FDA Grants Gilead Emergency Approval For Remdesivir As US Cases Spike 4.4% To 1.1 Million: Live Update

Summary:

  • Texas starts reopening
  • Michigan Gov extends lockdown
  • Japan sending Avigan to 43 countries for clinical trials
  • CDC reports 4,913 cases among meat plant workers
  • Florida case count hits 34,728
  • NY schools to remain closed for rest of academic year
  • NJ deaths surpass NY deaths for 2nd day
  • France reports latest numbers as death toll nears 25k
  • Italy reports latest numbers, says sports teams can start training May 18
  • NYC Mayor says city not yet ready to reopen
  • 1 in 5 working-age Americans filed for unemployment benefits
  • Ryanair lays off 15% of staff
  • Dr. Fauci warns states against "leapfrogging"
  • Left-wing demonstrators from Greece to Germany flout social distancing rules for "May Day" rallies
  • UK warns that defective ventilators from China could kill patients

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Update (1530ET): With stocks just minutes away from closing deep in the red, President Trump has announced that he has ordered the FDA to grant emergency approval to Gilead for the drug, a decision that was widely expected - the White House task force already announced the decision to grant emergency approval during a press conference earlier this week - and unfortunately for the president, the decision didn't have much of an impact on shares of Gilead or the broader market.

Results of a NIAD trial released by the company earlier this week have helped backstop markets, along with other optimistic reports, including a suspicious report from Statnews about a Chicago trial that purportedly saw "miraculous" results. Yet, other studies have been less promising, and even Gilead itself admits that the drug's efficacy in treating COVID-19 remains unclear.

Gilead has pledged to give away millions of doses of the drug as it scrambles to produce as much of it as possible.

In other news, despite reporting another 91 deaths in a day, California Gov. Gavin Newsom promised on Friday that he would release his plan to start reopening the state's economy "soon", now that Cuomo is moving ahead to start opening New York in 2 weeks. California, which has seen a much more mild outbreak than New York, will have little excuse not to reopen.

  • CALIFORNIA VIRUS CASES RISE 3.1% TO 50,442; 91 NEW DEATHS

And in Washington, a Tyson meat-packing plant has found that 180 of its workers have tested positive for the virus. The CDC revealed earlier that 115 meat packing plants in the US have suffered outbreaks. 20 workers have died and nearly 5k have been infected.

Finally, the US reported a 4.4% jump in new cases over the last 24 hours, higher than the past week's average of 2.2%.

Is this just a coincidence? Or are the (so far extremely limited) reopenings having an insanely outsize impact on cases?

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Update (1350ET): Texas reported a record number of new cases as the state allowed the first restaurants, retail stores, malls, museums and libraries to reopen on Friday.

According to the AP, the Lone Star State had accumulated more than 28,000 cases of coronavirus as of the end of day Thursday. The number reported on Friday was 1,000 new cases - the highest single-day toll since April 10 - along with 50 deaths, the highest single-day death toll yet. That brought the state's total to 782.

And the UK reported a batch of disappointing numbers to round out the week.

And here's a summary of the UK data.

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Update (1300ET): For the second day in a row, New Jersey reported more deaths than New York State, as the outbreak in the Garden State continues to lag its larger neighbor.

People forget, but New Jersey is actually the mostly densely populated state in the US, thanks to its sprawl of tightly-packed suburbs, interrupted only by the massive coastal pine barrens".

Murphy's presser has started. Watch below:

Though it wasn't all bad, as Murphy pointed out. Hospitalizations continued to fall.

The governor also announced plans to sign a couple of executive orders.

Murphy added during the press briefing that a decision on whether NJ will reopen schools this year, or follow NY by closing them, is coming Monday.

France's Health Department reported Friday evening that the country's case total and deaths climbed to 67,178 cases and 24,376 deaths yesterday. The country's on track to pass 25k deaths as soon as tomorrow.

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Update (1250ET): Italy's Civil Protection Service published another batch of promising figures on Friday, as most of the country celebrated the May Day holiday. Though the number of new cases ticked higher (still well below the average from a week ago), deaths fell, while testing and the number of recoveries rose.

Italy reported 1,965 new cases of coronavirus and 269 new deaths, bringing its total of 207,428 cases, and 28,236 deaths. And for only the sixth time since the outbreak started, the number of sick patients testing negative for the first time was larger than the number of patients testing positive for the first time, beginning their battle with the virus.

PM Conte made a big announce on Friday: Professional sports teams can begin training again on May 18.

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Update (1230ET): The CDC just published numbers for infections at US meatpacking plants as President Trump orders them to remain open despite the outbreaks threatening the health of workers.

  • 20 DEATHS FROM VIRUS AMONG U.S. MEAT PLANT WORKERS: CDC
  • 4,913 VIRUS CASES AMONG U.S. MEAT PLANT WORKERS: CDC
  • CDC REPORTS COVID-19 CASES AT 115 U.S. MEAT PLANTS

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Update (1150ET): And the headlines are rolling in:

  • NEW YORK 3-DAY ROLLING AVERAGE OF NEW COVID-19 HOSPITALIZATIONS AT 954 ON APRIL 30, VS 933 A DAY EARLIER - GOVERNOR CUOMO
  • NEW YORK STATEWIDE CORONAVIRUS DEATHS INCREASE BY 289 ON APRIL 30, VS. 306 DEATHS A DAY EARLIER - GOVERNOR CUOMO
  • NEW YORK GOVERNOR CUOMO SAYS STATE SCHOOLS WILL REMAIN CLOSED FOR REMAINDER OF ACADEMIC YEAR
  • CUOMO: SUMMER CAMP DECISIONS WILL FOLLOW REGIONAL DECISIONS
  • CUOMO: SCHOOLS SHOULD START DEVELOPING REOPENING PLAN NOW
  • CUOMO: NO DECISION ON THE FALL YET FOR SCHOOLS

And from Cuomo's twitter account:

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Update (1147ET): After battling with Mayor de Blasio over whether NYC's schools would reopen this year, Gov. Cuomo announced on Friday that all schools in the state - from preschool to higher ed. - will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year. Cuomo encouraged schools to start working on their reopening plans "now".

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Update (1130ET): In an interview with a local radio station, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded on his earlier comment, saying the reopening is a "few weeks away" at minimum.

As Cuomo begins his press conference, he reported 289 (vs. 360 yesterday) deaths across the state, the sixth straight day of declines.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the Department of Health reported Friday that the state had recorded 46 more deaths, bringing its total to 1,314, and 34,728 confirmed cases

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Update (1115ET): Gov. Cuomo's daily press briefing will begin at 11:30 on Friday:

In other news, European low-cost carrier Ryanair announced earlier that it would be laying off some 3,000 workers, roughly 15% of its workforce, as it struggles through the industry-wide downturn. Layoffs include pilots and flight attendants.

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Update (1100ET): New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, holding his press conference just before his chief political rival, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, holds his, has decided that the spread of the virus in the city hasn't yet slowed enough to justify rolling back the lockdown.

De Blasio's comment comes as Cuomo starts outlining his plans for reopening parts of the state, starting with counties that have the fewest cases. Cuomo will deliver his briefing at 1130ET.

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Update (0930ET): The US isn't alone in fast-tracking its favored coronavirus treatment. Kyodo News reports that Japan will provide anti-flu drug Avigan free to 43 countries so they can conduct clinical studies on its efficacy as a coronavirus treatment, said Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Friday. The deliveries are expected after the end of Japan's "Golden Week" holiday.

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After a banner April that saw US stocks notch their best monthly performance since the 1980s even as oil for May delivery slumped into negative territory and millions of jobs evaporated, US futures on are track to open deep in the red on Friday, as President Trump ratchets up the pressure on China and the media squabbles over whether he purportedly claimed to have seen evidence the virus was designed by the Chinese as a 'bioweapon' (that's not even close to what he said) - but, since the Intel Community had released a report a few hours earlier claiming there was no evidence the virus was man-made, the mainstream press was desperate to make the president's comments fit their narrative.

Since the "Chinese virus" imbroglio, we have been continuously baffled by the degree to which the American media, as well as the American left, has run interference for China. And apparently, we're not alone in that...

...moving on.

With most of Asia and Europe closed for 'May Day', the biggest news overnight comes out of the US and the UK. Following clashes between hundreds of "reopen now" protesters and state police at the Michigan State Capital in Lansing last night, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer managed to extend her badly-hit state's strict stay-at-home order for another 28 days, even as the Republican-led legislature decided against extending Whitmer's emergency declaration (so she did it herself).

Elsewhere, Texas officially reopened its economy on Friday as Gov. Greg Abbott ordered restaurants and retailers in the state should be allowed to reopen. His order will override orders from local officials, including in cities like Houston where the state's outbreak has been centered.

Still, to say that Texas is taking things "back to normal" would be a tremendous exaggeration. Counties with fewer than five active cases of COVID-19 can reopen businesses at 50% capacity, which Abbott on Monday said would apply to nearly half of Texas’ 254 counties. Everywhere else, which is where the vast majority of the state's roughly 30 million people live, can open back up at 25% capacity.

According to the Hill, Republicans believe Abbott is making the right decision given the economic devastation the pandemic has wrought.

In Texas alone, 1.5 million people have filed for unemployment over the last six weeks, with 254,199 claims coming last week alone. Republicans argue that voters can responsible enough to make their own decisions, and encouraged everyone to continue following 'social distancing' principles when in public. However, the governor is also facing pushback from big-city mayors who are overwhelmingly Democratic.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler made the economically devastating but undoubtedly necessary decision to cancel Austin's SXSW Festival, and later issued a stay at home order for his city. Adler also released regulations that would impose fines on residents not wearing masks in stores. The cities of Dallas, Houston, El Paso, and San Antonio followed suit with their own stay at home orders. The state has fewer than 30k confirmed cases, and fewer than 1k deaths, meaning Texas does not rank among the worst-hit US states.

Texas and Georgia (which is heading into its second weekend of reopening) will be joined by more than a dozen other states, including some blue states, that will allow millions of Americans to return to stores, restaurants and movie theaters this weekend. They include: Ohio, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Arizona and Washington, among others.

While the staggering death toll and insurmountable horror of this outbreak simply can't be ignored, neither can the fact that roughly one in five working-age Americans have sought unemployment benefits. That hints at some Depression-level unemployment coming down the pike, WaPo reports.

Dems freaked out over VP Pence's decision to not wear a mask during a visit to the Mayo Clinic (he's the VP, nobody ever gets within 6 feet of him), and we suspect there will be no shrotage of hand-wringing over President Trump's trip to Camp David on Friday, his first trip away from the White House since the lockdowns began.

And as the White House’s social distancing guidelines expired on Thursday, leaving states to make all decisions going forward, Dr. Fauci warned some states to avoid "leapfrogging” critical milestones in an effort to open up more quickly, saying a premature reopening would come with "significant risks."

Authorities around the world were preparing to closely monitor May Day marches as leftists from Greece to Germany vowed to ignore the bans, risking a repeat of the 'International Women's Day' marches in Madrid which helped kick off the outbreak in Spain.

Finally, before we go, another egregious example of China shipping shoddy products has surfaced in the UK, where a group of doctors warned that 250 ventilators brought to the UK from China could cause "significant harm to patients...including death" if used in a hospital setting. The ventilators - like PPE sold to hospitals in Spain by China recently - are apparently defective.