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Politics in the time of coronavirus

PoliticsPolitics in the time of coronavirus

Friends, coronavirus is the word of the month, and if you didn’t feel like it was changing your life last week in any way, that has probably changed. 

On Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office and announced a ban on non-U.S. citizens traveling to the United States from EU countries for 30 days, among other measures. 

“These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground,” the president said.

It was jarring for a lot of people, frankly, and the markets didn’t respond well either. And Thursday, it just kept coming. March Madness is cancelled. Schools are closing. I mean, c’mon, Disney World?! It’s OK to be sad.

But Congress and the administration are working on it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary Steven Mnuchin are working out the details on an economic stimulus bill aimed at helping workers and countering the impact of the of the coronavirus on markets.

Here’s how USA TODAY’s Congressional reporter Christal Hayes described the scene on Capitol Hill Thursday night like this: 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, bump elbows as they attend a lunch with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Pelosi, standing alongside House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, said the … both sides have “resolved most of our differences” and the remaining issues can be settled in future bills …

Later Thursday, Pelosi released a statement with some of the details bill, including provisions related to free testing, paid sick and family medical leave, unemployment benefits and food assistance, among other things.

This week in 2020

On the 2020 front, coronavirus has changed how both former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders are handling their campaigns.

Both cancelled events in Ohio earlier this week, and both are asking staff to work at home. Neither have done any campaign appearances since Tuesday, but both addressed the coronavirus issue Thursday, knocking Trump’s response and laying out what the view as a better path forward. 

Outside of the coronavirus escalation, it was a bit of a rough week for Sanders, who on Tuesday lost several primaries to Biden. The biggest loss of the night was Michigan, where Sanders won in 2016 and his campaign thought he could make a mark again this time around. He addressed the media and supporters Wednesday and did not leave the race, but rather said he was looking forward to Sunday’s debate. Which, oh by the way, got moved due to — you guessed it — coronavirus concerns.

Biden’s week went, obviously, a bit better than his counterparts. After an unexpectedly strong Super Tuesday, Biden continued to dominate among several key voting groups that had powered him to previous primary wins. The other good news for Biden, and maybe Democrats in November? Turnout is up and Biden is winning in places Hillary Clinton didn’t do as well in 2016. 

Thanks, as always, for reading. Wash your hands. Again. — Annah Aschbrenner

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