Coronavirus Live Updates: Stocks Head for

The Four Percent


ECONOMIC ROUNDUP

As 1.5 million more U.S. workers file for unemployment, Congress is divided on extending aid.

Another 1.5 million U.S. workers filed state unemployment claims last week, according to a Labor Department report issued Thursday, as Republicans and Democrats in Congress remained at odds over whether to extend federal jobless benefits that are set to expire July 31.

Lawmakers in both parties and administration officials appear to agree that Congress should consider some form of assistance to workers as part of another round of coronavirus aid that is likely to be debated in the coming weeks.

Democrats want to extend federal weekly payments of $600 beyond July to supplement state unemployment benefits. But Republicans and the White House are resisting, citing a recent unexpected improvement in jobs numbers and arguing that extending the payments could discourage people from returning to work because, in some cases, the checks were more than what people were earning.

The debate reflects a broader divide between Democrats, who favor enacting another round of stimulus aimed at helping individuals suffering financially because of the pandemic, and Republicans, who are eyeing a narrower package that seeks to incentivize reopening the country as the key component in any recovery. Some lawmakers in both parties are trying to find a middle ground, proposing a back-to-work bonus that would reward people who returned to the work force.

Here’s a look at what is going on with the U.S. economy:

The virus took 98 days to reach 100,000 cases in Africa — but only 18 days to double from that figure, the World Health Organization announced on Thursday.

While the numbers may have risen so significantly in part because of increased testing, the agency said in a statement that more than half of the 54 countries on the continent were experiencing community transmission. Ten countries were driving the rise in numbers and accounted for nearly 80 percent of all cases, it said. South Africa has a quarter of the total cases.

Of the 5,600 deaths recorded, a majority were in just five countries: Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan.

“For now, Africa still only accounts for a small fraction of cases worldwide,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the agency’s regional director for the continent. “But the pace of the spread is quickening. Swift and early action by African countries has helped to keep numbers low, but constant vigilance is needed to stop Covid-19 from overwhelming health facilities.”

The statement noted the “considerable socioeconomic cost” of lockdowns that were put in place to slow the spread of the virus, particularly on poor and marginalized communities. Many developing countries have begun to relax such measures even as infections surge.

“The need to balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods is a key consideration in this response, particularly in Africa,” Dr. Moeti said.

But the agency warned that the easing of restrictions must be coupled with widespread testing and vigilance until a vaccine or treatment is widely available. Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the W.H.O., told reporters on Wednesday that the fatality rate in Africa was about 1 percent, which is lower than in most continents, but he said that experts were not certain that trend would hold.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa said this week that his country’s lockdown — which has now been relaxed, with most people back at work — had achieved the goal of giving hospitals time to prepare. That assertion may be tested in the coming days. Eyewitness News reported on Thursday that at least 20 schools in the Western Cape that had reopened were forced to close again, after 98 teachers tested positive for the virus.

Dr. Inglesby’s comments, made in a series of Twitter posts on Thursday, come a day after Mr. Hogan announced plans to expand reopenings in the coming weeks to include indoor dining, gyms, casinos and outdoor amusement parks, with restrictions. Mr. Hogan, a Republican, is the chairman of the National Governors Association, and has won praise for his handling of the virus.

Here are some other key developments around the country:

  • An outcry grew after an Ohio lawmaker, State Senator Stephen A. Huffman, a Republican and a doctor, asked at a hearing Tuesday if the high rate of virus cases among African-Americans was because “the colored population” did not wash their hands as well as other groups. State Senator Hearcel F. Craig, a member of the Legislative Black Caucus, called the remarks an example of “systemic racism.”

  • A young woman whose lungs were destroyed by the virus received a double lung transplant last week at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, the hospital reported on Thursday, the first known lung transplant in the United States for Covid-19.

  • Arkansas, which is set to move into its second phase of reopening on Monday, could face a shortage of I.C.U. beds in hospitals across the state, with only 32 percent currently available and cases on the rise, according to Covid Exit Strategy, a group tracking states’ steps to contain the virus. The state saw 288 new cases on Wednesday, according to New York Times data.

  • As the number of virus cases in Texas continues to climb, with 2,500 new cases added on Wednesday, virus-related hospitalizations are also up. The state has thousands of hospital beds available, but it is running low on its I.C.U. beds, with 70 percent already in use, according to Covid Exit Strategy. The rate of positive tests was nearly 7 percent as of Tuesday, according to Texas data.

Biden unveils a plan to reopen the U.S. economy.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, on Thursday unveiled an eight-part plan for reopening the economy and faulted President Trump for his handling of the matter.

“Trump has basically had a one-point plan: Open businesses, just open,” Mr. Biden said at a round table event in Philadelphia. “But it does nothing to keep workers safe and keep businesses able to stay open. And secondly, it has done very little to generate consumer confidence.”

Mr. Biden’s plan calls for the federal government to provide regular testing for everyone who returns to work and ensure the availability of personal protective equipment.

It would guarantee paid sick leave for all workers who get Covid-19, and it calls on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to set up and enforce a temporary standard for protecting workers.

The plan also addresses issues like contact tracing, protecting people who are most susceptible to the virus, supporting small businesses and reopening schools.

The U.N. predicts that global trade will plunge 27 percent compared with this quarter last year.

For the year, the agency predicted global trade would fall by 20 percent compared with 2019.

While trade was already slowing before the pandemic, the agency said “the economic and social disruptions brought by Covid-19 are resulting in a dramatic decline.”

China, where the novel coronavirus originated, appeared to have performed better than other major economies, with a 3 percent growth in April exports, the agency said, but the improvement could be fleeting because both imports and exports fell 8 percent in May.

The agency’s assessment added to a chorus of sobering measurements about the impact of the pandemic. On Wednesday the Federal Reserve, in its first projections of 2020 economic performance for the United States, predicted years of high unemployment in what its chairman called “the biggest economic shock, in the U.S. and the world, really, in living memory.”

NEW YORK ROUNDUP

N.Y.P.D.’s policy says officers should wear masks in public, but many are refusing.

“Perhaps it was the heat,” the department’s press office said in a statement. “Perhaps it was the 15 hour tours, wearing bullet resistant vests in the sun. Perhaps it was the helmets. With everything New York City has been through in the past two weeks and everything we are working toward together, we can put our energy to a better use.”

On Thursday, Mr. de Blasio said that while legitimate reasons exist for officers to remove their masks, such as to take a drink of water, the city remains “in the middle of a pandemic.”

“It is so important that the people of the city see the people they look to to enforce the law actually abiding by the same rules as the rest of us,” the mayor said. “That has to happen to the absolute maximum extent possible among our police officers.”

The city is still reporting hundreds of new cases each week. As of May 29, 901 uniformed members — about 2.5 percent — were out sick, down from 19.8 percent in April. As of that same date, 5,627 members of the Police Department had returned to work after testing positive.

Here are some other important developments in New York:

  • Five regions of upstate and central New York can move into Phase 3 of reopening on Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. That allows indoor restaurant dining to resume and nail salons and massage parlors to operate, all with limits.

  • The state will allow local municipalities to open public pools and playgrounds if officials judge it is safe and follow best practices.

  • Roughly 851,000 people rode the subway on Wednesday, up slightly from Monday and Tuesday, New York City Transit’s interim president said. Bus ridership was also ticking up, and 92 percent of riders have worn masks. “People are sort of taking their time, but approaching the system with confidence,” she said. “They’re ready to come back.” The overnight closures for cleaning would continue through the pandemic, she said.

  • The city’s first lady announced that the city would invest $3 million into a restaurant revitalization program meant to provide support to unemployed and underemployed workers.

  • Statewide, there were an additional 36 virus-related deaths, Mr. Cuomo said Thursday. In New Jersey, there were 70 more deaths, Gov. Philip D. Murphy said.

  • A number of public health agencies have offered tips for dating and sex during the pandemic, but the New York City health department has recently updated its Safer Sex and Covid-19 fact sheet with more detailed and descriptive advice for those without an exclusive sex partner at home. That includes wearing a mask and avoiding kissing.

The Senate’s top Democrat on Thursday accused Mr. Trump of being “too quick to sideline” his coronavirus task force, as infections spike around the country.

The Times spoke with six households about how the threat of the coronavirus changed their approach to family planning. Some were determined to conceive, pushing aside worries about the pandemic, while others took a more cautious approach. But all of them had one thing in common: They struggled with their decision and hoped they made the right call in the end.

Xie Yiyi, who is American-educated, lost her job last Friday, making the 22-year-old Beijing resident one of millions of young people in China left unmoored and shaken by the coronavirus. So that same day, heeding the advice of one of China’s top leaders, she decided to open a barbecue stall.

Street vendors are seen by many Chinese people as embarrassing eyesores from the country’s past, when it was still emerging from extreme poverty. In many Chinese cities, uniformed neighborhood rule enforcers called chengguan regularly evict and assault sidewalk sellers of fake jewelry, cheap clothes and spicy snacks.

But Li Keqiang, China’s premier, has publicly called for the country’s jobless to ignite a “stall economy” to get the country’s derailed economy back on track. In the process, he laid bare China’s diverging narratives after the coronavirus epidemic. Is China an increasingly middle-class country, represented by the skyscrapers and tech campuses in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen? Or is much of it still poor and backward, a country of roadside stalls in back alleys?

Here are some other developments from around the world.

  • Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most-populous country, is experiencing a sustained spike in coronavirus cases, roughly three weeks after millions of people began crisscrossing the country at the end of Ramadan. This week, Indonesia has recorded three consecutive days of about 1,000 new infections each day, with a total of 35,295 cases and 2,000 deaths as of Thursday afternoon.

  • Concerned about the economic impact on tourism and universities, the European Union is recommending that all member countries in the bloc open their borders to one another by Monday. The European Commission, the executive branch of the bloc, is recommending a gradual opening to outsiders starting in July.

  • In Canada, commentary on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unruly mane has become a national sport. With barber shops and salons set to reopen in Ottawa on Friday, the question is: Will he get a haircut, or will he refrain in solidarity with Canadians in areas still under lockdown?

  • Local authorities in Beijing confirmed what appeared to be the first locally transmitted case in weeks, Chinese state media reported on Thursday. The broadcaster CGTN reported that the patient, a 52-year-old man, said that he had not left the city for the past two weeks and had no contact with people from outside the city.

Reporting was contributed by Hannah Beech, Christina Caron, Michael Cooper, Nick Corasaniti, Jacey Fortin, Rick Gladstone, Michael Gold, Dana Goldstein, Denise Grady, Erica L. Green, Tiffany Hsu, Thomas Kaplan, Patrick Kingsley, Raphael Minder, Claire Moses, Tara Parker-Pope, Monika Pronczuk, Alan Rappeport, Simon Romero, Kaly Soto, Matt Stevens, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Ana Swanson, Eileen Sullivan, Katie Thomas, Laetitia Vancon, Daniel Victor, David Waldstein, Michael Wilson, Michael Wines, Li Yuan and Karen Zraick.



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