Coronavirus update: US moves to confront its health and economic crises. Here’s what’s happened so far today.

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he will invoke emergency powers to marshal critical medical supplies against a coronavirus pandemic threatening to overwhelm hospitals and other treatment centers.

As virus cases surged and the markets fell, Trump took a series of extraordinary steps to steady a battered nation, its day-to-day life fundamentally altered.

Employ the Defense Production Act to steer production by private companies to try to overcome shortages in masks, ventilators and other supplies.Expand the nation’s testing capacity and deploy a Navy hospital ship to New York City, which is rapidly becoming an epicenter of the pandemic, and another such ship to the West Coast.Suspend foreclosures and evictions through April.

Among other developments since this morning:

The U.S. Senate passed a coronavirus relief bill that would provide for free coronavirus testing, paid family and sick leave, food assistance and unemployment benefits; the measure goes to President Trump’s desk.A larger aid package expected to follow would issue direct payments to Americans as a form of relief, starting April 6.The Dow sank 1,300 points, or 6.3%, erasing nearly all gains since Trump’s inauguration.President Trump announces a suspension of foreclosures and evictions through April because of the virus outbreak. A growing number of Americans face losing jobs and missing rent and mortgage payments.Ford and GM plan to temporarily close all North American factories. The United Auto Workers had been pushing for the closure.Applications for jobless benefits are surging amid coronavirus fears, raising fresh questions about whether states have stockpiled enough money to pay idled workersThe U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday that it is suspending field operations of its 2020 count for two weeks.Russian media have deployed a “significant disinformation campaign” against the West to worsen the impact of the coronavirus, generate panic and sow distrust, according to a European Union document.Italy’s death toll continues to soar, as the country reports 475 new coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours. The total number of COVID-19 fatalities in the country is now 2,978.

For full reports on developments in the past 24 hours, please select from the articles below. Scroll further for helpful information, a guide to coping and live updates from verified social media accounts.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate fever and cough. It can cause more severe illness including pneumonia for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

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