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U.S. Cases Rise 1.9% Again, Below Week’s Average: Virus Update

Bloomberg News
U.S. Cases Rise 1.9% Again, Below Week’s Average: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) -- California reported its biggest one-day jump in cases. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that his state’s improving data is obscuring a worsening U.S. outbreak.

More than half of U.S. small businesses expect to close within six months, a new survey showed. President Donald Trump backtracked on disbanding his coronavirus task force and said he’d soon announce new members to focus on reopening, after acknowledging it may cause more people to get ill and die.

The U.K.’s death toll topped 30,000. Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands are planning additional steps to ease their restrictions, while Russian President Vladimir Putin warned against rushing into it.

Key Developments

Virus Tracker: cases pass 3.7 million; deaths top 261,000WHO says infecting subjects may speed vaccine studiesLawsuits against China escalate blame game with U.S.Layoffs start turning permanent across AmericaWork-from-resort: How Ken Griffin stayed on top of marketsCovid-19 research groups are being attacked by hackers

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus. See this QuickTake on unanswered questions about the virus.

Infecting Subjects May Speed Vaccine Studies: WHO (4:40 p.m. NY)

Deliberately infecting healthy volunteers with the virus that causes Covid-19 may speed studies of vaccines against the deadly pathogen, the World Health Organization said.

Such studies, which pose significant potential dangers to subjects, may be considered in dire situations and with certain disclosures and protections, according to a report from the United Nations health agency.

Researchers around the world are racing to develop vaccines to protect against the deadly coronavirus and allow countries to rebuild teetering economies. So-called challenge studies, where treatments or preventatives are tested directly against the infection in informed volunteers, might speed the path of vaccines to the public.

U.S. Cases Rise 1.9% (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose 1.9% as compared to the same time yesterday, to 1.22 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. It was a second day with an increase of 1.9%, below the average daily increase of 2.5% over the past week. Deaths rose 2.8% to 72,233.

New York reported 2,786 new cases taking its total to 323,978. Deaths rose by 232, 25 of which were in nursing homes, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.Florida reported 38,002 cases, up 1.5% from a day earlier, according to the state’s health department. Deaths increased 4.6% to 1,539.Deaths in Texas rose 4.6% to 948, its biggest daily jump in fatalities in a week, according to state health department data. Total cases increased 3.2% to 34,422.California reported 2,603 new infections, its biggest one-day increase in cases, according to the state’s website. The number of daily deaths spiked to 95 from 63 the previous day.Kentucky had the biggest daily increase in cases, which rose 11% to 5,822.

Supreme Court Refuses PA Challenge (3:30 p.m. NY)

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to lift Pennsylvania’s shutdown order, rejecting a request from businesses and a political campaign that said their constitutional rights were being violated.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses closed in March to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The state has since begun easing the restrictions.

The challengers included a golf course, laundromat, timber company, real-estate agent and political committee tied to a Republican state legislative candidate. They turned to the nation’s top court after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected their arguments.

Ontario Eases Rules on Retailers (3:12 p.m. NY)

The Ontario government is allowing all retail stores with a street entrance to open for curbside pickup and delivery as of May 11, in another step toward restarting Canada’s largest provincial economy.

It will also ease restrictions on garden centers on May 8 and hardware and safety supply stores on May 9 to permit in-store payment and purchases, the government said.

“We’ve been laying the groundwork for the safe, measured, and gradual reopening of our province,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. “As the trends improve, we can move forward with reopening more and more of our economy and getting people back to work.”

California Cases Jump (2:45 p.m. NY)

California reported 2,603 new infections, its biggest one-day increase in cases. The number of daily deaths spiked to 95 from 63 the previous day.

The jumps come as Governor Gavin Newsom takes steps to slowly restart the economy. He has said he’ll issue guidelines Thursday for some businesses to reopen as soon as this week, such as retailers for curbside pickup. But he’s also said that a lifting of restrictions depends on data showing a sustained improvement in the outbreak.

French Deaths Slow (2:25 p.m. NY)

Deaths in France linked to the coronavirus rose at the slowest pace in three days on Wednesday, falling below 300 fatalities. Hospitalizations and the number of patients in intensive care continued their decline, falling to 23,983 and 3,147, respectively. That’s the biggest decrease yet in four weeks.

The number of deaths rose by 278 to 25,809, France’s public health agency said in an e-mailed statement. The number of total cases stood at 208,698, up 4,039 from the number of infections reported a day earlier after additional laboratory results were included.

The French government is looking at easing restrictions to limit economic damage as lockdown measures have started slowing the outbreak. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is scheduled to provide details on Thursday on the exit from strict confinement starting May 11.

N.J. Reviewing Nursing Homes (1:52 p.m. NY)

New Jersey is hiring two experts on long-term health care to conduct a two- to three-week review of nursing homes, where half of the state’s 8,549 coronavirus fatalities have occurred, Governor Phil Murphy said.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, whose office is already investigating nursing homes with unusually high fatalities, this week asked anyone with firsthand knowledge of misconduct to submit information to covid19.nj.gov/LTC.

On Wednesday, the governor said at a news conference that of the 5,221 virus patients in New Jersey hospitals, 1,146 were on ventilators.

“This number, thank God, continues to decline,” Murphy said of intubated patients. The number of intensive- and critical-care patients, 1,549, represented a 25% drop from three weeks ago, he said. Over 24 hours, though, 439 new patients were hospitalized, four more than the number discharged.

Dutch Shutdown Further Eased (1:45 p.m. NY)

The Netherlands will allow hairdressers, nail salons and beauty parlors to start work again on May 11, accelerating its plan to reopen more of the economy by at least a week amid signs the coronavirus outbreak is under control.

Restaurants, bars and movie theaters will be allowed to reopen starting June 1, with restrictions to comply with the “1.5 meter society” which will remain in place for the foreseeable future, Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters at a televised briefing in The Hague on Wednesday. Prostitution, which is legal in the Netherlands, is allowed restart on Sept. 1, according to the current timeline.

“We’re doing this as quickly as possible, but not quicker than responsible,” Rutte said. “Caution now is better than regret afterward.”

It’s a more decisive move after the country’s first cautious step two weeks ago allowed some schools to reopen under certain conditions while keeping the rest of the nation under “intelligent lockdown” measures.

U.S. Outbreak Worsening, Cuomo Says (1:22 p.m. NY)

The U.S. coronavirus outbreak is clearly seen to be worsening if New York is excluded from the data, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, makes up about one-fourth of cases and one-third of deaths nationwide. As New York data show a decline in the spread of the disease, the situation in other states is still worsening even as they encourage commerce to restart, Cuomo said Wednesday at a press briefing.

U.S. fatalities from Covid-19 have climbed 61% in two weeks, to 65,307 as of May 5. Excluding New York, deaths have jumped 78%.

Texas Deaths Rise 4.6% (1:20 p.m. NY)

Texas recorded its biggest daily jump in fatalities in a week as the death toll rose 4.6% to 948, according to state health department data. Total cases increased by 3.2% to 34,422.

The surge in deaths comes as Governor Greg Abbott’s reopening of the state’s economy accelerated and he criticized a Dallas judge for jailing a nail salon owner for seven days as punishment for opening before the statewide prohibition on some businesses.

“Jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option,” Abbott said in a statement Wednesday. “Compliance with executive orders during this pandemic is important to ensure public safety; however, surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother.”

N.Y. Forms Reimagine Commission (12:40 p.m. NY)

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, has agreed to serve as chair of a 15-member commission to help reimagine New York. Schmidt, in a short appearance during Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefing spoke of the need to use technology to make systems better. “These moments are a chance to revisit things that aren’t getting enough attention,” he said.

Cuomo asked Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, to lead an effort to help New York learn public-health lessons from Covid-19. Dowling served in New York State government for 12 years, including seven years as state director of health, education and human services.

The state reported 2,786 new cases and 232 deaths, 25 from nursing homes.

WHO May Seek Coronavirus Source (12:22 p.m. NY)

The World Health Organization is considering sending a mission to China, with an academic focus on finding the zoologic source of the coronavirus.

“Without knowing where the animal origin is, it’s hard to prevent it from happening again,” Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said at a press briefing Wednesday.

Putin Cautions on Easing Lockdown (12:18 p.m. NY)

Russian President Vladimir Putin told regional governors not to rush to ease the coronavirus lockdown even as his top government ministers warned that pressure on the economy is intensifying.

“We can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Putin said at a teleconference with officials and governors on Wednesday. “Any negligence or haste can turn into a breakdown or moving backwards.”

Economic activity contracted by a third since lockdowns were enforced across most of the country at the end of March, Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikovsaid at the meeting. Tax collection declined by 30% in April, while a quarter of Russian companies are in industries affected by the pandemic and will need support, Federal Tax Service chief Daniil Egorov said.

IRS Asks for Money Back from Dead, Jailed (12:15 p.m. NY)

The Internal Revenue Service said Americans who got a $1,200 stimulus payment intended for someone who’s deceased or incarcerated should return the money but left open the question of how the agency would enforce that.

Instructions posted to the IRS’s website Wednesday said recipients of what the Treasury Department calls “inadvertent” payments should write void on paper checks and mail them back.

Those who received direct-deposit payments or have already cashed the payments should send a personal check or money order to the IRS for the amount of the payment.

U.K. Cases Top 200,000 (12:11 p.m. NY)

A further 649 people were reported to have died from coronavirus in the U.K., bringing the country’s death toll to 30,076. It’s the first European nation to top 30,000.

Some 6,111 more people were diagnosed with the virus, the figures announced at the government’s daily press briefing show. This takes the country’s total number of confirmed cases past 200,000, only the fourth country in the world to report that many confirmed cases.

The figures are closely watched as indicators of when the U.K. could relax its coronavirus restrictions. The government says the country is past the peak of the outbreak, but the numbers being infected and dying are still too high.

On Sunday, the government is expected to lay out a roadmap to getting the country back to work, in turn alleviating the fiscal burden of its emergency support measures.

DeSantis Working on International Travel Plan (11:47 a.m. NY)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he was working on a plan on how to deal with the Covid-19 threat from international travelers, adding that he was doing so at the request of President Donald Trump.

DeSantis said he was specifically concerned about travelers from Brazil spreading coronavirus, a country with close ties to South Florida. DeSantis said he was considering asking airlines to screen and test passengers from areas with significant outbreaks.

DeSantis met with Trump in Washington last week, and mentioned his concern about Brazil, where Covid-19 cases are soaring. The Sunshine State started reopening retail and restaurants in most parts of the state this week.

Denmark Considers Further Reopening (11:10 a.m. NY)

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said restaurants, shopping malls and big retailers may reopen as early as Monday after seeing positive results from its early response to the pandemic.

Frederiksen spoke to media ahead of a debate among party leaders on the next phase of the containment measures. The current restrictions are set to expire Sunday.

Denmark was one of the first countries to introduce strict restrictions and one of the first to start a gradual return to normality. The youngest were able to return to school after Easter and Frederiksen wants to let all primary school students back as well.

Denmark has 9,938 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 506 deaths.

U.K. Seeks Review of Virus Origins (10:30 a.m. NY)

The U.K. wants a “full review” into the origin and spread of the coronavirus to see what lessons are to be learned and to help prepare for future pandemics, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, told reporters in London.

“There are questions that need to be answered,” Slack said when asked about U.S. claims that the virus escaped from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan. “In time there’s going to need to be a full review of what happened to establish all of these facts.”

Germany Takes Big Post-Lockdown Leap (10:04 a.m. NY)

Although many lockdown measures are being gradually phased out, limits on public contact will remain for weeks or months to come, and restrictions may be reinstated locally if a hot spot emerges. Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to stick to social-distancing rules to stem the risks of a second wave of infections.

“We can say today that we have the very first phase of the pandemic behind us,” Merkel said on Wednesday after talks with leaders of Germany’s 16 states, adding that the fight against the disease is still in its early stages.

Belgium Eases Restrictions on Contact (9:07 a.m. NY)

As of May 10, Belgians can invite as many as four people to their homes, preferably for meetings outside. The government also approved reopening stores on May 11, as scheduled in a previous plan. Sports competitions are banned until the end of July, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said.

Uber Reduces Workforce by 14% (9:03 a.m. NY)

Uber Technologies Inc. will eliminate 3,700 jobs and permanently close 180 driver service centers, the first in a series of cost-cutting measures to be announced in the next two weeks.

The reductions will affect 14% of staff around the world, mainly those in support and recruiting, Dara Khosrowshahi, the chief executive officer, wrote in an email to employees Wednesday. Ridership is down significantly, and the company is maintaining a freeze on hiring.

Paris Metro Prepares for Lockdown Easing (8:53 a.m. NY)

The Paris public transport system will deploy as many as 2,000 police officers to enforce rules on social distancing and the wearing of masks when France starts to ease lockdown measures on May 11.

The operator of metros, buses and commuter trains in the French capital, known as the RATP, has also increased its cleaning budget by at least 70% and is testing methods like anti-viral sprays in buses, according to Chief Executive Officer Catherine Guillouard.

U.K. Lockdown Could Be Eased from Monday (8:46 a.m. NY)

The U.K.’s coronavirus lockdown is likely to begin to be eased from Monday, Johnson said.

“We will want, if we possibly can, to get going with some of these measures on Monday,” Johnson told Parliament. He said he will set out the next phase of the coronavirus strategy in a public statement on Sunday because it would be a “good thing” if people knew what to expect before the changes came into operation the next day.

The government has already said it will roll out a mass program of tracking and tracing coronavirus cases. Johnson promised testing capacity would reach 200,000 a day by the end of the month.

EU Floats Equity ‘Tool’ to Help Companies (8:25 a.m. NY)

The European Commission will propose the creation of an instrument to prevent companies across the continent from going bust.

“We are discussing the possibility of an intervention of a pan-European tool also on equities,” EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Paolo Gentiloni told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday. The plan will be unveiled in the next few weeks, Gentiloni added, without elaborating on the details.

Separately, EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said the pandemic may prompt the 27-nation bloc to consider establishing strategic reserves of medical supplies.

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