Trump Raises U.S. Death Toll Forecast to 100,000: Virus Update

Trump Raises U.S. Death Toll Forecast to 100,000: Virus Update
Trump Raises U.S. Death Toll Forecast to 100,000: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump raised the expected death toll in America from the virus to as many as 100,000. He promised a “conclusive” report from the U.S. government on the Chinese origins of the pandemic.

Trump accused China of trying to cover up the outbreak and said tariffs would be “the ultimate punishment.” Gilead Sciences Inc. plans to get its antiviral drug to patients as soon as this week.

In Asia, factory output in several countries slumped to record lows. Australia expects its population growth to halve next year as the virus spurs a collapse in migration. New Zealand reported no new cases for the first time since its March lockdown.

Key Developments

  • Virus Tracker: global cases pass 3.5 million; deaths top 247,000
  • January? Autumn? Doctors debate arrival time for a vaccine
  • China trade deal turns into potential liability for Trump
  • Mainland Chinese buyers shun Hong Kong property
  • Italian leader faces revolt against lockdown exit plan

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus.

Hong Kong to Ease Gathering Limit: Cable TV (10:58 a.m. HK)

Hong Kong plans to relax social-distancing measures to allow public gatherings of no more than eight people, broadcaster Cable TV reported, citing unidentified people.

The government may allow cinemas, beauty parlors and gyms to reopen this week, according to the report. Existing measures are set to expire on May 7. Hong Kong hasn’t found a local coronavirus case in 14 days.

New Zealand Records Zero New Cases (10:48 a.m. HK)

New Zealand recorded no new coronavirus cases, raising hopes it can further relax lockdown restrictions.

The Ministry of Health reported zero new infections for the first time since the lockdown began at midnight on March 25. The nation has 1,487 confirmed or probable cases, of which 86% are defined as recovered. There have been 20 deaths.

Asia’s Factories Plunge to Record Lows (9:23 a.m. HK)

Factory output across several Asian countries slumped to record lows in April, signaling a deeper contraction in the world’s manufacturing hub even as China begins restarting some operations.

Purchasing managers indexes across Southeast Asia slumped further below 50, the dividing line between contraction and expansion, to post their weakest readings since the series began, according to data released by IHS Markit on Monday. Taiwan, Japan and South Korea dropped to their lowest levels since 2009.

Trump Says China Made ‘Horrible Mistake’ (9:11 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump said he has little doubt that China misled the world about the scale and risk of the coronavirus outbreak and then sought to cover it up as the disease became a global pandemic.

“I think they made a very horrible mistake,” Trump said during an interview Sunday night on Fox News. “They tried to cover it.” He alluded to additional information he said will be coming out soon to back up his claims, which China has rejected.

Pence Says ‘Should Have Worn Mask’ (9:03 a.m. HK)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said at a Fox News town hall in Washington that “I didn’t think it was necessary, but I should have worn the mask at the Mayo Clinic.”

Pence disregarded policy requiring face masks as he discussed the outbreak with doctors at the Rochester, Minnesota-based hospital April 28.

Australian Meatworks Cases Echo U.S. (9:03 a.m. HK)

An Australian meatworks is at the center of an outbreak, in echoes of the cluster of cases that have occurred at U.S. beef plants.

A total of 19 cases detected Sunday originated at the meatworks, bringing the plant’s total to 34. While the daily growth of new infections in Australia has slowed to less than 1%, there are concerns new clusters could jeopardize the nation’s ability to quickly lift its lockdown.

China’s ‘Ultimate Punishment’ on (8:42 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump, asked if he will use tariffs to punish China for the coronavirus pandemic, said they would be “the ultimate punishment.”

“Tariffs at a minimum are the greatest negotiating tool,” Trump said at the Fox News town hall. He also said a trade deal with China requires the country to purchase U.S. goods and if they don’t, the U.S. will terminate the agreement.

Trump Says More Help Is Coming (7:46 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump promised more federal assistance is coming for Americans put out of work by the outbreak and vowed to press ahead with reopening the economy. He said he won’t agree to pass further stimulus measures without a payroll tax cut.

As he addressed the nation in a town hall event hosted by Fox News on Sunday, Trump revised upward the number of Americans he expects to die from the virus. “We’re going to lose anywhere between 75, 80 to 100,000,” he said. He had said at the beginning of April he hoped deaths would total less than 60,000. The number of U.S. dead so far is more than 67,000.

Egypt to Reopen Hotels and Resorts (7:23 a.m. HK)

The venues will open to support domestic tourism, Egypt’s cabinet said in a statement. Hotels will operate at 25% of total capacity until June 1, and 50% by July. The number of residents will be in accordance with guidelines from the World Health Organization, the cabinet said.

Australia Projects Dent in Population Growth (6:30 a.m. HK)

Australia’s population growth will likely halve next year as Covid-19 spurs a collapse in migration. Population Minister Alan Tudge said the decline would hurt the economy.

The Treasury estimates net overseas migration will fall 85% in 2020-2021. The population has been growing about 1.6% a year for the past decade, about 60% due to migration, Tudge said on ABC radio.

Serco in Talks on U.K. Contact Tracing: Times (6:15 a.m. HK)

Outsourcing services provider Serco Group is in advanced talks to conduct contact tracing for the U.K. government, The Times reports, without saying where it obtained the information. At least two companies are being asked to provide about 15,000 call-center staff to handle the bulk of the work, the Times said.

Trump Got Two Briefings in January (5:20 p.m. NY)

The U.S. intelligence community briefed President Donald Trump twice in the eight days before he blocked travel from China to stop the outbreak, a senior White House official said.

In the first briefing, on Jan. 23, Trump was told the virus was poised to spread from China, and getting infected would not be deadly for most people. Five days later, Trump received information showing the virus was spreading but all deaths remained in China, the official said. Trump was told China wasn’t sharing key data, the official said.

Trump has repeatedly pointed to his Jan. 31 decision to restrict travel from China to rebut critics who say he was too slow to react. Read the full story.

Peru Mining Set for Restart (4:15 p.m. NY)

Peru will lift restrictions on mining and other industries this month, the government said in a decree, as the world’s No. 2 copper producer begins to slowly lift lockdown measures.

Mining and metal work, along with tourism, are among industries and services that can restart this month under special safety measures, according to the decree. Measures to contain the pandemic led to an “effective” control of the outbreak, the government said.

U.S. Cases Rise 2.3%, Below One-Week Average (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases increased 2.3% from the same time Saturday, to 1.15 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The gain was below the average daily increase of 2.7% over the past week.

  • New York reported 3,438 new cases for a total of 316,415, with 280 new deaths — the fewest in more than a month — for a total of 18,890.
  • New Jersey reported 3,027 new cases, pushing the total to 126,744, while adding 129 deaths, raising the total to 7,871.
  • Massachusetts reported 1,824 new cases, raising the total to 68,087, and 148 additional deaths, for a total of 4,004.
  • Illinois had 2,994 new cases, raising the total to 61,499, with 63 additional deaths, bringing the toll to 2,618, Governor J.B. Pritzker said. The state did 19,417 tests, the most so far.
  • Pennsylvania reported 962 new cases, pushing the total to 49,267, with 26 new deaths, bringing the total to 2,444, the Department of Health said.
  • Michigan had 547 new cases, a decline from 851 reported a day earlier, raising its total to 43,754, while adding 29 deaths to bring the toll to 4,049, the health department said.
  • Florida reported 615 new cases, boosting the total to 36,078, with 15 new deaths, raising the toll to 1,379, the health department said.
  • Louisiana added 200 new cases, bringing its total to 29,340.
  • Ohio reported 579 new cases, or 14 fewer than reported on Saturday, pushing the total to 19,914. The state reported 1,038 deaths.

California Deaths Rise (3:45 p.m. NY)

California reported 44 new fatalities, a 2% increase from the previous day, with a total deaths of 2,215. The state had 1,419 new cases, a 2.7% rise, to 53,616. The number of people hospitalized or who were in intensive care declined.

Los Angeles County, the epicenter of the outbreak in the state, added 21 new deaths, the lowest in a week, to 1,229. The county had 781 new cases, with a total of 25,662.

France Reports Fewest Deaths in Six Weeks (2:20 p.m. NY)

France reported 135 new deaths in the past 24 hours, the fewest since March 22 — bringing the toll to 24,895 since March 1.

The number of patients in intensive care units is dropping at a slower pace, with 8 fewer patients. French authorities use the number of ICU patients as a key indicator of the outbreak’s impact on its hospital system. The nation has 3,819 patients in ICUs, with a capacity of 5,065 beds at the start of the outbreak.

Seven States in Medical Purchase Group (2:15 p.m. NY)

Seven U.S. states in the Northeast formed a consortium to cut the costs on purchases of personal protection equipment, virus tests, ventilator and other medical gear.

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts said the action will increase market power and prevent price-gouging. “States are stronger when we work together,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a tweet.

“By working together across the region, we can obtain critical supplies as we begin the process to restart our economies, while also saving money for our taxpayers,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement.

South Africa Cases Surge After Lockdown Eases (2 p.m. NY)

South Africa recorded it’s biggest increase in infections, with cases increasing 447 to 6,783 while the death toll rose by 8 to 131. The record jump comes just days after the country lifted the restrictive lockdown that started March 26 to slow the spread of the pandemic. One-third of the nation’s workforce will return to work starting Monday.

Gilead to Get Drug Out as Soon as This Week (1:20 p.m. NY)

Gilead Sciences will get its antiviral drug remdesivir to patients as soon as this week, Chief Executive Officer Daniel O’Day said, just days after the U.S. approved emergency use for people with Covid-19.

“We are now firmly focused on getting this medicine to the most urgent patients,” O’Day said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “We intend to get that to patients in the early part of this next week, beginning to work with the government, which will determine which cities are most vulnerable and where the patients are that need this medicine.”