Canada, Australia Drop Out of Olympics, As Democrats Block Stimulus Bill

By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter

March 23, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America

The death toll from the novel coronavirus in the United States passed 470 on Monday as the number of infections surpassed 35,000, according to the latest data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus map.

COVID-19's rapid spread has also prompted several states to ask residents to 'stay-at-home' in an effort to curb the outbreak of the virus. Governors in Delaware, Kentucky and Louisiana joined Ohio, Illinois, California and New York in closing nonessential businesses and asking residents to remain at home.

In Europe, officials there have seen the outbreak get much worse as Spain's death toll surged to 2,000 on Monday, just a few days after it reached 1,000. Italy, one of the hardest hit countries in Europe, extended their order freezing all business activity deemed nonessential through April 3. Globally, the number of infections continues to rise with more than 350,000 confirmed cases around the world and the death toll surpassing 15,000 as of Monday morning.

Here is your COVID-19 update for Monday, March 23, 2020.

Canada, Australia Say They Won't Sent Athletes to the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo This Year

Update: According to Monday afternoon update, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will likely be postponed to 2021, with details to be worked out over the next few weeks.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA Today Monday in a phone interview. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know."

IOC President Thomas Bach said Sunday that he would take the next few weeks to decide whether or not to postpone the Olympic Games or put on a 'scaled-down' version.

Original story follows below:

Canada and Australia formally announced that they would not send athletes to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics if organizers plan on holding the games as originally scheduled amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

According to a statement issued by Canada's Olympic Committee on Sunday, the decision to keep their athletes at home was based on "public health."

"With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games," the COC and Canadian Paralympic Committee said in a joint statement. 

On Monday, Australia's Olympic Committee joined Canada in announcing that it won't be sending athletes to the games this summer and that competitors should prepare for the Olympics and Paralympics to potentially take place in 2021.

"The AOC held an Executive Board meeting and unanimously agreed that an Australian Team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad," the body said in a statement. 

Organizers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games have stated they would consider postponing the Summer Olympic games in Tokyo and that they are considering several options to deal with the ongoing pandemic. However, the IOC executive board has already ruled out canceling the Games this year, saying that canceling would "destroy the Olympic dream of 11,000 athletes."

Stimulus Packages in the Senate Fails After Democrats Move to Block Bill

A highly-touted $1.8 trillion stimulus bill aimed at cushioning the blow from the novel coronavirus pandemic failed to gain any traction over the weekend after Democrats moved to block the Republican bill in the Senate. All 47 Republican senators voted for the initial procedural vote, well-short of the 60 votes needed for the bill meant to help businesses and households around the country to move forward.

The bill includes several relief measures including two rounds of direct payments of $1,200 to most American adults, and another $500 for each child individuals or couples have. It also provides billions in relief for hospitals and other health care providers as well as another $350 billion for small businesses in forgivable bridge loans to help stem the tide of layoffs. Another $500 billion has been set aside for a program that would provide money to businesses, states and localities with the money being directed at the Treasury Department's discretion.

Senate Democrats blocked the stimulus package due to their objections over the bill's overly generous compensation for corporations and a lack of oversight for $500 billion in loans and guarantees for firms selected by the Treasury Department.

"The notion that we have time to play games here with the American economy and the American people is utterly absurd," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday. "The American people expect us to act tomorrow, and I want everybody to fully understand if we aren’t able to act tomorrow, it will be because of our colleagues on the other side continuing to dicker when the country expects us to come together."

Democrats labeled the $500 billion program as a "slush fund" for the Trump Administration because the bill would give the Treasury Department broad discretion over who might receive the money. Still, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer struck a hopeful tone on Sunday that a version of the bill would pass.

"Now, let me be clear: The majority leader was well aware of how this vote would go before it happened, but he chose to move forward with it anyway — even though negotiations are continuing, so who’s playing games?" Schumer asked. "Can we overcome the remaining disagreements in the next 24 hours? Yes. We can, and we should. The nation demands it."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that House Democrats could pass their own version of a stimulus package, which could delay any final deal.

On Monday, Senators met to try and pass the $2 trillion stimulus, however, Democrats once again banded together to block the Republican bill for a second time as lawmakers attempted to reach a consensus on how the government should respond to the outbreak.

The vote failed 49-46 along a party line vote. The bill needs 60 votes to pass the Senate.

Sen. Rand Paul Tests Positive For Coronavirus, Other Lawmakers Go Into Isolation

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is reportedly in quarantine after testing positive for novel coronavirus on Sunday. According to am statement from Paul's staff, the senator was at the Senate gym Sunday morning before learning about his results and leaving for his home in Kentucky.

"Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19. He is feeling fine and is in quarantine," Paul's staff tweeted Sunday afternoon. "He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person."

"He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time," the statement added. "Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Rand Paul."

Several other senators who'd recently had contact with the senator said they were self-isolating out of an abundance of caution.

"Upon learning that my colleague Sen. Paul tested positive for COVID-19, I consulted the attending physician of the U.S. Congress..." Sen. Mike Lee said later Sunday. "He advised me that because I have no symptoms or other risk factors, a COVID-19 test was not warranted. However, given the timing, proximity, and duration of my exposure to Sen. Paul, he directed me to self-quarantine for 14 days. That means no traveling or voting. But, I will continue to make sure Utah's voice is heard as we shape the federal response to the coronavirus through phone, text, email and whatever other means are available." A handful of other senators later said they would also self-quarantine."

Senator Mitt Romney's staff said in a statement posted to the Utah Senator's Twitter account that because Romney and Paul had sat next to each other "for extended periods in recent days" that consistent with CDC guidelines, Romney's attending physician has ordered the senator to immediately self-quarantine and not vote on the Senate floor.

Meanwhile, another lawmaker who'd previously tested positive for the virus, Rep. Ben McAdams, said Sunday that he's been hospitalized since Friday because of a "severe shortness of breath."

According to a statement posted to the lawmaker's Twitter account, McAdams said he went to the hospital after he began experiencing worsening symptoms of COVID-19.

“I was admitted and have been receiving oxygen as I struggled to maintain my blood oxygen at appropriate levels. I am now off oxygen and feeling relatively better and expect to be released as soon as the doctor determines it is appropriate,” he said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.

"My experience has shown me how critical it is to follow the advice of the CDC and the Utah Department of Health in order to stop the spread of this virus," McAdams added.

US-HEALTH-VIRUS-CHERRY BLOSSOM

U.S. Surgeon General Warns Coronavirus Outbreak Will Worsen This Week

As the number of infections from the novel coronavirus continue to rise in the U.S. the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, warned Monday that outbreak will likely get a lot worse this week after people across the country failed to take the outbreak seriously enough.

"I want America to understand this week, it's going to get bad," Adams said during an interview with the “TODAY” show.

The disease will continue to spread because many people have been ignoring guidance from health experts and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that asked people to remain home and practice social distancing amid the ongoing outbreak.

“Right now, there are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously,” he said.

Several states, including California, New York, Illinois and Ohio, have already issued 'stay-at-home' orders for residents, but, people have been seen flocking to public spaces like parks, beaches and other places that are still open in an attempt to get out of their house. Young people were still heading to the beach in California, while the National Mall was crowded with onlookers curious to see the cherry blossom trees that bloom every spring.

“Everyone needs to act as if they have the virus right now. So, test or no test. We need you to understand you could be spreading it to someone else. Or you could be getting it from someone else, stay at home,” Dr. Adams said.

The surgeon general warned that younger people can still catch the virus and could even become hospitalized and potentially die from it.

"The other important point is that we're not going to ventilator our way out of this problem. We're not going to treat our way out of this problem," he said. "The way you stop the spread of an infectious disease like this is with mitigation measures and preventing people from getting it in the first place."

Trump Activates National Guard in Three States in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

President Donald Trump on Sunday said he was activating the National Guard in California, New York and Washington in an effort to assist local authorities in containing the coronavirus pandemic. The president also approved major disaster declarations for those three states as of Sunday night. The move will allow the federal government to provide supplies more effectively, Trump said.

The government will also set up large federal medical stations in each state with large quantities of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) like masks, respirators, gowns, face shields and other items due to arrive in the next few days. Trump said the federal government would act as a "backup for the states."

"The ones that don't do as well need more help," Trump said. "They are hit very hard."

California and New York have already activated their states' National Guards.

Dr. Anthony Fauci Says Health Experts "Looking Very Closely" at Reports of Severe Coronavirus Symptoms in Young Adults

The director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that health officials are "looking very closely" at recent reports about a higher percentage of younger Americans who need hospitalization as a result of contracting the coronavirus.

Dr. Fauci was asked about recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that examined more than 4,000 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. that showed about 40 percent of those hospitalized as of March 16 were between the ages of 20 and 54. More surprising, at least 12 percent of intensive care admissions were among those between 20 to 44 and 36 percent were for those between 45 to 64.

About 80 percent of the deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 have been people aged 65 and over with the highest numbers among those over 85.

Dr. Fauci was asked about the discrepancy in numbers between what we're seeing in the U.S. versus what has been previously observed during the ongoing outbreaks in China and Europe.

"It looks like there is a big difference between that demography from China and what we're seeing in Europe," Fauci said on CBS's 'Face the Nation' on Sunday.

"Now we have to look at the young people who are getting seriously ill from the European cohort and make sure that it isn't just driven by the fact that they have underlying conditions, because we know that underlying conditions — all bets are off no matter how young you are if you have an underlying, serious medical condition. You're going to potentially get into trouble," Fauci added.

Fauci said that more data was needed, but that it would be "something we will have to really examine as to why we're seeing it here but we didn't see it in China."

"So we're going to look at that very closely," Fauci said.

To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Photos: Getty Images

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