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CORONAVIRUS IN THE NEWS: March 17: 11:58 a.m.


Iowa lawmakers grant Reynolds expanded power as they suspend legislative session
Des Moines Register: The Iowa Legislature has suspended its session for 30 days after passing legislation early Tuesday morning to keep the government running and grant Gov. Kim Reynolds expanded powers to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. Top Republicans in the House and Senate announced the decision to suspend the session on Sunday — a dramatic move intended to prevent the spread of the virus by halting the influx of hundreds of people who gather at the Iowa Capitol every day. The announcement set off a scramble to agree on legislative language that would address the state’s need to combat the virus. The bill, unanimously passed by lawmakers just after midnight, grants Reynolds, a Republican, increased ability to transfer spending between state agencies and departments, giving her flexibility to allocate funds where needed. It also allows her to tap 10% of the state’s $200 million Economic Emergency Fund to deal with the coronavirus.

Mnuchin pitches Senate Republicans to approve $850 billion economic package
CNN: Senior Trump administration officials urgently pressed GOP senators to approve a House-passed bill to deal with the coronavirus pandemic — and quickly act on a major economic stimulus package amid growing fears that the outbreak could send the country into recession. In a closed-door meeting Monday night, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged GOP senators to get behind the House bill, which had prompted growing Republican concerns in recent days, with top officials warning the economic situation is too precarious and the threat to public health too severe to let the measure hang in limbo for days. The cost of the new package will be roughly $850 billion, a source briefed on the matter said, and will include aid to small businesses and airlines. It’s expected to include the White House’s request for a payroll tax holiday, something that could cause a fight on Capitol Hill.

Coronavirus is hiding in plain sight
New York Times: Scientists tracking the spread of the coronavirus reported on Monday that, for every confirmed case, there are most likely another five to 10 people in the community with undetected infections. These often-milder cases are, on average, about half as infectious as confirmed ones, but are responsible for nearly 80% of new cases, according to the report, which was based on data from China. “If we have 3,500 confirmed cases in the U.S., you might be looking at 35,000 in reality,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University and the senior author of the new report, which was posted by the journal Science.

– The Dow Jones industrial average as of 11:45 a.m. Iowa time: Up 596, or 3% (Reuters)
– These retailers are closing stores to slow coronavirus outbreak (CNBC)

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