- Confirmed cases across Africa pass 10k
- China reopens Wuhan
- Global case total passes 1.4 million
- Russia reports another record daily jump in new cases
- UK reports another record jump in deaths
- France extends lockdown after April 15
- Global case total tops 1.5 million while deaths near 90k
- Mnuchin reportedly tells Dems $98 billion loans approved
- Germany, Spain, France report latest numbers
- Christine Lagarde urges Eurogroup to work together
- EU extends border closure until May 15
- Italy reports slight acceleration in cases as deaths, ICU patients fall
- Sunak says Johnson "improving"
- NJ Gov's chief counsel tests positive
- NYC reportedly has enough ventilators to get through this week
- Scientists find evidence some recovered don't have antibodies
- Swss gov't sees GDP contracting as much as 10.4 % in 2020
- LA mayor orders businesses to enforce social distancing
- WHO's Dr. Tedros responds to Trump
- WHO again insists lockdowns must stay in effect
- Iraq extends border closure with Iran
- Indonesia outbreak continues to accelerate
- Ethiopia joins growing list of African states by declaring state of emergency
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Update (1900ET): France, Spain and Germany have all reported new numbers over the past couple of hours.
Spain reported 6,278 new cases and 747 new deaths for a total of 148,220 cases and 14,792 deaths.
Germany 5,118 new cases and, 230 new deaths for a total of 112,781 cases and 2,246 deaths. And in France, the health ministry reported 3,881 new cases, and 541 new deaths, for a total of 112,950 new cases and 10,869 deaths.
The data mostly confirm the recent trend, that the outbreak in Continental Europe is 'peaking'.
Meanwhile, as Christine Lagarde at the ECB called on the Eurogroup to get it together and agree on a sufficiently forceful fiscal response to this crisis, while the European Commission, which just a month ago opposed border closures, announced Wednesday evening that it would extend its closure of the EU outer border until May 15.
In Germany, health officials have reached a new testing milestone: 1.3 million tests have been conducted since the beginning of the outbreak. The country is now testing more than 50k a day, while it's unclear what the comparable number is in the US (though at the rate new cases are being confirmed, it appears the administration has come a long way in ramping up testing after their initial fumbles).
Meanwhile, the big news out of Wednesday night's press conference is that pharmacists are now allowed to order coronavirus tests, said DHHS Secretary Alex Azar.
"Giving pharmacists the authorization to order and administer Covid-19 tests to their patients means easier access to testing for Americans who need it," he said.
In other news, passenger traffic at Europe’s airports fell a staggering 97% at the end of March thanks to the outbreak.
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Update (1730ET): NJ Gov. Phil Murphy's chief counsel, Matt Platkin, recently tested positive for the virus. He remains asymptomatic, but is isolating at home, according to a statement from the governor's office.
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Update (1530ET): BNO News reports that the global number of confirmed coronavirus cases has surpassed 1.5 million, while the death toll approaches 90k. BNO's numbers are slightly higher than Johns Hopkins University, another chronicler of news and information concerning the outbreak. Of the global total, the US, with roughly 419k cases, makes up about 25%.
BREAKING: 1.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, death toll approaching 90,000 https://t.co/ACTvkkQ0g2— BNO Newsroom (@BNODesk) April 8, 2020
And with China opening the floodgates in Wuhan, we suspect that number is about to start growing a lot more quickly.
Looking at the global curve, the pace of the acceleration in recent weeks is staggering, and has been driven in large part by the US, which has the largest share of confirmed cases. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, responding to Trump's criticism, insisted that now isn't the time to talk about money.
“For God’s sake," he said, noting the more than 80,000 confirmed deaths so far. "Even one person is precious." He added, "if you don't want more body bags, don't politicize this,” he said.
"If you don’t want many more body bags than you refrain from politicizing it."
In other words, don't criticize the obvious conflict of interest involving China, or the price will be bodies.
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Update (1515ET): Johns Hopkins just reported that the number of confirmed cases of the virus is 1,475,976...drawing ever closer to the 1.5 million milestone.
Meanwhile, here's a clip from Cuomo's press conference earlier this afternoon.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state saw its highest single-day coronavirus death toll of 779 people. He ordered all flags in New York to be flown at half-mast https://t.co/jvPgtcR2wC pic.twitter.com/t2wNrNZ5ZH— Reuters (@Reuters) April 8, 2020
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Update (1450ET): American companies including Ford and GE have worked together to rearrange their supply chains to start producing ventilators, the first of which likely won't be ready until months after they're needed. Now, GM has joined them.
The $490 million deal will provide the Department of Health and Human Services with another 30k in ventilators, at a price of $17,000 apiece.
Meanwhile, Cali Gov Gavin Newsom's news briefing for Wednesday is about to begin.
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Update (1440ET): The Presidential Palace has just confirmed that President Emmanuel Macron will extend France's lockdown past April 15.
In other news, the Mnuchin PPP loan-approval ticker continues: A leak that just hit the wires claims Mnuchin told Dems that $98 billion in loans have already been approved, more than a quarter of the total amount allotted by Congress.
We'll believe it when we see it.
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Update (1245ET): Cuomo on Wednesday reported 779 new COVID-19-linked deaths across the state, another single-day record jump in what has been a mostly rocky few days for the state in terms of new deaths (while reports about potentially temporarily burying bodies in city parks sent a shiver through America's collective spine).
During the briefing, Cuomo said the state would extend unemployment benefits for workers, and added that the state seems to be well equipped with enough ventilators and even some BPAP machines (which can be modified to work like ventilators). He said that he it appears that cases have continued to plateau, continuing a trend that supposedly began this weekend (though some have raised issues about the way the data is collected, while others have warned about undercounting of deaths).
Though some might consider Cuomo's interpretation a tad too rosy, the governor insisted that "we're not out of this yet" and warned people to stay vigilent.
All voters will be allowed to vote by absentee ballot during New York's June primary, Cuomo said, while ordering flags in the state to be flown at half-staff, following in the footsteps of NJ Gov. Phil Murphy. Cuomo added that objections to this practice are "total nonsense," despite the fact that voter fraud is more prevalent than many suspect. Finally, Cuomo told viewers that we might see more days with high death tolls like today's - perhaps even higher - as deaths peak.
Cuomo started his presser with a soliloquy about how "the poorest always pay the highest price" in a crisis, and promised to do everything possible to combat this, including getting money in their pockets faster by giving workers an extra $600 for everyone filing for unemployment. When questioned by a reporter if he was considering closing any more front-line businesses to help protect minorities, Cuomo said it was an issue that he had given some thought to (though if anything, NYC probably should thinking about opening more essential businesses as the government whiffs the bailout and shortages of consumer products like TP persist).
Here's a breakdown of NY deaths, which shows that older Americans have been dying in the largest numbers, but still 20% of those who died were part of age groups who might be considered 'still young'.
Later, Cuomo warned that while NYC and Westchester are on the downward slope, he warned that we would "almost certainly" see a jump in cases on Long Island. New York State reported 149,316 total cases statewide, including 10.480 new addigiotns, equivalent to a 7.5% increase, indicating a slight acceleration compared to yesterday. While the state reported 6,268 dead, including 779 deaths (its highest one-day jump yet), that's larger than the 'peak' death number that is supposed to come Wednesday, according to the IMHE model. Then again, these models merely projections, intended to hopefully be close, but likely not exact.
However, as WaPo pointed out earlier, various models have differed dramatically as the unprecedented scale of this outbreak has forced epidemiologists to try and customize their typical coronavirus outbreak model playbook. And especially when it comes to medical equipment, the IMHE (part of the University of Washington) models tend to be significantly rosier than state models, leaving some governors and Washington DC to essentially pray that intubations hem closer to IMHE.
Most importantly, following reports that thousands of 'home deaths' have gone uncounted in official statistics, Cuomo said he's looking at "other models" to help more accurately "adjust" figures to account for those home deaths.
Before we go, it's worth pointing out: New York reached another important milestone today: It has surpassed Italy in terms of total cases, meaning New York State now has more cases than any single country ex-US.
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Update (1225ET): New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Wednesday press briefing is slated to start at 12:30.
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Update (1208ET): The market is running away with its optimistic view as Dr. Fauci claims new cases being reported in the US will likely start to fall next week and NYC Mayor de Blasio claims the city has enough ventilators on hand to ensure no unnecessary deaths, but more disturbing data has been reported out of the UK that would appear to undermine the narrative of a Europe-wide deceleration.
Once again, the UK reported its largest death toll yet, with 938 new deaths, bringing the total to 7,097. It also reported nearly 8k new cases, bringing the national total to 60,733.
In other news, in the latest update on PM Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the PM is "improving". The jump in UK deaths brought the mortality rate to a new high of 11.7%.
Meanwhile, after a 3-day streak of declining new cases, Italy reported a jump on Wednesday, with 3,836 new cases, bringing the country's total to 139,422. Of these, 53,414 cases were reported in Lombardy.
Though new cases saw a slight acceleration, Italy reported another encouraging drop in deaths, and a drop in ICU patients. Deaths reported were 542, bringing the total to 17,662. Of these, 9,772 were in Lombardy.
Italy's 🇮🇹 data today is very much in line with yesterday. There are fewer new registered deaths (542 vs 604), and the number of patients in intensive care continues to fall (-2.6%). However, there is a very slight acceleration in total registered cases (+2.8% vs +2.3%). #COVID19— Ferdinando Giugliano (@FerdiGiugliano) April 8, 2020
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Update (1045ET): Russia reported another record number of new cases on Wednesday, with 1,175 confirmations, bringing its total to 8,672 cases.
Meanwhile, as more cases are reported across East Asia, Hong Kong has extended social distancing measures to April 23 from April 11, while ordering the closure of beauty parlors and massage parlors.
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Update (1020ET): According to prior projections, the'peak' in NYC's coronavirus outbreak was supposed to arrive on Thursday. And in keeping with the optimistic turn in the official projections, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said his city now has enough ventilators to "get through this week", which suggests the city might be able to weather the storm without needing substantially more ventilators.
Join us at City Hall with the latest updates on COVID-19 in New York City. https://t.co/1oJmdWgZ6G— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 8, 2020
While we'd like to take this as good news, the mayor's history of playing down the dangers of COVID-19 suggests he could be playing down the risks once again.
Offering a racial breakdown of COVID-19 deaths, de Blasio said 34% of patients who die from the virus are white, 27% black, 28% Hispanic, and 7% Asian, the remaining 4% were a mix of other nationalities.
In LA, meanwhile, Mayor Garcetti has ordered all still-open (ie "essential") businesses to enforce social distancing for employees and customers, or face civil fines.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, the Swiss government has released its latest projections: it now sees GDP contracting by as much as 10.4% this year according to its worst-case scenario.
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Update (0948ET): As Indonesia becomes the latest East Asian country to report an acceleration in new cases, disturbing new videos purporting to show patients collapsing in public have been shared by the Epoch Times. After resisting a shutdown for weeks, the country's president, Joko Widodo, has ordered schools shut and other businesses shut in the country's capital, densely populated Jakarta.
Indonesia reported another 218 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing its total to 2,956 cases. The country has also reported 240 deaths, while 222 patients have recovered.
The problem with that 218 number is that Indonesian health authorities in Jakarta are only able to run 240 tests a day at max capacity. That means there's a chance that everybody, or nearly everybody, tested in Indonesia has tested positive. This is not good, as it signals that the outbreak is almost definitely much larger than the government realizes.
An increase in burials around Jakarta raised alarms in Indonesia, which is the largest Muslim-majority nation in the world, with ~265 million people, as health authorities suddenly realized that the virus had probably been spreading undetected for weeks. This comes after the government has already admitted to lying about positive case numbers, after insisting for weeks that it had zero detected cases.
And here's that video:
#Indonesia Under Attack by #CCPVirus (#COVID19) #中共病毒 肆虐 #印尼— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferatntd) April 4, 2020
Click here for more 更多视频: https://t.co/fSwmxEsPYp#CCPVirus #COVID2019 #Coronavirus #CoronavirusOutbreak #CoronavirusPandemic #CoronaVirusChallenge #DownWithTheCCP#新冠肺炎 #新冠病毒 #武汉肺炎 #打倒共产党 pic.twitter.com/z6qp2nTF4v
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Update (0830ET): With one hand, Germany's Department of Health is pushing an app that will rely on cellphone location data to track contacts of people who test positive. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry is taking action to restrict the use of the conferencing app Zoom over security concerns.
Meanwhile, Zoom just hired Alex Stamos, the former security chief at Facebook who spoke out against his former employer during that whole Internet privacy debacle, as it tries to rebuild its reputation before everybody
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Though the coronavirus outbreak figures reported out of Europe yesterday were probably more mixed than health officials would have liked, there was, apparently, enough to keep the resurgence of optimism that has fueled market gains in recent days alive. While China blithely prepares to unleash its second wave on itself and the world in what seems like an almost deliberate act, the Washington Post reported overnight that the main epidemiological model being followed by the federal government has just revised down the need for ventilators, beds and other equipment as the world seems to have convinced itself that a lull is underway.
Across the US, chatter on social media about the need to get at least some of the shut-down economy back online has intensified in recent days, as political commentary as inspired heated discussions as opponents accuse Republicans and many regular Americans of callously placing the economy and their own self-interest above protecting society's most vulnerable. Meanwhile, the global case total has surpassed 1.4 million, with 83k+ deaths.
But as JPM projected, and as was the case during SARS and other prior pandemics, even if the novel coronavirus does begin to recede heading into the summer, remember: this is only part one.
At this point, it's not like anybody is going to snap their fingers and suddenly turn the clock back to Dec. 31, 2019. Many Americans - especially those at high risk - will likely cut down on leisure air travel, as pundits are already talking about the death of the "one-flight meeting".
But as we begin to weigh the pros and cons, and the Trump Administration reportedly weighs a plan to reactivate parts of the economy and allowing some people to get back to work if they can demonstrate that they're healthy, the SCMP late last night highlighted some new scientific evidence that is extremely disturbing.
As we explained above, by lifting restrictions on Wuhan, China is potentially unleashing hundreds, maybe even thousands, of asymptomatic carriers on the rest of the country. But scientists believe the 'herd immunity' that has supposedly been built up during the first wave should blunt the impact of ensuing waves somewhat. Well, unfortunately, it looks like that thesis needs to be reexamined.
Since the early days of the outbreak, we've seen reports about people being reinfected with the virus (though in some cases there were doubts about whether the virus ever really left). Well, now, a team of researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai has discovered that an alarmingly high number of recovered patients whom they've tested show low, or no, levels of the virus antibodies in their blood. That means a sizable chunk of those who are infected will be vulnerable to reinfection.
In other words, if these findings are confirmed, the hoped-for "herd immunity" that is supposed to help us get things back to normal in the time between now and however long it takes researchers to mass produce a vaccine simply isn't going to materialize: Instead of diluting the density and acting as blockers for spread, many will be reinfected, and go on to spread the virus to others, all over again. It's just the latest reason to worry that the second wave of the virus could be larger than the first.
Some countries are already seeing the first stirrings of a second wave: On Wednesday, Tokyo reported a record 144 new cases on Wednesday as Japanese PM Shinzo Abe's lockdown (which is legally toothless but has inspired most businesses to close nonetheless) took effect in Tokyo and six other districts across Japan. And now that the Tokyo Games have officially been suspended, the Olympic flame has been taken off public display in Japan. And it’s not clear when it will reappear again or where — or under what conditions.
But and China and Japan aren't the only Asian nations fearful of a full-blown second wave: Hong Kong on Wednesday announced plans for an "unprecedented" $18 billion virus stimulus package to support Hong Kong's rapid;y deteriorating economy, according to Bloomberg.
As the virus continues its woefully underreported spread across Africa - or so public health experts fear - Ethiopia announced on Wednesday that it's joining a growing list of African nations - already including Botswana, Congo, Ivory Coast, Senegal, South Africa and others - by declaring a state of emergency over the virus. The country's 110 million people have been relatively unscathed, reporting just 52 cases so far, though some fear that the country's close ties to Beijing and commerce between the two nations means many more cases have gone unreported. This comes as the number of confirmed cases across Africa has finally passed 10k.
Iraq also extended the closure of its main border crossing with Iran as the 'official' death toll in that country passes 10k. Much to Trump's delight, the decision will put added economic pressure on Tehran, as it will disrupt trade between the two nations, something upon which Iran's sanctions-starved government greatly relies.
Certain progressive media outlets in the US will likely never forget that certain conservative pundits and even - to a much lesser degree - President Trump, Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders played down the coronavirus as the first cases were confirmed in the US. While President Trump likes to brag about his decision to shut down travel from China, in reality, that was a half-measure (he should have shut down travel from Europe, as certain senior advisors reportedly urged). And while they're not wrong, they're only telling part of the story. A lot of people in positions of power - including, as the Intercept notes, NYC's Democratic mayor - either underestimated the outbreak, or have changed views on subjects like drugs, whether shutting down schools makes sense, whether a partial shutdown that preserves more of the economy might be a more appropriate response - the list goes on and on.
Going through this list, it appears to us that nobody is more guilty than the WHO, which is partly why President Trump is insisting that the US reexamine the WHO's funding, and has mocked the WHO for 'totally blowing it'.
Of course, anybody who has only just started paying attention in the past few weeks (ie most of America) probably doesn't remember the WHO dragging its feet on the global threat and pandemic designations (those were two separate declarations), while also insisting that travel restrictions and border closures weren't appropriate at a time when those decisions could have gone a long way toward suppressing the spread.
Because as the White House reportedly prepares a plan to get some healthy people back to work in the not too distant future, the WHO is now urging that countries considering a lifting of their lockdowns should probably reconsider (even as China prepares to send legions of infected Wuhan residents across its own country, and the world).
The WHO said Wednesday that "we have a long way to go” to defeat the pandemic, said Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, adding that now is “not the time to relax [lockdown] measures,” and all countries must “double and triple our collective efforts”. “We still have a long way to go,” he said. “The progress we have made so far in fighting the virus is extremely fragile.” Any relaxation of social distancing measures requires “very careful consideration,” he added. “We need to remain committed.”
His remarks were clearly directed at the West (after all, he was speaking in English), but would the WHO, which has come under fire for refusing to criticize Beijing, say the same about Wuhan?
If you, dear reader, happen to be a billionaire like Microsoft founder Bill Gates, or at least wealthy enough to perhaps be insulated from the vicissitudes of the combined economic and public health crises which have caused the economy to literally grind to a halt, then maybe you really do lack the self-awareness to really compare (after all, the stock market has really bounced back over these last few days). For those who still believe most Americans could survive a ten week total economic shutdown, the OECD would just like you to know: Most of the world is already officially in a deep recession. A leading indicator published by the Paris-based NGO showed its biggest drop on record.
Just in case you weren't aware, the global economy is a giant dumpster fire right now. And while people with comfortable white collar jobs are shouting at everybody to "stay indoors!!!!", there are millions of people are this country who are still waking up every day trying to figure out how they're going to eat, or take care of other essential needs, in the middle of a lockdown. That doesn't mean people should just flout the lockdown when they feel like it, it's just a reminder that everybody deserves the benefit of the doubt.