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US coronavirus cases rise sharply as Congress agrees to largest stimulus package ever

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says state has 10 times more cases than any other

An FDNY medical worker wears personal protective equipment outside a Covid-19 testing site at Elmhurst Hospital Center, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in New York. AP
An FDNY medical worker wears personal protective equipment outside a Covid-19 testing site at Elmhurst Hospital Center, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in New York. AP

The number of US coronavirus cases rose sharply to more than 59,000 on Wednesday as its political leaders struck a deal on the largest economic stimulus in history.

The US Senate was due to vote on Wednesday on a $2 trillion (Dh7.34tn) stimulus package, the largest in the country’s history, that would offer relief and battle the effect of the pandemic.

The deal, reached after intense overnight negotiations between the White House and Congress, includes $1,200 cheques to be sent to US families meeting a certain threshold.

It sets aside $58 billion for passenger and cargo airlines and more than $350bn for small businesses, The Washington Post reported.

US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell called it "a war-time level of investment for our nation".

Minority leader Democrat Chuck Schumer said: “This is not a moment of celebration but of necessity.”

The US has reported more than 750 deaths due to Covid-19, the Johns Hopkins data tracker says.

New York has the highest number of cases with more than 30,000 reported by Wednesday, with 285 deaths. New Jersey is a distant second with 3,675 cases.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that measures to control the coronavirus appeared to be working as the rate of hospital admissions slowed in recent days.

Mr Cuomo announced new measures to halt the virus, agreeing with New York City officials to begin a pilot programme of closing streets to traffic and banning close contact sports at city parks.

But with US cases doubling every two days, the country may soon have the second-largest number of cases, climbing above Italy, Iran and Spain.

The sharp rise is overwhelming the medical system in New York state.

It was reported this week that New York University was allowing senior medical students to graduate three months early to offer their help with patients in hospitals.

“With the growing spread of Covid-19, our hospitals inundated with patients and our colleagues on the front lines working extra-long hours, we are still short-staffed in emergency and internal medicine,” the email from the school to the students read.

“Burnout of our doctors has become a growing concern.”

Craig Spencer, a New York doctor, told NBC: “Last week we were looking for the one or two coronavirus patients that might be in the ER.

"Now, it’s hard to find one or two patients that are not coronavirus. The increase is absolutely staggering.

"Soon, our hospitals are going to be overwhelmed.”

In other states such as Chicago, California and Louisiana, hospitals that have recently closed are reopening to receive patients infected with the virus, Forbes reported.

Many states have imposed restrictions and partial lockdown and sports events continue to be cancelled.

The National Football League announced on Wednesday that it will be closing all of its team facilities because of the pandemic.

Updated: March 25, 2020 11:05 PM

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