Trump Declares Emergency; Pelosi Drafts Bill: Virus Update

Bloomberg News
Trump Declares Emergency; Pelosi Drafts Bill: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency that would free up $50 billion for the testing and care of the rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. in a tight election year battered by financial collapse.“Two very big words,” he said after declaring the national emergency. Trump also outlined a public-private partnership in testing. Stocks gained the most since 2008.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’d drafted a bill with free testing and 14 days sick leave. The Senate will vote next week.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state -- now with the most cases in the U.S. -- won approval to do its own testing.

Germany pledged to spend billions, and the European Union is ready to allow fiscal stimulus as the bloc expects the economy to shrink this year.

Key Developments:

Cases rose to 138,166 worldwide, with deaths topping 5,100China cases drop to single digits for the first time since JanuaryRoche advanced after approval for faster new testAustralian minister who met Ivanka Trump last week tests positiveEuropean stocks jump the most since 2008, and U.S. shares bounce back

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D.C. Scales Back Mass Transit (3 p.m. NY)

The Washington, D.C., transit agency will scale back bus and subway service starting Monday as system employees deal with school closings in Maryland, Virginia and the District, which are keeping more children at home.

The Washington Area Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said trains will run every 12 minutes Monday through Friday, less frequently than every five minutes typical during weekdays, while bus service will run on a Saturday schedule.

The system carried an average of 631,000 riders daily in January.

Pelsoi Announces Democratic Plan to Fight Virus (2:30 p.m. NY)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will pass a bill helping Americans deal with the spreading coronavirus. It was drafted without direct input from President Trump, though with one of his top aides, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said separately that the bill “incorporates nearly all of what the administration and Republicans have requested.”In an email to House Democrats, Pelosi said the deal included free testing and 14 days of paid sick leave. The Senate would not take up any bill until next week.

Eiffel Tower Emptied; Louvre Remains Shut (2:25 p.m. NY)

Two of Paris’s landmarks are closed: The Eiffel Tower shut down on Friday, Agence France Presse reported. And the Louvre has not reopened since Sunday.

France banned any gathering of more than 5,000 people.

Cuomo Says NY Will Do Its Own Testing (2:03 p.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he spoke with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and they agreed to let the state run its own testing.The approval means that by next week, New York will be able to perform 6,000 tests per day, Cuomo said at a press briefing. To date, the state has tested about 3,200.He also said New York now has the largest number of coronavirus cases in the nation, 421, with 154 in an increasingly shuttered New York City.

More New Cases Being Reported Than China Did at Peak (1 p.m. NY)

Europe has become the epicenter of the outbreak and the world is reporting more new cases of Covid-19 each day than China did when the disease peaked in that country, the head of the World Health Organization said at a briefing. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said canceling sporting events can help slow the spread and he called on political and religious leaders to give more moral guidance. He said the 5,000 reported deaths is a “tragic milestone.”

“The virus will always get you if you don’t move quickly,” and social distancing, while not a panacea, can slow the spread, said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies program. Countries shouldn’t abandon contact tracing, and blanket travel bans often don’t prevent the disease from crossing borders, he said. The WHO will speak more about ongoing clinical trials on therapies next week, he added.

The situation will worsen in many countries before it gets better, said Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist. While the situation is improving in Asia, countries where the disease has peaked could experience relapses, she said.

Louisiana, London to Postpone Upcoming Votes (12:44 p.m. NY)

Louisiana has postponed its April 4 presidential primary over concerns about coronavirus, the first state to consider suspending voting since the outbreak began.

Boris Johnson delayed U.K. local elections scheduled for May 7, including the London mayoral vote.

The European Union’s two highest courts, based in Luxembourg, will postpone all hearings that were scheduled for the next two weeks.

NYC Hotels Face Bankruptcy, Closures (10:30 a.m. NY)

The rapidly escalating restrictions on travel and social gatherings will make it hard for New York City hotel owners to keep creditors at bay, the head of a local trade group said.

Revenue per available room, a metric known as RevPar that combines occupancy and pricing, is down as much as 70% at some hotels, according to Vijay Dandapani, chief executive officer at the Hotel Association of New York City.

Virus Fears Hit Sports Leagues Around the World (10:15 a.m. NY)

The Masters golf tournament was postponed, and other sports events including the NCAA basketball tournament, Major League Baseball, the PGA Tour and the National Hockey League were suspended. England’s Premier League called off all matches after Arsenal Football Club head coach Mikel Arteta tested positive.

U.S. President Donald Trump suggested the Tokyo Olympics should be postponed, as the events’ organizers denied they were considering changing the start planned for July 24. “I would say maybe they postpone it for a year,” Trump said, but added that he does not plan on making the recommendation to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Indian Premier League, a cricket tournament set to start March 29, has been suspended until April 15. And Formula One confirmed it will cancel this year’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix event in Melbourne.

European Economy Expected to Shrink (9:20 a.m. NY)

Economic output for the euro area and the EU as a whole is likely to shrink this year, with the rate of change potentially “considerably below zero,” a European Union official told reporters in Brussels.

The baseline assumption for the bloc’s executive arm is that EU GDP will contract by around 1% this year, a separate official said.

Cases Jump Across Europe (8:50 a.m. NY)

Diagnosed cases in Spain jumped to 4,209, from 3,004 on Thursday evening, the Health Ministry reported. The country reported 120 deaths, compared with 84 the previous day. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is scheduled to make a statement this afternoon.

U.K. coronavirus cases rose to 798 from 590. Fatalities in the Netherlands doubled overnight, bringing the total to 10. Confirmed cases spiked 31% to 804.

Switzerland reported a 24% jump in confirmed cases to 1,009, with seven deaths so far. The southern canton of Ticino, which borders Italy and has a 68,000-strong Italian labor force commuting across the border every day, said schools would be closed from Monday.

EU Set to Green Light Spending, Germany Pledges Cash (8:45 a.m. NY)

The EU’s executive arm pledged maximum flexibility in the bloc’s fiscal and state-aid rules. The European Commission signaled the bloc’s draconian fiscal rules could be suspended altogether, allowing cash injections to companies struggling with the fallout of the viral outbreak, such as airlines and the tourist industry, as well as emergency spending on healthcare services.

Earlier, Germany pledged to spend whatever is needed to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus. The country’s goal is to make sure firms have sufficient liquidity to get through the crisis unleashed by the outbreak, the finance and economy ministries said in a joint statement Friday. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said there will be no limit to the money available and Germany may need to take on additional debt to finance the spending spree.

Xerox to Postpone Meetings With HP Shareholders (8:35 a.m. NY)

The company said it is prudent to postpone releases of additional presentations, interviews with media and meetings with HP shareholders to focus on protecting its various stakeholders from the pandemic.

Iran’s Army to Empty Streets; Cases Surge (8:35 a.m. NY)

Iran’s army will be emptying streets, roads and shops across the country within 24 hours, semi-official ISNA reported. The commander of the army’s ground forces said disinfecting streets and roads across all cities was part of the group’s agenda, a day after Supreme Leader Ali Ayatollah Khamenei called on the armed forces to help combat the virus.

The health ministry earlier reported 1,289 new coronavirus cases and 85 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide totals to 11,364 cases and 514 deaths. A ministry spokesman said emergency room admissions in recent days have reduced, with empty beds in some hospitals. About 3,529 people have recovered from the virus so far.

U.S. Testing to Accelerate Within a Week, Fauci Says (8:10 a.m. NY)

Testing for coronavirus in the U.S. will accelerate within the next week because of increased coordination with private companies, the government’s top infectious disease scientists said. “I think we are going to see a much different situation than we saw just a few weeks ago,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC.

Fauci had told U.S. lawmakers on Thursday that the testing of Americans thus far “is a failing.”

“What has changed is that there has been a major involvement of the private sector -- the companies that generally do these kinds of tests as a living -- are now going to be major league involved in getting these tests to the public,” Fauci said Thursday. “Whereas before it was mostly on the burden of the CDC as a public health organization.”

Roche Holding AG won emergency approval from the U.S. government for a highly automated coronavirus test, potentially allowing a 10-fold acceleration in the ability to test patients.

U.K.’s SFO Shuts London Office (7:55 a.m. NY)

The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office shut its London office and sent staff home after a possible outbreak of coronavirus. More than one member of staff has suspected symptoms, although no cases have been confirmed, a spokesperson said. Employees have been working from home since Thursday as a precautionary measure and offices will re-open once it’s deemed safe.

Glencore London Employee Tests Positive (7:03 a.m. NY)

The company has asked everyone in its London office to work remotely while deep cleaning takes place on Friday and over the weekend, as a precautionary measure. Glencore’s London office is the company’s base for its oil trading team.

Outbreak Could Lead to Millions of Tourism Job Losses (6:38 a.m. NY)

The coronavirus outbreak that has left hundreds of flights grounded and dozens of cruises docked could result in 50 million jobs lost in the tourism industry globally, according to an estimate from the World Travel and Tourism Council, an organization that represents the tourism private sector. The figure was calculated estimating that the outbreak will impact the sector for 3 months, said WTTC director Virginia Messina.

Nordic Countries Try to Limit Fallout (6:20 a.m. NY)

With the number of confirmed cases now well above 2,000, the Nordic region has cut interest rates, introduced business tax breaks and shuttered schools, as policy makers attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus in Europe’s northern tip.

The central banks of Norway and Iceland both held unscheduled meetings to reduce their benchmark rates this week, while Norway has followed Denmark’s example by shutting schools and universities for weeks. Governments have also vowed to support businesses and financial institutions with tax breaks, loan facilities and lower capital requirements. Sweden’s Riksbank has decided to lend up to $51 billion to the country’s banks.

Frankfurt Airport’s Traffic Drop Reveals Extent of Virus Hit (6:12 a.m. NY)

Frankfurt airport said passenger numbers are declining exponentially, almost halving in recent days, in a stark illustration of the devastation the coronavirus is wreaking on the global travel market. The tally slumped 30% last week from a year earlier, double the drop seen toward the end of February.

Correct: U.K. Strategy for Millions to Catch Virus (6:10 a.m. NY)

The U.K. government’s strategy to tackle the outbreak will need almost 40 million Britons to catch the disease to work, according to the country’s top scientific adviser. “Sixty percent is the sort of figure you need to get herd immunity,” the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance told Sky News.

He was referring to the point where a high enough proportion of the population has had an illness -- and gained immunity to it -- that it won’t be transmitted to those who haven’t had it. The government wants to achieve this over the summer months, before the next winter sets in.

The figure is likely to be controversial, and comes a day after Johnson told reporters many families can expect to lose their loved ones and that the nation is facing the greatest public health crisis in a generation. His approach has been criticized by other medical experts because measures announced so far are relatively restrained compared to other countries.

Asia’s Central Banks Try to Calm Virus-Hit Markets (1) (5:21 p.m. HK)

Asian central banks moved aggressively to counter the market carnage, pumping liquidity into the financial system and discussing emergency action. The People’s Bank of China injected $79 billion into the economy through a reduction in reserve ratios for banks. The Bank of Korea is considering a special meeting to tackle wild swings in the foreign-exchange market, and Japan offered to provide as much as 2.2 trillion yen ($20.8 billion) of liquidity in three different operations.

Regulators Step In to Steady Markets (4:54 p.m. HK)

After a brutal trading session on Thursday, Italian and Spanish securities regulators banned short sales during Friday on some stocks. The Spanish ban will affect 69 stocks, while in Italy 85 stocks will be affected. Italy’s FTSE MIB plunged 17% on Thursday, while Spain’s IBEX-35 slumped 14%, both record losses, amid a global sell-off. Both benchmarks rose at least 3.3% on Friday.

In Germany, short selling will not be banned for now, a spokesman for the Deutsche Boerse said. Switzerland’s SIX Exchange isn’t planning a ban, while Dutch market regulator AFM said it is monitoring the situation.

Short-selling restrictions were also put in place for some Asian markets, with South Korea’s Financial Services Commission going the furthest by banning short-selling of shares listed on Kospi, Kosdaq and Konex for six months. In Thailand, short sales were not banned, but rules are being adjusted for current market conditions, according to the President of the country’s stock exchange.

(A previous version was corrected to fix Patrick Vallance’s title)

--With assistance from Sophie Alexander, John Tozzi, Dina Bass, John Martens, James Paton, Olivia Konotey-Ahulu, Nick Rigillo, Laura Millan Lombrana, Yasna Haghdoost, Elizabeth Wasserman, Caitlin Webber, Viktoria Dendrinou, Jennifer Jacobs, Saleha Mohsin, Jenny Leonard, Bryce Baschuk, Alex Morales and Henry Goldman.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Adveith Nair in London at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at, ;Drew Armstrong at, Ian Fisher

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