Trump Issues Guidelines; Singapore Cases Jump: Virus Update

The Trump administration issuedguidelines that could allow states and employers to abandon most social distancing practices within a month.

Japan expanded its state of emergency, while Singapore reported itsbiggest increase in cases. The U.K. added three weeks to its restrictions as total infections exceeded 100,000, and New York’s shutdown was extended to May 15.

Seven Midwest U.S. states formed a partnership to plan for a regional reopening, joining similar actions in the Northeast and the West Coast. Gilead Sciences Inc. soared after a report that patients being treated with its experimental drug saw rapid recoveries in some symptoms.

Key Developments

  • Virus Tracker: Cases top 2.1 million; deaths exceed 143,000
  • U.S. equity futuresrise on reopening steps
  • New Zealand seeks towipe out virus after early lockdown success
  • Risk of getting sick may lie in yourgenes
  • New York infectionsslow to key level
  • Thedrugs and vaccines that might end the pandemic
  • Carnival knew it had avirus problem but kept the party going

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28,680 in U.S.Most new cases today

-18% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​049 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

South Korea’s Unemployment Rate Jumps (8:11 a.m. HK)

South Korea’s unemployment ratejumped and the economy lost jobs in March as the coronavirus forced businesses to slash hiring. The jobless rate rose to 3.8% from 3.3% a month earlier, the statistics office said, matching the median estimate from economists. Compared with a year earlier, the economy lost 195,000 jobs.

LVMH, L’Oreal Signal Recovery From Virus Slump (8:06 a.m. HK)

French consumer giants LVMH and L’Oreal SA signaled a recovery could start soon, after the coronavirus caused sales to plunge in the first quarter. While much of Europe and the U.S. remain in lockdown, shops have been reopening in China.

Sales in Louis Vuitton stores in mainland China are up about 50% in the past three weeks over the same period a year ago, according to a person familiar with the matter. L’Oreal Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Agon said on a call that sales in China turned positive in March and are on track for a gain of 5% to 10% this month.

Trump Gives States Guidelines for Reopening (6:30 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump unveiled guidelines on reopening the U.S. economy that could allow states and employers to abandon within four weeks most social distancing practices.

“We can begin the next front in our war,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We’re opening up our country. We have to do that.”

The guidelines recommend states document a “downward trajectory” in cases for two weeks before beginning a three-phase process to return to near normal life. Schools and day-care centers shouldn’t reopen before phase two, according to the guidelines, while restaurants, movie theaters and sports venues could open in phase one if they practice “strict physical distancing.”

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Moderna Snares $483 Million for Vaccine Tests (6 a.m. HK)

Moderna Inc. said the U.S. government has agreed to pay as much as $483 million for the company to develop and test its Covid-19 vaccine now in an initial clinical trial. The vaccine is one of the first to begin human trials. Moderna said that if the trial is successful, it could reach final-stage testing by fall 2020.

Gilead Gains on Report on Covid-19 Drug Test (5 p.m. NY)

Gilead Sciences Inc. climbed as STAT reported severe Covid-19 patients being treated in Chicago with the company’s experimental drug remdesivir are “seeing rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms.”

Almost all patients were discharged in under than a week, and only two patients died, STAT said, citing comments made this week during a video discussion about trial results with University of Chicago faculty members.

STAT cautions that trials are running at other institutions and full study results can’t yet be determined; Gilead told the news outlet that it’s looking forward to data becoming available.

U.S. Confirmed Cases Rise 4.7% (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases rose 4.7% from the day before to 648,788 by Thursday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That was higher than Wednesday’s growth rate of 3.5% but lower than average daily increase of 5.7% over the past week. Deaths increased 14% to 31,590.

New York cases rose 9.8%, spiking higher after the hardest-hit state showed signs of stabilizing in the past week. New York’s cases had risen just 0.5% during the same time period on Wednesday.

Midwest Governors Form Partnership (3:25 p.m. NY)

Seven U.S. governors are forming a Midwestregional partnership to closely coordinate plans to reopen their economies based on data and advice from experts in a way that “prioritizes our workers’ health,” the leaders announced Thursday.

Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky will cooperate, their governors said in a statement Thursday. The move follows similar coalitions of governors on the West Coast and Northeast who are working together on how to reopen schools and businesses after the coronavirus outbreak eases.

U.K. Adds Three Weeks to Lockdown (12:10 p.m. NY)

The U.K. will extend the country’s lockdown by a further three weeks at least in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he recovers from his own infection with the virus, said the March 23 decision to close most shops and meeting places and limit all but essential travel has worked to slow the spread of the virus.

“Relaxing any of the measures in place would damage both public health and the economy,” Raab said.

N.Y. Extends Shutdown to May 15 (11:50 a.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo extended the statewide lockdown to May 15, citing progress made in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

Cuomo also ordered masks to be worn by riders on public transit or in for-hire vehicles, such as Uber and Lyft. In addition, operators of public systems, private carriers and for-hire services must always wear masks.

New York had 606 deaths in the past 24 hours, the second straight daily decline and the lowest toll in several days. The state has reported 12,192 deaths.

Singapore’s New Cases at Record (11:45 a.m. NY)

Singapore had 728 new cases, the Ministry of Health said, the second straight day of reporting the most cases for 24 hours. About 90% of the cases were Work Permit holders living in dormitories. None of the new cases was imported from abroad. Singapore has not had any new imported cases since April 9, according to the ministry.

FDA Allows Hospitals to Make Own Drugs (10:07 a.m. NY)

U.S. regulators are allowing hospitals to make their own versions of drugs that Covid-19 patients on ventilators need but that have become scarce. The Food and Drug Administration issuedtemporary guidelines Thursday permitting hospitals to make medications, including painkillers, sedatives and potent muscle relaxers.

Those drugs have fallen into shortage in the last few weeks as more patients need intensive care. The agency usually tries to boost supplies by increasing pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, some of which it has done.

But “in light of unprecedented disruptions to, and demands on, the global pharmaceutical supply chain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in order to respond to evolving regional conditions, additional flexibility is temporarily needed to ensure that treatment options are available,” FDA said in the guidelines.

Switzerland to Allow Businesses to Open Gradually (9:36 a.m. NY)

Switzerland’s businesses and schools will be allowed to reopen in three stages starting April 27.

The first cohort will be establishments like hair dressers, tattoo studios, beauty salons, hardware stores, garden centers and flower shops, where people can keep a safe distance. Hospitals will also be once again allowed offer a full range of medical services, the government said on Thursday.

Facebook Put Warnings on 40 Million Misleading Posts (9:04 a.m. NY)

Facebook Inc. added warnings to 40 million pieces of misinformation about the coronavirus on its main social network in March, part of an effort to stem the spread of bad advice and misleading articles.

Hundreds of thousands of posts deemed harmful were removed entirely, according to a blog post on Thursday by Guy Rosen, the company’s vice president for integrity. In the next few weeks, users who liked, commented or reacted to misleading posts that were later taken down will be shown messages in their news feeds linking to factual information about Covid-19, the company said.

— With assistance by Kara Wetzel

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