Up to the minute: Senate action is expected soon on a $2 trillion relief package

A couple walks along a usually busy Fremont Street after casinos were ordered to shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The Associated Press

More than 307,200 people have been infected by the coronavirus and it has killed more than 13,000

Associated Press

The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 307,200 people and killed more than 13,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 92,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China. 

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— Illegal border crossings into U.S. have dropped by 50 percent amid coronavirus pandemic.

— Spain to extend national state of emergency to at least one month. 

— Stockholm teams with Swedish military to build make-shift hospital. 

WASHINGTON — 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 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.

Border crossings down

WASHINGTON — Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf says illegal border crossings have dropped by half after restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Trump administration is turning back anyone crossing illegally, among other restrictions. 

Wolf says because migrants often come without identification paperwork it's unclear how to trace their medical history and to determine if they are arriving from an area hard-hit by the virus. 

But the Trump administration has also made restriction immigration a top priority, regardless of the pandemic and had already been sending thousands of asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait out their cases. The nation's immigration courts are still operating with limited closures and some hearings delayed. 

Wolf said on Fox News "Sunday Morning Futures" that the borders between the U.S. and Mexico and U.S. and Canada are not shut down, but are only allowing for necessary trade and travel. 

He says there's more than $2 billion combined trade at both borders and it's important to keep that going. But he says anyone coming for tourism should stay home. 

Spain extends state of emergency

MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he plans to extend the national state of emergency that includes strict measures to combat the coronavirus. 

It means the countrywide lockdown will last at least one month. 

Spain is finishing its first week of what was initially a 15-day state of emergency that imposes stay-at-home restrictions and store closings. But with infections and deaths continuing to rise, Sánchez has decided not to wait to extend the lockdown. 

To do so, his government will ask the Parliament for its necessary approval on Tuesday. 

Spain, the hardest hit country after China and Italy, has 28,572 infections and 1,720 deaths.

Make shift hospitals at convention center

STOCKHOLM — The city of Stockholm says it has teamed up with the Swedish military to build a make-shift hospital inside a large fair and convention center south of the Swedish capital to accommodate a rapidly growing number of coronavirus patients.

Stockholm region officials said the building of the facility will start immediately in co-operation with the Swedish Armed Forces. It will include an intensive care unit. 

Stockholm had 661 confirmed cases and seven deaths by Sunday. Nationwide, Sweden has seen a large hike in coronavirus cases in the past week with 1,747 cases and 20 deaths confirmed in the country Sunday.

Where are the testing kits?

WASHINGTON — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says her state needs the federal government to provide not only more test kits and masks but also clear guidance on how best to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Whitmer said her state and others are doing the best they can, "but it would be nice to have a national strategy." As it is, she said the states are "all building the airplane as we fly it."

She criticized the federal government for not focusing on the threat much earlier. She also said she didn't want to belabor the point because she needs to be able to work with the federal government.

She said she doesn't want to fight with the White House, but says a point will come in which failures will need to be examined. 

Remote regions worry about travel from urban areas

LONDON — Authorities in Britain's remotest regions say an influx of people trying to get away from crowded urban areas is putting local lives at risk.

Scottish authorities told people heading to the sparsely populated Highlands to stay at holiday homes or in camper vans to go home.

The Road to The Isles group, which represents tourism businesses in part of the scenic region, said its area had an aging population and just one ambulance, with the nearest hospital 100 miles (160 kms) away.

Chairwoman Sine MacKellaig-Davis urged people "to stay home, care for loved ones and, as soon as it's safe to do so, the Road to the Isles and its communities and businesses will welcome you."

Judy Murray, mother of tennis star Andy Murrray, had a blunter message. She tweeted "Message for those relocating to the countryside" above a picture of a car and trailer with "Go home idiots" and "Covid-19" painted on the side.

Military plane to take home stranded nationals

PRAGUE — The Czech Foreign Ministry is sending a military plane to the Baltics and secured deals with commercial airlines to take home stranded Czech nationals in Egypt, Philippines and Vietnam.

Various restrictive measures on movement adopted by the governments around the globe due to the outbreak of the coronavirus have made it difficult for many to return.

Altogether some 600 Czechs should return by those flights, plus 100 people from other EU countries who were offered seats.

The government have already been sending buses for the Czechs stranded at the airports in Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin in Germany as well Vienna in Austria.

More protective equipment is needed

WASHINGTON — Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey says his state is desperate for more face masks and other personal protective equipment and is not getting nearly what it needs from the federal government.

Murphy said, "We've had a big ask into the strategic stockpile in the White House. They've given us a fraction of our ask."

New Jersey is now fourth in the country in terms of the number of positive cases, which the governor says hit more than 1,300 on Saturday with 16 fatalities.

He also cited an urgent need for direct financial assistance from the federal government to help workers and small business. He said, "We think New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut alone, those four states, need $100 billion, direct cash assistance, to allow us to continue the fight."

Murphy spoke Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

Suspended flights

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Long-haul carrier Emirates says it will suspend all passenger flights beginning Wednesday over the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision is a major one for the Dubai-based, government-owned airline built on linking the East to the West.

A statement from the carrier quoted Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, its chairman and CEO, as saying: "The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is an unprecedented crisis situation in terms of breadth and scale: geographically, as well as from a health, social, and economic standpoint."

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has indefinitely extend the closure of the arrival terminal at its main international airport to prevent imported cases of the coronavirus. 

The Indian ocean island nation stepped up efforts to contain the spreading of virus as the number of positive cases has now risen to 82.

Early this week, the government suspended arrival flights until March 25. On Sunday, the government announced that the restrictions of arrival flights "will continue until the country returns to normalcy."

However, the airport's departure terminal will continue to be operational and flights are allowed into the country to take departing passengers. 

'Only going to get worse'

NEW YORK — New York City's mayor is telling New Yorkers at the epicenter of the U.S. pandemic that it's only going to get worse.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that his city is in desperate need of ventilators and other medical supplies and staff. He also lambasted the White House response as non-responsive. 

He says he's asked "repeatedly" for the U.S. military to mobilize, and has heard nothing.

The Mayor said the actions taken by American citizens are "much farther ahead than anything we've seen out of the White House." 

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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