Furor Erupts Over San Francisco Giving Drugs To Homeless Addicts As Businesses Prepare To Reopen: Live Update

Summary:

  • SF breaks with Bay Area, says will allow businesses to reopen for curbside on Friday
  • SF admits to providing 'small quantities' of drugs to addicts in quarantine
  • Russia overtakes Germany and France, becomes fifth largest outbreak
  • France to keep borders closed until mid-June
  • Italy reports 1,401 new cases
  • Johnson doubles UK coronavirus testing target to 200/day by end of May
  • UK reports a jump in new cases to ~5,000
  • One of Trump's valets tests positive for COVID-19
  • Trump speaks with Putin
  • NYT says COVID-19 spread to NYC first, then the rest of the country
  • Rite Aid says expanding virus testing
  • New cases reported Wednesday highest in 2 weeks
  • Global case total tops 3.75 mil
  • Belgium prepares to reopen most shops Monday
  • CNN says 43 states will be 'partially or mostly open' by next week
  • Brazilian villages slam lack of lifesaving medical equipment
  • Moderna shares spike as 2nd phase vaccine trial set
  • Japan grants emergency approval to remdesivir
  • Teva shares explode higher
  • Nigeria extends flight ban
  • Vietnam still hasn't reported a single death from COVID-19

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Update (1800ET): In what appears to be a major policy u-turn and break from the other Bay Area Counties, San Francisco has announced that it will allow other retail stores to begin curbside pickup.

As SFGate reports, the six Bay Area counties, which initially acted together to declare the first 'stay at home' orders that kicked off the trend of lockdowns, had initially planned to act in unison and keep their businesses closed despite the governor's order.

With California Gov. Gavin Newsom allowing retail across the state to reopen with curbside pickup tomorrow, six Bay Area counties released a statement Thursday saying the shutdown of non-essential businesses remains in effect and changes haven't been made to the shelter-in-place order.

Newsom has said counties don't need to comply with the state order and can keep their more strict guidelines in place, and Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties have all said they will not be making modifications this week to their orders issued May 4. Bookstores, florists, toy shops, and sporting good retailers will not be opening in these counties, while they may be in other parts of the state.

In other news, SF's department of public health just copped to providing some members of its homeless population with "limited quantities" of alcohol, marijuana and tobacco while the addicts were in isolation and quarantine under the city's program housing homeless people in hotels. The drugs were reportedly paid for via "private" funds.

"Managed alcohol and tobacco use makes it possible to increase the number of guests who stay in isolation and quarantine and, notably, protects the health of people who might otherwise need hospital care for life-threatening alcohol withdrawal," SFDPH said in a statement.

Just imagine - the city puts you up in a fancy hotel, feeds you, clothes you, provides you with entertainment - and even gets you high to boot.

Who would want to ever go back to work (or panhandling, or...whatever) after that?

SF has made a major effort to house people experiencing homelessness amid the coronavirus pandemic and has established a number of alternative housing options, including private hotels, congregate sites, trailers and recreational vehicles. As of Thursday, the city has placed more than 700 people living on the streets in housing.

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Update (1430ET): The Department of Health and Social Care has released the UK's latest daily figures.

PM Johnson also said Thursday that his government would increase its testing target to 200k/day by end of May.

As New York pushes rent relief out to August, in the UK, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that any easing of Britain's lockdown would be carried out in a "sure-footed and sustainable" way. PM Johnson is supposed to unveil the plan on Sunday.

Details from Trump's call with Putin have been released: During the call, Trump offered to send Russia a shipment of medical equipment to help fight the pandemic, the Kremlin claimed on Thursday. Trump "reiterated that the United States is working hard to care for Americans at home and is also ready to provide assistance to any country in need, including Russia," said White House Press Secretary Judd Deere. The call was intended to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII.

Also, as of Thursday, Russia has overtaken both Germany and France after another record jump in new cases. It now has the fifth-largest outbreak in the world, with 177,160 cases. More than half of all cases and deaths have been in Moscow. The capital city reported a tally of 6,703 new cases, bringing its official total to 92,676. Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, has said the true number of cases could be more than 3x that.

As it continues to tighten some lockdown measures while loosening others, France said its borders will remain closed until further notice following the lifting of the coronavirus lockdown on Monday, with Interior Minister Christophe Castaner adding the restrictions would likely last until mid-June.

Denmark is joining Brussels in opening more shops and eateries on Monday as it begins the second phase of its lockdown strategy, which involves the gradual lifting of restrictions. If all goes well, one week after the shops and eateries reopen, secondary school students will be allowed to return to their classrooms.

In Norway, meanwhile, Norway will become one of the first countries to completely reopen its school system on Monday, when children over the age of 10 return to Norway's schools.

Not long after France said it had discovered evidence that the virus may have been circulating as early as November, on Thursday, Irish PM Leo Varadkar said there's now reason to believe the virus was already circulating in Ireland by January, weeks before the first cases were discovered in February among travelers who had just returned from Northern Italy. At the time, Varadkar urged the Irish not to assume that the virus was imported from Italy. Ireland has confirmed roughly 22,500 infections since the outbreak began.

Of course, every new piece of evidence that pushes back the contagion timeline raises more questions about what China knew and when.

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Update (1400ET): Cali Gov. Gavin Newsom will deliver his daily press briefing at 3pmET (noon PT) as the first businesses reopen in LA, and elsewhere.

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Update (1337ET): Italy reported just 1,401 new cases of the virus yesterday, according to figures released Thursday evening by Italy's Civil Protection Service.

Here's the chart:

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Update (1155ET): Like California before it, New York is banning late rent fees. The state will also allow renters to use their security deposit to pay rent while extending a policy prohibiting renters from being evicted until Aug. 20.

And just like that, the NYC housing market is about to take another hit.

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Update (1140ET): New York has reported another 231 virus deaths, slightly below the 236 reported yesterday, as Cuomo begins his daily press briefing.

More headlines:

  • NEW YORK STATEWIDE TOTAL CORONAVIRUS HOSPITALIZATIONS AT ABOUT 8,600 ON MAY 6, VS 9,179 A DAY EARLIER - GOVERNOR CUOMO
  • NEW YORK STATEWIDE CORONAVIRUS DEATHS INCREASE BY 231 ON MAY 6, VS 232 DEATHS A DAY EARLIER - GOVERNOR CUOMO
  • NEW YORK 3-DAY ROLLING AVERAGE OF NEW COVID-19 HOSPITALIZATIONS AT 607 ON MAY 6, ABOUT FLAT VS A DAY EARLIER - GOVERNOR CUOMO

Cuomo also revealed that surveillance testing of health care workers found about the same rate of infection as the general population, suggesting that PPE really does work to stop the virus - which is certainly helpful to know for certain (not that it wasn't already strongly suspected).

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Update (1100ET): One of President Trump's valets has tested positive for COVID-19. Both the president and VP have reportedly since tested negative, but get ready for a resurgence in the 'Trump and Pence have corona' conspiracy theories.

  • ONE OF DONALD TRUMP'S PERSONAL VALETS HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS, RAISING CONCERNS ABOUT THE PRESIDENT'S POSSIBLE EXPOSURE TO THE VIRUS.
  • WHITE HOUSE SAYS TRUMP HAS SINCE TESTED NEGATIVE FOR VIRUS

The news arrived just before the White House revealed that President Trump has just spoken with President Putin about arms control and other issues as Russia's outbreak spirals out of control.

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Update (0950ET): Aside from confirmation that 33 million jobs have been destroyed in the US alone since the lockdown began, there's been relatively little news to drive the market higher on Thursday (or maybe its the 'endtimes-style' freak snowstorms that have popped the Nasdaq back into the green, since what is the apocalypse but the ultimate excuse for the Fed to really pull the ripcord?).

While we suspect this interpretation of the data might change by eod tomorrow, the NYT just reported that the domestic coronavirus outbreak was large enough by the end of March that the outbreaks in NYC actually helped seed the rest of the country, meaning the potentially more-deadly mutation of SARS-CoV-2 documented in NY and Europe might have actually spread across the entire US.

The virus reportedly swept across NYC in February and early March, when Mayor de Blasio was still dismissing it as a non-issue and encouraging foreigners to hop on those planes and cruise ships and giddy up on over here, partner. If de Blasio was so proactive about combating the virus, how come it was discovered on the west coast first?

New York City’s coronavirus outbreak grew so large by early March that the city became the primary source of new infections in the United States, new research reveals, as thousands of infected people traveled from the city and seeded outbreaks around the country.

The research indicates that a wave of infections swept from New York City through much of the country before the city began setting social distancing limits to stop the growth. That helped to fuel outbreaks in Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and as far away as the West Coast.

The findings are drawn from geneticists’ tracking signature mutations of the virus, travel histories of infected people and models of the outbreak by infectious disease experts.

"We now have enough data to feel pretty confident that New York was the primary gateway for the rest of the country," said Nathan Grubaugh, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health.

Spokespeople from the mayor's office and the White House blamed each other for failing to stop the spread from New York...though several states went ahead and took it upon themselves to block travelers from NY and the surrounding area...only for Cuomo to threaten to sue them for discrimination (remember that?).

Dani Lever, communications director for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, criticized federal authorities, describing an “enormous failure by the federal government to leave New York and the East Coast exposed to flights from Europe, while at the same time instilling a false sense of security by telling the State of New York that we had no Covid cases throughout the entire month of February..

A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, said that Mr. Trump had acted quickly. The president blocked most visitors from Europe starting on March 13, more than a month after he restricted travel from China.

“Just as he acted early on to cut off travel from the source of the virus, President Trump was advised by his health and infectious disease experts that he should cut off travel from Europe — an action he took decisively without delay to save lives while Democrats and the media criticized him and the global health community still did not fully comprehend the level of transmission or spread,” Mr. Deere said.

By now it's become clear that Trump's travel bans probably still came too late (even though even the WHO didn't recommend them at the time), it's also the latest sign that the virus had started to spread much earlier than previously believed, which means it might have already been spreading outside Wuhan before the first cases were identified by local authorities and doctors (who were swiftly silenced) in early December.

What does that tell us about what Beijing likely knew, and when?

In other news, Rite Aid has significantly expanded COVID-19 testing in the US.

  • RITE AID SIGNIFICANTLY EXPANDS COVID-19 TESTING
  • RITE AID - TESTING SITES WILL NEARLY TRIPLE WITH ADDITION OF 46 SITES ON MAY 11
  • RITE AID - EXPANDED TESTING CRITERIA INCLUDES ASYMPTOMATIC ADULTS
  • RITE AID - WILL NOW OPERATE 71 TESTING SITES ACROSS 12 STATES

The Philly Fed's Raphael Bostic said Thursday that the response to the early days of reopening has been "mixed", and it's still too early to tell how well small businesses are faring.

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As more US states and countries move ahead with reopening their economies, Johns Hopkins said it had recorded the largest number of new coronavirus infections worldwide on Wednesday in two weeks, the latest sign that reopening economies has led to a slight pickup in the infection rate. New confirmed infections on Wednesday topped 92,700, the most since April 24 and the 4th-highest daily total yet. With ~24,300 cases, the US accounts for about a quarter of the above total.

Total confirmed coronavirus cases are nearing the 4 million mark, with 3,772,267 reported as of Thursday, along with 264,189 deaths. 1,228,609 of those cases were from the US, along with 73,431 deaths.

In Europe, Belgium announced Thursday that shops in the country would be allowed to reopen on May 11, the latest western European country to set a date. The total number of cases confirmed in Belgium is roughly 51,500, just shy of the 'official' count from India.

Meanwhile, as the US prepares to confirm millions of additional job losses, at least 43 US states will have partially, or completely, reopened their economies by Sunday, according to CNN, which apparently has a different definition of "completely open" (we wouldn't consider restrictions on the number of customers to just 50% of max capacity 'completely' open). And some more retail stores in LA County could reopen as soon as Friday, Mayor Garcetti announced late Wednesday.

A few days ago, we shared a heart-wrenching story about the breakdown of health-care systems in remote Brazilian villages, where the coronavirus is running rampant.

On Thursday morning, BBG shared the following video mourning a relative who died due to there being no ventilator.

Moderna shares spiked 10%+ in premarket trading Thursday as the FDA gave the drug company and vaccine-trial favorite (just as Jim Cramer) permission to move ahead with the second phase of its trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna, which was the first drug company to begin testing a vaccine candidate on humans. The company said it will begin phase 2 trials with 600 participants shortly and is finalizing plans for a phase 3 trial as early as this summer.

Japan on Thursday became the first developed country to approve remdesivir for treatment of COVID-19, an approval that is also being aggressively pursued by the FDA, which has already given the drug an emergency approval.

In earnings news, Teva shares exploded 10% higher after the Israeli drugmaker confirmed its full-year guidance, while posting profit and revenue figures that beat expectations thanks to sales of the company's repspiratory products.

Finally, the FT shared a survey on Thursday claiming more than 70% of likely American voters trust their state’s governor to guide the economy back to fully-operational more than they trust President Trump, a sign - the FT said - of "mounting dissatisfaction" with Trump's handling of the outbreak.

After nearly exterminating the virus, health officials in South Korea were alarmed Thursday after a 29-year-old South Korean nightclubber tested positive in a small city just outside Seoul. The case was the only domestic infection reported on Thursday, and officials are worried that the patient may have spread the virus while visiting a nightlife district in Seoul.

In Africa, as cases climb across the continent, Nigeria says it plans to expand its ban on all flights for another four weeks from Thursday, as Africa's most populous country (and, in urban enclaves, extremely densely so) takes more steps to crack down of the virus.

As Vietnam moves ahead with reopening, it's worth pointing out that the tiny southeast Asian country still hasn't reported a single death from the virus. Vietnam reported 17 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, all of whom were Vietnamese citizens infected abroad. The country has confirmed just 288 infections since the outbreak began.