Boeing and at least one other U.S. heavy-equipment manufacturer resumed production and some states rolled out aggressive reopening plans Monday, despite nationwide concerns there is not enough testing yet to keep the coronavirus from rebounding.
The reopenings came amid economic gloom, as futures plunged below zero on Monday and stocks and Treasury yields also dropped on Wall Street. The cost to have a barrel of U.S. crude delivered in May plummeted to negative US$37.63. It was at roughly US$60 at the start of the year.
Boeing said it was putting about 27,000 people back to work this week building passenger jets at its Seattle-area plants, with virus-slowing precautions in place, including face masks and staggered shifts. Doosan Bobcat, a farm equipment maker and North Dakota’s largest manufacturer, announced the return of about 2,200 workers at three factories around the state.
Elsewhere around the world, step-by-step reopenings were underway in Europe, where the crisis has begun to ebb in places such as Italy, Spain and Germany.
Coronavirus around the world: April 20, 2020
Parts of the continent are perhaps weeks ahead of the U.S. on the infection curve of the virus, which has killed about 170,000 people worldwide, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Businesses that start operating again in the U.S. are likely to engender good will with the Trump administration at a time when it is doling out billions in relief to companies. But the reopenings being announced are a drop in the bucket compared with the more than 22 million Americans thrown out of work by the crisis.
In a dispute that has turned nakedly political, U.S. President Donald Trump has been agitating to restart the economy, singling out Democratic-led states and egging on protesters who feel governors are moving too slowly.
Some states — mostly Republican-led ones — have relaxed restrictions, and on Monday announced that they would take further steps to reopen their economies.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced that gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors were among businesses that could reopen Friday, as long as owners followed strict social distancing and hygiene requirements.
Coronavirus outbreak: Pence says U.S. has testing capacity to go to phase 1 reopening
The governor said a decline in emergency room visits by people with flu-like symptoms indicated that infections were going down. But he also acknowledged that Georgia had lagged in COVID-19 testing and announced new initiatives to ramp it up.
Texas on Monday began a week of slow reopenings, starting off with state parks, while officials said that later in the week, stores would be allowed to offer curbside service. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Monday that businesses across most of the state would begin reopening as early as next week, although the order did not cover counties with the largest cities, including Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga. Both states are led by Republicans.
Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Monday that he would allow hospitals to begin performing elective procedures if the facilities met an unspecified set of criteria, while Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Monday that he would let his statewide stay-at-home order expire next week as long as strict social distancing and other individual protective measures continued.
Several U.S. states start easing COVID-19 restrictions
But governors from many other states said they lacked the testing supplies they need and warned they could get hit by a second wave of infections, given how people with no symptoms can still spread the disease.
“Who in this great state actually believes that they care more about jet skiing than saving the lives of the elderly or the vulnerable?” Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer remarked, referring to restrictions in place in her state. “This action isn’t about our individual right to gather. It’s about our parents’ right to live.”
Live updates: Coronavirus in Canada
Trump took to Twitter to complain that the “radical left” and “Do Nothing Democrats” are “playing a very dangerous political game” by complaining about a testing shortage. At the same time, Vice President Mike Pence told governors that Washington is working around-the-clock to help them ramp up testing.
The death toll in the U.S. stood at more than 40,000 — the highest in the world — with over 750,000 confirmed infections, by Johns Hopkins’ count. The true figures are believed to be much higher, in part because of limited testing and difficulties in counting the dead.
Trump fights with governors over reopening
In other developments:
— Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced his state will be able to test 500,000 more people for COVID-19 thanks to a shipment of tests from South Korea. His wife, Yumi Hogan, who is Korean-American, negotiated the shipment with Korean officials. Trump said at an afternoon briefing that governors like Hogan and Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois don’t understand they already have the testing capacity they need to begin the first phase of reopening their states.
— Massachusetts has emerged as an alarming hot spot of contagion, with over 1,700 dead and officials hoping to bend the curve through aggressive contract tracing.
— New York, with the worst outbreak in the nation, reported that hospitalizations in the state have leveled off and the day’s death toll, at 478, was the lowest in three weeks, down from a peak of nearly 800. Still, the city canceled three of its biggest June events: the Puerto Rican Day parade, the Israel parade and the gay pride march.
Coronavirus outbreak: Trump touts progress in search for COVID-19 treatments
— A meatpacking plant in Minnesota was shut down after an outbreak there. But Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds refused to order the closing of any slaughterhouses in her state that are seeing alarming increases in COVID-19, saying: “Without them, people’s lives and our food supply will be impacted.”
Mobilized by the far right, many Americans have taken to the streets in places such as Michigan, Ohio and Virginia, complaining that the shutdowns are destroying their livelihoods and trampling their rights.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, warned on ABC: “Unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen.”
Boeing’s shutdown went into effect March 25 after workers tested positive for the virus and an inspector for the company died. Washington was the first state to see a spike in COVID-19 cases and enacted strict shutdown orders that helped tamp the virus down.
Coronavirus outbreak: U.S. looking to top up oil reserves as prices plummet, Trump says
The crisis has exacerbated problems at Boeing, which is in dire financial trouble and under federal investigation over two crashes of its 737 MAX jetliner that killed 346 people.
Union representatives spent the day walking through factories to see what safeguards had been put in place.
At Doosan Bobcat, spokeswoman Stacey Breuer said the reopening came after two weeks spent putting in safety measures.
“There is definitely still some concern and do we feel 100% safe? Obviously not,” said William Wilkinson, a Bobcat welder and president of a United Steelworkers union local. He said workers there were wearing face masks and keeping their distance from one another.
Detroit’s major automakers suspended operations a month ago but are negotiating with union leaders in hopes of reopening in May. Some operations are being converted to build ventilators.
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Even with the outbreak easing in places, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, cautioned, “The worst is yet ahead of us.” He did not specify why he believed so. But there were signs the virus was swelling in Africa, where the health care system is in poor condition.
Long reported from Washington. Corder reported from The Hague, Netherlands. AP writers worldwide contributed to this report.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Can't solve economy issue without solving COVID-19, says professor – KitchenerToday.com
It’s a classic case of trying not to put the cart before the horse.
There’s no doubt the economic disaster is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but an associate political science professor at Brock University indicates you can’t solve the economic crisis without dealing with the health crisis first.
“You can’t have a strong functioning economy if you’ve got the disease running rampant in the community, it just can’t happen,” Blayne Haggart told The Mike Farwell Show on 570 NEWS.
He said economists have been clear on the issue from the beginning, advocating for financial support on the health side and figuring out later how to pay for it.
Haggart said overall, while we started off the pandemic well and saw numbers begin to drop, not enough was done to prepare for fall and winter, such as adequate investments in contact tracing and testing.
He said when it comes down to it, just the mere presence of the virus is causing the economic problem, not the restrictions related to it.
“People are not going to go into shops (as per usual), even if there’s no government intervention, because people don’t want to die,” Haggart added.
“Some people will, but a lot won’t, so businesses are going continue to be depressed up until the moment where the disease finally hits a breaking point, where we’ve got to basically close things down, or everybody gets sick.”
“That’s the kind of roller coaster that we’re on, and the key is to get off it. The longer you wait, though, the more costlier it is to get off the roller coaster.”
Reimagining the global economy for a post-COVID-19 world – Brookings Institution
When the COVID-19 pandemic sent the global economy into a deep recession, it exposed structural weaknesses in economic institutions and highlighted the need for reform. The challenges countries face today are daunting, but this moment should be recognized as an opportunity to build back more sustainable and inclusive economies. David Dollar is joined by three Brookings experts—Eswar Prasad, Marcela Escobari, and Zia Qureshi—to discuss their forward-looking policy proposals for a post-COVID-19 world.
Prasad, Escobari, Qureshi, and Dollar are all contributors to a new report, “Reimagining the global economy: Building back better in a post-COVID-19 world.”
Singapore upgrades third-quarter GDP, sees economy returning to growth next year – TheChronicleHerald.ca
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s economy contracted much less than initially estimated in the third quarter due to gradual easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures and authorities expect the city-state to bounce back to growth next year from its worst recession.
Gross domestic product (GDP) fell 5.8% year-on-year in the third quarter, the ministry of trade and industry said on Monday, versus the 7% drop seen in the government’s advance estimate.
Analysts expected a 5.4% contraction, according to the median of 10 forecasts.
The government said it now expects full-year GDP to contract between 6.5% and 6% versus its prior forecast for a 5% to 7% decline. The country is still facing the biggest downturn in its history.
The economy is expected to grow 4% to 6% next year.
“The recovery of the Singapore economy in the year ahead is expected to be gradual, and will depend to a large extent on how the global economy performs and whether Singapore is able to continue to keep the domestic COVID-19 situation under control,” the MTI said in a statement.
The economy grew 9.2% from the previous three months on a seasonally adjusted basis, compared with the 13.2% contraction in the second quarter. The bounce marked the end of a “technical recession”, as it followed two preceding quarterly contractions.
(Reporting by Chen Lin and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Sam Holmes)
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