NPR News on Novel Coronavirus

There's been a furious reaction in Brazil after President Jair Bolsonaro demanded an end to lockdowns imposed in his country's biggest cities in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Having played down the virus for days as "exaggerated," the president doubled down Wednesday, labeling governors and mayors who have imposed restrictions as "criminals" who are "destroying Brazil."

Updated at 6:09 p.m. ET

The White House's pandemic task force convened another briefing on Wednesday afternoon amid a tense denouement for legislation aimed at helping an economy poleaxed by the disaster.

Last-minute objections on Wednesday threw the status of the bill into uncertainty after many proclamations of victory by other lawmakers about its contents.

In a surprising turnabout, drugmaker Gilead Sciences asked the Food and Drug administration on Wednesday to rescind orphan status for remdesivir, the company's experimental coronavirus treatment.

Online platforms have "an ethical obligation" to root out price gouging on hand sanitizer and other high-demand products during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, top law enforcement officials from across the country say.

The Senate coronavirus relief bill now under consideration would give states $400 million to protect upcoming elections against the pandemic threat. The money, far less than the $4 billion some Democrats had wanted, would allow states to expand mail-in and early voting, as well as online voter registration. The money could also be used to help secure in-person voting sites.

Businesses controlled by the president, senior executive branch officials or members of Congress will be barred from receiving funds under the huge economic rescue package the Senate could vote on as early as Wednesday, according to the Senate's top Democrat.

Medical device manufacturers are asking the Trump administration to step in and centralize the distribution of ventilators, life-saving devices that are in desperately short supply because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says that because of the coronavirus pandemic, he is delaying a constitutional referendum that could allow him to stay in power until 2036. The vote had been scheduled for April 22.

"You know that this is a very serious matter for me," Putin said in a speech on Wednesday. "However...our absolute priority is the health, life and safety of the people. This is why I believe the vote should be postponed."

The Sheetz convenience store chain is giving hourly pay raises of $3 to roughly 17,000 workers in its stores, the company announced Wednesday in response to the coronavirus crisis. It's one of the most aggressive moves yet by companies that are boosting pay to retain, attract and motivate employees.

The widescale raise is retroactive to March 13 and will be in effect through April 23.

As the new coronavirus continues to spread around the globe, researchers say the virus is changing its genetic makeup slightly. But does that mean it is becoming more dangerous to humans? And what would the impact be on any future vaccines?

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