Monday Sunrise Briefing: US close to $450 billion rescue plan

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, April 20, 2020, sunrise briefing. 

Here are three news events from this past weekend (while you may have been taking the handstand challenge, giving yourself a buzzcut, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

REUTERS/Alyson McClaran
Health care workers stand in the street in a counter-protest to hundreds of people who gathered Sunday to demand the stay-at-home order be lifted in Denver, Colorado, April 19, 2020.

The White House and members of Congress say that a $450 billion rescue package, mostly for small business loans,  is “very close.” The deal would likely include $300 million for small businesses, $75 billion for U.S. hospitals, $50 billion for disaster loans to small businesses, and $25 billion would go toward COVID-19 testing. 

In less than two weeks, all of the original $340 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program was dispensed to some 1.7 million businesses. This new package would essentially refill that fund. Critics say that large auto dealers and restaurant chains drained some of the fund, and other businesses with fewer than 500 employees are not getting support.

Any aid package would have to be approved by the Senate and House, but some in Congress say it could be on the president’s desk by the end of this week.

2. A test of patience. Small protests erupted in more than half-a-dozen U.S. state capitals this week, including Denver on Sunday, as mostly conservative voters demanded lockdowns be lifted.  “Pot shops are open, abortion clinics are open and my church is closed,” protester Mary Conley told the Denver Post. President Trump sided with protestors Friday, tweeting “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,”  and "LIBERATE VIRGINIA! and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” Several governors, including Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, noted Sunday that White House guidelines say business shouldn’t reopen until cases decline for 14 days. “We're sending completely conflicting messages out to the governors and to the people, as if we should ignore federal policy and federal recommendations," he said. Only 3% of voters say the country is ready to reopen, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday, and 15% say it will be ready to in the next few weeks.

3. Hong Kong’s rule of law challenged: At least 14 key pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong were arrested Saturday on charges of joining massive anti-government protests last year. Among those detained in the sweeping crackdown were the media tycoon Jimmy Lai and former lawmaker Martin Lee, the founder of the Democratic Party. 

Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, said in a statement  that while the world’s attention is focused on the covid-19 epidemic, Beijing has taken “yet another step towards burying one country, two systems.” U.S. and British governments protested the arrests. Britain's Foreign Office said “the right to peaceful protest is fundamental to Hong Kong’s way of life and as such is protected in both the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.”

Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP
Graduation jubilation: The class of 2020 celebrates as the Thunderbirds fly over Saturday, April 18, 2020, at the Air Force Academy graduation in Colorado Springs, Colo. Nearly 1,000 cadets graduated in a scaled-down ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Look Ahead

Tuesday, April 21

Look up, it’s the Lyrids.  The peak of the annual Lyrid meteor shower is expected tonight, with as many as 18 meteors per hour streaking across the night sky. The new moon isn’t expected until Wednesday, so visibility should be good. 

Wednesday, April 22

Earth, it’s your day. Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a global annual event intended to raise environmental awareness. It began the same year that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was created under Republican President Richard Nixon, and the U.S. Congress passed the Clean Air Act. 

Thursday, April 23

Ramadan arrives. Muslims expect to begin observing the holy month, starting at sundown. Muslims believe that the Angel Gabriel revealed God’s message to the Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan. These revelations became the basis of the sacred text of the Islamic faith, the Quran. Ramadan is observed by fasting through the day, followed by nightly feasts. 

Replenishing the ranks. The NFL draft starts Thursday at 8 p.m. ET and runs through Saturday. Expect LSU quarterback Joe Burrow to be the No. 1 pick. There’s lots of speculation around whether Alabama’s QB Tua Tagovailoa  or Oregon’s QB Justin Herbert will go next. You can watch it live on the NFL Network, ESPN, with coverage on ABC, too. 

Resiliency Watch

Tracy Lynn Coats via Facebook
Tracy Lynn Coats played the piano April 15, 2020 amid the debris of the Faith Community Wesleyan Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

On Easter Sunday, an EF3 tornado destroyed 150 homes, and killed three people in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Three days later, Tracy Lynn Coats was driving by the decimated Faith Community Wesleyan Church and spotted a piano in the rubble. It beckoned to her. Would it even work? 

She gingerly clambered atop the debris, where the piano was still perched on what was left of a stage. The band teacher at East Hamilton Middle High School in Ooltewah, Tennessee, started to pluck out the hymn "It Is Well With My Soul." She tried to make a video to comfort her students, she said, and perhaps the church members. But she had trouble uploading it. She went back later that day. A local TV news crew filming nearby heard the music in the distance and filmed her. A couple of church members arrived to see if there was anything salvageable. They asked her to play one or two of their favorite hymns, and they started singing.
"It's just such a sweet unity, really, among Christian people right there," Ms. Coats told CNN. "We just had a little praise and worship service right in the middle of the whole thing. It was really cool.”

It would be hard to find a more moving portrait of resiliency.

Hidden gem

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

From healing hearts to stealing hearts: Jordan’s ‘Dr. Fauci’

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about Paradise, California, where residents are drawing on communal strength born of past adversity to meet the pandemic.

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. How two European countries are trying to safely end lockdowns
  2. Isolated from peers, teens find new paths to community
  3. What day is it? Why the pandemic warps your sense of time.
  4. From Wuhan to quarantine: a writer looks back
  5. At home with Galileo: Simple science for cooped-up kids

Editor’s note: As a public service, all our coronavirus coverage is free. No paywall.

This is a beta test - an experiment with an early Monday morning news update. Please give us your feedback via the link below and let us know what you think. Thank you!

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