Los Angeles Issues Stay-at-Home Rule; NYC Asks Aid: Virus Update

New York City has enough medical supplies to last two to three weeks and needs military assistance, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. California Governor Gavin Newsom estimated 56% of the state’s population, about 25.5 million people, will become infected.

The U.S. warned Americans not to travel abroad and recommended that those who are overseas come home. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a massive stimulus plan for consumers, companies and local governments.

The U.K. is asking 15,000 retired and former doctors to help fight the coronavirus. The number of dead in Italy surpassed those in China, which again reported no new cases in the outbreak’s initial epicenter. India urged its 1.3 billion citizens to stay indoors and barred all flights from overseas for a week.

Key Developments:

  • Cases hit 234,773 worldwide, death toll tops 9,800
  • Los Angeles mayor issues stay at home rule
  • EU Brexit negotiator tests positive; U.K. counterpart isolates
  • Lagarde pledges no limits to ECB action, bonds soar
  • English Premier League postponed until April 30
  • New York ordered 75% of a company’s non-essential workers to stay home.
  • Cannes Film Festival delayed for at least a month

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Los Angeles Mayor issues stay-at-home rule (09:06 a.m. HK)

All Los Angeles residents will have to comply with a “safer at home” emergency order, Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a tweet. Residents must avoid all non-essential movement. The ruling goes into effect midnight, NBC said separately.

Argentina Decrees Social Isolation (8:51 a.m. HK)

President Alberto Fernandez announced a mandatory isolation measure starting March 20 until March 31. Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open while food producers and refineries are exempt from the decree. Security forces will patrol the streets to strictly enforce the measure.

All China’s New Cases Are Imported (8:05 a.m. HK)

All 39 additional coronavirus cases on March 19 are imported, according to China’s National Health Commission.

China’s total death toll rose by 3 to 3,248. Of the latest fatalities, two are from Hubei province, the original epicenter of the outbreak.

NYC Has Medical Supplies for 2-3 Weeks (7:36 a.m. HK)

New York City will run out of medical supplies in two to three weeks if not replenished, Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN.

De Blasio called on U.S. President Donald Trump to bring in the military to help distribute supplies and other support. New York City currently needs 50 million surgical masks, 25 million hospital gowns and 15,000 ventilators.

Hertz, Avis Ask to Be in U.S. Rescue (7:17 a.m. HK)

Hertz Global Holdings Inc., Avis Budget Group Inc. and Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co. have asked the Treasury Department to include their industry in federal plans to rescue U.S. travel companies.

The three companies’ chief executive officers made the request in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Wednesday. They described their industry as critical to U.S. transportation infrastructure and said they would “sustain grave harm” as airlines cut services.

Trump Cancels In-Person G7 Meeting (6:56 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump will hold this June’s Group of Seven meeting by video conference rather than hosting world leaders at Camp David as world leaders grapple with the coronavirus outbreak, the White House said.

U.S. Airlifting Swabs for Virus Kits From Italy, Navarro Says (6:50 a.m. HK)

Amid widespread complaints about a shortage of testing capacity, the U.S. will fly weekly military airlift missions to Italy to pick up pallets of coronavirus testing kit swabs and vials, Peter Navarro, the White House director of trade and manufacturing policy, said in an interview.

The swabs are made by an Italian facility of Copan Diagnostics Inc. The first shipment of 800,000 swabs and collection vials were delivered this week via C-17 cargo planes arriving to Memphis, Navarro said. Another flight is on its way Thursday, and as many as three flights a week will continue for as long as necessary, he said.

California Governor Predicts 56% Infection Rate (6:26 a.m. HK)

California Governor Gavin Newsom projected that roughly 56% of the state’s population — about 25.5 million people — will be infected over an eight-week period.

The estimate was given in a letter to President Donald Trump requesting that the U.S. Navy deploy its hospital ship Mercy to the Port Of Los Angeles to help with the expected surge in coronavirus patients.

McConnell Proposes Direct Payments to Individuals (6:16 a.m. HK)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a massive stimulus plan to counter the economic consequences of the pandemic. A centerpiece of the package is tax rebates to individuals of $1,200 and $2,400 for married couples. The legislation also provides $208 billion worth of loans for businesses suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic, including $58 billion for the airline sector and $150 billion for other distressed areas of the economy.

Johnson’s U.K. Brexit Chief in Isolation With Symptoms (5:33 p.m. NY)

The U.K.’s chief negotiator for its trade talks with the European Union, David Frost, is isolating himself after showing symptoms of coronavirus, a British official said. It comes after Michel Barnier, Frost’s EU counterpart, announced on Twitter earlier on Thursday that he had tested positive for the disease. The two men had not had contact since the first round of talks in Brussels two weeks ago.

The news is likely to crush any hopes that the negotiations over the two sides’ future trade relationship can make any substantial progress while the global pandemic continues. This week’s round of talks, scheduled for London, had already been put on hold.

Tesla Suspends Production at Lone U.S. Plant (5:07 p.m. NY)

Tesla will idle production at a northern California facility that is its lone U.S. assembly plant. The decision follows several days of public pressure by local police and city managers about the carmaker continuing to run the factory in spite of a county shelter-in-place order.

U.S. Tells Citizens Abroad to Come Home (4:45 p.m. NY)

The U.S. Justice Department escalated a global travel alert to its highest level, telling Americans to avoid all international trips. U.S. citizens in other countries should arrange for immediate return home unless they are prepared to stay abroad indefinitely, the agency said in an advisory.

“If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe,” the advisory says.

CVS Begins Testing (3:28 p.m. NY)

CVS Health Corp. opened its first coronavirus testing site, in the parking lot of a pharmacy in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. The company warned there will likely be “issues that arise” that will help the program improve as it opens other sites.

Texas Takes Broad Anti-Virus Actions (2:51 p.m. NY)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott closed all schools and gyms in the state and banned public gatherings of 10 or more people in sweeping new orders to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The state declared its first public health disaster since 1901. Abbott emphasized that the new limits didn’t amount to a shelter-in-place order, but said he holds quarantine powers if he needs to use them later.

Schools will remain closed statewide at least through April 3. He also banned visits at nursing and retirement homes and restricted restaurants and bars to take-out or drive-thru service only, consistent with advice from federal health officials.

Johnson May Issue More Restrictions (2:23 p.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that some Londoner aren’t doing enough to contain the spread of the coronavirus and that he would take more steps if necessary. He said earlier, however, that London wouldn’t be locked down.

He also said Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will announce actions on Friday to support struggling businesses.

“I say to businesses, stand by your employees, stand by your workers, because we will stand by you,” he told reporters.

Johnson also said there were no plans to halt London’s sprawling mass transit system.

Italy Death Toll Passes China (1:33 p.m. NY)

Italy surpassed China as the country with the most coronavirus deaths, as its number of fatalities reached 3,405 and the pandemic’s global spread accelerates. China has reported 3,248 deaths.

Italy remained in lockdown.

Africa Has Undetected Cases, Conditions Challenging (1:12 p.m. NY)

While African nations have some undetected cases, it’s probably not a large number, said Matshidiso Moeti, the region’s director at the World Health Organization. It’s difficult to estimate the true case load, she said.

Social distancing and proper hand-washing can be a challenge in some parts of Africa, she added. Families might not have room to isolate infected patients, and soap and clean water are limited in some locations, she said. Non-governmental organizations can help to ensure access to clean water, sanitation and soap in Africa.

National Guard Sees ‘Tens of Thousands’ Deployed (1:08 p.m. NY)

“Tens of thousands” of U.S. National Guard personnel are likely to be deployed in the fight to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

About 2,000 members of the reserve force have already been mobilized at the request of governors in 27 states, and the number could double by the weekend, Air Force General Joseph L. Lengyel, head of the National GuardBureau, said at a Pentagon briefing.

Carnival Offers Cruise Ships for Response (1:07 p.m. NY)

Carnival Corp. is making its cruise ships available for possible virus response efforts, President Donald Trump said Thursday, citing talks with the company’s chairman, Micky Arison.

U.S. Should Get Shares in Bailed-Out Companies (12:47 p.m. NY)

President Donald Trump said he’d support the U.S. taking an equity stake in companies that receive coronavirus-related aid from taxpayers and prohibiting firms from increasing executive bonuses and stock buy-backs.

U.K. Contacts As Many as 15,000 Retired Doctors (12:45 p.m. NY)

The U.K. is contacting 15,000 retired and former doctors who have left the profession in the last three years to see if they are willing to help with efforts to fight the pandemic, the General Medical Council said in a statement Thursday. A third of those being contacted are aged 44 and under.

The GMC will grant the entire group automatic temporary registration to practice with no reassessment. Those that don’t want to participate can opt out. About 33% were previously general practitioners, while 35% were specialists.

Trump Touts Malaria Drug as Potential Treatment (12:26 p.m. NY)

The Food and Drug Administration has been told by President Donald Trump to see if it can expand the use of an experimental malaria drug, chloroquine, to treat patients in the middle of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak.

At a press conference at the White House Thursday, Trump and the head of the FDA gave apparently conflicting comments about the availability of the drug. Trump said chloroquine had been approved and could be given to patients by doctors with a prescription.

Minutes later, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, said that use of the drug would be in a clinical trial to find out whether or not it works, and if so, what dose would safe and effective.

Ford Halts Dividend, Withdraws Guidance (9:17 a.m. NY)

Ford suspended its dividend and withdrew its guidance as the automaker addresses effects of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s offering new-car customers six-month payment relief.

White House Mulls 50-Year Bond (8:25 a.m. NY)

The Trump administration is revisiting the idea to issue ultra-long bonds as it grapples with how to finance a $1.3 trillion fiscal stimulus plan. President Donald Trump’s advisers are considering, among many options, 50-year and 25-year bonds as they seek financing for additional federal debt with the lowest cost to taxpayers.

India Curbs Incoming Flights (7:51 a.m. NY)

India barred all international flights from landing in the country for a week starting March 22, as part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The federal government also asked states to enforce work-from-home for all private-sector employees except those working in emergency and essential services.

— With assistance by Rachel Chang, Shira Stein, and Anthony Capaccio

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