U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic briefing at the White House in Washington, August 10, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Donald Trump said Friday the U.S. will manufacture enough coronavirus vaccine doses for every American by April.
He said the U.S. will have at least 100 million vaccine doses before the end of the year and “likely much more than that.”
“Hundreds of millions of doses will be available every month and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April and again I’ll say even at that later stage, the delivery will go as fast as it comes,” Trump said at a White House press briefing.
Trump’s forecast is at odds with the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said earlier this week that the U.S. wouldn’t start vaccinating people until November or December at the earliest and it would be limited. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said a vaccine wouldn’t be widely available until the summer or early fall of next year.
Trump said “massive amounts” of the vaccine “will be delivered through our great military and the general is one of our best and he’s ready to go.”
“We are again very advanced on the vaccine, we think that sometime in the very near future we’ll have it,” he said. “We’re… I would say I think I can say years ahead of scheduled what it would be if it were an administration other than this one.”
There are currently three drugmakers backed by the U.S. in late-stage testing for potential vaccines. Earlier this week, the CDC outlined a sweeping plan to make a vaccine free to all Americans if and when one is approved for public use.
Public health experts have previously said that most Americans likely won’t get immunized with a coronavirus vaccine until the middle of next year.
Whichever vaccine is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, it will likely be in short supply once it’s cleared for public distribution, medical experts warn. The vaccine will likely require two doses at varying intervals, and states still face logistical challenges such as setting up distribution sites and acquiring enough needles, syringes and bottles needed for immunizations.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Family members in personal protective equipment (PPE) kits along with other relatives bury a person who died of Covid-19, at Jadid Qabristan Ahle – Islam graveyard, near ITO, on September 12, 2020 in New Delhi.
Mayank Makhija | NurPhoto | Getty Images
The World Health Organization warned Friday the coronavirus is “not going away,” noting that it’s still killing about 50,000 people a week.
“That is not where we want to be,” Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies program, said of Covid-19 deaths during a press conference at the agency’s Geneva headquarters. “It’s not where the Northern Hemisphere wants to be going into the winter season. It’s not where developing countries want to be with their health services under nine months of pressure.
Ryan said the virus still has a “long way to burn.” WHO officials said they are beginning to see “worrying trends” in the number of Covid-19 cases, ICU admissions and hospitalizations in Northern Hemisphere as it enters its colder seasons.
“It has not burned out, it is not burning out, it is not going away,” Ryan said, “and especially for those countries entering their winter season in terms of people coming together more indoors. There’s a lot of work to do in order to avoid amplification events, drive down transmission of this epidemic, protect the opening of schools and protect the most vulnerable in our society from severe disease and death.”
European health officials have warned for weeks about a rising number of Covid-19 cases. More than half of European countries have reported a 10% or greater increase in cases in the past two weeks and, of those, seven have seen newly reported cases increase more than twofold, WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said Thursday in a press briefing.
In the U.S., health officials are reporting about 39,000 new Covid-19 cases per day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University data. Covid-19 cases were growing by 5% or more, based on a weekly average to smooth out daily reporting, in at least 34 states as well as Washington D.C. as of Friday, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data, an increase from eight states at the same time last week.
U.S. health officials fear the outbreak could get worse as the nation enters the fall and winter seasons. Health officials have repeatedly warned that they are preparing to battle two bad viruses circulating later this year as the Covid-19 outbreak runs into flu season. Earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said daily new cases were “unacceptably high” in the U.S. this close to the fall.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on the Covid-19 pandemic, noted Friday that global health officials have “literally hundreds” of seroepidemiology studies ongoing that examine the extent of coronavirus infection in different populations. The studies indicate that “a majority of the world’s population is susceptible to infection from this virus,” she said.
“That means the virus has a long way to go,” Kerkhove said.
Kerkhove said it’s “absolutely critical” for countries to have a strong plan for when outbreak arise.
“What’s really important right now is for countries in their response is that they break down the problem, they break down the outbreak into the lowest administrative level as possible as the data will allow,” she said. “It’s not just about case numbers. These are incredibly important and we need to be able to track these trends but we also need to look at hospitalizations, we need to look at ICU occupancy and how many people are being admitted into intensive care.”
After spending more throughout the summer as economies reopened and stimulus checks hit their bank accounts, U.S. consumers have again started rein in their budgets on everything from lawnmowers to movie rentals.
JPMorgan, which tracks the amount its card users purchase from restaurants to grocery stores, said in a note published Friday that its tracker of consumer spending declined 3 percentage points from the prior week.
Americans who use Chase cards last week spent 6.5% less than they did one year ago, marking a fall from the prior week’s print that showed a year-over-year decline of about 3.5%.
Though not yet an established trend, the decline in consumer spending may represent a concerning early sign that the effects of federal support for the U.S. economy made be starting to fade. And, since consumer spending represents about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, economists worry that a more persistent decline could lead to a slump in GDP at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth.
That may have implications for top U.S. lawmakers, who despite recent encouragement from President Donald Trump remain unable to come to an agreement over additional stimulus.
Source: Opportunity Insights, tracktherecovery.org
“National accounts data reveal that most of the initial reduction in GDP following the COVID-19 shock came from a reduction in consumer spending (rather than business investment, government purchases, or exports),” Brown University economist John Friedman wrote in a paper published earlier this month.
Consumer spending first fell back in March, when Covid-19 and government efforts to contain its spread brought the U.S. economy to an abrupt standstill. Year-over-year data shows that spending on Chase cards in late March 2020 was down more than 40% compared to the same time in 2019.
Tracking that steep decline in consumer spending, U.S. GDP declined at an annual rate of 31.7% in the second quarter of 2020. Of that 31.7% decline, personal consumption expenditures — spending by average American households — accounted for 24.76 percentage points annualized.
But the initial decline in spending quickly reversed course as the summer began, with $1,200 stimulus checks from the federal government helping everyday Americans resume some of their normal habits and purchases. Gradual reopening of state economies also contributed a modest improvement to a resumption of normal consumer shopping.
That echoes the results of comprehensive calculations Friedman, Harvard’s Raj Chetty and their team have conducted in the aftermath of the disease’s outbreak. Friedman and Chetty have constructed a novel database that complies millions of anonymous transactions reported by credit card processors, payroll firms, and banks since January.
Their public database, housed on tracktherecovery.org, provides granular statistics on consumer spending, business revenues, employment rates, job postings, and other key indicators specific to geography (ZIP code or county), industry, income level, and business size.
Using their data based on New York City commerce yields results strikingly similar to JPMorgan’s. Their website shows national consumer spending is down 7.3% as of August 31 compared to January and also shows a deceleration around the start of September.
In New York City, as of August 30, 2020, total spending by all consumers decreased by 12.6% compared to January 2020. Consumer spending at restaurants and hotels in New York over the same period decreased by 36% while spending at grocery stores is up 14%.
“Because the root cause of the shock is self-isolation driven by health concerns, there is limited capacity to restore economic activity without addressing the virus itself,” Friedman added. “In particular, we find that state-ordered reopenings of economies have only modest impacts on economic activity; stimulus checks increase spending particularly among low-income households.”
But since consumers still fear contracting Covid-19, Americans will still ultimately spend less after the one-time boost of a stimulus check wears off. This tend will likely continue, Friedman wrote, until Americans are comfortable returning to crowded restaurants, salons or subways at the levels they were prior to the pandemic.
Jb Reed | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The number of borrowers in government Covid-19-related mortgage bailout programs is shrinking, but those in private-label or bank bailouts is rising.
This suggests that there is still pain ahead in the mortgage market, as some borrowers are simply not recovering enough financially to afford their home loans.
The total number of mortgages in active forbearance programs, where borrowers delay their monthly payments for at least three months, declined by 26,000 last week or 0.7%, according to Black Knight, a mortgage technology and data firm. This marks four consecutive weeks of improvement, but the pace has been slowing for the past few weeks.
As of Sept. 15, just under 3.7 million homeowners remain in these plans, representing 7% of all active mortgages. Together, these loans represent $781 billion in unpaid principal. The number of forbearance plans are now down more than 22% from the peak of over 4.7 million in late May.
The government plan under the CARES Act, which includes borrowers with loans backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA and VA (the vast majority of all loans), is designed as an initial three-month plan with potential three-month extensions up to a year. Three-quarters of borrowers still in forbearance are in extensions from their initial periods.
About 1.7 million of these borrowers are seeing their plans expire in September, so servicers are already assessing if they need extensions or if they can be removed. Overall, there has been a 60/40 ratio of forbearance-plan extensions versus removals.
“The high number of forbearance plans set to expire in September is more akin to what we saw in June, though — at the end of a 90-day cycle — when the ratio was 80/20. That would equate to roughly 320,000 removals,” said economist Andy Walden, Black Knight’s director of market research. “September also marks the end of the first six-month period called for in the CARES Act, which requires a borrower to proactively request an extension beyond that point, so we could see an even higher number of homeowners come out of forbearance.”
The number of borrowers in government forbearances dropped by 31,000, but those held in private label securities or banks’ portfolios rose this week by 5,000. Borrowers with Fannie and Freddie loans have seen the biggest improvement, while FHA/VA volumes in forbearance have fallen by far less.
“The next few weeks will provide a lot more clarity as to what the market will look like heading into the end of the year,” Walden said.
Texas pushes forward with business reopenings as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations slide, Gov. Abbott says
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces the US Army Corps of Engineers and the state are putting up a 250-bed field hospital at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas during a press conference at the Texas State Capitol March 29, 2020 in Austin, Texas.
Tom Fox | Getty Images
Texas is allowing more businesses, including retail stores, gyms and restaurants, to push forward with reopening plans after a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations over the summer have started to decline.
Abbott said the state has been divided into 22 regions where officials will monitor hospital capacity and coronavirus cases. In 19 of the 22 regions where hospitalizations related to Covid-19 are now less than 15% of all hospitalizations, more businesses that have been allowed to reopen at 50% capacity will be allowed to increase to 75% capacity beginning Monday, Abbott said.
That includes “all retail stores, all restaurants, all office buildings, all manufacturing, all museums and libraries and all gyms,” he said. Effective immediately, hospitals in those regions are allowed to resume elective procedures. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will be allowed to reopen for visitations beginning Sept. 24 as long as they don’t have a coronavirus outbreak, he said.
“Since late July, the spread of Covid-19 has steadily and significantly declined. The number of new cases and new hospitalizations have been cut by more than two-thirds. Just yesterday we had the lowest number of hospitalizations in the past three months,” Abbott said.
The three regions not allowed to move forward with their reopenings — the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo and Victoria — are located in the southern part of the state. Bars will remain closed for all regions as officials try to find ways to reopen them while ensuring the coronavirus transmission can be contained, Abbott said.
“Covid does still exist and most Texans remain susceptible,” Abbott said during a press conference. “If we fully reopen Texas without limits, without safe practices, it can lead to an unsustainable increase in Covid that would require the possibility of being forced to ratchet back down.”
This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.