U.S. Deaths Top 10,000; Possible Plateau in N.Y.: Virus Update
More signs emerged that the crisis may be easing in some areas, sending stocks soaring. Italy, France, Germany and Spain reported lower numbers of new cases. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said deaths were showing indications of hitting a plateau.
U.K. deaths slowed for a second day, even as they passed the grim milestone of 5,000. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalized Sunday after 10 days in isolation, was moved to an intensive-care unit.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said he expects a major economic downturn and stress similar to the crisis that almost brought down the U.S. financial system in 2008.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he’ll propose a state of emergency in some prefectures.
Denmark Joins Austria in Easing Curbs (4:38 p.m. NY)
Denmark joined Austria in announcing a gradual relaxation of measures imposed to slow the coronavirus’s spread. The country will press ahead with a “cautious reopening” starting with kindergartens and primary schools on April 15 if the virus numbers remain stable, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. The government will also start talks with business leaders on gradually moving employees back into offices.
Austria said earlier that it would take its first steps toward restarting its economy. The two countries were among the first in Europe to shut down public life in response to the outbreak.
Wisconsin Governor Delays Tuesday Primary (3:15 p.m. NY)
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers suspended in-person voting just hours before the state’s primary was scheduled to begin, though the order could be subject to a court challenge.
Although 15 states and Puerto Rico have already postponed their primaries amid the coronavirus pandemic, Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature has rejected requests by Evers, a Democrat, to delay the state’s in-person voting on Tuesday.
Evers’s executive order delays in-person voting until June 9 unless the legislature acts to change it.
French Cases Leveling Off (1:50 p.m. NY)
France reported a continued leveling-off of cases, signaling that confinement measures are starting to contain the crisis.
The country had 3,912 new confirmed cases on Monday, fewer than it reported in five out of the past seven days, according to figures presented by Health Minister Olivier Veran. Deaths from the virus rose by 833 to 8,911, Veran said.
“The pressure is still very great on hospitals, enormous -- the confinement has to continue,” Veran said. Still, he said there was some reason for optimism. “We can see that the confinement has a palpable effect in France, we’re starting to feel it.”
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WHO May Announce Move This Week to Accelerate Vaccine (1:30 p.m. NY)
A new program to accelerate vaccine development and production may be announced this week, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing in Geneva.
“The difficulty for governments right now is that lockdowns are proving effective in dampening the flames of the epidemic in those countries, but those lockdowns are also causing great economic hardship,” said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies program. Still, he said it would probably be “very inadvisable” to lift a lockdown completely all at once.
“Once you raise the lockdown, you have to have an alternative method to suppress the virus -- active case finding, testing, isolation, tracking of contacts and strong community education,” Ryan said.
N.Y. Deaths May Signal Possible Plateau (1:10 p.m. NY)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said deaths from the coronavirus pandemic were showing signs of hitting a plateau in the state that has become the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.
The challenge, he cautioned Monday, is to maintain the social distancing that has finally pointed New York toward a possible peak in fatalities. For a second day in a row, the percentage increase in the death toll was less than 10%, a turnabout from numbers about twice as large barely a week ago.
The peak of the outbreak could fall on the earlier side of the state’s models showing that it could take anywhere from a week to 30 days for the situation to hit its worse.
“I get that people are cooped up,” Cuomo said in his daily press briefing. “But, we get reckless, we change and we’re not compliant on social distancing, you’ll see those numbers go up again.”
He doubled the fine for social-distancing violations to $1,000.
Italy’s New Virus Infections Lowest in Almost Three Weeks (12:20 p.m. NY)
Italy reported the lowest number of new coronavirus infections in nearly three weeks, prompting debate over how and when the country should start emerging from a nationwide lockdown.
Civil protection authorities reported 3,599 new cases of the disease on Monday, compared with 4,316 a day earlier. Italy registered 636 new deaths linked to the virus, compared with 525 the day before. That brings the total number of fatalities to 16,523.
Italy, once the epicenter for Europe, now has fewer cases than Spain and the U.S.
California to Send Ventilators to National Stockpile (12:16 p.m. NY)
California, which has yet to see its hospitals overrun by patients, plans to loan 500 state-owned ventilators to the national stockpile.
“We’re aggressively preparing for a surge -- but we can’t turn our backs on Americans whose lives depend on having a ventilator now,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
With the New York area experiencing a supply shortage, other states are stepping in to assist. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said this weekend that Oregon offered to send 140 ventilators to his state.
Merkel Says Too Soon to Ease Lockdown (11:43 a.m. NY)
It’s too early for Germany to set a date for easing its lockdown, Chancellor Angela Merkel said, holding her first press conference since returning from 12 days of self-confinement after being exposed to Covid-19.
She reiterated her support for the use of the European Stability Mechanism and the European Commission’s proposal for job protection, and said the continent will need a plan for reconstruction after the pandemic subsides.
At least three tests showed she was free of the virus.
Philippines Likely to Extend Lockdown (11:43 a.m. NY)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he’s inclined to extend a lockdown of more than half the country’s population on its main island until April 30 to further stem the coronavirus outbreak.
Duterte, in an address late Monday, also said he’s considering tweaking this year’s 4.1 trillion-peso ($80.8 billion) budget to allocate more funds to virus response, as some 200 billion pesos set aside for cash grants to poor families won’t be enough.
Israel Cuts Rates for First Time Since 2015 (9:33 a.m. NY)
The Bank of Israel shifted course by cutting interest rates and adding new market-based tools. After playing down the potential for cheaper borrowing costs, the monetary committee on Monday reduced the key rate back down to the all-time low of 0.1% from 0.25%.
Hong Kong Extends Ban on Nonresident Entry (9:22 a.m. NY)
The city’s airport will also continue to halt all transit services until further notice, according to a government statement. The original rules were set to expire by April 7.
Germany Plans ‘Limitless’ Aid Program for Small Companies (8:44 a.m. NY)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government announced a new “limitless” aid program for small- and medium-sized companies. The program for loan guarantees is the latest measure introduced by the government, which says Europe’s largest economy might contract even more this year than the 5% drop caused by the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.
Inovio Begins Phase 1 Human Trial of Vaccine (8:41 a.m. NY)
Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. began a phase 1 human trial of its Covid-19 vaccine, INO-4800. Animal studies show promising immune responses, the company said.
Glaxo to Develop Covid-19 Drugs in $250 Million Partnership (8:14 a.m.)
U.K. pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline Plc is joining dozens of companies in the hunt for therapies to treat the illness caused by the coronavirus, signing a partnership with Vir Biotechnology Inc. and agreeing to invest $250 million in the U.S. company.
South Africa’s Economy May Shrink as Much as 4%, Central Bank Says (8:09 a.m. NY)
South Africa’s economy could contract by 2% to 4% this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and measures to curb its spread, according to the Reserve Bank. The monetary policy committee projected in March that the economy will contract by 0.2%.
U.K. PM Johnson Had ‘Comfortable Night’ and Is in ‘Good Spirits’ (8:07 a.m. NY)
Prime Minister Johnson is in “good spirits” after spending a “comfortable” night in St. Thomas’s hospital in central London, his spokesman, James Slack, said on Monday. Johnson went to the hospital on Sunday as a “precaution,” he said.
Mass Layoffs Push Canada’s Consumer Confidence to All-Time Low (8:00 a.m. NY)
The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index, a composite gauge based on a telephone survey of households, declined sharply for a third week as extensive lock downs triggered mass layoffs. The aggregate index dropped to 42.7 last week, the lowest reading since polling began in 2008.
Romania to Extend State of Emergency Until Mid-May (7:53 a.m. NY)
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that he plans to extend the state of emergency over the crisis by another month because “we haven’t reached the peak of the epidemic, so it’s not time to relax.”
Netherlands Has Slowest Death Growth in Week (7:40 a.m. NY)
The Netherlands reported 101 new fatalities, the smallest increase since March 30. Total reported cases rose 5% to 18,803. An additional 260 patients were admitted to hospitals, according to the RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.
China to Strengthen Transport Control Measures Along Borders (7:15 a.m. NY)
China will tighten quarantines in border areas, following a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases found in people who arrived through a land border has surpassed those that came by air.
Dimon Sees ‘Bad Recession’ and Echoes of 2008 Crisis Ahead (7:11 a.m. NY)
“At a minimum, we assume that it will include a bad recession combined with some kind of financial stress similar to the global financial crisis of 2008,” the CEO said Monday in his annual letter to shareholders. “Our bank cannot be immune to the effects of this kind of stress.”
Nigeria to Borrow $6.9 Billion to Offset Virus Impact on Economy (7:03 a.m. NY)
The government plans to raise as much as $6.9 billion from multilateral lenders to offset the impact of the pandemic. The state will seek $3.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund, $2.5 billion from the World Bank and a further $1 billion from the African Development Bank, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed told reporters Monday.
French Firms Have Requested Guarantees for EU20 Billion of Loans (6:58 p.m. NY)
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said 100,000 companies requested government loan guarantees for a total of 20 billion euros ($21.6 billion). In addition, more than 500,000 small companies have requested aid from France’s solidarity fund.
Redhill Announces First Covid-19 Patient Treated With Opaganib (6:19 a.m. NY)
RedHill Biopharma said the first patient with a confirmed coronavirus diagnosis was dosed with opaganib in Israel, and additional patients are expected to be treated in the coming days. Pre-clinical data demonstrated anti-viral effects in other viruses, anti-inflammatory activities and the potential to reduce lung inflammation, the company said.
Hungary Announces Virus Stimulus Plan of Up to 20% of GDP (6:17 a.m. NY)
Hungary’s government will pay some-private sector wages, offer loan guarantees and boost spending on infrastructure and pensions as part of a major fiscal stimulus plan aimed at averting a recession and mass unemployment as the coronavirus pummels the economy. The package, valued at 18% to 20% of gross domestic product including planned stimulus from the central bank, will also see the 2020 budget deficit rise to 2.7% of GDP from 1%, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Monday.
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