March 26, 2020
The United States now leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases. At least 83,377 people have tested positive for the virus, a leap of 17,166 cases. At least 1,295 have died. As nurses and doctors struggle on the front lines of this pandemic, Trump and his supporters insist that fears of the disease are overblown. In Louisiana, a pastor of a Baton Rouge megachurch is continuing to hold services in defiance of orders from Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards against large gatherings. Pastor Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church says he is not worried about Covid-19. “The virus, we believe, is politically motivated. We hold our religious rights dear and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says.”
The Labor Department reported last week’s unemployment claims, and they are higher by far than expected. More than 3.28 million workers filed unemployment claims, and the system is so backlogged many cannot get through. The unemployment rate jumped to 5.5 from last month’s 3.5%.
Despite the jobs numbers, investors regained faith in the markets. On Thursday, the stock market rose again for the third day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 1,351 points, or about 6.38%. With an all-over rise of more than 20% since Monday, the market is out of the bear territory it had entered with the falls of recent weeks.
Investors might have been cheerful about the market in part because the Trump administration has drastically rolled back rules for polluters in this crisis. Companies can now monitor themselves during the outbreak. The Environmental Protection Agency will not issue fines for breaking certain laws for reporting violations of air, water, or hazardous waste violations. The new order asks companies to “act responsibly.” Compliance is retroactive to March 13.
This EPA order dovetails with other regulatory rollbacks taking place while we are focused on the deadly pandemic. The administration is rushing through regulations to weaken environmental laws since Congress can overturn a regulation or federal rule within 60 days of it being finalized, and Republicans are increasingly concerned that voters will turn against them in the 2020 election. So they are in a hurry to get their rollbacks on the books before the 60 day mark.
The House of Representatives is set to take up the Senate’s $2 trillion emergency relief bill. The House is not currently in session, so House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy agreed to a voice vote, which would not require all 430 members of the House to return to Washington. But at least one representative, Thomas Massie (R-KY), is considering opposing the bill out of concerns about its cost, which would require the presence of all the representatives for a roll call vote.
All eyes are on the coronavirus as we become the nation hardest hit by it.
jobless claims: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/unemployment-jobless-claims-economy-stimulus-small-business
stock market: https://www.cnn.com/business/live-news/stock-market-news-today-032620/index.html
Tony Spell: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/louisiana-pastor-defies-coronavirus-order-draws-over-1-000-people-n1168501