March 25 coronavirus news

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1:21 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Spanish deputy prime minister tests positive for coronavirus

Spain's deputy prime minister, Carmen Calvo, has tested positive for Covid-19, the prime minister's office said in a statement.

She had tested negative in previous tests, the statement said, but doctors didn't think those provided conclusive data.

Calvo is receiving medical treatment and progressing favorably, the statement said. She's in quarantine at a hospital.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has four deputy prime ministers. Calvo is the second in command to Sanchez and considered the most powerful of the deputy prime ministers.

1:20 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Stimulus bill limits compensation for high-paid employees at businesses receiving federal assistance

The stimulus bill includes limits on raises and compensation for high-paid employees at businesses receiving assistance from the federal government, including potential cuts in pay to those making more than $3 million, according to a draft bill text obtained by CNN.

The legislation includes a prohibition on anyone making more than $425,000 at businesses getting government help from receiving an increase in total compensation from 2019. It also limits severance pay to more than “twice the maximum total compensation received by the officer or employee from the eligible business in calendar year 2019.”

In addition, for those making more than $3 million at businesses receiving funds, the bill states they will only receive 50% of the compensation they received in 2019 above $3 million. That means that someone who received $5 million in compensation in 2019 would only be allowed to make $4 million this year. 

The bill defines total compensation as “salary, bonuses, awards of stock and other financial benefits.”

Similar compensation limitations were included in the section of the legislation specifically dealing with funds being provided to the airline industry.

1:16 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Canada enforcing mandatory 2-week quarantine for all travelers entering the country

All travelers returning to Canada will have to enter a 14-day mandatory quarantine as of midnight Wednesday as the country deals with a significant spike in coronavirus cases and hundreds of thousands of people return home to Canada by both air and land border crossings.

“We have decided that now is the time to make that measure mandatory, I think we all really appreciate that is so important to have this self-isolation to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” said Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s deputy prime minister.

Canadian officials did not provide much detail as to how they would enforce this order. Canadian public health officials have been recommending the quarantine for travelers for several days.

Canada also announced it was nearly doubling its financial support to workers during the Covid-19 crisis with at least $36 billion being distributed directly to workers affected by the pandemic. This will mean that a family of four could collect as much as $3,100 per month for at least four months through a combination of a wage subsidy and a child benefit.

 

1:14 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

14 million US jobs could be lost to coronavirus response by 2020, report predicts

Fourteen million US jobs could be lost by this summer as businesses shutter in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Economic Policy Institute predicts in a new report.

That's more than 10% of all private sector jobs lost, the group writes. Retail, leisure and hospitality are expected to take the biggest hits.

These sectors "are likely to be disproportionately affected by the social distancing measures that are needed to slow this pandemic," said Julia Wolfe and David Cooper, Senior Economic Analysts at the EPI. "States like Nevada, Montana and Hawaii are projected to lose the highest percentage of their employment because a large amount of their workforce is employed in leisure, hospitality and retail sectors."

The EPI also estimates the US will need "at least $2.1 trillion in federal stimulus through 2020 to restore the country to reasonable economic health."

Even with $2 trillion, the group added that "many people will still need to remain out of work, potentially for months, in order to stop the virus's spread."

1:07 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Stimulus bill includes funds for State Department evacuations

The stimulus bill includes $324 million for the State Department, and it specifically includes funds for “evacuation expenses,” according to a draft obtained by CNN. The proposed legislation doesn’t specify who would be evacuated, whether it’s US diplomats or American citizens living overseas, or potentially both.

A senior State Department official said that 9,300 Americans had already been repatriated. A different senior State Department official said the government was tracking 13,500 Americans seeking assistance abroad.

Why this matters: An estimated 9 million Americans live overseas. Last week, the State Department warned American citizens not to travel abroad during the pandemic. Because countries are shutting down their borders, Americans abroad “may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe,” the warning said.

 

1:10 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

German chancellor tests negative in second coronavirus test 

Michael Kappeler/Pool/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Michael Kappeler/Pool/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

In her second test for coronavirus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has tested negative, a spokesperson at the chancellery confirmed to CNN on Wednesday, 

"The Chancellor's second coronavirus test was negative. She continues to work from home and there she will be tested again at the beginning of next week,'' the spokesperson confirmed. 

Merkel went into self-quarantine late Sunday after learning that a doctor who gave her a vaccination on Friday last week tested positive for the deadly virus. 

1:02 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

State attorneys slam Amazon, Facebook and Walmart over "failed" price-gouging protections

Nearly three dozen state attorneys general have called on Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart to fight price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic.

Novel measures by the companies to prevent overcharging have not been enough, the coalition wrote in letters to all five companies’ CEOs. (CNN has obtained copies of all five letters.)

"Even new protections by your company including heightened monitoring, bans on certain advertisements, and bans on selling certain items, have failed to remove unconscionably priced critical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the attorneys general wrote. “When consumers cannot get what they need to protect their homes and loved ones—or in this case, help prevent the spread of the virus—consumers suffer not only economic harm, but serious health consequences as well.”

The 33-member coalition behind the letters includes the top law enforcement officials of California, Louisiana, New York, North Dakota, Utah and Pennsylvania, among others. Some in the group have been tough critics of the tech industry and are in the midst of antitrust investigations into Google and Facebook.

More context: Earlier this week, Amazon said it has banned as many as 3,900 seller accounts from its platform for price gouging, and continues to use a mix of algorithms and human reviewers to fight price gougers. In a blog post Monday, the company said it has “zero tolerance” for price gouging and reports suspected price gougers to state attorneys general.

As recently as last week, CNN reported that ads for face masks still remain on platforms such as Facebook, despite the company’s pledge to ban them.

The companies named in the letters didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the letters.

12:55 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

CDC will receive $4.3 billion in stimulus deal

The US Centers for Disease Control will get an additional $4.3 billion through fiscal year 2024 “to proven, prepare for and respond to coronavirus," according to a draft of the stimulus bill.

That money includes at least $1.5 billion for grants for states and localities to “carry out surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications and other preparedness.”

12:51 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Trump still pushing to send checks to Americans by April 6 despite warnings it could take longer

President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin are still pushing for an April 6 deadline of having direct payments issued to taxpayers who make less than a certain threshold, a White House official tells CNN, though lawmakers and Internal Revenue Service experts are warning it could take much longer than that.

Americans with direct-deposit bank account information on file with the IRS from tax refunds are expected to receive checks that way, according to aides, while those who don't will likely get a physical check in the mail, which could also take much longer. 

The IRS has sent out economic stimulus checks before, and although those plans were slightly different, they can offer some insight into how long the process might take.

In 2001, it took six weeks for the IRS to start sending out rebate checks authorized by President George W. Bush's tax cut. Then in 2008, amid the Great Recession, it took three months for the checks to start going out after the law was signed by Bush.