Here’s what you need to know:
- California announces earliest publicly known U.S. coronavirus death.
- Trump announces a pause for green cards but backs off guest worker plans.
- Senate passes a $484 billion relief package for small businesses and hospitals.
- The record oil market collapse is continuing as storage nears capacity.
- Georgia’s reopening plan is condemned as more states move to relax rules.
- Missouri sues China over its handling of the outbreak.
- Michigan changes its contact-tracing plans after accusations of partisanship.
California announces earliest publicly known U.S. coronavirus death.
Officials in Santa Clara County, Calif., announced late Tuesday that two residents there died of the coronavirus in early and mid-February, making them the earliest known victims of the pandemic in the United States.
The county’s medical examiner-coroner said that autopsies of two people who died at their homes on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17 showed that the individuals were infected with the virus.
The first publicly known coronavirus-related death in the United States was not reported until Feb. 29 in the Seattle area, although officials there later discovered that two people who had died Feb. 26 also had the virus.
“Each one of those deaths is probably the tip of an iceberg of unknown size,” said Dr. Sara Cody, the chief health officer of Santa Clara County. “It feels quite significant.”
Trump announces a pause for green cards but backs off guest worker plans.
President Trump said on Tuesday that he would order a temporary halt in issuing green cards to prevent people from immigrating to the United States, but he backed away from plans to suspend guest worker programs after business groups exploded in anger at the threat of losing access to foreign labor.
Mr. Trump, whose administration has faced intense criticism in recent months for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, abruptly sought to change the subject Tuesday night by resuming his assault on immigration, which animated his 2016 campaign and became one of the defining issues of his presidency.
He cast his decision to “suspend immigration,” which he first announced in a late-night tweet on Monday, as a move to protect American jobs.
But it comes as the United States economy sheds its work force at a record rate and when few employers are reaching out for workers at home or abroad. More than 22 million Americans have lost their jobs in the economic devastation caused by the virus and efforts to contain it.
Mr. Trump said that his order would initially be in effect for 60 days, but that he might later extend it “based on economic conditions at the time.”
While numerous studies have concluded that immigration has an overall positive effect on the American work force and wages for workers, Mr. Trump ignored that research on Tuesday, insisting that American citizens who had lost their jobs in recent weeks should not have to compete with foreigners when the economy reopens.
“By pausing immigration, we will help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens — so important,” Mr. Trump said. “It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad. We must first take care of the American worker.”
The decision not to block guest worker programs — which provide specific visas for technology workers, farm laborers and others — is a concession to business groups, which assailed the White House on Tuesday.
Jason Oxman, the president of the Information Technology Industry Council, a trade group, said in a statement earlier in the day that “the United States will not benefit from shutting down legal immigration.”
Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
A detailed county map shows the extent of the coronavirus outbreak, with tables of the number of cases by county.
Senate passes a $484 billion relief package for small businesses and hospitals.
The Senate on Tuesday passed a $484 billion coronavirus relief package that would replenish a depleted loan program for distressed small businesses and provide funds for hospitals and coronavirus testing, approving yet another huge infusion of federal money to address the public health and economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.
The measure was the product of an intense round of bipartisan negotiations between Democrats and the Trump administration that unfolded as the small business loan program created by the stimulus law quickly ran out of its initial $349 billion in funding. The program ran dry before many companies were able to have their applications approved, collapsing under a glut of appeals from desperate businesses struggling to stay afloat.
The money is just a fraction of the amount that Congress will consider in the weeks to come, as lawmakers contemplate spending another $1 trillion or more on a sweeping government response.
The House is expected to pass the bill on Thursday, and President Trump has indicated he will sign it.
The Senate passed Tuesday’s measure by voice vote — a necessity since most senators were not present because the chamber had been in a prolonged recess — though two Republican senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, spoke against it beforehand.
Mr. Paul, a libertarian, said he had returned to Washington “so that history will record that not everyone gave in to the massive debt Congress is creating” with the multiple rounds of coronavirus relief it had enacted over the past six weeks.
The agreement would provide $320 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers guarantees for forgivable loans to small businesses if a majority of the money is used to retain employees.
About a fifth of the funding for the small-business loan program, $60 billion, would be set aside for smaller lenders, in line with Democrats’ request to steer resources to businesses that typically have trouble accessing loans.
The bill would also add $60 billion for the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief fund — divided into $50 billion in loans and $10 billion in grants — and farms and other agriculture enterprises would be made eligible. There would also be $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for coronavirus testing.
The federal aid has not been sufficient to keep more than 22 million Americans from filing for unemployment. And the first round of loans issued through the small business program bypassed many smaller businesses, who watched their larger competitors get help.
Small restaurants have been particularly hard hit. Now in the second month of compulsory closings, many owners of independent restaurants and bars across the country are starting to despair of getting the help they need to come back.
Shake Shack, a national chain, came under fire this week for taking millions of dollars of stimulus money that was meant to help small businesses. “The intent of this was for businesses that needed the money,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “The intent of this money was not for big public companies that have access to capital.”
Mr. Trump lashed out at another recipient of federal aid: Harvard University. The president joined mounting criticism of Harvard’s receipt of $8.6 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act he signed into law on March 27.
“Harvard’s going to pay back the money,” Mr. Trump said at his news briefing. “And they shouldn’t be taking it.”
But Harvard said on Tuesday that Mr. Trump appeared to misunderstand the source of the funds.
Harvard was one of hundreds of American universities to receive stimulus money through a $14 billion allocation distributed by the Education Department to help offset the financial hit of the coronavirus and support low-income students. Harvard’s share was calculated according to a formula that depends heavily on a college’s number of students and share of poor students.
“It was purely mechanical,” Terry Hartle, a senior vice president at the American Council on Education, a trade group, said on Tuesday. “Harvard got that money because that’s the way the formula allocated it.”
The record oil market collapse is continuing as storage nears capacity.
An unprecedented bust in the oil market worsened on Tuesday as traders were gripped by fear that crude output remained far too high and storage was quickly running out.
The futures contract for West Texas Intermediate crude to be delivered in May fell on Monday into negative territory — a bizarre move that has never happened before. In other words, some traders were willing to pay buyers to take oil off their hands.
But other benchmarks of the price of crude remained much higher (closer to $20 per barrel), suggesting that the negative price was partly a result of how oil is traded, with different prices set for crude that will be delivered at different points.
The rest of the oil market also crashed on Tuesday. The West Texas Intermediate contract for June delivery sank more than 50 percent to below $10 a barrel, and Brent crude, the international benchmark, was down about 21 percent.
Demand for oil is disappearing; despite a deal by Saudi Arabia, Russia and other nations to cut production, the world is running out of places to put all the oil being pumped out, about 100 million barrels a day. At the start of the year, oil sold for more than $60 a barrel.
Georgia’s reopening plan is condemned as more states move to relax rules.
The decision by Gov. Brian Kemp to begin restarting Georgia’s economy drew swift rebukes on Tuesday from mayors, public health experts and some business owners, with skeptics arguing that the plan might amplify another wave of coronavirus outbreaks.
Mr. Kemp said Monday that he would allow certain businesses, including gyms, nail and hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors, to begin operating as soon as Friday. Under Mr. Kemp’s approach, which he said he approved because he believed the situation had sufficiently stabilized, dine-in restaurants, theaters and other entertainment venues could resume operations on Monday.
But some Georgia mayors, barred from issuing their own restrictions, urged residents to ignore the reopenings and stay at home.
“I am beyond disturbed,” Savannah’s mayor, Van R. Johnson, said on CNN, of the governor’s decision. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta told ABC News she would keep asking “people to continue to stay home, follow the science and exercise common sense.”
When Mr. Kemp announced his easing of restrictions, he explicitly stated that they would apply statewide, and that “local action cannot be taken that is more or less restrictive.”
But Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said at a briefing on Tuesday that she believed decisions should be judged “community by community.”
“I believe people in Atlanta would understand that if their cases are not going down, that they need to continue to do everything that we said — social distancing, washing your hands, wearing a mask in public,” she said. “So if there’s a way that people can social distance and do those things, then they can do those things. I don’t know how. But people are very creative.”
Mr. Kemp is not alone in seeking to relax restrictions. The governors of Ohio and Tennessee have also taken early steps toward reopening their states, and Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina has opened many businesses and recreational spaces, including public beaches.
On Tuesday, the first full day of reopening in South Carolina, places that typically bustle remained quiet — in some spots, eerily so. In the ghost-town retail district of King Street in Charleston, Gary Flynn was closing up shop in a 103-year-old store called M. Dumas and Sons.
The family-owned store, he said, is hanging on by serving a few clients at a time by appointment, offering curbside pickup and taking online orders. He said he had been struggling with loans through the federal paycheck protection program, as well as retaining 17 employees at two locations.
Mr. Flynn, 54, said he was concerned about the company’s reputation, as a longtime local retailer. “I can see negative blowback to stores. Here are people who’ve been told to stay home, but greedy retailers want people to come back out when it’s dangerous.”
David Howard, the restaurateur who owns McCrady’s, a 234-year-old tavern, as well as restaurants in other Southern cities, said his businesses were under financial strain brought by the virus. Still, he said it would be too difficult to maintain social distancing there. “We’re not opening next week,” he said, “no matter what.”
Missouri sues China over its handling of the outbreak.
The state of Missouri filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Chinese government over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, claiming that China’s response led to a global pandemic and unleashed unprecedented economic devastation in the state.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, accuses Chinese authorities of engaging in an “appalling campaign of deceit, concealment, misfeasance and inaction” to cover up the dangers of the virus, and says those authorities were “responsible for the enormous death, suffering, and economic losses they inflicted on the world,” including billions of dollars in economic losses for Missouri residents.
Missouri is the first state in the nation to file a lawsuit in a United States court against China over its actions regarding the coronavirus, but its claim has virtually no chance of succeeding since U.S. law grants foreign governments broad immunity from the civil jurisdiction of American courts.
With few exceptions, a long-held legal doctrine known as sovereign immunity, which is based on the principle that states are sovereign equals, prevents lawsuits from bogging down countries in each other’s courts, according to Chimène Keitner, an international law professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.
“U.S. courts can’t adjudicate claims against foreign governments for their bad policy decisions, even if those bad policy decisions have catastrophic consequences,” said Ms. Keitner, the author of a recent blog post titled “Don’t Bother Suing China for Coronavirus.”
Michigan changes its contact-tracing plans after accusations of partisanship.
Michigan officials said on Tuesday that they would hire new contact-tracing vendors after Republicans in the state criticized their previous selections because of their links to the Democratic Party.
The reversal is another example of how the public health crisis has become an arena for pitched political battles. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, has been a frequent critic of the Trump administration for its handling of the coronavirus crisis. She is a first-term governor of an important swing state that has been hit hard by the outbreak, and she is seen as a potential running mate for Joseph R. Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Contract tracing aims to identify people who have been exposed to the coronavirus and find others who may have come in contact with them. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement Monday that it was contracting with two outreach organizations — Great Lakes Community Engagement and EveryAction VAN — to “provide software to help organize remote phone banking and track information and contacts.”
Both organizations have been linked to Democratic candidates or campaigns, The Detroit News reported. Republicans in the state were quick to criticize the decision.
“Awarding the contract for such a critically important project to an openly partisan political firm raises major questions about Governor Whitmer’s ethics and her priorities,” Laura Cox, the chair of the Michigan Republican Party, said in a statement.
Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for Ms. Whitmer, said in an email Tuesday that the state would be selecting different vendors.
“This issue is being corrected,” she said. “The state is committed to ensuring this important tracing work can begin quickly to help save lives, while also ensuring that public health data is safe and secure.”
Stu Trevelyan, the chief executive of EveryAction, said the organization was “a bit player in this theater, as a small subcontractor to the prime contractor that the state parted ways with.” The company was to be paid $3,500, a fraction of the larger contract.
Ms. Whitmer imposed some of the country’s most severe restrictions earlier this month in Michigan. According to a New York Times database, more than 32,000 people had tested positive for the virus, and more than 2,600 with it had died, making it the state with the third-highest number of deaths from Covid-19.
The fight over easing restrictions divides the right.
An informal coalition of influential conservative leaders and groups, some with close connections to the White House, has been quietly working to nurture protests and apply political and legal pressure to overturn state and local orders intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Among those fighting the orders are FreedomWorks and Tea Party Patriots, which played pivotal roles in the beginning of Tea Party protests starting more than a decade ago, and a law firm led partly by former Trump White House officials. The effort picked up some influential support on Tuesday, when Attorney General William P. Barr expressed concerns about state-level restrictions potentially infringing on constitutional rights.
While polls show a majority of Americans are more concerned about reopening the country too quickly, those helping orchestrate the fight against restrictions predict the effort could energize the right and potentially help President Trump as he campaigns for re-election.
Noah Wall, the advocacy director for FreedomWorks, described the current efforts as appealing to a “much broader” group. “This is about people who want to get back to work and leave their homes,” he said.
Jay Timmons, the head of the National Association of Manufacturers, one of America’s largest business lobbying groups, had another word for the protesters: idiots.
“These people are standing so close together without any protection — with children, for God’s sakes,” Mr. Timmons said in an interview. “And they have no concern, and it’s all about them, and it’s all about what they want.”
The F.D.A. approves the first in-home test for the coronavirus.
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday said it had granted emergency clearance to the first in-home test for the coronavirus, a nasal swab kit that would be sold by LabCorp.
The agency said that LabCorp had submitted data showing the home test was as safe and accurate as a sample collected at a doctor’s office, hospital or other testing site.
To obtain a sample, patients will swab their own nose using a testing kit sent by the company, and mail it back in an insulated package. The test will be available to consumers in most states with a doctor’s order, the F.D.A. said.
LabCorp said that it would first make the tests available to health care workers and emergency workers who may have been exposed to the virus or have symptoms, and that it would be making the self-collection kits available to consumers “in the coming weeks.” The company noted the home tests would cut down on the demand for masks and other protective equipment that is usually needed to collect testing specimens.
The test will cost $119. Consumers will have to pay out of pocket for the test, a company spokesman said, and ask their insurer for reimbursement.
New antibody testing studies show higher numbers of infections than expected.
Two new studies using antibody testing to assess how many people have been infected turned up numbers higher than some experts had expected.
Both studies were performed in California: one among residents of Santa Clara County, south of San Francisco, and the other among residents of Los Angeles County. In both cases, the estimates of the number of people infected countrywide were far higher than the number of confirmed cases.
In the Santa Clara County study, researchers tested 3,330 volunteers for antibodies indicating exposure. Roughly 1.5 percent were positive. After adjustments intended to account for differences between the sample and the population of the county as a whole, the researchers estimated that the prevalence of antibodies fell between 2.5 percent and a bit more than 4 percent.
That meant that between 48,000 and 81,000 people were infected in Santa Clara County by early April, the researchers concluded.
In Los Angeles County, researchers conducted antibody tests for two days at six drive-through test sites in early April and estimated that between 2.8 percent to 5.6 percent of the county’s adult population carried antibodies. If accurate, that would mean that 220,000 to 442,000 residents have been exposed.
By comparison, only 8,000 cases had been confirmed in the county at the time the testing was done.
Puerto Rico has the lowest testing rate in the country.
Hobbled by government scandal and dysfunction at the start of the pandemic, Puerto Rico has performed an average of 15 tests a day for every 100,000 people, according to the Covid Tracking Project. That rate is lower than any state and more than 10 times less comprehensive than the testing effort in New York.
Public health experts fear the situation could leave the island uniquely vulnerable once it attempts to reopen. Puerto Rico has one of the strictest lockdowns in the country, which has kept hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with patients but has also required much sacrifice from Puerto Ricans enduring the 14th year of an economic recession.
“Everything has been delay and disorganization,” said Dr. Carlos Mellado, a physician in San Juan, the capital, who has been treating patients. “We’re still under a complete lockdown. People are starting to get desperate.”
The health department, which is being led by its third secretary since March 13, has been double-counting some test results. It is also embroiled in a $38 million contracting scandal over antibody tests that never materialized. Federal agencies are investigating.
More than in other places where testing has been insufficient, experts say that the huge lag has left Puerto Rico blind to where it lies on its infection curve.
With testing in the spotlight, Trump and Cuomo meet at the White House.
The president and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, two New Yorkers who have alternately praised and quarreled with one another during the pandemic, met in person at the White House to try to resolve their differences on testing and financial relief.
After weeks of talking by telephone and through the news media, Mr. Cuomo traveled to Washington to sit down with the president and press for more federal assistance to expand testing for the virus and to help financially devastated state and local governments.
Mr. Cuomo emerged afterward and called it “a good conversation,” playing down the sporadic disputes between the men.
“The president is communicative about his feelings and I’m communicative about what I think,” Mr. Cuomo told Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC. “But look, for the president and for myself, this isn’t about — this is not about anyone’s emotions, about anyone else. Who cares what I feel, what he feels. We have a tremendous job that we have to get done and put everything else aside and do the job. And that was the tone of the conversation.”
Earlier in the day Mr. Cuomo had announced 481 more fatalities on Monday in New York, lower than the daily tolls last week, but bringing the overall total to at least 14,828. Total hospitalizations were “basically flat,” he said, and the number of intubations declined. New York would begin to allow elective treatment in hospitals in parts of the state that were less battered, he said.
Wisconsin’s Republican leaders try to block the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Leaders of Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature on Tuesday filed a lawsuit seeking to block a statewide stay-at-home order issued by the Democratic governor, who closed schools and businesses.
The legal fight adds a new note of partisan rancor in a roiling national debate that has seen Mr. Trump, conservative protesters and some states lawmakers push for a faster reopening of shuttered state economies. Wisconsin’s Republican leaders filed the lawsuit after Gov. Tony Evers’s administration extended a statewide stay-at-home order through May 26, citing a need to prevent increases in coronavirus cases.
The lawsuit comes just weeks after the Republican-controlled Legislature refused to postpone the state’s April 7 primary election or expand mail-in voting, leading to scenes of hundreds of masked voters standing in line for hours outside polling places. At least seven people in Milwaukee contracted the coronavirus after participating in the elections, public health officials said on Tuesday.
Robin Vos, the speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, and State Senator Scott Fitzgerald, the majority leader, said in a statement on Tuesday that the governor’s orders had exceeded his legal authority and churned up “immense frustration.”
“The governor has denied the people a voice through this unprecedented administrative overreach,” they said. “Wisconsinites deserve certainty, transparency and a plan to end the constant stream of executive orders that are eroding both the economy and their liberty.”
The president’s family business is asking his administration for rent relief.
Mr. Trump’s signature hotel in the nation’s capital wants a break on its rent. The landlord determining the fate of the request is Mr. Trump’s own administration.
Trump International Hotel, just a few blocks from the White House, had been a favored gathering place for lobbyists, foreign dignitaries and others hoping to score points with the president. But like most hotels, it is now nearly empty and looking to cut costs because of the pandemic.
In recent weeks, the president’s family business has inquired about changing its lease payments, the company confirmed on Tuesday, which the federal government has reported amount to nearly $268,000 per month.
The Trump Organization owns and operates the luxury hotel, but it is in a federally owned building on Pennsylvania Avenue. As part of its deal to open the 263-room hotel, the company signed a 60-year lease in 2013 that requires the monthly payments to the General Services Administration.
The Trump Organization is current on its rent, according to Eric Trump, the president’s son, but he confirmed that the company had opened a conversation about possible delays in future monthly payments.
The younger Mr. Trump said the company was asking the G.S.A. for any relief that it might be granting other federal tenants. The president still owns the company, but his eldest sons run the day-to-day operations.
“Just treat us the same,” Eric Trump said in a statement on Tuesday. “Whatever that may be is fine.”
On Tuesday, Mr. Trump was asked about several of his family company’s luxury clubs furloughing workers as a result of the coronavirus.
All told, the Trump Organization has furloughed nearly 200 workers at its properties, including the Trump International Hotel, as well as a beachfront resort in Doral, Fla.
Mr. Trump said the company had made the decision as a result of stringent policies guarding against the spread of the coronavirus, and he suggested that he did not agree with a decision to bar people from golf courses in Florida.
“You’re not allowed to have a customer. So in some places it’s very strict. New Jersey is strict. New York is strict. And you have to do what you have to do. And it’s too bad,” Mr. Trump said. “I feel so badly when I see that. I think it’s a tough policy, but I go by whatever the policy — that’s a state policy in the case of Florida.”
Trump wishes North Korea’s leader well.
The president, asked to comment on a series of news reports that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, was in failing health after undergoing heart surgery, said he wished the dictator well.
“I’ve had a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un, and that’s to the benefit of the country,” Mr. Trump said at a White House briefing on Tuesday. “And I’d like to see him be well. We’ll see how he does.”
He added, speaking directly to Mr. Kim, “Good luck, good luck.”
Mr. Kim, the 36-year-old dictator who has spent much of Mr. Trump’s presidency making and then walking back pacts to dismantle his country’s nuclear arsenal, has been largely out of sight in recent days.
Mr. Kim’s absence from a celebration for his grandfather’s birthday, a major event in North Korea, has led to rampant rumors about his failing health but no confirmed reports.
Over the course of their negotiations, the two leaders have traded fawning letters. The White House confirmed in March that Mr. Trump had sent Mr. Kim a letter offering assistance with handling the coronavirus outbreak.
But this week, North Korean officials denied that Mr. Kim had sent Mr. Trump a letter of his own after the president said he’d received a “nice note” from him recently.
Senate Democrats want answers about why Trump’s name will be on stimulus checks.
Senate Democrats have opened a formal inquiry into the decision to put Mr. Trump’s name on economic stimulus checks amid speculation that the move might delay payments to millions of Americans.
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, sent Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin a letter on Tuesday seeking answers about the circumstances surrounding the decision and what impact it would have on the timing of the checks going in the mail.
Mr. Mnuchin said on Sunday that it was his idea to have Mr. Trump’s name added to the memo line of the checks.
Mr. Wyden said that his staff asked Treasury officials twice about the matter during briefings that they gave to lawmakers and they had no answer.
“If adding the signature was in fact your idea that information could have already been made available to Congress,” Mr. Wyden wrote to Mr. Mnuchin.
“To set the record straight, I request details about how you made this decision to benefit the president politically, which may delay the delivery of critical funds to millions of Americans struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table.”
The letter notes that no president’s name has ever appeared on a disbursement from the Internal Revenue Service. It asks several questions about who authorized the policy change, who will benefit from the decision and what effect it had on timing of disbursement.
Mr. Trump’s name will appear in the memo portion of the check because he is not authorized to sign such disbursements.
Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have insisted that there will be no delay in sending the checks, which are supposed to start being mailed this week.
Mr. Trump said last week that he believed “people will be very happy to get a big, fat, beautiful check” with his name on it.
In a historic shift, the House could move this week to allow remote voting.
The House could take action as early as Thursday to modify the chamber’s rules to allow remote voting by proxy for the first time in institutional history.
Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, notified lawmakers that they would most likely vote on the rules change when they returned to Washington to vote on a package to replenish a lapsed loan program for small businesses and provide additional aid for hospitals and testing.
With the agreement unfinished as of early Tuesday, the earliest the House will return to vote is Thursday morning, Mr. Hoyer said in a notice sent shortly before midnight.
The move toward remote voting by proxy is a stark shift for Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who had initially resisted it. But it is an acknowledgment that the coronavirus pandemic, by forcing Congress into an extended recess, has made that position untenable.
Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the Rules Committee chairman who had been studying the issue, recommended voting by proxy to Democrats during a private caucus call last week. It would allow lawmakers who could not travel to the Capitol to give specific instructions on each vote to a colleague authorized to vote on their behalf.
“This is what we’re comfortable with doing now that I think poses the least amount of risk,” Mr. McGovern told The Times on Thursday. “For those who feel they want to be here and engage in debate, they can come back, but for those members who are in states where they are instructed not to leave their homes or not to travel, they can still participate.”
With the House expected to act on more legislation to counter the virus and its economic toll, and as partisan division over the response to the pandemic continues to intensify, House Republicans have indicated that they will continue to request roll call votes and require all lawmakers to return to Capitol Hill — a maneuver that remote voting would essentially nullify.
The Senate appears unlikely to follow suit, though senators are discussing how to manage remote hearings and stay connected while scattered across the country until at least May 4.
Here’s some advice on managing your emotions during the lockdown.
As each week of the pandemic passes, it is not unusual to experience unexpected emotions. Here are some strategies that might be helpful in trying to cope.
Reporting was contributed by Tim Arango, Mike Baker, Karen Barrow, Jo Becker, Katie Benner, Alan Blinder, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Chris Dixon, Steve Eder, David Enrich, Lola Fadulu, Jacey Fortin, Thomas Fuller Dana Goldstein, Anemona Hartocollis, Jack Healy, Andrew Jacobs, Miriam Jordan, Gina Kolata, Lisa Lerer, Dan Levin, Patricia Mazzei, Allison McCann, Matt Phillips, Ben Protess, Alan Rappeport, Katie Rogers, Rick Rojas, Jim Rutenberg, Marc Santora, Katharine Q. Seelye, Eliza Shapiro, Michael D. Shear, Jim Tankersley, Katie Thomas, Kenneth P. Vogel and Jin Wu.