WHO Reverses Course, Whines Lockdowns Not Strong Enough, As US Cases Surpass 25,000: Live Updates
Update (1150ET): Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s daily press briefings have become high-priority events as the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the US. After winning early approval from the FDA to ramp up testing in state labs, Cuomo’s star has risen alongside the state’s tally of positive tests.
He and Trump appeared to have declared a truce, with the two men acknowledging their intention to cooperate, and as the White House shifts its focus to passing the critical second installment of its economic rescue package, which is expected to include rescue packages for small businesses and helicopter money for individuals.
Cuomo started the press conference by chiding New Yorkers, primarily those in the city, who took advantage of nice weather over the past few days to crowd into the city’s parks, inadvertently helping to spread the virus.
At one point, Cuomo declared that the city had confirmed 374 deaths, taking the assembled reporters by surprise. The statement was soon corrected, as a graphic on the screen displayed the updated national death toll, meaning that 14 more Americans succumbed to the virus over the last few hours.
The governor then launched into a breakdown of the data that researchers have collected so far. Of those who have passed away from COVID-19-related complications, 70% are either 70 or older. Of those who passed that were under the age of 70, 80% had underlying health issues.
Though young people have a higher chance of survival, “young people can get it, young people can get sick, young people can transfer it,” Cuomo said.
But just because an individual catches the virus, and meets the high-risk criteria, doesn’t mean they’re doomed, Cuomo explained.
“But even within that population the capacity of our health care system can save those lives it doesn’t mean that just because you’re 80 and you have an underlying health condition, you must pass away,” he said. Nothing is pre-ordained, and New York State’s health-care system has the capacity to save the lives of people whose lives are seriously imperiled by the infection.
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Update (1100amET): NY Gov Andrew Cuomo is delivering his daily press conference. Watch live below:
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 22, 2020
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The surge in newly confirmed cases in the US and Europe continued overnight, as roughly 7,000 new cases were reported in the US, according to Johns Hopkins data, vaunting the US total above 25k while most Americans were asleep.
According to the latest numbers, as of 11amET on Sunday, 26,747 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19. 340 have died (and some of these were posthumously diagnosed).
New York State, where the Army Corp of Engineers has arrived to start outfitting school gyms and other buildings into COVID-19 hospitals, the picture of the outbreak continues to expand as testing capabilities in the state rapidly accelerate. 9 million New Jerseyans are now under ‘shelter in place’ restrictions following the mandatory lockdown order signed by Gov. Phil Murphy last night, although it’s still not exactly clear how the order will be enforced. In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont has asked residents to stay at home and ordered non-essential businesses – including restaurants, gyms, theaters and the like – to close.
Keep in mind: Four days ago, there were fewer than 300 cases of the virus in the country, and only a few dozens deaths.
And globally, the total number of cases has passed 315,000, and is rapidly closing in on 320,000. We’ll likely hit 350,000 by noon on Monday.
Across Europe and the Middle East, governments tightened travel restrictions and lockdowns, even as the WHO whined that these measures were now somehow not enough to contain the outbreak , when this very same organization for weeks denied that border closures were necessary to stop the spread in an obvious sop to the NGOs Chinese backers.
Following in Italy’s footsteps, one week after Spain adopted nationwide lockdown measures and as the number of cases soars to 28,572, with 1,720 deaths, Spanish media says the government of PM Pedro Sanchez is planning to ask Congress to approve the nationwide lockdown for an additional 15 days.
Afghanistan, Kosovo and Romania all reported their first confirmed deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday, while Albania closed flights as the virus continues to spread north through the Balkans from Greece, which has been turning away asylum seekers as it struggles to suppress its domestic outbreak.
After invoking the Defense Production Act last week, one of the most useful tools in the White House arsenal, granting Trump the power to act unilaterally and marshal the nation’s factories to the “war” effort, the president has yet to use the power, even as Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer hammer him on the delay.
As it turns out, Trump might have a point. Though FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor contradicted Trump during an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union”, saying the administration hadn’t yet ordered factories to produce critical medical supplies, as Trump had claimed earlier in the week. But he clarified that the only reason Trump hasn’t actively used the power is because companies are voluntarily taking these steps so as to deter the administration from seizing control of their operations. He described the act as “leverage”.
Gaynor added that companies and countries around the world are offering help and support to the US.
With multiple officials making the Sunday show rounds, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin once again upped the ante of the administration’s ‘helicopter money’ stimulus package (now that the Fed’s balance-sheet expansion is back in full swing and the administration is preparing to issue 50-year bonds to back the stimulus), raising the amount to be doled out to individuals to $3,000. As we observed yesterday, the stimulus-bill figures continue to climb faster than the number of confirmed cases.
It’s unclear when – or even if – the plan will make it into law, but Mnuchin said it’s intended to sustain out-of-work Americans and suffering small-businesses for the next 10-12 weeks.
And with 7k new cases confirmed since VP Pence announced to the world last night that he had tested negative, and hundreds of thousands more layoffs announced overnight, we suppose it’s only fitting.
Last night, Italy shuttered much of the country’s industrial production (at least whatever was still operating) in a desperate attempt to contain the outbreak as it extends its national lockdown in the face of lackluster results. In Jordan, meanwhile, authorities are responding with a heavy hand, warning residents they will risk a year in jail if caught outside without permission.
Which approach do you think would work better in the US?
Whatever happens, any NYC-based bankers growing bored with their doomsday stash and willing to splurge on some high-quality meats can get takeout from Peter Lugar’s.
— Sam Ro 📉 (@SamRo) March 22, 2020