Your Evening Briefing
A New York study measuring the spread of Covid-19 found 13.9% of people tested had signs of the virus. Extrapolated to the statewide population, the results imply that about 2.7 million residents may have had the virus—about 10 times more than the official count based on the state’s testing of mostly very sick patients. Overall, U.S. cases rose at the slowest pace in three weeks, though Texas infections increased for a third day and California reported the most fatalities in one 24-hour period. Spain reported the greatest number of new cases and fatalities in almost a week, while Italy saw recoveries overtake new infections for the first time. This is the latest.
Here are today’s top stories
More than 4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the five-week total during the pandemic to 26.5 million. Filings might continue at a high pace for several more weeks, boosting a rate that may already be around 20%. Meanwhile, the American food system is breaking: not because there’s a lack of food, but because workers at the plants that process it are getting sick and dying. Hogs are being destroyed, dairy farmers are spilling milk, broiler operations have been breaking eggs and fruit and vegetables are rotting in the fields.
U.S. stocks closed mostly lower after a report said that a leading experimental Covid-19 drug performed poorly in a test. Gilead Sciences’s antiviral drug remdesivir flopped in its first randomized clinical trial, the Financial Times reported, citing draft documents published accidentally by the World Health Organization. The drug company disputed that characterization.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, facing a formidable challenge this November, went on a right wing radio show and said states that have suffered the vast majority of the 47,000 American deaths tied to Covid-19 should file for bankruptcy instead of receiving financial help from the rest of the country. Bankruptcy, McConnell said, would instead allow those Democratic-leaning states to pay for the crisis by cutting the pensions of public sector employees. Former Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn disagreed, saying states must get help. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was more blunt, saying the Kentucky Republican’s statement was “one of the saddest, really dumb comments of all time.”
One aid package McConnell did agree to, a $320 billion refill of a small business bailout program, was approved by the House Thursday. But it still may not be enough. As for longer-term recovery plans, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is advising presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on economic policy, including its plans to revive the U.S. economy.
Dr. Rick Bright, a top U.S. health official who helped lead efforts to find a vaccine, said he was removed from his post because he insisted on limiting the use of a malaria drug President Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed as a Covid-19 treatment. This week, an expert panel convened by Trump’s own administration poured water on his claims as to the drug’s effectiveness.
The (rare) good news is that the economic collapse has led to an unprecedented drop in carbon emissions. The bad news is that an uptick in global warming-causing methane emissions may be coming.
What’s Joe Weisenthal thinking about? The Bloomberg news director is thinking about pigs and how demand pressures can be confusing. Due to the coronavirus, certain meat processing plants have been forced to halt production, creating two opposite effects on prices. On one hand, pork products like bacon start to become more scarce, and prices start to rise. On the other, farmers who raise hogs have fewer places to sell them, sending prices down.
What you’ll need to know tomorrow
- Hedge funds are on the defensive in a market gone sideways.
- Southwest’s CEO, bemoaning crushed sales, urges pay cuts.
- Venezuela is turning to Iran for help with fuel supplies.
- Apple intends to sell Macs with their own chips.
- Businessweek: Wuhan’s anxious return to life.
- Here’s how you go on a virtual family vacation.
- Remember sports? The NFL draft is coming.
What you’ll want to read in Bloomberg Pursuits
How dust can reveals where your food came from. DNA analysis has long been the gold standard for identity. Now there’s technology that may do the same for product provenance—where your clothing, furniture or food comes from. Every place on the globe has its own unique signature of different kinds, amounts and combinations of micro-organisms. Now one company claims it can tell you exactly where any product was made or grown, down to the exact factory or farm.
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