NYC Has a Third of U.S. Cases; States Shut Down: Virus Update

New York City accounts for almost a third of confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases. More states followed New York and California in tighteningrestrictions on the public and business.

Airlines warned of flight and jobs cuts without U.S. aid. An aide in the office of Vice President Mike Pence tested positive.

U.S. stocks fell, cappingtheir worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. Goldman Sachs warned the U.S. economy may shrink 24% in the second quarter.

Key Developments:

  • Worldwide cases top 250,000, more than 10,000 dead
  • U.S. infections exceed 17,000, fatalities top 220
  • Spain, Iran cases rise to almost 20,000
  • Target boosts pay, Walmart to hire 150,000 workers
  • Delta says 13,000 workers are on unpaid leave
  • Italy had 627 deaths in one day, the most anywhere
  • Four U.S. senatorssold stock after virus briefings in January

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Washington State Urges Residents to Stay Home (8 a.m. HK)

Washington Governor Jay Inslee stopped short of issuing an order to keep people isolated, but encouraged residents to stay home to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Inslee, whose state has reported the most deaths so far, said people aren’t treating the illness as a mortal threat.

U.S. Team Rescued From Honduras (7:55 a.m. HK)

An Air Force C-130 transport flew 89 Americans — including members of a U.S. women’s football team — out of Honduras to Charleston, South Carolina, the second mission to fetch citizens unable to leave the Central American country.

Earlier, a C-17 flew from Honduras’ Soto Cano Air Base with other passengers, including half of the team, the U.S. Southern Command said in a statement.

The 55-member team became trapped after Honduras closed its borders in response to the coronavirus. They were on a charity visit for a local homeless shelter, and to play in a tournament, CBS Sports said on its website.

Pence Aide Confirmed With Virus (6:30 a.m. HK)

An employee in the office of Vice President Mike Pence, leading the government’s response to the outbreak, has tested positive for the illness, according to a statement.

“Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual,” said Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary. “Further contact tracing is being conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines.”

NYC Leads U.S. in Cases (6:20 a.m. HK)

New York City accounts for almost a third of the U.S. cases of Covid-19, and half the infections in the state.

“We are now the epicenter of this crisis,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference.

De Blasio reported 5,151 infections as of Friday morning out of 17,041 nationwide and 7,102 in New York state. The virus has caused 29 deaths, the mayor said.

Three states have a majority of U.S. cases: New York, Washington and California.

Target, Walmart Aid Workers (6:15 a.m. HK)

Target Corp. is boosting hourly wages, expanding its paid-leave policy and delivering bonuses to thousands of store employees to reward rank-and-file staff for coping with the coronavirus.

The retailer is raising hourly pay by $2 until at least May 2, and offering paid sick leave of up to 30 days for staffers who are 65 or older, pregnant or have underlying medical conditions. It’s doling out bonuses from $250 to $1,500 for hourly workers who oversee departments like beauty or food and beverage.

The moves come just hours after rivalWalmart Inc. said it would hire 150,000 additional staff and disperse bonuses of as much as $300 to its hourly associates.

United, Southwest Warn on Flights (5:40 p.m. NY)

United Airlines Holdings Inc. said it will lay off employees in less than two weeks unless Congress passes a package to help carriers amid a collapse in air travel. Southwest Airlines Co. said it will cut more flights.

United trimmed 60% of its typical schedule for April, cutting 85% of its international service and 42% of domestic flying. The schedule for May may be cut even further, Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby told employees in a memo.

Southwest, which carries the most passengers in U.S. markets, will cut 1,000 daily flights starting Sunday because of a plunge in demand. International service will end after Sunday until at least May 4 as more nations restrict cross-border travel.

Hospital Stockpile Potential Covid-19 Drug (5:30 p.m. NY)

Hospitals are stockpiling a decades-old antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump and others as a treatment for the new coronavirus.

Hydroxychloroquine is being snapped up at more than twice the typical pace as U.S. hospitals seek to build inventories in anticipation of the medication’s potential use in patients with Covid-19.

In the first 17 days of March, hospitals bought an average of 16,110 units of hydroxychloroquine, up from an average 8,800 units a month from January 2019 through February 2020, according to Premier Inc., which helps member hospitals buy and manage their supplies.

Read storyhere

D.C. Extends Limits to Late April (5 p.m. NY)

Washington, D.C., extended the prohibition on mass gatherings until April 25 and will keep district schools, which shuttered this week, closed until April 27.

Restaurants and bars in the nation’s capital will continue to offer carry-out food to customers or delivery services. All indoor dining or drinking is banned.

Delta Workers Take Unpaid Leave (4:40 p.m. NY)

Delta Air Lines Inc. said more than 13,000 employees accepted voluntary unpaid leaves as the carrier struggles with the coronavirus outbreak, which slowed travel and led to cutbacks in flights.

“While I’m grateful to the thousands that have volunteered, we could use more,” Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian said in a message to employees.

Bastian said revenue in the June quarter will be down 80% from a year earlier and the company is burning through about $50 million in cash every day. Delta suspended its capital return program, including stock repurchases, and future dividend payments.

Illinois Issues Shelter-in-Place Order (4:20 p.m. NY)

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered residents to shelter in place starting Saturday, following California, New York and New Jersey in restricting the movement of residents to combat the coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Pritzker closed schools, dine-in service at bars and restaurants and banned gatherings of more than 50. Chicago earlier ordered sick residents to remain home.

Similar shelter-in-place actions were taken by governors in Connecticuty and Nevada.

Read storyhere

N.J. to Shut ‘Nonessential’ Businesses (4 p.m. NY)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he will sign an executive order requiring all “nonessential” businesses closed to help slow the spread of the virus. Murphy said he would give more details when he signs the order Saturday.

“The only way we’re going to beat this darn virus is if we literally stay home and stay away from each other,” Murphy said at a news conference in Paramus.

Read storyhere.

World Needs 80-100 Times More Tests, WHO Says (2:30 p.m. NY)

The number of coronavirus tests needed in coming months is probably 80 to 100 times the 1.5 million that the World Health Organization supplied so far, said Mike Ryan, the agency’s head of health emergencies. Governments need to step up their commitments because there are more than 26 million health-care workers around the world who need to have protective gear, he said.

“The greatest tragedy for me among all the tragedies we’re seeing is the prospect of losing a part of our workforce, those doctors and nurses and hygienists and others who put themselves in the front line,” Ryan said.

Nigeria to Conduct Trials of Chloroquine (2:30 p.m. NY)

Nigeria’s Lagos State government plans to conduct a clinical trial on the effectiveness of the malaria drug chloroquine in the prevention and management of coronavirus infection, according to Health Commissioner Akin Abayomi.

The trial will be carried out against “the fast spreading news that chloroquine could be effective in preventing and managing Covid-19,” Abayomi said in emailed statement on Friday.

U.S. President Donald Trump touted the drug at a press briefing Thursday, urging regulators to approve its use for the coronavirus.

U.K. to Help Pay Workers Wages (1:30 p.m. NY)

The U.K. government said it will step in and help pay its citizen’s wages during the coronavirus pandemic “for the first time in the nation’s history.”

The state will cover 80% of the salary of workers that firms can’t afford to retain as a result of the crisis. That is up to a total of 2,500 pounds ($2,900) a month, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak told reporters on Friday.

“You will not face this alone,” Sunak said.

Read full storyhere.

Crowds Swarm New Jersey Test Site (1:23 p.m. NY)

New Jersey closed its first drive-through test site to people beyond the 1,000 already in line, and even they may not get swabbed today.

The line had grown too long less than four hours after its planned 8 a.m. opening at Bergen Community College in Paramus. The site was to get 2,500 new coronavirus test kits, with supplies replenished weekly.

Read full storyhere.

Brazilian Lawmakers Hold First Remote Voting (12:45 p.m. NY)

Brazil’s Congress held its first-ever remote voting session as part of efforts to proceed with crucial legislative work while restricting movement of people in Brasilia’s often-crowded parliament.

In a video conference broadcast on their official website, senators approved a calamity decree allowing President Jair Bolsonaro to increase anti-virus spending.

Cuomo Orders All Non-Essential Workers Home (12:20 p.m. NY)

Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered New Yorkers to stay at home for the foreseeable future, except for essential services like grocery stores and mass transit.

He said the new orders would go in place on Sunday. The state’s death toll has reached 35. New York has more than 7,100 coronavirus cases, the most in the U.S.

“This is the most drastic action we can take,” Cuomo said.

Read full storyhere.

First Virus Deaths in Peru (12:15 p.m. NY)

Three people died on Thursday after becoming infected by the coronavirus, Peru’s Health Ministry says on Twitter.

Two men — one 47 and the other 69 — died in Lima after visiting Spain. The third victim was a 78-year-old man.

Medical experts worry that Latin America, which has so far reported relatively few cases, isunprepared for a larger outbreak.

London Pubs, Restaurants Set to Be Told to Close (11:27 a.m. NY)

London’s pubs, restaurants, leisure centers, and cinemas will be told toclose to stop the spread of coronavirus, under plans expected to be agreed to on Friday, a British official said.

Social Distancing Will Last Several More Weeks (11:08 a.m. NY)

Americans will have to practice social distancing for at least several more weeks tomitigate U.S. cases of Covid-19, Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said Friday.

“If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks in other areas, it’s at least going to be several weeks. I cannot see that all of a sudden next week or two weeks from now, it’s going to be over. I don’t think there’s a chance of that. I think it’s going to be several weeks,” Fauci said on The Today Show.

IRS Moving Tax Day to July 15 (10:25 a.m. NY)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says people and businesses will have more time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.

First American Air Cargo Flight in 36 Years (10:22 a.m. NY)

American Airlines Group Inc. is shifting some of its biggest idled jets to ferry just cargo — the carrier’s first flights without passengers in nearly four decades.

The Boeing Co. 777-300s will fly medical supplies, military mail, e-commerce packages and high-demand office equipment as more people work from home, the airline said in a statement. The wide-body flights begin Friday, with two round trips over four days between Frankfurt and the airline’s home base at Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

Read full storyhere.

Brazil Bans Visitors from Europe and Asia (10:17 a.m. NY)

Brazil will bar travelers from about three dozen European and Asian nations from entering the country. The ban doesn’t apply to Brazilians or foreigners living in the country and will last for 30 days starting Monday.

— With assistance by Steve Geimann, Ian Fisher, Nikos Chrysoloras, Adveith Nair, Thomas Mulier, Boris Groendahl, Yasna Haghdoost, Alan Levin, Mary Schlangenstein, Tim Ross, Andres R Martinez, Anthony Osae-Brown, and Corinne Gretler

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