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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

March 24, 2020 - 8:04 PM

Asian shares jump after Dow sees biggest gain since 1933

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares opened sharply higher in Asia on Wednesday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged to its best day since 1933 with Congress and the White House nearing a deal on injecting nearly $2 trillion of aid into an economy ravaged by the coronavirus.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 5.3%, while Hong Kong added 3% and Sydney climbed 3.6%. Markets across Asia were all up more than 2%.

The Dow burst 11.4% higher, while the more closely followed S&P 500 index leaped 9.4% as a wave of buying around the world interrupted what has been a brutal month of nearly nonstop selling. Investors released some frustration that had pent up over days of watching the U.S. Senate stalemate over the crucial rescue package.

Despite the gains, investors were far from saying markets have hit bottom. Rallies nearly as big as this have punctuated the last few weeks, and none lasted more than a day. Economists and investors alike are still expecting to see some dire economic numbers in the days and weeks ahead.

“Today was a good day, but we would not necessarily see this as turnaround time,” said Adam Taback, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank.

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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

As virus deaths accelerate in the U.S., President Donald Trump has gone against the advice of scientists and top health experts, claiming he will reopen the country and its ailing economy in weeks, not months.

Around the globe, India, with 1.3 billion people, or one-sixth of the Earth’s population, ordered the biggest lockdown in the world, adding to the growing list of countries and American states that have told people to stay home. Just when it looked as if Italy might have turned the corner, officials reported a jump in new cases and deaths. And Spain had so many corpses it commandeered an ice rink to store them.

More than 400,000 people worldwide have been infected and over 18,000 have died, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Here are some of AP's top stories Tuesday on the world's coronavirus pandemic. Follow APNews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates through the day and APNews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak for stories explaining some of its complexities.

WHAT'S HAPPENING TODAY:

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US deal appears at hand to ease economic pain of coronavirus

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional and White House officials said Tuesday they were closing out final details of unprecedented legislation to rush sweeping aid to businesses and workers facing ruin from the coronavirus pandemic.

After days of pressure, unusual partisanship in a crisis, and intense haggling over the fine print, negotiators appeared almost done with a nearly $2 trillion bill to respond to what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called "the most serous threat to Americans' health in over a century and quite likely the greatest risk to America's jobs and prosperity that we've seen since the Great Depression.”

Yet even as the public-health crisis deepened, President Donald Trump expressed eagerness to nudge many people back to work in coming weeks and held out a prospect, based more on hope than science, that the country could be returning to normal in less than a month.

“We have to go back to work, much sooner than people thought,” he told a Fox News town hall. He said he'd like to have the country “opened up and just raring to go” by Easter, April 12. But in a White House briefing later, Trump said "our decision will be based on hard facts and data.”

Medical professionals say social distancing needs to be stepped up, not relaxed, to slow the spread of infections. At the White House briefing, the public-health authorities said it was particularly important for people in the hard-hit New York City metropolitan area to quarantine themselves for 14 days, and for those who have recently left the city to do the same.

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Olympics delayed as US nears a deal on $2 trillion in relief

NEW YORK (AP) — The Tokyo Olympics were put off to next year as coronavirus deaths and infections surged in Europe and the U.S. on Tuesday, with New York warning it is about to get hit by a “bullet train." Stocks soared as Washington lawmakers closed in on a nearly $2 trillion deal to help businesses and ordinary Americans pull through the crisis.

Around the globe, India, with 1.3 billion people, or one-sixth of the Earth's population, ordered the biggest lockdown in the world. A flicker of hope that Italy might be turning the corner faded after officials reported an increase in new cases and deaths. And Spain had so many bodies it commandeered an ice rink to store them.

More than 415,000 people worldwide have been infected and over 18,500 have died, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

In New York City, one of the biggest hot spots, authorities rushed to set up thousands of hospital beds for potential victims. The number of cases is doubling every three days, threatening to swamp the city's intensive care units in the weeks ahead, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The state has recorded more than 200 deaths, or one-third of the U.S. total.

“One of the forecasters said to me: ‘We were looking at a freight train coming across the country,'" the governor said. “We’re now looking at a bullet train.”

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Key medical glove factories cutting staff 50% amid virus

Malaysia's medical glove factories, which make most of the world's critical hand protection, are operating at half capacity just when they're most needed, The Associated Press has learned.

Health care workers snap gloves on as the first line of protection against catching COVID-19 from patients, and they're crucial to protecting patients as well. But medical-grade glove supplies are running low globally, even as more feverish, sweating and coughing patients arrive in hospitals by the day.

Malaysia is by far the world’s largest medical glove supplier, producing as many as three out of four gloves on market. The industry has a history of mistreating migrant workers who toil over hand-sized moulds as they're dipped in melted latex or rubber, hot and exhausting work.

The Malaysian government ordered factories to halt all manufacturing starting March 18. Then, one by one, those that make products deemed essential, including medical gloves, have been required to seek exemptions to reopen, but only with half of their workforce to reduce the risk of transmitting the new virus, according to industry reports and insider sources. The government says companies must meet domestic demand before exporting anything. The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association this week is asking for an exception.

“Any halt to the production and administrative segments of our industry would mean an absolute stoppage to glove manufacturing and it will be disastrous to the world,” said association president Denis Low in a statement released to Malaysian media. He said their members have received requests for millions of gloves from about 190 countries.

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'Cacophony of coughing': Inside NYC's virus-besieged ERs

NEW YORK (AP) — A “cacophony of coughing” in packed emergency rooms. Beds squeezed in wherever there is space. Overworked, sleep-deprived doctors and nurses rationed to one face mask a day and wracked by worry about a dwindling number of available ventilators.

Such is the reality inside New York City’s hospitals, which have become the war-zone-like epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus crisis.

Faced with an infection rate that is five times that of the rest of the country, health workers are putting themselves at risk to fight a tide of sickness that’s getting worse by the day amid a shortage of needed supplies and promises of help from the federal government that have yet to fully materialize.

"You’re on 100% of the time — no matter what," said Dr. Jolion McGreevy, medical director of The Mount Sinai Hospital emergency department. "It’s been a month of full force, and that’s certainly very stressful.”

Patients initially showed up with fairly mild symptoms, ranging from a runny nose to a mild fever, concerned they contracted coronavirus. That shifted over the past week, McGreevy said, and now hospitals are receiving far sicker patients in need of life-saving intervention.

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'Imaginary clock': Governors reject Trump's virus timeline

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Governors across the nation on Tuesday rejected President Donald Trump's new accelerated timeline for reopening the U.S. economy, as they continued to impose more restrictions on travel and public life in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The dismissal of Trump's mid-April timeframe for a national reopening came from Republicans and Democrats, from leaders struggling to manage hot spots of the outbreak and those still bracing for the worst. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, the head of the National Governors Association and a Republican, called the messaging confusing since most leaders are still focused on enforcing the restrictions, not easing them. He accused the White House of running on a schedule made of some “imaginary clock.”

The pushback suggests Trump's talk of an early reboot is unlikely to gain traction. In most cases, it's state leaders — not the federal government — who are responsible for both imposing and lifting the stay-at-home orders and other restrictions intended to stop the contagion.

But the governors' reaction also revealed the striking disconnect and growing tensions between Trump and the state leaders closer to the front lines of a crisis that threatens to overwhelm U.S. hospitals and claim thousands of lives.

The president is eager to get the U.S. back to work as the crisis takes a political toll and the economy, which had been the cornerstone of his re-election bid, begins to wobble. The economic damage could be worse than the death toll from the virus, he has said. As soon as next week, Trump wants to take another look at recommendations about business closures and self-isolation, and said Tuesday the country could reopen by Easter Sunday — less than a month away. “Our people want to return to work," he said.

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Arizona appeals court upholds Jodi Arias' murder conviction

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld Jodi Arias’ first-degree murder conviction and life prison sentence in the 2008 killing of her former boyfriend.

Arias' lawyers had argued that a prosecutor's misconduct and a judge's failure to control news coverage during the case deprived her of the right to a fair trial.

But the three-member appeals court, in a 29-page opinion, unanimously concluded that prosecutor Juan Martinez's conduct in the case didn’t outweigh Arias’ guilt.

"We conclude that Arias was convicted based upon the overwhelming evidence of her guilt, not as a result of prosecutorial misconduct,” the ruling said.

However, it noted “an egregious case of misconduct by a highly-experienced prosecutor" who “improperly engaged in self-promoting conduct.”

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Biden's challenge: Breaking through with virus response

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden is working to reassert himself in national politics three weeks after taking command of the Democratic presidential primary.

Like most Americans, Biden has stayed close to home recently to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. That — and a slow shift to the new online-only reality of the campaign — has left him with a lower profile as much of the nation has focused on the pandemic and President Donald Trump's response to it.

But from a newly constructed television studio in his Wilmington, Delaware, home, Biden sat for a series of high-profile interviews on Tuesday. The appearances were a preview of a more public role he's hoping to assume in the coming weeks as he emerges as the Democratic counter to Trump.

In an interview with CNN, Biden took an increasingly aggressive stance against the president's coronavirus response, urging him to “stop talking and start listening to the medical experts.”

He sounded similar themes in an afternoon interview on MSNBC, and during an earlier appearance on ABC's “The View,” where Biden said he's trying to balance his critiques of Trump against anything that would seem to undermine the president during a crisis.

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Multiple Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally dies at 81

NEW YORK (AP) — Terrence McNally, one of America’s great playwrights whose prolific career included winning Tony Awards for the plays "Love! Valour! Compassion!" and "Master Class" and the musicals "Ragtime" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman," has died of complications from the coronavirus. He was 81.

McNally died Tuesday at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida, according to representative Matt Polk. McNally was a lung cancer survivor who lived with chronic inflammatory lung disease.

His plays and musicals explored how people connect — or fail to. With wit and thoughtfulness, he tackled the strains in families, war, and relationships and probed the spark and costs of creativity. He was an openly gay writer who wrote about homophobia, love and AIDS.

“I like to work with people who are a lot more talented and smarter than me, who make fewer mistakes than I do, and who can call me out when I do something lazy,” he told LA Stage Times in 2013. “A lot of people stop learning in life, and that’s their tragedy.”

McNally’s “Lips Together, Teeth Apart,” about two married couples who spend a weekend on Fire Island, was a landmark play about AIDS. His play “The Ritz” became one of the first plays with unapologetic gay characters to reach a mainstream audience.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
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