U.S. Aid Talks Stumble; Stay-at-Home Orders Expand: Virus Update

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Cases Double in a Week; Olympics Delay Considered: Virus Update

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a “big difference” separates Democrats from Republicans on a massive U.S. aid package, casting doubt on a swift deal. The White House hopes for a vote Monday on the more than $2 trillion plan.

Citizens in Europe are under tighter restrictions as Germany, Italy and Greece added limits. More U.S. states are issuing stay-home orders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in quarantine. Senator Rand Paul tested positive.

A regional Fed president said unemployment may hit 30% in the second quarter. The dollar slipped in early Monday trading in Asia as investors took stock of the more stringent measures by countries.

Key Developments:

Cases topped 329,000, deaths near 14,500: Johns Hopkins dataItaly fatalities climb by 651, less than Saturday, to 5,476Spain deaths rise 30% to 1,720Emirates to suspend most passenger flightsGermany cases rise to 24,254, deaths climb to 81New York halts elective surgeries to free bedsU.S. infections top 31,000, France fatalities rise to 562

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Pelosi Cites ‘Big Difference’ on Aid (4:45 p.m. NY)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the U.S. House is finalizing its version of the next round of fiscal stimulus, even as Republican and Democratic senators try to resolve disputes over the Senate bill.

“There is at this time a big difference between the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act and what the Senate Republicans are proposing,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues.

If the House doesn’t take up the version passed in the Senate, it will take longer for the bill to get to President Donald Trump for his signature. Negotiations in the Senate continue, since Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell would need Democratic support to pass his bill.

De Blasio Says Crisis ‘Beginning’ (4:40 p.m. NY)

New York City has 9,654 confirmed cases and 63 deaths, or about a third of the cases in the U.S., Mayor Bill de Blasio said. No one 44 years old or younger has died of the virus in the city. About a third of patients in the hospital are over 70 years old, he said.“This is the beginning of the crisis,” de Blasio said. “It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The next 10 days are going to get harder and harder, and we desperately need resupply.”

New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said 70 uniformed officers and 28 civilians have tested positive. The sick rate is approaching double the normal rate for the department, he said.

The city also released 23 low-risk inmates who each will be monitored and supervised. An additional 200 inmates are being reviewed for potential release.

More States Issue Stay-Home Orders (4:30 pm.)

Louisiana and Ohio are joining California, Illinois and New Jersey in mandating that all residents stay at home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order will be in effect until April 6, when it will be re-evaluated. The order excludes essential activities, including taking care of others and essential businesses, he said.

“We are certainly at war,” DeWine said at a press conference in Columbus. “In a time of war, we have to make sacrifices.”

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a stay-at-home order that takes effect Monday.

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Philips Accelerates Ventilator Output (4:30 p.m. NY)

Royal Philips NV is ramping up production of ventilators to double output within eight weeks, and is targeting a fourfold increase by the third quarter to meet demand from hospitals overwhelmed by patients suffering from the coronavirus.

The most-needed products are vital-signs monitors, portable ventilators and medical equipment to treat respiratory conditions, the Dutch company said in a statement. It’s hiring more employees, adding lines and increasing shifts.

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Balenciaga, Saint Laurent Make Masks (4:25 p.m. NY)

Luxury fashion conglomerate Kering SA said it would switch to producing surgical masks at the French workshops of its Balenciaga and Saint Laurent brands as part of the effort to fight the virus.

Both brands will start making the masks for French hospitals as soon as they have the approval of health authorities, Kering said in a statement. In the meantime, the group will donate 3 million masks ordered from China.

Luxury giant LVMH switched to producing sanitizing hand gel in factories that normally make its Christian Dior and Givenchy cosmetics and perfume.

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Carrefour Pays Bonuses to Workers (4:20 p.m. NY)

French retailer Carrefour is paying a 1,000 euros ($1,072) bonus to its employees in France for their efforts in facing “really difficult work conditions” during the pandemic, Chief Executive Officer Alexandre Bompard said in an interview on the France 2 TV channel.

The company has taken steps to protect the health and safety of clients and employees and will continue adding measure to make its stores and warehouses increasingly secure, Bompard said.

Court Rejects Total Confinement Request (3:40 p.m. NY)

France’s highest administrative court refused to order total confinement of the population to stop the coronavirus outbreak, but said the government should review whether its rules are strict enough.

The Conseil d’Etat ruled on a request made Friday by doctors’ unions, which wanted total confinement or least stricter rules, including a national curfew and a prohibition on leaving home to exercise.

Fed President Sees High Jobless Rate (3:20 p.m. NY)

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard predicted U.S. unemployment may hit 30% in the second quarter from virus-related shutdowns. The gross domestic product could plunge 50%.

Bullard called for a powerful fiscal response to replace $2.5 trillion in lost income in the quarter to ensure a strong eventual U.S. recovery. The Fed would be poised to do more to ensure markets function during a period of high volatility.

“This is a planned, organized partial shutdown of the U.S. economy in the second quarter,” Bullard said by phone Sunday from St. Louis.

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U.K. Warns of Tougher Steps (3:10 p.m. NY)

Boris Johnson warned his government will impose “tougher measures” if people continue to ignore calls to stop social gatherings and non-essential travel.

The U.K. newspapers reported Britons are meeting in parks and making trips to coastal towns after the government last week ordered pubs and restaurants to close. The prime minister said while he wanted to avoid the stringent measures taken by other countries, the U.K. may be forced to act, and will consider options in the next 24 hours.

“We need to think very carefully now about how we take steps to correct that,” Johnson said in a televised press conference.

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IOC Rules Out Canceling 2020 Games (2:45 p.m.)

The International Olympic Committee will study a possible postponement of the Summer Games in Tokyo, which are set to begin July 24. The IOC said cancellation is not on the agenda, despite mountig pressue from to call off trhe evbent amid the outbreak.

“A cancellation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the problems or help anybody,” the committee said in a statement.

The committee’s executive board will step-up scenario-planning, consulting with the Tokyo organizers, the Japanese government, various international and national athletic bodies along with broadcasters and sponsors.

“Our basis of information today is that a final decision about the date of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 now would still be premature,” IOC President Thomas Bach wrote to athletes.

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Dutch Consider Further Measures: Report (2:15 p.m. NY)

The Dutch government is mulling the closure of all non-essential stores after residents largely ignored recommendations for social distancing by gathering in large groups, according to the Telegraaf paper, which cites government sources.

The Dutch cabinet sent an emergency alert to mobile phones urging residents to keep a safe distance as people gathered in large numbers at beaches, parks and markets over the sunny weekend.

Deaths in the Netherlands rose by 43 to 179 but the pace of new cases slowed to a 15% increase overnight, bringing confirmed cases to 4,204.

Paris Mayor Seeks Tougher Limits (2:05 p.m. NY)

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is among officials calling for a stricter lockdown after leaders of Mediterranean cities including Nice and Perpignan imposed curfews, fueling speculation such measures would be imposed nationwide.

“There are still too many people who go out for things that aren’t essential,” government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye said in a French television interview Sunday. “We’re ready to tighten the rules of the lockdown if its necessary, but let’s keep trying to get everyone to respect the measures already in place.”

Opera’s Domingo Has Illness (2 p.m. NY)

Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo, 79, said on Facebook he has tested positive for Covid-19 and is in self isolation with his family. He urged people to “stay home if you can.”

“We are all in good health but I experienced fever and cough symptoms therefore deciding to get tested and the result came back positive,” he said in the post.

“Together we can fight this virus and stop the current worldwide crisis, so we can hopefully return to our normal daily lives very soon.”

Belgium Lockdown May Last 8 Weeks (2 p.m. NY)

The national lockdown in Belgium that took effect four days ago will probably last at least another eight weeks, Belgian Health Minister Maggie De Block said in an interview with De Zondag newspaper. Belgium reported coronavirus cases rose by 586 to 3,401, with deaths increasing by eight to 75.

Senator Paul Infected, in Quarantine (1:45 p.m. NY)

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said on Twitter that he tested positive for Covid-19 and is in quarantine. He is the first U.S. senator to become infected.

The 57-year-old lawmaker said he was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events.

He said he is feeling fine. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person, according to the tweet.

Merkel in Quarantine After Contact (1:40 p.m. NY)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in quarantine at home after coming into contact with an infected doctor, her spokesman said.

The doctor gave Merkel, 65, a precautionary immunization against bacterial pneumonia on Friday and the chancellor decided to self-isolate once she learned of his positive test, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in an emailed statement.

“My life has also changed fundamentally and consists mainly of telephone and video conferences,” she said, when ask how she is delaing with the situation.

Italy’s Cases, Deaths Slow (1:30 p.m. NY)

Italy’s new fatalities increased by 651, fewer than a day earlier, to reach 5,476, the highest level globally. Total known cases jumped by 5,560 to 59,138.

”Today’s numbers are smaller than yesterday’s,” Angelo Borrelli, head of the civil protection agency, told reporters. “We all hope that this trend can be confirmed in the new few days. But we must not lower our guard.”

Germany to Start Borrowing (12:50 p.m. NY)

Germany may borrow as much as 350 billion euros ($370 billion) in an unprecedented financing push to cushion the economic fallout from the pandemic.

A rescue fund set up to buy stakes in companies and fund corporate loans could issue up to 200 billion euros in additional debt if needed, Deputy Finance Minister Joerg Kukiessaid in an interview with Bloomberg.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition is abandoning a long-standing commitment to balanced budgets and using emergency powers to suspend rules restricting borrowing that are enshrined in the constitution.

EU Backs Portugal Loan Guarantees (12:55 p.m. NY)

Portugal received EU authorization to offer 3 billion euros of loan guarantees for businesses. The European Commission approved four Portuguese programs meant to limit the risks of issuing operating loans to companies in the tourism, tourist-related, restaurant and manufacturing industries.

Portugal is the fifth EU country after France, Denmark, Germany and Italy to gain the commission go-ahead for subsidies under a temporarily looser European state-aid rulebook prompted by the health scare.

French Minister Has Virus (12:55 p.m. NY)

Emmanuelle Wargon, France’s junior minister for the environment, tested positive for Covid-19, she said in a post on Twitter. She has mild symptoms and is remaining in isolation at home, she said.

Wargon is the third member of the government to be infected, after Culture Minister Franck Riester and Brune Poirson, another junior environment minister.

New York to Begin Trial Drug Testing (12:35 p.m. NY)

New York state will begin using trial drugs Tuesday to combat the rise in coronavirus cases, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced.

The state has secured 70,000 hydroxychloroquine, 10,000 Zithromax and 750,000 chloroquine doses, he said. President Trump touted the two drugs, which have limited clinical testing, in a tweet on Saturday.

As of Sunday, the number of cases statewide reached 15,168, of which 9,045 were in New York City. There have been 114 deaths, Cuomo said.

All elective, non-essential surgeries will stop Wednesday. Cuomo said that will increase hospital bed capacity by between 25% and 35%.

Italy Bars Movement Inside Nation (12:10 p.m. NY)

Italy banned people from moving among towns in its latest attempt to stop the coronavirus.

People will be restricted to the municipality where they currently are other than for “non deferrable and proven business or health reasons or other urgent matters,” the health ministry said in an e-mailed statement. The measure is applied to all private and public transportation.

The new order followed Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s decision late Saturday to temporarily halt all non-essential business activity. Supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and post offices and other essential businesses will stay open, he said.

The new limits follow concerns that thousands of idled workers in the hard-hit north with roots in the south could head there, bringing the disease with them.

Germany Limits Public Gatherings to 2 (12:05 p.m. NY)

The German government imposed tough restrictions on the public, banning any gatherings with more than two people.

Family members will be exempt from the rule, Armin Laschet, the premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said at a news conference Sunday, citing an agreement between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and regional leaders.

The chancellor is against a rigid lockdown, fearing that such a measure could backfire, but wants a more coordinated approach on restrictions to public life, according to a person familiar with her thinking.

Greece Imposes Lockdown (12 p.m. NY)

Greece will impose a national lockdown starting Monday.

“It’s probably the last step for a democratic state,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address.

Greece has already closed borders to all non-European Union citizens, while the only shops open are super markets, pharmacies, gas stations, pet shops, food deliveries, groceries, bakeries, kiosks and banks.

EU Approves Aid for Italy (11:50 a.m. NY)

Italy won approval from European Union regulators to offer 50 million euros ($53 million) for the production of medical devices including ventilators and personal protection equipment such as masks, goggles and gowns. The aid will be in the form of direct grants and repayable advances.

This is the fourth coronavirus-induced subsidy program by an EU government to gain European Commission approval this weekend, with France, Denmark and Germany receiving endorsements for broader economic-support initiatives.

Israel Pushes for Virus Aid Plan (11:55 a.m. NY)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his government to craft an economic plan and aid package in response to the outbreak. The proposals should include help for salaried workers, the self-employed, businesses and households, Netanyahu’s office said in a text message.

Separately, the government will transfer 120 million shekels ($33 million) in emergency funding to the Palestinian Authority at the request of Israeli defense officials, who said the virus is intensifying economic difficulties in the West Bank, Channel 13 reported.

Spain Seeks to Extend Emergency (11 a.m. NY)

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will seek to extend a state of emergency to April 11 after almost 400 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours lifted the total number of fatalities to 1,720.

Spain has Europe’s second-worst outbreak after Italy and the fourth-most severe worldwide. Total confirmed cases climbed to 28,572, from 24,926 the previous day, the Health Ministry said.

Emirates to Stop Most Flights (10:55 a.m. NY)

The world’s biggest airline by international traffic, Emirates, will suspend most of its passenger operations starting March 25 as global travel demand collapses. Service to 12 nations will continue as long as borders remain open, the airline said.

Dubai-based Emirates is cutting basic salary for most employees for three months, ranging from 25% to 50%, with President Tim Clark and Dnata President Gary Chapman taking a 100% cut. Junior level workers are exempt.

The outlook for travel demand remains weak in the short to medium term, Emirates said.

Wuhan Partially Lifts Ban (10:50 a.m. NY)

The Hubei provincial government said people outside Wuhan, which was the epicenter of the outbreak in January, can enter the city by showing “green code,” and people inside Wuhan can apply to leave by showing evidence they are healthy.

U.S. Aid Set to Pass Monday (9:22 N.Y.)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration is nearing agreement with Congressional leaders from both parties on a massive aid program aimed at supporting the U.S. economy through the next 10 to 12 weeks. He told Fox News lawmakers were likely to wrap up talks on the package on Sunday, and vote Monday morning.

The plan would include aid to small businesses to help retain workers, direct cash payments to some Americans, enhanced unemployment insurance for those laid off because of the pandemic, a “significant new liquidity package in coordination with the Federal Reserve,” and financial support for hospitals.

Russia Sends Aid to Italy (9:15 a.m. NY)

Russia sent three airplanes with help to Italy, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported Sunday. It is sending about 100 people including experts on epidemiology and virology and disinfectant equipment, the ministry said. Russia also arranged eight medical brigades to fly to Italy, according to the ministry.

German Aid Gets Approved by EU (8:55 a.m. NY)

Germany received the green light from EU regulators for subsidized loans to companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The approval by the European Commission in Brussels on Sunday covers two German programs to provide liquidity through development bank Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau. This marks the commission’s third endorsement over the weekend of national aid being permitted under a temporarily looser EU rulebook prompted by the health scare, with France and Denmark getting clearances on Saturday.

French Doctor Dies From Virus (7:57 a.m. NY)

An emergency room doctor in Northern France died from Covid-19, the first medic to die in that country, French health minister Olivier Veran said today on the radio. The country’s lockdown will last at least two weeks, he said. France wants to ramp up testing to check more suspected cases.

Spain Infections Jump 30% (7:23 a.m. NY)

The number of deaths from coronavirus in Spain rose 30% to 1,720 on Sunday from the day before, according to data published by the health ministry. The number of confirmed cases increased to 28,572 from 24,926 the day earlier.

In Switzerland, 7,014 people tested positive, up from 6,113 on Saturday. Four more patients died, bringing the total to 60.

Third of Cases Show No Signs: SCMP (7:09 a.m. NY)

As many as a third of the people who test positive for the coronavirus may show delayed symptoms or none at all, the South China Morning Post reported, citing classified data from the Chinese government.

The data show that 43,000 people in China tested positive by the end of February, but had no immediate symptoms, the newspaper reported. They were quarantined and monitored, though asymptomatic cases aren’t included in China’s tally of those infected with the virus.

German Economy Hit (6:38 a.m. NY)

Germany’s economy will shrink by 5% this year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Bild am Sonntag said, citing calculations taken from the government’s supplemental budget.

The government is expecting to take in 33.5 billion euros ($35.8 billion) less in taxes and other income this year than initially forecast, the newspaper said. The government will also have to pay for more than 2 million workers doing shortened work hours, translating into about 10 billion euros in extra spending.

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