Welcome to Wednesday. We’re looking at an overcast day with temperatures in the mid-50s, according to The Weather Channel. The Jewish holiday of Passover begins tonight, and many people I know – including my immediate family – will be celebrating online.

On this day in 1789, the U.S. House of Representatives held its first meeting. And in 1864, the U.S. Senate passed the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime, by a vote of 38 to 6.

I highlight the historical roles of Congress on this particular day in history because the fate of many small businesses rests in the hands of that body’s members at the moment.

The Trump administration and top lawmakers said they hope to move within days to approve hundreds of billions of dollars in new funding for small-business loans, citing widespread demand for assistance from firms hit by shutdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday that he has asked for an additional $250 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which sets aside $349 billion in rescue loans for small businesses under the federal economic stimulus bill.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes to approve further funding tomorrow to buoy small businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

This comes as the rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program, which launched last Friday, has been chaotic, with banks saying guidance from the federal government was too slow to come and confusing once it did arrive, and small business owners are worried about being able to access the money before it runs out.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a letter to New York’s congressional delegation, urged federal representatives to push for state assistance in the next stimulus package. He had called the federal legislation “terrible,” asserting that the package does not help New York’s state government offset its revenue loss.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for up to $25,000 in “heroes” pay for front-line health care and service industry workers as Congress pushes ahead with a new coronavirus crisis rescue package.

Long Island Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi is advocating for the repeal of the cap on state and local tax deductions in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Trump sidelined a career Pentagon official yesterday from overseeing how his administration spends trillions of dollars in coronavirus relief, extending his apparent political purge of watchdog offices across the federal government.

The stimulus checks coming to taxpayers, probably starting later this week, are expected to help people for a little while. And while most people will get payments, questions linger whether many others will receive them.

Health officials in South Korea are feeling stumped after dozens of coronavirus sufferers retested positive.

China today ended its lockdown of Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus first emerged and a potent symbol in a pandemic that has killed tens of thousands of people, shaken the global economy and thrown daily life into upheaval across the planet. But the city that has reopened after more than 10 weeks is a profoundly damaged one.

A drug that the Japanese government has claimed could be a possible treatment for coronavirus is going to see its first clinical trial in the U.S., as three Massachusetts hospitals were approved to begin their study by the FDA.

Japan’s benchmark advanced but other Asian shares fell today amid uncertainty over the coronavirus outbreak, which continues to claim more lives around the world.

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the United States, Anthony Fauci has become a familiar sight at Trump’s media conferences, where the doctor provides guidance, recommendations and sobering facts to the American people on how to stay safe. Here are 20 things you might not know about him.

News of a possible pandemic slowdown yesterday did little to offset the sobering reality of a single-day record death toll in New York state, where 731 victims were added to the growing coronavirus body count.

The fatalities, discussed in the governor’s daily briefing yesterday, came as the rate of hospitalizations for the infectious disease continued to drop for a third day, and the number of individuals in intensive care units and on respirators also declined.

The initial efforts by New York officials to stem the outbreak were hampered by their own confused guidance, unheeded warnings, delayed decisions and political infighting, The New York Times found.

…Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and former commissioner of the city’s Health Department, said that if the state and city had adopted widespread social-distancing measures a week or two earlier, including closing schools, stores and restaurants, then the estimated death toll from the outbreak might have been reduced by 50 to 80 percent.

New Jersey recorded the state’s highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in a single day as Gov. Phil Murphy closed state and county parks. Officials announced 232 additional deaths, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,232.

The number of coronavirus deaths and infections in New York has now eclipsed those in each of China, Iran and Germany, new statistics show.

The official death figures, awful as they are, may not actually reflect the virus’s true toll Around the country, according to experts and officials, virus-related deaths are being undercounted because of inconsistent protocols and limited resources.

A Pennsylvania nursing home has reportedly opted to operate under the presumption that its entire resident population and whole staff may be infected with the coronavirus.

In its inexorable spread across New York City, the coronavirus is exacting a greater toll on men than women. Not only are men infected in greater numbers, new data show, but they are also dying at nearly twice the rate of women.

The coronavirus is infecting and killing black people in the U.S. at disproportionately high rates, according to preliminary data released by several states and big cities, highlighting what public health researchers say are entrenched inequalities in resources, health and access to care.

NYC residents are flouting warnings to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic by continuing to flock to local parks, videos and photos show.

Manhattan is not the most populous borough in the city, but it is by far the densest, with nearly 70,000 residents per square mile. Yet, it has recorded the fewest number of confirmed coronavirus cases per capita of all five boroughs.

A massive jump in heart attacks and other cardiac calls is adding to first responders’ workloads as rattled New Yorkers try to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo backed off his plan to take some of upstate hospitals’ unused ventilators and bring them to New York City, announcing that recent donations and acquisitions from around the country and world had covered the dire need for ventilators downstate and any redeployment of ventilators would happen voluntarily.

Erie County yesterday saw its largest one-day increase in COVID-19-related deaths, and the number of people hospitalized continues to grow, with about half of them sent to intensive care or requiring a ventilator.

It has been a difficult few years for New York and nationwide, and now they are are bracing themselves for another catastrophic blow: the novel coronavirus pandemic — a crisis that could not have struck at a worse time.

Wisconsin pressed ahead with its presidential primary election yesterday, despite a state-wide stay-at-home order amid the escalating coronavirus outbreak. Voters braved long lines at a limited number of polling stations where some staff wore hazmat suits.

As of the end of March, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had identified 600 undocumented immigrants in its custody who are vulnerable to the coronavirus and released more than 160 of them, the agency confirmed.

In a matter of days, hard-won bans to reduce the use of plastics — and particularly plastic shopping sacks — across the U.S. have come under fire amid worries about the virus clinging to reusable bags, cups and straws.

Starting today, the U.S. Census Bureau is mailing out paper forms to 65.6 million homes whose residents haven’t yet answered the once-a-decade questionnaire.

Doctors, firefighters and others who risk exposure to COVID-19 are being taken to court by ex-spouses who want to keep them away from their children.

Advocates for prison inmates are calling on Cuomo to grant clemency to older prisoners and other inmates at risk of infection from COVID-19, noting dozens of inmates and hundreds of staffers in the state prison system have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Cuomo announced relief for about 300,000 New Yorkers with student loan debt, saying he reached an agreement with major student loan servicers including Navient, Nelnet, PHEAA, and MOHELA, as well as others, to defer collections and waive late fees.

State lawmakers introduced new legislation that would provide tenants with an additional six months of protection from eviction as the coronavirus pandemic rages.

Business groups said a newly approved state mandate to pay higher wages on a broader range of government-backed construction projects will hurt firms as they attempt to recover from the novel coronavirus.

One of New York’s largest public labor unions, PEF, is urging the state Department of Health to reverse a policy that calls for employees with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases to return to the workplace in the event of staff shortages.

Republican state Assemblyman Brian Miller, who represents a portion of Ulster County, remains hospitalized with the coronavirus, according to the Assembly minority leader.

Government officials and business leaders are turning their attention to a looming challenge in the fight against the new coronavirus pandemic: Reopening a $22 trillion U.S. economy that has been shut down like never before.

Cuomo is teaming up with his opposite numbers in New Jersey and Connecticut to plan for an eventual return to normalcy once the worst of the coronavirus has passed. “We’re working on a tri-state cooperative,” the governor said.

The governor says the key to getting the economy moving again in the city, state, and tri-state region will be testing, and the state will initiate a regional approach to “restarting life” through antibody testing, which will track who has recovered from coronavirus.

Cuomo said that the state will invest in private companies to speed- and scale-up rapid COVID-19 testing capacity.

“It isn’t like a light switch on and off,” said Fauci in an interview with “The Journal,” a Wall Street Journal podcast. “It’s a gradual pulling back on certain of the restrictions to try and get society a bit back to normal.”

The de Blasio administration detailed its plans to whack $1.3 billion from its spending plans as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to capsize the Big Apple’s finances with billions in lost tax revenues and massive new costs to treat the sick.

The city Department of Education is getting clubbed with $264 million in budget cuts due to the coronavirus crisis, officials announced.

The budget ax is also hitting Staten Island Ferry service and some of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s street safety initiatives, including Vision Zero and bike lane expansion plans, as the cash-strapped Big Apple struggles to balance the books amidst a pandemic.

A crew member aboard the Navy hospital ship U.S.N.S. Comfort tested positive for the coronavirus, and several others have gone into isolation, the Navy said, the latest setback in the ship’s troubled mission to New York to assist in the response to the pandemic.

The City University of New York will dole out $500 grants funded by private donations to more than 1,000 low-income students struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic. The fund is starting out with $1 million, but eventually will grow to $10 million.

The state Education Department modified New York’s high school graduation requirements for the 2019-2020 school year in light of its cancellation of the June Regents exams due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Election commissioners from around the state are renewing their push for expanded use of absentee ballots to protect poll workers and voters alike from the virus that causes Covid-19.

Since March. 19, when California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered his state’s residents to stay at home to slow the spread of coronavirus, vehicle traffic has fallen by 80 percent. With that drop, scientists say, comes a bit of a silver lining: air quality in notoriously smog-filled Los Angeles has improved significantly.

Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter and Square, said that he planned to donate $1 billion, or just under a third of his total wealth, to relief programs related to the coronavirus, in one of the more significant efforts by a tech billionaire to fight the pandemic.

A number of charitable institutions are providing deliveries of free kosher-for-Passover food to thousands of Jews in the hard-hit New York City region before the holiday, which begins tonight amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A retired 56-year-old NYPD sergeant left an Upper East Side hospital after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 — and was found dead about an hour later on the street outside, police sources said.

The state should hire unemployed construction workers to dig graves, filling an urgent need while giving out-of-work New Yorkers much-needed cash, Queens Councilman Robert Holden says.

The number of people in mandatory quarantine due to coronavirus jumped dramatically overnight in Albany County, and four more local people – one victim each in Rensselaer, Schenectady, Saratoga and Columbia counties – died from the effects of a disease that is showing no signs of slowing the the Capital Region.

The trash flowed in steadily yesterday at the East Greenbush town transfer station – a sign the coronavirus outbreak has residents keenly focused on cleaning up and cleaning out at home while they’re away from the workplace.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival – one of the most prominent and popular cultural draws in the Berkshires each summer – has canceled its physical stage productions at its Williams College campus due to the coronavirus, announcing it is “unable to proceed with the theatre season in Williamstown at this time.” (There will be Audible recordings with actors scheduled to appear instead).

April is National Poetry Month. Even though writers and audiences can’t gather in person because of the coronavirus, verse is happening on Facebook or Zoom, in people’s notebooks and in our earbuds.

Shoppers, moved by nostalgia at a time of great stress and hunting for longer shelf lives, are returning to old standbys like Chef Boyardee and Campbell’s soup.

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will be performing live from the Duomo of Milan, which remains empty during the coronavirus pandemic, on Easter Sunday.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship plans to hold a pay-per-view event on tribal land in Central California this month, an attempted end run around widespread federal and state guidelines against holding large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, according to three people familiar with the decision.

Singer-songwriter John Prine, the laconic Midwesterner with a deft lyrical touch and a legion of high-profile fans from Bob Dylan to Bonnie Raitt to Bruce Springsteen, died after contracting coronavirus last month. He was 73.

A federal judge in Brooklyn denied R&B singer R. Kelly’s request for release from jail in Chicago, despite his fears of contracting the coronavirus behind bars.

Anna Wintour’s son Charles Shaffer, a doctor, is sick and self-quarantining after working in a coronavirus intensive care unit in New York, the Vogue editor said in an Instagram video.

Celebrity addiction specialist Drew Pinsky called the coronavirus pandemic a “press-induced panic” a few weeks ago. Now – after more than 10,500 people have died – he’s had a change of heart.

In non-virus news…

The president has a new press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, 31. She made a name for herself by defending him on CNN, a network where he has few allies. As a Trump campaign aide, she became a fixture at his political rallies.

The New York Philharmonic has been forced by an arbitrator to reinstate two players it fired over allegations of unspecified sexual misconduct, the orchestra said.

The state budget approved last week includes several policies supporting women, including the elimination of the so-called “pink tax” and the legalization of gestational surrogacy, but it left out legislation to close a loophole in state law that makes it harder to prosecute sexual assaults.

State lawmakers took a pass last week on extending a one-year legal window that allowed survivors of child sex abuse to sue over decades-old allegations.

Four people were injured after an accident involving a car and three motorcycles in the village of Corinth yesterday afternoon.