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U.S. Infections Rise 1.3%; Trump Touts Testing: Virus Update

Bloomberg News
U.S. Infections Rise 1.3%; Trump Touts Testing: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) --

President Donald Trump said that “we have prevailed” as U.S. deaths from the coronavirus exceeded 80,000 -- a remark he later said pertained only to testing for the infection. The White House ordered staff to wear a face mask after Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive for the virus last week.

New York state will begin to reopen in some regions on Friday, though New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak, will likely see its lockdown extended into June. Wuhan, where the epidemic began, reported its first new infections since the Chinese city ended its lockdown last month.

Russia reported a record number of new cases in one day as it emerged as a new hub of the outbreak in Europe, though the spread slowed elsewhere on the continent. France, Switzerland and Greece are loosening restrictions. The U.K. outlined a plan to ease the country’s lockdown in phases, as its premier urged Britons to prepare for a new normal.

Key Developments:

Virus Tracker: Cases top 4.1 million; deaths exceed 284,000NYC had 24,172 excess deaths as outbreak acceleratedInfections near meat plants twice U.S. rate after Trump orderSleuthing at funeral parlors to track nursing homes’ tollWhat we don’t know about coronavirus origins might kill usEurope faces more slog than snapback in economy

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 week’s top stories from QuickTake here.

Trump Says ‘We Have Prevailed’ (5:30 p.m. NY)

President Donald Trump declared at a White House news conference on the coronavirus outbreak that “we have prevailed,” as U.S. deaths from the disease exceeded 80,000 -- a remark he later said pertained only to testing for the infection.

“Thanks to the courage of our citizens and our aggressive strategy, hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved,” Trump said. “In every generation, through every challenge and hardship and danger, America has risen to the task, we have met the moment and we have prevailed.”

Asked later about his remark that the U.S. had “prevailed,” Trump said he was only talking about testing for the virus. The U.S. didn’t exceed 100,000 coronavirus tests performed until March 19, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, but more than 300,000 tests were conducted daily on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

White House Orders Staff to Wear Masks (4:40 p.m. NY)

The White House ordered everyone entering the West Wing to wear a face mask after Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive for the coronavirus last week. The announcement was made in a memo addressed to staff on Monday, according to two people, and said employees didn’t need face coverings while working at their desks.

“Staff who sit in the West Wing are not required to wear a facial covering while at their desk if they are appropriately socially distanced from their colleagues,” the memo from the White House Management Office reads.

“Unless you absolutely need to conduct in-person business in the West Wing, we respectfully ask you to avoid unnecessary visits,” it added.

U.S. to Distribute $11 Billion in Test Funding (4:30 p.m. NY)

The Trump administration plans to distribute $11 billion to states for coronavirus testing, according to senior administration officials.

The $11 billion is part of the CARES Act stimulus package. It will be distributed under a formula that reflects the burden of Covid-19 as well as population-based estimates, the officials said. The administration plans to release details about the distribution in the next day or two, the officials said.

Western States Ask Congress for $1 Trillion in Aid (4:05 p.m. NY)

Five Western states have sent a letter to Congress asking for $1 trillion in “direct and flexible relief” for local and state governments trying to recover from the coronavirus outbreak.

The letter, which was addressed to congressional leadership including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was signed by the governors of the Western States Pact -- a group of states that has banded together to organize their Covid-19 response.

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the letter during his daily press briefing Monday, and it was also signed by the governors of Oregon, Colorado, Nevada and Washington. They are seeking the funding for all 50 states.

“This aid would preserve core government services like public health, public safety, public education and help people get back to work,” the letter reads. “Red and blue states alike all are faced with the same Covid-19 math.”

U.S. Confirmed Cases Rise 1.3% (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases rose 1.3% from the day before to 1.34 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That was down from Sunday’s growth rate of 1.8% and the lowest daily increase since April 30.

New York added 1,660 cases on Sunday, the smallest number since mid-March, and 161 additional deaths, the lowest since late March.Florida reported 40,982 cases, up 1% from a day earlier, according to the state’s health department. Deaths reached 1,735, an increase of 0.8%.California’s cases rose 1.9% to 67,939 while deaths rose 0.9% to 2,770, according to the state’s website.

Ontario Cases Fall as Quebec Struggles (3:55 p.m. NY)

Ontario reported the lowest number of new cases in six weeks as Canada’s most populous province gradually reopens. Curbside retail, hardware stores and some construction projects have been allowed to restart business. The province expects to announce a plan next week for schools, which have been closed since mid-March, Doug Ford, the province’s premier, said.

Meanwhile in Quebec, Premier Francois Legault said the situation in Montreal remains concerning. As schools and shops open in the rest of the province, residents and businesses of Canada’s second-largest city are scheduled to continue under tighter restrictions until May 25.

Twitter to Tag Misleading Virus Posts (1:55 p.m. NY)

Twitter Inc. will label some misinformation that’s confusing or misleading, increasing the likelihood that more Covid-19 tweets will be marked or taken down. Previously, Twitter reserved that for posts posing a direct threat to safety. The new label will apply to tweets that are “less severe” but “where people may still be confused or misled,” the company said in a blog post.

Twitter, like Facebook Inc., has been trying to curb the spread of incorrect data and misleading material, relying on public health authorities to determine what may be misleading.

N.Y. to Start Some Reopenings Friday (1:04 p.m. NY)

Certain businesses in New York state -- including construction, curbside retail, drive-in movie theaters and some recreational activities -- will reopen this week on a regional basis, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. Each area will have to meet seven criteria, including low rates of virus-related hospitalizations and having certain testing and tracing measures in place. There will be control rooms to monitor each area’s reopening, ensuring they meet the metrics, the governor said in his daily briefing.

Cuomo has said that it would be a “miracle” if hard-hit New York City were ready to reopen on May 15. Earlier today, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s lockdown is likely to continue into June.

Risk of Transmission Will Rise Again: WHO (1 p.m. NY)

As countries ease restrictions and people mix more, the risk of transmission will rise again, said Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program. The question is whether countries can identify and isolate clusters of cases so the transmission doesn’t reach previous rates, he said.

“Shutting your eyes and trying to drive through this blind is about as silly an equation I’ve seen,” Ryan said. “I’m really concerned that certain countries are setting themselves up for some seriously blind driving over the next few months.”

Ryan also said the idea that countries with lax measures will “all of a sudden magically reach some herd immunity” is a “really dangerous calculation” as it would involve many deaths.

“People are growing tired, we understand, but we need to have people stay with us,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19.

Italy Sees Fewest Cases Since March 4 (12:19 p.m. NY)

Italy registered 744 new cases, the lowest number since March 4, on Monday, as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte struggles to finalize a 55 billion-euro ($59 billion) stimulus package to rescue an economy stricken by the lockdown. Confirmed cases total 219,814. Daily fatalities rose to 179 from 165 on Sunday, with a total of 30,739 reported since the start of the pandemic in late February. The number of patients in intensive care fell to 999, marking the first time in two months it’s fallen below 1,000.

Florida Cases Rise 1% as Reopening Expands (12:07 p.m. NY)

Florida reported 40,982 Covid-19 cases on Monday, up 1% from a day earlier. Deaths among Florida residents reached 1,735, an increase of 0.8%.

Florida allowed salons and barber shops to reopen Monday in most parts of the state, a week after retailers and restaurants were permitted to start back up. Florida’s three most populous counties were initially held back from the first phase of reopening, but one of them -- Palm Beach County -- started up again Monday. Miami-Dade and Broward are expected to follow on May 18.

NYC Likely in Lockdown Into June (11:13 a.m. NY)

New York City’s lockdown is likely to continue into June, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. While some parts of the state, which has been under lockdown since March, will be able to reopen from Friday, the city hasn’t made enough progress in cutting down on new cases, even as hospital and intensive-care admissions fall.

“June is when we’re potentially going to make changes if we make real progress,” the mayor said at his daily briefing Monday. “We have to keep bringing it back to the science and the data.”

De Blasio also said health officials will turn to dozens of small private neighborhood medical practices to aid in testing, contact tracing and outpatient care.

Clinics throughout the city will be provided with protective gear, including 120,000 surgical masks per week, and 150 will receive training to offer remote care through telemedicine, de Blasio said. The practices will also have access to hotels to isolate patients who live in crowded households, he said.

Extra HIV Deaths Foreseen Amid Drug Shortages (9:50 am NY)

The World Health Organization and UNAIDS estimated that a six-month disruption of supplies of antiretroviral therapies could lead to 500,000 extra deaths from HIV in sub-Saharan Africa if countries don’t take action. That’s more than the total number of deaths from HIV in the region in 2018. About 25.7 million people live with HIV in that area, where supplies may be disrupted because HIV services are closed or because of shortages. Some antiretrovirals are being used to treat Covid-19.

“The Covid-19 pandemic must not be an excuse to divert investment from HIV,” Winnie Byanyima, executive director of UNAIDS, said in a statement.

Putin Ends National Stay-at-Home Period (9:35 a.m. NY)

Russian President Vladimir Putin ended his national stay-at-home period after six weeks, putting the responsibility for restrictive measures on regional leaders, even as the number of infections surged past most European countries.

The number of confirmed cases in Russia rose by 5.6% to 221,344 on Monday, surpassing Italy, France and the U.K. Russia has been recording more than 10,000 new cases a day for more than a week, but the growth has been slowing. Total fatalities rose to 2,009 after 94 more people died.

Gilead’s Drug Seen in Short Supply (9:20 a.m. NY)

The U.S. will get less than half of Gilead Sciences’ worldwide donation of 1.5 million vials of its Covid-19 medicine over the next six weeks, which isn’t expected to be enough to treat all the patients who would qualify for it.

Gilead is donating about 607,000 vials of its remdesivir in the U.S. during that time frame. That’s enough to treat 78,000 hospitalized patients, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Health officials authorized emergency use of the treatment earlier this month.

Wear Face Masks for Long Haul: U.K.’s Johnson (9 a.m. NY)

Britons should wear face coverings in enclosed spaces and prepare for a different kind of normal that may last for a year or more, Boris Johnson’s government said as he published a road map for the national recovery from coronavirus.

Johnson said social-distancing measures are likely to be needed for the foreseeable future, with people continuing to work from home where they can, until a vaccine or drug treatment can be found. The government aims to allow shops to reopen next month and pubs after July 4.

Among the options under consideration is the idea of allowing households to mix, potentially forming “bubbles” with another household. That would allow two households to share childcare, helping parents go back to work, the document said.

U.K. jury trials will resume as soon as May 18, Ian Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, said Monday in a separate statement. The new trials will still have 12 jurors and use social distancing and other measures to ensure safety.

Deaths in the U.K. rose by 210 to 32,065, after an increase of 269 the day before.

Wuhan Sees First New Cases Since Lockdown (8:18 a.m. NY)

Wuhan reported the first new cases since ending its 76-day lockdown on April 8. The six locally transmitted cases, reported on May 9 and 10, were found in people already under quarantine who were asymptomatic before testing positive, according to the local government. Although the new cases are few and appear under control, they serve as a reminder of the risks China faces as it tries to reopen an economy that has seen its worst contraction since 1992.

Marriott Demand Slumps, Coty-KKR in Deal (7:35 a.m. NY)

Marriott International Inc. saw its business crater in April, with travel virtually shut down around the world. Revenue per available room, a measure of occupancy and pricing, decreased 90% in April, a sign that the company faces a tough road to recovery from the pandemic.

Continental Resources Inc., the oil producer founded by billionaire Harold Hamm, is curtailing 70% of its operated output in May. Under Armour plans to reduce its planned operating expenses by about $325 million by reducing bonus compensation for some employees, temporary layoffs and limiting additional spending. However, AutoNation, the biggest car dealership chain in the U.S., said car sales have already started to pick up in the end of April as shutdown orders eased.

Coty Inc. shares surged after the cosmetics company agreed to sell beauty and hair-care brands including Wella to KKR & Co. in a deal that will also include an investment in the cosmetics company by the buyout firm. Sales in the quarter slumped 23%.

Commerzbank AG abandoned its planned sale of Polish subsidiary mBank SA, saying the coronavirus outbreak has made it impossible to attract a worthwhile offer.

India May Allow Some Domestic Flights (6:58 a.m. NY)

India is considering allowing some domestic flights to resume on May 18 or earlier as the government looks to reopen a key part of the economy and provide relief to airlines, which haven’t been able to fly since March because of a nationwide lockdown, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation is in talks with airlines, travel agents and the federal home ministry about the move, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations aren’t public. A decision may come Monday, they said, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting with state chief ministers this afternoon.

Macy’s Attracts Billionaire Investors (6:54 a.m. NY)

Macy’s Inc., one of the U.S. retailers struggling as the pandemic crimps demand, attracted Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, whose investment vehicle bought a stake to engage in “constructive discussions” with management. Macy’s is seeking additional sources of financing to meet its obligations as many of its brick-and-mortar stores remain closed.

Vesa Equity, the investment vehicle for Kretinsky and partner Patrik Tkac, amassed a 5% stake in Macy’s, according to a securities filing. The purchase makes it one of the company’s top five shareholders, according to Bloomberg data.

Deutsche Bank Offers Bond to Bolster Capital (6:24 a.m. NY)

Deutsche Bank AG is offering a subordinated bond to boost its capital ratio as the bank girds itself for the deepest recession in almost a century. The bond, known as Tier 2, “will increase Deutsche Bank’s total capital ratio” and “improve its buffer versus regulatory capital requirements,” the lender said.

Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing recently said that increased lending and higher credit provisions due to the coronavirus will cause the bank’s capital buffers to temporarily fall below the minimum threshold he set. Germany’s largest lender was already dipping into its capital reserve before the crisis to pay for the deep restructuring that the CEO revealed last summer.

New Virus Cases in Indonesia Rise (6:13 a.m. NY)

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Indonesia neared 1,000 as more cases were confirmed across the archipelago, with President Joko Widodo expressing disappointment over the slow progress in expanding testing for the disease. Eighteen people succumbed to the virus in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 991. The total number of positive cases rose by 233 to 14,265.

With the pandemic showing no signs of slowing, Jokowi, as Widodo is known, called for scaling up the nation’s diagnostic capacity, saying the daily testing of 4,000-5,000 specimens was “far below our target.”

(A previous version corrected the average weekly increase in U.S. cases.)

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