Georgia Will Become First State In The US To Reopen: Live Updates

Summary:

  • Japanese hospitals turn away non-COVID-19 patients
  • Russia outbreak continues to accelerate
  • Demonstrators demand economies reopen now in Denver, Austin
  • Georgia Gov. Jon Bel Edwwards announces plan to reopen
  • NYC Mayor delivers daily update
  • South Korea reports clusters as reopening continues
  • Kudlow says Trump's May 1 reopening goal is "aspirational"
  • Small Marin County town hopes to test every resident
  • NRA says 2/3rds restaurant workers in US have lost their jobs
  • Australia, New Zealand begin easing lockdowns
  • Turkey passes China in total 'confirmed' cases
  • Bolsonaro joins crowds of protesters demanding reopening in Brazil
  • Germany, Denmark, Czech Republic, Norway, India among countries reopening right now
  • Saudi Arabia, Qatar see alarming rise in new cases
  • Prince Philip issues rare statement praising frontline workers
  • NJ achieves "stability" in new cases
  • Vote on relief bill pushed to Tuesday
  • 9th Vatican employee tests positive
  • US sees 20% drop in cases
  • Italy reports slight rise in deaths, drop in cases
  • UK reports 450 new deaths
  • NYC reports another drop in hospitalizations
  • 1/5th of world is taking first steps toward reopening economies
  • Merkel urges more 'caution' as Germany begins to reopen
  • "Corona curve" shows outbreak "over the hump"
  • Belgium reports 1,487 new cases
  • UK business furlough scheme flooded with applications
  • Mnuchin praises Shake Shack for giving back 'PPP' money
  • Dr. Tedros warns "worst is yet to come"
  • French foreign minister slams China over propaganda
  • German newspaper slams Beijing for "exporting" virus

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Update (1630ET): Georgia Gov. Brian Kempe has announced that he will allow Georgia's stay-at-home order to expire at the end of the month, meaning Georgia will become one of a handful of states to begin 'Phase 1' of reopening under the federal guidelines.

He's holding a presser now:

Critics immediately blasted Kempe for moving to reopen without being on track to meet federal benchmarks for entering 'Phase 1' of the guidelines.

Georgia's plan is now probably the most radical reopening agenda in the country. Reopening starts Friday, with restaurants to be reopen on Monday, along with theaters, hair salons and gyms. 

Critics of his plan are absolutely livid, and only time will tell whether this was a wise - or extremely foolish - decision.

Though the fact remains: an obviously premature reopening is playing with people's lives.

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Update (1610ET): New Jersey Gov Phil Murphy said Monday during his daily press briefing that the CDC is planning to assign 10 to 12 staffers per state to coordinate 'contact tracing', the practice of tracking down everyone whom an infected individual might have had contact with, to get them tested and prevent them from potentially infecting more people.

After showing continued "stability" in new cases with another 3,000+ reported, Murphy said that he wouldn't be making any decisions on reopening the state's economy "in a vacuum", and said he would be releasing "concrete benchmarks" in the coming days that the state will need to meet in terms of cases, hospitalizations etc. to continue with the reopening.

Despite all this good news, Murphy said that he wants to see the Fed set up a program for states since, like New York, the effort of battling the virus has left New Jersey in dire financial straits, like many other states.

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Update (1450ET): Lawmakers remained at an impasse on Monday as a vote on a new stimulus bill to top off the federal government's small-business loan program was pushed back until Tuesday. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted, the program has now been dry for four days.

On the floor of the Senate during Monday's pro forma session, McConnell said "At this hour, our Democratic colleagues are still prolonging their discussions with the administration, so the Senate regretfully will not be able to pass more funding for Americans’ paychecks today."

He said the Senate would meet again at 4pmET Tuesday to try to pass the bill again. The House isn't expected to convene again until Wednesday, at which point they're expected to take up a vote on their own version of the bill. Dems blocked a vote on a Republican bill to top off the program with another $250 billion, while Republicans blocked a Democratic counter proposal that included more money for municipalities, hospitals and 'underserved communities'. In an alarming sign, some progressive Democrats are mounting opposition to more 'corporate bailouts' that could also create problems.

The most recent numbers have put the size of the bill at $375 billion, though talks are ongoing, and we remain "almost there" on a deal, as we have been for the last three days.

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Update (1440ET): Over the last hour or so, we've gotten even more alarming news out of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia reported 1,122 new cases of coronavirus and 6 new deaths, in keeping with recent trends, bringing its totals to 10,484 cases and 103 deaths.

The UAE reported 484 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total in the tiny country with a population of fewer than 10 million to 7,265 cases in total. Not only was that the largest single-day jump in new cases, but it amounted to the fifteenth straight day of new cases.

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Update (1400ET): Roughly one week after declaring their plans to extend lockdown measures, Australia and New Zealand have done an about-face and are now beginning the process of reopening their economies as the number of new cases slows to a trickle.

The NYT described their plans as "careful and calibrated."

Australia and New Zealand announced plans on Monday to ease lockdown restrictions as both countries have managed so far to control coronavirus outbreaks, reporting  just a few new infections each day.

Careful and calibrated, the plans include a return to school for some children in the coming weeks as well as allowances for slightly more business activity, more freedom to exercise outdoors and the potential for gatherings of more than two people.

In Sydney, a few beaches reopened for exercise on Monday, leading to the return of surfers. In Maroubra, a coastal southern suburb, lifeguards used megaphones to warn surfers, runners and swimmers to stay physically distanced.

Many residents who spoke with the NYT expressed tremendous relief.

"I’m just kind of laughing," said Paul Beswich, 55, one of many residents who welcomed the chance to go for a swim. "I’ve lived here all my life, and we’ve always been told that if you’ve got a virus, go flush it out in the water. Now we can."

Both countries "benefited from early prevention methods" but also they just really never saw that many cases, for reasons that to some still don't seem entirely clear.

In the US, the number of confirmed cases in the US had surpassed 766,000 as of early Monday afternoon. The Vatican reported on Monday that the ninth employee in the cloistered city-state surrounded by Rome had tested positive.

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Update (1330ET): Italy reported 2,256 new cases of coronavirus and 454 new deaths over the last 24 hours on Monday, for a total of 181,228 cases and 24,114 deaths. While the country saw a slight rise in deaths day over day, the number of new cases (along with the total number tested) declined, as did the number of patients hospitalized, and the number of patients intubated. Meanwhile, in the UK, officials reported 4,676 new cases of coronavirus and 449 new deaths, for a total of 124,743 cases and 16,509 deaths.

France reported a batch of new fatalities and cases on Monday that brought the countrywide death toll above 20k, joining a small club of nations - including the US, Italy and Spain - with more than 20k confirmed deaths from COVID-19.

In the US, Texas reported a 20% slide in new cases day over day to just 535 for the entire state of 29 million.

After reporting a drop in deaths earlier, New York State reported roughly 4,800 new cases on Monday, bringing its total to 247,512 cases, only one-third of the US total, a rapidly shrinking share for a state that once represented more than half of all cases in the country.

Finally, it's been a while since we've heard any truly dire-sounding warnings out of WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. But just as more countries announce tentative plans to reopen, he blurts out during Monday's WHO press briefing that "the worst is yet to come" - despite the fact that every piece of data being flaunted by western governments shows that the worst is, in fact, likely behind us.

Coincidence?

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Update (1140ET): New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo just gave the world one more reason to celebrate, as US stocks head back into the green, as he reported fewer than 500 deaths in New York State - a state that's been home to nearly half of the nation's deaths - over the last 24 hours.

Here's the chart:

 

 

 

 

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Update (1110ET): The UK's Department of Health and Social Care has just released daily figures on the coronavirus outbreak. They reported 449 new deaths, bringing the UK's death toll to 16,509 as of 6pm London Time on Sunday, as officials scramble to account for more deaths in non-hospital settings (especially nursing homes).

It's the lowest single-day death count in 2 weeks

Issuing a rare public statement, Britain's elderly Prince Philip, who has only rarely been seen since his retirement from public duties in 2017, thanked health-care workers.

"On behalf of those of us who remain safe and at home, I also wanted to thank all key workers who ensure the infrastructure of our life continues; the staff and volunteers working in food production and distribution, those keeping postal and delivery services going, and those ensuring the rubbish continues to be collected."

The UK has expended every conceivable resource to protect the prince and the queen, while controversies over the deaths of frontline workers rage, claiming the government and the NHS should have and could have done more to protect them.

Well, we're sure his majesty's warmest regards mean a lot to them...

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Update (1100ET): Saudi Arabia has been struggling to suppress the novel coronavirus despite taking early steps to shut down a stream of foreigners visiting the Muslim holy cities and a lockdown that was initially imposed in hot spots before expanded kingdom-wide weeks ago. On Monday, Al Jazeera reported that KSA's case total surpassed 10k.

Meanwhile, muslims around the world are preparing to observe the holy month of Ramadan under lockdown and tight restrictions, as Turkey surpasses Iran as the worst-hit country in the Muslim world, with Indonesia, which has repeatedly lied, misrepresented or remained flat out ignorant about its case total and mortality rate, also appearing on the verge of an even more serious outbreak.

Nearby Qatar reported 567 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing its total to 6,015 cases. This marked Qatar's largest daily increase so far.

In Europe, Belgium reported 1,487 new cases of coronavirus and 168 new deaths, for a total of 39,983 cases and 5,828 deaths. It's the latest daily reading in 1k territory as the outbreak continues to accelerate (or testing continues to accelerate, we're not exactly certain which).

Back in the US, even more food processing plants are being disrupted by the virus.

  • TYSON FOODS: 90 WORKERS TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 AT TYSON FOODS PLANT IN TENNESSEE

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Update (1041ET): The opening blurb in Monday's New York Times virus live feed caught our eye this morning. We've been watching the framing develop over the past month. Now, as the NYT makes clear, the bifurcation between the states being forced to reopen their economies, and those continuing to extend their lockdowns (Spain is somewhere in example, expanding lockdown while unwinding some restrictions).

On which side will the US ultimately fall? Many Americans might laugh at this question and insist we're already committed to the "too early" camp. Others might laugh and insist "isn't it obvious we should be opening up already?"

A global realignment: Some countries see outbreaks explode as others look to restart economies.

The fluid nature of the coronavirus is forcing a global realignment, as countries that were once at the heart of the crisis pass their peaks and new areas emerge as points of concern.

Turkey, which for weeks had maintained it was ahead of other nations in stemming the spread of the coronavirus, surpassed China on Sunday, with more than 86,000 confirmed cases and 2,017 deaths.

The government has attributed the high number of cases to widespread testing, but health experts warn that the rate of infection could increase if restrictions on movement are delayed.

The confirmed coronavirus toll in Europe passed one million infections and 100,000 deaths, according to the latest figures from the European Center for Disease Control, but many nations are cautiously making attempts to restart public life.

Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Norway all lifted some restrictions on Monday, the latest attempts to balance a need for economic action and public health.

But some countries that have been hit hardest, including Italy and Spain, are rolling out measures at a slower pace. And France and Britain are heading into weeks of continued lockdowns.

The virus has killed at least 160,000 people and infected 2.3 million more worldwide, but the issue of lockdowns has become highly politicized, and demonstrations against coronavirus-related restrictions have gained in intensity.

In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro joined crowds in Brasília over the weekend to demand the reopening of businesses and the easing of measures imposed by governors.

In the United States, similar scenes played out across the country over the weekend, as protesters in several states demanded that businesses be allowed to reopen. President Trump defended the protesters’ actions, which critics and public health experts have said threaten to undermine efforts to control the spread of the virus.

"These people love our country," Mr. Trump said Sunday evening. "They want to go back to work."

Things are changing so rapidly, for many, it's hard to keep up, especially with so much happening outside the US and the English-speaking world.

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Update (1027ET): During this morning's market-pumping cable interviews (interviews that have long since had any material impact on the market, though we are slightly off the lows already this morning), Larry Kudlow said President Trump's hope that the country could start reopening by May 1 was an "aspirational" goal. That comment drew jeers from the administration's critics, who have been bashing the president for seeming to goad protesters demanding that the country reopen immediately.

Kudlow added that talks to top off 'PPP' were progressive 'nicely' while offering a brief defense of the program.

A new study by the National Restaurant Association has lost 2/3rds of its workers as restaurants in the US lost $30 billion in March, and are on track to lose $50 billion in April. 66% of restaurant owners said the federal money simply isn't enough.

As the Merc reports, a small town in Marin County is testing every single one of its residents for the virus in one of the latest efforts to try and determine exactly how widespread the virus might be. The US has confirmed by far the most cases of the virus, but its unusually high mortality rate suggests that the virus is even more widespread thanks to the month-long head start that European travelers - and those they infected - had in spreading it across the US. One study in California that tested 3k random people in nearby Santa Clara County found COVID-19 antibodies in a startling number of them.

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Update (1005ET): As one reporter pointed out, numbers out of NYC were 'mostly good' on Monday.

The rate of positive tests also dropped, even as testing climbed.

Outside the US, we're seeing some interesting headlines outside of Germany, where Chancellor Merkel is pushing back against her chief political antagonist, Horst Seehofer, and urging the country to consider slowing down plans to start reopening the Germany economy. Germany boasts one of the lowest mortality rates and highest testing capacities in all of Europe. Many Germans are now pushing to quickly start reopening, and earlier this month, Seehofer appeared to leak an Interior Ministry plan to reopen the Germany economy that called for measured steps to slowly roll back the restrictions.

In the latest sign that the atmosphere of measured, movement by consensus that we call "Brussels brain" has influenced the Chancellor's leadership, Merkel reportedly said during a private meeting that Germany is risking a second wave of the virus by taking these steps, and urged more caution during the reopening process.

Using uncharacteristically colorful language, Merkel reportedly said "orgies" of 'opening discussions' threatened to destroy the progress in fighting the pandemic, according to the source who reported Merkel's remarks to the press.

While Germany swiftly moved to support its economy and Germany citizens with an unprecedented boost in fiscal spending, Berlin has been reluctant to endorse the "coronabonds" plan to finance recovery in the hardest-hit EU nations like Italy and Spain, which will undoubtedly need the money, or risk facing seriously negative financial blowback.

And now, with the virus clearly on the backfoot, Merkel continues to plod along with caution, as if her political fate weren't already sealed.

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Update (0950ET): Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has praised Shake Shack for giving back its PPP money.

Now, get ready for this: first it was beds & ventilators, then it was tests/swabs...next it's going to be...gowns.

Mayor de Blasio has already generated a few headlines while delivering Monday's press briefing. Aside from the gowns, he also said he would cancel all city permits for mass gatherings through June.

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Across America, hundreds of protesters showed up to State Capitol buildings in Denver, Austin and elsewhere on Sunday to demand that governors lift their 'stay-at-home' orders immediately.

The protests quickly became a flashpoint for confrontation as a few nurses in Denver stepped out to quietly confront the "Covidiots" demanding an immediate reopening. The scene quickly attracted the attention of the MSM as it offered yet another opportunity to promote their narrative of the brave 'health-care heroes' - multicultural paragons of not just health care, but every progressive cause under the sun (at least according to the narrative) - confronting the idiotic, ignorant, Trump-supporting 'covidiots'.

Keep in mind: We're not defending the covidiots, or explicitly condemning them. Denial is one of the most predictable of human responses, and terrified people sometimes do ridiculous shit when the chips are down. That's human nature, and while they certainly shouldn't be celebrated or catered to (as President Trump has been doing, to his obvious political detriment) decrying them as monsters also doesn't help.

Meanwhile, health-care workers who are risking their lives to treat infected patients are done a disservice when they're asked to take these risks without enough protective equipment, or with other handicaps. These are tremendous sacrifices; that they are putting themselves at risk to safeguard the public health has never been in doubt, and many nurses and doctors around the world have paid the ultimate price during this outbreak. This crisis has witnessed a new spate of 'health-care martyrs' celebrated around the world, and especially in China.

Moreover, while a majority of Americans are reportedly fearful of reopening the economy too quickly - according to one recent poll that has been noted repeatedly on "Squawk Box" this morning - if steps aren't taken soon, we could risk upsetting the very social fabric upon which order depends.

While the outbreak is a crisis that demands to be taken seriously, the potential consequences of a total economic collapse - incidences of severe food shortages, riots, uprisings and looting on top of an unprecedented public-health crisis involving a virus that, in some patients, produces almost unbelievably brutal symptoms - would make things many, many times worse.

Yet, to be sure, the consequences of rushing to reopen could also be disastrous, as Morgan Stanley explains.

In reality, the crowds of these 'reopen now' protesters have been modest. Ignoring them might be a better strategy if the goal is getting them to go back inside.

But we digress...

As far as we could tell, the big news overnight is the continued resurgence of the virus in Asia, a phenomenon that hasn't received nearly enough attention in the mainstream press. Japan, Russia and Singapore are quickly emerging as hotspots, while China is also suffering more outbreaks and clusters than Beijing is letting on.

In Japan, PM Shinzo Abe extended a state of emergency order to cover the entire country as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases soars, indicating that the virus has likely already deeply penetrated Japanese society, many Japanese are simply ignoring the social distancing recommendations. The Japanese constitution treats individual liberty as paramount, so the government can't actually order businesses to close. Unfortunately, this has meant that many have stayed open, and crowds of people in restaurants and in public remain a not-uncommon site.

Now, as Japan Times explains, hospitals in Tokyo are being overwhelmed with surging coronavirus patients. Some hospitals have even been forced to turn patients away, echoing the horrifying early days of the outbreak in Wuhan.

Except, in an interesting twist, the patients who are being turned away are people suffering from heart attacks, serious accidents and other health problems as hospitals focus all their resources on COVID-19 patients.

Hospitals in Japan are increasingly turning away sick people as the country struggles with surging coronavirus infections and its emergency medical system collapses. In one recent case, an ambulance carrying a man with a fever and difficulty breathing was rejected by 80 hospitals and forced to search for hours for a hospital in downtown Tokyo that would treat him. Another feverish man finally reached a hospital after paramedics unsuccessfully contacted 40 clinics.

In one recent case, an ambulance carrying a man with a fever and difficulty breathing was rejected by 80 hospitals and forced to search for hours for a hospital in downtown Tokyo that would treat him. Another feverish man finally reached a hospital after paramedics unsuccessfully contacted 40 clinics.

Russia is essentially in the same boat as Japan. During the early days of the outbreak, Russian President Vladimir Putin instituted sweeping measures to try and keep the virus out by closing Russia's border with China and North Korea over the objections of the international community. However, Russia's hesitation in implementing a countrywide lockdown - it didn't impose one until late last month - has seemingly cost it these early gains, and Putin is now warning that the country is likely on the precipice of an enormous crisis.

Even South Korea has reported clusters of outbreaks as it has reopened its economy.

On Sunday, Russia reported the 8th day of record numbers of new cases, as rapidly-expanding testing capacity reveals just how widespread the virus has already become. Sweden - which just added "obesity" to its list of high-risk coronavirus preconditions (sorry, Jameela Jamil) - has seen a jump in cases and deaths, even as the government insists that cases are already beginning to plateau, even as gyms, restaurants and businesses have remained open.

The drawback, as President Trump intimated last week, has been a recent runup in cases and deaths, but the country has avoided an out-of-control outbreak while leaving businesses open.

For better or worse, countries are moving ahead with their reopening efforts. By our country, roughly one-fifth of the world's population - India, Ghana, Iran, Italy, Austria, Germany etc - is taking the first tentative steps toward reopening their economies.

In addition to Italy and Austria, which have started the process of reopening, India, Ghana - the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to start reopening - announced on Monday their plans to start opening their economies. Iran has also been forced to start reopening again.

In some places, reopening isn't the craziest idea. As we noted last night, after weeks of "climbing the coronacurve", we finally have some good news - we are now officially over the "tipping point," as the global rate of infection growth has slowed from 90% W/W to just 38% W/W in the last fortnight (total infections: 2,157,108, deaths: 143,844, 6.7% mortality rate), and the number of global new daily cases has dropped to 65.6K, the lowest since the end of March.

Here's what the curve looks like now:

Meanwhile, in the UK, HMG's worker-furlough scheme - whereby companies are given money for payroll to keep workers on and not fire them - has received more than 70k applications in the first half hour of eligibility as businesses scramble to get cash to pay workers whom they are keeping on the payroll. Businesses will lose access to the money if they don't keep workers employed.

Back in the US, most of the biggest coronavirus-related stories overnight involved corporations and nonprofits facing pressure to return bailout money. Shake Shack won plaudits for giving back a $10 million (that's million with an 'm') 'PPP' loan, however, Ivy League universities including Harvard and Columbia are facing pressure to return millions of dollars that these institutions - which have tens of billions of dollars in their endowments - have accepted from the program, exposing what is perhaps its biggest flaw: The businesses who need the money the most probably aren't the ones who are getting it first.

Before we go, we'd like to note that the international pressure on China intensified overnight, as French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian sharply criticized Beijing over a propaganda campaign Le Drian said appeared to be intended to "deepen divisions" in the EU. Additionally, as we noted last night, Germany's largest newspaper accused Beijing of "exporting" the virus, provoking an outraged response from the CPC.