Biphoo News https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews Latest World News Online Tue, 21 Apr 2020 14:48:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.4 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/cropped-logo-1-32x32.png Biphoo News https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews 32 32 New IBM CEO emphasizes growth, not just EPS, in first earnings call with analysts https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/technology/new-ibm-ceo-emphasizes-growth-not-just-eps-in-first-earnings-call-with-analysts.html Tue, 21 Apr 2020 14:48:19 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65457 Monday was a big day for IBM. It was the first time Arvind Krishna, the company’s newly appointed CEO, spoke to analysts, telling them directly about how the company has been faring in the age of coronavirus (hint: not perfectly). And it was the first time an IBM CEO had joined an earnings call since […]

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Monday was a big day for IBM.

It was the first time Arvind Krishna, the company’s newly appointed CEO, spoke to analysts, telling them directly about how the company has been faring in the age of coronavirus (hint: not perfectly). And it was the first time an IBM CEO had joined an earnings call since 2014.

Beyond that, though, Krishna delivered a bold proclamation. He said he wants the company to grow, and not just on the bottom line.

“We can talk about which is important, is it growth, or is it only EPS [earnings per share,or is it only liquidity,” Krishna said on Monday’s call.

“Liquidity is essential, and without that, no company is going to survive through the next period. I don’t know how long that period is going to be, so I think our obsession with that is going to serve us well in this period, but what you’re hearing me say is that growth has to be an equal obsession to other metrics that are there if we’re going to go do that.”

The remarks are notable given the way IBM performed under his predecessor, without an economic crisis. In the past five years, according to FactSet, IBM produced adjusted earnings that beat analysts’ estimates every single quarter. But revenue came in ahead of expectations only about half the time. 

Moreover, IBM had a streak of more than five years, from June 2012 through September 2017, where revenue declined on an annualized basis every single quarter. 

Along the way, IBM’s company’s stock price fell 42% under Rometty’s tenure going back to January 2012.



Now Krishna appears to be taking a different view. If things work out as he’d like them to, the company could improve its position in the technology industry, where it has struggled to compete against tech powerhouses like Amazon, Microsoft and Google in cutting-edge areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Revenue growth could come in part through dealmaking, just as it has at Salesforce and other enterprise technology companies. 

Acquisitions certainly happened in the Rometty years, including Red Hat, which Krishna engineered alongside Rometty. In the first quarter while IBM revenue overall declined 3.4%, Red Hat revenue rose 18% on a normalized basis. Krishna sees IBM continuing to buy companies. It’s just that he might be more willing to buy companies for growth rather than immediate earnings injections.

“It doesn’t have to be accretive on month one, or day one,” he told analysts.  “As long as it’s a healthy business, provides us a growth profile and provides us the ability to get sufficient synergy both for IBM and for the property itself, both have to be winners. It cannot just be one otherwise it’s not that attractive.”

It’s not clear how much revenue growth IBM will be able to yield from products its engineers build internally. But it’s cler where he’s trying to focus growth: Krishna repeatedly said on Monday’s call that the most important areas are hybrid cloud (the Red Hat deal will help there) and artificial intelligence. 

The company’s shares dipped about 3% after hours following its earnings report. 

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Treasury yields move lower after historic oil price plunge https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/treasury-yields-move-lower-after-historic-oil-price-plunge.html Tue, 21 Apr 2020 14:46:34 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65455 U.S. government debt prices were higher Tuesday morning, after a historic oil price plunge stunned market participants in the previous session. At 2:45 a.m. ET, the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to price, was lower at around 0.6130%, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was also lower at around 1.2152%. It comes […]

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U.S. government debt prices were higher Tuesday morning, after a historic oil price plunge stunned market participants in the previous session.

At 2:45 a.m. ET, the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to price, was lower at around 0.6130%, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was also lower at around 1.2152%.

It comes after U.S. oil prices tumbled below zero for the first time on record, with crude storage facilities filling rapidly and as the coronavirus crisis ravages demand.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures for May settled at negative $37.63 a barrel on Monday, closing in negative territory for the first time in history. The contract, which is set to expire on Tuesday, last traded at $1.36 a barrel.



The June contract for WTI,  which is more actively traded, stood at $21.39 a barrel, up almost 5%. Meanwhile, international benchmark Brent crude traded at $24.86 a barrel, down 2.74% on Tuesday.

On the data front,  Philadelphia Fed non-manufacturing figures for April will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET, with existing home sales for March set to follow at 10 a.m. ET.

The U.S. Treasury is set to auction $28 billion in 52-week bills and $25 billion in 119-day bills on Tuesday.

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2 new deaths, 47 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases according to partial report https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/health/2-new-deaths-47-additional-confirmed-covid-19-cases-according-to-partial-report.html Mon, 20 Apr 2020 15:28:09 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65452 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reported two additional COVID-19-related deaths and 47 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. Due to a technical lapse from some labs, Sunday’s numbers only reflect a partial total. NMDOH officials said the delayed results will be reflected in Monday’s total. The state total of […]

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reported two additional COVID-19-related deaths and 47 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. Due to a technical lapse from some labs, Sunday’s numbers only reflect a partial total. NMDOH officials said the delayed results will be reflected in Monday’s total.

The state total of confirmed cases has reached 1,845.

The latest deaths include:

A Bernalillo County male in his 30s.  The individual was hospitalized and had underlying health conditions.

A San Juan County female in her 80s. The individual was hospitalized and had underlying health conditions. The individual was a resident of the Life Care Center of Farmington.
The latest positive cases include:



15 new cases in Bernalillo County
2 new cases in Doña Ana County
7 new cases in McKinley County
15 new cases in San Juan County
4 new cases in Sandoval County
1 new case in Santa Fe County
3 new cases in Valencia County
The number of New Mexico COVID-19-related deaths is 55. State officials said 103 individuals are currently being hospitalized for the virus in our state.  This number does not include New Mexicans who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have been transferred to a hospital out of state. Officials also said that 487 COVID-19 cases have been designated as recovered.

New Mexicans who report symptoms of COVID-19 infection, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should call their health care provider or the NMDOH COVID-19 hotline immediately (1-855-600-3453).

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D.C. to end academic year early https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/education/d-c-to-end-academic-year-early.html Mon, 20 Apr 2020 15:24:11 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65450 Mayor Muriel Bowser said today that Washington, D.C.’s academic year will end late next month, as schools around the country adjust their schedules due to the pandemic. School buildings will now remain closed through the end of the academic year,  and distance learning will end on May 29, Bowser said at a press briefing. Charter schools […]

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Mayor Muriel Bowser said today that Washington, D.C.’s academic year will end late next month, as schools around the country adjust their schedules due to the pandemic.

School buildings will now remain closed through the end of the academic year,  and distance learning will end on May 29, Bowser said at a press briefing. Charter schools will close at around the same time. The academic year was originally scheduled through June 19.



The District’s Office of the State Superintendent is waiving a rule requiring 180 days of instruction for all students,  as well as community service requirements and “seat-time” requirements needed for a high school degree, according to the briefing.


To support distance learning, D.C. Public Schools said they’re still in the process of distributing 16,000 devices and 5,000 hot spots.

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Stocks in Europe Open Higher as Investors Brace for U.S. Jobs Data: Live Updates https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/stocks-in-europe-open-higher-as-investors-brace-for-u-s-jobs-data-live-updates.html Thu, 16 Apr 2020 16:06:41 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65447 New U.S. data is expected to show millions more filing unemployment claims. Each day seems to bring unwelcome economic milestones. Another is expected to arrive Thursday with the fourth-straight weekly tally of new unemployment claims likely to be in the millions. Ahead of the Labor Department report, due at 8:30 a.m., the consensus estimate cited […]

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New U.S. data is expected to show millions more filing unemployment claims.
Each day seems to bring unwelcome economic milestones. Another is expected to arrive Thursday with the fourth-straight weekly tally of new unemployment claims likely to be in the millions.

Ahead of the Labor Department report, due at 8:30 a.m., the consensus estimate cited by Bloomberg is 5.5 million new unemployment claims. Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities, is expecting a number around eight million. His assumption is based on the earlier inability of many workers to file claims because of technical glitches at overwhelmed state labor departments.

If Mr. Slok’s estimate is right, it would bring the cumulative U.S. job losses to 25 million.

“All of the last decade in job gains will be undone in four weeks, which is a truly stunning statistic,” he said. “It tells you the severity of the situation.”

And it will be only the latest measure. On Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported the steepest monthly drop in retail sales since those statistics started being compiled nearly 30 years ago, and the Federal Reserve said industrial production had recorded its biggest decline since 1946.

The mounting unemployment numbers seem certain to fuel the debate over how long to impose stay-at-home orders and restrictions on business activity.

President Trump has said some measures should be relaxed soon because of the impact on workers. “There has to be a balance,” he said at a news briefing Wednesday evening. “We have to get back to work.”

European stocks open higher as investors eye new data.

Global markets were mixed on Thursday after Wall Street’s slump, with investors expecting new government and corporate figures to further detail the economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak.

European markets opened higher after broad drops in Asia, which followed a 2.2 percent tumble in the S&P 500 on Wednesday. Futures markets were predicting that markets in the United States would open higher.

Investors were bracing for what was expected to be another spate of bad economic news. Weekly unemployment claims data in the United States was expected on Thursday to show another mass shedding of jobs, and more companies are scheduled to report the hit to their financial results during the first three months of the year.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index fell 1.3 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.9 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was down 0.5 percent. South Korean shares were flat.



But market sentiment improved later Thursday. In London, the FTSE 100 traded 0.4 percent higher early in its trading day. Shares rose more strongly in Germany, with the DAX up 1.3 percent. France’s CAC 40 index was 1.2 percent higher.

Prices for U.S. Treasury bonds, a traditional investment safe haven, slipped. Oil prices were mixed in futures markets.

Volkswagen, Daimler and Volvo to reopen factories.
European carmakers are beginning to gradually reopen factories in what will be an important test of whether it is possible to get the economy going again without endangering the health of employees.

Volkswagen, which has already restarted limited production at some parts factories, said late Thursday that it would reopen car assembly plants in Zwickau, Germany, and Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday. Other VW factories around the world will follow later in April and in May.

Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks, said that next week it would reopen three German factories that manufacture vital parts, such as a system made in Berlin that controls the valves of internal combustion engines. The plants will initially operate for one shift a day as Daimler gradually restarts operations in Germany, the company said.

Volvo Cars said it will reopen its factories and offices in Sweden on Monday. Sweden has taken a more relaxed approach to the virus, allowing grade schools and restaurants to remain open.

More than 1 million Europeans are either working reduced hours or unemployed because of car and parts factory shutdowns, so restarting the plants is crucial. But the factories will also be laboratories of whether the risk of infection can be controlled by use of face masks, plastic barriers, and other measures.

A troubled Chinese conglomerate tells investors about its debt woes.

As China’s economy struggles with the coronavirus outbreak, a famously debt-laden company illustrates the risks of the country’s addiction to borrowing.

HNA, a conglomerate that borrowed heavily and then ran into difficulties in recent years, has blamed virus-related flight cancellations across China and the world for mounting debt woes that led it to ask the Chinese government for a bailout in February. This week, the airlines-to-insurance behemoth said that the pandemic had brought it to the “point of life and death.”

In an apology letter to investors, HNA said that it would be forced to skip regular payments on one bond, delaying the interest and principal due by one year. The company also gave a glimpse into internal struggles by publishing an anonymous letter criticizing its own finance department for bungling a hastily arranged call to some of these investors.

HNA said that not all investors were notified of the call. It promised to “disclose relevant information more openly and transparently” in the future.

The global economy may be permanently changed, even after it recovers.

Who would have thought that a crisis that began with mortgage defaults in American suburbs in 2007 would lead to a fiscal crisis in Greece in 2010? Or that a stock market crash in New York in 1929 would contribute to the rise of fascists in Europe in the 1930s?

In the years ahead, we will learn what happens when the infinitely complicated web of interconnections that makes up the world economy is torn apart. And it opens the possibility of a global economy completely different from the one that has prevailed in recent decades.

“This is a period of radical uncertainty, an order of magnitude greater than anything we’re used to,” said Adam Tooze, a historian at Columbia University and author of “Crashed,” a study of the extensive global ripple effects of the 2008 financial crisis.

Crises have a way of bringing to the fore issues that are easy to ignore in good times.

One obvious candidate is globalization, in which companies can move production wherever it’s most efficient, people can hop on a plane and go nearly anywhere, and money can flow to wherever it will be put to its highest use. The idea of a world economy with the United States at its center was already falling apart, between the rise of China and the United States’ own turn toward nationalism.

There are signs that the coronavirus crisis is exaggerating, and possibly cementing, those changes.

For more than four decades, China has never acknowledged that its economy actually shrank, even during major economic crises. But that may change on Friday, when the country announces gross domestic product for the January-to-March quarter.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics already confirmed last month that domestic industrial production, retail sales and investment all suffered record, double-digit drops in the first two months of this year compared with the same period of 2019. That has prompted most, though not all, economists to guess that overall economic performance for the first quarter of this year will show a drop from a year earlier.

The question is how big a drop it will be.

One survey of 18 Chinese and foreign institutions by Caixin, a Chinese news organization, found that they were forecasting that the economy was anywhere from flat to down 11.5 percent in the first quarter. The average forecast was for a drop of 6.6 percent.

A broader survey by Reuters of 57 analysts found an even wider range of predictions — anywhere from a nose-dive of 28.9 percent to a gain of 4 percent. But the average in the Reuters survey, a loss of 6.5 percent, was practically identical to Caixin’s.

Foreign banks, which come under only slightly less political pressure than Chinese institutions to issue sunny forecasts, have tended to be at the bearish end of the range.

United Airlines warns its workers of a grim future.

The leaders of United Airlines issued a dire note to the carrier’s 100,000 employees on Wednesday, warning that staffing cuts may be coming and demand for air travel is likely to remain subdued into next year.

“The challenge that lies ahead for United is bigger than any we have faced in our proud 94-year history,” the airline’s chief executive, Oscar Munoz, and president, J. Scott Kirby, wrote in the letter, which was posted on the company’s website.

Traffic in the first two weeks of April was down 97 percent from last year and the airline now expects to fly fewer passengers in all of May than it flew in a single day during the same month last year, the executives wrote. And that decline is expected to last even as health concerns linger and travel restrictions are lifted at different times around the world.

The airline said earlier on Wednesday that it expected to receive $5 billion of federal funding intended to pay airline workers through September, but that stimulus is unlikely to prevent cuts beyond that, the executives warned on Thursday.

“The challenging economic outlook means we have some tough decisions ahead as we plan for our airline, and our overall work force, to be smaller than it is today, starting as early as October 1,” they said.

The leaders struck a markedly different tone from the chief executive of American Airlines, Doug Parker, who said in a CNBC interview earlier in the day that he saw some “indications that the world is ready to start traveling again.”

Amazon will suspend operations in France over a labor dispute.

Amazon said Wednesday that it would temporarily halt its operations in France after a court ruled the company had failed to adequately protect warehouse workers against the threat of the coronavirus and that it must restrict deliveries to only food, hygiene and medical products until it addressed the issue.

Amazon contested the findings of the ruling, handed down Tuesday by a civil court outside of Paris, and said it would appeal. The court had given the company a deadline of Wednesday evening to carry out the order or face a fine of 1 million euros (nearly $1.1 million) per day.

“We have suspended activities in our distribution centers in France, despite the huge investment we have made to ensure and strengthen safety measures for our employees,” Amazon said in a statement, adding that it was “perplexed” by the court’s decision. The threatened fine was too steep to risk not complying, Amazon added.

The company lashed out at unions that had brought the court case despite what it said was “concrete evidence” that it had worked to strengthen safety measures at its six mammoth warehouses around France. The ruling “is likely to have consequences for many people in our country,” including thousands of employees, Amazon customers and French businesses that make sales on Amazon’s platform, it added.

Laurent Degousée, a representative of SUD-Commerce, the main union that filed the lawsuit, said he had learned that Amazon was expected to halt its French operations as of Thursday for five days to enhance safety measures and provide its 10,000 workers full pay during that time. Amazon did not provide details on the furloughs, but said it was asking employees to stay home this week, and that it would assess the implications for its French operations.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California signed an executive order Wednesday directing the state’s unemployment agency to pay benefits to workers like drivers for Uber and Lyft through a federal assistance program for the self-employed. He said the state would also extend aid to undocumented workers, many of whom have been unable to get federal relief during the pandemic despite paying local and state taxes.

UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation’s major insurers, reported that its earnings increased this past quarter, adding that the costs of the pandemic were offset by the cancellations of routine medical appointments and elective surgeries.

The Paycheck Protection Program, a federal program to help small businesses weather the pandemic, is in danger of running dry amid a disagreement between congressional leaders and the White House over how to replenish it.

A Smithfield Foods pork plant in South Dakota has at least 640 coronavirus cases and is now the biggest new, single-source Covid-19 hot spot in America.

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Tua Tagovailoa could determine the NFL future of the lefty QB https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/sports/tua-tagovailoa-could-determine-the-nfl-future-of-the-lefty-qb.html Thu, 16 Apr 2020 16:04:57 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65445 Every quarterback, as he begins his NFL career, carries a unique set of burdens. Maybe he represents the hopes and dreams of his small town, which has never had a star to call its own. Maybe his college churns out a handful of first-round draft picks every year and he’s under pressure to live up […]

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Every quarterback, as he begins his NFL career, carries a unique set of burdens.

Maybe he represents the hopes and dreams of his small town, which has never had a star to call its own. Maybe his college churns out a handful of first-round draft picks every year and he’s under pressure to live up to colossal expectations. Maybe he’s a little short, or a little tall, or a little slow. Because the NFL is a copycat league, his successes — or failures — could become scouting ripples that are felt for a generation.

That’s why it’s so important that Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa succeed, no matter which team he ends up with. If he doesn’t, we might have to declare the art of left-handed quarterbacking extinct in professional football.

Tagovailoa might be the last, best hope for a lefty quarterback revival.

If that sounds like hyperbole, consider some facts: Seventy-three quarterbacks played at least one snap during the 2019-20 NFL season. Not a single one was left-handed. In fact, there hasn’t even been a left-handed quarterback on an NFL roster since Kellen Moore was on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad in 2017. The last left-hander to start a regular-season game? Michael Vick for the Steelers in Week 6 of 2015. The last left-hander to start and win a playoff game? Tim Tebow, when the Broncos beat the Steelers in 2011.

Six of the past 12 presidents have been left-handed, but the only left-handed player to throw a touchdown pass in the past five years was Titans defensive back Kevin Byard — on a fake punt in 2018.

Where have you gone, Steve Young, Boomer Esiason and Mark Brunell?

It’s a question that flummoxes NFL general managers and head coaches. ESPN surveyed 25 teams at this year’s NFL combine in Indianapolis, and not one of them felt confident he knew the reason behind the drought.

“It’s wild, right?” says Eagles coach Doug Peterson. “It’s a good question. A really good one. I don’t know the answer. There is no higher bar to clear, whether you’re left-handed or right-handed. Can they complete passes or not? That’s the bottom line.”

“I don’t know if I have that one prepared in my notes,” says Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. “Maybe there are just more right-handed babies? I usually have an answer I can dance around, but that one I have no answer. I’ll get our analytics department on that and get back to you.”

In 1994, the year Young was the MVP of the NFL’s regular season and the Super Bowl, 11% of the quarterbacks in the league were left-handed (lefties make up about 10% of the general population). That percentage gradually declined, but there was still clearly a place in football for a southpaw. Vick was the No. 1 pick in 2001, and there was a wild-card playoff game in 2005 between Tampa Bay and Washington that featured dueling left-handers in Chris Simms and Brunell. But they kept disappearing. After Vick and Moore — now the offensive coordinator for the Cowboys — retired before the 2016 season, that year marked the first time since 1968 that not a single left-hander saw action.


The last left-hander to start a regular-season game? Michael Vick for the Steelers in Week 6 of 2015. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
All the coaches and general managers queried insisted they’d have no issue drafting or coaching a left-handed quarterback — for some, having a lefty on the roster was actually a benefit.

“When I worked with Coach [Mike] Holmgren, he loved it,” says Seahawks general manager John Schneider. “We had Mark Brunell and he’d worked with Steve Young, so he saw it as an advantage.

“He always thought it was a way to change the game, just mix it up and do the opposite.”

Sure, there are tweaks you’re forced to make to your team — but all say they are relatively minor.

“You might flop your tackles if you thought you wanted to put one guy on his blind side,” says Duke Tobin, the Bengals’ director of player personnel. “Other than that, I don’t think there is a big adjustment.”

“As a receiver, catching a ball from a left-handed quarterback looks funny for the first couple throws, but after that you don’t think about it anymore,” says Tom Telesco, the Chargers’ general manager.

So why can’t the NFL find the next Steve Young?

It’s something no one has pondered more than, well, Steve Young.

“It’s shocking,” says Young, who played 15 seasons in the NFL and is widely regarded as the best left-handed quarterback of all time. “If I was not such a fundamental, data-driven realist, I would have significant conspiracy theories about this. It’s frustrating. Something feels amiss when there are no lefties in the league for years.”

Young is reluctant to place the majority of the blame on the NFL, citing various obstacles he had to overcome in his youth as a cautionary tale. His own father, Young says, tied his left hand behind his back to try to deter him from using it to throw. That didn’t last, and Young grew into a stud high school athlete in Connecticut. But the real test came when he got to BYU and found himself eighth on the depth chart at quarterback.

“Doug Scovil was the offensive coordinator, and he was coming off a year where Jim McMahon had just broken 73 NCAA records, ” Young says. “He didn’t know me from Adam because we had so many guys trying to play quarterback, but I remember once he turned his back to me and as he was walking away, he goes, ‘I’m not coaching a lefty.’ I was done. They were moving me to defense.”

Young spent three miserable months trying to learn how to play safety, only to get a reprieve when Scovil got a head-coaching job with San Diego State and Ted Tollner was hired to replace him. When the Cougars returned for spring ball, Young made a habit of sticking around after practice ended to throw with the quarterbacks. “Tollner saw me throwing and said, ‘Wait, why aren’t you playing quarterback?'” Young says. “I told him, ‘Well, Doug Scovil said he wouldn’t coach a lefty.’ He couldn’t believe it.”

Scovil died of a heart attack in 1989, so it’s impossible to know whether his recollection of what transpired would have been similar to Young’s. But Young says he ran into similar skepticism in Tampa Bay when he made it to the NFL. “It was mostly innuendo and grumbling, but I think Ray Perkins looked at me and thought, ‘A lefty scrambler? Nope, we’re not doing that,'” Young says. “There was definitely a cooling back then for lefties. Some coaches just wouldn’t do it. It might still be true, but you’d never hear them say today what Scovil said to me.”

Most of the coaches and general managers ESPN spoke to believe in some version of the theory that baseball siphons away all the best lefties. “I’ve never had a lefty in all my years of coaching that I can remember,” says Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians. “Maybe they’re all pitching baseballs instead of throwing footballs.”

Combine the reduced risk factor with the promise of fully guaranteed salaries that left-handed pitchers can command — Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw has made $220 million in 12 years, nearly the same as Tom Brady has made in 20 seasons — and you can see the logic taking shape.

“If I could become a left-hander and throw in the 90s and play baseball, that’s a pretty good gig,” says Jaguars coach Doug Marrone. “I don’t have anyone 300 pounds running at me trying to take me down.”

Growing up in Houston, Carl Crawford was a heavily recruited three-sport athlete, and despite being a left-handed quarterback, he had interest from college football powerhouses USC, Michigan and Nebraska. He chose baseball, despite admitting it was his “third love” behind football and basketball, when the Rays offered him millions after drafting him in the first round. He went on to play 15 seasons with the Rays, Red Sox and Dodgers, earning $180 million despite a career OPS (.765) that ranks 755th in MLB history.



Lefty Jon Lester was a promising high school quarterback growing up in Tacoma before an ACL injury as a sophomore steered him away from the sport. He has earned $162 million in 13 years with the Red Sox, A’s and Cubs.

“Those lefties that can throw heat are pretty coveted by major league baseball, so maybe that’s it,” says Broncos general manager John Elway.


But — luckily for the teams with early draft picks looking for a quarterback this year — the temptation of baseball wasn’t there for Tagovailoa growing up in Hawaii.

“My parents tried to put me in other sports,” he says. “My dad wanted me to play baseball. I played T-ball for a year and a half. I couldn’t do it. I played outfield, and I was out there picking weeds. It was so slow. They put me at first base thinking I’d get a lot more action. It just didn’t work. I was picking weeds again.”

Young doesn’t buy the baseball argument. “It’s possible a few get siphoned off by baseball,” he says. “But it doesn’t feel like it’s a one-to-one relationship. I don’t believe there are lefty kids out there who need to be inspired to go play pro football. If you’re lefty and you love football, you’re going to push like crazy. There is a numbers problem, whether it’s naturally or unnaturally.”

What’s more likely, he believes, is that lefties are being steered away from playing quarterback at an early age by high school coaches who would rather not adjust their rigid, fixed approach.

“We live in a right-handed world,” Young says. “And football is right-handed. What’s the first play you learn to run? Strong right dive, a right-handed play. Protections are taught to set up for right-handed quarterbacks because that’s all they see. If there is a problem, it’s a problem with the coaches. I feel like the problem starts before college. The pros might say, ‘Hey, we love lefties!’ but there is no one coming. There is no one available to pick from. It’s embarrassing.”

Sometimes, Young believes, it’s as simple as finding players and coaches who are willing to put in the extra work to make it work. When Young joined the 49ers, Jerry Rice made it known he didn’t love catching balls with left-handed spin. But when Young won the job for good and Joe Montana was traded to Kansas City, Rice knew he didn’t have a choice.

“The assistant equipment manager at the time was Ted Walsh,” Young says. “Ted was a lefty. So Jerry would go off with Ted after practice. And Ted threw Jerry — no joke — probably 30,000 passes during those first years. Because Jerry said, ‘I’ve got to get used to this crazy spin.’ But he’s the only one who ever said a peep about it.”

Young says he reached out to Tagovailoa at one point just to thank him for persevering, keeping the left-handed quarterbacking club alive. Being left-handed, he pointed out, had always been an advantage in his career once he got to the pros. Opposing teams couldn’t replicate it.

“A lefty quarterback presents problems for defenses because they’re all right-handed,” Young says. “You can try to prepare your team to play a lefty quarterback, but every week you play someone who is right-handed. I always thought there was a slight advantage in that.”

The irony of it all: Tagovailoa is actually a natural righty.


“My dad, he was the only lefty in our family,” says Tagovailoa, who eats right-handed, golfs right-handed and holds a pencil right-handed. “He wanted me to be a lefty as well, so he switched the way I threw. I didn’t touch the ball with my right as far as throwing, I just threw with my left.”

Young was stunned when he heard Tagovailoa was molded, not born, into the lefty quarterback club.

“It’s pretty amazing, because he delivers the ball with great touch,” Young says. “To have that kind of natural ability, he’s got some lefty in him. Don’t tell me that’s a learned skill. You don’t just learn that kind of touch; it’s in your DNA.”

With the backing of the greatest lefty in the QB pantheon behind him, Tagovailoa is happy to embrace the quirks and burdens of his situation, real or imagined.

“I don’t think I’d be here if I was a righty,” he says. “I only know I’m good with my left hand throwing the ball.”

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College Board Ready to Offer At-Home SAT https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/education/college-board-ready-to-offer-at-home-sat.html Thu, 16 Apr 2020 16:03:32 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65443 STUDENTS WILL BE ABLE to take the SAT at home if school doesn’t resume this fall, College Board officials announced Wednesday, outlining a new timetable and digital format for the college entrance exam. “We know students and educators are worried about how the coronavirus may disrupt the college admissions process, and we want to do […]

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STUDENTS WILL BE ABLE to take the SAT at home if school doesn’t resume this fall, College Board officials announced Wednesday, outlining a new timetable and digital format for the college entrance exam.

“We know students and educators are worried about how the coronavirus may disrupt the college admissions process, and we want to do all we can to help alleviate that anxiety during this very demanding time,” College Board CEO David Coleman said during a press call Wednesday. “In the unfortunate and unlikely possibility that schools do not open this fall, the College Board will be ready to provide a digital SAT at home.”

Coleman characterized the scenario as “increasingly unlikely” and one that would require at-home proctoring on a scale never before seen.

“We would much rather see schools reopen,” he said. “But we will be ready.”

College Board officials said they are experimenting with a variety of security software that can, for example,  lock the entire computer other than the software that allows students to take the test, as well as use the device’s camera and microphone to monitor any movement and noise.

College Board officials compared an at-home digital administration of the SAT to how the organization is currently allowing 3 million students to take modified versions of AP exams at home.

[MAP: The Spread of Coronavirus ]

“If we are forced to deliver a digital SAT at home, we will double our efforts to confront the digital divide,” Coleman said, adding that the College Board is prepared to work with states and school districts to provide technology or Wi-Fi hot spots to ensure that any student who wishes to take the SAT can do so.

Should public health officials say it’s safe, the College Board plans to offer weekend SAT administrations every month through the end of the calendar year, beginning in August. Students will be able to register in May for the August, September and October administrations, with priority going to students expected to graduate in 2021 who do not yet have an SAT score.

For states and school districts that had planned to offer 770,000 students a chance to take the SAT for free during the school day in the spring but couldn’t because of school closures, the College Board will provide a make-up day in the fall.



As of early April, 760,000 students in the class of 2021 already received an SAT score, College Board officials said, but they also estimate that about 1 million first-time SAT takers were unable to test this spring because of school closures, the vast majority of whom would have taken the test through a school day administration.

The news comes as dozens of colleges and universities drop the requirement that students submit an SAT or ACT score to be considered for admission – a decision that was already gaining popularity among schools trying to diversify their student bodies but one that the coronavirus pandemic has now accelerated.

Some higher education experts see this as a watershed moment for the admission requirement.

“The uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the announcement that the College Board has temporarily suspended the administration of the SAT as it seeks ‘an at-home style solution’ will most certainly continue the trend towards placing less weight on standardized tests,” Ronald Ehrenberg,a professor at Cornell University and the director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, says.

In the first seven days of April alone, at least 30 schools announced test-optional admissions policies for the high school class of 2021, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, and another 44 temporarily waived testing requirements, including elite private and public colleges and universities like Williams College, Tufts University, Virginia Tech and the University of California system.

College Board officials said that, because of the unprecedented pandemic, they support college and university admission decisions that offer students flexibility when it comes to submitting an SAT score or not – though they’ve been critical of the move in the past.

“We support colleges and our members totally in whatever flexibilities they adopt in these very challenging times,” Coleman said.

“This virus hits students very differently depending on their circumstances,” he added. “There has never been an event that I can recall that’s laid bare the division and inequalities in our society.”

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US shares see their biggest weekly gain in 46 years https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/us-shares-see-their-biggest-weekly-gain-in-46-years.html Fri, 10 Apr 2020 12:17:42 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65440 US stocks have just recorded their biggest weekly gain since 1974 despite the bleak economic outlook. Wall Street’s S&P 500 shares index has risen 12% this week, as the US central bank announced more stimulus measures to support the economy. Financial markets have experienced extreme volatility as the economic impact from the coronavirus worsens. Gold […]

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US stocks have just recorded their biggest weekly gain since 1974 despite the bleak economic outlook.


Wall Street’s S&P 500 shares index has risen 12% this week, as the US central bank announced more stimulus measures to support the economy.

Financial markets have experienced extreme volatility as the economic impact from the coronavirus worsens.

Gold prices hit a seven-year high with many investors still remaining cautious about the future of the global economy.

“It looks like the Fed are on a mission to blow holes in every dam that stops the flow of credit. And it sure sounds like they have plenty more dynamite if needed,” said Stephen Innes, global chief market strategist at Axicorp.



“Markets have been encouraged by corona curves flattening in Europe, exits from lockdowns in China, and talk of economic reopening globally. The level optimism has caught virtually everyone by surprise.”

On Thursday, the Federal Reserve said an additional $2.3 trillion was available to support debt markets saying it would act “forcefully, pro-actively, and aggressively” to combat an economic tidal wave.


The strong words came after data showed US jobless claims jumped by 6.6 million, taking the three-week total to more than 16 million unemployed and seeking benefits.

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The Fed’s chairman Jerome Powell emphasised the central bank’s measures were temporary, but that there was “no limit” to the dollar amounts it can deploy for programmes already on the books.

Markets were also lifted by comments from Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who said there may end up being fewer fatalities from the coronavirus than earlier forecast.

He placed the number at around 60,000 Americans, compared to earlier estimates of up to 240,000 deaths.

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Coronavirus: New York using mass graves amid outbreak https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/coronavirus-new-york-using-mass-graves-amid-outbreak.html Fri, 10 Apr 2020 12:14:53 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65438 Workers in hazmat outfits were seen using a ladder to descend into a huge pit where the coffins were stacked. The location is Hart Island, used for New Yorkers with no next of kin or who could not afford a funeral. New York state now has more coronavirus cases than any single country, according to […]

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Workers in hazmat outfits were seen using a ladder to descend into a huge pit where the coffins were stacked.

The location is Hart Island, used for New Yorkers with no next of kin or who could not afford a funeral.

New York state now has more coronavirus cases than any single country, according to latest figures.

The state’s confirmed caseload of Covid-19 jumped by 10,000 on Thursday to 159,937, of whom 7,000 have died.

Spain has had 153,000 cases and Italy 143,000, while China, where the virus emerged last year, has reported 82,000 cases.

The US as a whole has recorded 462,000 cases and nearly 16,500 deaths. Globally there are 1.6 million cases and 95,000 deaths.

The drone footage comes from Hart Island, off the Bronx in Long Island Sound, which has been used for more than 150 years by city officials as a mass burial site for those with no next-of-kin, or families who cannot afford funerals.

It is probable that many of the coffins are for coronavirus victims, but it is not clear whether they fall into the above categories.

Burial operations at the site have ramped up amid the pandemic from one day a week to five days a week, according to the Department of Corrections.

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Prisoners from Rikers Island, the city’s main jail complex, usually do the job, but the rising workload has recently been taken over by contractors.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated earlier this week that “temporary burials” might be necessary until the crisis had passed. 

“Obviously the place we have used historically is Hart Island,” he said.

The number of coronavirus deaths in New York state increased by 799 on Wednesday, a record high for a third day.



But Governor Andrew Cuomo took heart from the fact that the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to New York hospitals dropped for a second day, to 200.

He said it was a sign social distancing was working. He called the outbreak a “silent explosion that ripples through society with the same randomness, the same evil that we saw on 9/11”.

Another glimmer of hope was heralded on Thursday as official projections for the nationwide death toll were lowered.

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Coronavirus: WHO chief urges end to ‘politicisation’ of virus https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/lifestyle/coronavirus-who-chief-urges-end-to-politicisation-of-virus.html Thu, 09 Apr 2020 07:42:09 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65435 The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged unity, as the agency comes under continued fire from US President Donald Trump. Speaking on Wednesday, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus defended the WHO’s work and called for an end to the politicisation of Covid-19. Mr Trump said he would consider ending US funding for the […]

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The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged unity, as the agency comes under continued fire from US President Donald Trump.

Speaking on Wednesday, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus defended the WHO’s work and called for an end to the politicisation of Covid-19.

Mr Trump said he would consider ending US funding for the UN agency.

He accused the WHO of being “very China-centric” and said they “really blew” their pandemic response.

Dr Tedros has now dismissed the comments, insisting: “We are close to every nation, we are colour-blind.”

After first attacking the WHO the previous day, President Trump renewed his criticism at his news briefing on Wednesday, saying the organisation must “get its priorities right”. He said the US would conduct a study to decide whether it would continue paying contributions,

Also answering questions at the briefing on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration was “re-evaluating our funding” of the WHO, adding; “Organisations have to work. They have to deliver the outcomes for which they were intended”.

Covid-19 first emerged last December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which has just ended an 11-week lockdown. An advisor to the WHO chief earlier said their close work with China had been “absolutely essential” in understanding the disease in its early stages.

Mr Trump’s attacks on the WHO come in the context of criticism of his own administration’s handling of the pandemic.

What did the WHO chief say?

“Please, unity at national level, no using Covid or political points,” Dr Tedros said. “Second, honest solidarity at the global level. And honest leadership from the US and China.

“The most powerful should lead the way and please quarantine Covid politics,” he appealed, in comments seen as a response to Mr Trump, who said on Tuesday the WHO appeared to be “very biased toward China”.

“They called it wrong. They really – they missed the call,” Mr Trump said. “And we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it, and we’re going to see.”

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The US is one of the agency’s largest voluntary funders, with WHO data suggesting they contribute 15% to its overall budget.Media captionPresident Trump criticises the WHO for the second evening in a row

On Wednesday Dr Tedros played down that financial threat, saying he believed that US funding would continue.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres had earlier added his voice to the defence of the organisation. He described the outbreak as “unprecedented” and said any assessment of how it was handled should be an issue for the future.

“Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences,” he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron also reportedly offered his support to the WHO in a call to Dr Tedros on Wednesday. “He reaffirmed his trust, his support for the institution and refuses to see it locked into a war between China and the USA,” a French presidency official told Reuters news agency.


Timing of Trump’s threat questioned

By David Willis, BBC North America correspondent

Facing growing criticism over his handling of this crisis, President Trump is now seeking to pin the blame for the spread of the coronavirus on the World Health Organization.

Officials at the UN agency criticised his decision to impose a ban on travellers entering the US from China at the end of January – a move the president has since touted as crucial to controlling the spread of the virus – and with conservative commentators and some Senate Republicans taking to the airwaves to denounce the Geneva-based body, Mr Trump has clearly decided it would be politically expedient to join them.

He sees the WHO as being biased towards China, and believes it was too unquestioning of the early information about Covid-19 that came from the Chinese.

The WHO is not above criticism, particularly for its early assertion that human transmission had not been proven, and its reticence later on to declare a pandemic. But even some of the president’s leading supporters are questioning the timing of his threat to withhold funding for the world’s leading health organisation – coming, as it does, at the height of a global pandemic.

More Information

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-52224183

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Facebook and Samsung donate thousands of devices to NHS https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/lifestyle/facebook-and-samsung-donate-thousands-of-devices-to-nhs.html Thu, 09 Apr 2020 07:36:00 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65433 Mobile giant Samsung is donating 2,000 smartphones to the NHS, for staff to use in Nightingale hospitals. It will provide Galaxy XCover 4s phones, which are designed to be more robust and can be used while wearing gloves. Samsung said NHS England had already ordered an extra 20,000 phones and tablets, which it had agreed […]

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Mobile giant Samsung is donating 2,000 smartphones to the NHS, for staff to use in Nightingale hospitals.

It will provide Galaxy XCover 4s phones, which are designed to be more robust and can be used while wearing gloves.

Samsung said NHS England had already ordered an extra 20,000 phones and tablets, which it had agreed to supply at cost price, without taking a profit.

Facebook is also donating 2,050 of its Portal video-calling screens.

The Portals are designed to enhance video chats by using artificial intelligence to keep callers in view as they move about a room, making it easier to go about daily activities while continuing a conversation.

Facebook said it would send the devices to hospitals and care homes in several locations including Essex, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Surrey.

Media captionWATCH: Dave Lee tries out the Facebook Portal

NHS England will be allowed to keep the kit without charge once the pandemic ends.

“Technology companies big and small continue to pledge their resources and expertise to support our NHS and social care system in these unprecedented times,” said NHSX digital transformation director Iain O’Neil.

“Technology has never been so important to providing one of life’s most essential things – the ability to communicate with the people we love regardless of where they are.”

In addition to its donation of 2,000 smartphones, Samsung has also pledged to:

  • install up to 35 sanitising machines at NHS Nightingale hospitals, which use ultraviolet UVC radiation to sterilise things
  • send mobile workshop vans to NHS Nightingale hospitals to offer NHS staff free device repairs
  • donate advertising space on internet-connected Samsung TVs owned by the general public to display NHS health messages

“Every one of us is deeply indebted to the NHS and frontline supporters,” said Francis Chun, chief executive of Samsung UK and Ireland.

“However small the comfort may be, we hope that technology can alleviate some of the anguish this pandemic is inflicting on those most impacted.”

Other tech companies have also offered discounts to NHS staff including:

  • Microsoft is letting NHS staff use its Teams software for free
  • Uber is offering 50 free rides on its electric bikes
  • taxi-hailing app Free Now is offering 50% off journeys
  • meditation app Headspace is offering a free upgrade to its premium service until December 2020
  • mobile network Vodafone is automatically upgrading workers who have a pay-monthly contract to give them unlimited data
  • mobile network O2 is offering 25% off new contracts and perks

NHS England has compiled a list of deals that have been made available for its staff during the pandemic.

More Information

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-52216254

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Virus could push half a billion people into poverty https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/lifestyle/virus-could-push-half-a-billion-people-into-poverty.html Thu, 09 Apr 2020 07:31:14 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65431 The economic fallout from the coronavirus could increase global poverty by as much a half a billion. This bleak warning comes from a United Nations (UN) study into the financial and human cost of the pandemic. It will be the first time that poverty has increased globally in 30 years, according to the report. The […]

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The economic fallout from the coronavirus could increase global poverty by as much a half a billion.

This bleak warning comes from a United Nations (UN) study into the financial and human cost of the pandemic.

It will be the first time that poverty has increased globally in 30 years, according to the report.

The findings come ahead of key meetings of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and G20 finance ministers next week.

The United Nations University study was written by experts at King’s College London and Australian National University (ANU).

“The economic crisis is potentially going to be even more severe than the health crisis,” said Christopher Hoy from ANU.

The report, which estimates a 400-600 million increase in the number of people in poverty across the globe, says the potential impact of the virus poses a real challenge to the UN Sustainable Development Goal of ending poverty by 2030.

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“Our findings point towards the importance of a dramatic expansion of social safety nets in developing countries as soon as possible and – more broadly – much greater attention to the impact of Covid in developing countries and what the international community can do to help,” said Professor Andy Sumner of King’s College London.

By the time the pandemic is over half of the world’s population of 7.8 billion people could be living in poverty. About 40% of the new poor could be concentrated in East Asia and the Pacific, with about one third in both Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Earlier this week, more than 100 global organisations called for debt payments to be waived this year for developing countries, which would free up $25bn (£20bn) in cash to support their economies.

More Information

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52211206

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Coronavirus: A visual guide to the world in lockdown https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/lifestyle/coronavirus-a-visual-guide-to-the-world-in-lockdown.html Thu, 09 Apr 2020 07:12:39 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65429 Coronavirus has now infected more than one million people worldwide, but its impact extends far beyond just those who have had it. Even the frequency of use of the word “unprecedented” is unprecedented at the moment. According to Google Trends it’s been used three times more over the last two weeks than the highest point […]

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Coronavirus has now infected more than one million people worldwide, but its impact extends far beyond just those who have had it.

Even the frequency of use of the word “unprecedented” is unprecedented at the moment. According to Google Trends it’s been used three times more over the last two weeks than the highest point recorded previously.

As governments around the world have enacted new measures and given official advice, we take a look at the impact that it’s had on people and the world around them.

How the world shut down

The approaches to dealing with coronavirus across the world have been wide-ranging to say the least.

In Colombia the days that you’re allowed to leave the house depend on the number of your national ID card; in Serbia a designated dog-walking hour was introduced; and in Belarus the president has gone against medical advice, recommending vodka and saunas as a way to stay safe.

Some of the more common approaches have seen governments issue recommendations on social distancing for part or all of the country, while others have acted to restrict all non-essential internal movement. The latter is often called a lockdown.

When the virus was first identified in China in late 2019, lockdown seemed extreme.

But as the outbreak has spread around the world, it has become more difficult to manage. More countries have opted to take the strictest measures possible to contain it.

Well over 100 countries worldwide had instituted either a full or partial lockdown by the end of March 2020, affecting billions of people.

And many others had recommended restricted movement for some or all of their citizens.

Chart showing the dates and severity of lockdown measures in Europe

In regions that have only recently confirmed their first cases of coronavirus, many countries appear to be learning from their Asian and European counterparts.

Chart showing the dates and severity of lockdown measures in the Americas

Governments seem to be acting faster and more strictly in Africa as well.

Chart showing the dates and severity of lockdown measures in Sub-Saharan Africa

China has managed to ease its restrictions after passing through the worst period of climbing cases and deaths, but life is still far from normal.

The rest of us may have a long way to go.

Short presentational grey line

Flight risk

When the virus first appeared, several countries brought in initial restrictions on flights from China, or required visitors from at-risk areas to be quarantined on arrival.

After it had been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, on 11 March, there were more all-encompassing measures.

President Trump blocked all non-essential arrivals to the US from the European Union on 15 March, and a day later the EU did the same to all visitors from outside the Schengen free-travel zone.

By the end of March, air traffic from some of the world’s biggest airports had dropped to a fraction of what it was at the same time last year, or even what it was at the start of this month.

Number of flights from selected airports

The number of commercial flights last month was down by more than a quarter globally, according to flight tracking service Flightradar24.

In the final week of March, as more and more countries introduced travel restrictions to try to contain the virus, traffic declined 63% from the same period last year.

On 25 March, Heathrow – one of the busiest airports in the world serving about 80 million passengers per year – recorded more than 1,000 fewer flights compared with an equivalent day in 2019.

map showing that flights to and from Heathrow were down by two thirds at the end of March 2020 compared with 2019

Getting around

It’s not just getting from city to city. Travel within major cities across the globe has ground to a halt as restrictions on movement and social contact have come into force.

As of 31 March, residents in cities like Madrid, Paris, London and New York were making fewer than one-tenth as many journeys using the app as they did normally, according to data from travel app Citymapper.

In Milan in northern Italy, which has been locked down for several weeks now, only 3% of trips were being planned via the Citymapper mobile app, compared with before the outbreak.

The data also suggests that people cut down on travel in the days leading up to government-enforced shutdowns.

For example, the partial lockdown in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous city, came into place on 24 March but trips had already declined sharply the week before.

More Information

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-52103747

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Australian police seize cruise ship black box https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/lifestyle/australian-police-seize-cruise-ship-black-box.html Thu, 09 Apr 2020 07:05:50 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65426 Most New York cases came from Europe, study suggests A new study suggests that most of the Covid cases in New York – the worst hit state in the US – came from travellers in Europe, the New York Times reports. “The majority is clearly European,” Harm van Bakel of the Icahn School of Medicine at […]

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Most New York cases came from Europe, study suggests

A new study suggests that most of the Covid cases in New York – the worst hit state in the US – came from travellers in Europe, the New York Times reports.

“The majority is clearly European,” Harm van Bakel of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the co-author of the paper, told the Times.

The study is awaiting peer review.

A separate team at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine came to a similar conclusion, despite studying a different group of cases.

On 1 Feb, President Trump barred foreign nationals from entering the country if they had previously been in China. But it was not until March that he began blocking travellers from most European countries.

The near-global lockdown has brought something of a breather to Asia’s normally congested megacities.

Where just weeks ago gridlock and pollution were part of the daily routine, traffic has all but disappeared in some places.

In Manila, the city’s chronically jammed Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue saw a staggering 96% drop in cars, according to data published by the mapping company TomTom.

In Delhi, in India, congestion was down by about 59%, while the Indonesian capital Jakarta saw a 48% drop on the same time last year. In Bangkok, Thailand, traffic was down by 31%.

More Information

https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-52225173

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Investors warned not to rush into travel and leisure stocks https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/investors-warned-not-to-rush-into-travel-and-leisure-stocks.html Wed, 08 Apr 2020 13:05:10 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65423 Travel and leisure stocks including airlines and cinema chains have been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdowns and travel restrictions. While their valuations have plummeted across the board, some stocks have seen their share prices rocket this week. On Tuesday, cinema chain Cineworld shot up almost 50% while cruise ship operator Carnival surged more than […]

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Travel and leisure stocks including airlines and cinema chains have been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdowns and travel restrictions.

While their valuations have plummeted across the board, some stocks have seen their share prices rocket this week.

On Tuesday, cinema chain Cineworld shot up almost 50% while cruise ship operator Carnival surged more than 20%.

Cineworld, the world’s second biggest cinema chain, announced bosses had waived salaries and bonuses as part of a survival plan to tackle coronavirus lockdowns.

Admitting the current situation was “extremely challenging”, Cineworld said it had scrapped a planned dividend to shareholders for the last quarter of 2019.

But its share price shot up 49% on the London Stock Exchange despite its bleak outlook, with more than 780 cinemas closed across 10 countries.

Another travel and leisure stock, cruise ship operator Carnival, also saw a big price rise on Tuesday, after Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund took a 8.2% stake in it.

Carnival’s share price rose 11% on the New York Stock Exchange and 22% on the London Stock Exchange.

The cruise ship industry has battered during the coronavirus pandemic with a number of outbreaks at sea raising concerns about the safety of cruise holidays.

Carnival has cancelled a series of scheduled sailings for 2020 and said it may struggle with bookings for 2021.

Cineworld bosses waive pay and shut outlets worldwide
Most UK cinemas shut after virus advice
Investors seize on positive news but rally fades
Given the dire outlook for the industry, experts are warning investors to tread cautiously when thinking these stocks have “bottomed out” and may be staging a recovery.

“Leisure and travel stocks are emerging from a deep and dark place,” said Stephen Innes, global market strategist at AxiCorp. “While people will return to cinemas, revenues may be slow to pick up as movie goers and the industry respects social distancing guidelines.”

After cinemas reopen, Mr Innes says they may continue to space out customers, which will reduce capacity and revenues. “After all, the last thing a movie chain wants to get accused of is being the next super spreader epicentre”.

Grounded planes
Low-cost airline Easyjet saw it share price jump 15% on Tuesday, having secured a £600m coronavirus loan from the government. Some airlines are facing collapse as they are forced to ground planes while debts continue to mount.



Easyjet’s rescue package comes at the same airline industry trade body IATA published research showing that some 25m jobs are at risk of disappearing with plummeting demand for air travel during the crisis.

“Many questions remain as to just how eager travellers are willing to board the confines of an airplane cabin even after the pandemic subsides,” added Mr Innes.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 shares index rose 1.7% on Tuesday, with travel and leisure stocks rising 6.2%.

“People are trying to identify risks and opportunities now, and at last they believe they can better identify them,” said Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance Securities. “But the virus is still the greatest known unknown for the markets and for financial professionals.”

Analysts are warning it may take longer for consumption to get back on track across all sectors, not just travel and leisure. “In short, it’s still bad for airlines, bad for international hotels and slightly positive for domestic leisure activities. But still too early to say when the lockdown or social distancing rules will be relaxed,” said Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING bank.

Even when restrictions are lifted, demand “could be slow to gain traction due to psychological scars, defaults, bankruptcies, and job losses,” added Mr Pang.

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Coronavirus: ‘Please learn from Wuhan’s mistakes’ https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/lifestyle/coronavirus-please-learn-from-wuhans-mistakes.html Wed, 08 Apr 2020 12:48:18 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65420 The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus pandemic originated, is finally lifting its 11-week quarantine as infections and deaths have tailed off. As they emerge from their long lockdown, residents share the lessons they’ve learned from the outbreak, and offer encouraging words to the rest of the world. Video by Meiqing Guan from BBC […]

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The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus pandemic originated, is finally lifting its 11-week quarantine as infections and deaths have tailed off.

As they emerge from their long lockdown, residents share the lessons they’ve learned from the outbreak, and offer encouraging words to the rest of the world.



Video by Meiqing Guan from BBC Chinese, and Grace Tsoi.

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Coronavirus: EU top scientist forced out in political row https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/coronavirus-eu-top-scientist-forced-out-in-political-row.html Wed, 08 Apr 2020 12:44:27 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65418 Mauro Ferrari said he had lost faith in the system after he failed to set up a special programme to fight coronavirus. But the research council said later his resignation followed a written, unanimous vote of no confidence. It said it regretted Prof Ferrari’s comments. “Since his appointment, Professor Ferrari displayed a lack of engagement […]

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Mauro Ferrari said he had lost faith in the system after he failed to set up a special programme to fight coronavirus.

But the research council said later his resignation followed a written, unanimous vote of no confidence.

It said it regretted Prof Ferrari’s comments.

“Since his appointment, Professor Ferrari displayed a lack of engagement with the ERC, failing to participate in many important meetings, spending extensive time in the USA and failing to defend the ERC’s programme and mission when representing the ERC,” it said in a statement.

The EU’s executive insisted it had the most comprehensive measures to combat the virus.

One MEP had earlier been quoted accusing Prof Ferrari of taking a “window-dressing public relations stand”.

Who is Mauro Ferrari?
Mauro Ferrari is an Italian-American scientist known as a pioneer in the field of nanomedicine with decades of work in the US. When he took up the role as head of the European Research Council he stressed his commitment to serving society.

In a statement to the Financial Times and Corriere della Sera in Italy, he spoke of his commitment to the “idealistic dream of a United Europe… crushed by a very different reality”.

As the tragedy of the pandemic became clear Prof Ferrari says he pushed for a special programme directed at combating Covid-19, with the world’s best scientists having the resources to fight it with new drugs, vaccines, diagnostic tools and behavioural approaches based on sciences “to replace the oft-improvised intuitions of political leaders”.

His proposals were rejected unanimously, he said, by the council’s governing body because the ERC funded “bottom-up” research proposed by scientists themselves and did not see the beneficial impact on society as a justification for funding.

Data watchdog calls for single EU coronavirus app
Coronavirus outbreak eats into EU unity
Prof Ferrari describes how he then worked directly with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and developed a plan which she contributed to.

However, he complains his direct involvement with Mrs von der Leyen “created an internal political thunderstorm” and once it went to the different parts of the Commission he believes it “disintegrated upon impact”.

There are many questions surrounding the real reasons behind the resignation of Mauro Ferrari.

Yes, his stinging accusations about EU institutions weighed down by bureaucracy and internal politics ring true, but he will have known that before he agreed to become the bloc’s chief scientist.

He will have also known that EU countries have always fought to keep sovereignty over national health services, so it is odd that he singled the lack of public health co-ordination across the EU as another reason for his departure.



In fact, high-level insiders in the European Research agency tell me Mr Ferrari’s resignation was not voluntary. He was asked to leave, they say.

They say he was absent for half of the three months he was supposedly at the helm of the ERC, spending time instead in the US, where he has an affiliate professorship at Washington University as well as private interests in the pharmaceutical industry. He is listed on the board of directors at US biotech company Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals.

Mauro Ferrari announced he was now returning to the US to fight Covid-19 on the front line.

The ERC is eager to point out that many of its top scientists have already done that. It says virologists, epidemiologists and others who were doing basic research for them have now joined Covid research teams in other European Commission programmes.

Professor Ferrari’s personal ambitions clashed with the cumbersome structures of the EU, perhaps. A crying shame on all sides when all hands are needed on deck in Europe, the US and globally to help protect the general public from coronavirus.

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Coronavirus: Paris bans daytime outdoor exercise https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/coronavirus-paris-bans-daytime-outdoor-exercise.html Tue, 07 Apr 2020 15:43:47 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65416 The new rules are in force between 10:00 and 19:00 local time, and come into effect on Wednesday. Mayor Anne Hidalgo and the chief of police said this would restrict people to exercise “when the streets are generally at their quietest”. France has one of the highest death tolls in the world from the virus. […]

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The new rules are in force between 10:00 and 19:00 local time, and come into effect on Wednesday.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo and the chief of police said this would restrict people to exercise “when the streets are generally at their quietest”.

France has one of the highest death tolls in the world from the virus.

In total, 8,911 people have died there, and the number of confirmed cases is almost at 100,000.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Olivier Véran said the outbreak had yet to reach its peak, telling broadcaster BFMTV, “We are still in a worsening phase of the epidemic.”

France has been under strict lockdown measures for almost a month. Anyone who goes outside is required to carry a document stating their reason for leaving home: shopping for necessities, visiting a doctor, or exercise within 1km (half a mile) of their address.#

Police have fined hundreds of thousands of people for breaking the tight restrictions.

There have been positive signs that the outbreak may be slowing. Monday’s figures from the French health ministry showed only a small rise of people who need intensive care treatment.




But there have also been concerns about the situation in French care homes. Until recently, reported deaths from the virus only included those who died in hospitals, and not elsewhere.

Mr Véran on Monday announced there would be a “vast operation” nationwide to screen nursing homes, their residents and their careworkers, in a bid to tackle the crisis there.

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WHO director faces calls for resignation over handling of coronavirus, China https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/who-director-faces-calls-for-resignation-over-handling-of-coronavirus-china.html Mon, 06 Apr 2020 15:35:55 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65413 Amid persistent criticism that his organization failed to properly oversee China’s coronavirus response and worked to downplay the communist nation’s responsibility for the pandemic, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is facing growing calls for his resignation from American politicians and others around the world. Calls have been led by Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., […]

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Amid persistent criticism that his organization failed to properly oversee China’s coronavirus response and worked to downplay the communist nation’s responsibility for the pandemic, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is facing growing calls for his resignation from American politicians and others around the world.


Calls have been led by Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., who last week on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria” told host Maria Bartiromo that she has “never trusted a communist” and that the Chinese government’s “cover-up of this virus that originated with them has caused unnecessary deaths around America and around the world… I think Dr. Tedros needs to step down.”

She continued on Friday, placing part of the blame for China’s lack of transparency on the WHO director-general.




“Dr. Tedros deceived the world,” she said. “At one point, he even praised China’s ‘transparency during its coronavirus response efforts’ despite a mountain of evidence showing the regime concealed the severity of the outbreak. This deception cost lives. “

Tedros’ woes have been caused in large part by his regular backing of China during the coronavirus outbreak.

In early February, days after President Trump put in place a travel ban for foreign nationals who had recently been to China, Tedros panned coronavirus responses that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade,” according to Reuters.

He also tweeted praise for China on March 20, saying “[f]or the first time, #China has reported no domestic #COVID19 cases yesterday. This is an amazing achievement, which gives us all reassurance that the #coronavirus can be beaten.”

That tweet came amid allegations that the coronavirus numbers reported by China were not accurate, but manipulated to make the country’s response to the pandemic look stronger than it was.

Tedros’ comments, and other communications from the World Health Organization, have been used by China to boost the nation’s message as it seeks to deflect blame for the pandemic, which a study by the University of Southampton claims could have been “reduced by 95 percent globally” if China acted three weeks earlier.

As an example of China leaning on WHO in its efforts, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying tweeted that America was hellbent on blaming China after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed China had allowed thousands of people to leave Wuhan and travel to places like Italy.

“Stop lying through your teeth!” the spokesperson said of Pompeo. “As WHO experts said, China’s efforts averted hundreds of thousands of infection cases.”

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Bank of America sees booming rescue loan demand, with applications for nearly 10% of program https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/bank-of-america-sees-booming-rescue-loan-demand-with-applications-for-nearly-10-of-program.html Mon, 06 Apr 2020 15:33:04 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65411 Bank of America said Monday that it’s seen fierce demand for emergency rescue loans with current applications already accounting for nearly 10% of the entire amount allocated by Congress. The bank confirmed that it has received applications from 177,000 small businesses for a total of $32.6 billion in financing. The current Bank of America numbers […]

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Bank of America said Monday that it’s seen fierce demand for emergency rescue loans with current applications already accounting for nearly 10% of the entire amount allocated by Congress.

The bank confirmed that it has received applications from 177,000 small businesses for a total of $32.6 billion in financing. The current Bank of America numbers are its applications and do not represent the sums the Small Business Administration has approved.

The bank was the first major lender to set up and launch its portal for the Paycheck Protection Program though it was quickly inundated with requests.

The chaotic and widespread demand stems from the nation’s small business owners,  who have scrambled to apply for the rescue funds out of fear they could miss out on the historic, $350 billion program.

Steven Mnuchin, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, has assured business leaders that he would request more money if that happened, though any additional funding would require congressional approval and face potential hurdles from fiscal conservatives.



Federal lawmakers asked banks to help it dole out the $350 billion in loans to small businesses as part of its massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill signed last month. Legislators hope that small businesses will use the $350 billion to help keep staff on payroll and mitigate the economic shockwaves caused by state government mandates to self-quarantine and shutter commerce.


Bank of America said Monday that it’s seen fierce demand for emergency rescue loans with current applications already accounting for nearly 10% of the entire amount allocated by Congress.

The bank confirmed that it has received applications from 177,000 small businesses for a total of $32.6 billion in financing. The current Bank of America numbers are its applications and do not represent the sums the Small Business Administration has approved.

The bank was the first major lender to set up and launch its portal for the Paycheck Protection Program though it was quickly inundated with requests.

The chaotic and widespread demand stems from the nation’s small business owners, who have scrambled to apply for the rescue funds out of fear they could miss out on the historic, $350 billion program.

Steven Mnuchin, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, has assured business leaders that he would request more money if that happened, though any additional funding would require congressional approval and face potential hurdles from fiscal conservatives.

Federal lawmakers asked banks to help it dole out the $350 billion in loans to small businesses as part of its massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill signed last month. Legislators hope that small businesses will use the $350 billion to help keep staff on payroll and mitigate the economic shockwaves caused by state government mandates to self-quarantine and shutter commerce.


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Coronavirus: China stops for three minutes to remember the dead https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/coronavirus-china-stops-for-three-minutes-to-remember-the-dead.html Sat, 04 Apr 2020 15:07:58 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65408 A day of remembrance has been held in China to honour those who have died of coronavirus. The Qingming festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, is usually a time when people visit the graves of friends and family. But amid fears of another Covid-19 outbreak, the government has advised people to stay away and […]

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A day of remembrance has been held in China to honour those who have died of coronavirus.

The Qingming festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, is usually a time when people visit the graves of friends and family.




But amid fears of another Covid-19 outbreak, the government has advised people to stay away and maintain social distancing as Stephen McDonell reports.

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Coronavirus: Spain ‘close to passing peak’ as deaths fall again https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/coronavirus-spain-close-to-passing-peak-as-deaths-fall-again.html Sat, 04 Apr 2020 15:03:01 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65406 Mr Sánchez also extended lockdown measures until 25 April, saying the restrictions were “saving lives”. The toll of 809 deaths in one day is the lowest in Spain for a week. Meanwhile, officials are trying to get masks for all citizens as part of plans to eventually ease restrictions. Face masks are currently almost impossible […]

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Mr Sánchez also extended lockdown measures until 25 April, saying the restrictions were “saving lives”.

The toll of 809 deaths in one day is the lowest in Spain for a week.

Meanwhile, officials are trying to get masks for all citizens as part of plans to eventually ease restrictions.

Face masks are currently almost impossible to get hold of in Spain. The government had previously said they served little purpose outside hospitals.

However, views on wearing masks appear to be shifting in Western countries, with US health authorities on Friday recommending their use in public. Austria, the Czech Republic, Israel and Turkey have also mandated the use of masks in various public places.

Globally, more than 60,000 people have died in the pandemic and more than 1.1 million have been infected, Johns Hopkins University in the US says.

What is the latest from Spain?
Officials say 7,026 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in Spain in the past 24 hours – down from Friday’s figure of 7,472.

A total of 11,744 people have died, while the total number of cases – 124,736 – is now higher than in Italy.

Addressing the nation, Mr Sánchez said extending the lockdown for two weeks was necessary to give the health service time to recover.

“These are the most difficult days of our lives,” he said.

Once the number of new infections was under control a “progressive return to a new normal” would get under way to rebuild the economy, he said. New hygiene, detection and tracing measures would be in place.

He also called for European unity to tackle the economic consequences of the pandemic. “Europe must not fail this time,” he said.



“It is clear that the Spanish economy will have to go into debt and we will have to take resources from future generations to tackle the pandemic,” he added.

So far the EU has been unable to agree on a plan to share out coronavirus-incurred debt in the form of special bonds – dubbed coronabonds – despite pleas from Spain, Italy, France and others.

Coronavirus outbreak eats into EU unity
The Madrid region has been Spain’s worst affected area. Care homes have seen large-scale outbreaks leading to a collapse in staffing. In two facilities alone there are reports of almost 90 deaths linked to the crisis.

Last month the military was called in to help at retirement homes and found elderly patients abandoned and, in some cases, dead in their beds.

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Coronavirus: Expert panel to assess face mask use by public https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/health/coronavirus-expert-panel-to-assess-face-mask-use-by-public.html Thu, 02 Apr 2020 14:51:22 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65403 This question is to be assessed by a panel of advisers to the World Health Organization (WHO). The group will weigh up research on whether the virus can be projected further than previously thought; a study in the US suggests coughs can reach 6m and sneezes up to 8m. The panel’s chair, Prof David Heymann, […]

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This question is to be assessed by a panel of advisers to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The group will weigh up research on whether the virus can be projected further than previously thought; a study in the US suggests coughs can reach 6m and sneezes up to 8m.

The panel’s chair, Prof David Heymann, told BBC News that the new research may lead to a shift in advice about masks.

The former director at the WHO explained: “The WHO is opening up its discussion again looking at the new evidence to see whether or not there should be a change in the way it’s recommending masks should be used.”

What is the current advice?
The WHO recommends keeping a distance of at least 1m from anyone coughing or sneezing to avoid the risk of infection.

It says people who are sick and show symptoms should wear masks.

Who should be wearing masks?
US considers cloth face masks for public
But it advises that healthy people only need to wear them if they are caring for others suspected of being infected or if they themselves are coughing or sneezing.

It emphasises that masks are only effective if combined with frequent hand-washing and used and disposed of properly.

The UK, along with other countries including the US, advises that social distancing should mean staying at least 2m apart.

This advice is based on evidence showing that viruses can only be transmitted while carried within drops of liquid.

The understanding is that most of those drops will either evaporate or fall to the ground near to the person who released them.

So what does the new research say?
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, US, used high-speed cameras and other sensors to assess precisely what happens after a cough or sneeze.

They found that an exhalation generates a small fast-moving cloud of gas that can contain droplets of liquid of varying sizes – and that the smallest of these can be carried in the cloud over long distances.

The study – conducted in laboratory conditions – found that coughs can project liquid up to 6m away and that sneezes, which involve much higher speeds, can reach up to 8m away.

What are the implications?
The scientist who led the study, Prof Lydia Bourouiba of MIT, told me that she is concerned about the current concept of “safe distances”.

“What we exhale, cough or sneeze is a gas cloud that has high momentum that can go far, traps the drops of all sizes in it and carries them through the room,” she said.

“So having this false idea of safety at one to two metres, that somehow drops will just fall to the ground at that distance is not based on what we have quantified, measured and visualised directly.”

Does this change the advice about masks?
Prof Bourouiba’s view is that in certain situations, especially indoors in poorly ventilated rooms, wearing masks would reduce the risks.

For example, when facing someone who’s infected, masks could help divert the flow of their breath and its load of virus away from your mouth.

“Flimsy masks are not going to protect from inhaling the smallest particulates in the air because they do not provide filtration,” Prof Bourouiba said.

“But they would potentially divert the cloud that is being emitted with high momentum to the side instead of forward.”

What do the WHO advisers think?

According to Prof Heymann, the new research from MIT and other institutions will be evaluated because it suggests that droplets from coughs and sneezes could be projected further than originally thought.

He said that if the evidence is supported, then “it might be that wearing a mask is equally as effective or more effective than distancing.”

But he adds a warning that masks need to be worn properly, with a seal over the nose. If they become moist, Prof Heymann explained, then particles can pass through. People must remove them carefully to avoid their hands becoming contaminated.

He adds that masks need to be worn consistently.

“It’s not on to wear a mask and then decide to take it off to smoke a cigarette or eat a meal – it must be worn full time,” he said.



The panel, known as the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards, is due to hold its next virtual meeting in the next few days.

A spokesperson for Public Health England said there was little evidence of widespread benefit from wearing masks outside clinical settings.

“Facemasks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly, disposed of safely and used in combination with good universal hygiene behaviour in order for them to be effective.

“Research also shows that compliance with these recommended behaviours reduces over time when wearing facemasks for prolonged periods.”

Aren’t countries changing their advice on masks anyway?

Long popular in many countries in Asia, masks are now being assessed for public use by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

In Austria, the police now wear them and anyone dealing with the police will have to wear one too. Supermarkets there will insist that customers do too.

A once-rare sight in Europe is becoming more common, and new advice from the WHO would accelerate that change.

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Coronavirus: Interest-free overdraft plan for struggling borrowers https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/coronavirus-interest-free-overdraft-plan-for-struggling-borrowers.html Thu, 02 Apr 2020 14:45:12 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65401 The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also suggested repayments on loans and credit cards should be frozen for up to three months for those in trouble. The FCA said the outbreak had caused an “unprecedented financial shock”. Experts suggest that support from banks at present is “patchy”. Banks said they were facing record numbers of calls […]

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also suggested repayments on loans and credit cards should be frozen for up to three months for those in trouble.

The FCA said the outbreak had caused an “unprecedented financial shock”.

Experts suggest that support from banks at present is “patchy”.

Banks said they were facing record numbers of calls for help, but were supporting customers.

Quick change
In a timeframe reserved for emergency measures, the City watchdog is asking banks to respond to its proposed measures by Monday 6 April, and it wants them to come into force by Thursday 9 April.

After the FCA recently announced an “overhaul” for overdraft charges, many banks increased their charges for some customers and clustered around a similar figure of about 40%.

In its latest announcement, the watchdog said: “Over the next 90 days, firms would have to ensure all consumers are no worse off and not paying more than they would have under previous prices.”

Other measures it has proposed to help struggle borrowers include:

A three-month repayment freeze on loans
A temporary freeze on credit card and store card debt up to three months
Zero interest for three months on up to £500 for customers affected by coronavirus using an arranged overdraft for up to three months
The FCA also said that consumers using any of these measures should not see their credit rating affected.

FCA interim chief executive Christopher Woolard said: “If confirmed, the package of measures we are proposing today will help provide affected consumers with the temporary financial support they need to help them weather the storm during this challenging time.”

Some lenders have already put measures in place to assist people hit by the financial impact of the outbreak, but Martin Lewis, founder of Moneysavingexpert, described the picture as a “banking lottery”.

If approved, these proposals would bring a level playing field for borrowers. However, they would still need to contact their bank to access the help, rather than just stopping repayments.

“If you’re struggling to afford interest and debt repayments, don’t assume any of these things are in place until it’s confirmed by your bank. If you just halt payments without confirmation, you may end up being chased for payments and having charges added to your debt,” said Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

These are emergency rules to make sure that people who are affected by the crisis don’t fall through the cracks.

They could make a big difference because customers can apply for help knowing that the regulator – the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – is on their side.

Banks have already put their own measures in place to help families who are hit by a sudden loss of income.

But their concessions vary and some don’t match up to the level of protection that the FCA wants to see.



On top of that, the new guidance stretches across a wide range of lending, from bank loans to catalogue credit.

Customers still need to be aware that interest charges might build up in the background and have to be paid later on.

But on overdrafts, the stop-gap regime is clear: you can request to pay zero interest for three months.

This could make a big difference because it comes just as most big banks are introducing overdraft rates of nearly 40%.

Contacting banks can be frustrating at present, with long queues, but information is also available on lenders’ websites and some are offering online applications for help.

Apart from the zero interest on £500 of arranged overdrafts, firms would be entitled to charge a “reasonable rate of interest” when a customer requested a repayment holiday on loans, credit cards, and store cards.

Mr Lewis said: “Payment holidays mean exactly what they say – you don’t pay, but you can still be charged interest. And with interest rates often high, especially on cards, that can mean storing up trouble for future.

“Those struggling for cashflow may have no choice, but if you don’t need to do it, don’t.”

Banks are already offering three-month mortgage repayment holidays for some struggling customers.

Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, which represents banks and other lenders, said: “It is critical that the FCA’s proposals do not disrupt the provision of credit to borrowers and takes account of the business models of all credit providers including those outside the mainstream market.”

Mr Jones said that lenders have been receiving a record number of calls but have also faced staffing pressures. He urged customers to check their lender’s website first to see if it answers their question, and consider getting in touch via online chat, social media and online banking and mobile apps.

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Coronavirus: US death toll exceeds 5,000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/coronavirus-us-death-toll-exceeds-5000.html Thu, 02 Apr 2020 14:41:06 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65399 The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the US has gone above 5,000, while confirmed cases worldwide are close to reaching one million. There were 884 deaths in the US in 24 hours, a new record, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has tracked virus figures globally. The latest victims include a six-week-old baby. […]

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The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the US has gone above 5,000, while confirmed cases worldwide are close to reaching one million.

There were 884 deaths in the US in 24 hours, a new record, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has tracked virus figures globally.

The latest victims include a six-week-old baby. More than 216,000 are now infected, the world’s highest figure.

Reserves of protective equipment and medical supplies are almost exhausted.

This has left the federal government and individual US states competing for safety gear, while the unprecedented demand has led to profiteering, officials in the Department for Homeland Security were quoted by the Washington Post as saying.

Follow our latest updates
The Trump administration says it can acquire adequate supplies, and has $16bn (£13bn) available to do so. State and local officials have complained about insufficient protective equipment such as masks and gowns as well as ventilators, needed to help keep patients breathing.

Meanwhile, US Vice-President Mike Pence warned the US appeared to be on a similar trajectory as Italy where the death toll has exceeded 13,000 – the worst in the world.

The number of confirmed infections across the US rose by more than 25,000 in one day. The worst-hit place is New York City, where nearly 47,500 people have tested positive and more than 1,300 have died.

Officials say as many as 240,000 people could die in the US from Covid-19 – the disease caused by the virus – even with the mitigation measures in place. In Connecticut, a six-week-old baby has died from coronavirus, believed to be America’s youngest victim of the virus so far.



What is happening in New York?

Queens, New York City’s second-most populous borough, has the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths. The area is home to a large population of low-income workers employed by the service sector who live in close proximity, and social-distancing guidelines are hard to enforce.

“While we are practising as a city, social distancing, you may have multiple families living in a very small apartment. And so it’s easy to understand why there’s a lot of transmission of Covid occurring,” said Dr Mitchell Katz, head of New York City Health + Hospitals.

The city needed 2.1 million surgical masks, 100,000 surgical gowns and 400 ventilators, among other items, by Sunday, said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has warned that April would be worse than March as the outbreak gathered pace. He said the goal was to triple the number of hospital beds, to 65,000.

“This will be an epic process through the month of April. It’s herculean, but I believe it can be reached,” he said on Twitter.

Sobering pictures from the city have shown bodies being loaded onto refrigerated mortuary lorries outside hospitals.

What is happening elsewhere in the US?

Other clusters are flaring up in places like Detroit. In New Orleans, Ellis Marsalis Jr, a jazz pianist, teacher and father of musicians Branford and Wynton Marsalis, became the latest high-profile figure to die from complications caused by Covid-19. He was 85.

Marsalis spent most of his career in his native New Orleans, and released more than 15 albums. “Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

Florida, Georgia and Mississippi have become the latest US states to issue lockdown orders. More than 75% of the country’s population are now under orders to stay at home.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis softened his stance banning two cruise ships hit with coronavirus from docking in the state. He had been adamant that the ships should not land passengers at Fort Lauderdale, but now said the decision was up to the local authorities.

A staunch ally of President Trump, the governor faced pressure from the president on Wednesday to relent. He said he had understood the passengers were all foreigners, mainly Canadians and British, and did not realise that US citizens were also aboard.

What is happening elsewhere?

In the UK, the Wimbledon tennis tournament has been cancelled for the first time since World War Two
British government officials vowed to ramp up testing within weeks, as the number of deaths in the UK saw its big daily increase – 563
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised the largest economic programme in the country’s history
The official death toll in Iran has passed 3,000 while in Spain more than 9,000 have died

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Coronavirus: India defiant as millions struggle under lockdown https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/coronavirus-india-defiant-as-millions-struggle-under-lockdown.html Sat, 28 Mar 2020 14:19:08 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65395 The country’s response had been “pre-emptive, pro-active and graded”, it said in a statement. India’s population of 1.3 billion was given less than four hours’ notice of the three-week lockdown on Tuesday. Officially about 900 people have coronavirus in India. However, experts worry that the real number of infections could be far higher. India has […]

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The country’s response had been “pre-emptive, pro-active and graded”, it said in a statement.

India’s population of 1.3 billion was given less than four hours’ notice of the three-week lockdown on Tuesday.

Officially about 900 people have coronavirus in India.

However, experts worry that the real number of infections could be far higher. India has one of the lowest testing rates in the world, although efforts are under way to ramp up capacity.

There are fears that an outbreak in the country – one of the world’s most densely-populated – could result in a catastrophe. So far 20 people are reported to have died.

People are banned from leaving their homes under the “total lockdown” measures.

However, there have been reports of long queues and panic buying as people struggle to get supplies.

Meanwhile, millions have been left jobless and without money by the shutdown, sparking an exodus from major cities.



Thousands of migrant workers are walking long distances back to their villages after transport was stopped.

Several state governments have promised cash handouts. Uttar Pradesh in the north is putting on buses to help stranded workers.

But there are concerns about the logistics of delivering the aid.

The government had already put in place a “comprehensive response system” at its borders before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January, it added.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread rapidly in other countries around the world.

The city in China where the coronavirus pandemic began, Wuhan, has partially re-opened after more than two months of isolation. People are being allowed to enter but not leave, according to reports.
Nearly 600,000 infections have been confirmed globally and almost 28,000 deaths, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University
The death toll in Spain has exceeded 5,000, after it reported 832 more fatalities in the past 24 hours. Spain is the world’s worst hit country after Italy
The US now has the highest number of confirmed infections at 104,000

South Korea says that for the first time it now has more people who have recovered from the virus than are still infected. It reported 146 new cases on Saturday, taking the total to 9,478 – of whom 4,811 have been released from hospital

Russia and Ireland are among the latest countries to bring in new restrictions to try to slow the spread of the virus. In Russia, shopping centres, restaurants and cafes have been ordered to close. In Ireland, people will have to stay at home with limited exceptions for the next two weeks

In the UK, frontline National Health Service staff in England will begin being tested this weekend to see if they have coronavirus

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Coronavirus cradle Wuhan partly reopens after lockdown https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/coronavirus-cradle-wuhan-partly-reopens-after-lockdown.html Sat, 28 Mar 2020 14:10:49 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65393 Crowds of passengers were pictured arriving at Wuhan train station on Saturday. People are being allowed to enter but not leave, according to reports. Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, saw more than 50,000 coronavirus cases. At least 3,000 people in Hubei died from the disease. But numbers have fallen dramatically, according to China’s figures. […]

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Crowds of passengers were pictured arriving at Wuhan train station on Saturday.

People are being allowed to enter but not leave, according to reports.

Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, saw more than 50,000 coronavirus cases. At least 3,000 people in Hubei died from the disease.

But numbers have fallen dramatically, according to China’s figures. The state on Saturday reported 54 new cases emerging the previous day – which it said were all imported.

As it battles to control cases coming from abroad, China has announced a temporary ban on all foreign visitors, even if they have visas or residence permits. It is also limiting Chinese and foreign airlines to one flight per week, and flights must not be more than 75% full.

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2020 Tokyo Olympics Will Be Postponed Due to Coronavirus, Says IOC’s Dick Pound https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/sports/2020-tokyo-olympics-will-be-postponed-due-to-coronavirus-says-iocs-dick-pound.html Thu, 26 Mar 2020 10:45:43 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65390 The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, likely until 2021, International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told Christine Brennan of USA Today. “On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games […]

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The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, likely until 2021, International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told Christine Brennan of USA Today.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

Prominent sports leagues across the world suspended play indefinitely to limit the spread of COVID-19, while UEFA postponed Euro 2020 until 2021.

The Olympics remained the most prominent holdout, however.

Japan’s Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto told reporters March 17 the country was still proceeding with the expectation the event would begin July 24.

“A complete Olympics is what we are aiming for,” she said, per BBC Sport. “We will do our utmost to prepare [to hold the Olympics] as scheduled so that the International Olympic Committee will be convinced we are capable of hosting the games.”



The International Olympic Committee also issued a statement saying it planned to wait before making a final call: “The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage; and any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive.”

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe acknowledged that delaying the Olympics was on the table but expressed concern over how the move might impact events already scheduled for 2021.

Still, many argued operating the Olympics as scheduled this summer risked not only the health of those in attendance but others to whom they would potentially spread the coronavirus as well.

Matthew Pinsent, a four-time gold medalist rower, took umbrage when IOC president Thomas Bach hedged on postponing the Olympics:

In addition to the public health concerns, USA Today’s Nancy Armour highlighted how Olympic athletes were adversely affected by the self-isolation tactics recommended by health officials. Athletes have been unable to perform their usual training regimen.

The U.S. Olympic training centers in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Lake Placid, New York, shut the doors to their athletic facilities, for example, after the governors in their respective states ordered the temporary closure of public gyms.

Postponing the 2020 Olympics undoubtedly presents some logistical problems for the IOC and the city of Tokyo, but it’s the most reasonable way to handle what are extraordinary circumstances.

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India coronavirus: $22bn bailout announced for the poor https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/economy/india-coronavirus-22bn-bailout-announced-for-the-poor.html Thu, 26 Mar 2020 10:28:26 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65388 India has announced a $22bn (£19bn) bailout for the country’s poor to help counter the economic effects of the Covid-19 outbreak. “We don’t want anyone to remain hungry, and we don’t want anyone to remain without money in their hands,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. The package, which includes free food and cash transfers, was […]

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India has announced a $22bn (£19bn) bailout for the country’s poor to help counter the economic effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“We don’t want anyone to remain hungry, and we don’t want anyone to remain without money in their hands,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

The package, which includes free food and cash transfers, was for “those who need immediate help”, she said.

She also said health workers would get medical insurance of up to $66,500.

Correspondents point out that this amounts to just 1% of India’s GDP – in stark contrast to the US and Singapore which are spending about 10% of their GDP on similar packages.




‘I fear hunger may kill us before coronavirus’
Is India prepared for a coronavirus outbreak?
However, this could be just stage one, with similar packages set to be announced later, they added.

India’s economy was already in the midst of a severe slowdown before the country went into lockdown, shutting workplaces, factories and affecting millions of daily-wage and informal workers.

They form India’s vast informal sector, which constitutes a large part of its workforce. The lockdown and social distancing have left many of them with no viable means of getting any income, and many have expressed fears that they could starve.

Growth had slumped to 4.7% last month – the slowest pace in years – as a steep drop in manufacturing affected overall economic health.

Barclays said the total shutdown cost to India would be around $120bn, or 4% of the country’s GDP.

Ms Sitharaman, who is also the head of an economic task force announced by the prime minister, said that workers under an employment guarantee scheme would get a wage increment, and that recipients of other welfare schemes would also get benefits, like free gas cylinders instead of just subsidised ones.

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Coronavirus: US Senate passes $2tn disaster aid bill https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/health/medical/coronavirus-us-senate-passes-2tn-disaster-aid-bill.html Thu, 26 Mar 2020 10:11:43 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=65382 The US Senate has passed a $2 trillion (£1.7tn) coronavirus aid bill that is the largest economic stimulus in US history. The vote was delayed by a last-minute row between Republican and Democratic senators over unemployment benefits. The plan includes direct payments of $1,200 to most American adults and aid to help small businesses pay […]

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The US Senate has passed a $2 trillion (£1.7tn) coronavirus aid bill that is the largest economic stimulus in US history.
The vote was delayed by a last-minute row between Republican and Democratic senators over unemployment benefits.
The plan includes direct payments of $1,200 to most American adults and aid to help small businesses pay workers.
US coronavirus deaths are around the 1,000 mark and there have been nearly 70,000 confirmed infections.
More than 21,000 people with coronavirus have died across the world since it emerged in China’s Hubei province in December, while the number of infections is racing towards half a million.
Southern Europe is now the centre of the pandemic, with Italy and Spain recording hundreds of new deaths every day.
What was the snag in Congress? President Donald Trump, a Republican, said on Wednesday he would sign the fast-tracked bill as soon as it reached his desk.
But the plan hit a speed bump as Republican senators Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham said its major expansion of unemployment benefits provided “a strong incentive for employees to be laid off instead of going to work”.

They said they would oppose the bill unless it was fixed to ensure workers could not have a higher income while unemployed than in a job.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he would oppose the bill unless the Republicans dropped their objections. He also demanded tougher conditions on the legislation’s “corporate welfare”.
In the end the Republican senators were allowed a vote on their amendment, which failed.
The bill does have cross-party support but it must still be passed in votes in the Senate and House of Representatives before the president signs it into law.
With revisions being made to the bill late into Wednesday, the Republican-majority Senate finally, and unanimously, approved it with a 96-0 vote. It now moves on to the House which is expected to vote on Friday.
The face of America’s fight against Covid-19 Trump says US tested more than S Korea – is he right? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “proud” that not a single senator voted against the bill.
The chamber’s senior Democrat, Senator Chuck Schumer, said: “And so this is a good ending, twists and turns were enormous. I always had faith we would [pass this bill] because America and the American people demanded it.”
What do we know about the deal? The agreement reached by Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate includes tax rebates, loans, money for hospitals and rescue packages.
The nearly 900-page bill has a price tag that amounts to roughly half the size of the US government’s annual budget, and includes:
Direct payments of $1,200 to millions of individuals who earn $75,000 or less, and an additional $500 per each child An expansion of unemployment aid including payments, for the first time, to people who are self-employed or work in the gig economy A $500bn fund to help companies, which includes loans to hard-hit sectors such as the airline industry $350bn in loans for small businesses $100bn for hospitals and related health systems on the frontlines of the pandemic Mr McConnell described the package as a “wartime level of investment” in the US nation.
The Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said she hoped the bill could be passed by voice vote.
That would allow members of Congress – several of whom have coronavirus or are self-isolating – to stay away from the chamber in order to cast their votes.
But if any member objected, lawmakers would be asked to return to Washington and vote over the course of an entire day, in order to limit how many people are present on the House floor at one time.
What’s the latest from the virus hotspot of New York? New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday it was likely half of America’s most populous city of more than eight million would catch coronavirus by the time the pandemic ran its course.
The city’s death toll reached 280, officials said on Wednesday night, with 20,011 confirmed cases.
On Tuesday, 13 patients died in a matter of hours at a hospital in the Queens borough of the city, with a young doctor there describing “apocalyptic” scenes, according to the New York Times.
But there were signs of hope. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke of tentative indications that the spread of the disease may be slowing.
On Sunday, hospital admissions were doubling every two days. But by Monday that rate had fallen to every 3.4 days, and on Tuesday every 4.7 days, Mr Cuomo said.
The whole of New York state has had 285 coronavirus deaths and more than 30,800 patients – about half the total US caseload.
What is the situation elsewhere in the US? The US Federal Emergency Management Agency said New York, North Carolina and Hawaii had requested special mortuary teams to be ready for mass casualties.
New Orleans, in Louisiana, where crowds celebrated Mardi Gras last month, has recorded the world’s highest growth rate in coronavirus cases.
California’s Governor Gavin Newsom said one million Californians had registered as unemployed just this month.
The US is more than midway through a 15-day attempt to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing.
Two more states – Minnesota and Idaho – issued state-wide “stay at home” orders on Wednesday, joining at least 17 others.
The president said on Tuesday that reopening the country by Easter would be a “beautiful timeline”.
But Dr Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert who is helping lead the US response to coronavirus, told CNN on Wednesday: “The virus makes the timeline.”
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