US Suffers Record Daily Death Toll From COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to rage across the United States at an alarming pace, the number of daily deaths in the country due to the virus reached a new peak of 1,169.

The U.S. also recorded more than 30,000 new confirmed cases in the same 24-hour period, raising the total to 245380.

This is nearly a quarter of the global confirmed cases. By late Thursday, U.S. reported 6,095 deaths.

Although this is less than half the number of coronavirus deaths recorded in Italy, United States is now the most widely spread country with all the fifty states affected, and infections more than double the number reported in Italy.

New York is the worst-hit state with 2538 deaths and 93,053 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

New Jersey is the second badly hit state with 537 deaths and 25590 infections.

Michigan (417 deaths, 10791 infections), Louisiana (310 deaths, 9150 infections), Washington (272 deaths, 6585 infections), California (246 deaths, 11207 infections) and Georgia 176 death, 5444 infections) are the other worst-affected states.

Wyoming still remains to be the only U.S. state not to have reported a death from the coronavirus, but there are 150 infected cases.

Meanwhile, with more than 30 states ordered its people to stay at home, leaving more than 75 percent of the country’s population under lockdown, the nation’s top infectious disease expert wondered why every state is not implementing the strict social distancing measure.

“If you look at what’s going on in this country, I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that.” Dr Anthony Fauci said at CNN’s coronavirus town hall.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease called for a federally mandated stay-at-home order.

U.S. unemployment figures hit a record high of 6.6 million, highlighting the dire effects of the shutdowns on the economy.

Meanwhile, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez sent a letter to President Donald trump asking him to stop flights from coronavirus hotspots to Miami airport.

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US Overtakes China In Number Of Coronavirus Cases

On Thursday, the United States reported more deaths from Covid-19 than ever before – 246 – and overtook China in the number of confirmed infections.

With 85,755 people tested positive, the situation in the U.S. has become worse than that of China (81,782 cases) and Italy (80,589), according to the latest data released by Johns Hopkins University.

With 1,304 deaths, the United States currently stands sixth in terms of COVID-19 casualties behind Italy (8,215), Spain (4,365), China (3,292), Iran (2,378) and France (1696).

New York, the worst affected U.S. state, reported nearly 39000 cases of infection and 466 deaths.

Washington (147 deaths, 3207 infections), California (83 deaths, 4052 infections), Louisiana (83 deaths, 2305 infections) and New Jersey (81 deaths, 6876 infections) are the other worst-affected states.

However, President Donald Trump appears to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic, as he said at a White House news conference that the nightmare would not last “much longer.”

Meanwhile, 25 sailors on board the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the coronavirus, CNN reported quoting a Navy official.

Worldwide, COVID-19 deaths crossed 25000. Infected cases reached 552,589, while the number of people who have recovered from the deadly disease rose to 128,704.

Spain had the the highest surge in fatalities, reporting 493 new deaths in a day, taking the total deaths to 4858.

It is now second only to Italy, where a total of 8215 people have died due to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

France has recorded 1,696 deaths.

In the UK, 578 patients have died of COVID-19.

In China, after a lull in the spread of the killer disease, 55 new cases and 5 deaths were reported.

In view of the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, China has suspended the entry of all foreign visitors to the country,

South Africa reported its first death from Coronavirus, and infection cases passed 1,000.

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The Biggest Chokepoint in the Global Food Supply Chain Is Trucks

Truckers hauling food are facing delays across the globe in the latest disruption to supply chains snarled by the coronavirus pandemic.

They’re enduring lengthy wait times in Europe because of restrictions that have been imposed to control the virus’s spread. In South America, local laws have at times conflicted with country-wide ordinances that deem hauling food an essential service, leaving supplies sometimes stuck in storage. In parts of Africa, the shuttering of public transportation means drivers aren’t even able to make it into work. And huge spikes in demand have caused lags for loading at some U.S. warehouses.

Just about everywhere, drivers’ access to critical services has been reduced or even cut off. It’s getting harder to find places to eat with restaurants shut down and rigs too big to go through drive-thru lanes. A decent place to sleep, shower, even use a clean toilet is becoming difficult to track down.

Faced with these difficulties, some truckers in places like Brazil, one of the world’s biggest food exporters, have even refused to take on new trips in recent weeks.

The problems highlight the vulnerability of the complicated process needed to take goods from farm to table. Almost all food and agricultural products are transported by road at some point, whether that’s from a field to a grain terminal, a processing plant to a port, or from a wholesaler to a store.

“We’ve never had anything of this magnitude and this widespread,” Derek Leathers, chief executive officer of Werner Enterprises, one of the top five U.S. truckload carriers, said, referring to strains on the trucking system. “But we are open for business, and we need to stay that way.”

Bob Stanton, a 62-year-old truck driver with three underlying health conditions, said he’s frightened of catching Covid-19 and only has a half can of disinfectant spray left. He doesn’t know where to go for testing if he were to develop symptoms, and he’s afraid of being caught far from his Illinois home if he gets sick. Despite that, he rebuffed the idea of using vacation time to ride out the virus storm.

“If I take a couple of weeks’ vacation, you all starve,” he said. The 20-year trucking veteran had just taken sugar to Memphis, cereal to Chicago and was waiting to be loaded in Batavia, Illinois, for cargo going to a Walmart Inc. distribution center in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

“I’m out here trying to keep you all fed.”

The severity of the problem depends on where in the world you are.

In the U.S., pressures on drivers have taken a toll, but for the most part, the supply chain is flowing, just with small pockets of slowdowns. Trucks crossing the border from Germany to Poland were seeing wait times of 10 hours or more, meaning meat would come to market with time knocked off the “best before” dates, though some delays have eased. In India, vegetable oils are getting stuck at ports because of a shortage of trucks coming in.

Many drivers in Uganda depend on public transportation to get to their places of work. That transport has been shuttered under the nation’s lockdown measures. Mary Kamugisha runs Step Supermarket in Buwate, a suburb of the capital, Kampala. She’s now relying largely on motorcycle taxis, known as bodabodas, for deliveries.

“Supplies are running low,” she said. “Deliveries by suppliers aren’t made because their drivers can’t access their places of work.”

Some of the disruptions have already started to ease as governments work to ensure that food transport is covered under lockdown allowances for essential businesses and policy makers do more to help support truck drivers. Pennsylvania has reopened truck stops after briefly closing them statewide. The European Commission has worked to create “green-lane” crossings at border checks to minimize delays. Special lanes for truckers have also been used in parts of Malaysia.

Argentina, the worlds’ top exporter of soybean meal, is another example of progress. While federal regulations labeled food transport an essential service, local mayors were putting up restrictions. They blocked access to roads, afraid that truckers would spread the virus to their towns. The problem was acute in farming regions, halting grain terminals from delivering supplies to ports. Marcelo Torresi, who runs a 5,000-metric-ton elevator in Bustinza, Santa Fe province, said those issues have started to clear up, and port-bound trucks are now loading.

Businesses are also working to help support truckers. Some clients are providing drivers with bottled water and snacks to help ease the blow from restaurant closures, said Steve Wells, the chief operating officer of Baltimore-based trucking company Cowan Systems.

And in the U.S., traffic is light with most people staying at home. With few passenger cars, trucks are actually making faster transit times, which is helping mitigate the delays for loading and unloading.

Some problems could be more long-lasting.

Canadian carriers are driving empty trucks to the U.S. to pick up food items to transport back north, said Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance. Normally, they’d be full of manufactured goods from Canada to deliver to the U.S., but that need has dwindled, he said.

The issue with one-way hauls has also popped up in parts of the U.S., Europe and Asia, and it’s raising freight costs for food. With manufacturing slowing, it’s unclear how long before this gets resolved.

Demand for trucks in the U.S. has increased while efficiency has gone down due to longer distances traveled and the empty one-way hauls. That’s prompted farm groups to call for relief on rules that restrict driving hours and weights.

On top of all that, there’s also the risk that the drivers who traverse hundreds of miles in a single day are getting exposed to the virus and could fall ill, sparking the possibility of labor shortages.

Charles Stallings, 46, hasn’t stopped driving his usual run between Iowa and California. But his routine has changed. He wears a mask and puts on gloves when he leaves his cab to fuel up. He uses his own pen to sign paperwork and doesn’t touch the one chained to the clipboard. When he gets back in the cab he sanitizes everything, including his hands, the steering wheel and seat.

“As long as I’m out here in my truck and my world, I’m safe,” he said. “I really put a focus on the minute I get out of this truck and what I touch and how I touch things.”

— With assistance by Agnieszka de Sousa, Matthew Boyle, Fred Ojambo, Tatiana Freitas, Fabiana Batista, Michael Hirtzer, Jen Skerritt, Leslie Patton, Pratik Parija, Anuradha Raghu, Jonathan Stearns, and Megan Durisin

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More trouble brews for Indian tech companies

Though there have been no cancellations of contracts by invoking the force majeure clause, a number of clients – especially in the worst-affected sectors like travel and hospitality, oil and gas, as well as manufacturing – have started asking for reducing level of IT support.

Enterprises in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe, which have halted operations or have significantly reduced their scale owing to Covid-19, are pressurising Indian IT services vendors to reduce their level of support and maintenance functions.

People in the know said this could be seen as a precursor to renegotiation of pricing, which clients may take up with IT firms in coming quarters.

“Though there have been no cancellations of contracts by invoking the force majeure clause, a number of clients – especially in the worst-affected sectors like travel and hospitality, oil and gas, as well as manufacturing – have started asking for reducing level of IT support,” said an official of a mid-tier IT services firm.

This potentially opens up the window for renegotiation of prices, said the person.

Core business operations, comprising application and maintenance-related work, still contribute around 60 per cent to Indian IT firms’ top line, despite a rising share of digital revenue.

In case of reduced IT support, the share of core revenue is likely to fall.

Further, as billing in many projects is done on the basis of the number of engineers deployed in a project (with hourly rates), any reduction in support staff could lead to downward revision of pricing in coming days.

According to experts tracking the sector, clients in hospitality, manufacturing, and oil & gas are likely to hold back their IT spends, which could potentially affect 10-12 per cent of export revenue, aggregating $15 billion.

With a travel ban imposed by many nations, several airlines have informed their investors regarding the cut in their budgets.

While US-based Delta Air Lines has gone public about reducing its expenditure, peers such as United Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue, and Southwest Airlines have hinted at the same.

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific has said it will incur losses in the first half of 2020, owing to the outbreak.

Besides airlines and cruise companies, even oil and gas majors including Total SA, BP, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, and Chevron Corporation are likely to cut IT spends in 2020, owing to the plunge in crude oil prices.

“Many of the new multi-year contracts were signed in January and February.

“In that way, the deal pipeline is good. But given the crisis, ramping up of these deals will take time,” said an IT outsourcing advisor.

Brokerage firm Anand Rathi said in a report that dollar revenues of Indian IT firms are likely to fall three percentage points in FY21.

In a note, it said the overall industry will grow around 4 per cent in the current financial year.

  • Coronavirus Attack

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BofA Prepares for Deluge of Small-Business Loan Applications

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Bank of America Corp. is preparing for a flood of applications from U.S. small businesses seeking government relief to weather the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We know for these businesses speed is of the essence,” the bank said in a statement. “We can move fastest with our nearly 1 million small-business borrowing clients. That is our near-term priority. As the administration has made clear, going to your current lending bank is the fastest route.”

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender will have staff working overnight Thursday to prepare for expected high volumes of applications Friday. The initiative is part of the $2 trillion government stimulus package and is aimed at helping small businesses survive the devastating impact of the pandemic.

“We’re setting up shop and activating thousands of people to be able to take the applications,” Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan said in an interview Wednesday on Bloomberg Television. The bank has been heavily involved in talks with the White House and Treasury on the program, he said.

Earlier, the Small Business Administration bumped up to 1% the interest rate lenders may charge small businesses after banks complained that the previous approved rate of 0.5% was below even their own cost of funds.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza released additional guidelines for the program just a few hours before it is expected to become widely available Friday.

— With assistance by Mark Niquette, and Michael Sasso

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Fate Therapeutics Seals Deal With JNJ For Cancer Immunotherapies, Stock Jumps

Shares of Fate Therapeutics Inc. (FATE) were up over 20 percent in extended trading on Thursday, following a worldwide collaboration with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary (JNJ) Janssen for novel induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cell-based cancer immunotherapies.

Under the multi-year collaboration agreement, Janssen will contribute proprietary antigen-binding domains for up to four tumor-associated antigen targets while Fate Therapeutics will apply its proprietary induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) product platform to research and preclinically develop new iPSC-derived chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) NK and CAR T-cell product candidates.

Fate Therapeutics is eligible to receive $50 million upfront payment and $50 million equity investment through the sale of its newly issued shares at a price of $31.00 per share to Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, the corporate venture capital arm of Johnson & Johnson.

The Company is also entitled to receive payments of up to $1.8 billion in development and regulatory milestones and up to $1.2 billion in commercial milestone payments, plus double-digit royalties, from Janssen.

Commenting on the deal, Scott Wolchko, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fate Therapeutics, said, “The collaboration strengthens our financial and operating position through a focused effort of developing cell-based cancer immunotherapies utilizing Janssen’s proprietary antigen-binding domains, while enabling us to continue to exploit our deep pipeline of wholly-owned product candidates and further develop our off-the-shelf, iPSC-derived cell-based immunotherapies.”

FATE closed Thursday’s trading at $21.07, up 4.26%. In after-hours, the stock soared 23.40% to $26.

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S&P Global Cuts Cash-Strapped AMC Entertainment Credit Rating, Doubts Theaters Will Reopen In June

S&P Global said the world’s largest exhibitor AMC Entertainment risks running out of cash by mid-summer and the ratings agency doesn’t think movie theaters will reopen in June – a prediction AMC CEO Adam Aron made on CNBC this week.

“We expect AMC Entertainment … theaters will remain closed beyond June due to the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic. We do not believe AMC has sufficient sources of liquidity to cover its expected negative cash flows past mid-summer, and we believe the company will likely breach” a debt covenant in September absent a waiver from its lender, S&P said, knocking the company’s credit rating to ‘CCC-‘ From ‘B-‘ with Outlook Negative.

It noted uncertainty about the rate of the coronavirus’ spread and said some government authorities estimate the peak will come between June and August, an assumption it’s using to assess the economic and credit implications of the pandemic – including a timeline for theaters to reopen and attendance to normalize.

Even after significantly lowering its fixed costs and capital spending requirements – AMC Entertainment has furloughed its entire staff from the CEO on down – “We only expect the company’s liquidity sources to last through mid-summer,” S&P said. The company will likely pursue incremental financing through the CARES act – approved by lawmakers and President Trump last week – or its lenders, “but it is unclear when or if it will be able to secure additional liquidity.”

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that lenders to the company have hired lawyers for advice on expected restructuring negotiations.

S&P said it could raise its rating if AMC were able to secure additional liquidity without further burdening its capital structure and if seemed likely the company would be able to generate substantial cash flow in 2021.

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Directors Guild Foundation Launches COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund

The Directors Guild Foundation has launched a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to aid members facing financial crisis. The new fund will support DGA members affected by the industry’s shutdown with $1,000 financial relief grants.

“The Foundation has such a rich history of members helping members, and our guild is so proud to support this important new Fund,” DGA president Thomas Schlamme said Thursday. “In this time of crisis, the DGA is working on all fronts to aid our members – be it in our work with industry employers, with the government, or with the Foundation through this commitment. And in maintaining that tradition of members helping members, I encourage all DGA members who are fortunate enough to be able to help support the Foundation to donate.”

The new fund was seeded with a $200,000 commitment from the foundation, and a $100,000 donation from the DGA. The guild’s longtime banker, City National Bank, has also made a contribution. The fund will be administered by the Motion Picture & Television Fund, and the Emergency Relief Fund grants will exist alongside the foundation’s longstanding interest-free loan program that offers aid to members experiencing financial hardships and emergencies.

“More help is on the way,” said foundation chair Todd Holland. “As productions remain shut down for an undetermined length of time due to COVID-19, there are members starting to feel the financial strain. This new Fund will help ease some of that burden. We’ve also seen an outpouring of humanity from our DGA family asking how they can help. Giving to the Foundation is a way to help make an immediate impact. We thank the DGA and City National Bank for joining with the Foundation in seeding this Fund. We also extend our utmost gratitude to the MPTF and their experienced social workers who will administer this Fund, and who have supported DGA members and the greater entertainment community for nearly a century.”

“The Directors Guild Foundation, the DGA and the entire DGA family have been longstanding partners to the MPTF, supporting the workers who create the best film and television enjoyed the world over,” said MPTF president and CEO Bob Beitcher. “They’ve always been there to lend a hand and give generously to help the greater community, making multi-millions of dollars of contributions to the MPTF through the decades. This new Fund will help address the needs of Guild members facing crisis. We stand ready to facilitate these critical grants as we continue our work to support entertainment industry workers during this unprecedented time.”

DGA members in good standing who were working on productions at the time of the suspension of production in March, or had a commitment to begin work on a production suspended at that time, will be eligible to apply for a grant if they have less than $10,000 in liquid assets, or if they have a demonstrated need.

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Infections Reach Grim Mark; Hong Kong Bars Closed: Virus Update

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Global coronavirus infections surpassed 1 million, a milestone reached just four months after the first cases surfaced in China. More than 52,000 people have died around the world.

New York, the U.S. epicenter, reported 9,000 new infections. Italy cases slowed. In Hong Kong, bars and pubs were ordered closed for 14 days after being linked to spread of the virus.

U.S. President Donald Trump again tested negative for the virus. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits more than doubled to a record 6.65 million. Companies including British Airways and Walt Disney Co. furloughed workers.

Key Developments:

  • Global cases top 1 million; deaths exceed 52,000: Johns Hopkins
  • Testing in China finds more symptomless cases
  • Trump to use production act for ventilators
  • U.S. states scramble for masks, body bags
  • White House likely to urge face coverings in public

Singapore Tightens Enforcement on Safe Distancing (7:44 a.m. HK)

Singapore has issued 129 stop-work orders to companies after inspecting more than 850 workplaces as it tightened enforcement on safe distancing, Straits Times reported, citing an update from the Ministry of Manpower. The inspections focused on compliance in implementing work-from-home arrangements.

25,200 in U.S.Most new cases today

-25% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​137 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

Michigan, Connecticut, Indiana Seen as Next Hot Spots (7:33 a.m. HK)

The rate of positive coronavirus tests suggests that the next hot spots could include Michigan, Connecticut, Indiana, Georgia and Illinois, said White House virus task-force coordinator Deborah Birx.

“We do have two states that have 35% positives, and that’s New York and New Jersey,” making them a clear hot zone, Birx told reporters at a White House briefing. Louisiana’s positive test rate is 26%.

“Michigan, Connecticut, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois -- that should tell you where the next hot spots are coming -- are at 15% test positive,” she added. “And then Colorado, D.C., Rhode Island and Massachusetts are at 13%.”

Pence Says Hospitals to Be Paid for Uninsured Patients (7:07 a.m. HK)

Some of the $100 billion in federal funds earmarked to help hospitals cope with the coronavirus pandemic will cover bills for the uninsured, Vice President Mike Pence said.

“We don’t want any Americans to worry about the cost of getting a test, the cost of getting treatment,” Pence told reporters.

The Trump administration is working on a proposal for the president to direct some of the funds targeted to hospitals to cover expenses for the uninsured. The funds would go directly to the medical facilities, Pence said. Officials expect to have an announcement on Friday.

U.S. Doubles Small-Business Loan Rate (6:46 a.m. HK)

The Small Business Administration has bumped up to 1% the interest rate lenders may charge under a $350 billion U.S. relief program for small businesses affected by the virus. The move came after lenders complained that the previous approved rate of 0.5% was below even their own cost of funds.

White House Likely to Urge Face Coverings (6:37 a.m. HK)

The White House is likely to recommend that people living in areas hardest hit by the coronavirus cover their faces in public, according to a person familiar with the matter, as new research shows that the pathogen may hang in the air after people sneeze, cough or even talk. The administration won’t urge Americans to buy commercial medical-grade masks, which are in short supply at hospitals.

Officials in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area told residents Thursday that they should cover their faces when they are outside, while Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made a similar recommendation Wednesday.

Trump Again Tests Negative (5:38 p.m. NY)

President Donald Trump tested negative again for the coronavirus and has no symptoms, according to a memo from a White House doctor. The test was administered early Thursday, according to the statement handed out to reporters at the White House.

“He is healthy and without symptoms,” Sean Conley, physician to the president and a U.S. Navy commander, said in the memo. Trump was tested earlier in the outbreak and was negative then as well.

China Finds More Symptomless Cases (5:05 p.m. NY)

Almost four out of five people who were positive for coronavirus in a day’s testing in China this week showed no obvious signs of Covid-19, the BMJ medical journal said. Of 166 new infections detected, 130, or 78%, didn’t have symptoms, the journal reported Thursday, citing China’s National Health Commission. Most of the 36 people who did have symptoms were linked to international travel.

Trump Issues Order to Speed Supplies (4:40 p.m. NY)

President Donald Trump issued an order under the Defense Production Act to speed production of ventilators after state officials raised alarm that supplies are inadequate.

Trump directed the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that General Electric Co., Hill-Rom Holdings Inc., Medtronic Plc, ResMed Inc., Royal Philips NV and Vyaire Medical Inc. obtain needed supplies. The order doesn’t name the suppliers to companies manufacturing ventilators.

Trump has expressed reluctance to use the law, comparing it to nationalizing industries. He has said he prefers to use threats to invoke the act as leverage to force companies to comply.

Tennessee, a Holdout, Makes Stay-Home Order (4:25 p.m. NY)

Tennessee is requiring citizens to remain at home, ending one of the last holdouts by U.S. states. Governor Bill Lee, who had previously only urged residents to stay home, said he made the decision after seeing traffic data showing people were traveling more.

In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine extended his state’s stay-at-home order through May 1. The order was set to expire April 6 but is still needed with models showing the peak of the outbreak expected by mid-May, the governor said. Stores will be asked to set, post, and enforce limits on number of customers inside at at any one time.

Germany’s Deaths Top 1,000 (3:15 p.m. NY)

Deaths in Germany climbed to 1,074 Thursday, a day after the government extended a nationwide lockdown beyond Easter. The toll was 931 the previous day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Confirmed cases increased to 84,264 -- the third-highest in Europe -- from 77,981.

The head of Germany’s public health authority said this week he expects the nation’s relatively low death rate of 0.8% to rise in the next few weeks.

U.S. Layoffs Lead to Lost Insurance (1:10 p.m. NY)

Some 3.5 million American workers probably lost their employer-provided health insurance policies in the past two weeks as the epidemic triggered an unprecedented wave of layoffs, according to research published Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute.

The “very rough estimate” is based on industry-specific unemployment claims filed in Washington state, which had the earliest U.S. outbreak.

It’s hard to be precise because some laid-off workers will be able to get insurance via Obamacare exchanges or a family member who still has a job, or will qualify for government coverage under Medicaid, the EPI said. On the other hand, the 3.5 million doesn’t include spouses or children of the newly unemployed who may now be without coverage.

N.Y. New Cases Rise by Almost 9,000 (1 p.m. NY)

New York’s coronavirus outbreak shows no signs of abating, with almost 8,700 new infections, 1,200 new hospitalizations, 400 new ICU admissions and more than 400 new deaths, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Cuomo said at the current infection rate, the state is six days away from exhausting its stockpile of breathing machines. About 350 new patients per night need ventilation, and the state has about 2,200 stockpiled.

Unlike other states that claim to have received faulty ventilators from the U.S. stockpile, Cuomo says all those received by New York appear to be in working order.

Pence Says 100,000 Get Tested (12:34 p.m. NY)

Vice President Mike Pence said more than 100,000 Americans are now being tested daily for coronavirus, as the government tries to ramp up its lagging response to tracking the outbreak.

A weekend breakthrough on point-of-care testing by Abbott Laboratories will make an additional 50,000 tests available each day, Pence said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

There have been about 1.2 million coronavirus tests performed in the U.S. as of noon Thursday, according to the Covid 19 Tracking Project, which examines data supplied by states.

Italy Infections Slow (12:20 p.m. NY)

Italy reported 4,668 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday compared with 4,782 a day earlier, as growth in infections slowed.

The nation had 760 deaths as the number of fatalities rose again after three weeks of nationwide lockdown.

The toll over the past 24 hours compared with 727 on Wednesday, according to figures from the civil protection agency.

Democrats Postpone Convention (12:05 p.m. NY)

The Democratic National Committee on Thursday postponed the presidential nominating convention from July to Aug. 17 due to concerns about the coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the decision. The delay comes after likely presidential nominee Joe Biden said it should be pushed back for safety reasons.

Pelosi Forming Panel to Oversee Stimulus (11:35 a.m. NY)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will create a select committee with subpoena power to oversee the government’s response to the outbreak, including how the $2.2 trillion from last week’s stimulus plan is spent.

Pelosi on Thursday compared the committee to the panel chaired by then-Senator Harry Truman in the 1940s to investigate defense spending as the country mobilized for World War II.

“We want to make sure there are not exploiters out there,” she told reporters. “Where there is money, there is mischief.”

Putin Extends Lockdown Through April 30 (10:36 a.m. NY)

President Vladimir Putin extended his order keeping Russians at home until April 30, warning that the spread of coronavirus has yet to reach its peak.

The Russian leader said certain parts of Russia, including Moscow, haven’t managed to get the situation under control. He said he would give additional authority to regional leaders to determine the level of response locally. He noted that the stay-at-home period could be shortened if the situation improves.

Amazon Hires 80,000, Steps Up Warehouse Safety (9:24 a.m. NY) Inc. said it has hired 80,000 people to help meet demand for online orders and has stepped up safety precautions at its U.S warehouses.

Dave Clark, Amazon’s logistics chief, said in a blog on Thursday that Amazon would probably go “well beyond” its previous estimate of an additional $350 million in costs to support a growing workforce.

HK Orders Bars, Pubs to Close (7:28 a.m. NY)

Hong Kong has ordered bars and pubs to close for 14 days from April 3. The city earlier reported 37 new cases, taking its total to 802.

— With assistance by Jeff Sutherland

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Amy Adams & Jennifer Garner On #SaveWithStories Initiative, A-List Participants, Money Raised To Support School Children Amid Coronavirus Quarantine

Soon after Amy Adams and Jennifer Garner announced #SaveWithStories, their initiative to provide books and meals to schoolchildren staying home during the coronavirus crisis, the entries started pouring in.

“It was just born of a small idea to read stories to kids and to create some positivity,” said Adams, who came up with the idea after learning about how much children relied on school meals. “I thought, ‘Well, what if I could find somebody to partner with that would help turn this into a way to help children in need?’ That is where Jennifer comes in. I reached out to Jennifer, and she has really run with this idea and been able to create some beautiful partnership.”

Only weeks into its launch, #SaveWithStories — which was set up to drive donations to Save the Children and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign’s coronavirus response efforts — has raised more than $1 million and served nearly 90,000 children in 200 school communities across the country.

Related Story

Amy Adams & Jennifer Garner Launch #SaveWithStories To Support Children Who Are Out Of School Due To Coronavirus Outbreak

“We’ve raised about $1.7 million in cash so far, and that’s from 25,000 different donors,” Garner shared with Deadline. “Most of that is $10 increments, which is something that Amy and I really were aligned on and knew we wanted the [donations] number to be attainable, especially given just the financial climate of the world.”

Added Garner: “This time has really shown how much food insecurity there is, how reliant people are on schools and what a job they have. So schools are really trying their best to have people in the cafeteria to make the food. Save with Stories is giving them money for the bus drivers and money for the gas to get out to deliver to these small communities where people can’t come in or in cities making sure that, through No Kid Hungry, the food banks and the community feeding services are stocked with school supplies and books to go home with.”

So far, the initiative has logged more than 100 stories read from A-listers including Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pratt, Margot Robbie, Kerry Washington, Natalie Portman, Chris Evans, Lupita Nyong’o and many others from athletes to religious leaders and musicians. You can see who else has participated on the #SaveWithStories Instagram page.

“It’s really been inspiring how many people have not only that we’ve reached out to but that have reached out to us and said, ‘I’d love to be involved with this — what can I do?’” said Adams. “What’s been so impressive is how many people and how many authors have reached out and how many books have given us permission to read their books and illustrators that have been supportive of us. I think for me it’s just the scope of involvement is what been surprising and inspiring.”

Since its launch, #SaveWithStories has expanded meet to needs of children worldwide during the global pandemic and is up in running in such far-off places like Australia, South Korea and the Netherlands.

“India has a couple of stories, and then there are a bunch more on the way. The UK is gathering is its artists,” said Garner. “A lot of people who have read for us, they’re going to be able to just launch with a little library of people right off the start.”

And you don’t have to be a Hollywood figure to participate. “The beautiful thing is that people are taking over at home and they’re reading and tagging Save with Stories,” Garner noted. “So there’ll be a next phase that really has fewer celebrities and more just people out there reading for each other.”

Adams said: “This really is just the beginning of the period of giving back. I know there’s going to be a lot of call to action when we come out of this moment. The next moment will need a lot of action too.”

Added Garner: “Amy and I keep talking about the good we’re seeing reflected back in it, whether it’s healthcare workers, doctors, people who are out just in the world and making it possible for us to stay at home, making it possible for us to have the luxury of keeping our families close and healthy. It’s hard not to just be completely inspired by all the beauty just coming out of humanity right now.”

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