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U.S. Is Poised to Top China With Most Infections: Virus Update

Bloomberg News
U.S. Is Poised to Top China With Most Infections: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. surpassed Italy in cases, with more than 80,700, and is poised to overtake China as having the most infections in the world.

President Donald Trump offered a plan that may help restore normal business. U.S. stocks jumped on optimism the $2 trillion U.S. stimulus package will blunt the pandemic’s impact.

China, where the outbreak began, will temporarily suspend the entry of foreigners holding valid visas and residence permits starting Saturday.

Key Developments:

Cases top 523,000; 23,000 dead, 122,000 recovered: Johns HopkinsU.S. fatalities top 1,000; confirmed cases in Canada surge 72%Fauci warns of potential for another cycle of infectionsWashington state’s new-case rate slowsChina’s Wuhan lockdown may delay feared second wave: studySpanish doctors are forced to choose who to let die from virus

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Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here. To see the impact on oil and commodities demand, click here.

U.S. Poised to Have World’s Largest Outbreak (5:06 p.m. NY)

The U.S. has at least 80,703 confirmed cases of coronavirus, surpassing Italy and positioning the country to overtake China as the site of the world’s largest outbreak.

The American tally was bolstered by a large jump in New York, which had 6,448 new cases Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 37,258. That accounts for almost half the outbreak nationwide, according to data collected by Bloomberg.

New Jersey and California also saw large increases in patients, and smaller hot spots in states like Michigan and Illinois began to grow more quickly.

Italian health officials reported 6,153 new cases Thursday, the most in five days, bringing the country’s total to 80,539. The outbreak in mainland China remains the largest globally

Washington’s New Cases Slow (3 p.m. NY)

Washington state has seen a drop in the rate of new cases being reported, Governor Jay Inslee said at a press conference, led by improvement in three counties in near Seattle where the outbreak began a month ago. Other counties aren’t seeing the pace of new cases slow, he said.

While hospitals are not yet full, the state -- which ranks fourth in U.S. cases -- needs to see a significant further reduction in cases in order to avoid running out of beds and equipment in the coming days, he said.

“We should not be within 10,000 miles of champagne corks on this,” Inslee said. Without further decreases to the case count “a lot of people in the state of Washington are going to die.”

Inslee called for a national system for buying personal protective equipment and other supplies in order to use the federal government’s buying power and avoid putting Washington in a “mad scramble” with all the other states for supplies.

U.K. Helps Self-Employed Workers (2:30 p.m. NY)

The U.K. government offered self-employed workers cash grants of as much as 2,500 pounds ($3,040) a month.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the three-month plan, at a cost the Treasury estimates will be about 9 billion pounds, after his offer last week to pay a portion of citizens’ wages was widely criticized for omitting self-employed workers.

About 95% of self-employed workers, 3.8 million people, will be eligible for the grants, Sunak said.

Full story here.

Latin Bank Offers Aid (2:30 p.m. NY)

The Inter-American Development Bank will make $12 billion available to countries for responding to the crisis and its aftermath. That includes $8.8 billion for other purposes that the nations can redirect, and $3.2 billion added to the the 2020 lending program.

The IDB wants to support the immediate public health response, safety nets for economically vulnerable people, aid for small- and medium-sized businesses and fiscal policies that support member countries.

The Washington-based IDB provided loans and technical assistance in a region with chronic infrastructure and financial shortages.

Trump Considers Plan to Rank Counties by Risk (2:15 p.m. NY)

President Donald Trump said his administration is working on a plan that would rank U.S. counties into one of three categories as a step toward the relaxing the tight restrictions put in place to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The administration, using criteria developed based on expanded testing capabilities and in consultation with health officials, proposes to designate counties as high-risk, medium-risk and low-risk. This ranking will help local officials decide on maintaining, increasing or relaxing social distancing and other measures, the president said in a letter to U.S. governors.

“Americans across the country are hoping the day will soon arrive when they can resume their normal economic, social and religious lives,” Trump wrote in the letter released by the White House.

Read the full story here

Italy Virus Cases Rise, Fueled by Lombardy (1:11 p.m. NY)

Italy reported its biggest rise in coronavirus infections in the past five days, as the disease spread further in the northern Lombardy region, even after weeks of rigid lockdown rules.

The civil protection agency reported 6,153 new cases on Thursday, up from 5,210 a day earlier.

Fatalities from the outbreak over the past 24 hours totaled 662, down from 683 for the previous day, according to figures provided at the agency’s daily news conference on Thursday. Confirmed cases in the country now total 80,539.

Read the full store here

N.Y. Patients Staying on Ventilators (12:20 p.m.)

Some New Yorkers are staying on ventilators as long as 30 days, dimming hopes for their recovery and adding to the shortage of the lifesaving machines, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Cuomo reported 100 more fatalities, for a total of 385, as hospitals brace for more. The city is deploying refrigerated trailers for use as temporary morgues. Until the outbreak is under control, Cuomo said officials are focused on reducing the rate of increase, not the reducing the number of cases, so hospitals don’t run out of beds.

New York added almost 6,500 cases, for a total of more than 37,000.

China Blocks Foreigners (11:55 a.m. NY)

China will temporarily suspend the entry of foreigners starting Saturday as cases worldwide surge, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Immigration Administration said on its website.

China has to take “necessary and temporary” measures in response to the current coronavirus situation, using practices of various countries as reference, the agencies said. Adjustments will be made according to the situation, they said.

U.K. Police Get Extra Powers (11:50 a.m. NY)

The U.K. government gave police strengthened enforcement powers to ensure people stay at home unless their trip is essential. From Thursday, the police may issue a penalty of 60 pounds ($73), rising to 120 pounds for second-time offenders.

Those not paying the fine can be taken to court and police can arrest those who continuously refuse to comply.

U.S. Delays New ID Deadline by Year (11:40 a.m. NY)

The U.S. delayed by a year, until October 2021, the deadline for states to issue new identification documents that meet the federal Real ID standards. Chad Wolf, acting Homeland Security secretary, said states needed time because motor vehicle offices that issue driver’s licenses have been closed in response to Covid-19.

U.K. Warns on ‘Coughing’ as Harassment (11:26 a.m. NY)

The U.K. is ready to crack down on coughing as a way to threaten or intimidate police officers and shop workers. The nation’s prosecution office issued a statement after reports that emergency workers were coughed at by people claiming to be infected. That could lead to assault charges and two years in jail, the prosecution service said.

Expo in Dubai Could be Delayed (11:26 a.m. NY)

A global exposition set for Dubai in late October could be delayed for up to a year, a setback for organizers who for years have touted the event as a potential bonanza for the United Arab Emirates. Dubai has spent billions of dollars building hotels and facilities in anticipation of attracting 25 million visitors during the six-month event.

A final decision must be made by member states of the Paris-based International Bureau of Expositions, which awarded the event to Dubai and the U.A.E. in 2013.

Iran Bans In-Country Travel (10:15 a.m. NY)

Iran banned travel between cities and ordered people to return to their hometowns or face fines after millions defied calls to stay indoors and went out to celebrate the Persian new year. President Hassan Rouhani warned of a second surge of the disease after new cases surged followed the holiday period.

Emergency services and cargo vehicles are exempt from the travel ban, the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Iran’s police chief as saying.

Europe Shies Away from Retooling Production for Gear (9:36 a.m. NY)

The European Union signaled that efforts to increase the supply of medical gear will involve ramping up existing production capacity. The European Commission said converting production lines at the likes of automotive and aeronautics businesses “would be time-consuming and not always necessarily successful.” The EU’s executive arm commented after President Ursula von der Leyen and European Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton held a phone call with representatives of various businesses.

U.K. Should Brace for $240 Billion Budget Deficit (9:28 a.m. NY)

Britain’s budget deficit could easily exceed 200 billion pounds ($240 billion) in the coming fiscal year as the coronavirus crisis hammers the economy and forces the government to unleash a huge package of fiscal stimulus. The warning came Thursday from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Caterpillar Withdraws Forecast, Halts Some Operations (9:11 a.m. NY)

Caterpillar Inc. is suspending operations at some U.S. facilities and withdrawing its 2020 financial guidance. The heavy-equipment maker said Thursday that the virus is starting to affect its supply chain.

U.S. Jobless Claims Surged to Record (8:31 a.m. NY)

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits surged to a record 3.28 million last week. Initial jobless claims in the week ended March 21 were up from 282,000 in the prior week and more than quadruple the previous record of 695,000 in 1982, according to Labor Department data released Thursday. The figures date to 1967.

Economists’ projections had ranged as high as 4.4 million.

Faster Virus Tests (8:30 a.m. NY)

Henry Schein said an antibody rapid blood test, known as Standard Q COVID-19 IgM/IgG Rapid Test, is now available. The test is intended to be administered at the point of care and delivers results within 15 minutes from a pinprick with no instrumentation required.

Earlier, Robert Bosch GmbH said it developed a test that can diagnose Covid-19 in less than 2.5 hours. The new test uses the Vivalytic molecular diagnostics platform made by Bosch’s healthcare division, used in hospitals, laboratories and medical practices. Patients typically must wait one or two days before they get test results.

Separately, U.K.-based Mologic Ltd. has sent prototypes of a 10-minute coronavirus test to laboratories for validation before it can begin full-scale manufacturing. The company and its partner, the Senegalese research foundation Institut Pasteur de Dakar, have developed a finger-prick test to determine whether a person had the illness and the state of their immune system. The company is also working on a separate saliva test to detect the presence of the virus.

Walmart Hires Thousands (8:25 a.m. NY)

Walmart Inc. has taken on 25,000 new employees and given offers to thousands more in the first week of a hiring push, as the biggest private employer in the U.S. scrambles to keep its shelves stocked and checkouts staffed.

The retailer has compressed a hiring process that can often take two weeks into as little as three hours by eliminating formal interviews and written job offers.

German Tour Operator TUI Said to Near State Aid (8:20 a.m. NY)

TUI AG, the world’s biggest tour operator, is close to securing almost 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) in government aid in what’s seen as a litmus test for Germany’s pledge to rescue businesses ravaged by the pandemic.

The company and its adviser reached an agreement with Germany’s state-owned KfW development bank on the terms of loans earlier this week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because discussions are private. That financing package is now with TUI’s lending banks, which are expected to sign off in the coming days, they said.

BOE Warns of Long-Term Damage; Holds Rates (8 a.m. NY)

The Bank of England left rates unchanged, but said it’s ready to provide more support for the economy after warning that a very sharp reduction in activity was likely. The pound stayed stronger in a broad trend for a weaker dollar across global markets and gilts continued to gain.

“Given the severity of that disruption, there is a risk of longer-term damage to the economy, especially if there are business failures on a large scale or significant increases in unemployment,” the central bank said.

Ford Plans Gradual Restart of Plants (7:30 a.m. NY)

Ford Motor Co. plans to resume production in Mexico on April 6, with some U.S. plants cranking up again about a week later. After halting North American production as of March 19, Ford said it’s aiming to restart production first in Hermosillo, Mexico, which builds the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans.

Ford then plans to restart production on April 14 at Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio plants that assemble profitable F-Series pickups and commercial vans. Other factories that make transmissions and press metal parts for those vehicles are due to resume that day.

Powell Says Fed Will Keep Credit Flowing (7:18 a.m. NY)

“We will keep doing that aggressively and forthrightly, as we have been,” Powell said in an interview on NBC Thursday. “When it comes to this lending we’re not going to run out of ammunition.” Over the past three weeks, the U.S. central bank has introduced an unprecedented series of measures pushing it deep into uncharted territory.

Powell said the U.S. may well be in recession, but expects activity to resume and move back up in the second half of the year. He said “we would tend to listen to the experts” on when normal activity should resume and added that the virus would dictate the timetable.

Spain Reports Fewer Deaths, Cases Surge (6:32 a.m. NY)

Total cases rose to 56,188 from 47,610 and fatalities jumped by 655, fewer than on Wednesday, to 4,089. Hospitals in the country are struggling to cope with the surge.

Europe Accounts for 7 out of 10 Virus Deaths, WHO Says (6:20 a.m. NY)

The number of cases tripled in the past week in Europe, with the disease spreading faster in Spain, France, Germany and Switzerland, Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s director for Europe, said at a press briefing in Copenhagen. Italy’s infection rate has slowed slightly, but it’s too early to say the disease has peaked there, he said. The country has 6,200 infected health-care workers, he added.

Kluge said Europe needs to attack the disease in solidarity, because if the European Union manages to fight it but it takes hold in eastern Europe, it will just come back.

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