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Australia Curbs Travel; U.S. Cases in 50 States: Virus Update

Bloomberg News
Australia Curbs Travel; U.S. Cases in 50 States: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) -- Leaders around the world escalated their efforts to limit travel and stop the virus’s spread. European countries agreed to shut their borders to foreigners and sought to ease the financial impact. Prime Minister Scott Morrison told all Australian citizens not to travel abroad indefinitely and banned non-essential gatherings of 100 people or more.

Belgium drastically tightened restrictions on citizens. Singapore said it can’t rule out a lockdown if the crisis worsens.

President Donald Trump’s administration signaled it is taking steps toward an economic stimulus package of as much as $1.2 trillion to blunt the economic impact of the outbreak, sending U.S. stocks surging. The virus has now spread to all 50 states, after West Virginia reported its first case.

Key Developments:

Cases hit 187,674 worldwide, deaths exceed 7,400U.S. blood supply under stressIn testing ramp-up, U.S. called in private sector too lateSan Francisco shelter-in-place shows U.S. what’s to comeIOC says Olympics Games are still onPentagon to provide 5 million masks

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 and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here. To see the impact on oil and commodities demand, click here.

Australia Tells Citizens Not to Travel Abroad (6:30 a.m. HK)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told all Australian citizens not to travel abroad indefinitely and banned non-essential gatherings of 100 people or more, in a dramatic escalation of the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

All 50 U.S. States Have Cases as West Virginia Reports Infection (6:15 a.m. HK)

West Virginia reported its first case of the virus, meaning the infection has spread to all 50 U.S. states. Governor Jim Justice said a patient in the state’s panhandle has been diagnosed.

Italy, Belgium Ban Short-Selling (6 a.m. HK)

Italy’s market watchdog banned short selling on all Milan stock markets for three months to neutralize “turbulence” ignited by the pandemic.

Regulators in Belgium banned short selling on Euronext Brussels until April 17. The measure is only applicable to companies listed on Euronext Brussels and Euronext Growth, regulator FSMA said in a statement.

New York MTA Seeks $4 Billion Bailout as Ridership Plummets (5:15 p.m. NY)

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the largest mass-transit provider in the U.S., is seeking $4 billion from the federal government as the coronavirus has decimated ridership and revenue, according to a letter MTA head Pat Foye sent Tuesday to the state’s Congressional delegation.

N.J. Asks Trump for Aid to Expand Hospital Capacity (5:09 p.m. NY)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy asked for the U.S. military and the Army Corps of Engineers to help expand hospital and intensive-care unit capacity statewide. In a letter to President Donald Trump, Murphy said health-care workers “may be forced to make the agonizing decisions that the world has seen in Northern Italy” by having to deny lifesaving care to virus patients.

The state’s 2,000 intensive-care beds appear to be “a fraction of the capacity” that will be needed in the coming weeks, Murphy wrote. The state also is studying whether to reopen several hospitals that have been closed in recent years, Judy Persichilli, the health commissioner, said at a news conference.

Belgium Tightens Restrictions, Bans Gatherings (4:41 p.m. NY)

Belgium drastically tightened its restrictions on citizens, banning all unnecessary movements and gatherings of people and keeping only food stores and pharmacies open for customers. The measures go into effect Wednesday noon and will last until April 5. A ban on travel abroad was also announced.

Violating strict confinement measures in place in Luxembourg since Monday could lead to fines of as much as 10,000 euros ($11,000), even a small prison sentence, local news outlet RTL said. Police started doing checks across the country on Tuesday and will continue to do over the coming days, according to a statement by the national police.

Europe Closes Its Borders in Last-Ditch Attempt (3:17 p.m. NY)

European leaders agreed to restrict most travel into the continent in an unprecedented move.

Banning all travel to foreign nationals adds to a series of restrictive measures that would have been unthinkable in Western democracies only a few weeks ago.

Telehealth Gains Coverage Under Medicare (1:35 p.m. NY)

Telehealth services now will be covered under Medicare, a vast expansion of access to remote health care that will allow millions of senior citizens to get treatment while remaining in self-isolation.

“Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or video conference at no additional cost, including with commonly used services like FaceTime and Skype,” President Donald Trump said during Tuesday’s White House coronavirus press briefing.The announcement will allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive a far-wider range of services from their doctors remotely. Previously, Medicare was permitted to pay clinicians only for telehealth services such as routine visits in certain circumstances, such as if the patient lived in a rural area.

Trump Wants to Send Individual Stimulus Checks Now (12:48 p.m. NY)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration is pushing to send direct payments to Americans within two weeks.

“Americans need cash now, and the president wants to give cash now. And I mean now, in the next two weeks,” Mnuchin said Tuesday at a White House briefing alongside President Donald Trump.

Mnuchin said the administration will aim not to send checks to millionaires but stressed the need for urgency. He was due to meet Republican lawmakers after the briefing.

Latest U.S. Estimate on Mortality Rate Is About 0.7% (12:45 p.m. NY)

The latest data on the mortality rate for people wit Covid-19 is about 0.7%, with most people under 30 at very low risk, said Deborah Birx, a member of the White House task force responding to the new coronavirus.

There are exceptions, especially for people with underlying illnesses, Birx said.

“It’s much higher, in people with pre-existing medical conditions, even if young, and people that are older, with pre-existing medical conditions,” she said at a press conference in Washington.

Prolonged Social Distancing Would Come at High Cost (12:42 p.m. NY)

A truly effective shutdown would likely have to be significantly longer and more severe than the two weeks recommended by many governments.

The best way to prevent the pandemic from overwhelming hospitals is social distancing that could drag on for a year or more, until doctors find a way to control it, researchers at Imperial College London said in a report published Monday.

They estimated 81% of people in Great Britain and the U.S. would get the virus if no steps were taken to slow its spread. In the U.S., 2.2 million would die, with 510,000 deaths in Great Britain.

EU Commission Sees Vaccine Ready as Early as Fall (11:41 a.m. NY)

A vaccine against coronavirus may be on the market perhaps before autumn, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a video posted on Twitter. The commission provided as much as 80 million euros ($88 million) of support for German medical developer CureVac GmbH.

Cuomo Rejects Mayor’s NYC Shelter-In-Place Idea (10:51 a.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he alone has the authority to order shelters-in-place, and has no plans to do so for New York City.

His comments contrast with those of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who earlier said the most populous U.S. city may be forced to order residents to confine themselves in their homes in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We hear New York City is going to quarantine itself; that can’t happen without state approval,” Cuomo said Tuesday in a press briefing. “I have no interest whatsoever or plan whatsoever to contain New York City.”

U.K. Sees 20,000 Deaths as ‘Good Outcome’ (10:32 a.m. NY)

Patrick Vallance, the U.K. government’s chief scientific adviser, said it would be horrible but a “good outcome” if Britain can keep its number of deaths below 20,000.

“Every year, in seasonal flu, the number of excess deaths is thought to be 8,000, so if we can get this down to 20,000 and below that’s a good outcome in terms of where we’d hope to get to,” Vallance told a panel of lawmakers in Parliament. “It’s still horrible, it’s still an enormous number of deaths and an enormous pressure on the health service.”

De Blasio Says ‘Absolutely’ Considering Shelter-in-Place Order (9:31 a.m. NY)

“We’re absolutely considering that,” New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said in response to a question about whether the city was considering a shelter-in-place order.

“It could get to that for sure, it could get to that for the whole country,” De Blasio said in a CNN interview Tuesday.

He also said the city would have to build “a huge amount of new hospitals,” and that it doesn’t have enough ventilators.

Read full story here

Singapore Can’t Rule Out Lockdown If Crisis Worsens (7:45 a.m. NY)

There are multiple lines of defense on travel and border controls, social distancing and contact tracing, and if “we do all three levels well,” the city state won’t need to be locked down, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said.

Malaysia’s move Monday night to ban all visitors and prevent residents from traveling overseas for about two weeks will choke off a key labor channel for Singapore and is the latest threat to its economy.

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