill, a stimulus package that could end up costing more than trillion.

8.12pm GMT

Senate passes second coronavirus bill

The Senate has just passed the second package aimed at combatting the coronavirus crisis, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 90-8, will help expand free testing and provide American workers with paid leave if they are sick or need to self-quarantine.

The bill will now head to Trump’s desk for his signature, and lawmakers will turn their attention to the third coronavirus package, aimed at bolstering the economy amid the crisis.

8.10pm GMT

Dow closes down 1,300 points

The Dow has officially closed down about 1,300 points, or 6%, after another bad day due to concerns about the coronavirus crisis.

However, the Dow looked a bit better at the closing bell than it did earlier in the day, when it was down more than 2,000 points.

The steep losses led to a halt in trading, the fourth such pause in the past two weeks.

Today’s drop, combined with other recent losses, nearly wipes out all the stock market gains since Trump took office.

For more updates and analysis, follow the Guardian’s business live blog:

7.51pm GMT

Bernie Sanders lashed out against a CNN reporter who asked him about the future of his presidential campaign after Joe Biden swept three contests last night.

“I’m dealing with a fucking global crisis,” Sanders told CNN’s Manu Raju. “You know, we’re dealing with.”

When Raju continued to press Sanders, the Vermont senator replied, “Well right now, right now I’m trying to do my best to make sure that we don’t have an economic meltdown and that people don’t die. Is that enough for you to keep me busy for today?”

Sanders’ campaign said he is assessing his path forward as Biden has secured an arguably insurmountable delegate lead and more Democrats are calling on Sanders to drop out of the race.

7.32pm GMT

Trump’s final primary challenger reportedly withdraws

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, the last remaining long-shot candidate challenging Trump for the Republican presidential campaign, is reportedly ending his campaign.

Weld’s announcement comes one day after Trump secured enough delegates in the Republican presidential primary to become the presumptive nominee.

Weld had hoped to appeal to more moderate Republicans who have concerns about Trump, but the former governor won only 9% of the vote in New Hampshire.

A few other Republican candidates, such as former congressman Joe Walsh and former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, similarly tried to challenge Trump, but none of them were able to shake the president’s lock on the party base.

7.07pm GMT

JPMorgan is now predicting the second quarter of this year could see the US economy slump by as much as 14% because of the coronavirus crisis.

If the bank’s second-quarter prediction is accurate, it would mean that this year will see the worst three-month economic period in the US since World War II.

6.52pm GMT

Joe Biden urged Americans to focus on Trump’s actions in response to the coronavirus crisis, rather than his tone.

The Democratic presidential candidate’s warning comes as a number of commentators have noted Trump’s tone has become increasingly grim in recent days.

The president claimed on Sunday that his administration had “tremendous control” over the crisis. A day later, he acknowledged that no country has control over the virus right now.

However, health experts have warned that the administration has already lost critical time in responding to the crisis.

6.36pm GMT

The Pentagon said the Comfort, one of the hospital ships designated to help with the coronavirus crisis, is receiving maintenance and will not be ready to go for weeks.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said officials are trying to expedite the maintenance process, so the Comfort can get to New York and provide hospital beds to the city as it battles coronavirus.

The Mercy, which is supposed to go to the west coast, will be ready much more quickly, Hoffman said.

Both ships are expected to assist hospitals by taking some non-coronavirus cases and hopefully prevent a shortage of hospital beds.

6.27pm GMT

The Guardian’s Nina Lakhani reports:

Puerto Rico has requested US authorities suspend national and international flights for two weeks – in a last ditch effort to lock down the carribean island and prevent localized spread of Covid-19.

Governor Wanda Vázquez has also asked Federal Aviation Administrator, Stephen Marshall, to close all airports where local authorities aren’t screening incoming passengers and limit the air-strips where charter planes can land.

Puerto Rico, a US territory of 3.2 million people, has five confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 21 others currently awaiting test results. All five cases are linked to travel. The island’s overburdened healthcare system, weak sanitation system and aging population, make it vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus.

Today’s intervention is the latest in a series of dramatic measures since the weekend when Vázquez imposed a curfew from 9pm and 5am, and ordered all non-essential businesses to close until the end of March The island, which depends heavily on tourism, has suspended cruise ships from docking, and is screening incoming passengers at its main international airport in the capital San Juan.

6.18pm GMT

The secretary of the interior has announced entrance fees will be waived for national parks as the country battles coronavirus.

“Our vast public lands that are overseen by the Department offer special outdoor experiences to recreate, embrace nature and implement some social distancing,” secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement.

5.58pm GMT

The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:

The US Census Bureau announced Wednesday it was suspending all of its field operations to get people to respond to the 2020 census, the decennial survey that aims to count every person in America.

The Bureau said it would suspend its field operations until April 1, and encouraged people to respond online or by telephone in the meantime. The decision stalls years of careful planning to get people to respond to the survey.

The Bureau still has plans to send out field workers in May to follow up with people who fail to self-respond, a critical effort that aims to ensure hard-to-count groups get counted. The Bureau said Wednesday it would adjust that operation as necessary to follow the guidance of public health authorities.

The decision, made to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, came about a week after Americans began filling out the survey. The results of the census have profound political consequences — the data is used to allocate .5 trillion in federal funding and to draw electoral districts in place for the next decade. The decennial census is mandated by the constitution.

Coronavirus concerns add to a pile of challenges facing the bureau. There is considerable concern that minorities and immigrant groups will be fearful of responding to the survey because of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. Individual census responses must be kept confidential by law.

Updated at 5.58pm GMT

5.52pm GMT

The Detroit Three — Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler — have agreed to temporarily close all US plants to protect workers against coronavirus.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

Ford Motor Co. said after Thursday evening shifts, Ford is temporarily suspending production at its North America plants through March 30 to thoroughly clean its facilities to protect its workforce and boost containment efforts for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Ford said it will continue to work closely with union leaders to find ways to help keep workers healthy and safe, ‘even as we look at solutions for continuing to provide the vehicles customers really want and need,’ said Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of North America. ‘In these unprecedented times, we’re exploring unique and creative solutions to support our workforce, customers, dealers, suppliers and communities.’

Union leaders had pushed for the shutdown for the sake of workers’ health, but the move does make it more likely that auto giants will later seek financial assistance to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

5.36pm GMT

The Dow has now dropped below where it was on the day of Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

Therefore, all of the stock market gains that Trump has repeatedly boasted about have now been wiped out.

5.30pm GMT

Trading halted again amid steep losses

This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Adam Gabbatt.

Trading was temporarily halted at the New York Stock Exchange, with the Dow currently down more than 1,800 points.

This marks the fourth time in two weeks that trading has been halted because of steep losses linked to investors’ fears about the coronavirus crisis.

For the latest updates on the market drop, follow the Guardian’s business live blog:

5.10pm GMT


•The government has closed the US-Canada border to “non-essential traffic”, Donald Trump announced, as the number of coronavirus cases continued to rise. Speaking at a White House press conference, Trump also said the government was preparing new test kits, but did not elaborate on a new financial package to combat the impact of Covid-19.

•The aid package proposed by the White House would direct tn to businesses and individuals. A treasury department memo said 0bn could be spent on two separate payments to Americans. The plan also provides bn for the airline industry, and 0bn for other effected businesses.

•Bernie Sanders is ‘assessing the path forward’ for his campaign, after a disappointing showing on Tuesday. Sander’s campaign manager said the senator would travel to his home state of Vermont today, where Sanders and his wife will “begin holding conversations with supporters to get input and assess the path forward for our campaign”.

•The federal government is dispatching two hospital ships to respond to the coronavirus crisis. Trump said the ships, Mercy and Comfort, were being readied. New York governor Andrew Cuomo said earlier that the Comfort was heading for New York City harbor.

•Trump said he was not being racist by continuing to use the term “China virus”, even as reports emerged of bias against Asian people. Experts have warned against labelling the coronavirus based on geography as it could stigmatize ethnic groups, but Trump said it was: “Not racist at all.”

4.58pm GMT

Bernie Sanders suspends Facebook campaign ads – report

Bernie Sanders “currently has no active Facebook ads”, Axios reports.

The news comes after Sanders’ campaign manager said the Vermont senator will “assess the path forward” for his campaign.

On Tuesday Sanders lost all three primary states to Joe Biden.

Axios reports:

A pause in digital advertising spend on Facebook has been a good indicator that candidates are dropping out of the 2020 race before. Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg made their Facebook ads inactive hours before they suspended their campaigns.

4.46pm GMT

Trump was asked why a number of athletes have been tested for coronavirus, despite showing symptoms, while other Americans have not been able to get access to tests.

“You’d have to ask them that question,” Trump said.

There was a follow-up question: do the well-connected have ways to get tests that everyday people don’t?

“Perhaps that’s the story of life,” Trump said, not very helpfully.

He didn’t expand.

4.42pm GMT

Trump was asked if the White House’s economic coronavirus package would be similar to reports that suggest it would cost tn, 0bn of which would go to Americans in the form of two payments.

“It could be,” Trump said. He said he did not want to elaborate as details of the package are “moving”.

“We’re also playing with a lot of numbers a lot of very big numbers and a lot of small numbers, frankly,” Trump said.

4.37pm GMT

Trump: use of term China Virus is ‘not racist at all’

Trump has denied he is being racist by continually referring to the coronavirus as the “China virus”.

At the White House press conference, Trump was asked why he insisted on using the term even as there have been reports of bias against Chinese and Asian people due to the coronavirus. Experts have warned against labelling the coronavirus based on geography as it could stigmatise ethnic groups.

Trump said he used the term: “Because it comes from China.”

“It’s not racist at all,” Trump said. (He called Covid-19 “China virus” again in the press conference today.)

Trump also said he does not believe his own Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin’s assessment that unemployment could skyrocket to 20% due to the coronavirus.

“I don’t agree with that,” Trump said at a White House press conference.

“That’s an absolute total worst case scenario.”

4.29pm GMT

Donald Trump will invoke the Defense Production Act, he said, to expand production of hospital masks and protective gear.

Trump was speaking at the White House press conference.

The White House is also recommending that medical professionals “eliminate non-essential surgical procedures” during the coronvirus crisis, Seema Verma administrator of the Centers for medicare and medicaid services, said.

4.25pm GMT

Deborah Birx, the White House, coronavirus response coordinator, has warned that there may be a “disproportional number of infections” among millennials.

Speaking during a press conference at the White House, Birx warned that social distancing needs to be practiced across th US.

“We cannot have these large gatherings that continue to occur,” Birx said.

Should someone contract coronavirus at such a gathering, Birx said: “You have the potential then to spread it to someone who does have a [pre-existing] condition.

4.16pm GMT

Trump says government working on new coronavirus test

Trump is holding a press conference at the White House right now.

The government is readying two hospital ships, Trump said – “big white ships with the cross on the sides” – named Mercy and Comfort. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference earlier that the Comfort was heading for New York City.

Working on a new, simpler method of testing for Covid-19, Trump said. Health professionals are working on whether people can do a “self-swab” test. The current testing procedure is more complicated, Trump said.

The department of housing and urban development will “suspend all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April”.

“It’s the invisible enemy, that’s always the toughest enemy,” Trump said.

He said the virus would be defeated, adding: “I think we’re going to do it even faster than we thought.”

Updated at 4.26pm GMT

3.50pm GMT

Hospital ship to be sent to New York, governor says

The federal government is sending the USNS Comfort “hospital ship” to New York, as the state continues to grapple with the coronavirus crisis.

Andrew Cuomo announced that the ship, which has a total patient capacity of 1,000, had been dispatched to New York City’s harbor.

Cuomo also said he was issuing a “mandatory statewide requirement”, that no business “can have more than 50% of their workforce report for work outside of the home”.

The order exempts essential services including food delivery, food stores and healthcare.

New York is the hardest hit state by Covid-19, with 2,382 confirmed cases in New York state – 1,339 of which are in New York City.

“We’re responding to science and data, there’s no politics here,” Cuomo said.

The hospital ship USNS Comfort, anchored off the coast of Castries, Saint Lucia in September 2019.
The hospital ship USNS Comfort, anchored off the coast of Castries, Saint Lucia in September 2019.
Photograph: Morgan K Nall/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 3.52pm GMT

3.33pm GMT

White House coronavirus plan would send 00 to many – report

The White House is working with Congress on a financial plan that would issue two checks for 00 to many Americans, according to the Washington Post.

The Post has obtained a memo from the Treasury department outlining a potential package to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus, which would also include 0bn for small businesses.

According to the Washington Post the tn package would “send two ,000 checks to many Americans”.

The Treasury department says the first payment would be made on April 6 and another on May 18.

The payments, which would total 0bn, would be “tiered based on income level and family size”, according to the document.

The Treasury department also suggests funneling bn to the airline industry, and 0bn to other “severely distressed sectors of the US economy”.

3.11pm GMT

New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo has warned the state’s hospital system is likely to be overwhelmed by the coronavirus crisis.

Appearing on the New York Times’ podcast, Cuomo said it was not the time for concern over the financial implications of the virus response.

“You are past the time of monetizing these decisions,” Cuomo told the Times.

“You are at a point of deciding: how many people are going to live, how many people are going to die?”

From the Times:

“We are seeing the enemy on the horizon, and they are approaching very quickly and we don’t have our defense in place,” Cuomo said. He said the hospital system was likely to be overwhelmed. “There is no way they can handle this.”

He continued: “I’m watching the increase in cases, and you take one measure and you see what the effect was. You take another measure and you see what the effect was. And nothing was having an effect. Nothing we were doing.”

Andrew Cuomo speaking to the media earlier this week.
Andrew Cuomo speaking to the media earlier this week.
Photograph: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/REX/Shutterstock

2.58pm GMT

It’s the “usual suspects” that are dragging the Dow Jones down today.

Boeing has lost another 16%, American Express are down 10% and Home Depot have lost 9%, reflecting the slump in travel and consumer spending, my colleague Graeme Wearden reports.

In (slightly) better news, however, pharmacy firm Walgreens Boots are up 4%, though, with Walmart up 3.7% and Procter & Gamble 1.2% higher.

2.15pm GMT

Sanders campaign – ‘We are losing the battle over electability’

Bernie Sanders will return to Vermont today, his campaign manager said, where he will “begin holding conversations with supporters to get input and assess the path forward for our campaign”.

“No sugarcoating it, last night did not go the way we wanted,” Faiz Shakir said in an email to supporters.

“And while our campaign has won the battle of ideas, we are losing the battle over electability to Joe Biden.”

Shakir said:

Bernie will likely have a vote on the coronavirus in the Senate today. He’ll take that vote, and you can expect him to continue his fight to ensure we are protecting working people, low-income people, and the most vulnerable communities, not just giant corporations and Wall Street in any response to the virus.

Then after this vote today, Bernie and Jane are going to get on a plane back to Vermont. Once there, they’ll begin holding conversations with supporters to get input and assess the path forward for our campaign. We will keep you updated as those conversations progress.

In the meantime, please continue to stay safe, and thank you for everything you’ve done so far. It means the world to Bernie and Jane.

Bernie Sanders in Chicago earlier in March.
Bernie Sanders in Chicago earlier in March.
Photograph: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Updated at 2.34pm GMT

1.59pm GMT

A shutdown of the United States-Canada border, barring all non-essential travel, is likely to be met with strong approval in Canada, as health officials grapple with a surge in coronavirus cases originating in the United States.

When prime minister Justin Trudeau previously announced the closure of Canada’s border to international travelers earlier this week, he made a large exception: American citizens could still travel north.

But a growing number of coronavirus cases has likely shifted the government’s calculations in recent days.

“We have 32 new [cases] in the last 24 hours,” Dr Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said Monday. “And a significant number of those were exposed [to the virus] in the United States.”

British Columbia’s health minister has been the most vocal of critic of Americans still having permission to travel into Canada. The westernmost province has been hit hard in recent days by a surge in cases, many of which are suspected of have originated in northern Washington state, one of the deadliest locations in the country for the virus.

“It’s our strong view and it’s our strong message that visitors from the United States not come to British Columbia,” said minister Adrian Dix at a press conference Tuesday night, as health officials announced a surge in cases- and three more deaths. “Don’t come. Because at this moment that is the wrong thing to do.”

Updated at 2.18pm GMT

1.52pm GMT

Wall Street slumps, wiping out gains

Not even the prospect of a .2 trillion stimulus package could prevent the New York stock market from sliding.

Wall Street slumped roughly 5% as soon as the opening bell rang, wiping out most of yesterday’s rally.

  • Dow: down 1,267 points or 6% at 19,970 points
  • S&P 500: down 132 points or 5.24% at 2,396 points
  • Nasdaq: down 304 points of 4% at 7,030.21 points

You can follow the Guardian’s business-specific live blog here:

1.50pm GMT

US-Canada border to close

Donald Trump has announced the border with Canada will be closed to “non-essential traffic”. It comes after the US restricted travel from much of Europe and other countries impacted by the coronavirus.

We’ll post more details as they emerge.

Updated at 2.10pm GMT

1.09pm GMT

News of Bernie Sanders assessing his campaign comes after Joe Biden made an overture to Sanders supporters last night.

In a video following Biden’s wins, Biden said he and Sanders shared common goals on regarding healthcare, inequality and the climate crisis.

“Senator Sanders and his supporters have brought remarkable passion and tenacity to these issues, and together, they have shifted the fundamental conversation in the country,” Biden said.

“So let me say especially to the young voters who have been inspired by Senator Sanders, I hear you. I know what to stake, […]

I know what we have to do. Our goal is as a campaign, and my goal as a candidate for president is to unify this party, and then to unify the nation.

12.39pm GMT

Sanders to “assess campaign” and focus on coronavirus response

The Sanders’s campaign has just issued the following statement via campaign manager Faiz Shakir:

The next primary contest is at least three weeks away. Sen. Sanders is going to be having conversations with his supporters to assess his campaign. In the immediate term, however, he is focused on the government response to the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring that we take care of working people the most vulnerable

More to follow…

12.21pm GMT

As promised, here’s a round-up of some reaction to those Joe Biden victories last night.

Jim Newell at Slate said it was the night that Biden put it all together, even as the primaries fell apart

The race is effectively over. Biden has built up an insurmountable delegate lead and, barring some major medical issue—we hear there’s a bug going around?— he will be the Democratic presidential nominee. It seemed hard to imagine that Democratic voters could speak with any clear voice just two and a half weeks ago, when there were still seven Democratic candidates jockeying for a percentage point or a delegate here and there. More than half of pledged delegates will have been allotted once Tuesday’s results are final, and Democratic voters couldn’t speak much more clearly.

Read it hereSlate: Joe Biden Puts It All Together as Primary Season Falls Apart

Rebecca Morin and Jeanine Santucci were putting together the takeaways for USA Today, and they made a key point about what the demographics from last night are telling us

Throughout the campaign, Sanders touted his ability to bring out new voters to participate in the election and power his win. But with turnout up before the coronavirus pandemic, Sanders’ prediction didn’t pan out. Younger voters have not turned out in the numbers he needs to close the gap with Biden. A key demographic that Sanders has relied on, Latino voters, also did not help carry Sanders to victory this time. Latinos, who are not a monolithic voting bloc, did not turn to Sanders in Florida or Arizona. Biden won more Latino vote in those states than Sanders did.

Read it hereUSA Today: Biden stays in the driver’s seat, coronavirus changes our elections

For the New York Times, Giovanni Russonello highlighted how unusual Sanders’ speech was last night, considering it was an election day.

Sanders made no announcement Tuesday night about the future of his campaign — though things are looking pretty bleak right now. Instead, he gave a video address early in the evening that outlined how he would confront the coronavirus. Moments before primary results arrive is an unusual time for a policy speech, but Sanders called for increased access to virus testing, free health care and sending ,000 a month to every family in the country.

Read it hereNYT: Biden Gets Out the Broom

Among our panel verdict on the primaries, Art Cullen was unequivocal:

This has to end. The coronavirus has ravaged the primary voting process. Turnout was stunted, but Joe Biden won big again Tuesday on mail-in ballots. Ohio’s primary was postponed. The only way to run an election amid a pandemic is through mail-in ballots, which probably can’t be managed by the June national party deadline. It has to end. Bernie Sanders must drop out and clear the mess.

Read it hereBiden dominated again – is it time for Sanders to quit?

12.15pm GMT

Trump repeatedly calls coronavirus “the Chinese virus” in series of tweets

Trump has been tweeting, and once again been calling Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, “the Chinese virus”. It is one of the things that is ramping up tension between the two nations. It doesn’t look like Trump is going to be dialling that rhetoric down any time soon.

Trump is also claiming, without offering any evidence, that he took the coronavirus outbreak seriously from the start, suggesting it is a false media narrative that he did not.

Just as a reminder, at the end of February, Trump said “When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

The number of confirmed cases in the US is currently at 6,496, and every state is affected.

11.49am GMT

I’ll be posting some links to reaction around the media to Biden’s primary victories shortly, but it is not just election politics that is being affected by coronavirus. Day-to-day on Capitol Hill is going to change too.

The Associated Press are reporting this morning on how Congressional leaders are resisting calls to let lawmakers vote remotely, with it being described as a dispute which is pitting coronavirus against two centuries of tradition.

Advocates of the voting change cite the health perils of air travel at a time when health experts want people to avoid crowds. They argue that as infections spread, it may become all but impossible for many lawmakers to make the journey because of the growing risk of getting the virus.

“There was a time when physical presence was the only way to make sure that a person was present and voting,” No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Dick Durbin said on Tuesday. “I think that technology gives us other options and we better exercise them.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was not having it. “We’ll not be doing that,” McConnell he told reporters. He suggested his chamber might extend roll call votes beyond the traditional 15 minutes and allow senators to vote in small groups, rather than all at once. “We will deal with the social distancing issue without fundamentally changing Senate rules,” McConnell said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose hometown of San Francisco is among many Bay Area communities whose residents have been ordered to stay home, has also opposed the idea, according to lawmakers who’ve spoken to her.

Whether these objections continue to be sustainable if the coronavirus crisis lasts for several months remains to be seen.

11.38am GMT

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams has been on the TV this morning. Challenged on whether people are getting the administration’s message, he said: “I think we are starting to turn a corner and people really are, because it is starting to affect people who they see or know.”

He joked that his sons at home don’t care what dad says about staying home, even if their dad is the surgeon general, but “by golly they know that Kevin Durant just got diagnosed with the coronavirus”

You can watch it here:

11.16am GMT

The global pandemic is straining ties between the United States and China further. Matthew Lee, diplomatic writer at Associated Press, has been looking at how coronavirus became the latest flashpoint between the two nations:

Since the virus has spread, he reports, Trump and his top aides have stepped up their criticism of China, noting consistently that the outbreak was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan. They have referred to Covid-19 as the “Wuhan virus” or the “Chinese virus” on multiple occasions, disregarding World Health Organization terminology that avoids identifying the virus by geography.

On Tuesday alone, Trump discussed the Chinese source of virus outbreak during at least two events. At a State Department news conference, Mike Pompeo referred six times to Covid-19 as the “Wuhan virus”, and suggested the Chinese are attempting to distract the world from the shortcomings of its initial response.

In a meeting with hotel executives at the White House, Trump took pains to make clear that the virus originated in China, asking pointed questions of Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson about where the impact was first felt.

“And this all started in China? That’s where you first saw the problem and where you first got hit?” Trump asked.

“Absolutely,” Sorenson replied.

“Hopefully, you all heard that,” Trump told reporters.

Having already been targeted by Trump in a trade war and by Pompeo and others for repression of Muslim and other religious and ethnic minorities in western Xinjiang Province, the Chinese have taken particular offence to the constant repetition, complaining vociferously and suggesting that the US military may have actually introduced the virus to Wuhan.

“Recently, some American politicians have linked the new coronavirus with China to stigmatize China. We express strong indignation and opposition to it,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday. “We urge the US to immediately correct its mistakes and stop unwarranted accusations against China.”

That, in turn, has prompted angry US protests with the State Department hauling in China’s ambassador to the United States to complain and Pompeo calling the top Chinese diplomat to re-register the anger.

“The disinformation campaign that they are waging is designed to shift responsibility,” Pompeo said, before quickly adding that “now is not the time for recriminations.”

Yet recriminations seem to be the order of the day.

“China was putting out information which was false that our military gave this to them,” Trump said. “That was false. And rather than having an argument I said I have to call it where it came from. It did come from China. So I think it’s a very accurate term. But no, I didn’t appreciate the fact that China was saying that our military gave it to them.”

Shortly after Trump’s comments, the Chinese foreign ministry announced the expulsion of American reporters from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.

Pompeo responded to that news: “I regret China’s decision today to further foreclose the world’s ability to conduct free press operations that frankly, would be really good, really good for the Chinese people in these incredibly challenging global times. Where more information, more transparency are what will save lives. This is unfortunate,” he said. “I hope they will reconsider.”

11.00am GMT

Another thing we can expect today is further fall-out from the Chinese decision yesterday to expel American journalists.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing had been “compelled” to take countermeasures after Washington imposed restrictions on staff at Chinese state media outlets in the US.

“We urge the US to take off its ideological prejudice, abandon cold war mentality,” Geng said. “China is not one to start trouble, but it will not blink if trouble comes. We urge the US side to immediately stop suppressing Chinese media, otherwise the US side will lose even more.”

At least 13 journalists will be expelled in what is an unprecedented retaliation against foreign media working in the country. An announcement made just after midnight said all US journalists working for the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal whose credentials were up for renewal this year would have 10 days to turn in their press cards, a measure that effectively bans them from reporting in the country.

10.49am GMT

Good morning. Last night Joe Biden swept to victory in three primaries held in unprecedented circumstances. Biden has now racked up 1,147 pledged delegates to Bernie Sanders’ 861 – a lead of 286 that surely looks to be insurmountable. Is it time for Bernie to quit the race in the interest of unifying the party during a national emergency?

Ohio cancelled its primary planned for yesterday due to the coronavirus. But with Florida, Illinois and Arizona running their primaries yesterday, predictably voters faced confusion, a shortage of poll workers, and shifting or closed polling stations. It’s clear that the way the rest of the campaign is going to be deeply affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The DNC is already urging a shift to vote-by-mail.

With bars, shops, and restaurants ordered shut across parts of the nation, it is impossible to see politics being business-as-usual for some time to come.

Yesterday Donald Trump was proclaiming that he knew it was a pandemic all along – just weeks after the president promised that the 15 cases of coronavirus in the US would soon go down to zero. There’s currently – as recorded by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering 6,496 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US, and the death toll has now exceeded 100.

It is understandably dominating today’s White House agenda. Trump has calls and meetings with the aerospace industry, physicians, nurses, and a quarterly business roundtable. The Coronavirus Task Force will be doing a morning briefing.

We’ll be tracking the responses to Biden’s win last night and political developments around the country here. There’s also our rolling live coverage of the global coronavirus outbreak over here with my colleague Alexandra Topping in London. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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