The Latest COVID-19 Updates (March 22)

Staff Writer

6:00 p.m. -- Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has issued a reminder to state citizens that enforcement of the closure of businesses that are not on the life-sustaining list will begin at 8 a.m. on Monday. He said the waiver process is ongoing, but businesses that are not on the list and those that do not have a waiver should be mindful of the enforcement beginning.

3:30 p.m. -- Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is the first U.S. senator to test positive for COVID-19, the infection caused by the coronavirus, the Associated Press reports. That's according to a tweet from the senator, who is a top ally of President Donald Trump. The senator is “feeling fine,” the tweet said. He is “asymptomatic,” and in quarantine. He was not aware “of any direct contact with any infected person,” the tweet said. This comes shortly after the nation's capital announced its second death to coronavirus.

-- 1 p.m. (Associated Press) The number of deaths of people with the coronavirus in Italy jumped 651 to 5,476 in the last 24 hours, while new infections rose by 10% to over 59,000. The head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, Angelo Borrelli, noted that the increases had narrowed from recent days, adding ‘’we hope that this trend can be confirmed in the coming days. We should not lower our guard.’’

-- 11:45 a.m. -- The Pennsylvania Department of Health has updated its statistics for the number of confirmed cases across the state as of 12 a.m. this morning to 479. The number of negative tests was also updated to 4,964. At this point, the results do not include any positive cases having been confirmed in Jefferson, Indiana or Clearfield counties.

-- 11 a.m. -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he expects Congress and the White House to reach full agreement later Sunday on an economic stimulus package that could approach $2 trillion to address the coronavirus crisis, the Associated Press reports. The package would include $3,000 checks to families and other aid to last the next 10 weeks. Mnuchin tells “Fox News Sunday” that there is a “fundamental understanding” reached with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to provide significant aid. He says the deal includes federal loans to small businesses so they can retain their workers; cash payments averaging $3,000 for a family of four as well as “enhanced” unemployment insurance.The package also will allow the Federal Reserve to leverage up to $4 trillion of liquidity to support the nation’s economy, while hospitals will get “approximately” $110 billion to address a crush of people infected with the virus. Mnuchin says President Donald Trump has “every expectation” the aid package will help workers and the economy improve “four or eight weeks from now,” but if the virus is still raging after 10 weeks, “we’ll go back to Congress again.” Mnuchin says he expects a Senate vote on the deal on Monday morning.