Darlene Superville And Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
Published Monday, May 4, 2020 4:13PM EDT
WASHINGTON — Pushing to reopen the economy, President Donald Trump insists that states can gradually lift lockdowns and still protect people from the coronavirus pandemic, even as he’s also suggesting U.S. deaths could reach 100,000.
The president, fielding questions from Americans Sunday night in a virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, acknowledged valid fears on both sides of the issue. Some people are worried about getting sick; others are reeling from lost jobs and livelihoods.
Trump increased his projection for the total U.S. death toll to as many as 100,000 — up from the 60,000 figure he suggested just a few weeks ago. More than 68,000 Americans are confirmed dead from the virus, according to a Johns Hopkins database.
“Look, we’re going to lose anywhere from 75,000, 80,000 to 100,000 people,” Trump said. “That’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose one person out of this. This should have been stopped in China.”
The White House, meanwhile, was dismissing a report that the administration was projecting the daily death toll to grow once social distancing is relaxed. The New York Times reported Monday that it had reviewed a document projecting the toll will reach about 3,000 on June 1. It also forecasts 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month.
“This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus Task Force or gone through interagency vetting,” said White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere. “This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed.”
Administration officials said the projections assumed that states resumed normal activities immediately, not according to the phased guidelines unveiled by the White House last month.
After more than a month of being cooped up at the White House, Trump returned from a weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland for the virtual town hall hosted by Fox News Channel.
The president said of his monumental backdrop: “We never had a more beautiful set than this.”
As concerns mount about his reelection bid, Trump stuck to his relentlessly optimistic view of the nation’s ability to rebound soon.
“It is all working out,” Trump said. “It is horrible to go through, but it is working out.”
Many public health experts believe the nation cannot safely reopen fully until a vaccine is developed. Trump declared Sunday that he believed one could be available by year’s end.
U.S. public health officials have said a vaccine is probably a year to 18 months away. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases and member of the White House coronavirus task force, said in late April that it is conceivable, if a vaccine is soon developed, that it could be in wide distribution as early as January.
Though the administration’s handling of the pandemic, particularly its ability to conduct widespread testing, has come under fierce scrutiny, the president tried to shift the blame to China and said the U.S. was ready to begin reopening.
“I’ll tell you one thing. We did the right thing and I really believe we saved a million and a half lives,” the president said. But he also broke with the assessment of his senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, saying it was “too soon to say” the federal government had overseen a “success story.”
While noting that states would go at their own pace in returning to normal, with ones harder hit by the coronavirus going slower, Trump said that “some states, frankly, I think aren’t going fast enough.” He singled out Virginia, which has a Democratic governor and legislature. And he urged the nation’s schools and universities to return to classes this fall.
Federal guidelines that encouraged people to stay at home and practice social distancing expired late last week.
Debate continued over moves by governors to start reopening state economies that tanked after shopping malls, salons and other nonessential businesses were ordered closed in attempt to slow a virus that has killed more than 66,000 Americans, according to a tally of reported deaths by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. economy has suffered, shrinking at a 4.8% annual rate from January through March, the government estimated last week. And roughly 30.3 million people have filed for unemployment aid in the six weeks since the outbreak forced employers to shut down and slash their workforces.
The president’s advisers have nervously watched Trump’s support slip in a number of battleground states and he was told last month that if the election were held that day, he would lose to Democrat Joe Biden. The president’s aides believe restarting the economy, even with its health risks, is essential to a victory in November and are pushing for him to pivot away from discussions about the pandemic and onto an American comeback story.
To that end, Trump will begin travelling again, with a trip to a mask factory in Arizona planned for Tuesday. The president also is set to speak in June at commencement for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Returning to campus for commencement will require graduates to self-isolate for 14 days, but Trump insisted the event poses no risk to the cadets.
The town hall, which included an appearance by Vice-President Mike Pence, included a rare mea culpa: The vice-president said he should have worn a face mask during a visit last week to Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic. Pence’s failure to wear a mask violated the clinic’s guidelines and drew significant criticism.
Elsewhere in Washington, the Senate planned to reopen Monday, despite the area’s continued status as a virus hot spot and with the region still under stay-at-home orders. The House remains shuttered as debate continues on what the next stage of the economic recovery may look like.
State and local governments are seeking up to $1 trillion in coronavirus costs, which has been met with some objections by congressional Republicans.
Trump said that while he thought common ground could be found with Democrats over an infrastructure package, “we’re not doing anything unless we get a payroll tax cut. That is so important to the success of our country.”
The leaders of California and Michigan are among governors under public pressure over lockdowns still in effect while states such as Florida, Georgia and Ohio are reopening.
Trump on Sunday night singled out Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, also a Democrat, for criticism even as he praised the federal co-ordination with most governors. He also complained that some Democrats would rather “people get sick” than given him any credit for pushing the use of a malaria drug for treating COVID-19, though it has not been proven to be safe and effective for that use.
Trudeau to offer premiers billions to help reopen the economy safely – CTV News
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to offer premiers billions in federal funding to help them safely reopen provincial and territorial economies without triggering an explosive second wave of COVID-19 cases.
Trudeau is expected to present the offer to premiers during their weekly conference call today — the twelfth such call since the pandemic sent the country into lockdown in mid-March.
Precise details, including how to allocate each province’s share of the cash, are to be negotiated in the coming days, but federal officials hope agreements can be reached quickly to get the money flowing fast.
The offer comes with some strings attached, according to federal officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Trudeau is offering to transfer the money to provincial and territorial governments, provided they agree to spend it on a number of areas the federal government considers necessary to reduce the risk of a second surge of the deadly coronavirus.
They include testing, contact tracing, personal protective equipment, bolstering municipalities, helping the most vulnerable Canadians and strengthening the health care system, possibly including improving conditions in long-term care homes linked to more than 80 per cent of the deaths in Canada so far.
Making a difference in just one of those areas — municipalities — is a pricey proposition. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates communities across the country, which have been on the front lines of the pandemic, need $10-15 billion to make up for the loss of revenue resulting from reduced transit fares, user fees and deferred property taxes.
At the start of the pandemic, the federal government boosted transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care by $500 million — an amount that seemed large at the time but which has since paled in comparison with the more than $150 billion Ottawa has shovelled into direct financial aid to Canadians and economic stimulus measures.
While Trudeau is now offering provinces and territories substantially more money, there is likely to be some push back from some premiers over his attempt to direct the general areas on which it should be spent rather than letting them spend it as they see fit.
The prime minister is also expected to announce financial support for nearly four million disabled Canadians, who already faced some of the highest costs of living before the pandemic made daily life even more expensive.
Among other things, the pandemic has resulted in many people with disabilities having to rely on in-home care, pay delivery fees for groceries and other items, and fork out higher dispensing fees for prescription drugs.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2020.
BoC eyeing supply, consumer demand for July economic outlook, deputy says – BNNBloomberg.ca
OTTAWA — A senior official at the Bank of Canada says the central bank will be paying close attention to what the post-pandemic economy can supply and what consumers demand.
Deputy governor Toni Gravelle said Thursday it’s possible that supply could recover faster than demand if businesses reopen quickly while consumers remain cautious.
In a speech by video conference to the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, he said it will be key for the bank’s governing council to understand how the pandemic has affected demand, employment and the economy’s capacity to produce goods and services by its next interest rate decision in mid-July.
At that time, the bank will also release an updated economic outlook.
The Bank of Canada held its key policy rate at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday, but said the economy appears to have avoided a worst-case scenario due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gravelle made clear that’s as low as the bank believes the rate can go before it causes problems in markets, a nod toward talk about negative interest rates to spur spending.
The bank also reduced some of its market operations after it “cranked up the volume to 11” to allow the banking system to tap directly into much-needed funding liquidity, Gravelle said.
“Despite the positive signs, though, many risks and uncertainties remain,” Gravelle said, according to a text of his speech released by the bank.
“A lot will depend on whether we as a country are successful in managing the risk of possible future waves of COVID-19, and the pace at which containment measures are lifted. This applies to the global economy as well as Canada’s.”
He said the bank will pay close attention to how the pandemic is affecting growth and demand in key markets for Canadian exports.
Statistics Canada said the domestic economy shrank by 2.1 per cent in the first three months of the year. The Bank of Canada now expects output to drop a further 10 to 20 per cent in the second quarter, which is below its April expectations of a 15 to 30 per cent drop.
As bad as that sounds, Gravelle said, it would be closer to the best-case scenario the bank envisioned in April.
Gravelle pointed in his speech to silver linings in otherwise gloomy economic data.
Statistics Canada jobs figures showed that three million workers became unemployed over March and April as the pandemic took hold, but 43 per cent said they expected to return to their jobs once the pandemic passes. Gravelle said that figure was 15 per cent during the global financial crisis over a decade ago.
“These are all sort of subtle indications,” he said during a media teleconference following the speech.
“It was just more of a hopeful sign that the attachment rate of these employees will be stronger in this crisis or this environment than it was in 2008-2009.”
Inflation has dropped close to zero, driven mainly by plunging gasoline prices, and Gravelle said inflation will remain below the bank’s two per cent target in the near-term due to temporary factors.
Despite the positive tone of the speech, it’s clear no one at the central bank is breathing a sigh of relief just yet, said TD senior economist Brian DePratto.
“The multiple references to its ability to provide further stimulus, and the reiterated goal of keeping asset purchases running until the bank is certain the economic recovery is well underway make it clear that the foot will be firmly on the accelerator for some time to come,” he wrote in a note.
How does Canada save its economy? | The Star – Toronto Star
Canada’s economic numbers are staggering, for all the wrong reasons. In the span of two months, more than three million Canadians have lost their jobs and another 2.5 million have had their work hours reduced. Unemployment has soared to 13 per cent as businesses and corporations have taken on mass layoffs.
A record number of Canadians are turning to government aid to keep their families and businesses afloat. Meanwhile, the GDP is shrinking at a record rate, at levels unseen in more than a decade. Many economists say a plunge of this severity is comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930s. In short: Canada, along with many parts of the world, have seen its economies devastated during the pandemic.
But where is the bottom? Have we seen the worst of it or is there more bad news to come?
Jim Stanford, economist and director of the Centre for Future Work, talks to Adrian Cheung about the big picture of Canada’s economy, why re-opening too quickly could lead to further disaster and ideas on how we can begin recovering financially from this mess.
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