Mnuchin warns Congress of the risk of “permanent damage” to the economy if states extend the restrictions for months.
In a joint appearance before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Jerome H. Powell, President of the Federal Reserve, presented a rigorous assessment of the fragility of the economy, warning against more serious job losses over the months. come.
But they offered contrasting views on how best to support the economy: Powell suggested that more budget support for states and businesses may be needed to avoid permanent job losses. Mnuchin suggested that without a quick reopening, the economy may never fully recover. Here are the highlights of their testimony.
Mnuchin warned that the economy may never recover fully if states extend their closings for months. He cited a risk of “permanent damage” – comments that reflected a shift in focus from the Trump administration, which attempted to shift economic discussion to more financial support to allow states to reopen.
Powell warned that the economy could suffer long-term damage if the political response was not strong enough and reiterated that the economy may need more help to survive the pandemic without lasting scars. But he was careful to avoid giving explicit advice to Congress and made sure to amortize his suggestions as a conditionality.
“There is clear evidence that when you are in a situation where people are unemployed for long periods of time, it can permanently affect their careers and their ability to return to work,” he said, and this can weigh on the economy for years. . “The same is true for small and medium-sized businesses, which are the engine of employment for our large economy.”
Powell suggested central bank could expand municipal debt buying program and agreed that state and local governments could slow the economic recovery if they laid off workers in the midst of the budget crisis.
“I try to stay fairly high on this point. I’m just going to reiterate, however, that I think something like 13% of the workforce is in state and local governments, “said Powell, noting that balanced budget demands could lead to cuts. jobs and services “when incomes fall sharply. ”
Mnuchin, who previously said he expected the Treasury to return all of Congress’s $ 454 billion, changed the benchmark on Tuesday, saying the “baseline scenario” was now that the government would lose money.
“Our intention is to expect to suffer losses on these facilities,” he said. Some legislators have pressed the Treasury and the Fed to deploy their capital aggressively and are not afraid of suffering losses.
Mr. Powell had a more cautious tone, explaining that a full recovery will only take place after the health crisis has been resolved.
“The # 1 thing, of course, is that people believe it is safe to go back to work. And it’s about having a sensible and thoughtful reopening of the economy, something we all want – and something that we are at the very beginning, “he said. “It will be a combination of virus control, development of therapies, development of a vaccine. “
The comments were underscored by new economic projections released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, which hinted that the recovery would largely depend on the trajectory of the virus. The budget office predicted that gross domestic product would contract by 11% in the second quarter and the unemployment rate would reach 15%, as sectors such as travel, hotels and retail suffered the brunt of the losses.
“The range of uncertainties regarding social distancing, as well as its effects on economic activity and its implications for economic recovery over the next two years, is particularly important,” notes the report, adding that “future waves could be smaller, of a similar level. ” size or larger than the initial wave experienced this spring. ”
Last month, Dr. Deborah L. Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, commended Florida’s Covid-19 data dashboard for its wide range of case count information, demographics and other crucial statistics.
This dashboard was created in part by Rebekah D. Jones, manager of geographic information systems in the Disease Control and Health Protection Division of the Florida Department of Health.
Ms. Jones informed colleagues on Friday that she was removed from office on May 5. She suggested that her ouster was a retribution for not wanting to delete public data, according to the email, which was obtained by The New York Times and the first reported by Florida Today.
“As a precaution, I would not expect the new team to maintain the same level of accessibility and transparency as I put at the center of the process in the first two months,” said Ms. Jones. “After all, my commitment to both is largely (probably entirely) the reason I no longer manage it. “
Jones said in her email on Friday that there were issues with the dashboard in the days since it was removed, including a period during which “functionality essentially crashed.” Jones declined to be interviewed on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the Department of Health did not respond to requests for comment.
Terrie Rizzo, president of the Florida Democratic Party, demanded an independent investigation.
President Trump threatened Monday night to permanently cut all funds at the World Health Organization on Monday, a significant escalation in his repeated attempts to divert blame for his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 90,000 people in the United States in the past several months.
At the end of the evening, four page letter To Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the W.H.O., Mr. Trump accused the global health group of not having acted quickly and aggressively against the virus in its early days. Indeed, he denounced the organization for missteps and failures that were addressed to him and to his administration.
Public health experts have said the President’s public denials of the dangers of the virus have slowed the US response, including delayed testing and failed storage of protective equipment.
In the letter, the President stated that W.H.O. “Declared the start of a public health emergency of international concern on January 30,” more than a month after the virus was first detected. But Trump did not declare a national emergency until weeks later, despite his knowledge of the virus.
Mr. Trump’s letter also contained lies and misleading statements. He wrote that W.H.O. “Always ignored credible information about the spread of the virus in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including information from the medical journal The Lancet. ”
But in a statement Tuesday morning, The Lancet said the paper “hadn’t published any reports in December 2019 referring to a virus or an epidemic in Wuhan or elsewhere in China.” The newspaper said its first reports on the virus were released on January 24, four days before the W.H.O. declared an international emergency.
The President has taunted at the W.H.O. for weeks as its own political and public health crisis at home intensified, claiming the group is in the grip of China, where the virus originated. In the letter, he said the group was responsible for many deaths because it did not question the story of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s events regarding the origin of the virus and its initial spread.
But this criticism of Mr. Trump was particularly ironic given his own similar comments about China at the start of the pandemic when he was trying to conclude negotiations on a trade agreement with the country. “The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and their transparency,” said Mr. Trump. tweeted January 24. “Everything will work well. In particular, on behalf of the American people, I want to thank President Xi! “
Member states agreed on Tuesday to launch an investigation into the global response to the pandemic. The resolution, sponsored by the European Union and supported by more than 100 countries, was adopted without objection.
The resolution calls for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive assessment” of the international response to the virus, including by the W.H.O. Trump had insisted that the health agency investigate the origins of the virus and whether it was created in a Chinese laboratory.
Scientists who have studied the genetics of the virus say that the overwhelming probability is that it jumped from animal to man in a non-laboratory environment, as was the case with H.I.V., Ebola and SARS.
China did not oppose the resolution, but Xi said on Monday that any such investigation should wait until the health crisis is over. In a statement, the United States commended the resolution and said it included a mandate to investigate the origins of the virus, although the wording of the resolution does not contain any such reference.
Addressing the meeting as the meeting neared its end, Dr. Tedros said, “I will start an evaluation as soon as possible. We welcome any initiative to strengthen global health security and strengthen W.H.O. WHO. remains fully committed to transparency, accountability and continuous improvement. “
Trump said on Tuesday at the White House that the W.H.O. would have to “clean up their act, they have to do a better job.” They have to be much fairer to other countries, including the United States, or we are not going to be involved with them, and we will do it in a separate way. ”
Fever checkpoints at entrances to university buildings. One-way trails through the grassy quad. Face masks required in classrooms and dining rooms. And a dormitory transformed into quarantine for all students exposed to the virus.
Similar discussions take place in almost all colleges and universities in the United States. Administrators are hotly debating whether they can reopen their campuses safely, although most provide encouraging messages to students about the prospects for the fall.
Monday, Notre-Dame became one of the first major universities in the country to announce detailed plans to bring back students, saying it would establish a test and contact tracing regime, put in place quarantine and isolation protocols and force students to maintain social distance and wear masks while public.
Notre Dame said she would start her fall semester early on August 10 and skip the fall break so students can go home on Thanksgiving and not come back. The University of South Carolina announced a similar schedule, saying its students would finish the semester online after Thanksgiving because its “best current modeling predicts an increase in the number of cases” in early December. Rice University in Houston is also planning a short fall semester, with a mix of distance and face-to-face courses. And Ithaca College will go the other way, starting its fall semester late on October 5 to give more time to prepare for returning students.
These decisions contrast with an announcement made last week by the California State University System, which keep its 23 campuses largely closed and teach nearly half a million students from a distance.
Bakeries, farms and packaging have become new hot spots.
Meat packing plants across the country that had to close due to epidemics among workers are not the only food facilities that have been hit hard by the virus. A large-scale bakery, a date packing plant and a mushroom farm were also started with bunches of boxes.
Officials said the virus has spread to other food facilities the same way it has spread to meat processing plants: workers must come closer to do their jobs and hurry to the locker rooms and cafeterias.
Some of the main clusters include a Tennessee mushroom farm where more than 50 cases have been identified and the Birds Eye vegetable processing facility in Darien, Wisconsin, which has at least 100 cases. In Abilene, Texas, the AbiMar Foods bakery has at least 52 cases. The Leprino Foods dairy facility in Fort Morgan, Colorado has more than 80 cases; a second Leprino factory in Greeley, Colorado has at least 20. And the SunDate dating warehouse in Coachella, California has at least 20 cases.
More than 100 people were sick on crayfish farms in Louisiana, but officials did not name the facilities. At a press conference on Monday, Alex Billioux, the assistant secretary for health, said that some of the workers were migrants and some lived in dormitories.
Some of the employees, who are in the middle of the apple processing season and are preparing for the cherry harvest, stated that they were not offered adequate personal protective equipment and testing, and that they faces complaints from employers when they complain. Company officials told the Seattle Times it had no cases and provided masks and gloves as equipment became available, and were surprised by the strike. Some fruit processing workers said they were on a hunger strike until conditions improved.
Some churches that have tried to reopen are closing again as the virus spreads.
After reopening briefly for worship in person, some churches had to close again after the virus spread on their benches.
Houston’s Holy Spirit Catholic Church closed after five leaders tested positive last weekend after the death of a priest, the Rev. Donnell Kirchner, who was diagnosed with pneumonia. His immediate cause of death was unknown.
The church reopened for a limited mass on May 2, and two of the priests who tested positive were active in the celebrations. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston recommended that those present be tested.
In Ringgold, Georgia, Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle resumed in-person services in late April, but stopped on May 11 after learning that members of several families had contracted the virus. Local health officials have investigated three cases related to the church. Services are currently closed indefinitely.
Officials remain concerned that worship meetings may be particularly susceptible to viral spread.
Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a report of a March epidemic in a rural Arkansas church. Of the 92 people who attended church between March 6 and 11, 35 tested positive and three died, the report said. The report said investigators found that 26 others who were in contact with people from church events were subsequently tested positive. One person died.
Allison James, author of C.D.C. report, congratulated the pastor on the closing of the Arkansas church as soon as he heard of sick people.
“They have been very proactive in closing the church to prevent further transmission,” said Dr. James. “At the time, they knew people were getting sick, but they didn’t necessarily know it was Covid or the flu or any other infectious disease. They just knew they had a group of something going on, and they wanted to prevent the transmission. I really congratulate them for having acted quickly. “
Visitors will be allowed to 16 hospitals in New York State, including nine in New York, as part of a pilot program, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said on Tuesday. They must wear personal protective equipment, including masks, and will be subject to temperature controls.
In March, state officials issued directives asking hospitals to suspend visits because the virus appeared to be spreading rapidly.
“It is terrible to have someone in the hospital and then that person is isolated, unable to see family or friends,” said Cuomo. He added that the program was “to see if we can attract visitors and do it safely”.
The governor’s announcement comes as only three areas in northern New York State will remain under state closure; The Albany area may begin to reopen on Wednesday, he said.
New York City, Long Island and the counties just north of the city known as the Mid-Hudson region are yet to meet at least two of the seven health-related benchmarks that the governor has set for parts of the state in order to start restarting their economies. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated on Monday that he did not expect the city to meet state criteria to begin reopening before “the first half of June”.
Cuomo – who arrived at his daily briefing with a face mask – also said the state would allow Memorial Day festivities, provided they were no more than 10 people. The state will also allow vehicle parades, as long as they are safely held and participants respect social distance.
De Blasio said Tuesday that nearly 16% of the city’s 1.1 million students will be they were asked to attend an online summer school for about six weeks after the end of the school year on June 26 – about four times more than had been asked the previous year.
Police responding to complaint found about 60 students on Monday is studying in a Chassidic yeshiva in Brooklyn, the latest in several episodes that sparked tensions between Chassidic authorities and Jews over the application of social distancing rules. The school has been closed.
Across the state, another 105 have died, Cuomo said on Tuesday. Data was released on Monday that offered the most granular image of thethe outbreak of the pandemic in New York City, reinforcing the earlier signs that the virus had disproportionately affected immigrants, black and Hispanic residents.
Michigan will send mail-in ballot requests to all of its constituents for its primary congressional elections in August and general elections in November.
The goal is to help mitigate the spread of the virus, which has particularly affected the state, and to take advantage of a new law that was passed in 2018 that allows all voters to vote by mail.
“By mailing the applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has a choice between their health and their right to vote,” said the Michigan secretary of state.
The state’s presidential primary on March 10 saw half of the 2.3 million people who voted using the absent option. Authorities said in local elections on May 5 that 99% of those who voted had used postal ballots and that voter turnout had doubled from an average of 12% in the past nine years to 25%.
Local Michigan clerks are already sending mail-in ballot requests to 1.3 million voters, but the state will now send the requests to the rest of the 7.7 million registered voters, using $ 4.5 million. federal funds.
The pandemic has led many states to consider increasing postal and postal voting. Trump and the Republicans have tried to limit postal voting and postal voting.
The increase in voter turnout could be particularly troubling for Republicans in major battlefield states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Mr. Trump won in 2016 at very small margins, delivering electoral votes he needed to win the White House.
Wisconsin and Pennsylvania both allow voting by mail or by mail. The Wisconsin Election Commission is scheduled to meet at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday and will decide whether to send mail-in ballot requests to all 3.3 million registered voters in the state.
A high-level Democrat will oppose Trump’s candidate being the coronavirus watchdog.
Democrat Leader New York Senator Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that he would vote against Trump’s candidate for inspector general to review pandemic recovery efforts, raising concerns about his independence from the president.
The candidate, Brian D. Miller is currently a lawyer in the White House. Schumer said that in a private conversation, Miller would not share the details of his current job responsibilities and declined to comment on the brutal dismissal of Mr. Trump from a handful of inspectors general in recent weeks, apparently for political purposes.
“Sir. Miller’s inability to demonstrate independence from his current employer, and to speak up when he sees actions of clearly out-of-bound administration officials, is deeply troubling given that this president appears to be demanding blind loyalty on the part of the federal inspectors general, “said Mr. Schumer in a statement. “For these reasons, I will oppose the appointment of Mr. Miller. ”
Schumer’s critics make it clear that the Democrats in the Senate will be overwhelmingly opposed to Miller when they vote on his appointment in the coming weeks. Mr. Miller had tried to convince the Democrats at a confirmation hearing earlier this month, vowing to resist any undue influence.
Republicans are likely to have the vote to confirm it anyway, but the nomination is still underway in the Senate committee process.
“All I can tell you is that so far I seem to be fine,” he said, explaining that he was taking a pill every day. The White House doctor later said that Mr. Trump had no symptoms and regularly tested negative for the virus.
Drugs can cause dangerous heart rhythm abnormalities in patients with the virus, F.D.A. warned, saying they should only be used in clinical trials or hospitals where patients can be closely monitored for heart problems.
Several doctors have said they are alarmed that Trump is using the Chair’s bullying chair to tell the public that he is taking a drug that has not been proven to be effective against the virus, but which has known risks.
Dr. Steven E. Nissen, academic director of the Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, said he had treated patients who developed life-threatening arrhythmias.
“This disorder can be fatal,” said Dr. Nissen. “My concern would be that the public does not hear comments about the use of hydroxychloroquine and think that taking this drug to prevent Covid-19 infection is safe.
“In fact, there are serious dangers. “
The first laboratory studies of hydroxychloroquine, which showed that the drug could prevent the virus from attacking cells, aroused enthusiasm. But studies of the drug in humans have been largely disappointing, and some have found serious side effects in people with heart problems.
“I’m not going to be hurt by this,” said 73-year-old Trump, explaining that he was making disclosure transparent to Americans. “It has existed for 40 years for malaria, lupus, among others. I take it. Front-line workers are taking it. Many doctors take it. ”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that the border between his country and the United States, where the epidemic is more serious, would remain closed for at least another month. The two nations have reached an agreement to extend the fence, which was introduced in March and will expire on Thursday.
Several Canadian provincial leaders have recently declared their opposition to the rapid reopening of the border. The United States has reported approximately 463 cases of virus per 100,000 population, more than double the Canadian rate.
People arriving in Israel from the United States have played an important role in the spread of the virus, a nationwide Israeli genomic study found.
The analysis, led by biologists from Tel Aviv University, sequenced the genomes of virus samples from a representative random group of over 200 patients in six hospitals across Israel, and then compared them to worldwide sequenced samples.
The results, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, questioned the Israeli government’s decision to admit travelers from the United States until March 9, although visitors from some European countries have were banned from February 26.
While only 27% of all travelers who tested positive for the virus arrived in Israel from the United States, more than 70% of the sequenced virus samples came from the United States. Israel reported 16,650 cases and 277 related deaths to the virus.
Thérèse Kelly arrived for her shift at an Amazon warehouse in Hazle Township, Pennsylvania on March 27 to find her colleagues in the cavernous space. Over a loudspeaker, a manager explained to them what they feared: for the first time, an employee was positive.
Some workers shortened their shift and went home. Mrs. Kelly, 63, got to work.
Since then, the warehouse in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania has become Amazon’s largest hot spot.
Local lawmakers believe more than 100 workers have contracted the disease, but the exact number is unknown. At first, Amazon informed workers of each new case. But when the total reached around 60, the announcements stopped giving precise figures.
The best estimate is that more than 900 of the company’s 400,000 blue-collar workers have contracted the disease. But that number, funded by Jana Jumpp, an Amazon worker, almost certainly underestimates the spread.
The company was struck by the the largest increase in orders he has ever seen and paid extra workers to stay at work.
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The reports were provided by Alan Blinder, Benedict Carey, Michael Cooper, Elizabeth Dias, Nicholas Fandos, Michael Gold, Kathleen Gray, David M. Halbfinger, Anemona Hartocollis, Andrew Jacobs, Annie Karni, Dan Levin, Patricia Mazzei, Eduardo Porter, Alan Rappeport, Dagny Salas, Dionne Searcey, Eliza Shapiro, Michael D. Shear, Natasha Singer, Jeanna Smialek, Mitch Smith, Kaly Soto, Robin Stein, Matt Stevens, Eileen Sullivan, Jim Tankersley, Katie Thomas, Karen Weise, Edward Wong and David Yaffe-Bellany.