Trump Signs Immigration Order; Korea’s GDP Shrinks: Virus Update

President Donald Trump signed an order Wednesday temporarily curbing immigration to limit competition for jobs as the U.S. moves toward reopening the economy.

New York reported the fewest daily fatalities since early April. Governor Andrew Cuomo said he plans to work with Connecticut and New Jersey tobuild a “tracing army” to track the virus’s spread, with California announcing a similar effort as a step to reopen economies.

Trump said he disagreed with the Georgia governor’s decision to begin relaxing social-distancing measures, a departure from the president’s repeated calls for states to reopen their economies.

South Korea’s economy suffered its worst contraction since the global financial crisis in the first quarter.

39,460 in U.S.Most new cases today

-18% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​124 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23 -0.​5% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), March

Key Developments

  • Virus Tracker: Cases top 2.6 million; deaths exceed 183,000
  • Trump signs executiveorder to curb immigration
  • FirstU.S. virus death came weeks before previously thought
  • U.S. health official says he wasousted over Trump-touted drug
  • Almost 9 in 10 patients onventilators died in study

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Trump Order on Immigration (7:55 a.m. HK)

President Trump signed the order on immigration and said at a White House briefing this was to protect “our great American workers.” The move “will ensure unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens. Crucially it will also preserve our health care resources for American patients.”

Read the full storyhere.

SK Hynix Reports Sales Increase (7:50 a.m. HK)

The company reported anincrease in sales of about 6% after rising memory chip orders from data center clients helped cushion headwinds from Covid-19. Hynix’s turnaround coincides with a major shift to working and learning from home brought about by the virus that’s spurring demand for cloud services and boosting server chip prices.

South Korea’s Economy Shrinks Most Since 2008 (7:21 a.m. HK)

South Korea’seconomy suffered its worst contraction since the global financial crisis in the first quarter as the spread of the coronavirus hit consumer spending and business activity.

Gross domestic product shrank 1.4% in the three months through March from the prior quarter. Economists had forecast a 1.5% contraction. South Korea was one of the first countries hit by the outbreak, with the world’s second-highest caseload in February. It has since managed to flatten the infection curve without forcing shutdowns.

Trump Says He Disagrees With Georgia Reopening Plans (6:42 a.m. HK)

President Trump said he spoke with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and told him he disagreed with the decision to relax some of the state’s restrictions. Tattoo studios, nail salons and massage parlors are among the businesses allowed to open in Georgia starting Friday.

“I disagree with what he’s doing,” Trump said at his daily briefing. “I think it’s too soon.”

CDC Director Denies Warning Second Wave May Be Worse (6:30 a.m. HK)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield denied telling the Washington Post that a second wave of the coronavirus in the U.S. this winter may be worse than what the country already has experienced.

“I didn’t say that this was going to be worse,” Redfield said Wednesday at a White House press conference. “I said it was going to be more difficult and potentially complicated” because of the flu and coronavirus circulating at the same time.

Redfield was quoted by the newspaper on Tuesday as saying a resurgence in the virus could coincide with flu season and strain the health-care system. He said Wednesday he was accurately quoted in the article, but that the headline lacked context.

Official Ousted for Questioning Trump-Touted Drug (6:04 a.m. HK)

Rick Bright, who left his role as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority this week, said he was removed from his post because he insisted on limiting the use of a drug President Trump has pushed as a Covid-19 treatment despite little clinical evidence it works.

The drugs Trump touted, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, “clearly lack scientific merit,” Bright said in a statement through his lawyers on Wednesday.

California to Expand Testing, Bring Back Surgeries (4:50 p.m. NY)

California Governor Gavin Newsom said he had a “very good” phone call Wednesday with President Trump, who agreed to send the state a minimum of 100,000 swabs needed to expand testing for the virus. Another 250,000 are expected next week, the governor said.

Newsom is aiming to sharply increase testing for the virus as a step toward reopening the world’s fifth-largest economy. California currently has capacity to test 16,000 people a day and expects to reach 25,000 by the end of the month, with an ultimate goal of 60,000 to 80,000, he said at a press briefing.

Harvard Won’t Take Stimulus Money (4:45 p.m. NY)

Harvard University, the richest U.S. college, said it won’t accept federal stimulus funds after a barrage of criticism, including from President Trump.

The U.S. government’s $2 trillion stimulus to combat the effects of coronavirus lockdowns across the country provided about $12.5 billion in direct aid for all colleges. Distribution of the funds was determined by a formula that meant some of the wealthiest schools were eligible for millions of dollars in aid.

Harvard said Wednesday it didn’t apply for the support, nor has it requested, received or accessed the funds.

U.S. Confirmed Cases Rise 3.1% (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases rose 3.1% from the day before to 835,316, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That was lower than Tuesday’s growth rate of 5.7% and below the average daily increase of 4.4% over the past week.

New York, the center of the U.S. outbreak, reported an additional 5,526 cases, for a total of 257,216, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Downstate New York is now on the descent of the curve.

Almost 90% of Patients on Ventilators Died (3:13 p.m. NY)

A study that examined outcomes for more than 2,600 patients found an extraordinarily high 88% death rate among Covid-19 patients in the New York City area who had to be placed on mechanical devices to help them breathe.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is one of the largest reviews published to date of Covid-19 patients hospitalized in the U.S. Overall, the researchers reported that 553 patients died, or 21%. bout 12% of the patients were sick enough to need ventilators.

Spain Extends State of Emergency (2:52 p.m. NY)

Spain’s parliament backed Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s request to extend a state of emergency to May 9, as the country tries to rein in the world’s second-most extensive coronavirus outbreak.

Spain reported a small increase in the number of new cases and deaths Wednesday, and overall the latest numbers are steady. More than 20,000 people have died from the disease, while some 86,000 have recovered.

EU’s Borrell Says U.S. Wrong to Deny Iran IMF Aid (2:18 p.m. NY)

European Union foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell criticized the U.S. for blocking International Monetary Fund aid for Iran to fight the coronavirus, saying Tehran’s request for a $5 billion emergency IMF loan is justified on humanitarian grounds.

“I really regret that the Americans -- that the United States -- are opposing the International Monetary Fund to take this decision,” Borrell told reporters in Brussels after chairing a video conference of foreign ministers from the 27-nation EU.

Protests Could Fuel Outbreak, WHO Warns (1:30 p.m. NY)

The head of the World Health Organization said protests could exacerbate the coronavirus crisis.

“Protests and gatherings in the middle of the pandemic will not help,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva. “It will only fuel the outbreak.”

Tedros also said he hopes the U.S. will reconsider the freeze on its financing, which also supports polio eradication and immunization of children. He said he has no extra energy to focus on anything but saving lives.

Reported cases are trending upward in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe, even though the numbers are low, Tedros said. Covid-19 appears to be stable or declining in most countries in Western Europe, Tedros said.

Pelosi Urges State Aid (12:40 p.m. NY)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a “major package” ofaid for state and local governments will be in the next stimulus legislation considered by Congress, setting up a conflict with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is urging a slowdown in doling out federal help.

The $484 billion aid plan set for passage by the House on Thursday is an “interim” step to mitigate some of the economic damage wrought by the pandemic, Pelosi said Wednesday on Bloomberg Television.

Italy Cases On Rise Again (12:15 p.m. NY)

Italy registered its highest number ofnew coronavirus cases in four days on Wednesday as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte prepares a stimulus package for an economy paralyzed by a nationwide lockdown.

The country also posted a record figure for recoveries from the disease, with 2,943 over the past 24 hours.

Figures from civil protection authorities show there were 3,370 new cases for the 24-hour period, compared with 2,729 a day earlier. Confirmed cases now total 187,327. Italy, the original European epicenter of the outbreak, registered 437 deaths linked to the virus on Wednesday, compared with 534 the day before. That brings total fatalities to 25,085.

NYC Mayor to Isolate Anyone With Virus (12:01 p.m. NY)

New York City officials intend to enlist thousands of health-care workers next month to conduct hundreds of thousands of diagnostic tests a day, and isolating anyone found to be carrying the disease.

The plan, which hinges on the city’s still-unmet capacity to test residents, will require training thousands of “disease detectives” to interview each individual found positive for the virus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news briefing Wednesday. The city would then trace his or her social contacts to test and isolate them if necessary.

— With assistance by Anand Krishnamoorthy

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