Trump signs $2 trillion recovery plan as US virus cases skyrocket

WASHINGTON:    President Donald Trump signed into law the $2 trillion rescue plan to salvage a US economy crippled by the novel coronavirus, on a day the nation recorded more than 100,000 confirmed cases of virus infections.
Hours earlier, the House of Representatives passed the package, with lawmakers uniting to greenlight the mega-plan as the world-topping number of US COVID-19 infections surged past 104,000, including 1,693 deaths.
Trump’s signature brings an end to the dramatic, weeklong legislative saga on Capitol Hill, and triggers the distribution of millions of relief checks of up to $3,400 for an average American family of four.
“I want to thank Democrats and Republicans for coming together and putting America first,” Trump said.
“This will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation’s families, workers and businesses. That’s what this is all about.”
The president also took the long-called-for step of invoking the Defense Production Act to compel auto giant General Motors to quickly honor its commitment to making ventilators, machines crucial to keeping critically ill coronavirus patients alive but which are in short supply in hospitals.
“GM was wasting time,” the president alleged.
The need is acute in New York state, the US hotbed of the epidemic where 44,635 infections have been confirmed.
The death toll there increased Friday to 519 — up from 385 the previous day — but Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed optimism that the increase in the hospitalization rate has slowed.
Cuomo announced the creation of temporary hospitals in large facilities in each borough of New York City — including at a horse racing track in Queens — in the model of an already-constructed space in Manhattan’s Javits Center.
The bill pumps $100 billion into hospitals and health facilities in critical need of medical gear like personal protective equipment and intensive care beds, creates a $500 billion loan reserve for large corporations including airlines, and provides $377 billion in grants to small businesses.

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