President Donald Trump has given governors guidance on reopening state economies in the coming months as the new coronavirus continues to spread across the US.
“Opening up America Again” guidelines outline three phases for states to gradually ease their lockdowns.
President Trump promised governors they would be handling the process themselves, with help from the federal government.
However, there has been a mixed reception to the plans, with a leading Democrat calling them vague and inconsistent.
The US currently has 699,044 confirmed cases and 36,849 deaths due to the virus, and President Trump has suggested some states could reopen this month.
In his daily briefing on April 16, the president declared “the next front in our war – opening up America again”.
He said: “America wants to be open and Americans want to be open. A national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution.”
The president said that a prolonged lockdown risked inflicting a serious toll on public health. He warned of a “sharp rise” in drug abuse, alcohol abuse, heart disease, and other “physical and mental” problems.
He told reporters that healthy citizens would be able to return to work “as conditions allow”. He said Americans would continue to be called upon to maintain social distancing measures and to stay home if they are unwell.
President Trump said that reopening the US economy would be done “one careful step at a time” but he called on state governors to move “very, very quickly, depending on what they want to do”.
Shortly afterwards, leading Democrat Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, called the new guidelines “vague and inconsistent”.
Nancy Pelosi said the document did “nothing to make up for the president’s failure to listen to the scientists and produce and distribute national rapid testing”.
The Trump administration’s 18-page guidance document details three phases to reopen state economies, with each phase lasting, at minimum, 14 days.
The guidelines include some recommendations across all three phases including good personal hygiene and employers developing policies to ensure social distancing, testing and contact tracing.
Phase one includes much of the current lockdown measures such as avoiding non-essential travel and not gathering in groups. But it says large venues such as restaurants, places of worship and sports venues “can operate under strict physical distancing protocols”.
If there is no evidence of a resurgence of the coronavirus, phase two allows non-essential travel to resume. The guidance says schools can reopen and bars can operate “with diminished standing-room occupancy”.
Under phase three, states which are still seeing a downward trend of symptoms and cases can allow “public interactions” with physical distancing and the unrestricted staffing of worksites. Visits to care homes and hospitals can resume and bars can increase their standing room capacity.
According to the document, some regions could begin returning to normal after a month-long evaluation period, at the earliest.
In places where there are more infections or where rates begin to rise, it could take longer.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, told at the April 16 briefing that as states worked through the three phases, they could allow for more and more employees to return to work in increments.
Phase three would be the “new normal”, she said, and would still include suggestions that vulnerable people should avoid crowded spaces.
Electronics chain Best Buy this week said it would furlough more than 50,000 employees, while Royal Caribbean Cruises announced it would cut or suspend about a quarter of its American workforce.
The moves come as retail sales plunged by a record 8.7%, while manufacturing output dropped by the most in more than 74 years.
The US has expanded its unemployment program, making disbursements bigger and more people – including the self-employed – eligible. Requests to participate have overwhelmed state offices, which process the applications.
On April 16, the Small Business Administration, which is in charge of administering that $349 billion program, announced it had run out of money.
President Donald Trump is expected to issue “new guidelines” for reopening the economy in parts of the country where experts believe the rate of infection is under control.
On April 15, the president said: “There has to be a balance. We have to get back to work.”
The ECB has said the bloc may need up to €1.5 trillion to tackle the crisis.
However, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire hailed the agreement as the most important economic plan in EU history.
He tweeted after the talks: “Europe has decided and is ready to meet the gravity of the crisis.”
The main component of the rescue plan involves the European Stability Mechanism, the EU’s bailout fund, which will make €240 billion available to guarantee spending by indebted countries under pressure.
The EU ministers also agreed other measures including €200 billion in guarantees from the European Investment Bank and a European Commission project for national short-time working schemes.
Ministers were close to a deal on April 8, but the talks broke down and had to be resumed a day later, amid a dispute between Italy and the Netherlands over how to apply the recovery fund.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed deep divisions in Europe, where Italy and Spain have accused northern nations like Germany and the Netherlands of not doing enough.
Emerging markets and developing countries would be the hardest hit, the IMF chief said, requiring hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid.
She said: “Just three months ago, we expected positive per capita income growth in over 160 of our member countries in 2020.
“Today, that number has been turned on its head: we now project that over 170 countries will experience negative per capita income growth this year.”
Kristalina Georgieva added: “In fact, we anticipate the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression.”
She said that if the pandemic eased in the second half of 2020, the IMF expected to see a partial recovery next year. But she cautioned that the situation could also worsen.
Kristalina Georgieva’s comments came as the US reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits had surged for the third week by 6.6 million, bringing the total over that period to more than 16 million Americans.
On April 9, following marathon talks, EU leaders agreed a €500 billion ($546 billion) economic support package for members of the bloc hit hardest by the lockdown measures.
The European Commission earlier said it aimed to co-ordinate a possible “roadmap” to move away from the restrictive measures.
Earlier this week, the International Labor Organization (ILO), a UN agency, warned that the pandemic posed “the most severe crisis” since World War Two.
The ILO said the outbreak was expected to wipe out 6.7% of working hours across the world during the second quarter of 2020 – the equivalent of 195 million full-time workers losing their jobs.
Last month, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned that the global economy would take years to recover.
OECD secretary general Angel Gurría said that economies were suffering a bigger shock than after the 9/11 terror attacks of 2001 or the 2008 financial crisis.
President Donald Trump has said he will not wear a face mask despite new medical guidelines advising Americans to do so.
He said he could not see himself greeting “presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens” in the Oval Office while wearing one.
President Trump stressed that the guidance released on April 3 was “voluntary”.
“You do not have to do it,” he said.
“I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
The guidelines issued by the CDC came as the US reported more than 1,100 deaths in a single day – the highest total for a 24-hour period anywhere in the world.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has so far confirmed 278,458 cases of Covid-19 and more than 7,000 deaths.
New York state remains the worst affected area, with nearly 3,000 deaths, and state governor Andrew Cuomo has appealed for help from other parts of the US.
Until now, US health authorities had said that only the sick, or those caring for patients of coronavirus, should wear masks, but newer studies suggest that covering up one’s face is important to prevent inadvertent transmission.
President Trump said on April 2: “From recent studies we know that the transmission from individuals without symptoms is playing a more significant role in the spread of the virus than previously understood.”
However, the president told reporters after announcing the CDC’s new guidance: “I just don’t want to do it myself.”
“Sitting in the Oval Office… I somehow don’t see it for myself.”
Americans are now advised to use clean cloth or fabric to cover their faces whilst in public. Officials have stressed that medical masks remain in short supply, and should be left for healthcare workers.
The CDC guidance comes as the number of cases globally climbs past one million.
President Trump announced the guidance at the White House daily coronavirus briefing, but repeatedly emphasized that the advisory was “voluntary”.
Though the tally kept by Johns Hopkins records one million confirmed cases, the actual number is thought to be much higher.
It took a month and a half for the first 100,000 cases to be registered, but one million was reached after a doubling in cases over the past week.
Nearly a quarter of cases have been registered in the US, while Europe accounts for around half.
On April 2, Spain said 950 people had died in the previous 24 hours – thought to be the highest number of deaths of any country in one day.
The number of confirmed Spanish cases rose from 102,136 on April 1 to 110,238 – an 8% rise that is similar to the rate recorded in previous days. Spanish authorities believe the virus is now peaking and say they expect to see a drop in figures in the days ahead.
Spain is the second-worst hit nation in terms of deaths. It has also lost nearly 900,000 jobs.
The US death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has exceeded 5,000, while confirmed cases worldwide are reaching one million.
According to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks cornavirus figures globally, there were 884 deaths in the US in the last 24 hours, a new record.
The latest victims include a six-week-old baby. More than 216,000 are now infected, the world’s highest figure.
Reserves of protective equipment and medical supplies are almost exhausted.
The Trump administration says it can acquire adequate supplies, and has $16 billion available to do so. State and local officials have complained about insufficient protective equipment such as masks and gowns as well as ventilators, needed to help keep patients breathing.
Meanwhile, VP Mike Pence warned the US appeared to be on a similar trajectory as Italy where the death toll has exceeded 13,000 – the worst in the world.
The number of confirmed infections across the US rose by more than 25,000 in one day. The worst-hit place is New York City, where nearly 47,500 people have tested positive and more than 1,300 have died.
According to officials, as many as 240,000 people could die in the US from Covid-19 – the disease caused by the new coronavirus – even with the mitigation measures in place. In Connecticut, a six-week-old baby has died from coronavirus, believed to be America’s youngest victim of the virus so far.
Queens, New York City’s second-most populous borough, has the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths. The area is home to a large population of low-income workers employed by the service sector who live in close proximity, and social-distancing guidelines are hard to enforce.
New York City needed 2.1 million surgical masks, 100,000 surgical gowns and 400 ventilators, among other items, by Sunday, said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has warned that April would be worse than March as the outbreak gathered pace. The NYC mayor said the goal was to triple the number of hospital beds, to 65,000.
Bill de Blasio tweeted: “This will be an epic process through the month of April. It’s herculean, but I believe it can be reached.”
Germany has extended its restrictions
on social interactions to try to contain the coronavirus outbreak, banning
public gatherings of more than two people.
People will not be allowed to form
groups of three or more in public unless they live together in the same
household, or the gathering is work-related. Police will monitor and punish
anyone infringing the new rules.
In a TV address, German Chancellor
Angela Merkel said “our own behavior” was the “most effective
way” of slowing the rate of infection.
The measures included closing hair,
beauty and massage studios. Other non-essential shops had already been shut.
Restaurants will now only be allowed
to open for takeaway service. All restrictions apply to every German state, and
will be in place for at least the next two weeks.
California governor has issued a
“stay at home” order to residents as the state tries to stem the
march of the coronavirus across the most populous US state.
Governor Gavin Newsom told residents
they should only leave their homes when necessary during the pandemic.
He earlier estimated more than half
of the 40 million people in his state would contract Covid-19 in just the next
Speaking from the state’s emergency operations centre in Sacramento – a
place that is normally used to coordinate the response to wildfires or
earthquakes – Governor Newsom called on people here to only leave their homes
if it was absolutely necessary, to get food, collect medicines, or care for a
friend or relative.
a model that state planners here have been using, the governor predicted that
more than half of California’s population will contract the virus over the
course of the next eight weeks – a staggering total of around 25 million
Governor Newsom said that cases of the virus were doubling every four hours
in some areas, and – based on projections – nearly 20,000 more hospital beds
would be needed to deal with the effects of the outbreak than the state could
The virus has claimed 205 lives in the US and infected more
Globally nearly 250,000 patients
have tested positive for the respiratory illness and more than 10,000 have
Governor Newsom said on March 19: “This is a moment we need to make tough
decisions. We need to recognize reality.”
California is among the first states
to bring in blanket restrictions. Earlier this week Nevada said non-essential
businesses should close for 30 days.
The governor’s order will allow
residents to leave their homes to buy groceries or medicine, or walk a dog or
take exercise, but seeks to limit public interactions.
It will force businesses deemed
non-essential to close, while allowing others including grocery stores,
pharmacies, banks and petrol stations to stay open.
About half of California’s
population is already subject to similar stringent measures, including the city
of San Francisco.
Speaking at a press conference in Sacramento, Governor Newsom said the virus
“will impact about 56% of us – you do the math in the state of California,
that’s a particularly large number”.
The governor did not clarify how his officials had calculated that figure,
which would amount to nearly 22.5 million infected people.
However, his spokesman acknowledged the estimate did not take into account
the mitigation measures being implemented state-wide.
Governor Newsom is asking Congress for a billion dollars in federal funding to support California’s response to the crisis, and calling for a navy hospital ship to be deployed to the Port of Los Angeles to help deal with the anticipated surge in patients.
California is, nonetheless, one of the main centers of the coronavirus in
the US, and the state’s Governor Gavin Newsom has issued an order covering
virtually the entire population of 40 million people.
from the state’s emergency operations centre in Sacramento – a place that is
normally used to coordinate the response to wildfires or earthquakes – Governor
Newsom called on people here to only leave their homes if it was absolutely
necessary, to get food, collect medicines, or care for a friend or relative.
a model that state planners here have been using, the governor predicted that
more than half of California’s population will contract the virus over the
course of the next eight weeks – a staggering total of around 25 million
Newsom said that cases of the virus were doubling every four hours in some
areas, and – based on projections – nearly 20,000 more hospital beds would be
needed to deal with the effects of the outbreak than the state could currently
is asking Congress for a billion dollars in federal funding to support
California’s response to the crisis, and calling for a navy hospital ship to be
deployed to the Port of Los Angeles to help deal with the anticipated surge in
All 50 states in the US have been
hit by the deadly coronavirus as West Virginia reported its first case of the
infection on March 17.
Announcing the state’s first
Covid-19 patient, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said: “We knew this was coming.”
So far, there are 108 deaths in the
US from coronavirus and more than 6,300 confirmed cases nationwide.
Globally, there are 217,325 cases and
8,917 people have died as of March 18.
As the Trump administration seeks a $1
trillion stimulus package, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly warned
Republican senators privately on March 17 that if Congress failed to act, US
unemployment could hit 20% – almost double the jobless rate during the Great
Recession after the 2008 financial crisis.
A $1 trillion aid package would be larger than the US response to the 2008
financial crisis, amounting to nearly a quarter of what the federal government
spent last year.
In addition to the $250 billion in cheques for families, the plan includes a
bailout for airlines and hotels, among other measures. The proposal must be
approved by Congress to move forward.
Separate from the $1 trillion package, Steve Mnuchin said the government
would also allow companies and individuals to delay their tax payments for 90
He said: “We look forward to
having bipartisan support to pass this legislation very quickly.”
President Donald Trump initially proposed a payroll tax cut, which would
reduce the money the government automatically withholds from worker pay to pay
for social programs.
However, critics said that relief would come too slowly and leave out those
without jobs. Several high-profile economists had urged more direct assistance,
including $1,000 payments, winning support from lawmakers such as Republican
Senator Mitt Romney.
President Trump said he had come round to the view that faster, more direct
relief is necessary.
He said: “With this invisible
enemy, we don’t want people losing their jobs and not having money to live.”
The president added that he wanted to target the relief to those who need
Steven Mnuchin said he hoped to send the cheques within two weeks.
He said: “Americans need cash now and the president wants to give cash now and I mean now, in the next two weeks.”
Asked how long the emergency will
last, President Trump said: “People
are talking about July, August, something like that, so it could be right in
that period of time where I say, it washes through.”
The president continued: “They think August, could be July,
could be longer than that.”
He said he was not considering a
national curfew or lockdown, though added:
“We may look at certain areas, certain hot spots as they call them.”
President Trump said he had not yet
decided to close the US-Canada border, but told reporters it was something the
administration was considering.
He also addressed issues of testing,
as the US has been criticized for lagging far behind smaller countries in
getting tests out to the states.
Officials said on March 16 that a
million tests were currently available and more would be coming this week.
“A lot of testing has been going on,” President Trump said, though he also noted that those
without symptoms should not get the test.
“Not everybody should run out and get the test, but
we’re able to handle tremendous numbers.”
Health officials also said they are
due to add 30 million masks to the US supply and are shipping out gear and
health workers to bolster local testing efforts.
Asked how he would score his
administration’s response to the crisis on a scale of one to 10, President
Trump said: “I’d rate it a 10. I
think we’ve done a great job.”
White House coronavirus response coordinator
Dr. Deborah Birx, who joined the president, issued an appeal directly to
millennials, asking them to limit social contact.
She said: “They are the core people that will stop this virus.
“We really want people to be separated.”
Dr. Birx also warned against
socializing even if people feel well.
She said: “We know that there is a large group of infected people who are
asymptomatic, who continue to spread the virus.”
VP Mike Pence, who is leading the
coronavirus taskforce, told reporters he had not been tested yet.
He said: “I’m in regular consultation with the White House physician and he said I’ve not been exposed to anyone for any period of time that has had the coronavirus and that my wife and I have had no symptoms.”
Global stocks have plunged again despite
central banks around the world announcing a coordinated effort to ease the effects
of the new coronavirus.
The Dow Jones index closed 12.9% down after President Donald Trump said the
economy “may be” heading for recession.
Meanwhile, London’s FTSE 100 ended 4% lower, and other major European
markets saw similar slides.
On March 15, the Fed cut its interest rates by 100 basis points to a target
range of 0% to 0.25% and said it would offer at least $700 billion for support
to the markets in the coming weeks.
The move was part of coordinated action announced alongside the eurozone,
the UK, Japan, Canada, and Switzerland.
It comes as local officials across the US shut schools, restaurants and
bars, sports leagues cancel tournaments, and retailers such as Urban
Outfitters, Nike, and Gap announce hundreds of temporary store closures.
Speaking after the announcement, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said: “The virus is having a profound
Investors are worried that central banks now have few options left to combat
the impact of the pandemic.
In New York, steep falls as markets opened triggered another automatic halt
to trading, which is meant to curb panic selling. Before last week, such halts,
known as circuit breakers, had not been used in more than two decades.
However, the sell-off continued after the 15-minute suspension, with the Dow
losing nearly 3,000 points or 12.9%, its worst percentage drop since 1987.
The wider S&P 500 dropped 11.9%, while NASDAQ dropped 12.3%. All three
indexes are now down more than 25% from their highs.
In London, companies in the travel sector saw big falls. Share in holiday
company Tui sank more than 27% after it said it would suspend the
“majority” of its operations. BA-owner IAG fell more than 25% after
it said it would cut its flight capacity by at least 75% in April and May.
The FTSE 250, which includes a number of well-known UK-focused companies,
ended down about 7.8%.
All the main European share indexes fell sharply, though they later regained
some ground. France’s Cac 40 index fell more than 5.7% and Germany’s Dax
dropped more than 5.3%.
In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 2.5% and the Shanghai
Composite in China ended the day 3.3% lower.
Oil prices, which have been shaken by a price war between exporters, fell again. Brent crude dropped by more than 10% to less than $32 a barrel while West Texas International crude fell more than 8% to less than $30 a barrel.
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