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Coronavirus update: More than 100K infected globally as rising cases rattle investors, officials

Anjalee Khemlani
·Senior Reporter
·4 min read
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The worldwide coronavirus outbreak surpassed a grim new milestone on Friday, with over 100,000 reported infections on a death toll that topped 3,400 — scaring investors and paralyzing the global economy.

Even as China’s caseloads continue to decline, South Korea, Italy and the United States are fighting an uphill battle to contain new occurrences of COVID-19, the virus at the center of a spiraling crisis that’s undermining markets and prospects for growth.

South Korea is now the largest coronavirus epicenter outside of the Middle Kingdom with over 6,000 cases, while Italy’s count has soared to near 4,000; Germany and France are also seeing rising infections.

Meanwhile, the U.S. saw a jump in reported cases to more than 230, while deaths climbed to 14. The clusters of the outbreak are largely on the West Coast in California and Washington — but the East Coast is catching up, with rising “community spread” infections in New York state raising alarm.

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Schools have closed in some of the hardest hit regions of the world — including in the U.S., where Pennsylvania shuttered five school districts on Friday. Around the globe, the outbreak has left nearly 300 million children out of classrooms, NPR reported.

President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion spending bill that Congress passed this week to help fund frontline agencies in state and local communities who are responding to the outbreak, as well as federal agencies who are coordinating efforts.

America's coronavirus count is on the rise, and likely to jump in the coming days as more cases are confirmed.
America's coronavirus count is on the rise, and likely to jump in the coming days as more cases are confirmed.

‘Much too early to declare this done’

Despite a strong jobs report that showed the U.S. economy created a far better-than-expected 273,000 jobs, panicked Wall Street traders sold off stocks — underscoring how the virus’ effect on the world’s largest economies has darkened the outlook for global growth. Investors are all but writing off the first quarter of 2020, with hopes fading for a recovery in Q2.

In a research note to clients, Deutsche bank warned that the dramatic slide in stocks “has further to go; and in terms of duration...it is much too early to declare this episode as being done.”

The bank predicted that that the outbreak will be reflected in upcoming data reports, but the drag would be “relatively short-lived” with a recovering beginning in the second half of the year.

Gap (GPS) and Adidas became the latest companies to have their business impacted by the virus, with both reporting employees who tested positive for the disease. Gap closed its New York offices as a result.

Travel and leisure companies have been hammered by the crisis, but airline stocks bucked the trend Friday, after White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow said the U.S. government could defer taxes for airlines and cruises, which have been the hardest hit by the outbreak.

While much of the negative impact has focused on major cruise liners like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, smaller cruises are also seeing an impact. In Egypt, a Nile river cruise reported 12 new asymptomatic cases Friday.

Insurance companies and diagnostic companies are answering the call for increased testing capacity, after issues with the CDC coronavirus testing kits slowed down the world’s largest economy’s ability to test for cases.

Labcorp (LH) and Quest Diagnostics (DGX) the two largest publicly-traded testing companies, announced Thursday their tests are ready. Labcorp said its tests were ready that evening, while Quest said its testing will go live on March 9.

Insurers are doing their part to cover the tests, with Cigna (CI) and CVS Health/Aetna (CVS) saying they will cover the cost of the tests. This does not include the cost of a doctor’s or hospital visit, however.

And self-insured plans, typical for large companies, have the option of opting in.

Globally, the World Health Organization is releasing a report about the coronavirus, which is a result of a panel of experts convened last month.