We're in strange territory.
As the coronavirus spreads around the world, it's rattled entire industries, economies, and countries. Many are still wrapping their heads around what's happening. Here's a recap of this week alone:
The economy…as in stock markets have been struggling. The S&P 500 had to hit 'pause' twice this week. Major indexes entered a bear market for the first time in over a decade. And yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had its worst drop since 1987. An oil price war isn't helping. Now, the Fed is pumping in $1.5 trillion into financial markets to try to curb the economic fallout.
The US gov's response...as in it's coming after critical delays. Only 11,079 coronavirus tests have been conducted so far. But the admin has updates: Starting tonight, most non-US citizens who've been to Europe recently will be barred from entering the country. The Trump admin is also working on a stimulus package (think: low-interest loans and payroll tax relief) to help businesses and employees impacted by the virus. And the Senate canceled a planned recess next week to vote on the House's coronavirus relief bill, which is still in the works.
Social distancing…as in a variety of industries are hitting pause or canceling large-events. The NBA and NHL have suspended their seasons and MLB is delaying its own. March Madness is canceled. Major cultural institutions like the Met, Carnegie Hall, and Broadway are temporarily closing their doors. Disneyland and Walt Disney World will no longer be the happiest places on Earth starting this weekend.
It is. But there are things you can do to help yourself and others. The CDC recommends taking time to unwind and talking about concerns with friends and family. Remember to check in with loved ones most at risk. And don't forget to follow basic hygiene practices to keep yourself and those around you healthy. As the number of schools, colleges, and companies turn to remote work and classes, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself for some quality time at home. That includes establishing a routine, making sure you have the right resources, and staying in touch with friends and co-workers.
A lot has changed this week, as governments, communities, and individuals grapple with the outbreak. All signs indicate it will continue to spread. Knowing that, the best we can do is stay measured and take steps to prepare.
Skimm More: We have more info on what you need to know about COVID-19 here.
This counter-attack. Yesterday, the US launched a retaliatory attack on an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq. Earlier this week, the group had launched a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base, killing two US troops and a British service member. The Defense Dept said yesterday's strikes were "defensive, proportional, and in direct response to the threat" posed by Iranian-backed Shia militias. Reminder: The US and Iran have had a rocky relationship, especially since the US killed Iran's top general, Qasem Soleimani. This latest attack could flare up tensions in the region.
Chelsea Manning. The former Army intelligence analyst was convicted in 2013 for leaking info to WikiLeaks on things like abuse of detainees and the killings of journalists and civilians in Iraq. In 2017, then-President Barack Obama commuted her sentence, but she was jailed again last year for refusing to cooperate with an investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Now, a federal judge is ordering that she be released, saying her testimony before a grand jury is "no longer needed." The order came one day after Manning was hospitalized after attempting suicide.
The US Census. Yesterday, it kicked off across the country. The US census has been conducted every 10 years since 1790. And for the first time ever, most residents will be asked to fill out the forms online. Many census takers may be sent door-to-door to households who do not respond. But with fears of the coronavirus – and concerns over the addition of a citizenship question – some worry about the official tally's accuracy.
If you thought 'oh great, another form': think again. The census determines how many seats each state gets in the House. And how federal funding should be divided among states for things like schools, hospitals, and roads. So it's pretty important for people to fill it out.
The 11th Democratic debate. On Sunday, former VP Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will hit the debate stage sans Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). 8pm ET, CNN. But if you don't hear applause, that's because there'll be no live audience. Due to concerns over the coronavirus, the debate will be held at CNN's studio in Washington, DC. It's the first debate since Super Tuesday last week (yes that was last week), when Biden emerged as the party's front-runner. Now, he's heading into next week's races with a sizable lead over Sanders, who faces an uphill battle to the party's nomination.
Skimm More: We explain everything you need to know about the 2020 race.
And something for the "Soul."
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