The Latest: Mnuchin confident U.S. economy will recover

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The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

– Mnuchin confident U.S. economy will recover strongly by fall

– Kudlow hopeful $2.2 trillion stimulus package is enough to save economy

– Czech Prime Minister urges to Trump to mandate face masks in public

– Connecticut and Oregon added to list of states under disaster declaration

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is confident the U.S. economy will recover strongly by fall even with the coronavirus outbreak.

Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump won’t lift national guidelines urging people to stay home and nonessential businesses to shutter until he has confidence that COVID-19 is controlled. The virus has so far killed more than 2,000 Americans.

The government last week reported 3.3 million new weekly unemployment claims, four times the previous record. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in a TV interview the economy “may well be in a recession.”

Mnuchin on Sunday declined to say how bad the economy may be hit, but predicted a strong rebound in the third quarter.

He says: “We are going to kill this virus. We are going to reopen this economy. And in the third quarter of this year, you’re going to see this economy bounce back with very large GDP numbers and low unemployment, back to where we were beforehand.”

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WASHINGTON — White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says he’s hopeful the $2.2 trillion stimulus package will be enough to see the country through the coronavirus pandemic.

Kudlow said on ABC’s “This Week” he doesn’t know how many weeks the crisis will last and notes it could be four weeks, or even eight. “That’s what some of the science experts are telling us. I don’t know if they’ll be right.”

Kudlow said the direct checks of $1,200 to most Americans will probably come out in two weeks, while the loans to small businesses will be ready for processing Friday.

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PRAGUE – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has recommended U.S. President Donald Trump make it mandatory to wear face masks in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The Czech Republic is among the countries where people must wear a face mask in all public places.

Babis tweeted to Trump on Sunday to “try tackling the virus Czech way,” and claimed the cloth mask decreases the spread of the virus by 80%.

The Czech Republic had 2,716 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday with 13 deaths.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has added Connecticut and Oregon to the list of states where a disaster has been declared due to the coronavirus. A disaster declaration makes a state eligible for federal assistance to supplement state and local efforts to respond to the pandemic.

The White House said Sunday that Trump had approved the two new disaster declarations.

The addition of Connecticut and Oregon brings the list of states where a disaster has been declared to 18, along with Guam and Puerto Rico.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan authorities have sealed off two villages as a part of stringent measures designed to contain the spreading of the coronavirus. The number of confirmed cases in the Indian ocean island nation has now risen to 115 with one fatality.

The villages of Atalugama and Akurana were sealed off after several COVID-19 patients were reported from those areas.

More than 6,00 people have been arrested and 1,533 vehicles seized for violating curfew.

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WARSAW, Poland – Poland’s main opposition candidate in the presidential election has called for a boycott of the planned May 10 vote out of concern for the nation’s health amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska of the pro-European Civic Platform party said she was suspending her campaign in order to send a strong signal to the ruling team that the election should be postponed. She appealed to other candidates to follow suit.

Head of the ruling right-wing party Jaroslaw Kaczynski says a postponement is not needed and wants the sick and those in quarantine to be able to vote remotely. But President Andrzej Duda has suggested the May 10 election date may not be realistic.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says a decision whether to reopen the nation back for business as early as Easter will be a health decision not an economic one.

Mnunchin acknowledges surging unemployment numbers and declining GDP as 1 in 3 Americans remain under government orders to stay at home to slow the coronavirus that has killed over 2,000 Americans.

But he says President Donald Trump’s top objective is the health of the American public.

Mnuchin tells “Fox News Sunday” and CBS’ “Face the Nation” that his own top focus is getting stimulus money from the just-passed $2.2 trillion aid package from Congress immediately into the hands of workers and businesses.

He said American workers will get direct deposits of money in three weeks, while a federal program aimed at helping half the workforce by encouraging small business to take out loans to hire back their workers for eight weeks will be up and running by Friday.

He said the stimulus package should help keep the economy and workers afloat for 10 weeks, and if more time is needed to stem the coronavirus, the administration will assess what else is needed at that time.

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WASHINGTON – Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana warns the quick spread of the coronavirus could soon overwhelm the state’s health care system.

Edwards said on ABC’s “This Week” that Louisiana is on a trajectory to overwhelm its health care system and will need more ventilators by the end of the first week of April. He says the state will be out of hospital beds several days into April.

He said they have orders out for more than 12,000 ventilators through the national stockpile and private vendors, but Louisiana so far has only been able to get 192.

He made a plea to the people of Louisiana to shelter at home in an effort to slow the spread in the state, which per capita has the third highest number of cases and second highest number of deaths in the country.

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WASHINGTON — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he was fine with President Donald Trump’s travel advisory and his state will take it seriously. Murphy noted it’s essentially already in effect because people are getting the message to stay home.

Murphy said on ABC’s “This Week” that New Jersey will take stronger steps to enforce the stay-at-home order if needed.

Murphy said New Jersey is getting some of the PPEs it needs but is still short of ventilators. He said he had a “very specific conversation” with the White House about ventilators and made clear receiving more is the state’s top priority.

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MOSCOW – The Russian capital has deployed trucks equipped with loudspeakers to broadcast a message discouraging Muscovites from using parks and asking them to stay at home.

A video posted by a journalist for the Interfax news agency showed a truck parked Sunday at an entrance to Patriarch’s Ponds, blaring the message as a handful of people strolled through the popular park.

Non-essential businesses in Moscow were closed beginning Saturday. About two-thirds of the 1534 coronavirus infection cases reported in Russia occurred in Moscow.

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. government’s foremost infection disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the U.S. will certainly have “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths.

As the U.S. tops the world in reported infections from the new coronavirus, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases predicts 100,000-200,000 deaths from the outbreak in the U.S.

The U.S. is currently reporting more than 124,000 cases and more than 2,100 deaths.

Fauci was speaking to CNN’s “State of the Union” as the federal government is discussing rolling back guidelines on social distancing in areas that have not been hard-hit by the outbreak.

Fauci says he would only support the rollback in lesser-impacted areas if there is enhanced availability of testing in place to monitor those areas. He acknowledged “it’s a little iffy there” right now.

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LISBON, Portugal – The Portuguese health minister says a 14-year-old boy with COVID-19 has died. Authorities said the boy had prior health conditions.

Minister Marta Temido said the boy tested positive for the coronavirus but health expert still need to investigate if he died of the disease caused by the virus or other health problems.

Portugal reported Sunday it has 119 total deaths from the virus and 38,042 infections.

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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump shouldn’t be rushing to reopen schools and businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The top Democrat in Congress says the government should be “taking every precaution” and that there needs to be more testing for the virus in place to determine if areas currently showing fewer infections are truly at lower risk.

Speaking to CNN’s State of the Union, Pelosi said Trump’s “denial” early in the crisis was “deadly.”

She says: “As the president fiddles, people are dying, and we have to take every precaution.”

Pelosi says Congress will have to investigate whether Trump heeded advice from scientific experts as part of an after-action report on the pandemic response. She asks: “What did he know and when did he know it?”

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PANAMA CITY – Panama will allow two Holland America cruise ships to pass through the canal on their way to Florida even though one of the ships has confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The Health Ministry says it will allow the passage because of the health risks to passengers aboard the Zaandam. No passengers or crew will be allowed to disembark and the timing of the transit wasn’t immediately clear.

Holland America Line said via a Facebook post, “We greatly appreciate this consideration in the humanitarian interest of our guests and crew” and said it was working with authorities to finalize details.

The Zaandam and 1,243 passengers and 586 crew left Argentina on March 7. South American ports began denying it docking on March 15.

Holland America said Friday that four passengers had died of causes it did not describe, and that two had tested positive for COVID-19.

Panamanian officials initially denied the ships transit for health reasons. Panamanian pilots and other workers come aboard ships as they make their way through the tricky, narrow passage.

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SKOPJE, North Macedonia – North Macedonia reported two more deaths Sunday to raise the death toll from COVID-19 to six.

One of the dead was a 31-year-old man, the other was 91.

More than 9,000 people in the country of 2.1 million are in quarantine or in self-isolation. The country is also under curfew.

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MANILA, Philippines – Nearly 50,000 people have violated quarantine regulations and night curfews in the Philippines and officials warn that police will make more arrests to toughen the fight against the coronavirus.

Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar told The Associated Press that 49,333 violators have been apprehended in the two weeks since the main northern island of Luzon and other regions were placed under a month-long lockdown.

Many of those violators were treated leniently and allowed to go home after being warned or fined. But Eleazar says penalties will be stricter due to widespread defiance.

Curfew violators would be locked up if local ordinances in provinces and cities allow such arrests. Authorities will look for detention centers big enough to allow “social distancing” among those who will be arrested.

Officials on Sunday reported 343 new cases of the COVID-19 disease, bringing the country’s total to 1,418, including 71 deaths. It’s the biggest-single day jump in infections as the Philippines acquired more test kits and opened more testing centers.

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State map of the U.S. shows the total number of COVID-19 cases as of March 29 at 10:10 a.m.;
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