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The missing six weeks: how Trump failed the biggest test of his life | US news

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When the definitive history of the coronavirus pandemic is written, the date 20 January 2020 is certain to feature prominently. It was on that day that a 35-year-old man in Washington state, recently returned from visiting family in Wuhan in China, became the first person in the US to be diagnosed with the virus.

On the very same day, 5,000 miles away in Asia, the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was reported in South Korea. The confluence was striking, but there the similarities ended.

In the two months since that fateful day, the responses to coronavirus displayed by the US and South Korea have been polar opposites.

One country acted swiftly and aggressively to detect and isolate the virus, and by doing so has largely contained the crisis. The other country dithered and procrastinated, became mired in chaos and confusion, was distracted by the individual whims of its leader, and is now confronted by a health emergency of daunting proportions.

Within a week of its first confirmed case, South Korea’s disease control agency had summoned 20 private companies to the medical equivalent of a war-planning summit and told them to develop a test for the virus at lightning speed. A week after that, the first diagnostic test was approved and went into battle, identifying infected individuals who could then be quarantined to halt the advance of the disease.

A nurse at testing booth outside the Yangji hospital in Seoul.



A nurse at testing booth outside the Yangji hospital in Seoul. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

Some 357,896 tests later, the country has more or less won the coronavirus war. On Friday only 91 new cases were reported in a country of more than 50 million.

The US response tells a different story. Two days after the first diagnosis in Washington state, Donald Trump went on air on CNBC and bragged: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming from China. It’s going to be just fine.”

‘A fiasco of incredible proportions’

A week after that, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion article by two former top health policy officials within the Trump administration under the headline Act Now to Prevent an American Epidemic. Luciana Borio and Scott Gottlieb laid out a menu of what had to be done instantly to avert a massive health disaster.

Top of their to-do list: work with private industry to develop an “easy-to-use, rapid diagnostic test” – in other words, just what South Korea was doing.

It was not until 29 February, more than a month after the Journal article and almost six weeks after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the country that the Trump administration put that advice into practice. Laboratories and hospitals would finally be allowed to conduct their own Covid-19 tests to speed up the process.

Those missing four to six weeks are likely to go down in the definitive history as a cautionary tale of the potentially devastating consequences of failed political leadership. Today, 86,012 cases have been confirmed across the US, pushing the nation to the top of the world’s coronavirus league table – above even China.

More than a quarter of those cases are in New York City, now a global center of the coronavirus pandemic, with New Orleans also raising alarm. Nationally, 1,301 people have died.

Most worryingly, the curve of cases continues to rise precipitously, with no sign of the plateau that has spared South Korea.

“The US response will be studied for generations as a textbook example of a disastrous, failed effort,” Ron Klain, who spearheaded the fight against Ebola in 2014, told a Georgetown university panel recently. “What’s happened in Washington has been a fiasco of incredible proportions.”

An empty Times Square. New York is now considered a global center of the pandemic.



An empty Times Square. New York is now considered a global center of the pandemic. Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Reuters

Jeremy Konyndyk, who led the US government’s response to international disasters at USAid from 2013 to 2017, frames the past six weeks in strikingly similar terms. He told the Guardian: “We are witnessing in the United States one of the greatest failures of basic governance and basic leadership in modern times.”

In Konyndyk’s analysis, the White House had all the information it needed by the end of January to act decisively. Instead, Trump repeatedly played down the severity of the threat, blaming China for what he called the “Chinese virus” and insisting falsely that his partial travel bans on China and Europe were all it would take to contain the crisis.

‘The CDC was caught flat-footed’

If Trump’s travel ban did nothing else, it staved off to some degree the advent of the virus in the US, buying a little time. Which makes the lack of decisive action all the more curious.

“We didn’t use that time optimally, especially in the case of testing,” said William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University medical center. “We have been playing reluctant catch-up throughout.”

As Schaffner sees it, the stuttering provision of mass testing “put us behind the eight-ball” right at the start. “It did not permit us, and still doesn’t permit us, to define the extent of the virus in this country.”

Though the decision to allow private and state labs to provide testing has increased the flow of test kits, the US remains starkly behind South Korea, which has conducted more than five times as many tests per capita. That makes predicting where the next hotspot will pop up after New York and New Orleans almost impossible.

The National Guard is helping to manage a Covid-19 testing site in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans.



The national guard is helping to manage a Covid-19 testing site in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans. Photograph: Bryan Tarnowski for the Guardian

In the absence of sufficient test kits, the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initially kept a tight rein on testing, creating a bottleneck. “I believe the CDC was caught flat-footed,” was how the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, put it on 7 March. “They’re slowing down the state.”

The CDC’s botched rollout of testing was the first indication that the Trump administration was faltering as the health emergency gathered pace. Behind the scenes, deep flaws in the way federal agencies had come to operate under Trump were being exposed.

In 2018 the pandemic unit in the national security council – which was tasked to prepare for health emergencies precisely like the current one – was disbanded. “Eliminating the office has contributed to the federal government’s sluggish domestic response,” Beth Cameron, senior director of the office at the time it was broken up, wrote in the Washington Post.

Disbanding the unit exacerbated a trend that was already prevalent after two years of Trump – an exodus of skilled and experienced officials who knew what they were doing. “There’s been an erosion of expertise, of competent leadership, at important levels of government,” a former senior government official told the Guardian.

“Over time there was a lot of paranoia and people left and they had a hard time attracting good replacements,” the official said. “Nobody wanted to work there.”

It was hardly a morale-boosting gesture when Trump proposed a 16% cut in CDC funding on 10 February – 11 days after the World Health Organization had declared a public health emergency over Covid-19.

Schaffner, who describes himself as the “president of the CDC fan club”, said he has been saddened by how sidelined the CDC has become over the past two months. “Here we have the public health issue of our era and one doesn’t hear from the CDC, the premier public health organization in the world,” Schaffner said.

Under Trump, anti-science sweeps through DC

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates the diagnostic tests and will control any new treatments for coronavirus, has also shown vulnerabilities. The agency recently indicated that it was looking into the possibility of prescribing the malaria drug chloroquine for coronavirus sufferers, even though there is no evidence it would work and some indication it could have serious side-effects.

The decision dismayed experts, given that Trump has personally pushed the unproven remedy on a whim. It smacked of the wave of anti-science sentiment sweeping federal agencies under this presidency.

As the former senior official put it: “We have the FDA bowing to political pressure and making decisions completely counter to modern science.”

Highly respected career civil servants, with impeccable scientific credentials, have struggled to get out in front of the president. Dr Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert who has become a rare trusted face in the administration amid the coronavirus scourge, has expressed his frustration.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo with Dr Anthony Fauci and HHS secretary Alex Azar.



The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, with Dr Anthony Fauci and the health secretary, Alex Azar. Photograph: Al Drago/EPA

This week Fauci was asked by a Science magazine writer, Jon Cohen, how he could stand beside Trump at daily press briefings and listen to him misleading the American people with comments such as that the China travel ban had been a great success in blocking entry of the virus. Fauci replied: “I know, but what do you want me to do? I mean, seriously Jon, let’s get real, what do you want me to do?”

Trump has designated himself a “wartime president”. But if the title bears any validity, his military tactics have been highly unconventional. He has exacerbated the problems encountered by federal agencies by playing musical chairs at the top of the coronavirus force.

The president began by creating on 29 January a special coronavirus taskforce, then gave Vice-President Mike Pence the job, who promptly appointed Deborah Birx “coronavirus response coordinator”, before the federal emergency agency Fema began taking charge of key areas, with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, creating a shadow team that increasingly appears to be calling the shots.

“There’s no point of responsibility,” the former senior official told the Guardian. “It keeps shifting. Nobody owns the problem.”

Trump: everything’s going to be great

Amid the confusion, day-to-day management of the crisis has frequently come directly from Trump himself via his Twitter feed. The president, with more than half an eye on the New York stock exchange, has consistently talked down the scale of the crisis.

On 30 January, as the World Health Organization was declaring a global emergency, Trump said: “We only have five people. Hopefully, everything’s going to be great.”

On 24 February, Trump claimed “the coronavirus is very much under control in the USA”. The next day, Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s top official on respiratory diseases, took the radically different approach of telling the truth, warning the American people that “disruption to everyday life might be severe”.

Trump was reportedly so angered by the comment and its impact on share prices that he shouted down the phone at Messonnier’s boss, the secretary of health and human services, Alex Azar.

“Messonnier was 100% right. She gave a totally honest and accurate assessment,” Konyndyk told the Guardian. And for that, Trump angrily rebuked her department. “That sent a very clear message about what is and isn’t permissible to say.”

Traders, some in medical masks, work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange last week. Traders are now trading remotely.



Traders, some in medical masks, work on the floor of the New York stock exchange last week. Traders are now working remotely. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Konyndyk recalls attending a meeting in mid-February with top Trump administration officials present in which the only topic of conversation was the travel bans. That’s when he began to despair about the federal handling of the crisis.

“I thought, ‘Holy Jesus!’ Where’s the discussion on protecting our hospitals? Where’s the discussion on high-risk populations, on surveillance so we can detect where the virus is. I knew then that the president had set the priority, the bureaucracy was following it, but it was the wrong priority.”

So it has transpired. In the wake of the testing disaster has come the personal protective equipment (PPE) disaster, the hospital bed disaster, and now the ventilator disaster.

Ventilators, literal life preservers, are in dire short supply across the country. When governors begged Trump to unleash the full might of the US government on this critical problem, he gave his answer on 16 March.

In a phrase that will stand beside 20 January 2020 as one of the most revelatory moments of the history of coronavirus, he said: “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment – try getting it yourselves.”

To date, the Trump administration has supplied 400 ventilators to New York. By Cuomo’s estimation, 30,000 are needed.

“You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?” Cuomo scathingly asked on Tuesday. “You pick the 26,000 who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.”

‘A total vacuum of federal leadership’

In the absence of a strong federal response, a patchwork of efforts has sprouted all across the country. State governors are doing their own thing. Cities, even individual hospitals, are coping as best they can.

In an improvised attempt to address such inconsistencies, charitable startups have proliferated on social media. Konyndyk has clubbed together with fellow disaster relief experts to set up Covid Local, an online “quick and dirty” guide to how to fight a pandemic.

“We are seeing the emergence of 50-state anarchy, because of a total vacuum of federal leadership. It’s absurd that thinktanks and Twitter are providing more actionable guidance in the US than the federal government, but that’s where we are.”

Valerie Griffeth is a founding member of another of the new online startups that are trying to fill the Trump void. Set up by emergency department doctors across the country, GetUsPPE.org seeks to counter the top-down chaos that is putting frontline health workers like herself in danger through a dearth of protective gear.

Griffeth is an emergency and critical care physician in Portland, Oregon. She spends most days now in intensive care treating perilously ill patients with coronavirus.

Medical personnel are silhouetted against the back of a tent at a coronavirus test site in Tampa, Florida.



Medical personnel are silhouetted against the back of a tent at a coronavirus test site in Tampa, Florida. Photograph: Chris O’Meara/AP

Her hospital is relatively well supplied, she said, but even so protective masks will run out within two weeks. “We are all worried about it, we’re scared for our own health, the health of our families, of our patients.”

Early on in the crisis, Griffeth said, it dawned on her and many of her peers that the federal government to which they would normally look to keep them safe was nowhere to be seen. They resigned themselves to a terrible new reality.

“We said to ourselves we are going to get exposed to the virus. When the federal government isn’t there to provide adequate supplies, it’s just a matter of time.”

But just in the last few days, Griffeth has started to see the emergence of something else. She has witnessed an explosion of Americans doing it for themselves, filling in the holes left by Trump’s failed leadership.

“People are stepping up all around us,” she said. “I’m amazed by what has happened in such short time. It gives me hope.”

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Demonstrators Abroad Identify With the Cause of US Protests | World News

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Demonstrators from Australia to Europe identified themselves with the cause of U.S. protests and urged their own governments to address racism and police violence.

An indigenous Australian lawmaker called on governments to use George Floyd’s death as an opportunity to reduce deaths of indigenous people in custody.

Floyd died last week after he was pinned to the pavement by a police officer who put his knee on the handcuffed black man’s neck until he stopped breathing. His death in Minneapolis set off protests that spread across America.

Linda Burney, the opposition spokeswoman on indigenous Australians, said on Tuesday more than 430 indigenous people had died in Australian police custody since 1991.

“I think we should be using it as an opportunity,” Burney told Australian Broadcasting Corp., referring to Floyd’s death. “Whether we like it or not, it doesn’t take much for racism to come out of the underbelly of this country.”

“It seems to me that there are lots of things that state and territory governments could do, and the federal government could do to lower the number of Aboriginal people in custody,” she added.

While indigenous adults make up only 2% of the Australian population, they account for 27% of the prison population.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese backed Burney’s call. “There are far too many indigenous Australians who are incarcerated today. As a percentage of the population, this is a tragedy and it’s one that must be addressed as an absolute national priority,” Albanese told reporters.

European protesters carried similar messages. Thousands spilled across streets in Amsterdam to denounce police brutality, and those demonstrating in Paris urged the French government to take police violence more seriously and held up signs like “Racism is suffocating us.”

In Australia’s west coast city of Perth, hundreds of demonstrators who peacefully protested Floyd’s death sought to highlight injustices against indigenous Australians. Protesters carried banners with messages including “No Pride in Genocide” and tears appeared as the names of indigenous people who have died in Australian police custody were read to the crowd.

Some government leaders have seen the U.S. unrest as a chance to highlight what they see as American hypocrisy on protest movements at home versus abroad.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam She questioned the foreign criticism over an imminent national security law being imposed in the territory.

“They take their own country’s national security very seriously, but for the security of our country, especially the situation in Hong Kong, they are looking at it through tinted glasses,” she said.

Follow AP’s latest news about the protests at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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UK contact tracers not fully occupied, says coronavirus testing chief | World news

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Many of the 18,000 contact tracers recruited to find new cases of coronavirus are “not fully occupied”, the government’s testing chief has admitted, although he insisted people were reacting positively to being asked to isolate for 14 days.

Prof John Newton, who is coordinating the testing programme, said the new system was “working well”, despite numerous reports from the newly recruited contact tracers that they had nothing to do.

He said there was “a lot of capacity” and “many of them are not fully occupied” but he highlighted the fact that the number of new daily cases was coming down.

Speaking alongside Newton at No 10’s daily press conference, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said the test-and-trace system was “up and running”.

“It’s successful, I’m very glad to report that those who are asked to isolate by the contact tracers are expressing the willingness to do so and we track that very carefully.”

He added: “The level of incidence of disease has come down and so actually we have more capacity than we need; this is a good thing.

“I think to err on the side of having too many contact tracers is the right side to err on. I’d rather have too many people trained and ready to go.”

Contact tracing is one of the most basic planks of public health responses to a pandemic like the coronavirus. It means literally tracking down anyone that somebody with an infection may have had contact with in the days before they became ill. It was – and always will be – central to the fight against Ebola, for instance. In west Africa in 2014-15, there were large teams of people who would trace relatives and knock on the doors of neighbours and friends to find anyone who might have become infected by touching the sick person.

Most people who get Covid-19 will be infected by their friends, neighbours, family or work colleagues, so they will be first on the list. It is not likely anyone will get infected by someone they do not know, passing on the street.

It is still assumed there has to be reasonable exposure – originally experts said people would need to be together for 15 minutes, less than 2 metres apart. So a contact tracer will want to know who the person testing positive met and talked to over the two or three days before they developed symptoms and went into isolation.

South Korea has large teams of contact tracers and notably chased down all the contacts of a religious group, many of whose members fell ill. That outbreak was efficiently stamped out by contact tracing and quarantine.

Singapore and Hong Kong have also espoused testing and contact tracing and so has Germany. All those countries have had relatively low death rates so far. The World Health Organization says it should be the “backbone of the response” in every country.

Sarah Boseley Health editor

Neither Hancock nor Newton could say how many positive cases had asked for their contacts to be traced so far, how many people had been asked to isolate, how many of those had gone on to test positive or when those figures would be made public.

At the briefing, Hancock announced the lowest number of daily deaths, 111, since the lockdown began, although this did not include 445 extra deaths from 24 April to 31 May that were listed in an annexe.

The number of new daily cases confirmed through a positive test was 1,570, which is also the lowest since the start of the lockdown. However, scientists estimate that the number of new daily infections is still running at about 8,000 per day in the community, meaning many are going under the radar.

With concerns that the contact-tracing system is still not in a good enough state to be effective, Clive Betts, the chairman of the communities, housing and local government committee, wrote to Boris Johnson demanding more details on how it would work.

“We would like the government to set out the respective roles of all the different organisations involved and publish this online,” he wrote, asking for clarification on how the new joint biosecurity council (JBS) would be asked to advise local authorities.

Hancock acknowledged on Monday that the new JBS does not yet formally exist.

He told the Downing Street press conference: “We are getting it stood up, making sure that all the information flows come to it so it is able to analyse them and to make sure that it gets set up correctly. All that work is being done as we speak.”

He added that “it’s being formulated at the moment”.


Ed Davey, the acting Lib Dem leader, said it was “concerning” that the government was not yet making the testing, tracing and isolation data available to the public. 

“The government claims to be ‘led by the science’ but with members of Sage publicly warning against the government’s policy and little access to data about test, trace, isolate, a science-led approach is looking like a threadbare claim. The press conference today raised even more concerns about lockdown beginning to be lifted too early,” he said.

“The government approach to coronavirus is becoming increasingly confused and chaotic, whilst the majority of people just want clarity so they can keep safe.”

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Gilead drug helps patients with ‘moderate’ cases

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People across the U.S. gathered in mass protests against police brutality after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, raising concerns of further virus spread through the demonstrations. More than 1.7 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus and over 104,000 have died due to Covid-19. Black Americans have made up a disproportionate share of the deaths as underlying conditions, income inequality and disparity in access to health care have exacerbated the outbreak in the community.

Some state and city officials have urged protesters to seek Covid-19 testing and to limit movements in the weeks following the demonstrations in an effort to prevent infections. 

This is CNBC’s live blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks. 

  • Global cases: More than 6.19 million
  • Global deaths: At least 372,479
  • U.S. cases: More than 1.79 million
  • U.S. deaths: At least 104,383

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Missouri casinos reopen in spite of protests

3:26 p.m. ET — Missouri’s governor and gaming regulators allowed casinos to reopen as scheduled, despite protests and civil unrest over the weekend.

Eldorado Resorts will reopen five properties in Missouri and Iowa, including Lumiere Place near the iconic St. Louis arch. Jeffries gaming analyst Jeffrey Katz anticipates fear over violence could keep away some visitors, in some places.

SunTrust gaming analyst Barry Jonas said guests who drive to casinos, rather than fly to their destinations, are typically more risk-tolerant than other kinds of leisure travelers, who aren’t traveling anyway because of coronavirus.

Eldorado President and COO Anthony Carano said in a corporate release, “We have been working very hard over the last two months to prepare for these reopenings and we look forward to providing the outstanding service and hospitality experiences our casinos in Missouri and Iowa are known for in a safe manner.”

Casinos in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada are scheduled to reopen Thursday. But this weekend, the Reno mayor declared a citywide emergency, the governor ordered up the National Guard, and police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters on the Las Vegas Strip. —Contessa Brewer

WHO says ‘if we let the virus go, it will transmit’

Medical personnel move a deceased patient to a refrigerated truck serving as make shift morgues at Brooklyn Hospital Center on April 09, 2020 in New York City.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

2:45 p.m. ET — World Health Organization officials advised caution about reports that the coronavirus is “losing potency. They said “this is still a killer virus” and thousands of people are still dying daily.

“If we let the virus go, it will transmit. If we let the virus go, it will infect people and it will cause severe illness in about 20% of people,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit.

Last week, WHO officials warned that countries with declining coronavirus infections could still face an “immediate second peak” if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Protests are ‘counterproductive’ to NYC’s coronavirus battle, Gov. Cuomo says

Protesters gather at Barclays Center to protest the recent killing of George Floyd on May 29, 2020 in Brooklyn in New York City.

Kevin Mazur | Getty Images

2:26 p.m. ET — The George Floyd protests that rocked New York City over the weekend threaten to set back the city’s efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“We spent all this time closed down, locked down, masked, socially distanced and then you turn on the TV and you see these mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people after everything that we have done,” he said.

Cuomo announced last week that he expected New York City to meet the state requirements for shifting into phase one of the state’s reopening plan on June 8. —Will Feuer

Tips for talking to your employer about making a permanent change to working from home

2:05 p.m. ET — Enjoying working from home? You’re not alone.

Prior to the pandemic, just 14% of employees in the U.S. worked from home five days a week. Now, as offices around the country remain shut down to stop the spread of the coronavirus, that share has swelled to more than 60%. And 3 in 5 workers say they don’t want to return to the old days, according to a Gallup survey. 

CNBC spoke to negotiation experts on how to best make the case to your boss that you can be as productive at home.

The first thing you need to do is to find out if your employer has taken a stance on working from home, said Deborah Kolb, author of Negotiating at Work: Turn Small Wins Into Big Gains. —Annie Nova

Pandemic sparks downward shift in tech deals

WHO wants to continue working with U.S.

12:42 p.m. ET — The World Health Organization hopes to continue its relationship with the U.S. despite President Donald Trump’s announcement that he plans to cut ties with the agency, CNBC’s Berkeley Lovelace Jr. reports. 

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world has “long benefited” from the agency’s collaboration with the U.S., and that the organization wishes the partnership would continue

Trump said Friday that the WHO “failed to make the requested greatly needed reform” and criticized its response to the pandemic. —Hannah Miller

Gilead says remdesivir helped patients suffering from ‘moderate’ form of Covid-19

Empty vials of investigational coronavirus disease (Covid-19) treatment drug remdesivir are washed at a Gilead Sciences facility in La Verne, California, U.S. March 18, 2020.

Gilead Sciences Inc | Reuters

Lowe’s launches new virtual home repair tool

12:09 p.m. ET — Think of it as telemedicine, but for a leaky pipe or broken toilet.

Lowe’s has launched a new video tool to make it easier for plumbers, electricians and other home professionals to virtually visit customers’ homes during the pandemic. It’s offering the video service for free for any professionals who join its new loyalty program.

With the video service, a home professional can consult with a customer and help troubleshoot a problem. The pro can use an on-screen laser pointer or a drawing tool to guide customers or help them make a repair – or capture a serial number and identify parts to order if an in-person visit is needed. —Melissa Repko

Why activists are pushing for rent forgiveness during the pandemic

A house for rent in California.

Getty Images

11:20 a.m. ET — With over 40 million Americans out of work due to coronavirus pandemic, calls to #CancelRent have proliferated on social media and at demonstrations across the country. Some politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), are joining progressive activists and calling for rent cancellation for those unable to pay during the pandemic.

“There should be rent forgiveness and there should be mortgage forgiveness now in the middle of this crisis,” Biden said earlier in the month on the Snapchat show “Good Luck America.” “Not paid later — forgiveness. It’s critically important to people who are in the lower-income strata.”

The fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has hit renters especially hard, Tara Raghuveer, director of KC Tenants, a tenants rights group in Kansas City, tells CNBC Make It. Relative to homeowners, tenants typically have lower incomes and savings and less job stability, according to the Urban Institute, making them “more vulnerable than homeowners during this unstable time.”

As eviction moratoriums put in place at the beginning of the pandemic begin to lift, Raghuveer says the current situation could play out like 2008 — with landlords losing their properties and tenants facing eviction across the country — if broader relief does not come. “If rental assistance comes in three months, it’s too late,” says Raghuveer. “You’ll see thousands of families displaced with nowhere to go.” —Alicia Adamczyk

Budget airline Frontier starts taking travelers’ temperatures 

10:36 a.m. ET — Frontier Airlines became the first major U.S. airline to start checking passengers’ temperatures before they board, an attempt at calming concerns about the spread of Covid-19 in air travel.

The ultra-low-cost airline plans to use thermometer guns on travelers. If passengers have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, they will be allowed to rest before getting a second check. If they still have 100.4F reading or higher they will be told “they will not be flying that day for the health and safety of others,” the airline said. “Frontier will work with that customer to rebook travel on a later date or otherwise accommodate the traveler’s preferences with respect to their reservation.”

Major U.S. carriers have said that it should be the government’s responsibility to check temperatures while labor unions have pushed for federal mandates, not just guidelines. The Department of Homeland Security, of which the Transportation Security Administration is a part, has said it’s considering traveler temperature checks but hasn’t yet provided a firm timeline. —Leslie Josephs

Officials warn protests could help virus spread

10:05 a.m. ET — As protests erupt across the U.S., officials are sounding the alarm that such mass gatherings could allow the coronavirus spread throughout the population.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of challenges coming out of the events of the past week,” former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in an interview on “Squawk Box” on Monday. “One of them’s going to be that probably chains of transmission will have gotten lit by large gatherings. I don’t think there’s really a question about that.”

States have eased restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus in recent weeks, particularly as some studies indicate the virus doesn’t spread as easily outdoors. However, the protests present a significantly larger risk to increasing spread of the virus, Gottlieb said.

“This isn’t a day at the beach or going out to a picnic where you’re outside and you might be in larger groups but there’s some social distancing and you’re able to take some precautions,” he said. “In these kinds of gatherings, in these kinds of crowds, many of which lost control of the crowds, you’re not going to be able to take those kinds of precautions.” —Will Feuer

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer and biotech company Illumina.

Southwest offers employees voluntary separation packages in bid to avoid layoffs

Southwest airline planes sit on the tarmac at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport on February 20, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

9:47 a.m. ET — Southwest Airlines is the latest carrier to offer employees voluntary separation and partially paid leaves, an effort to reduce headcount and to avoid layoffs or furloughs.

While airlines are suffering from a plunge in demand because of the pandemic, they are prohibited from laying off or cutting the pay rates of their employees through Sept. 30 under the conditions of $25 billion in federal coronavirus relief dedicated to supporting payroll.

Southwest told employees they can take a minimum of six months off and receive partial pay, and all benefits and travel privileges. Another option is a voluntary separation that includes travel privileges for four years and a severance package.

“The voluntary programs are the most generous packages ever offered in Southwest’s history and will assist with matching staffing levels to the current decline in demand due to COVID-19,” the airline said. The low-cost airline, which employed just over 60,000 people as of the end of 2019, boasts that it has avoided laying off or furloughing workers and that it wants to keep its streak going.

American, United and Delta also rolled out voluntary leave, separation and early retirement programs last week to front-line workers as well as management and administrative employees. —Leslie Josephs

Dow drops 100 points at open as Wall Street aims for third monthly advance in June

9:40 a.m. ET — The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 130 points just after the opening bell while the S&P 500 lost 0.35% and the Nasdaq Composite shed nearly 0.2%. As June trading began on Wall Street, investors looked to extend gains seen since April.

Read updates on stock market activity from CNBC’s Fred Imbert. —Melodie Warner

Fauci concerned about new cases as states work to reopen

9:35 a.m. ET — Photos of crowded bars and packed beaches have made Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, concerned about a potential resurgence in coronavirus cases.

“If people want to get out, they’ve really got to gauge it with the level of the outbreak in their particular area,” Fauci said in an interview with STAT.

Fauci also spoke about vaccine development and said initial data from the first phase of the Moderna vaccine trial “looked very promising from the neutralizing antibody standpoint.” However, he said Moderna should have waited until it had all the data from the first phase before discussing it with the public. —Hannah Miller

New cases reported by region

Eli Lilly starts world’s first human study of potential antibody treatment

7:07 a.m. ET — Eli Lilly said it has begun dosing the first patients in a study of its potential antibody treatment for Covid-19.

The trial started ahead of that of rival Regeneron, which is also developing a potential antibody treatment. Eli Lilly said it expects results from the phase one study by the end of June. Phase one trials of the potential treatment, which uses antibodies from recovered patients to limit the virus’ ability to reproduce, aims to determine whether the treatment is safe for humans. A phase two trial would determine its efficacy in fighting the virus.

Antibody therapies could be used to prevent and treat Covid-19, said Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, Eli Lilly’s chief scientific officer. He added that the potential treatment was developed in partnership with AbCellera and researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“We are privileged to help usher in this new era of drug development with the first potential new medicine specifically designed to attack the virus,” Skovronsky said in a statement. —Will Feuer

American Seafoods confirms 86 positive cases on vessel

6:46 a.m. ET — Seafood processing company American Seafoods has confirmed that a further 85 crew members of one of its vessels have tested positive for Covid-19.

The testing of the entire crew of the American Dynasty followed a positive test of one crew member while the vessel was in port at Bellingham, Washington.

Results are pending for nine outstanding tests, the company said in a statement Sunday. It operates six fish processing vessels

“The American Dynasty has returned to our home port of Seattle. All crew is being quarantined,” American Seafoods said. “American Seafoods is cooperating with the U.S. Coast Guard, the CDC, the Seattle/King County Health Department, Whatcom County Health Department, and the Port of Seattle.” —Holly Ellyatt

Read CNBC’s previous coronavirus live coverage here: Global cases top 6.1 million; China says U.S. ‘addicted to quitting’ after WHO withdrawal

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