China’s Cases Rise; Trump Wants U.S. Reopened: Virus Update

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The U.K. became the latest nation to put its citizens under lockdown, while President Donald Trump said the U.S. economy can’t remain slowed for too long, declaring the country “was not built to be shut down.”

China’s imported infections nearly doubled, and Singapore reported its largest daily increase in cases. Deaths in Italy, the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe, slowed for a second day. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s first coronavirus test came back negative.

The Federal Reserve announced a second wave of initiatives after Democrats blocked the Senate from advancing a rescue plan. An International Olympic Committee member said a decision to postpone the Games in Tokyo has already been made, though a delay hasn’t been announced yet.

Key Developments:

  • Cases top 375,000 and 16,000 dead: Johns Hopkins tally
  • Crisis in aviation industry deepens
  • IOC member says Olympics will be postponed
  • CVS to hire 50,000 workers to meet demand
  • Fed’s Bullard says U.S. unemployment may hit 30% in 2Q
  • Rhode Island postpones its presidential primary from April 28 to June 2

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China’s Imported Cases Almost Double (8:20 a.m. HK)

China reported 78 additional coronavirus cases for March 23, with 74 of them from abroad, according to statement from the country’s National Health Commission. The other four, including one from Wuhan, are locally reported cases.

While the number of local cases in China has been dwindling, reaching zero in recent days, the number of imported infections has been rising. The latest figure is almost double the number of imported cases reported a day earlier.

China now has 81,171 total confirmed coronavirus cases. The nation’s death toll rose by seven to 3,277. All the latest fatalities are from Hubei. Discharged patients rose by 456 to 73,159.

Trump Says First Lady Tested Negative for Virus (8:17 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump said first lady Melania Trump had tested negative for the coronavirus. The president was asked if she was tested since both he and Vice President Mike Pence tested negative. Trump did not say whether the first lady had symptoms of the disease or had a known contact with someone who had the virus.

Amazon Suspends Seller Accounts Over Price Gouging (8:14 a.m. HK) Inc. said it has suspended thousands of seller accounts for price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic. The operator of the largest U.S. online marketplace said it has pulled well over half a million offers and suspended more than 3,900 selling accounts in the U.S. for violating its fair pricing policies.

Trump Says Boeing Will Need Help (8:12 a.m. HK)

U.S. President Donald Trump said Boeing Co. will need government “help” amid the economic slowdown stemming from the coronavirus crisis that has hit the travel industry.

“Boeing’s going to need some help,” Trump said at a White House news conference. “Obviously the airlines are going to have a problem, but the airlines aren’t going to be buying from Boeing or anybody else right now because of this difficulty.”

The planemaker announced Monday that it is shutting its Seattle-area manufacturing hub for two weeks after a worker died of coronavirus complications, adding to a wave of plant closings sweeping the globe as the aviation industry navigates the biggest disruption in decades.

AB InBev Withdraws Outlook on Virus Impact (7:25 a.m. HK)

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer, withdrew its 2020 outlook. The company cited the uncertainty, volatility and fast-moving developments of the coronavirus pandemic in markets where it operates, according to an emailed statement.

In February, AB InBev cut its chief executive’s bonus and forecast the steepest decline in quarterly profit in at least a decade as the coronavirus damps barhopping.

Trump Says U.S. to Reopen in Less Than 3 or 4 Months (6:38 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump said the U.S. economy can’t remain slowed for long to fight the coronavirus, declaring the country “was not built to be shut down.”

“America will again and soon be open for business. Very soon,” Trump said at a news conference. “A lot sooner than three or four months.”

The president also said he was delaying the Oct. 1 deadline for Americans to get a REAL ID. The identification will eventually be required to board a domestic flight in the United States.

Florida Orders Self-Isolation for Travelers From N.Y., N.J. (5:34 p.m. NY)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he will issue an executive order making it mandatory for all arrivals from New York and New Jersey to self-isolate for two weeks upon entering the state.

Trump Administration May Reopen Obamacare Exchange (5:20 p.m. NY)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is considering reopening enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act in response to the outbreak. Americans who don’t currently have coverage may see if they qualify for “special enrollment periods” if they’ve lost their job or have been subject to other life-changing circumstances, a CMS spokesperson said.

CMS is working closely with the states and health plans to assess other necessary actions to ensure Americans have coverage and access to services during the pandemic, the spokesperson said.

Boris Johnson Puts U.K. on Three-Week Lockdown (4:38 p.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson approved radical measures to ban all unnecessary movement of people for at least three weeks. Police will break up gatherings and have the power to fine individuals who break the tough new laws. Shops selling non-essential items, playgrounds, libraries and places of worship will be closed.

Read the full story here

Work to Begin on Hospital at Javits Center (3:33 p.m. NY)

Construction will begin this week to turn the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan into a 1,000-bed hospital, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The main showroom of the center will be broken up into four 250-bed hospitals each about 40,000 square feet in size, Cuomo said at the center. The state is hoping to add an additional 1,000 beds at the center for less-intensive medical care, for a total of 2,000 new beds, Cuomo said.

New Jersey, too, expects to increase patient capacity and is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to operate four pop-up hospitals, a step that has support from President Donald Trump, Governor Phil Murphy said.

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France Advises Against Test Drug (3:03 p.m. NY)

As deaths climbed almost 30% in France, Health Minister Olivier Veran said the government recommends against prescribing the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine or using it for anything other than severe cases. France is participating in a multi-country study looking at the efficacy of four experimental treatments, including hydroxychloroquine.

New Deaths Fall in Italy for Second Day (2:27 p.m. NY)

Italy reported 601 new deaths from the coronavirus on Monday, posting a decline for a second day, as the country enters its third week of lockdown measures designed to keep the spread of the disease in check.

Total cases in the country rose to 63,927, civil protection officials said, while the hard-hit Lombardy region around Milan, which accounts for about half of the nation’s infections, registered a decrease in the number of hospitalized virus patients, top health official Giulio Gallera said Monday.

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IMF Predicts Recession (1:30 p.m. NY)

The International Monetary Fund said it expects a global recession this year that will be at least as bad as the downturn during the financial crisis more than a decade ago, followed by a recovery in 2021.

Nearly 80 countries have asked the Washington-based IMF for emergency finance, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement Monday following a conference call of Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers. Georgieva said the fund strongly supports extraordinary fiscal actions already taken by many countries and welcomes the moves of major central banks to ease monetary policy.

“Even more will be needed, especially on the fiscal front,” she said.

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Boeing Closes Washington Plants (1:15 p.m. NY)

Boeing Co. is temporarily shuttering its Seattle-area factories, compounding hurdles for a company already reeling from the grounding of its top-selling plane.

The shutdown will begin March 25 and last 14 days. The company will conduct deep cleaning at affected sites and establish “rigorous criteria for return to work.”

The closing leaves Boeing with just one fully functioning jetliner factory.

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Germans Offer to Help Stricken Italy (1:10 p.m. NY)

German officials are ready to help Italy get through the coronavirus pandemic and are prepared to support an emergency loan from the euro area’s bailout fund.

The preferred option in Berlin would see Italy granted an enhanced credit line by the European Stability Mechanism with minimal conditionality, according to a German official with knowledge of the government’s thinking. While Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she’s happy to discuss Italy’s request for jointly issued coronavirus bonds to shore up euro members’ finances, the official said Germany isn’t ready to move forward with that idea.

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Dow Loses Gains Under Trump (12:02 p.m. NY)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost more than 30% of its value in just over a month, wiping out all of its gains since Donald Trump was elected on Nov. 8, 2016. The S&P 500 Index isn’t too far behind, while the Nasdaq Composite Index’s return remains in the green — albeit on a downward trajectory with the rest.

New Cases May Be Slowing in Germany (10:25 a.m. NY)

Germany’s public health authority has seen a trend toward the exponential growth in new cases flattening out and expects to see by Wednesday whether this is the case, Lothar Wieler, president of the authority, said at a press conference earlier on Monday. “I am optimistic.”

RKI repeated that many local health agencies don’t report over the weekend and that those numbers will trickle in during the course of the week.

NYC May Lose $6 Billion in Tax Revenue (10:21 a.m. NY)

New York City is “staring down a fiscal emergency” and may lose as much as $6 billion” class=”terminal-news-story” target=”_blank”>$6 billion in tax revenue over the next 15 months, as the the Covid-19 epidemic shuts down a broad swath of the city’s economy, comptroller Scott Stringer said.

Moderna’s Vaccine May Reach Some This Fall (10:10 a.m. NY)

Moderna Inc.’s experimental vaccine for the new coronavirus could be available to a select few as soon as this fall. That’s ahead of expectations for a commercial launch in another year.

Stephane Bancel, the biotech’s chief executive, told Goldman Sachs representatives on Friday that the vaccine could be made available to a few, potentially health-care workers under emergency-use authorization. Moderna has been working with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on the vaccine and just started testing in humans earlier this month.

A potential vaccine isn’t expected to be commercially available for at least a year. Moderna is also scaling up manufacturing so that the company can produce millions of doses each month, according to a company statement.

Trump Weighs Easing Curbs (8:50 a.m. NY)

President Trump began talking privately late last week about reopening the nation, despite the swiftly rising number of coronavirus cases and against the advice of health professionals, because he’s worried about the economic damage from an extended shutdown, according to people familiar with his thinking.

He earlier retweeted several posts calling for healthy people to return to work after 15 days of precautions. “The fear of the virus cannot collapse our economy that President Trump has built up,” says a post retweeted by Trump. “Flatten the curve NOT the Economy,” another says.

Singapore Sees Largest Daily Increase (8:35 a.m. NY)

Singapore reported its biggest one-day jump in coronavirus infections with 54 new cases, of which 48 were imported. Earlier, Malaysia confirmed 212 new cases, the biggest daily jump, bringing the total to 1,518 despite imposing a lockdown that began on March 18.

— With assistance by Rachel Chang

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