U.S. Cases Over 500,000; Burning Man Moves Online: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

U.S. deaths exceeded 2,000 for the first time in a single day while the country’s total cases climbed over 500,000. President Donald Trump signaled help for Italy while New York, which remains the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus, had a slight decline in fatalities after three record-high days.

A Gilead drug showed promise for treating patients with severe infections. France reported four deaths in patients using experimental drugs.

Italy extended its lockdown into May, ignoring pleas from businesses. Argentina’s nationwide lockdown is now until April 26, and Los Angeles city and county will keep people at home for two more weeks to May 15. The annual Burning Man arts and music festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert will be held online.

Key Developments

Coronavirus Tracker: Global cases near 1.7 million; deaths top 102,000U.S. records more than 2,000 virus deaths in a single dayApple, Google plan contact-tracing phone appPotential coronavirus drugs may cost as little as $1, study saysNIH plans antibody tests to map spreadBurning Man festival to be held online

Imported Cases Dominate China’s Numbers (13:20 p.m. HKT)

China reported 46 additional cases as of April 10, with 42 of those imported. Authorities also said there were 3 deaths in Hubei. South Korean authorities reported an additional 30, while Thailand reported 45 more cases and two deaths.

India to Discuss Easing Lockdown in Rural Areas, ET Reports (12:46 p.m. HKT)

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to discuss proposals to extend the lockdown until end-April in cities while easing it selectively in rural areas to allow harvesting of crops, the Economic Times reported, citing people it didn’t identify.

Online Burning Man (12:35 p.m. HKT)

The Burning Man arts festival in the Nevada desert, which was scheduled to be held from Aug. 30 to Sept. 7, will now be moved online because of the virus.

“In 2020 we need human connection and immediacy more than ever,” the organizers said on their website. “But public health and the well-being of our participants, staff, and neighbors in Nevada are our highest priorities.”

More Than 2,000 U.S. Deaths in a Day (12:10 p.m. HKT)

The U.S. had more than 2,000 deaths from the coronavirus in a single day for the first time, while infections in the country exceeded 501,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Trump Says U.S. to Help Italy (10:01 a.m. HKT)

Trump says his administration will assist Italy in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, including providing medical supplies and helping set up field hospitals. Coming to the aid of Italy will fight the outbreak while also demonstrating U.S. leadership “in the face of Chinese and Russian disinformation campaigns,” according to a White House memorandum.

Hong Kong Edges Over Singapore on Measures (08:30 a.m. HKT)

While Hong Kong has recently seen its case tally slow to a couple dozen a day, Singapore’s has surged 180% in the past two weeks with infections popping up in places from pre-schools to migrant worker dormitories. The city-state disclosed a further 198 cases on Friday, bringing the total to 2,108.

At the same time, Hong Kong is closing the gap on Singapore in terms of fiscal stimulus. Singapore’s relief spending is equivalent to about 12% of gross domestic product while Hong Kong’s outlay is about 10% of GDP.

Read full stimulus story here.

U.S. Spurns Airline Stakes, Mnuchin Says (6:45 a.m. HK)

U.S. airlines receiving $100 million or less in payroll assistance from the government won’t need to offer a financial stake, the Treasury Department said, as it began sending offers to the carriers.

The agency said 230 applications for aid have been received from passenger carriers. It is working with 12 that would get more than $100 million and is discussing what sort of financial instruments it will require in return.

Trump said earlier he will meet with leaders in the aviation industry, including Boeing Co., over the weekend as they struggle with a dramatic revenue shortfall.

Illinois May Have Slower Spread: Data (6:30 a.m. HK)

Illinois, with more than 17,800 cases, may be showing signs of a slower spread of Covid-19 at an earlier stage than other hot spots, according to a new analysis.

The state has stretched the number of days over which cases double to 7.9 as of Thursday from 2.1 on March 22, data compiled by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago showed.

The analysis, tracking the rate from the day hot-spot states confirmed their 100th cases, found Illinois’s doubling rate is taking longer than New York, California and Washington state at this stage in its outbreak. The higher the number, the better.

Drug Shows Promise in Early Analysis (5:30 p.m. NY)

A Gilead Sciences Inc. experimental drug for patients with severe Covid-19 infections showed promise in an early analysis, raising tentative hope that the first treatment may be on the horizon.

The report in the New England Journal of Medicine tracked 53 people in the U.S., Europe and Canada who needed respiratory support — half on mechanical ventilation and four on a heart-lung by-pass machine. All got remdesivir for up to 10 days under a program that lets people use unapproved medicines when no other options are available.

Over 18 days, 68% of patients improved, with 17 of the 30 patients on mechanical ventilation being able to get off the device. Almost half the patients studied were ultimately discharged, while 13% died.

“We cannot draw definitive conclusions from these data, but the observations from this group of hospitalized patients who received remdesivir are hopeful,” said lead author Jonathan Grein, director of hospital epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, in a statement from Gilead, which provided the drug and helped analyze the results.

NIH Begins Study to Measure Virus’s Spread (5:20 p.m. NY)

The U.S. National Institutes of Health plans to test 10,000 Americans with no history or symptoms of the coronavirus for the presence of antibodies, a sign that they may have been unwittingly infected, the agency said. Unlike the nasal swabs that are used to diagnose people currently ill, an antibody test can show signs of previous infection.

“This study will give us a clearer picture of the true magnitude of the Covid-19 pandemic” by measuring people who may have had no symptoms or mild ones, or who weren’t tested while they were ill, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a news release.

U.S. Funding to WHO Targeted by Trump (4:55 p.m. NY)

Trump said he may “hold” funding for the World Health Organization, hinting a cut might be made in the U.S. contribution to an agency criticized by his political allies for being too trusting of China on the coronavirus outbreak.

“We give them approximately $500 million a year and we’re going to be talking about that subject next week,” Trump said at a press conference. “We’ll have a lot to say about it. We’ll hold it.”

Some Trump allies have said the WHO accepted Chinese assertions about the disease after it first surfaced last year. Trump said the United Nations organization has been “very China-centric” and that he didn’t believe it was “fair to the American people.”

U.S. Deaths Climb; N.Y. Falls Slightly (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases were 486,994 on Friday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. U.S. deaths reached 18,022 from 15,938 a day earlier.

In New York, the number of deaths dropped slightly to 777, a figure that remains grimly high following three straight days of record fatalities, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. The toll in New York has reached 7,844, he said.

In New Jersey, huge daily infection increases are slowing in Bergen County, which has the state’s most cases, another big sign that the curve is flattening, Governor Phil Murphy said. Infections in Bergen now are doubling every seven days or more.

California added 49 deaths to 541 while the number of patients in intensive-care units edged up 1.1% to 1,145 after a decrease the day before, Governor Gavin Newsom said, calling the single-digit increase is an encouraging sign.

Elsewhere:

Michigan reported the most deaths in a single day, raising total fatalities to 1,281, ranking third behind New York and New Jersey. “We are not out of the woods yet,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer tweeted when announcing the deaths.Louisiana reported a rise of 53 deaths, pushing the total to 755, while total cases increased by 968, to 19,251. More than 2,000 Louisianians in the hospital. The state’s epicenter remains the New Orleans area.

U.K. Lacks Evidence to Lift Limits (2:40 p.m. NY)

The U.K. does not yet have the evidence it needs to ease restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson begins his recovery from the disease in a hospital, officials are working on a strategy to exit lockdown measures but the outbreak has not yet reached the point at which curbs can be removed. The government’s emergency committee will review the restrictions next week.

The death toll rose by a further 980 — the highest daily total so far — to bring the total to 8,958 in the data published Friday.

Apple, Google in Joint Covid Deal (2:30 p.m. NY)

Apple Inc. and Google unveiled a rare partnership to add technology to their smartphone platforms later this year that will alert users if they have come into contact with a person with Covid-19. Users would need to opt-in for the service.

The rivals said they are building the technology into their operating systems in two steps. In mid-May, the companies will add the ability for iPhones and Android phones to exchange anonymous information via apps run by public health authorities. In the coming months, both companies will add the technology onto their operating systems so the software works without having to download an app.

Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android systems have about 3 billion users.

Read full story here.

France Reports Heart Incidents From Drug (12:30 p.m NY)

French authorities reported 43 cases of heart incidents tied to using hydroxychloroquine amid mounting interest in the malaria drug to treat coronavirus cases. The U.S. has stockpiled as many as 29 million doses and Trump touts the drug as a possible “game changer.”

The French drug safety agency ANSM said four of the patients died in incidents since March 27 while in total, 82 serious adverse reactions were found from experimental treatments, split between hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir-ritonavir.

(An earlier version corrected the number of U.S. cases in the first paragraph)

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