(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration issued guidelines to governors that would allow some states to abandon most social distancing practices within a month. Gilead Sciences Inc. soared after a report that a group of patients being treated with its experimental drug saw rapid recoveries in some symptoms.
Singapore reported its highest daily increase for a second day, while Japan expanded its state of emergency. The U.K. added three weeks to its restrictions as total infections exceeded 100,000. New cases also climbed in Italy, Spain and Germany.
New York’s shutdown was extended to May 15. Seven Midwest states formed a partnership to plan for a regional reopening, joining similar actions in the Northeast and the West Coast. America’s jobless claims soared again.
- Virus Tracker: Cases top 2.1 million; deaths exceed 142,000
- Risk of getting sick may lie in your genes
- FDA shifts its stance on Covid-19 vaping, smoking impact
- Carnival knew it had a virus problem but kept the party going
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Trump Gives States Guidelines for Reopening (5:47 p.m. NY)
The Trump administration is offering guidelines that would let some U.S. states and employers drop most social distancing practices within four weeks. The guidelines recommend states document a “downward trajectory” in cases for two weeks before beginning a three-phase process to return to near normal life.
In each phase, social distancing is relaxed until employers can finally resume “unrestricted staffing,” according to the guidelines obtained by Bloomberg News. Schools and day-care centers shouldn’t reopen before phase two, according to the guidelines, while restaurants, movie theaters and sports venues could open in phase one if they practice “strict physical distancing.”
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Gilead Gains on Report on Covid-19 Drug Test (5 p.m. NY)
Gilead Sciences Inc. climbed 4.4% post-market Thursday as STAT reported severe Covid-19 patients being treated in Chicago with the company’s experimental drug remdesivir are “seeing rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms.”
Almost all patients were discharged in under than a week, and only two patients died, STAT said, citing comments made this week during a video discussion about trial results with University of Chicago faculty members.
STAT cautions that trials are running at other institutions and full study results can’t yet be determined; Gilead told the news outlet that it’s looking forward to data becoming available.
U.S. Confirmed Cases Rise 4.7% (4 p.m. NY)
U.S. cases rose 4.7% from the day before to 648,788 by Thursday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That was higher than Wednesday’s growth rate of 3.5% but lower than average daily increase of 5.7% over the past week. Deaths increased 14% to 31,590.
New York cases rose 9.8%, spiking higher after the hardest-hit state showed signs of stabilizing in the past week. New York’s cases had risen just 0.5% during the same time period on Wednesday.
South Dakota had the biggest daily increase, with cases rising 12% to 1,311. On Sunday, Smithfield Foods Inc. said it would idle a South Dakota pork-processing facility amid a spike in infections.
Midwest Governors Form Partnership (3:25 p.m. NY)
Seven U.S. governors are forming a Midwest regional partnership to closely coordinate plans to reopen their economies based on data and advice from experts in a way that “prioritizes our workers’ health,” the leaders announced Thursday.
Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky will cooperate, their governors said in a statement Thursday. The move follows similar coalitions of governors on the West Coast and Northeast who are working together on how to reopen schools and businesses after the coronavirus outbreak eases.
South Africa Reports 14 Deaths (3:25 p.m. NY)
South Africa reported Thursday that 14 people who had contracted the coronavirus had died, the highest daily toll in the country to date. The number of confirmed infections rose 4% to 2,605, the most in Africa, as the number of tests conducted increased. President Cyril Ramaphosa last week extended a three-week national lockdown until the end of April in a bid to curb the further spread of the disease.
French Oxygen Bottler Triples Output (1:40 p.m. NY)
French industrial-gas giant Air Liquide SA will triple production of oxygen bottles to meet soaring demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a surge in patients with respiratory problems.
Manufacturing capacity at a site near Paris has already been increased to 300 of the up to 44-liter reservoirs a week from around 100, and production will be raised even more if necessary, the company said in a statement Thursday. The equipment is used by people needing oxygen at home or in care facilities.
U.K. Adds Three Weeks to Lockdown (12:10 p.m. NY)
The U.K. will extend the country’s lockdown by a further three weeks at least in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he recovers from his own infection with the virus, said the March 23 decision to close most shops and meeting places and limit all but essential travel has worked to slow the spread of the virus.
“Relaxing any of the measures in place would damage both public health and the economy,” Raab said.
N.Y. Extends Shutdown to May 15 (11:50 a.m. NY)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo extended the statewide lockdown to May 15, citing progress made in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
Cuomo also ordered masks to be worn by riders on public transit or in for-hire vehicles, such as Uber and Lyft. In addition, operators of public systems, private carriers and for-hire services must always wear masks.
New York had 606 deaths in the past 24 hours, the second straight daily decline and the lowest toll in several days. The state has reported 12,192 deaths.
Singapore’s New Cases at Record (11:45 a.m. NY)
Singapore had 728 new cases, the Ministry of Health said, the second straight day of reporting the most cases for 24 hours. About 90% of the cases were Work Permit holders living in dormitories. None of the new cases was imported from abroad. Singapore has not had any new imported cases since April 9, according to the ministry.
PGA Golf to Resume Without Fans (10:20 a.m. NY)
Golf is scheduled to resume in the U.S. on June 8 with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, which will be played without fans, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said Thursday in a statement. The first four events of the year will be closed to the public, Monahan said. Other events will be rescheduled through the end of the tour on Sept. 7. The PGA suspended its events on March 12 after canceling the $15 million Players Championship.
BP Joins Tech Giants on Virus Research (10:09 a.m. NY)
BP Plc will give Covid-19 researchers access to the supercomputer it uses to process geological data. The London-based oil giant is pooling resources and expertise with companies including Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc., aiming to “significantly advance the pace of scientific discovery in the fight to stop the virus.”
It will provide access to its Center for High-Performance Computing in Houston, which can process more than 16 trillion calculations per second. BP will also make dozens of scientists available to help at its San Diego Biosciences Center.
Researchers who want to tap the consortium’s computing power must submit proposals to through an online portal.
FDA Allows Hospitals to Make Own Drugs (10:07 a.m. NY)
U.S. regulators are allowing hospitals to make their own versions of drugs that Covid-19 patients on ventilators need but that have become scarce. The Food and Drug Administration issued temporary guidelines Thursday permitting hospitals to make medications, including painkillers, sedatives and potent muscle relaxers.
Those drugs have fallen into shortage in the last few weeks as more patients need intensive care. The agency usually tries to boost supplies by increasing pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, some of which it has done.
But “in light of unprecedented disruptions to, and demands on, the global pharmaceutical supply chain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in order to respond to evolving regional conditions, additional flexibility is temporarily needed to ensure that treatment options are available,” FDA said in the guidelines.
Airbus CEO Says Aviation Faces Gravest Crisis Ever (9:38 a.m. NY)
The global aerospace sector is facing its greatest challenge ever, according to the chief executive officer of Airbus SE. The world’s biggest planemaker has seen demand slump as its airline customers, riding high on record demand before the virus hit, ground planes and suddenly seek to slash orders and delay jet handovers.
Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, addressing investors in a virtual annual meeting, called the situation “unprecedented.”
Switzerland to Allow Businesses to Open Gradually (9:36 a.m. NY)
Switzerland’s businesses and schools will be allowed to reopen in three stages starting April 27.
The first cohort will be establishments like hair dressers, tattoo studios, beauty salons, hardware stores, garden centers and flower shops, where people can keep a safe distance. Hospitals will also be once again allowed offer a full range of medical services, the government said on Thursday.
Facebook Put Warnings on 40 Million Misleading Posts (9:04 a.m. NY)
Facebook Inc. added warnings to 40 million pieces of misinformation about the coronavirus on its main social network in March, part of an effort to stem the spread of bad advice and misleading articles.
Hundreds of thousands of posts deemed harmful were removed entirely, according to a blog post on Thursday by Guy Rosen, the company’s vice president for integrity. In the next few weeks, users who liked, commented or reacted to misleading posts that were later taken down will be shown messages in their news feeds linking to factual information about Covid-19, the company said.
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