With millions trapped inside their homes for the holiday weekend on Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo kicked things off in the US with his usual daily press conference, revealing that hospitalizations and ICU admissions remained well below worst-case levels.
As the press briefing began, Cuomo said New York had recorded 783 deaths over the past 24 hours. While New York’s death toll is still accelerating faster than practically every other state in the country, Cuomo insisted that all of the state’s numbers – new cases, deaths, hospitalizations, ICU admission etc. – were now “on the down slope.”
In other words, the peak has come and gone, and even as NYC cancels school for the rest of the year (something Mayor de Blasio announced earlier), Cuomo has suggested that the light at the end of the tunnel is now in sight – and that New Yorkers just need to hang on for a little bit longer.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 11, 2020
While New York and the surrounding area continues to struggle with the brunt of the outbreak in the US, the SBA reported on Saturday that more than half of the $350 billion earmarked for the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill’s “Paycheck Program Program” had finally been allocated in loans to small businesses after the program encountered some initial complications that slowed disbursements down for nearly a week. Meanwhile, Americans around the country are starting to receive their stimulus checks.
Unfortunately, while Republicans in the Senate tried to pass a $250 billion extension to the PPP this past week, Democrats ended up blocking it, claiming it didn’t go far enough, an excuse that we imagine every small business owner forced to shutter their business because they didn’t get a loan in time will appreciate.
As we noted last night, the global count of confirmed deaths linked to COVID-19 has surpassed 100k.
And while Europe has continued to contribute more than half the daily total, the US is on track to surpass that number in short order, as illustrated by the FT.
Over in Spain, meanwhile, PM Pedro Sanchez was in high spirits as he announced that the government was preparing plans to lift its lockdown. His government reported 510 new deaths over the last 24 hours on Saturday, bringing the national death toll to 16,353. However, the figure of new deaths represented the lowest daily total in weeks. While Spain’s restrictions are likely to remain in effect until mid-May, the government plans to begin the process of lifting them later this week. It has published a manual of best practices as people return to work, and the government has also promised to distribute masks to citizens.
In the UK, Health Minister Matt Hancock reported 5,233 new cases of coronavirus and 917 new deaths, bringing the country’s totals to 78,991 cases and 9,875 deaths. As the national death toll nears 10k, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that there were “signs that the curve is slackening” and urged people to stay at home over the Easter weekend despite the warm weather.
A handful of other European countries have reached important milestones on Saturday. Belgium saw the number of confirmed cases pass 10k on Saturday as health officials promise to ramp up testing in managed-care facilities to fight the outbreak.
In France, officials reported that more than 8 million workers are now enrolled in the government’s benefits program designed to continue paying salaries to keep families eating during the outbreak.
Indian PM Modi announced on Saturday that his nation of ~1.4 billion would extend its lockdown, which was set to end Tuesday, for another two weeks, an announcement that was met with groans from the Indian public. So far, new cases and deaths have continued to accelerate despite the restrictive measures, which have now been extended until April 30.
Iran reported 1,837 new cases and 125 new deaths on Saturday, for a total of 70,029 cases and 4,357 deaths. As the Iranian economy buckles under the weight of the virus, officials said on Saturday that Iran might start reopening its economy as soon as next week, since millions of workers can simply no longer afford to stay home and not work.
Once that happens, the world will watch closely as Iran becomes a guinea pig for re-opening an economy after a serious outbreak of the novel coronavirus.