Health and Science

US tops more than 750,000 cases as Trump says he will use DPA to increase medical swabs

The coverage on this live blog has ended — but for up-to-the-minute coverage on the coronavirus outbreak, visit the live blog from CNBC's Asia-Pacific team.

  • Global cases: More than 2.3 million
  • Global deaths: At least 164,000
  • US cases: More than 750,000
  • US deaths: More than 40,000

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

All times below are in Eastern time.

6:31 pm: US tops more than 750,000 cases as Trump says he will use DPA to increase medical swabs

President Donald Trump shows a packaging containing a swab to be used for coronavirus testing during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. on April 19, 2020.
Alexander Drago I Reuters

The total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is currently at 755,533, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The virus has now killed more than 40,000 people in the U.S., nearly a quarter of all deaths from Covid-19 across the globe, according to JHU data.

New York, the current epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., is recording over 500 deaths a day. President Donald Trump said at a press conference that his administration is looking at helping rural hospitals which have been hurt very badly. He also said he was going to use the Defense Production Act to increase swab production at one facility amid coronavirus testing shortage. The president's announcement comes after governors demanded federal help to ramp up testing across the U.S. —Riya Bhattacharjee, Noah Higgins-Dunn

6 pm: Ireland unlikely to see packed pubs, big gatherings soon, minister says

Ireland is highly unlikely to allow large gatherings this year and the "cocooning" of people over 70 years old in their homes may persist for quite a while, Health Minister Simon Harris said on Sunday.

"What's not going to come back quickly are scenarios in which we can't safely socially distance," Harris told the Sunday Independent newspaper in an interview. "I can't see how people can be in packed pubs again as long as this virus is still with us and we don't have a vaccine or an effective treatment."

Ireland's chief medical officer declared on Thursday that the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak had been contained in the population at large. That raised hopes that stay-at-home restrictions could begin to be rolled back from May 5.

But Harris cautioned that any easing back of the most severe constraints will be done on a slow and phased basis. "I'd like to see a situation where you could expand somewhat the areas in which people can go beyond their home," he said. —Reuters

5:35 pm: Neiman Marcus to file for bankruptcy as soon as this week, sources say

Neiman Marcus is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, becoming the first major U.S. department store operator to succumb to the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, people familiar with the matter said.

The debt-laden Dallas-based company has been left with few options after the pandemic forced it to temporarily shut all 43 of its Neiman Marcus locations, roughly two dozen Last Call stores and its two Bergdorf Goodman stores in New York.

Neiman Marcus is in the final stages of negotiating a loan with its creditors totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, which would sustain some of its operations during bankruptcy proceedings, according to the sources. It has also furloughed many of its roughly 14,000 employees. —Reuters

5 pm: G20 health ministers acknowledge health systems' vulnerability to pandemics

Health ministers from the Group of 20 major economies discussed weaknesses in health systems that made the world vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak and other pandemics, a statement said after a virtual meeting on Sunday.

The Saudi G20 secretariat said that the ministers shared their national experiences, addressed necessary actions to improve preparedness and discussed systemic weaknesses exposed by the pandemic.

"Health Ministers recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted systemic weaknesses in health systems," the statement said. "It also has shown vulnerabilities in the global community's ability to prevent and respond to pandemic threats."

The statement said the ministers adopted preventative measures to contain the pandemic, but did not elaborate.

A planned virtual news conference was cancelled as Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah had to attend "an urgent Covid-19 KSA (Saudi) taskforce meeting." Saudi Arabia is the current chair of the G20.

In opening remarks provided via video to media, Rabiah said urgent actions included the need for collaboration and engagement of global organisations for coordinated responses to the novel coronavirus pandemic, with an emphasis on supporting countries in need, and investing in research and discovery to produce technology, tools, vaccines and therapies. —Reuters

4:24 pm: United selling and leasing back 22 planes in bid to conserve cash during coronavirus pandemic

United Airlines has struck a deal with an Asian aircraft leasing firm to sell and then lease back 22 aircraft. Neither United nor the Bank of China Aviation revealed the financial terms of the deal announced Sunday morning.

The move will help United conserve cash and give its balance sheet greater flexibility as it faces mounting losses due to coronavirus causing a global plunge in airline travel.

Earlier this week, United CEO Oscar Munoz said business has essentially dropped to zero. "We expect to fly fewer people during the entire month of May than we did on a single day in May 2019," Munoz wrote in a note to employees outlining plans to cut its schedule by 90% in May. —Phil LeBeau

3:55 pm: US death toll surpasses 40,000

A nurse wipes away tears as she stands outside NYU Langone Medical Center on 1st Avenue in Manhattan as New York Police Department (NYPD) Mounted Police and other units came to cheer and thank healthcare workers at 7pm during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City,
Mike Segar | Reuters

The coronavirus has now killed more than 40,000 people in the U.S., nearly a quarter of all deaths from Covid-19 across the globe, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The coronavirus has infected more than 735,000 people in the U.S., the most of any country. While the number of deaths continues to climb, President Donald Trump has said that officials now expect the total death toll to be "substantially under" initial estimates, which indicated the U.S. could see at least 100,000 deaths from Covid-19.

The number of deaths in New York, the epicenter of the outbreak in the nation, have been on the decline in the past week, although the state is still recording over 500 deaths a day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Globally, more than 162,000 people have died from the virus. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

3:30 pm: India's Maharashtra state allows some economic activity as national coronavirus cases top 15,000

Local fishermen (L) offer a container with food to other fishermen, who said they were refused entry at two ports after a nationwide lockdown was imposed to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), after they travelled in the Arabian Sea to reach their home state of Maharashtra from the western state of Gujarat, in Dahanu, Palghar district, Maharashtra, India, April 17, 2020.
Prashant Waydande | Reuters

India's Maharashtra state, the country's largest regional economy, will allow a limited number of sectors to resume business on Monday, after a weeks-long shutdown to slow the spread of coronavirus left millions out of work.

Maharashtra, home to financial centre Mumbai, has the biggest share of India's caseload of 15,713 infections, including a large number now ripping through its densely-packed slums.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told a news conference on Sunday that some activity would be permitted in the least-affected parts of the state while observing a strict lockdown in the red zones that have the maximum number of cases.

"We need to start the economic wheels again. We are giving selective permissions from tomorrow, especially in orange zones and green zones," he said, referring to areas with lower levels of infection.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended the nationwide lockdown that began late last month until May 3, but the federal government has allowed states to restart activity as amid economic distress in rural areas. —Reuters

2:50 pm: Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York will roll out antibody testing in 'aggressive way' this week

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gives his a press briefing about the coronavirus crisis on April 17, 2020 in Albany, New York.
Matthew Cavanaugh | Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that the state plans to roll out antibody testing this week to determine who has been infected with Covid-19, conducting the "largest survey of any state population that has been done."

Cuomo said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the state's antibody test, which is designed to detect whether a person has developed the antibodies to fight Covid-19 and indicates they may be immune against the disease, and said the state will conduct "thousands" of tests this week.

"We'll take thousands of tests, antibody tests, over this next week all across the state to give us a real snapshot, a real baseline, of exactly how many people were infected by coronavirus and have the antibodies," Cuomo said. "So we'll have the first real statistical number on exactly where we are as a population."

The antibody tests will give the state its "first true snapshot" of how many people in the state have been infected with Covid-19, Cuomo said. Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, later tweeted that the state antibody testing will begin on Monday and will sample 3,000 people. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

2:20 pm: Pence says faulty CDC coronavirus test kits were fixed in early February

Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday said the problems surrounding the delayed coronavirus tests from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control at the beginning of the nation's outbreak were resolved by early February.

On Saturday, The Washington Post reported that the CDC's coronavirus testing kits were delayed due to "a glaring scientific breakdown" at the agency's central lab. The error was "devastating to the country" and "really a terrible black mark on the CDC," James Le Duc, a former CDC officer, told The Post.

Pence, speaking with NBC's "Meet the Press," said he saw the reports but believes the issues surrounding that particular test were resolved by early February. He added that those "slow, lab-based tests" that are typically conducted by the CDC and the states' public health labs would "never have been able to meet the testing in this coronavirus epidemic." —Noah Higgins-Dunn

2 pm: Wynn Resorts CEO calls for Las Vegas Strip to conditionally reopen in mid- to late May

Wynn Resorts Chief Executive Officer Matt Maddox on Sunday called on the Nevada governor to begin to reopen the Las Vegas Strip in mid- to late May with extensive safety measures in place, assuming the state is in line with certain benchmarks around the spread of the coronavirus.

In an opinion column published on the Nevada Independent news website, Maddox said Governor Steve Sisolak should reopen parts of the local economy in early May.

"Begin with reduced occupancy, physical distancing measures in place, temperature checks and no large gatherings," Maddox wrote. "We all need to wear a mask."

He also laid out Wynn's health and safety guidelines for reopening, which include allowing a maximum of four people to ride in an elevator at one time; and requiring guests to enter the resort through doors that are either propped open, are automated or manually operated by an employee.

Sisolak ordered all casinos and other nonessential businesses in the state to close for 30 days beginning March 18. He extended that order until April 30, and last week said he has no specific date for when nonessential businesses might be allowed to reopen. In Nevada, there have been at least 3,725 people confirmed to have the coronavirus and 155 deaths. —Reuters

1:40 pm: Cuomo says NY is 'past the high point' of coronavirus cases

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday said that the state is "past the high point" of coronavirus cases as data shows a decline in the rate of infection."If the data holds and if this trend holds, we are past the high point and all indications at this point are that we are on a descent," Cuomo said at a press briefing.

"We are on the other side of the plateau and the numbers are coming down."The governor said that 507 people died of the virus in New York in the last 24 hours, down from 540 deaths reported on Saturday, which marks the state's lowest daily death toll in over two weeks.Still, 1,300 people were hospitalized on Saturday Cuomo said. At least 13,869 people have died in New York, the epicenter of the virus."It's no time to get cocky, and it's no time to get arrogant," Cuomo said. "We still have a long, long way to go and a lot of work to do." —Emma Newburger

1:20 pm: Spain coronavirus deaths climb by lowest daily amount in a month

A coronavirus patient is lifted into an Ambuiberica ambulance by her son and emergency technician Marisa Arguello de Paula during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Llodio, Spain, April 19, 2020.
Vincent West | Reuters

Spain's death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak rose by 410 on Sunday, the lowest daily increase in about a month in one of the world's hardest hit countries, prompting cautious optimism from the government that the figures are on a downward path.

The daily increase in deaths was the lowest since March 22. It is far below the highest daily increase - 950 deaths reported on April 2 - in a sign of a slowdown of the spread of the virus after Spain imposed a strict lockdown in mid-March.

The total number of deaths reached 20,453 on Sunday, the Health Ministry said. It is the third-highest toll worldwide after the United States and Italy.

The overall number of coronavirus cases rose to 195,944 from 191,726 on Saturday. Health workers account for 15.6% of those infected, health emergency chief Fernando Simon told a press briefing.

"Data confirms the breaking of the curve, even with an increased number of tests," said health minister Salvador Illa, referring to the evolution of the death toll. "It is still a difficult stage, but we are going in the right direction".

Spain is conducting around 40,000 coronavirus tests daily, one of the highest numbers among European countries, Illa said. Close to a million tests had been conducted as of April 13. —Reuters

1:08 pm: Gov. Cuomo calls on $500 billion in federal funding for states, weighs hospital funding cuts

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo renewed his call to the federal government for $500 billion in aid to the country's state and local governments whose funding has been exhausted from the coronavirus outbreak. The National Governors Association, a bipartisan group of U.S. governors, has called on Congress to allocate relief funding for state governments to offset drastic revenue shortfalls. Previous relief funding legislation didn't provide funding to offset the states' drastic revenue shortfalls, and any lack of future aid could result in reduced funding for schools, police and fire departments, transit systems and even hospitals, Cuomo said.

He said that New York is looking at cutting education funding by nearly 50%, as well as funding cuts for the state's hospitals. "You're talking about cuts to hospitals from the state," Cuomo said. "I mean how ludicrous would it be to now cut hospital funding from state governments?" On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House and Congress could reach a deal today on supplemental funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to provide additional funding for small businesses, although money for state and local governments will not be included in the package. Mnuchin said President Trump is prepared to discuss funding for state and local governments in the next bill. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

12:50 pm: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan slams Trump claim states have enough coronavirus testing to reopen as 'absolutely false'

Firefighters and paramedics with Anne Arundel County Fire Department transport a patient experiencing COVID-19 symptoms on April 13, 2020 in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
Alex Edelman | AFP | Getty Images

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican and chair of the National Governors Association, dismissed as "absolutely false" Trump administration claims that states have adequate coronavirus testing capacity to begin gradually reopening their economies. 

Hogan, speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," described the lack of testing as the biggest problem in the nation since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States. The Maryland governor said he has "repeatedly" made that argument on behalf of America's governors on both sides of the political aisle to leaders in Washington.

"The administration I think is trying to ramp up testing, they are doing some things with respect to private labs, but to try to push this off to say that the governors have plenty of testing and they should just to get to work on testing, somehow we are not doing our job — is just absolutely false," said Hogan, who once considered challenging Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination. —Anna Hecht

12:41 pm: French PM says coronavirus situation improving, but crisis not over

The coronavirus situation in France is improving "slowly but surely," French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said, while warning that the health crisis was far from over.

Philippe said there were signals that pressures on hospitals were easing, after the number of people in intensive care dropped for several days in a row.

France, which has recorded close to 20,000 deaths as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, has been in virtual lockdown for nearly five weeks, but is due to start easing some confinement measures from May 11.

Philippe said that an economic crisis was only just starting as a result of the outbreak, adding that it would be "brutal." —Reuters

12:23 pm: Pope dreams of post-virus world where inequalities abolished: 'It is Christianity'

Pope Francis leads the Easter vigil Mass in St. Peter's Basilica with no public participation due to the outbreak of coronavirus at the Vatican
Remo Casilli I Reuters

Pope Francis is urging the faithful to use the coronavirus pandemic's "time of trial" to prepare for a future where inequalities are abolished and the poorest are no longer left behind.

"This is not some ideology," Francis said. "It is Christianity."

Francis traveled a few blocks outside the Vatican walls on Sunday to celebrate Mass at a nearby church to mark a special feast day dedicated to mercy. Only a few priests were in the pews given Italy's strict virus lockdown.

While people infected with the coronavirus often experience mild or moderate symptoms, possible complications like pneumonia can put their lives at risk.

In his homily, Francis said the grave, global toll of the pandemic has reminded the world that there are no borders between those who suffer, no differences in nationalities among those who are struck or spared.

"We are all frail, all equal, all precious," he said.

"May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us," he said from the altar of the Santo Spirito church. "The time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family!" —Associated Press

12:12 pm: Italy's daily coronavirus death toll hits one-week low

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy rose by 433 on Sunday, the lowest daily tally in a week, and the number of new cases also slowed to 3,047 from a previous 3,491, the Civil Protection Agency said.

The death toll had risen by 482 on Saturday, down from 575 on Friday.

The daily tallies of deaths and cases extend the broadly stable situation in place over the last two weeks.

This plateau is down considerably from peaks reached around the end of March, but the downtrend has not proceeded as fast as was hoped in a country that has been in lockdown for almost six weeks.

Sunday's number of deaths marked the lowest daily rise since April 12, when it came in at 431, before rising again during the week.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 rose to 23,660, the second highest in the world after that of the United States. Total confirmed cases stood at 178,972. —Reuters

11:56 am: The coronavirus pandemic will likely leave a lasting legacy on retail: Fewer department stores

A "Temporarily Closed" sign hangs in the window of Nordstrom Inc. store in the Midtown neighborhood of New York, U.S., on Friday, March 20, 2020.
Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images

America's department stores are on a sinking ship, racing for a lifeboat that might not be big enough for all of them

For J.C. Penney, the bankruptcy clock is ticking after it skipped a mid-April interest payment. Its turnaround plans have been sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced the closure of all of its stores. Macy's, with liquidity drying up, has tapped advisors at investment bank Lazard and law firm Kirkland & Ellis to explore options that include new financing. Nordstrom in early April raised $600 million by placing a handful of its real estate assets into a separate company and borrowing against the new entity by issuing bonds. 

High-end department store chain Neiman Marcus also on April 15 missed a payment on some of its bonds, according to a letter sent to the retailer's board from Marble Ridge Capital, which owns a significant portion of the $137.7 million in bonds that mature in October 2021. Neiman Marcus now has until the middle of May to make the interest payment. After that, pending no payment, the company could be pushed into bankruptcy court by its bondholders. 

The company is currently preparing to seek bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, Reuters reported Sunday morning

A spokesperson for Neiman Marcus declined to comment. —Lauren Thomas

11:43 am: Plunge in digital ad prices opens spending opportunity for start-ups in gaming, e-commerce and online education

The coronavirus epidemic has so ravaged travel, live entertainment and physical retail that companies across those industries have frozen their marketing, causing ad prices to plunge.

Meanwhile, online beauty brand Insert Name Here is generating so much business that it's snapping up ad space at a discount.

Based in Los Angeles, Insert Name Here sells hair extensions and wigs, which are in high demand now that women are unable to visit their hairstylists. To reach all those consumers who are stuck at home, Insert Name Here is working with social media influencers to create do-it-yourself styling videos for Instagram as well as Facebook, Tik Tok, Snapchat and YouTube. 

Kevin Gould, Insert Name Here's co-founder, said prices for digital ads are currently down by about 35%, and the company has bolstered its spending, which is in the millions of dollars a year, by about 50% to 100%. —Ari Levy, Megan Graham

11:23 am: Luxury around-the-world cruise nears final port after 15 weeks at sea

The cruise ship Costa Deliziosa is anchored off the Greek island of Mykonos in the Aegean Sea June 13, 2019.
Soeren Stache | picture alliance | Getty Images

Passengers on a luxury liner's around-the-world cruise, begun before the globe was gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, are finally approaching the end of their odyssey after 15 weeks at sea.

The ship, the Costa Deliziosa, was heading Sunday toward a port in Spain before ending its journey in Italy — both countries devastated by the coronavirus outbreak.

Costa Crociere, an Italian cruise company, said that the Deliziosa, which set sail from Venice in early January with 1,831 passengers, had no cases of COVID-19 aboard.

The Deliziosa, a nearly 300-meter (1,000-foot) vessel, will disembark 168 Spanish passengers on Monday at Barcelona's port. Then the Deliziosa will head to its final destination, Genoa, Italy, where it is expected to let off the remaining passengers, Italians and those of other nationalities, on Wednesday.

A company spokesman said a passenger left the ship earlier in the week in Marsala, Sicily, for health issues and had a COVID-19 test, which was negative.

Being on the liner for weeks during the pandemic "was not surreal, it was incredible,'' said passenger Carlos Paya', who lives in Valencia, Spain, and is sailing with his wife. He added that they have family members in Spain. —Associated Press

11:09 am: Canadian coronavirus deaths rise by almost 12% in a day

The total number of people killed by the coronavirus in Canada rose by just under 12% to 1,506 in a day, official data posted by the public health agency showed on Sunday.

In a statement posted shortly before 11:00 eastern time (1500 GMT), it said the figure for those diagnosed with the coronavirus had climbed to 33,922. The respective figures on Saturday were 1,346 deaths and 32,412 positive diagnoses. —Reuters

11:00 am: Pennsylvania's drinkers risk misdemeanor while crossing state lines to stock up

A view of people waiting in line at Cork & Bottle liquor store on 1st Avenue as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 21, 2020 in New York City.
Cindy Ord | Getty Images

The unparalleled decision a month ago to close the state-owned stores that sell nearly all of Pennsylvania's liquor and much of its wine prompted some people to drive across state lines to stock up, risking a misdemeanor charge.

Although Ohio, West Virginia and Delaware have cracked down, vehicles with Pennsylvania tags continue to crowd liquor store parking lots in New York, New Jersey and Maryland border towns amid continuing restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf began closing businesses in March, and the Liquor Control Board, after consulting with him, soon shut down its retail outlets. Many liquor cabinets are running low and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's pivot to online sales has been, for most, an exercise in frustration in a state of nearly 13 million people.

"Most people don't have a large store of liquor in their house. For one thing, it's expensive," said alcohol writer Lew Bryson, of Langhorne. "I think people are running out of their daily drink, and that's putting the pressure on."

A couple weeks after the outlets closed, the liquor board restarted its meager online sales system, ramping up this past week by bringing back some workers to fill boxes for home delivery. Before the pandemic, the state liquor board did about 180,000 daily transactions, but as workers began returning, it had only been able to fill more than 4,000 online orders a day.

On Saturday, the board announced 175 of the nearly 600 stores will begin taking orders by phone starting Monday for curbside service, with each customer limited to six bottles. —Associated Press

10:46 am: As coronavirus restrictions drag on, Americans shift online spending from stockpiling to entertainment

Following a rush for groceries and cleaning supplies, more Americans are looking to crack open a book.

As people remain sheltered in their homes due to the coronavirus outbreak, online shopping has surged as a replacement for an old-fashioned trip to the store. In addition to the overall boom in e-commerce spending, sales data reveals that following an initial stockpiling of goods, many online shoppers have shifted their focus to entertainment products such as books and games as they adjust to the new normal of life in quarantine.

E-commerce spending in the U.S. is up more than 30% from the beginning of March through mid-April compared with the same period last year, according to market research firm Rakuten Intelligence. That is significantly more growth — about 50% more — than the annual 20% growth in online shopping the firm has become accustomed to seeing in recent years.

This snapshot of the economy paints a picture of both what Americans are buying and how shopper priorities have shifted over the course of the extended quarantine period. —Nate Rattner

10:39 am: Desperate sports bettors are turning to the NFL Draft and presidential debates as cancellations drag on

Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama interviews during the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Alika Jenner | Getty Images

Sports may no longer be blaring on television screens across the country, but that's not deterring some gamblers from placing bets on anything that they can get odds on -- table tennis, comments made during presidential debates, even video game sports competitions

This year was supposed to be a huge growth opportunity for sites like FanDuel and DraftKings, who are pushing to get licensed in more states across the country. Seventeen states have legalized sports betting, and many others have proposed state bills that would make them legal in coming years. DraftKings is pushing forward with a plan to become a publicly traded entity through a reverse merger with Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company. 

But that was before the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic shut down nearly every major sporting event.

Gamblers have nowhere else to turn, as U.S. casinos are closed, so online sports books are searching for new and creative wagers to keep customers engaged.

This month's NFL Draft will provide a boost.

Sportsbooks have come up with about 150 different proposition bets around the NFL Draft -- about three times more than ever before, said Chad Milmann, The Action Network's chief content officer. —Alex Sherman, Jabari Young

10:31 am: Big Tech's pandemic goodwill tour won't carry weight in antitrust probes, experts say

New work from home set-ups and a goodwill tour by the Big Tech companies are unlikely to soften the nation's top antitrust agencies on the industry, legal experts say.

Up until recently, FacebookGoogleAmazon and Apple had been met with unyielding scrutiny in Washington and most state attorneys general offices, barraged by questions of dominance and privacy violations. Facebook and Google have been most visibly pursued by federal authorities and state attorneys. 

But as the coronavirus pandemic shut down business as usual, tech companies gained a chance to win back some goodwill. The companies have donated millions of dollars toward efforts to fight the virus, helped health officials spread their messages to encourage a flattening of the curve and donated their stockpiles of personal protective equipment. Amazon, in particular, has become even more important to Americans who want all their needs delivered to their doors.—Lauren Feiner

10:19 am: Germany signals more help for businesses, workers struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic

Politicians in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government signaled further support for struggling businesses and consumers in the coronavirus crisis, focusing on hotels, restaurants and pay for short-time workers.

Dehoga, an industry association that includes a large share of often small family-owned operations, told Bild am Sonntag that some 70,000 restaurant and hotel operators, which employ 223,000 people, could face insolvency as they stood to lose up to 10 billion euros of sales by the end of April.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier of Merkel's conservative party said in an interview with the same newspaper he agreed the sector needed support to get up on its feet again.

"It is clear that we will need additional help to prevent a large part of these companies giving up and disappearing from the market," he said. —Reuters

9:53 am: Coronavirus deaths down in New York, but officials urge vigilance

A man wearing a mask passes a mural on April 13, 2020 in New York City. - New York's governor declared April 13, 2020 that the "worst is over" for its coronavirus outbreak providing the state moves sensibly, despite reporting its death toll had passed 10,000.
Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

New York's daily toll of coronavirus deaths has hit its lowest point in more than two weeks, but officials still warn that New York City and the rest of the state aren't ready to ease up on shutdowns of schools, businesses and gatherings.

As of Saturday, the number of coronavirus deaths in New York state dropped under 550 for the first time in over two weeks as hospitalizations continue to decline.

But the crisis is far from over: Hospitals are still reporting nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 patients per day, and nursing homes remain a "feeding frenzy for this virus," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

While the crush of patients has eased somewhat in emergency rooms, "that doesn't mean happy days are here again," Cuomo said at a news briefing. "We are not at a point when we are going to be reopening anything immediately."

The state logged 540 deaths Friday from COVID-19, the lowest number since April 1.

Nearly 13,000 New Yorkers have died since the state's first coronavirus case was reported March 1, the governor said. The state total doesn't include more than 4,000 New York City deaths that were blamed on the virus on death certificates but weren't confirmed by a lab test. —Associated Press

9:39 am: Most voters support government taking a bigger role in the economy during the coronavirus crisis, NBC/WSJ poll says

The federal government has flexed its muscle to blunt the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, and most voters back the intervention. 

As Congress looks to build on the largest emergency spending plan in U.S. history, 63% of registered voters said they approve of the expansion of the government's role in the economy in response to the outbreak, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday found. Another 30% of respondents said they disapproved. 

The survey reflects comfort with federal influence on the economy during crises usually unseen during calmer periods, when more voters sound the alarm about budget deficits or overreach. Even so, those concerns have not fully evaporated during the current economic freefall. 

Nearly half, or 48% of respondents, said they worry more about the government spending too much money to buoy the economy and driving up budget deficits, the poll found. Another 40% of voters said they were concerned the U.S. would disburse too little money and extend an economic recession. —Jacob Pramuk

9:25 am: How the coronavirus and retail closures are accelerating the rise of Amazon

If Amazon dominated the retail market before the coronavirus pandemic began, there's good reason to believe it'll emerge from the crisis even stronger. 

Under orders to stay home, millions of Americans have turned to online marketplaces like Amazon to order much-needed essentials like toilet paper, food, hand sanitizer and cold medicine.

In lieu of neighborhood supermarkets, consumers are relying on online grocery delivery services like Amazon Fresh, resulting in a cascade of delays and out-of-stock notices amid the unexpected rise in demand. Amazon has hired more than 100,000 new warehouse and delivery workers since March to help manage the surge in orders, and it's planning to bring on 75,000 more workers.

The unprecedented demand has propelled shares of Amazon to fresh highs. The stock hit an all-time high on April 16 and is up more than 28% for the year, compared with an 11% decline for the S&P 500. Investors have flocked to Amazon and other stay-at-home stocks like  Netflix and Zoom in recent months, as consumers have come to depend on their services amid the lockdown.

The outlook is brighter than ever for Amazon. But its ascent is occurring against a worrying backdrop of financial turmoil in the retail industry and the broader economy. —Annie Palmer

9:13 am: Mnuchin, Pelosi say 'very close' to a deal on second round of small business loans

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks to members to the media after participating in a signing ceremony of H.R. 748, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, alongside congressional leadership in the Rayburn Room of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 27, 2020.
Sarah Silbiger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday said the White House and Congress could reach a deal today on supplemental funding for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses

The $349 billion rescue loan program ran out of money on Thursday, just two weeks after it was launched. Republican and Democratic leaders have been struggling to agree on how to restore its funds as a slew of small American businesses are at risk of shutting down from the financial hit of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Mnuchin said on CNN's "State of the Union" that he's hopeful the deal on another $300 billion in small business funding will be passed in the Senate on Monday and in the House on Tuesday. 

The new deal will include $50 billion for disaster loans, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for a federal testing program. Money for state and local governments will not be included in the package, Mnchunin said.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with ABC's "This Week" she believed lawmakers are very close to a deal on approving extra money to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're close," Pelosi said. "I think we're very close to an agreement.

Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer say they favor more money for small businesses but also want more coronavirus response funds for state and local governments and hospitals, as well as food assistance for the poor. —Emma Newburger

9:02 am: UK not thinking of easing virus lockdown measures yet

Britain is not considering lifting the lockdown imposed almost four weeks ago to control the coronavirus outbreak given "deeply worrying" increases in the death toll, a senior minister said.

Britain is at or near the peak of a health crisis in which more than 15,000 people have died — the fifth highest national death toll of a pandemic linked to at least 150,000 deaths worldwide.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said a Buzzfeed report that the government was considering lifting the lockdown in phases over the coming months was not correct.

"The facts and the advice are clear at the moment that we should not be thinking of lifting of these restrictions yet," Gove told Sky News. —Reuters

8:44 am: Putin says coronavirus crisis under full control despite record rise in cases

A police officer with flu masks on the faces seen at a chekpoint on the road from Riga at the entrance to Moscow, Russia, April,15,2020.
Mikhail Svetlov

President Vladimir Putin said that Russian authorities had the coronavirus crisis under full control and that everything would work out with God's help, even as the country on Sunday registered a record daily rise in cases of the new virus.

Russia on Sunday reported 6,060 new cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing its nationwide tally to 42,853, though the official death toll of 361 remains relatively low compared with other countries with a similar number of cases.

In a video message to congratulate Christians on the Orthodox Easter, Putin said the religious festival would strengthen Russians' hope and faith because the resurrection of Christ was a powerful symbol of rebirth and a reminder that life goes on.

The Russian leader, who looked relaxed as he sat in front of a fireplace at his out of town Moscow residence, said his country had all the necessary resources to do what was needed for people's health and the economy.

"All levels of power are working in an organized, responsible and timely way," said Putin, who was flanked by painted Easter eggs, a traditional Orthodox Kulich sweet bread, and a big pot of tea.

"The situation is under full control. All of our society is united in front of the common threat." —Reuters

8:26 am: Australia demands coronavirus inquiry, adding to pressure on China

Australia on Sunday added to growing pressure on China over its handling of the novel coronavirus, questioning its transparency and demanding an international investigation into the origins of the virus and how it spread.

The coronavirus is believed to have emerged in a market selling wildlife in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has spread around the world infecting some 2.3 million people and killing nearly 160,000 of them, according to Reuters calculations.

Australia's foreign minister, Marise Payne, said her concern about China's transparency was at "a very high point".

"The issues around the coronavirus are issues for independent review, and I think that it is important that we do that," Payne told ABC television. —Reuters

8:14 am: South Korea relaxes some social distancing rules as new virus cases fall

A South Korean woman wears plastic gloves and has her temperature checked upon arrival to cast her vote for Parliamentary election amid the coronavirus outbreak on April 15, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea.
Chung Sung-Jun | Getty Images)

South Korea extended its social distancing policy for another 16 days on Sunday but offered some relief for churches and sporting fixtures, as it reported just eight new coronavirus infections, the lowest in two months.

The slightly relaxed guidelines mean high-risk facilities like churches will no longer have to close, while sports matches such as soccer can resume without an audience. "It is safest to maintain the intensive social distancing, but it isn't easy realistically. We need to find a middle ground," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a televised meeting of government officials.

"If we can maintain a stable management at the current level, we will shift to 'routine social distancing' from May 6," Chung said.

Health authorities have said this would allow a reopening of the economy while maintaining guidelines on disinfection and preventing the spread of the virus in people's daily lives.

It was the first time since Feb. 18 that South Korea reported a single-digit daily rise in new infections. The figure brings its total cases to 10,661. —Reuters

Read CNBC's coverage from CNBC's Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Spain sees lowest death count rise in a month, global death toll tops 160,000