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Good evening – here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.

Top headlines
  1. Ottawa will subsidize 75 per cent of wages for for small businesses
  2. US passes $2.2-trillion emergency aid bill
  3. Italy passes China in number of coronavirus cases

Have questions about the coronavirus? Email audience@globeandmail.com. The Globe’s paywall has been removed on coronavirus news stories.


U.S. Army personnel sit apart at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which will be partially converted into a hospital in New York City. Doctors and nurses in the United States, which Thursday became the world leader in confirmed cases, are raising the alarm about the shortage of medicine, supplies and trained staff.JEENAH MOON/Reuters


Number of the day

75 per cent

The government will subsidize wages up to 75 per cent for small businesses, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today. The subsidy, up from a promise of 10 per cent last week, is part of the emergency package for small-business owners announced today.

  • Also included in the measure: Government-backed loans of $40,000. The first year is interest-free and $10,000 will be forgivable.

Additional program details will be announced Monday, the Prime Minister said.


Coronavirus in Canada

4,564: cases in Canada reported; with 257 recoveries and 53 deaths.

In Ottawa, a prominent leader in the Senate called for a “temporary guaranteed livable income for all adult Canadians.” The goal would be to keep the economy in a “state of suspended animation” so workers and households can meet their basic needs and companies can remain solvent.

Also today, Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report that said the economic fallout of COVID-19 remains extremely uncertain, but could lead to the weakest GDP figures in decades and a deficit of more than $112.7-billion.

  • The report is an illustrative example of what could happen based on a set of economic assumptions, including maintaining current social distancing measures until August.
  • The estimate of a $112.7-billion deficit in the fiscal year that starts April 1 does not include the measures announced this week following the passage of Bill C-13, the government’s emergency stimulus legislation.
  • The PBO notes that the legislation contains “un-costed” measures.

Coronavirus around the world

566,652: cases confirmed around the world; with 127,797 recoveries and 25,433 deaths reported.


Coronavirus and business:

What happened today?

The Bank of Canada cut its key interest rate to 0.25 per cent – matching its all-time low – and announced a new program for a minimum $5-billion-per-week of market purchases of Government of Canada bonds.

  • The move marks the bank’s first-ever foray into large-scale asset purchases.
  • The bank says it will adjust the program “as conditions warrant" and will continue “until the economic recovery is well underway.”

“A firefighter has never been criticized for using too much water,” Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said in a conference call with reporters.

Elsewhere: Despite massive layoffs, in some pockets of the economy, some companies are hiring rapidly.

  • Walmart Canada, Amazon and Dollarama are hiring. Some grocery and drug store chains, medical supply makers, some cleaning and security services and IT firms that enable remote work have also posted want ads.

While job openings are a rare bit of good news, these new positions are, at best, a buffer against further economic devastation.

What happened in the markets?
  • On Bay Street: The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 5.11 per cent.
  • On Wall Street: The Dow closed down 4.06 per cent. The S&P 500 fell 3.37 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite finished the day down 3.79 per cent.

Reader question

Question: There seems to be a lot of conflicting information. Who can go for a walk?

Answer: Anyone can go for a walk who:

  • Has not been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Does not have symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Has not travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.

That means most people can go out for a walk, but they should not congregate and they should practise social distancing by keeping at least two metres from others.

But the official advice is also stay at home as much as possible.

The Globe’s health columnist André Picard answered other reader questions.

Need more answers? Email audience@globeandmail.com


More Globe reporting and opinion:

An act of kindness

Have you witnessed or performed acts of kindness in your neighbourhood? Share your stories, photos and videos and they might be included in the Globe and Mail. Email audience@globeandmail.com.

“With everything going on in the world, there’s a lot of things we could be doing to help out. And this seemed like an easy enough thing for me to do,” said Rae Woodhouse, who donated blood after receiving an e-mail request for donors from Canadian Blood Services.handout/Handout

Canadian Blood Services sees ‘dramatic’ surge in donations after making public appeal

The blood-donation agency has seen a “dramatic” influx of Canadians willing to roll up their sleeves, said Graham Sher, chief executive officer of Canadian Blood Services (CBS).

The organization made a public call for donors on March 16 after seeing a spike in cancellations due to concerns over the new coronavirus. Since the request, the organization has seen not only a return of its regulars, he said, but an increase in first-time donors and visits from individuals who have not donated in a long time.

“Regardless of how bad things are, there are so many people who have it much worse,” Wes Schollenberg said after his 156th donation this week.


Distractions

Here are some recommendations for what to read, watch and activities to do.

For the TV and movie buff:

Information centre:

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