While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for December 28

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COVID-19 relief package signed. President Donald Trump has signed a $900 billion pandemic relief package that will deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals. It also averts a government shutdown.

Trump announced the signing in a statement Sunday night.

The massive bill includes $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through September and contains other end-of-session priorities such as money for cash-starved transit systems and an increase in food stamp benefits.

Democrats are promising more aid to come once President-elect Joe Biden takes office, but Republicans are signaling a wait-and-see approach.

World economy responds to President Trump signing bill. Global stock markets and U.S. futures rose Monday after President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion economic aid package, helping to reduce uncertainty as governments re-impose travel and business curbs in response to a new coronavirus variant.

London and Frankfurt opened higher as traders returned to work following a three-day Christmas weekend. Shanghai and Tokyo also advanced.

Trump signed the measure, which also includes money for other government functions through September, despite expressing frustration that $600 payments to the public weren’t bigger. His signature following last-minute objections helped to clear away uncertainty as reinstated travel and business curbs threaten to weigh on global economic activity.

“The stimulus balloon will allow the markets to navigate better the number of new air pockets showing up on the radar due to the virus’s latest variant,” said Stephen Innes of Axi in a report.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.1% to 6,502.11 and the DAX in Frankfurt advanced 1.2% to 13,756.71. The CAC 40 in France gained 0.5% to 5,548.55.

19 million cases in the U.S. The U.S. has now topped 19 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows.

America exceeded that mark on Sunday, just six days after it reached 18 million. The nation’s case numbers have more than doubled in less than two months.

COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. also have been rising, and now total more than 332,000. That’s more than one death for every 1,000 Americans. The U.S. population as of Saturday was about 331 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The United States accounts for about 4% of the world’s population, but close to 24% of its total coronavirus cases and 19% of its COVID-19 deaths. Health experts believe many cases have gone unreported, however, both in America and internationally.

Countries in the EU get first doses of vaccine. Doctors, nurses and the elderly rolled up their sleeves across the European Union to receive the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine Sunday in a symbolic show of unity and moment of hope for a continent confronting its worst health care crisis in a century.

Weeks after the U.S., Canada and Britain began inoculations with the same vaccine, the 27-nation bloc staged a coordinated rollout aimed at projecting a unified message that the shot was safe and Europe’s best chance to emerge from the pandemic.

For health care workers who have been battling the virus with only masks and shields to protect themselves, the vaccines represented an emotional relief as the virus continues to kill. But it was also a public chance for them to urge Europe’s 450 million people to get the shots amid continued vaccine and virus skepticism.

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