- US nonfarm payrolls was an unmitigated disaster
- CDC recommends Americans wear facemasks in public
- Russia reports drop in cases after extending quarantine
- NY COVID-19 cases top 100k
- Bolsonaro urges country to "go back to work" as Brazil's governors say opposite
- McConnell affirms 4th coronavirus bill in the works
- Brazil says first COVID-19 case and death in South American happened 1 month earlier
- Beijing says more than half of foreign diplomats identified as close contacts of COVID-19 patients
- NJ reports jump in new cases, deaths
- Number of recovered patients tops 250k globally
- US reports biggest one-day jump in deaths, cases
- Japan sees resurgence of cases continue
- Navy hospital ship in NY only treating 20 patients
- White House plans to pay for coronavirus care
- CNN's Brooke Baldwin tests positive
- Netherlands reports another 148 deaths
- UK reports biggest daily jump in deaths
- Thousands of small business owners excluded from 'Paycheck Protection Program'
- Spain, Germany report encouraging deceleration in new cases
- Singapore launches strict 14-day lockdown to fight virus resurgence
- Trump slams 3M on twitter
- 400M in loans doled out
- Bank of America becomes first big bank to issue loans via the plan
- Mnuchin confirms 'Paycheck Protection Plan' is a go
- Tokyo mayor warns about resurgence of cases on CNN
* * *
Update (1920ET): Johns Hopkins University just updated its database of COVID-19 infections...and the death toll in the US has climbed north of 7k after US states reported 1,314 new deaths on Friday, the biggest one-day jump in the US since the outbreak began. The CDC also confirmed 31,160 new cases, the biggest one-day jump in cases, bringing the US total to 276,037.
If you squint really hard...it almost looks like the curve is flattening out...
Terrified Americans can at least take solace in the fact that Congress - as Mitch McConnell just confirmed - is already working on coronavirus rescue bill No. 4...while most Americans are still waiting for the help from bills 1,2 and 3.
* * *
Update (1740ET): As expected, President Trump said Friday that the CDC has reversed its position on face masks - it had previously recommended that Americans specifically not buy masks to alleviate supply shortages creating problems for hospitals and doctors offices - and is now officially recommending that all Americans wear masks when they venture out in public.
As we noted earlier, circumstances vary widely across the US: there are still a dozen states who haven't issued mandatory 'stay at home' orders. But as supply shortages remain, the unfortunate truth - that masks really do help prevent the spread of COVID-19 - could no longer be ignored, as more empirical evidence suggested that people should wear masks, already a common practice in Asia.
Presumably to try and prevent further shortages, President Trump pointed out that the administration was specifically recommending the usage of "non-medical" cloth reusable masks on a "voluntary" basis.
Trump said he won't be wearing a mask, but "it might be good" to do so.
Public officials in Asia - particularly in mainland China but also in Hong Kong - have faced public scorn for refusing to wear face masks during public briefings, or - as in a few notorious instances in Wuhan from the early days of the outbreak - failing to wear their masks correctly.
Watch the rest of the coronavirus task force's daily press briefings below:
* * *
Update (1612ET): Later on during Friday's press briefing, Gov. Cuomo announced plans to sign an executive order saying the state can take ventilators and personal protective equipment from hospitals and medical institutions and redistribute the items to places that are in dire need. The National Guard will transport the ventilators, masks and other equipment to hard-hit parts of the state like New York City. Yesterday, NJ Gov. Phil Murphy signed an order giving the state the right to seize ventilators and other private equipment.
At this point, nearly 3,600 people have died in the two states, more Americans than died on 9/11, and the lack of critical medical equipment, especially ventilators, could eventually lead to dozens, or maybe even hundreds, of unnecessary deaths - that is, if the "curve" isn't flattened quickly enough. At this point, it's looking like it won't be.
In NYC, the public and private hospital system already is overstressed by 1000s of patients, many requiring ventilators. The city has at least 7,500 such machines, but needs 15,000, officials have said. They expect 5,000 or more patients surging into hospitals so severely ill with the Covid-19 virus that they need to be intubated and placed on the breathing-assist devices.
"We have enough ventilators just to get to Sunday, Monday,” NYC Mayor de Blasio said during a Friday morning interview on MSNBC. "We don’t have enough yet for next week."
Meanwhile, as small businesses grow increasingly frustrated with the federal small business bailout (the "Payment Protection Program"), President Trump has apparently decided that the White House is going to use some of the stimulus money from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act to directly pay hospitals for the treatment of COVID-19 patients (for testing and treatment), so long as the patients aren't billed for anything, WSJ reports.
And just as a reminder, while the situation in NYC is rapidly escalating, elsewhere in the US, the situation is much less severe, and the risk for the public probably is relatively low.
Talk of a "national pandemic" is obscuring how wildly disparate the toll is.— Alec MacGillis (@AlecMacGillis) April 3, 2020
NYC is over 1,500 deaths. Detroit is near 200, NOLA at 125.
Meanwhile, Philly has 13, DC has 15, Denver has 11. All these and many more are below 10: SF, Balt, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Austin, Cincy...
* * *
Update (12:10ET): New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has started his latest daily press conference.
Gov. Murphy reported 4,372 new COVID-19 cases and 113 new deaths, bringing statewide total to 29,895 cases and 646 deaths. He also announced he would be signing an Executive Order directing that all flags across NJ be lowered to half-mast indefinitely in honor of those who have died from the virus around the world.
"This is one of the greatest tragedies to ever hit our state. We must have a constant and visible memorial," he said.
If these latest data make you depressed, here's one reason not to despair: the number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 around the world has passed 250,000, many multiples of the 55,781 deaths recorded so far by Johns Hopkins.
Taken together, the cases announced this afternoon by NJ & NY pushed the US case total north of 250k.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands reported 1,026 new cases of coronavirus and 148 new deaths, for a total of 15,723 cases and 1,487 deaths. Additionally, joining Chris Cuomo in the CNN quarantine, Brooke Baldwin has announced that she has tested positive.
* * *
Update (12:10ET): Italy's Civil Protection agency just released the latest coronavirus numbers for Friday, and while there were some bright spots, the 766 deaths recorded across Italy over the last day is the biggest jump since the outbreak started.
But more encouragingly, the 4,585 new cases amounted to about a 4% rise, bringing the nationwide total to 119,827, up from 115,242 a day earlier. The death toll, meanwhile, climbed to 14,681, up from 13,915, still the highest death toll in the world. The mortality rate climbed slightly to 12.2%, as the number of deaths continue to climb, while new cases reported continued to drop.
Meanwhile, back in NY, CNN just reported that the USNS Comfort, the Navy hospital ship deployed to NYC to help with the hospital overflow, is only holding about 20 patients so far.
* * *
Update (11:50ET): As thousands of small and medium sized business owners find out that they aren't eligible for the 'Paycheck Protection Program' bailouts, Mnuchin has opted to continue tweeting dollar amount updates to show that loans are indeed being processed.
The market is paying close attention now, so let's keep those bullish headlines coming, Steve.
* * *
Update (1110ET): NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicked off Friday morning's press conference with some somber news: the number of positive coronavirus cases confirmed in the state of New York has surpassed 100k. He went on to explain that NY has been so badly impacted because so many foreign visitors travel there, meaning that before Trump finally barred all foreign travelers, many little outbreaks were likely started by travelers from Europe and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Cuomo reported another 562 deaths over the last 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to 2,935. That's the largest jump in deaths yet.
Watch Cuomo live below:
As NYC hospitals reach maximum capacity on both ICU and regular hospital beds, forcing Cuomo to move COVID-19 patients to the Javits Center, which had initially been designated as an 'overflow' facility, Cuomo reiterated gripes about the inability of states to purchase vital medical equipment from China (though China has selectively allowed some orders to leave through the red tape they've suddenly thrown up). Though Cuomo said he is working with Alibaba to procure supplies for the state.
Using some of his most strident language yet, Cuomo warned that "people are going to die" if New York State doesn't get the ventilators and other vital medical equipment that it needs, and that the state is willing to pay up for this equipment. As for the federal stockpile, Cuomo reiterated that the doesn't believe there's enough to help all the states.
That said, Cuomo acknowledged that there are private businesses in the state that have ventilators that they still haven't turned over to the public effort. Cuomo promised that either the equipment would be returned, or the lenders would be reimbursed.
“I’m not going to be in a position where people are dying and we have several hundred ventilators in our own state somewhere else,” Cuomo said.
* * *
Update (1053ET): As PM Johnson tries to guide his government through an unprecedented crisis while struggling with the brutal flu-on-steroids symptoms of COVID-19, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has also tested positive for COVID, has confirmed that UK saw its biggest jump in deaths over the last day.
As the latest data throw cold water on the hopes for a "flattening" in the UK curve, Hancock suggested to a terrified public that deaths could peak on April 12 - Easter Sunday - as some models have shown, according to the FT.
Meanwhile, here are the latest numbers.
UPDATE on coronavirus (#COVID19) testing in the UK:— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) April 3, 2020
As of 9am 3 April, a total of 173,784 people have been tested of which 38,168 tested positive.
As of 5pm on 2 April, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 3,605 have sadly died. pic.twitter.com/vmTosNMPyS
Testing update for England from Public Health England (@PHE_uk):— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) April 3, 2020
11,764 tests were carried out yesterday in England.
Testing capacity for inpatient care in England currently stands at 12,799 tests per day. pic.twitter.com/NOKmW39Gsb
Downing Street has said it will next review the UK's lockdown conditions after Easter. In the meantime, Hancock and Johnson have their hands full trying to get tests to frontline workers, while trying to stave out an all-out collapse of the NHS.
* * *
Update (1038ET): Just as yet another reputable scientist declares that the theory that COVID-19 may have leaked out of a Chinese biolab shouldn't be dismissed, Beijing is cranking up its propaganda machine and doubling down on its blaming of "foreign visitors" for igniting a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
The Global Times just reported that out of 84 foreign diplomats who recently returned to China, 66% were traced as close contacts of confirmed patients.
66% of 84 foreign diplomats who recently returned to #China were traced as close COVID19 contacts, and China suggests all diplomatic missions temporarily suspend personnel returns or rotations due to #COVID19 prevention & control: Chinese FM pic.twitter.com/cYzybLby2T— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) April 3, 2020
This statement, if accurate, offers a glimpse into the depth and complexity of China's surveillance network, which it has marshaled to help trace the contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients. It also sets up the foreign ministry to propagate another round of conspiracies that blame the US and the West for the outbreak.
* * *
Update (0944ET): Is Mnuchin going to keep a running ticker of loan figures? It's starting to look that way:
* * *
Update (0920ET): Bank of America just confirmed that it has started issuing loans through the program. Now, will we see the rest of the big banks turn on the taps in the next few hours?
* * *
Update (0912ET): Thousands of small and medium-sized business owners just breathed a huge sigh of relief.
After reassuring the public during last night's press conference that the bailout bill's "Paycheck Protection Program" would be up and running "tomorrow" (i.e. Friday), Mnuchin tweeted Friday morning that the first loans had been issued via the program, and that small business owners are now welcome to apply.
So far, community banks have issued 700 loans...
Congratulations to @SBAgov and @USTreasury teams!! I just got first report on #PPPloan The system is up and running. Community banks have already processed over 700 loans processed for $2,500,000. Great work!! #CARESAct #SmallBizRelief— Steven Mnuchin (@stevenmnuchin1) April 3, 2020
...and big banks are expected to come online shortly.
Last night, Mnuchin revealed that the administration had agreed to pay Wall Street a 50 bp 'tribute' on all loans (ie billions of additional dollars in risk-free profits) issued via the program.
All of this comes after the BLS released a surprisingly discouraging jobs report, showing that more than 700k jobs have been destroyed in the last month, ending a more than 110-month streak of job creation that began after the end of the financial crisis.
* * *
As we arrive at the end of another week, In NYC, subway trains are still crowded with commuters as the MTA is forced to reduce trains and cars as more of its workforce falls ill or simply refuses to show up. As the number of hospitalized patients surges, the city's hospital system has already run out of ICU beds, forcing Gov. Cuomo to move coronavirus patients to the Javits Center, which was initially intended for hospital overflow patients. Amid all of this, the state's unemployment fund is in worrisome shape, meaning New Yorkers will soon need to depend solely on federal benefits if the state well runs dry.
After the global number of confirmed coronavirus cases topped 1 million on Thursday, several Asian territories and countries, including Singapore and Hong Kong, are struggling with a second wave of COVID-19 cases that health officials claim is mostly travel-related. As we reported a few days back, China has reimposed lockdowns as begins to disclose "asymptomatic" cases that government functionaries explained were left out of China's initial case totals.
One month ago, on March 3, there were 92,000 coronavirus cases, most of them in mainland China. As of Friday, the US and Europe account for the bulk of the world's more than 1 million confirmed cases.
Professor Gabriel Leung, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong, warned on Friday that the pandemic would likely last a few more months, even if heavy-handed prevention strategies are adopted. He also said the warmer weather would give the world no respite from the virus: "Is warmer weather going to give us some respite? The answer is maybe, but probably not,” Leung said during a live-streamed forum, pushing back against prognostications made by the mainland's leading respiratory disease expert, who assured the public that this would all be over by late April, even as Beijing continues to impose a near-moratorium on international and domestic flights.
In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon on Friday announced a major shift as Singapore shutters workplaces and schools for a month, beginning next week, with the government calling the more aggressive containment measures a "circuit breaker" to avoid using the word "lockdown.'
As Nikkei explains, Lee's decision marks a major shift in strategy for the city-state. Until now, Singapore had focused on strict border controls, thorough contact tracing of patients as well as extensive "social distancing" campaigns. While it encouraged telecommuting, it tried to keep life for businesses as normal as possible.
One major change that could foreshadow a similar move by the White House: The Singaporean government is now advising citizens to wear facemasks in public.
Big shift: Singapore government says due to some unexplained community transmissions of #COVIDー19, it will no longer discourage the wearing of face masks.— Katerina Ang (@katerinareports) April 3, 2020
Lee also addressed the "psychological toll" of the "circuit-breaker" (don't call it a lockdown), in what one reporter described as a surprisingly thoughtful and forward-thinking change.
I like the fact that he talked about the psychological toll involved. Something I can't imagine his predecessors doing. https://t.co/TZa60b2pyB— Katerina Ang (@katerinareports) April 3, 2020
Despite the new measures, Singaporeans will need to continue sharing all their cell phone location data with the government as part of a sweeping program of monitoring and contract tracing that has alarmed privacy advocates.
This is how seriously Singapore takes contact tracing in the fight against COVID-19 - My dad, a taxi driver in Singapore, said his friend recently drove a passenger who subsequently tested positive. Hours within the ride, Singapore's health ministry called him on his cell phone— Ghim-Lay Yeo (@ghimlay) April 1, 2020
Singaporean Manpower Minister Josephine Teo told reporters that "all of the workplace activities will have to come to a stop, meaning that everyone will have to work from home and at the work premises, there will be no one." Unless a business has special permission or is deemed an essential service, "it will be an offense to still have operations at the workplace" and any violators will be punished.
Singapore's decision comes after more local transmission and new clusters have been identified in recent days, including cases of undetermined origin. As of Friday morning, Singapore had reported 1,049 infections with five deaths. Additionally, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan have barred foreigners from entering in recent days. Early Friday morning, the Communist Party boss for the city of Wuhan warned that the risk of a full-on "resurgence" of the virus in the city was "still high." Meanwhile, Japan has barred visitors from dozens of countries, including South Korea and the US. South Korea is mandating that foreign visitors spend 14-days in a government lockdown facility, though it hasn't outright banned travelers from any country, though individuals from Hubei Province are banned.
Tokyo's governor even appeared on CNN last night to warn that the situation in her city is rapidly worsening, as the number of new cases skyrockets.
#breaking Tokyo Governor says city is on the verge of a major outbreak & situation is worsening. Number of daily coronavirus cases has more than doubled in one week. Tokyo has 120 hospital beds left for coronavirus patients. An epidemiologist warns Tokyo could be 'the next NYC.' pic.twitter.com/y0H5oD68iD— Will Ripley (@willripleyCNN) April 3, 2020
By comparison, in US, over 75% of individuals, and 90% of GDP, are under mandatory lockdown, including 38 state-wide orders.
Additionally, in other US news, President Trump bashed 3M, one of America's largest manufacturers, in a late-night tweet, where he claimed he used DPA authority so speed up manufacturing of ventilators.
We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks. “P Act” all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing - will have a big price to pay!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2020
In other international news, a British-made invention that can reduce the spread of coronavirus is being bought up by governments around the world, but not by the NHS, the FT reported Friday. In Germany, health officials recorded more than 6,174 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, the latest sign that the growth rate of the virus is slowing. Spain also reported an encouraging slowdown in new cases.
Russia reported 601 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, a 17% jump in total cases that marks a slight slowing in the spread of the outbreak in the country. So far, Russia has reported 4,149 cases and 34 deaths from the virus, a much lower per-capita rate than many of its European peers.
Meanwhile, in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro has continued to dismiss the risks of the virus. During a recent visit to a gas station in Sao Paolo covered by WSJ, Bolsonaro empathized with a worker to whom he spoke in the crowd.
"Sometimes, the cure is worse than the disease,” he told him, according to the report. “People should go back to work.” But 25 of 27 of Brazil's governors feel differently, and have been pushing Bolsonaro to endorse their safety guidelines. After Brazil's case total ballooned to nearly 8,000 cases and 299 deaths, officials confirmed that a woman who died on Jan. 23 had been infected, more than a month before South America's first confirmed case. It's just the latest sign that the virus may have spread more widely across Latin America than many had previously believed.