Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 9, 2020

Harold Maass
Bernie Sanders in NYC
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Comedy Central

1.

Sanders suspends his presidential campaign

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced Wednesday that he was suspending his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying he couldn't justify continuing to fight for votes during the coronavirus crisis given rival Joe Biden's big lead. "As I see the crisis gripping the nation," Sanders told supporters in a video livestreamed from his Burlington, Vermont, home, "I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere in the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour." Sanders, a democratic socialist who became the field's leading progressive, and Biden, the former vice president and now the presumptive nominee, stopped traditional campaigning as the coronavirus forced broad stay-at-home orders. [The Washington Post]

2.

Daily U.S. coronavirus deaths rise to record

The U.S. saw a record 1,922 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, up from the previous high of 1,858 set Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins. New York also reported its highest 24-hour coronavirus death toll for the second straight day, with 779 deaths, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said. Cuomo said it was a "very real possibility" that deaths were being undercounted, because some people were dying at home. But there has been a decline in new COVID-19 cases. An influential model used to track the outbreak estimated last week that more than 90,000 would die from COVID-19 in the U.S. by August, but on Wednesday it dropped the estimate to 60,415. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said the drop showed that social distancing and stay-at-home policies were working. [Reuters, CNN]

3.

Democrats demand adding hospital aid to GOP small-business plan

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday called on Republicans to add food assistance, aid to states, and relief for hospitals to the GOP request for $250 billion in additional funds for small businesses. Pelosi's remarks signaled a possible obstacle for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's request to boost a loan program for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus crisis. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he would ask for unanimous consent in the Senate on Thursday for the extra money for the popular small-business Paycheck Protection Program, which has been swamped with requests for loans. McConnell now must decide whether to include the Democrats' demands, which would double the relief bill's size, or delay the additional funding for small businesses. [The Hill, The Washington Post]

4.

Saudi Arabia plans cease-fire to counter coronavirus threat in Yemen

Saudi Arabia announced Wednesday that the coalition it leads would observe a unilateral cease-fire in Yemen's war starting Thursday. The kingdom said it intended the move to help restart United Nations-brokered peace talks. Saudi officials said the peace push was largely motivated by concerns that the COVID-19 coronavirus could spread in Yemen, which remained one of the nations without a confirmed case of the novel virus. Aid workers have warned that an outbreak in the war-ravaged nation could be devastating, as it already is enduring a humanitarian crisis. The ceasefire will be observed by Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the internationally recognized Yemeni government, but there was no immediate word on whether Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels, who have taken control of much of Yemen, would go along. [The New York Times]

5.

Boris Johnson's health improving in intensive care

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was "improving" Wednesday after spending two nights in intensive care nearly two weeks after he tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said. Johnson was "engaging positively" with health-care providers at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, the chancellor said. The news came as the coronavirus outbreak's toll grew in the U.K., with a record 938 deaths in hospitals across the country. The previous one-day record in the country was 786, set on Tuesday. The U.K. now has a total of 7,097 coronavirus deaths. Authorities said the number of new cases was not accelerating, suggesting that social distancing and lockdown orders were paying off. [BBC News]

6.

WHO leader urges against politicizing coronavirus after Trump criticism

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that politicizing the COVID-19 pandemic would only result in "many more body bags." The remarks came less than a day after President Trump accused the WHO of responding too slowly to the pandemic, and being biased in favor of China. Tedros did not refer to Trump by name, but stressed the importance of working together to fight a common public health threat. "The unity of your country will be very important to defeat this dangerous virus," Tedros said. Nearly 1,500,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide. The pandemic has been blamed for 88,567 deaths. [NPR]

7.

Fed minutes show support for strong action to curb coronavirus damage

Federal Reserve officials in two emergency meetings last month expressed mounting concerns about economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak, leading them to take "forceful action," according to minutes of the meetings released Wednesday. At the March 2 and March 15 meetings, Fed leaders agreed to cut interest rates to zero and resume huge asset purchases to pump more money into the economy. The U.S. central bank also decided to increase access to U.S. dollars for foreign central banks. The minutes provided details on the Fed's swift decision to make the historic moves due to the "profoundly uncertain" economic outlook during the crisis. [Reuters, The New York Times]

8.

Divers find body of RFK's great-grandson

Maryland authorities said Wednesday that divers had found the body of 8-year-old Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, a great-grandson of the late former attorney general and senator Robert F. Kennedy, in Chesapeake Bay. He was found about 2,000 feet from where the body of his mother, Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, was found on Monday. McKean, who was executive director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative, and her son had been playing kickball near a shallow cove behind a house owned by McKean's mother, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. One of them kicked the ball into the water and they went to get it in a canoe, but were swept into the open bay. Search crews found their overturned canoe on Friday. [The Baltimore Sun]

9.

Trade group: 1 in 3 tenants paid no rent in early April

Only 69 percent of tenants paid any rent in the first five days of April, down from 81 percent in March and 82 percent in April 2019, the National Multifamily Housing Council, a landlord trade group, and real estate data firms reported Wednesday. While 31 percent of tenants have paid no rent, some may still pay later this month and electronic payments are possibly still being processed, NMHC said. The drop was "anticipated, given the 6.6 million new applications for unemployment benefits" last week, The Wall Street Journal reported. Many of the renters are protected from eviction by coronavirus emergency measures. NMHC President Doug Bibby said if rent payments fall sharply, some property owners won't be able to pay their staffs, mortgages, or utilities. [The Wall Street Journal, NPR]

10.

Linda Tripp, Clinton investigation whistleblower, dies at 70

Linda Tripp, the former White House aide who played a major role in former President Bill Clinton's impeachment, died Wednesday at age 70, her son and lawyer confirmed. Tripp recorded then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky admitting to an affair with Clinton, and eventually shared those recordings with and testified to independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Details of Tripp's death were not yet made public, but she had been treated for breast cancer in the past. Lewinsky tweeted earlier Wednesday, upon hearing Tripp was ill, "no matter the past ... I hope for her recovery. I can't imagine how difficult this is for her family." [The Washington Post, The New York Times]

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