Vietnam Orders National Isolation After Initial Containment of Coronavirus

Vietnam has announced a national lockdown to fight COVID-19, with nearly 100 million people ordered not to go outside except for food and medical needs, the most extreme measure taken yet after the nation had early success in limiting its first wave of infections. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed a directive Tuesday that requires people to stay inside for 15 days, starting Wednesday. That includes shutting down most businesses, except those deemed essential, at a time when many foreign investors are shifting production from China to Vietnam, in part because the virus forced them to close their businesses in China. The Vietnamese government said on its website it is proceeding “with the principle of every household, village, commune, district and province going into self-isolation.”Vietnam has ordered a national lockdown, as well as moved to decrease public transit, Ho Chi Minh, March 31, 2020.The government announcement blared through speakers on the streets of Hanoi, the capital, as residents bought last minute items before hunkering down on Tuesday. Prior to the announcement the Southeast Asian nation had won international praise for its response to the coronavirus, with officials acting quickly to quarantine patients and trace contacts. Despite having fewer resources as a developing nation, Vietnam limited the first wave of infections that began in January, though a second wave has now brought the number of cases to 204 as of Monday, with no reported deaths. Vietnam’s national isolation order this week came after more than a dozen people linked to one of its biggest hospitals, Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, tested positive for COVID-19. Authorities are tracing contacts and advising the more than 10,000 people who have been at that hospital since March 12 to get tested. People have been ordered to stay two meters apart while outside and limit gatherings to no more than two people, except for at schools, hospitals, and businesses that are allowed to stay open. Vietnam linked the second wave of COVID-19 infections largely to foreigners entering the nation after it had appeared to contain the first wave. After reports that local businesses, such as bars, were discriminating against foreigners because of the virus, the prime minister spoke out against discrimination. One of the recent cases was an American woman in the central city of Danang, who was recovered after her attempt to leave quarantine, local media reported. “The U.S. embassy and consulate in Vietnam advise U.S. citizens to abide by government of Vietnam regulations,” the embassy said. Having experience responding to SARS, avian flu, and other epidemics, Vietnam acted quickly on the early signs of COVID-19 in January. The authorities carried out selective testing and quarantined potential cases. Other measures followed one by one, including moves to close schools, ration surgical masks, cancel some flights, and then close entry to most foreigners.The government has also asked all citizens to fill out a health declarations online and sent regular text message updates nationwide. It gives daily updates on infections to the media, which reports each infected person as a case number and announces flights and locations linked to infections, asking people to report to the hospital if they have been on those flights or at those locations. In some situations where testing is ordered for entire buildings, managers ask residents to speak up if they know that neighbors are avoiding tests. The World Health Organization is among the groups that praised Vietnam for its virus response.“We are committed to continue working with the Ministry of Health and other partners to ensure the country’s continued and quality testing for this new virus,” Kidong Park, the WHO representative in Vietnam, said.Before this week, some restaurants, offices and other businesses were suspending operations on a selective basis. At some grocery stores, workers dispensed hand gel on customers’ hands at the entrance, while condo security guards checked people’s temperature in lobbies. However those measures were scattered around the nation, while the prime minister’s order Tuesday has now made sheltering in place generally uniform across Vietnam until mid-April.  
 

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Controversial French Doctor Sparks Hope, Criticism for Coronavirus Research

Fellow scientists question his findings, but an unlikely mix of supporters — from French yellow vest protesters to U.S. President Donald Trump — are cheering their promise.Last month, French immunology specialist Didier Raoult had no Twitter account. Now, he has more than a quarter-million followers, and counting.   The 68-year-old French physician has emerged as one of France’s most publicized and polarizing figures of these coronavirus times, since claiming his research shows an anti-malarial drug can help fight COVID-19.   Outside the Marseille university hospital where he works, a long line of sick and frightened people waits to be tested each day for COVID-19.   The sick may receive a much-hyped experimental treatment — a mix of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic azithromycin that have starred in a pair of quick, small-scale studies that Raoult conducted, and were published this month. Together, the studies show the “efficacy” of the anti-malarial drug in fighting the virus, Raoult and his research team claim, and the synergetic effects of adding the antibiotic.  “He’s a visionary,” Renaud Muselier, head of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region and a friend of Raoult, told the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche. “That’s what makes his strength today.”   But critics say Raoult’s team did not follow rigorous procedures, had no control group, and drew their results based on too few people, among other failings.   “The methodology is fragile, the results are forced, one doesn’t give people hope based on approximate trials,” Gilles Pialoux, infectious diseases head of Paris-based Tenon Hospital, told BFMTV.     A few years ago, Raoult grew his white-blond hair long — adding a mustache and beard —just to annoy the establishment, he is reported as saying. No stranger to controversy Raoult, who heads the infectious diseases department of La Timone Hospital in Marseille, is no stranger to controversy — or applause. Born in Dakar, Senegal, he dropped out of high school in his junior year and spent a couple of years in the French merchant marines before heading to medical school. A few years ago, he grew his white-blond hair long — adding a mustache and beard —just to annoy the establishment, he is reported as saying.  His award-winning research includes discovering giant viruses and new bacteria. He has published prodigiously, although his massive output has sparked skepticism about its rigor.   Raoult has also questioned climate change. In January, he initially dismissed the first coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan as overblown.   And while he has been added to the government coronavirus team of health experts, he has reportedly distanced himself from it, failing to attend recent meetings. “I don’t care what others think of me,” he told La Provence newspaper. “I’m not an outsider. I’m the one who is the most advanced.”   After Raoult’s first coronavirus findings were published mid-March in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, Trump tweeted that the two-drug combination he tested could become “the biggest game changers” in medical history.  France and the United States have since authorized limited, emergency use of hydroxychloroquine and related compound chloroquine in treating the most serious COVID-19 cases. On Monday, the French food safety agency warned of potentially dangerous side effects.   But the public has dismissed such strictures. Pharmacies report a rush for Plaquenil, the brand name of hydroxychloroquine, which has worried lupus and other patients who have long depended on it.   Local hero  New and larger experimental studies are now under way in Europe and the United States to see if Raoult’s findings, among others, can be replicated on a bigger scale.   In the meantime, he has vaulted to near rock star status. His wide spectrum of supporters includes controversial French comedian Dieudonne, far-right adherents, ex-soccer champion Eric Cantona and several prominent politicians, some of whom took Raoult’s experimental treatment after contracting COVID-19.   “Bravo to @raoult didier and his team,” tweeted Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi. “I’m proud to have fought beside him.”   But a raft of medical experts is less enthusiastic, questioning the credibility of Raoult’s studies, the first of which involved just 20 patients.   “No, ‘not huge’ I’m afraid,” tweeted Francois Balloux of University College in London, in response to the results of Raoult’s second study involving 80 patients.   Released Friday, the study claimed that most of the patients treated with the combination drug had favorable outcomes.   But Balloux noted that those who had tested presented mild symptoms of coronavirus and likely would have recovered anyway.

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Greece Blocks Iranian From Plotting to Arm Asylum Seekers

In Greece, the case of an Iranian migrant now jailed on charges of inciting an insurrection is highlighting the Greek government’s rising concerns about a flare-up of clashes involving migrants along Greece’s border with Turkey. Greek authorities say the Iranian man — a self-described anarchist — was urging groups in Greece to arm asylum seekers trying to enter Europe from Turkey. The man, if convicted, faces a stiff sentence of up to ten years in prison.Greek counter-terrorism forces say they arrested the 23-year-old Iranian national in central Athens after he posted a call for an armed insurrection on a website that is often visited by homegrown extremists and urban guerrilla groupings.Authorities say the unidentified man describes himself as a migrant anarchist and they say he has not denied the criminal charges set against him — among the stiffest slapped on a migrant in recent years.
 
Greek intelligence officials say Greece granted the man political asylum three years ago and that he has since then established a militant profile, linking up with a far-left extremist group in Greece.
 
Left-wing groups in Greece have long supported asylum seekers, advocating their safe passage — and their right to stay in Europe. But in his online calling, the Iranian went a step further, urging anarchists to help arm migrants, take to the streets and renew clashes with authorities in northern Greece to help tens of thousands trapped in Turkey stream in to Europe.
 
Authorities in Athens say they have not established links between that plot and Turkey.
 
But the Iranian’s arrest here and the severity of the charges laid against him underscore Greece’s desperate bid to stamp out any potential flare up of migrant clashes along the country’s borders with Turkey.
 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan flung open the borders to migrants heading for Europe in late February after dozens of Turkish soldiers were killed in an air raid in Syria. FILE – Migrants walk in Edirne at the Turkish-Greek border, March 9, 2020.Turkey last week said it moved 5,800 migrants away from the border crossing at Edirne province where they had been massing, citing concerns over the threat of coronavirus.  The move was interpreted by some in Greece as a reversal by Ankara. But Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told an independent broadcaster the move did not represent a policy change.
 
“Once the COVID-19 crisis is over, the Turkish government will not block migrants from returning to the border,” he said. Although Greek authorities have not established a link between the Iranian migrant and the Turkish government, they worry about how Ankara may use the nearly four million Syrian refugees now inside Greece.
Ioannis Mazis, an international relations analyst in Athens, said Greece has already seen Turkey using tens of thousands of migrants as pawns in the recent border clashes. He said the Turkish government has even admitted that it has orchestrated much of the border violence. So, threats of further clashes should not be underestimated, Mazis added.
 
By some accounts, as many 150,000 migrants and refugee tried to push into Europe last month. Greece says it succeeded in fending off more than 50,000, while many others managed to sneak in.  
 
  

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China Not Tracking Recovered Coronavirus Patients Who Test Positive Again

After testing negative twice in a row, a coronavirus patient in Wuhan — the former epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak — was discharged recently from one of China’s mobile hospital units.  But her celebration of freedom had barely begun before she got a call from the local health authority who told her the last test she took before leaving the hospital was positive. “I had to go back to the hospital immediately,” the patient said on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform. “My residential compound is under lockdown again.”As China releases more patients who have recovered from the coronavirus, there are an increasing number who are testing positive for the second time. The State Council ’s Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism said last Saturday that second-time infections have been reported in many regions, including Guangdong, Sichuan, Hunan, and Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital city.People wearing face masks line up outside a Hankou Bank branch in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, March 31, 2020.It is not understood why some patients test positive after testing negative, but most virologists believe true second-time infections are extremely rare. Recovered patients have high amounts of antibodies in their blood that fought off the COVID-19 infection, protecting them against a recurrence. That is why in many countries recovered patients are now donating blood plasma for transfusions into sick patients.  Another explanation for the positive tests could be inaccurate testing.  “Testing is not always perfectly sensitive,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Some of those cases you’re seeing where it looks as if a person was testing positive, negative, then later tested positive again may be likely explained by one of the intermediate tests just not picking it up when it was there. The amount that that’s happening, we don’t really know.”  As countries focus on rapidly deploying coronavirus tests, some versions have been rejected for too many false readings.“At this stage of the pandemic, it’s been hard enough managing to identify those people who are infected once. It’s going to take a while before we can be secure about who’s been infected twice,” he added.Causes of faulty testingDr. Jin Dongyan, a virology expert at the University of Hong Kong, said it is nearly impossible for second-time infections to occur in normal individuals. He told VOA in an email that the negative test results from patients before they were discharged could be “false,” leading hospitals to discharge them too early.  Dr. Zhang Boli, one of the 14 members of China’s national research team to prevent and control the outbreak, said even accurate tests can fail to detect small amounts of virus still within the patient.According to China’s latest coronavirus diagnosis and treatment guidelines issued by the National Health Commission on March 4, diagnostic tests are conducted by gathering mucus from nasal cavities using swabs.   However, viruses often stay deep in patients’ lungs. “At the time of the test, the sputum in the throat were detected, no virus was not detected, showing that the viral nucleic acid in the patient’s body was negative,” said Zhang in a recent interview with the official People’s Daily.”If some people are tested positive for the viral nucleic acid a second time, it is most likely that they have never recovered,” Jin told VOA.How many repeat positives?Despite the possibility that there could be a large number of people who retest positive after being pronounced “recovered” and released from medical care, China is not tracking these people, even though authorities are ordering them back to quarantine.  Tu Yuanchao, deputy director of Hubei health commission, said that they will not be classified as fresh cases. He told the official Hubei Daily recently, “They were already reported as confirmed cases in their initial test. Therefore, they will not be repeatedly counted as new cases.”  China has not been counting as “infected” those people who test positive for COVID-19 but display no symptoms. This policy contradicts World Health Organization guidelines, which recommend tracking asymptomatic patients who test positive because they could still spread the virus.  Volunteers in protective suits disinfect a shopping complex in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicentre of China’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, March 31, 2020.It remains unclear how many people in China who tested positive again for COVID-19 after being told they were healed from the disease. The central government does not release national numbers. Local numbers reported by different regional officials vary from less than 1% to 14% of recovered patients.  Last month an official study from southern China’s Guangdong Province found that as many as 14% of those who had recovered tested positive again in later check-ups.  On the other hand, a hospital director in Wuhan last week said the current rate of repeat positives in the city is less than 1%.“Even Guangdong has 14% of people who retested positive, and you are telling me Wuhan only has 1%?” one netizen asked on Weibo.Tongji Hospital, which identified the first COVID-19 case in Wuhan, confirmed that five out of 145 patients, or little more than 3%, tested positive again, according to state broadcaster CCTV.Wang Wei, the hospital’s president, said that these are just “small samples.”“We need a large-scale epidemiological study to guide our disease surveillance and prevention works,” Wang said during the interview.With most countries focused on caring for the sick and ensuring adequate health care support for the spike in sick patients, few have managed to carry out widespread testing that will give epidemiologists the data they need to better understand the virus, and why some people are still testing positive for COVID-19, even after they recover.  VOA’s Steve Baragona contributed to this story.

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South Sudan Activists Hope to Unify Divided Nation

After years of civil war, South Sudan’s new transitional unity government is urging citizens to work towards reconciliation and forgive perpetrators of violence. Several public and private initiatives are in place to help the South Sudanese people build a peaceful future. But will the measures work in a nation with so many deep scars?Thirty-one-year-old Junior Dau is sitting in the parlor of his home, gazing at photos of his slain cousin, who was killed as a soldier fighting in the civil war that broke out in 2013. Junior Dau, 31, looks at photos of his cousin, who was killed in South Sudan’s civil war, in Juba, South Sudan. (Chika Oduah/VOA)Three of Dau’s siblings also died in the war, and his mother was tortured when rebel fighters dunked her into a water tank.“My mom was put in the water, she fainted four times and that is one thing that has made her not come back to South Sudan. She hates it so much,” he said.After losing so many family members to the conflict, Junior was left with resentment and bitterness towards other ethnic communities in South Sudan.“So I had in mind, I want to get a gun so I can get revenge,” he said.Other South Sudanese have similar feelings. An estimated 400,000 people died in the civil war, and the violence has left deep scars on the nation, with ethnic communities pitted against one another.Power-sharing dealIn February, rival politicians President and his former deputy Riek Machar formed a transitional unity government after more than a year of negotiation and delay.  Political analysts like Dr. James Okuk of the University of Juba are cautiously optimistic that this power-sharing deal, unlike others, will take hold and allow the nation to begin to heal.“It is a start but the task is overwhelming. We hope they will be up to the task, particularly reconciliation, which really requires a lot of time, requires a lot of effort. The political leaders have created these grievances by making the civilians to take sides in these political quarrels and taking sides has created these enmities among communities and with peace coming back, I think it’s time to mend those broken relations,” he said.Mending broken relations is exactly what a recently formed government National Dialogue Committee is trying to do. Dr. Francis Deng, South Sudan’s first ambassador to the United Nations and a scholar on conflict management, is putting his expertise to use as a committee member.Members of the South Sudanese government’s National Dialogue Committee meet to discuss how to implement peace-building policies, in Juba, South Sudan. (Chika Oduah/VOA)He said tackling complex issues such as how to administer justice for war-related atrocities will not be easy.“One line of reasoning is let’s forgive and forget. That’s one line of reasoning. The other line of reasoning is that too much harm has been done, people have been victimized, massacres have taken place. Crimes have taken place. Here you come to another point of view. The African perspective generally is to try to reconcile, maybe compensate and not talk in terms of punishment,” said Deng.The government is now supporting what Deng describes as the African approach towards reconciliation.On the streets of Juba, several peace advocacy billboards display phrases, such as “It’s time to forgive.”  At the University of Juba, students meet under a large tree to learn about how to give psychosocial support to those dealing with bitterness.The class is organized by Vivean Peter, a 33-year-old woman who had her own pain to work through after a rival ethnic group gunned down her husband. After his death, she studied psychology and counseling and now, she finds hope and healing in training therapists.  She takes a particular interest in helping counsel youth who can easily join militia forces to carry out revenge.She said, they are the most vulnerable demographic, needing psychological support.Lupai Samuel Stephen, director of an organization called I Am Peace Initiative, sits with his team to organize the upcoming Peace Camp program in Juba, South Sudan. (Chika Oduah/VOA)Christianity is the major religion in South Sudan and churches are also making an effort to restore peace. In another part of Juba, young activists have organized an event called Peace Camp. It offers a safe space for young people to talk about the pain of war.The organizer, Lupai Samuel Stephen, was displaced by the war and grew up in Uganda.  “The Peace Camp brings people together to be able to create relationships on a personal level so you get to meet someone from a certain community that you always looked at as an enemy.”Initiatives like these will not solve South Sudan’s greater problems, but activists hope they can make small positive changes, and rebuild a nation torn apart by war. 

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South Sudan Activists Hope to Unify A Divided Nation

After years of civil war, Sudan’s new transitional unity government is urging citizens to work towards reconciliation and forgiving perpetrators of violence. But will these measures work in a deeply divided nation? Chika Oduah reports from the South Sudanese capital of Juba.

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Royals No More: Harry and Meghan Start Uncertain New Chapter

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan officially make the transition Tuesday from senior members of Britain’s royal family to — well, it’s unclear. International celebrities, charity patrons, global influencers?
The royal schism that the couple triggered in January by announcing that they would step down from official duties, give up public funding, seek financial independence and swap the U.K. for North America becomes official on March 31.
The move has been made more complicated and poignant by the global coronavirus pandemic, which finds the couple and their 10-month-old son Archie in California, far from Harry’s father Prince Charles — who is recovering after testing positive for COVID-19 — and Harry’s 93-year-old grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
“As we can all feel, the world at this moment seems extraordinarily fragile,” the couple said in a final post Monday on their now-mothballed SussexRoyal Instagram account.
“What’s most important right now is the health and well-being of everyone across the globe and finding solutions for the many issues that have presented themselves as a result of this pandemic,” they added. “As we all find the part we are to play in this global shift and changing of habits, we are focusing this new chapter to understand how we can best contribute.”  
It is less than two years since ex-soldier Harry, who is sixth in line to the British throne, married American actress Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in a lavish ceremony watched by millions around the world.  
Soon the couple began to bristle at intense scrutiny by the British media — which they said tipped into harassment. They decided to break free, in what Harry called a “leap of faith” as he sought a more peaceful life, without the journalists who have filmed, photographed and written about him since the day he was born.  
Harry has long had an uncomfortable relationship with the media, which he blames for the death of his mother, Princess Diana. She died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi.
Harry’s unhappiness increased after he began dating Markle, then the star of TV legal drama “Suits.” In 2016 he accused the media of harassing his then-girlfriend, and criticized “racial undertones” in some coverage of the biracial Markle.
It’s clear that Meghan’s upbeat Californian style — embodied in the glossy images and life-affirming messages of the couple’s Instagram account — rankled with sections of Britain’s tabloid press, which is both insatiable for royal content and fiercely judgmental of the family members.  
The couple — who are keeping their titles, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but will no longer be called Their Royal Highnesses — had hoped to keep using the Sussex Royal brand in their new life. But last month they announced they wouldn’t seek to trademark the term because of U.K. rules governing use of the word “royal.”
The couple plans to launch a non-profit organization for their charitable activities in areas including youth empowerment, mental health, conservation, gender equality and education. Harry will also continue to oversee the Invictus Games, the Olympics-style competition he founded for wounded troops.
Meghan has been announced as the narrator of “Elephant,” a Disney nature documentary.
But for now, the couple’s office said they want the world to focus “on the global response to COVID-19.”  
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will spend the next few months focusing on their family and continuing to do what they can, safely and privately, to support and work with their pre-existing charitable commitments while developing their future non-profit organisation,” the couple’s office said in a statement.
The newly independent Harry and Meghan will also need to earn money to help pay for a multi-million dollar security bill.
As senior royals, they have had bodyguards funded by British taxpayers. Since late last year, Harry and Meghan have since been based on Canada’s Vancouver Island, where security was provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Canadian authorities warned last month that would end once the couple ceased to be working royals.
The duke and duchess recently moved to the Los Angeles area, where Meghan grew up and where her mother still lives. The news led President Donald Trump to tweet on Sunday: “the U.S. will not pay for their security protection. They must pay!”
Harry and Meghan’s office said they had “no plans to ask the U.S. government for security resources. Privately funded security arrangements have been made.”  
Some royal historians warned that Harry and Meghan could struggle to find a fulfilling role. Comparisons have been drawn to King Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 to marry divorced American Wallis Simpson. The couple lived the rest of their lives in luxurious but lonely self-imposed exile from Britain.
Royal historian Penny Junor said U.K.-based royals were helping boost the nation’s morale during the coronavirus pandemic. The queen has issued a message to the nation, while Harry’s brother Prince William and his children joined in a public round of applause for health care workers.
“All of this is absolutely what the family is about, and those members of the royal family that are on a limb now are pretty irrelevant,” Junor said.
 

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Millions of US Workers Losing Jobs as Coronavirus Spreads

Millions of U.S. workers are losing their jobs in a surge of layoffs as businesses large and small shut their operations amid the coronavirus pandemic.A week ago, nearly 3.3 million workers filed for unemployment benefits. The figure is expected to rise rapidly in the coming weeks, with 40 million people predicted to be unemployed by mid-April.Before the pandemic struck the United States, 5.8 million U.S. workers were unemployed — 3.5% of the workforce of 164.6 million. That figure had changed little in the past six months and was a linchpin of a robust economy.FILE – An empty restaurant is seen in Manhattan borough following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City, March 15, 2020.Now, the world’s largest economy has been hurt by what President Donald Trump describes as the “horrible scourge” of the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, investment banker Goldman Sachs Group forecast a far steeper decline in the U.S. than it had previously, predicting that output of goods and services would plunge by an annualized 34% in the April-to-June period, compared to its earlier estimate of 24%.Goldman Sachs economists said the U.S. jobless rate would soar to 15% by mid-year, an estimate that would leave 25 million workers unemployed. Its earlier estimate was for a 9% jobless rate.James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (in the midwestern state of Missouri), predicted the unemployment rate may climb to 30% in the second quarter because of the business shutdowns, with a plunging 50% drop in the gross domestic product.  An estimated 190,000 stores have closed, making that about 50% of retail space. On Monday alone, major retailers Macy’s, Kohl’s and Gap announced that collectively, they are laying off 290,000 workers.  FILE – The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts overlooking the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. (Diaa Bekheet/VOA).In Washington, D.C., the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts furloughed the 96 musicians playing for the National Symphony Orchestra without pay, even though the U.S. Congress just last week approved a $25 million rescue fund for the cultural hub, where all performances have been canceled.Some employers initially said they would continue to pay their workers, but many of those decisions have quickly been scrapped because of uncertainty on how the coronavirus might spread or when the pandemic will end.  Global management consulting firm Mckinsey & Company says a quarter of U.S. households already live from paycheck to paycheck, with 40% of Americans unable to cover an unexpected expense of $400 without borrowing.The $2 trillion rescue package approved by Congress last week and signed into law by Trump calls for enhanced unemployment compensation for laid-off workers. States normally pay jobless workers a fraction of their normal pay, but the national assistance plan will add $600 a week in extra pay for the next four months if workers are unemployed for that length of time.Goldman Sachs economists say they expect a significant recovery in the July-to-September period, with the GDP expanding by 19%.“Our estimates imply that a bit more than half of the near-term output decline is made up by year-end,” they wrote.State governments across a wide swath of the U.S. have ordered millions of Americans to stay home in the coming weeks, except to buy groceries, purchase carry-out food, go to medical appointments or exercise by themselves or with family members.  Such orders have forced many businesses deemed not essential to close their doors, although the term, “essential,” has varied among the 50 states, leading to a patchwork of functioning commerce depending on where one lives. 
 

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