Pelosi says Democrats unveil new COVID-19 aid bill

 


U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday that Democratic lawmakers unveiled a new, $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which she said was a compromise measure that reduces the costs of the economic aid.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., August 13, 2020. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

In a letter to Democratic lawmakers released by Pelosi’s office, she said the legislation “includes new funding needed to avert catastrophe for schools, small businesses, restaurants, performance spaces, airline workers and others.”

“Democrats are making good on our promise to compromise with this updated bill,” she said. “We have been able to make critical additions and reduce the cost of the bill by shortening the time covered for now.”

Pelosi in recent days has said she thinks a deal can be reached with the White House on a new coronavirus relief package and that talks were continuing. But she also said that she would offer legislation if the impasse continued with the Trump administration over the size and shape of another relief package.

She did not say when there would be a vote on the latest Democratic proposal.

Formal talks among Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Mnuchin, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows aimed at hammering out a relief package broke down on Aug. 7 with the two sides far apart.

Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke by phone on Sunday and again on Monday. They plan to speak again on Tuesday morning, her spokesman said.

Pelosi and Schumer initially sought a $3.4 trillion relief package, then said some time ago they were willing to scale that back by at least a trillion dollars. But it was not clear whether the White House would consider the $2.2 trillion sum proposed in the new legislation. Meadows has said that Trump would be willing to sign a $1.3 trillion relief package.

Pelosi also faces pressure from moderate House Democrats who say they want to see bipartisan aid proposals that have a chance of becoming law.

The new proposal included $436 billion for state and local governments, as well as money for education, testing, airline industry workers, and for a small business loan program is known as the Paycheck Protection Program, a statement from House Democrats said.

It would also provide a new round of direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per taxpayer and restore federal unemployment benefits of $600 a week through January.

Microsoft Corp said late Monday a recent change it introduced likely caused a major outage, affecting users’ access to multiple Microsoft 365 services, including Outlook.com and Microsoft Teams.

The developer of Windows and Office software said it did not “observe an increase in successful connections” even after it rolled back the change to mitigate the impact.

“A moment ago nothing was working, then I went into files in Teams and it was working, now nothing is working. Well, I guess now I have an excuse to not do work and watch TV,” one Twitter user tweeted.

“We’re pursuing mitigation steps for this issue. In parallel, we’re rerouting traffic to alternate systems to provide further relief to the affected users,” Microsoft said on its status page, without specifying how many users were affected.

Several other Twitter users complained that the outage meant they could miss their job interviews and deadline for college assignments.

The Xbox maker also said bit.ly/339pRgI they were working to evaluate other solutions while they investigate the root cause of the outage.

 More than 1 million people have died of COVID-19 around the world as of Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, with the pace of fatalities picking up as infections again surge in several countries.

FILE PHOTO: Workers prepare new graves at the Christian burial area provided by the government for victims of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Pondok Ranggon cemetery complex in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 16, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/File Photo

Deaths from coronavirus-related illnesses have doubled from half a million in just three months, led by fatalities in the United States, Brazil, and India.

More than 5,400 people are dying around the world every 24 hours, according to Reuters calculations based on average deaths so far in September.

That equates to around 226 people per hour, or one person every 16 seconds. In the time it takes to watch a 90-minute soccer match, 340 people die on average.

The United States, Brazil, and India account for nearly 45% of all COVID-19 deaths globally, with the Latin American region alone responsible for more than a third of them.

India is the latest epicenter of the pandemic globally, recording the highest daily growth in infections in the world in recent weeks, with an average of about 87,500 new cases each day since the start of September.

On current trends, India will overtake the United States as the country with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases by the end of the year, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government pushes ahead with easing lockdown measures in a bid to jumpstart the struggling economy.

Despite the surge in cases, India’s death toll of around 95,500 and pace of growth of fatalities remain below those of the United States, Britain, and Brazil.

Health experts stress that official data for both deaths and cases globally since the first reported case in China in early January is almost certainly being underreported, especially in countries with limited testing capacity.

The reported global death rate has picked up from three months ago when an average of around 4,700 people was dying COVID-19 linked illness every 24 hours, or one person every 18 seconds.

Infection numbers are rising again in the United States and setting new records in Europe, which accounts for nearly 25% of deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a worrying spread in western Europe just weeks away from the winter influenza season.

The WHO has also warned the pandemic still needs major control interventions amid rising case numbers in Latin America, where many countries have started to resume normal social and public life.

Much of Asia is experiencing a relative lull after emerging from a second wave. In Australia, officials have lifted some reimposed internal travel curbs.

BURIAL STRAIN

The high number of deaths has led to changes in traditional and religious burial rites around the world, with morgues and funeral businesses overwhelmed and loved ones often barred from bidding farewell in person.

In Israel, the custom of washing the bodies of the Muslim deceased is not permitted, and instead of being shrouded in cloth, they must be wrapped in a plastic body bag. The Jewish tradition of Shiva where people go to the home of mourning relatives for seven days has also been disrupted.

In Italy, Catholics have been buried without funerals or a blessing from a priest, while in Iraq former militiamen dropped their guns to dig graves at a specially-created cemetery and learned how to conduct both Christian and Muslim burials.


In some parts of Indonesia, bereaved families have barged into hospitals to claim bodies of COVID-19 victims, fearing their relatives might not be given a burial in line with religious beliefs.

An indigenous group in the Ecuadorean Amazon took two police officers and a state official hostage, successfully demanding authorities return the body of a community leader for a traditional burial.

The United States, Indonesia, Bolivia, South Africa, and Yemen have all had to work overtime to dig new graves and locate new burial sites as cemeteries fill up.