The number of Americans with confirmed case of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 climbed above 1.8 million on Tuesday, amid concerns that protests about the death of George Floyd last week, and people gathering in groups as lockdowns are lifted, will spark a fresh wave of infections.
President Donald Trump threatened to mobilize the military to restore peace across the U.S. late Monday, after days of protests at the death of the unarmed Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C., some of which turned violent.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker told CNN that Trump was full of bluster, as the Associated Press reported.
“Well, it’s illegal. He can’t do it. We won’t request military assistance here in the state of Illinois. I can’t imagine why any governor is going to do that. This is… it’s ridiculous.”
Trump said he was “an ally of all peaceful protesters,” but just before he spoke, federal police moved against a group of peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square Park opposite the White House, firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Once the protesters were removed, Trump walked to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church across the street from the White House, where he posed for photos with a Bible in front of the boarded-up church, which caught fire Sunday night.
Lawmakers and religious leaders condemned the move.
“Donald Trump just tear-gassed peaceful protesters for a photo op,” Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said in a tweet. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others also criticized Trump in tweets.
The Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, told the Washington Post that she did not know of Trump’s plans beforehand. “I am outraged,” she told the Post, saying Trump used the church “as a prop.”
Health care experts have warned that Americans need to continue to socially distance and observe other health-safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The best way to avoid infection is to keep at least 1 meter apart and wear face masks and eye protection, according to a review of studies on COVID-19 transmissions that was published in medical journal The Lancet on Monday.
“Our findings are the first to synthesize all direct information on Covid-19, Sars, and MERS, and provide the currently best available evidence on the optimum use of these common and simple interventions to help ‘flatten the curve,’” said Holger Schünemann, from McMaster University in Canada, who co-led the research.
The virus is most commonly spread by droplets, that are released when people cough, or speak loudly. That means people joining protests, and the people already gathering in bars, in parks and on beaches across the U.S. without social distancing, are putting themselves and others at risk.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nations’ leading infectious-disease expert and member of the White House Task Force created to manage the pandemic, has repeatedly cautioned against reopening the economy too quickly, warning it would cause unnecessary suffering and death. Fauci told health care news website Stat that he is no longer in frequent contact with Trump as task force meetings are not taking place as often as they were.
“As you probably noticed, the task force meetings have not occurred as often lately. And certainly my meetings with the president have been dramatically decreased,” he told the website.
There are now 6.29 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide and at least 376,077 people have died, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. More than 2.7 million people have recovered.
The U.S. has the highest case toll in the world at 1.8 million and the highest death toll at 105,147.
Brazil has 526,447 cases and 29,937 fatalities, after another spike in infections overnight. Russia has 423,186 cases and 5,031 fatalities.
The U.K. has 277,736 cases and 39,127 deaths, the highest death toll in Europe and second highest in the world after the U.S.
Spain has 239,638 cases and 27,127 deaths, while Italy has 233,197 cases and 33,475 deaths. India, which passed France and Germany by cases on Monday, has 199,613 and 5,610 deaths.
France has 189,348 cases and 28,836 deaths, while Germany has 183,771 cases and 8,557 deaths.
Peru, Turkey, Iran, Chile, Mexico, Canada and Saudi Arabia are next, all ahead of China, where the illness was first reported late last year. China has 84,154 cases and 4,638 deaths.
What’s the latest medical news?
A slice of data from the third clinical trial for Gilead Sciences Inc.’s
remdesivir that was released on Monday indicates that the experimental therapy is somewhat effective in treating COVID-19 patients but is not the silver bullet that had been hoped for, as MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee has written.
The results found that the drug is more effective in patients who received a five-day regimen than those who took the drug for twice as long or those on the standard of care, based on one endpoint: clinical improvement by day 11. The full clinical trial data is expected to be published at a later date.
Don’t miss: Why virus stocks are driving market volatility
The design of the trial raised eyebrows among some analysts and pharmaceutical experts. Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat told investors on Monday that the primary endpoint was changed halfway through the trial, from percentage of patients discharged after 14 days to clinical improvement on day 11. Discharge data from the trial wasn’t released on Monday.
“While remdesivir ‘worked’ on a 7-point scale, a fair amount of critical data has not been disclosed just yet,” he wrote.
Gilead previously shared data from an open-label, Phase 3 clinical study evaluating remdesivir in severely ill patients, as did the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from a randomized, placebo-controlled study of the drug. Both data sets were used to inform the Food and Drug Administration’s decision on May 1 to grant emergency use authorization to remdesivir for certain very ill COVID-19 patients.
“Looking at the totality of data, remdesivir appears to be effective,” Maxim Group’s Jason McCarthy wrote in a Monday note, noting that the investigational drug is not a “silver bullet.”
“However, other treatments are likely to emerge with improved efficacy in COVID-19, in our view.”
What are companies saying?
Investors will get a look at how two of the pandemic’s likely big beneficiaries are faring this week, when Zoom Video Communications Inc.
and Slack Technologies Inc.
post their March-quarter earnings. Zoom will offer the first glimpse after the bell Tuesday, while Slack is scheduled to report on Thursday.
Zoom already said in April that it had topped 200 million “daily meeting participants” — 20 times more than its record at the end of last year — as companies and schools around the world rushed to adjust to widespread remote work.
And Slack Chief Executive Stewart Butterfield has already disclosed to MarketWatch that “simultaneously connected” users on his software grew by 25% in a single week in March, and that Slack added 80% more many paying customers in two months than it had in full previous quarters, as MarketWatch’s Emily Bary has reported.
Since both companies offer free plans with more limited feature sets, it’s still unclear just how well Zoom and Slack are capitalizing on work-from-home trends financially, even as their shares have soared in recent months. And both have had to secure the computing power necessary to support those users, adding costs that will eat into Zoom’s potential profit and further erode Slack’s losses.
Elsewhere, companies continue to raise money through debt and equity offerings, and to offer updates on their plans to reopen and resume business.
Here are the latest things companies have said about COVID-19:
• Apollo Global Management Inc.
and its consolidated subsidiaries are planning to offer senior notes. The investment company did not offer any details of size or maturities.
• Cisco Systems Inc.
postponed its Cisco Live 2020 online conference scheduled for this week due to the ongoing nationwide protests. The conference had already been canceled as a live event due to the pandemic. “At Cisco, we have always aspired to foster an environment of dignity, respect, fairness and equality for all,” the company said in a statement. “In light of what is going on in the world at this time, we have made the decision to postpone Cisco Live this week.” In a video statement on YouTube, Chief Executive Chuck Robbins said Cisco would make a $5 million donation to charities fighting racism and discrimination.
•Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc.
reported a first-quarter net loss that was wider than expected and sales that missed estimates. Same-store sales for the quarter fell 29.5%, but e-commerce sales jumped 110%, boosted by the launch of contactless curbside pickup. Through March 10, same-store sales were up 7.9%. As of May 30, 80% of Dick’s Sporting Goods stores had reopened. Through the first four weeks of the second quarter, same-store sales have declined 4%. At the end of the first quarter, Dick’s Sporting Goods had $1.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents, and $1.4 billion in outstanding borrowings from its revolving line of credit.
• Lands’ End Inc.
fiscal first-quarter results that missed expectations but provided an upbeat sales outlook. Revenue fell 17.3% to $217.0 million, due to decreased demand as a result of the pandemic. E-commerce revenue fell 16.5%. Revenue was up 11.1% in February, with same-store sales up 14.2%, before stores closed in mid-March. The company expects second-quarter revenue to be down in the mid-to-high single digits percentage range, while the current average analyst estimate of $267 million implies a 10.4% decline. Lands’ End expects its retail stores to reopen by the end of June, and expects retail sales to “ramp up” in the second half of the year.
• Lithia Motors Inc.
has seen “notable improvements” across its business lines in recent weeks, after experiencing sales declines in March and April as a result of the pandemic. The automotive retailer’s May same-store vehicle unit sales fell 7% from a year ago, with new vehicle unit sales decreasing 20% and used vehicle unit sales rising 8%. Total vehicle unit sales witnessed weekly sequential improvements in May as shelter-in-place policies eased. During the first week of May, same-store new vehicle unit sales decreased 28% and used vehicle unit sales fell 5%, but by the end of the last week of May, new vehicle unit sales improved to a 16% decrease and used vehicle unit sales swung to an increase of 22%. Same-store web traffic grew nearly 40% for the last week of May. Lithia was able to generate positive earnings and cash flow “during these unprecedented times,” which will allow the company to accelerate its growth plans during the second half of the year, according to CEO Bryan DeBoer.
• MoneyGram International Inc.
stock soared in after-hours trading Monday after a report that Western Union Co.
was looking to acquire it. Bloomberg News reported the potential takeover, which was said to be still under discussion. No purchase price was reported. A deal would combine two of the biggest money-transfer services in the U.S.
• Pfizer Inc.
is planning to invest up to $500 million in biotech companies to support the sector’s most promising clinical development programs. “There has never been a more important moment to pursue new collaborations in our industry,” said John Young, Pfizer’s chief business officer, as he unveiled the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. The program will focus on small to medium-size biotech company in the areas of internal medicine, inflammation and immunology, oncology, rare disease, vaccines and hospital.
• Seagate Technology PLC
is planning to cut 500 jobs across 12 countries, as part of a cost-cutting plan. The company will also consolidate its Minnesota facilities into one location and take other measures to align resources with growth opportunities. The data storage company is expecting to book pretax charges of about $74 million to cover the costs of the moves, most of it in fiscal 2020.
• Hospital operator Tenet Healthcare Corp.
is offering $600 million in senior secured first lien notes that mature in 2028 in a private placement. Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes, including for repayment or refinancing of existing debt, cash on balance sheet, as well as working capital and capex.