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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned Wednesday that the U.S. will “almost certainly” see a recession due to the effects of the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
During remarks on the Senate floor, Schumer, D-N.Y., said the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, “continues to test our nation in new and difficult ways.”
“Our public health system is understaffed and under-resourced and without intervention, it could soon become overwhelmed,” Schumer said.
“Even as the market shifts from day to day, coronavirus is slowing our economy to a near standstill and we’re almost certainly anticipating a recession,” he continued. “Go to the streets of many cities, towns and villages—they’re empty. Schools are closed in large portions of the country and businesses are struggling not to lay off workers because they don’t have customers, don’t have clients, don’t have income.”
Schumer went on to say that there “is a great urgency here.”
President Trump previously said a recession is possible.
On Wednesday, in the opening minutes of trading, U.S. equity markets plunged, removing all gains from earlier in the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,268 points, or 5.9 percent, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were lower by 5.4 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively. Trading is halted if the S&P 500 falls by 7 percent.
The instability in the markets came as the Trump administration was negotiating with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to hammer out the details of a stimulus package that could reach $1 trillion to help U.S. businesses and taxpayers deal with the economic fallout.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, opening the Senate on Tuesday morning, promised swift action, though there is no clear timeline on when the Senate will vote on the package.
"The Senate will not adjourn until we have passed significant and bold new steps above and beyond what the House has passed to help our strong nation and our strong underlying economy weather this storm," McConnell said.
The Trump administration’s stimulus package is bigger than the 2008 bank bailout, and the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was passed and signed under former President Barack Obama, and totaled $787 billion to help stabilize the economy about 14 months after the last recession began.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that President Trump wants him to send checks to Americans within “the next two weeks” in an effort to help people cope with the economic fallout due to the COVID-19 spread.
Trump, on Wednesday, in an attempt to calm the thousands of Americans who have already applied for unemployment or have been furloughed due to the spread of the virus, said that “money will soon be coming to you.”
“For the people that are now out of work because of the important and necessary containment policies, for instance the shutting down of hotels, bars and restaurants, money will soon be coming to you,” he tweeted Wednesday.
The World Health Organization designated COVID-19 a global pandemic last week.
Trump announced a national emergency on Friday. The president also announced a temporary halt on air travel to the United States from Europe, now including flights from the United Kingdom, but excluding those carrying cargo.
When asked Tuesday whether he would limit domestic travel, the president replied: “It’s possible.”
The coronavirus task force also predicted Tuesday that the number of cases in the U.S. could peak in approximately 45 days.
As of Wednesday morning, there were more than 6,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, in all 50 states, including Washington, D.C. The U.S., so far, has seen 115 coronavirus-related deaths.
Fox Business Network's Jonathan Garber contributed to this report.