Trump extends social distancing guidelines as governors warn of shortages

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: A stamp seller shows off special postcards with anti-coronavirus images in Hanoi, Vietnam March 31, 2020.
A stamp seller shows off special postcards with anti-coronavirus images in Hanoi, Vietnam March 31, 2020.Kham / Reuters

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President Donald Trump announced Sunday that he's extending his administration's guidelines on social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak until April 30. The move marks a significant change for the president, who said last week that he wanted to see much of the country return to normal by Easter, April 12, despite warnings from top health experts that easing guidelines could cause widespread death and economic damage.

Meanwhile, in an interview with "TODAY" on Monday morning, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said she's "very worried" about every city in the U.S., saying 100,000 to 200,000 American deaths would be the outcome of a response that works "almost perfectly," according to projections.

Birx's stark message comes after a weekend where the governors of Michigan and Louisiana warned of a lack of resources to respond to the crisis and said that shortages of ventilators and protective equipment could overwhelm hospitals as soon as this week.

The global death toll is now nearly 35,000, and there are more than 140,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Macy's to furlough most of its 130,000 employees

Macy's will be putting the majority of its 130,000 workers on furlough, the company said Monday. 

"Across Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Bluemercury brands, we will be moving to the absolute minimum workforce needed to maintain basic operations," the company said in a statement. "This means the majority of our colleagues will go on furlough beginning this week."

Most of the furloughs will be in Macy's stores, which have been shut down since March 18, with some furloughs in Macy's online businesses, distribution centers and call centers.

The company said furloughed employees will continue to receive health benefits through at least May.

Johnson & Johnson to start human trials of coronavirus vaccine in September

Johnson & Johnson announced Monday that it has selected a coronavirus vaccine candidate to test in humans.

The experimental vaccine will begin the first phase of human clinical trials in September, and if the testing goes as planned, the first round of vaccines could be administered under emergency authorization in early 2021, according to the company.

Johnson & Johnson has been working on a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, since January. In an interview with the “TODAY” show, the company’s chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky said it’s a candidate “that has a high degree of probability of being successful.” 

J&J also revealed plans to devote more than $1 billion for vaccine research, development and testing in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Economy will be back on track by June, says Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

The government will provide eight weeks of payroll to small businesses, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business on Monday, for a total of around $350 billion.

If those funds do not prove to be enough, "we will go back to Congress" to negotiate for more, he said.

The economy will likely surge back by June, Mnuchin said, adding that the stock market with "absolutely" return to its previous highs. For long-term investors, the U.S. is still a great bet, he said, echoing the message frequently disseminated by Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump's top economic adviser.

Mnuchin said the administration hopes to release further instructions for small businesses later on Monday.

Facebook commits $100 million for news organizations

Facebook has announced a $100 million commitment to support news organizations covering the coronavirus pandemic, bolstering last year's $300 million investment in local news.

Facebook will give $25 million in emergency grant funding for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project and $75 million in additional marketing spend in select news outlets.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced advertisers to cut their budgets, depriving news outlets of much-needed revenue and raising existential questions about the long-term health of the industry, particularly at the local level.

Spain surpasses China's total number of cases

An ambulance driver disinfects a healthcare worker outside Gregorio Marañon Hospital on Monday in Madrid.Xaume Olleros / Getty Images

Spain has become the third country to surpass the total number of reported coronavirus infections in China.

The country's health ministry announced 6,398 new cases Monday, bringing the total to 85,195 cases.

That number is higher than China's reported 81,470 cases as of Monday. 

The U.S. currently has the most confirmed coronavirus cases with 142,801 infections. Italy is second with 97,689 coronavirus cases. 

Birx predicts up to 200,000 deaths if U.S. acts 'almost perfectly'

The White House coronavirus response coordinator said Monday that she is "very worried about every city in the United States" and projects 100,000 to 200,000 American deaths as a best case scenario.

In an interview on "TODAY," Dr. Deborah Birx painted a grim message about the expected fatalities, echoing that they could hit as high as 2.2 million without any measures, as coronavirus cases continue to climb throughout the country.

"I think everyone understands now that you can go from five to 50 to 500 to 5,000 cases very quickly," Birx said.

Read the full story here.

Israel's Netanyahu to self isolate after aide tests positive

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is self-isolating after one of his aides tested positive for the coronavirus. 

The prime minister’s office said Monday that Netanyahu and his close staff would remain in isolation until an epidemiological investigation into his contact with the aide had been completed. The ministry of health and the prime minister’s personal physician would determine the day to end the isolation, Netanyahu’s office said. 

The announcement came as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister is currently negotiating to form an emergency unity government with his chief political rival, Benny Gantz. It looks set to allow Netanyahu to retain power. Israel has recorded more than 4,300 positive cases, including 482 in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry. Fifteen people have died in Israel due to the disease.

Tokyo Olympics rescheduled to start in July 2021

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that were postponed last week because of the coronavirus pandemic have been rescheduled for next summer.

The games will open on July 23 and close on Aug. 8, 2021. The Paralympics will be held Aug. 24 through Sept. 5, 2021.

They were originally scheduled to take place between July 24 and Aug. 9 this year, but Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee agreed last Tuesday to postpone the games, as countries around the world struggle to contain the epidemic that has claimed more than 34,000 lives and forced millions around the world into lockdowns.

Read the full story here.

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