WHO warns against easing social distancing too soon
12:56 pm: WHO says risk of returning to a lockdown ‘remains very real’ if social distancing guidelines are relaxed too soon
People have fun at Washington Square Park in New York, the United States, as temperature rises on May 3, 2020.
Michael Nagle | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images
World Health Organization officials warned global leaders about easing social distancing restrictions, saying the risk of returning to lockdown “remains very real.”
While reported cases are beginning to decline in regions such as Western Europe, more cases are being reported every day in Eastern Europe, Africa, South-East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Americas, the WHO said, adding that an average of around 80,000 new cases have been reported to the agency every day.
“This virus likes to find opportunities to spread and if these lockdown measures are lifted too quickly, the virus can take off,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s lead scientist on Covid-19. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
12:37 pm: Gap to reopen 800 stores by the end of May
Gap is preparing the reopen 800 stores by the end of May with a number of precautionary measures in place to try to keep customers and workers safe.
“Our whole goal is to be the gold standard when it comes to safe retailing,” CEO Sonia Syngal told CNBC. “Being trusted in this process is paramount for us.”
Gap on April 23 warned investors it might not have enough cash to sufficiently fund operations, with its shops temporarily shut to try and help curb the spread of Covid-19. A day later, Gap issued $2.25 billion of new secured bonds to help it repay existing debt. Gap also said it stopped paying rent to landlords last month, in a bid to cut costs.
“We are fully engaged in conversations with landlords regarding these decisions and plans to reopen,” Syngal said. — Lauren Thomas
12:20 pm: London widening sidewalks to accommodate social distancing
Camden High Street is one area of London where sidewalks have been widened to enable social distancing.
Authorities in London have unveiled measures designed to accommodate potential increases in both walking and cycling once the city’s lockdown starts to relax.
Among other things, the London Streetspace program will see space provided for new cycle lanes and sidewalks widened to accommodate social-distancing measures. —Anmar Frangoul
12:07 pm: Nordstrom to close 16 department stores
Pedestrians pass in front of a Nordstrom Inc. store in the Midtown neighborhood of New York, on March 20, 2020.
Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Nordstrom announced Tuesday evening it plans to permanently shut 16 of its full-line department store locations, after assessing the market during the coronavirus pandemic. A list of those locations was not immediately available.
“We’ve been investing in our digital and physical capabilities to keep pace with rapidly changing customer expectations. The impact of Covid-19 is only accelerating the importance of these capabilities in serving customers,” CEO Erik Nordstrom said in a statement.
The retailer said it will also be restructuring its regions, support roles and corporate organization in a bid to cut costs by about $150 million. Nordstrom said its stores will be reopening on a market-by-market basis, based on local mandates. It said it will be moving its annual Anniversary Sale to August from July. —Lauren Thomas
11:54 am: Treasury Department issuing 20-year bond to finance escalating debt
The Treasury Department will be issuing a 20-year bond as it copes with a burgeoning national debt. As part of its quarterly refinancing, Treasury will auction $20 billion worth of the new bond, followed by sales of $17 billion apiece in the following two months.
The announcement comes two days after Treasury announced it would be borrowing $3 trillion this quarter to fund the rescue programs put in place during the coronavirus pandemic. The national debt is now nearly $25 trillion. —Jeff Cox
11:40 am: Poll finds 74% of swing-state voters approve of continuing payments to Americans until economy restarts
A server wearing a protective mask serves a drink to a customer in the outside dining area of a restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Monday, May 4, 2020.
Zack Wittman | Bloomberg via Getty Images
As government coronavirus payments trickle into Americans’ bank accounts and mailboxes, most 2020 swing-state voters support more direct relief during the pandemic, a new CNBC/Change Research poll found.
About three-quarters, or 74%, of likely voters in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin approve of continuing payments until economic activity can safely restart, the States of Play survey found. Majorities across the ideological spectrum back sustained relief: 96% of Democrats, 74% of independents and 53% of Republicans, according to the poll.
Congress approved direct payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $500 for every child as part of the $2 trillion rescue package in March. As lawmakers consider the next steps in their attempt to curb the economic devastation from the outbreak, Democratic leaders have pushed for at least one more round of relief checks.
About six-in-10, or 61%, of respondents to the poll said they have received their stimulus payment. Another 24% of voters said they anticipate one in the future, while 11% responded that they do not expect a payment.
The poll surveyed 3,544 likely voters across the six states from May 1 to 3, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points. —Jacob Pramuk
11:18 am: Pandemic fallout is severely threatening US dairy farms
U.S. dairy farmers had expected 2020 to be a better year than the previous five. Low prices that had hurt milk producers around the country were finally starting to rise toward the end of 2019. But coronavirus has wrecked the dairy supply chain — foodservice customers such as restaurants and school cafeterias account for about half of all the dairy consumed in the U.S., and those have mostly shut down. The U.S. government has offered farmers aid to help them through the crisis, but the industry worries it may not be enough. —Robert Ferris
11:04 am: Cash-strapped Norwegian raises $2 billion in fresh funding
The Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Bliss cruise ship passes through John Hopkins Inlet in Glacier Bay, Alaska, July 11, 2019.
Tim Rue | Bloomberg | Getty Images
After warning earlier this week of potential bankruptcy protection if it couldn’t raise adequate funding, Norwegian Cruise Line raised more than $2 billion in stock and debt to outlast the Covid-19 downturn, the company said.
The company said it will now have about $3.5 billion in liquidity, which will help it weather “well over 12 months of voyage suspensions,” but the company hinted that it believes the industry will recover before then.
“This significantly strengthens the company’s financial position and liquidity runway and it now expects to be positioned to withstand well over 12 months of voyage suspensions in a potential downside scenario,” Norwegian said Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, competitor Royal Caribbean reportedly extended its coronavirus cancellation policy through April, 2022. That update could be an attempt to drum up demand for cruising at a time when the U.S. government has warned passengers to be wary of cruise travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. —Will Feuer
10:54 am: UK could start lifting lockdown measures on Monday
The U.K. could start easing its coronavirus lockdown restrictions as early as Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“We will want, if we possibly can, to get going with some of these measures on Monday,” Johnson told Parliament in his first Prime Minister’s Questions session since falling ill with Covid-19.
He added that a statement will be made on Sunday after the government reviews the latest data, adding it would be a “good thing” if people knew what to expect the following day. —Ryan Browne
10:50 am: Ford, 3M begin shipping respirators
Ford Motor is beginning to deliver powered air-purifying respirators to frontline health-care workers, the automaker said Wednesday. Since late March, Ford has been working with 3M to create the personal protection equipment, using design guidance from 3M.
Approximately 90 paid volunteers from the United Auto Workers union have assembled more than 10,000 of the respirators at a Ford facility near Flat Rock, Michigan, according to the automaker. Ford said the facility has the ability to make 100,000 or more respirators, however the company has declined to provide a timeframe for such production.
3M is selling and distributing the Ford-designed respirators through 3M-authorized distributors. Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle is the first customer to order and take delivery of the Ford-built supplies, the automaker said. —Michael Wayland
10:32 am: Demand for refunds intensifies among college students
As American universities embraced distance learning in response to the pandemic, students have found college isn’t what it used to be — but the steep costs remain the same. Many colleges and universities have been offering refunds of fees, and room and board, but nearly all of them have drawn the line at refunding or reducing tuition.
CNBC’s Jessica Dickler reports that now, a growing number of undergraduates are taking their cases for refunds to court. —Terri Cullen
10:24 am: Trump says coronavirus task force will keep working ‘indefinitely’
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks as President Donald Trump listens during the daily briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the White House April 13, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong | Getty Images
President Donald Trump tweeted that the White House coronavirus task force will keep working “indefinitely” – but some members may be replaced, and its focus will shift toward reopening the U.S. economy.
The tweets marked a reversal for Trump, who said Tuesday that he was, in fact, winding down the task force “because we can’t keep our country closed for the next five years.”
The task force has been nudged from the national spotlight as the president turns his attention away from slowing the spread of the disease and toward reinvigorating the ailing economy. —Kevin Breuninger
10:21 am: PwC is rolling out a contact-tracing app to help workers get back to the office
Consulting firm PwC is working on a mobile app that will allow corporate clients to track employees’ contact with each other and allow human resources departments to identify those who are at risk for coronavirus infection.
PwC will require its own 275,000 employees to use the app when they return to work, and it’s making the tracker available for corporate purchase, too. Its app uses signals from users’ phones to tell how far apart two employees were from each other and how long any two people are in contact.
Read more of Kif Leswing’s full CNBC report here. —Elisabeth Butler Cordova
10:18 am: Tyson Foods to restart limited pork production after closure
The reopening follows an executive order by President Donald Trump to keep meat facilities operational in order to shore up the country’s food supply.
Tyson said all employees who will be returning to the plant have been tested for Covid-19. —Sara Salinas
10:15 am: Uber lays off 3,700 employees
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi during the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York, September 25, 2019.
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
The cuts will impact Uber’s recruiting and customer support teams, according to the filing. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will also forgo his base salary for the rest of the year. In 2019, he made $1 million in base salary though most of his compensation came from stock awards and bonuses.
Global gross bookings are down 80% during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent report in The Information. Investors will get a deeper look into Uber’s business on Thursday when the company reports earnings. —Lauren Feiner
10:06 am: Private payrolls lose record 20.2 million in April, ADP reports
Private payrolls suffered their biggest decline in history during April, with ADP reporting a job loss of 20.2 million as companies laid off workers amid efforts to stop the coronavirus spread. The biggest job losses came in the hospitality industries, which lost 8.6 million workers. Trade, transportation and utilities were next with 3.4 million while construction dropped 2.48 million. The numbers come two days before the Labor Department’s nonfarm payrolls report, which is expected to show an unemployment rate of 15%. —Jeff Cox
9:58 am: Fed President Bullard says April jobs report will be ‘one of the worst ever’
St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told CNBC the Labor Department’s upcoming report on April unemployment will likely be one of the worst the U.S. has ever seen.
The Fed leader said the unemployment rate will be “extremely high” and could exceed 20% in the next few months. “We’re going to see crazy ADP numbers today and the jobs report will probably be one of the worst ever on Friday,” he said.
His comments to CNBC came minutes before ADP reported that private payrolls shed more than 20 million jobs in April, by far the worst loss in the survey’s 18-year history. —Thomas Franck
9:52 am: Dr. Scott Gottlieb says coronavirus mutation study ‘doesn’t prove’ new strain more contagious
Dr. Scott Gottlieb stressed to CNBC the need for caution around a new study that suggests a new strain of the coronavirus could be more contagious than the original strain that emerged in Wuhan, China. “It doesn’t prove that this new strain is in fact more infectious,” Gottlieb said of the study, which was published by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Gottlieb argued that more work needs to be done beyond the initial study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed. He said it’s only based on computational analysis and “we don’t have any other data to support it, including cell culture data.” —Kevin Stankiewicz
9:46 am: Customers rushed to CVS for prescriptions and essentials, driving up drugstore chain’s sales
As the pandemic intensified, CVS customers ordered 90-day prescriptions, refilled medications early and stocked up on essentials in the front of stores.
That shift in shopping patterns led to a 9% jump in the drugstore chain’s same-store sales in the fiscal first quarter.
Customers’ use of digital services surged, too, CVS chief executive Larry Merlo said in an earnings call. Virtual visits with CVS’s urgent care service, Minute Clinic, are up 600% compared to the same quarter a year ago, he said. Home delivery of prescriptions is up more than 1,000%. And the company saw a four-fold increase in customers adding front store items, such as toilet paper, to their prescription deliveries.
Merlo said the company is still trying to figure out how the pandemic may change customers’ long-term habits. But, he said, “We expect that elements of today’s new norm will become part of tomorrow’s everyday routines.” —Melissa Repko
9:04 am: Concerns over coronavirus drop in 2020 swing states, CNBC/Change Research poll finds
Detroit residents line-up to be tested for free for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Sheffield Center in Detroit, Michigan, April 28, 2020.
Rebecca Cook | Reuters
About 68% of likely voters in six key 2020 swing states said they have “somewhat” or “very” serious concerns about Covid-19, a new CNBC/Change Research poll found. The share dipped from 76% in mid-April.
Fears among Republicans dwindled, while Democratic worries stayed about the same. Only 39% of likely GOP voters responded that they have “somewhat” or “very” serious concerns, a slide from 55% when the States of Play survey was last taken on April 17 and 18.
About 7 in 10 Republicans said the effects of the pandemic are getting better rather than worse. Only 12% of Democratic respondents said the same.
Larger shares of Democrats than Republicans said they are taking a range of precautions during the outbreak, from engaging in social distancing to sheltering at home and wearing a face mask in public.
The poll surveyed 3,544 likely voters in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from May 1 to 3, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points. —Jacob Pramuk
8:41 am: Wendy’s US customers are returning
Wendy’s customers are starting to come back for Frosties and burgers. While the company’s weekly same-store sales for the U.S. remain negative, last week’s same-store sales only fell 2.1%.
Despite more consumers eating breakfast at home, Wendy’s U.S. sales are getting a boost from the breakfast menu, which launched nationwide in March.
Wendy’s U.S. business hit its low in early April, with same-store sales plunging 25.8%.
Read more on Wendy’s first-quarter results from CNBC’s Amelia Lucas. —Amelia Lucas
7:46 am: US Foods CEO says the industry will recover
7:03 am: German federal and state governments agree on path to easing restrictions
MUNICH, GERMANY – Germany has launched a nationwide policy that people should wear protective face masks in stores and public transportation after easing lockdown measures.
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
The German government and its 16 states have agreed on a path to reopening large parts of the economy, according to a document viewed by Reuters.
Shops can reopen and some sports can resume with certain conditions, schools will gradually reopen and states will decide on their own about the reopening of restaurants, hotels and gyms, according to the document dated Tuesday. Reuters reported the document was prepared by federal chancellery chief Helge Braun and heads of regional chancelleries for a conference call Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to hold with state premiers on Wednesday.
States will decide whether to reopen universities, bars, trade fairs, cosmetic studious, brothels, theaters, cinemas and discos based on infection levels, Reuters reported. —Will Feuer
Read CNBC’s coverage from CNBC’s Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Spain’s daily death toll rises again; EU to see sharp economic decline