U.S. Cases Climb 3.2%; Saudis Face ‘Painful’ Cuts: Virus Update
Spain’s runners, walkers and cyclists took to the streets for the first time in almost two months as the nation began to ease one of Europe’s tightest lockdowns.
- Virus Tracker: global cases near 3.4 million; deaths 242,000
- America’s retailers lure virus-weary shoppers to malls
- Stir-crazy Italians ask, who can we visit now?
- U.S. beef output is down more than shutdowns suggest
- Covid exit strategy needs a worldwide vaccine
- From Houston to New York, muni finances in tatters
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Saudi Minister Warns of ‘Painful’ Steps (4:30 p.m. NY)
Saudi Arabia will need to take “painful” measures and consider deep spending cuts to deal with the pandemic and a meltdown in global oil markets, Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said on Saudi television station Al-Arabiya.
A week ago, Al-Jadaan told reporters the kingdom had survived similar, “maybe even worse,” crises and would pass through this one as it had others. On Saturday, he said government spending would need to be “cut deeply” and even some programs in Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” economic plan face cuts as implementation is delayed by steps to slow the outbreak.
U.S. Cases Rose 3.2%, Above Week’s Average (4 p.m. NY)
U.S. cases increased 3.2% from the same time on Friday to 1.12 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The national increase was above the average daily increase of 2.9% over the past week.
- New York reported 4,663 new cases, for a total of 312,977 -- about 9% of total reported cases around the world. Deaths rose slightly, by 299, to 18,909, the Department of Health reported.
- New Jersey registered 2,912 new infections, bringing total cases to 123,717. Governor Phil Murphy reported 205 deaths, down from 311 reported Friday, to bring the total to 7,742.
- Massachusetts had 1,952 new cases, boosting the total to 66,263, while deaths rose by 130, to 3,846, the Department of Public Health said.
- Illinois reported 2,450 new cases, boosting the total to 58,505, and deaths increased by 105, to 2,559, the Department of Public Health reported.
- Florida added 735 new cases, up 2.1%, to 35,463, while deaths rose by 50, or 3.5% to 1,364, the state health department said.
- Texas reported 1,293 new cases, the biggest one-day rise, bringing the state’s total to 30,552, with 31 additional fatalities, for a cumulative tally of 847, the state health service said.
California Deaths Rise (4:05 p.m. NY)
California added 98 new deaths from the outbreak, bringing the total toll to 2,171. The state added 1,755 new cases, with a total of 52,197. Hospitalizations increased by 5. Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday he could be making announcements on the easing of the state’s stay-home orders within days, not weeks.
House, Senate Decline Offer for Tests (3:55 p.m. NY)
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined an offer from the Trump adminisrtation to use rapid coronavirus testing equipment for lawmakers until “these speedier technologies become more widely available.”
“Congress is grateful for the Administration’s generous offer,” the leaders said in a statement. “Congress wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly.”
Earlier, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar tweeted that three Abbott point-of-care machines and 1,000 tests are being sent to Capitol Hill. President Donald Trump noted “tremendous” testing capacity for lawmakers and tweeted that that the House -- which opted to remain out next week -- also should return to work.
N.J. Alert for ‘Knucklehead’ Behavior (2:50 p.m. NY)
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who is reopening state parks, said the pace of returning to normal would be driven in part by how much “knucklehead” behavior emerges as restrictions are relaxed.
“If we hear reports of people not taking either their health or the health of -- maybe even more importantly -- the health of other park-goers seriously then we won’t hesitate to -- and I don’t say this with any joy -- to close them again,” Murphy said.
Murphy reported signs of progress. Some 5,713 Covid-19 patients are currently hospitalized in the state, a drop of 1,000 on the week. Those in intensive care and on ventilators are also down.
French Deaths Fewest in Almost Six Weeks (2:10 p.m. NY)
France reported 166 new deaths, bringing the total number to 24,760 since March 1. The country reported 1,530 new cases in 24 hours, for a total of 201,667. The French health ministry also said hospitals in Southern France are under less pressure.
Ethiopia Offers Business Tax Break (1:30 p.m. NY)
Ethiopia offered tax relief to companies affected by the outbreak, including cancellation of interest and penalties on outstanding taxes due for 2015-2018, state television said.
In addition, underlying taxes due for the period can be paid in installments, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation reported, citing Finance Minister Eyob Tekalign. The government will grant a one-month grace period on payment of value-added and turnover tax payments.
Cuomo Orders Police Enforcement (1:20 p.m. NY)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered police to enforce social distancing and made it clear that he would not immediately follow other states in reopening or easing restrictions.
“I disagree with people who say ‘open the economy’ even though you know there’s a public health risk,” Cuomo said at a briefing in Queens. “I’m not going to put dollars signs over human lives.”
Cuomo noted trends that continue to show that the outbreak in New York has receded significantly: new and ongoing hospitalizations continued to drop, as did admissions to intensive care units.
Italy’s Deaths Rise, Cases Stable (12:10 p.m. NY)
Italy’s daily death count rose and new cases remained stable as the nation prepares to gradually ease its two-month lockdown as of Monday.
Figures from civil protection authorities showed 1,900 new cases, compared with 1,965 a day earlier. There were 474 deaths, compared with 269 on Friday, bringing the total number of fatalities to 28,710. The daily tally includes 282 deaths from April that were only communicated at the end of the month, the Lombardy region said on its website. Without the addition of the Lombardy numbers, which include Milan, the daily toll would be the lowest in more than a month.
U.K. Deaths Rise to More Than 28,000 (11:06 a.m. NY)
The U.K. reported an additional 621 deaths on Saturday, bringing its total to 28,131, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said, adding that 76 million pounds ($95 million) will be made available for victims of domestic abuse.
Jenrick also outlined measures to prevent homeless people who have been housed during the crisis from returning to the streets.
Eurostar Passengers Must Cover Faces (10:45 a.m. NY)
Passengers on Eurostar trains between London and Paris and Brussels must cover their faces starting Monday, the rail operator said on its website. “Any type of mask is suitable as long as it effectively covers your nose and mouth,” Eurostar said. “If you don’t have a mask you may be refused travel on our services.”
Eurostar said the move is in line with guidelines announced by governments in France and Belgium, where fines may be imposed on passengers not wearing masks.
Portugal Hospitalizations Decline (9:36 a.m. NY)
Portugal reported 203 new confirmed coronavirus cases in a day, taking the total to 25,190, Health Minister Marta Temido said. The total number of deaths rose by 16 to 1,023. The number of hospitalized cases and of patients in intensive care units fell. Deaths so far indicate a fatality rate of 4.1%, while for those more than 70 years old it’s 14.5%, Temido said. Figures for confirmed cases from previous days are being revised to remove some duplicated cases, according to Temido.
France May Isolate Those Who Enter Country (9:05 a.m. NY)
The French government unveiled a proposal to put mandatory isolation for anyone who enters France and tests positive for Covid-19. Borders won’t reopen when France lifts its lockdown on May 11th, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said. The government’s plan, which extends the emergency state until July 24 and gives extra power to the executive branch, will be discussed in parliament next week.
Ireland Guarantees Loans (7:54 a.m. NY)
Ireland’s government set up a program guaranteeing 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) worth of loans for small and medium-sized companies, as it prepares to reopen the economy from May 18, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said Saturday. In addition, the state is preparing to provide 2 billion euros worth of capital to larger companies, as it tries to fully reopen the economy by mid-August.
Turkey Rolls Back Curbs on Medical Exports (6:46 a.m. NY)
Turkey lifted the bulk of medical exports restrictions following signs that the nation’s coronavirus outbreak is subsiding.
Turkish companies will no longer need official authorization for exports of machinery such as ventilators and related equipment, according to a trade ministry decree published on Saturday. Similar restrictions on shipments of disinfectants and related chemicals were also lifted.
Tehran Transit Mandates Face Masks (6 a.m. NY)
Wearing face masks became mandatory in Tehran’s subway and bus service from Saturday, state TV reported. The measure comes as Tehran’s thoroughfares became busy after authorities allowed the nationwide reopening of some businesses and shopping malls last month in a bid to cope with the impact of the pandemic on the country’s sanctions-hit economy.
Iran’s daily coronavirus infections fell to the lowest since March 9 as the country reported 802 new cases and 65 deaths overnight, bringing fatalities to 6,156 from a total of 96,448 infections.
Spain Allows Outdoor Exercise (5:30 p.m. HK)
Spain reported 276 deaths from coronavirus in the 24 hours through Saturday, taking total fatalities from the pandemic to 25,100, according to Health Ministry data. The number of new cases rose by 1,147 to 216,582.
On Saturday, Spaniards were allowed out of their homes to exercise for the first time in seven weeks. The government set time slots in which age groups are allowed onto the street for different activities, with exercise permitted in the early part of the morning. The next stage of the government’s plan to phase out of the lockdown will start May 4, when restaurants, stores, bars and hotels are allowed to open under certain strict rules in four islands.
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