Health and Science

Harvard will not accept stimulus funds, California to start scheduling certain surgeries again

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

  • Global cases: More than 2.6 million
  • Global deaths: At least 180,784 
  • US cases: More than 840,300
  • US deaths: At least 46,497

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

8:45 pm: Los Angeles expands Covid-19 testing to all essential workers

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the county is expanding free Covid-19 testing to all essential workers – whether they are experiencing any symptoms or not— as of April 22. Those eligible for testing included physicians, nurses, caregivers, hospital janitors, grocery store, pharmacy and other retail workers and others in government and Covid-19 related roles. Permitted workers, who are not in "essential" categories, are not yet eligible for the Covid-19 tests in Los Angeles.

First responders including police and fire fighters have their own dedicated lanes at Los Angeles County testing centers, and are now tested daily. In the past day, Los Angeles tested 12,200 people for the virus, Garcetti said. —Lora Kolodny

8:15 pm: Illinois sees most Covid-19 cases in a single day

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported their highest daily number of confirmed Covid-19 cases yet in the state. Illinois saw 2,049 new cases, and 89 deaths due to Covid-19 in the last day, pushing their total so far to 35,108 and total deaths to 1,058.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said, earlier in the week, that the peak of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the state would likely fall in mid-May, later than he previously expected. However, he said it would likely be a smaller peak, if wide compliance with his stay-at-home orders continues. —Lora Kolodny

7:30 pm: Chamath Palihapitiya: We've 'ripped the philosophical band-aid off' on universal basic income

Investor Chamath Palihapitiya said that the United States should continue sending Americans checks as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the economy.

"We really need to think about direct, capital injections into the hands of people," Palihapitiya said on CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report."

"We've already done it once, we've already ripped the philosophical band-aid off, there's nothing stopping us from saying, instead of two weeks, here's two months, or here's six weeks," Palihapitiya said. "We are that compassionate and we can be that compassionate."

Palihapitiya has been critical of the United States' economic reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that stimulus money should go directly to consumers and workers rather than businesses. The government has already dolled out cash to some Americans as part of its $2 trillion stimulus bill. That included one-time direct payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, with $500 added for every child, based on 2019 or 2018 tax returns. —Jessica Bursztynsky

7:01 pm: Trump says he 'disagrees strongly' with Georgia governor's plan to reopen businesses

Trump: 'Totally disagree' with Georgia Gov. Kemp's decision to reopen amid coronavirus

President Donald Trump said that he strongly disagrees with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's "phase one" plans to allow non-essential businesses to re-open in his state at the end of the week.

The re-opening of businesses, which begins Friday, includes tattoo parlors, spas, hair salons or barbershops, movie theaters and bowling alleys. They will be allowed to open their doors to the public, as long as they, and their patrons, follow physical distancing orders and other OSHA  guidelines, Kemp announced on Monday.

Trump said he told the governor, "I disagree strongly," adding that the governor "has to do what he thinks is right." —Lora Kolodny

6:48 pm: Updated map of global cases, which now total 2,622,273

6:29 pm: Trump says CDC director's coronavirus warning was 'totally misquoted'

Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during the daily briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, at the White House April 17, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

President Donald Trump said that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield was "totally misquoted" when he said challenges from the coronavirus could be "more difficult" in the winter.

"He was talking about the flu and corona coming together at the same time," Trump said at a White House press briefing, "and corona could be just some little flare-ups that we'll take care of."

Redfield told The Washington Post on Tuesday that the already daunting task of responding to the coronavirus outbreak could only become more challenging in the winter, when flu season begins.

"There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through," Redfield told the Post. "And when I've said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don't understand what I mean." —Kevin Breuninger

6:15 pm: Stock futures steady as investors digest oil turbulence, await jobless claims

Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes ticked lower at the start of the overnight session as investors took a breather after the turbulence of the prior three regular sessions.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped 29 points, implying an opening slip of about 33 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures also pointed to mild opening losses on Thursday. —Thomas Franck

5:50 pm: Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan defends state's decision to reopen some businesses

Georgia's reopening plan

Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan defended the state's move to allow some nonessential businesses to re-open as soon as this week, saying on CNBC that "nobody is being forced to open." 

"This is not forcing anybody back to business," the Republican official said during an interview on "Closing Bell."Georgia, led by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, is one of the first states to experiment with reopening parts of its economy that were shuttered to stop the spread of coronavirus. Kemp said Monday that gyms, hair and nail salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors can resume operations as soon as Friday. Dine-in restaurants and movie theaters will open Monday. All of the companies will have to implement strict sanitation measures. Duncan said it's up to those businesses to convince people that they are being operated safely."I think the consumer here is going to need to continue to gain confidence, and these businesses are going to have to work toward that," Duncan said. —Tucker Higgins

5:40 pm: Two pet cats in New York test positive for the coronavirus, CDC says

Cat sitting still while a Veterinarian administers his vaccines.
aabejon | iStock | Getty Images

The coronavirus has infected two cats in New York state, making them the first pets to test positive for the virus in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

One of the cats was tested after it showed mild respiratory signs, although its owners were not confirmed to have Covid-19. The virus may have been transmitted to this cat by mildly ill or asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home, the CDC said.

The owner of the second cat had tested positive for the coronavirus and the animal was also tested after showing signs of respiratory illness. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

5:25 pm: OpenTable data shows the absolute devastation in the restaurant industry

The number of seated diners has plummeted to zero over the past two months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data released by OpenTable. The company, which is owned by Booking Holdings, provides reservations software for about 60,000 restaurants, mostly in the U.S.

Seated diners, which include reservations and walk-ins, were down 100% year-over-year starting in mid-March in every country where the company does business, according to the data.

In an effort to slow the virus, government officials have implemented stay-at-home mandates or suggested people socially distance themselves. That's led to a huge dent in restaurants, cafes and bars, all of which rely on a normally steady stream of customers. Some have tried to adapt by offering takeout, delivery or drive-through, while others have temporarily closed. —Jessica Bursztynsky

5 pm: Top vaccine doctor says his concern about Trump's coronavirus treatment theory led to ouster from federal agency

A doctor who was removed as head of the federal agency that is helping develop a vaccine for the coronavirus said he was ousted because he called for resistance to widespread adoption of a drug promoted by President Donald Trump as a treatment for Covid-19.

Dr. Rick Bright also said that he believed he was removed from his post because he insisted that "the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic" be invested "into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit."

"I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way," Bright said in a statement, which was first reported by The New York Times.

"Rushing blindly towards unproven drugs can be disastrous and result in countless more deaths. Science, in service to the health and safety of the American people, must always trump politics."

The White House declined to comment. The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment. —Dan Mangan

4:34 pm: New Jersey governor says state is preparing for future spikes in cases after reopening

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the state has received an additional 500 ventilators that could be used for any potential resurgence of coronavirus cases once restrictions are lifted or the virus returns later this year.Murphy said the state is concerned about a resurgence of cases and said the likelihood of it returning is "pretty high" after comparing Covid-19 to H1N1 and the 1918 flu.

The state doesn't know the true number of people who are or have been infected with Covid-19, and it has to prepare for a spike of cases "that will surely come" once they lift social distancing restrictions, he said. He added that the state is working toward finalizing a reopening strategy.

Murphy reported an additional 3,551 confirmed cases from the day prior, bringing the state's total to 95,865. He said the state recorded an additional 314 deaths. The overall number of patients in critical care and the number of ventilators in use remains stable, he said."We may need the capacities we are preparing for, whether it's beds, ventilators and health care workers, we may need them even if we do everything right and we get it exactly right, we may need this down the road," Murphy said at a press conference Wednesday. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

4 pm: San Francisco raises over $10 million for coronavirus relief fund for seniorsand small businesses

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city's coronavirus relief fund has raised $10 million for seniors, undocumented immigrants and small businesses during its first round of funding.

The "Give2SF COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund" will provide San Franciscans with "food security, access to housing, and security for workers and small businesses."

There are currently 1,233 confirmed cases in San Francisco, with a total of 21 deaths.

Breed said 60,000 residents have filed for unemployment amid the outbreak so far and anticipates an additional 40,000 people will file in the coming weeks.

"There are so many San Franciscans who are struggling to make rent, put food on the table, and keep their small business open," Breed said. "That's why we created the Give2SF Fund, which is collecting support for our small businesses and individuals who are dealing with the challenges of COVID-19. We are grateful for the generous contributions of private donors and philanthropic organizations who are supporting our efforts to take care of our residents during this incredibly difficult time. This is just the first round of funding, and we'll keep working to get additional support into the hands of those who need it most." —Riya Bhattacharjee


3:20 pm: California to start scheduling certain surgeries again

Thamrongpat Theerathammakorn / EyeEm | Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a modification to the state's stay-at-home order that would allow certain essential surgeries to be scheduled again. He did not provide a date for when other coronavirus restrictions will be lifted.

"We are working with our health directors throughout our healthcare delivery system to get these surgeries up and running again," Newsom said at a press briefing Wednesday.

He cited tumor and heart valve surgeries as examples of procedures that will be allowed to go ahead. Newsom said that California is looking at Washington and Oregon as models for loosening coronavirus restrictions.

Newsom also said that he and President Donald Trump agreed to significantly increase testing in California, with hundreds of thousands of new swabs coming into the state. Trump promised California 100,000 swabs this week, with 250,000 swabs scheduled to arrive next week.

California is also working to open 86 test facilities in testing "deserts" where people don't have easy access to testing, according to Newsom. California currently has 35,396 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus. 3,357 of which are in our hospitals and 1,219 of which are ICU cases. --Hannah Miller


3 pm: Harvard will not accept stimulus funds after pressure from Trump

Harvard's Widener Library
marvinh | Getty Images

Harvard University said it has decided "not to seek or accept" funds allocated to the institution under the federal coronavirus relief package after President Donald Trump questioned why the elite institution needed financial assistance.

"Harvard did not apply for this support, nor has it requested, received or accessed these funds," the university said in a statement. As a result of "the intense focus by politicians and others on Harvard" and issues surrounding the use of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the Ivy League institution will not be accepting any stimulus money.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law by Trump last month provided Harvard with $8.6 million. The funding was supposed to help higher education institutions cover fundamental expenses such as course materials, technology, food and housing, according to the Department of Education.

However, Trump called out large companies and private institutions like Harvard for taking federal loans intended to assist small businesses. "Harvard is going to pay back the money. And they shouldn't be taking it," Trump said during his evening news briefing on Tuesday. "They have one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, maybe in the world, I guess. And they're going to pay back that money," the President added. 

Both Stanford and Princeton universities also returned the federal aid allocated to them. —Jasmin Kim

Trump responds to Harvard rejecting federal coronavirus aid

2:45 pm: Coronavirus job losses and pay cuts are hitting these households the hardest

U.S. households that already were less prepared to weather a financial storm are getting hit hardest from the recent rash of job losses across the country, research shows.

Adults with lower income (under about $37,500 annually) and middle income ($37,500 to $112,600) comprise a greater share of those who have lost their job or taken a pay cut due to the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Pew Research Center. Those groups also report having less in emergency savings than their higher-income (above $112,600) counterparts.

"I think we're seeing a deepening of the inequality that was already there," said Anna Brown, a Pew research associate. —Sarah O'Brien

2:20 pm: Sweden isn't on a national lockdown amid coronavirus—Here's why

Unlike its neighbors, Sweden did not impose a lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak. The strategy is aimed at building a broad base of immunity while protecting at-risk groups like the elderly has proved controversial. But Sweden's chief epidemiologist has said "herd immunity" could be reached in Stockholm within weeks. However, "It's a myth that life goes on as normal in Sweden," according to Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde. —Anna Hecht

Sweden isn't on a national lockdown amid coronavirus—Here's why

1:50 pm: San Francisco expands testing to essential workers and uninsured residents 

Medical personnel collect a sample from a patient at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic at a Kaiser Permanente facility in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

San Francisco is expanding its CityTestSF testing capacity to include private sector and non-profit essential employees as well as residents who can't otherwise access testing, according to a statement from the San Francisco Mayor's Office.

The two testing sites combined have the ability test 1,500 people each day. CityTestSF was initially launched to provide testing for critical first responders and health-care workers.

"Our goal is for every San Francisco resident who has symptoms of COVID-19 to have access to testing," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed in a statement. "We want to ensure all frontline and essential employees that leave their homes every day to serve our residents have a fast, easy and accessible option for testing." --Hannah Miller


1:38 pm: Baseball agent Scott Boras has a plan to bring the game back

Major League Baseball's super agent Scott Boras on Covid-19's impact on sports

One of the most powerful sports agents in the country has a plan to ready America for its return from coronavirus and, unsurprisingly, it involves baseball. 

While Major League Baseball has yet to publicly put forth its plan for the return of baseball, Scott Boras, who has negotiated more than $10 billion worth of contracts for some of the biggest stars in the game, said sports have a unifying effect on culture and there's no better way to begin the return to normalcy than through America's favorite pastime.

"I'm not waiting for big pharma," Boras told CNBC in an interview this week. "While pharma is working on vaccines, we need to advance earlier." 

Boras has spent his days in isolation consulting with immunologists and medical experts around the world, and he said this elite class of professional baseball players, made up of young healthy athletes, are the perfect subjects to get America running again if done properly. —Jessica Golden

1:26 pm: 'No lines, no crowds' — Germans stay home as stores reopen

A shopping window of a shoemakers store is seen, during the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Berlin, Germany, April 20, 2020.
Axel Schmidt | Reuters

German consumers are counting their pennies rather than returning to shop in large numbers as stores gradually reopen after being locked down during the coronavirus crisis, the national retailers association said.

Europe's largest economy allowed stores of up to 8,600 square feet to open again from Monday, along with car and bicycle dealers and bookstores, provided they adhere to strict social distancing and hygiene rules.

On Wednesday, larger furniture outlets were also allowed to open in the western state of North Rhine Westphalia, such as 11 stores of Swedish chain Ikea.

"It was very relaxed, there were no lines, there were no crowds," said Stefan Stukenborg, head of an Ikea branch on the outskirts of the western German city of Cologne.

The HDE association said the mood among shoppers remained very subdued due to concerns about jobs and finances. "Consumers are in a crisis mode, consumer sentiment is in the doldrums," a spokesman said.

Germany's government is trying to mitigate the effects of the shutdown on the economy with a range of measures, including a 750 billion euro ($811.95 billion US) rescue package, and hopes consumer demand will return to help it out of a sharp recession. —Reuters

1:13 pm: Here are Congress' next steps in response to the coronavirus pandemic

As Congress moves to pass its latest $484 billion coronavirus relief bill this week, leaders have started to detail their goals for additional legislation as part of an unprecedented emergency response. 

The measure approved by the Senate on Tuesday puts about another $370 billion into aid for small businesses damaged by the pandemic, along with $75 billion in relief for hospitals and $25 billion to expand testing. The House plans to pass the package and send it to President Donald Trump's desk by Thursday. 

Even as the U.S. spends nearly $3 trillion to try to curb the outbreak's economic destruction, congressional Democrats and the White House are spelling out priorities for further rescue measures. Republicans on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, are becoming wary of adding to the mounting coronavirus bill — setting up another possible partisan clash over priorities and spending as the pandemic evolves. 

"There will be a big, broad, bold [fourth relief bill]. For anyone who thinks this is the last train out of the station, that is not close to the case," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a news conference Tuesday with his fellow Democratic leader House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the Senate passed the $484 billion legislation. —Jacob Pramuk

12:58 pm: World Health Organization warns: Coronavirus remains 'extremely dangerous' and 'will be with us for a long time'

The World Health Organization warned world leaders that they will need to manage around the coronavirus for the foreseeable future as cases level off or decline in some countries, while peaking in others and resurging in areas where the Covid-19 pandemic appeared to be under control.

"Make no mistake, we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference at the agency's headquarters in Geneva.

While social distancing measures put in place in numerous countries to slow the spread of the coronavirus have been successful, the virus remains "extremely dangerous," Tedros said. Current data show "most of the world's population remains susceptible," he said, meaning the epidemic can easily "reignite."

"People in countries with stay-at-home orders are understandably frustrated with being confined to their homes for weeks on end. People understandably want to get on with their lives," he said. "But the world will not and can not go back to the way things were. There must be a new normal." —Berkeley Lovelace Jr., Jasmine Kim

12:47 pm: Massive layoffs and pay cuts are likely coming to state and local governments as federal aid goes elsewhere

A bus driver in Detroit, March 24, 2020.
Seth Herald | AFP | Getty Images

State and local governments are warning of a wave of layoffs and pay cuts after getting left out of the federal coronavirus relief package expected to pass Congress this week.

In many places, those painful reductions are already taking shape:

  • Los Angeles plans to force city workers to spend 26 days on unpaid leave as revenues are forecast to drop as much as $600 million next fiscal year.
  • Detroit has proposed laying off 200 workers and furloughing thousands more.
  • In Ohio's Hamilton County, Commissioner Denise Driehaus is taking a 10% pay cut alongside county workers.

"We are really struggling," Driehaus said.

The $2.2 trillion emergency legislation known as the CARES Act, which President Donald Trump signed late last month, included $150 billion in direct help for state and local governments grappling with the impact of the deadly outbreak. Democrats pushed to include another $150 billion in the next tranche of aid, but Republicans sought to keep the bill narrowly focused on support for small business.

By Tuesday night, Democrats yielded on their demand. The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent — without additional help for state and local governments. The House is slated to vote Thursday, and Trump is expected to sign it. 

Local jurisdictions are facing higher expenditures on health care and other services to combat the disease at the same time that revenues are plunging as Americans stay home and businesses remain shuttered. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, states could be $500 billion in the hole over the next two years. —Ylan Mui, Karen James Sloan

12:35 pm: Some high-risk Americans expect to shelter in place for a year or longer to avoid Covid-19

Clinton Mielke is considering moving to rural Oregon.
Source: Clinton Mielke

As states begin to allow non-essential businesses like gyms and restaurants to open their doors, many Americans will cautiously emerge from their homes after weeks of isolation.

Tayjus Surampudi, a Google employee, will not be one of them.

Surampudi, 24, works as a strategic program manager for the company's apps business, so it's been easy for him to work remotely these past few months. He expects that he'll continue to do so for the foreseeable future, regardless of any policy changes at Google or in Mountain View, California, where he lives.

That's because Surampudi has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic condition that causes progressive muscular degeneration. That makes him one of millions of Americans at high risk for complications if he contracts Covid-19. 

"I have to be careful, and really don't want to put myself in a situation where I could end up in the hospital," he said by phone. "I recognize that it could be a year or longer."

Surampadi is just one of about half a dozen people who told CNBC they're preparing to remain at home until there's a vaccine available, which could take 18 months or more, or until they hear from a scientific expert like Dr. Anthony Fauci that it's safe for them to resume life as normal. 

Somewhere between a third and half of Americans fall into a high-risk category when it comes to the coronavirus, suggests Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. They include people over the age of 65,  nursing home residents, and people with underlying medical conditions including heart problems, chronic lung disease or a condition that attacks their immune system. —Christina Farr

12:29 pm: Quest Diagnostics takes steps to shore up its balance sheet, ramps up antibody testing as profit plunges

A medical provider bags a completed test at the STRIDE Community Health Center's COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at the Aurora Health and Wellness Plaza March 26, 2020.
Andy Cross | The Denver Post | Getty Images

Quest Diagnostics is cutting pay and benefits for executives, furloughing employees and renegotiating credit terms with its lenders as the national lab tries to stymie losses from the Covid-19 pandemic, even as it expands into much-needed antibody testing. 

A surge in coronavirus testing during the last few weeks of the first quarter wasn't enough to offset a decline in all other types of laboratory tests as physicians canceled nonessential medical procedures, helping to drive an almost 40% drop in profit to $99 million, down from $164 million during the same three months the year before. 

To rein in spending, the New Jersey-based diagnostics lab — one of several major U.S. private labs manufacturing a diagnostic test for Covid-19 — is suspending certain employee benefits, slashing work hours and furloughing employees. The company is maintaining its quarterly dividend but it drew $200 million in backup financing from its credit lines in April.

Shares of Quest jumped more than 5% in midday trading, but the stock is down by about 8% since Jan. 1.

As states across the U.S. started closing nonessential businesses and ordering residents to stay indoors, Quest's testing volume plunged 40% during the last two weeks of March, even with the additional Covid-19 testing, CEO Steve Rusckowski said in a statement. —Will Feuer

12:21 pm: Billionaire Mike Bloomberg will help New York develop coronavirus test and trace program, Gov. Cuomo says

Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist and former mayor of New York City, will help the state develop and implement an aggressive program to test for Covid-19 and trace people who have had contact with infected individuals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announcedy.

"Michael Bloomberg will design the program, design the training, he's going to make a financial contribution," Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany. "He has tremendous insight both governmentally and from a private sector business perspective in this."

As the state continues to ramp up its capacity to test for Covid-19, Cuomo said tracing and isolating people who have come into contact with infected individuals will be key to containing the outbreak. —Will Feuer

12:13 pm: Delta CEO: Business will take 'two to three years' to recover from coronavirus

Delta Air Lines CEO on Q1 earnings, protecting employees and more

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told employees that it could take two to three years for the airline's business to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline is carrying about 5% of its normal passenger loads, Bastian told CNBC in an interview, as demand for air travel has nearly disappeared because of the virus and measures to stop it from spreading such as stay-at-home orders.

Delta is slashing costs by parking planes, freezing hiring and asking thousands of employees to take unpaid leave as revenue falls. Sales in the second quarter will likely be 90% less than expected, Delta said in a earnings release. Delta reported a net loss of $534 million in the first quarter, its first quarterly loss in more than five years. —Leslie Josephs

12:06 pm: Lowe's to advertise during NFL Draft, hinting a bolder marketing strategy is part of its turnaround plans

A sign asking for customers to maintain "social distancing" due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) is displayed at the Lowe's Home and Garden center on April 02, 2020 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Christian Petersen | Getty Images

In the spring, customers usually come to Lowe's to buy gardening items and get ready for renovation projects. This year, the home improvement company is keeping its doors open as an essential retailer during the coronavirus pandemic

Disrupted routines and quieter days are reflected in the company's new TV commercials. They will debut on ESPN, starting Thursday, during the NFL Draft, another ritual that's changed dramatically during a time of social distancing.

In three TV spots, Lowe's celebrates the hard work of its approximately 300,000 employees across its 2,200 stores. All share the tagline: "Home is What Unites Us."

One ad describes Lowe's workforce as the "home team." Another focuses on how employees have helped their communities during other crises, such as natural disasters. And a third shows images of different kinds of homes, from apartment in a city to a house in a suburban neighborhoods, to emphasize the commonality that all Americans share at this moment: They're stuck at home. 

That is a message that will likely resonate with the football fans, draft picks and sports commentators participating in this year's NFL Draft, which won't be a splashy event in Las Vegas as planned. —Melissa Repko

11:50 am: EU 'misunderstandings' push back deal on coronavirus economic recovery

It may take European Union countries until the summer or even longer to agree on how exactly to finance aid to help economies recover from the coronavirus pandemic as major disagreements persist, a bloc official said on Wednesday.

A summit on Thursday is expected to produce only a broad agreement to use the EU's 2021-27 joint budget to help kick-start growth. The bloc's 27 national leaders should also rubber-stamp 500 billion euros of rescue measures effective from June.

The novel coronavirus has claimed tens of thousands of lives in Europe and measures to curb its spread have left economies at a virtual standstill.

"My hope is to make progress in June, July," said the EU official, who is involved in preparing the leaders' summit.

But a final deal might take even longer: "Political lines are moving ... but it will take time," the official stressed.

Wealthy, fiscally conservative countries like Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands have rejected calls by the bloc's ailing southern economies — led by Italy, France and Spain — to sell joint "coronabonds" to raise funds to restart growth. —Reuters

11:42 am: Battered automakers lure buyers with steep incentives

U.S. car sales in 2020 were expected to be slightly below the near-record levels seen in recent years. 

Then the coronavirus struck the United States. 

Auto sales forecasts have fallen by millions of units from where they were in early 2020, sparking automakers to roll out unprecedented deals and adopt new tech-heavy methods of selling vehicles to shoppers stuck at home. 

The pandemic is something the U.S. auto industry has never faced before, but analysts see in it hints of the past. Carmakers are confronted with supply chain challenges, restrictions on production, and, perhaps most worrying, severe dents in consumer demand sparked by shelter-in-place orders from governments and economic effects, such as job furloughs or layoffs. 

Automakers are taking pages out of playbooks used in other challenging times, such as in the weeks and months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. —Robert Ferris

11:36 am: Most kids with coronavirus usually recover within two weeks, JAMA study finds

Mary-Lou McCullagh, 83, and her husband Bob, 84, greet Axel Stirton, 2, the little boy who lives across the street April 3, 2020 in Ventura, California. Mary-Lou and Bob are in isolation from the Covid-19 pandemic, trying to ensure that they do not come in contact with the virus.
Brent Stirton | Getty Images

Most kids infected with the coronavirus develop only mild symptoms and typically recover within two weeks, according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA Pediatrics.

However, it found that some children become seriously ill, including a 13-month-old infant who was admitted to intensive care.

Researchers in Italy analyzed 1,065 Covid-19 patients, mostly in China, under age 19. They analyzed studies published between Dec. 1 and March 3. At least 444 of the patients were younger than age 10, while 553 were ages 10 to 19.

Most children were reported to have mild respiratory symptoms, namely fever, dry cough, and fatigue or were asymptomatic, meaning they produced no symptoms, the researchers said. Many of the children were hospitalized, but most kids with symptoms required only supportive care and didn't need oxygen or assisted ventilation, they said. No children under age 9 died, but one death was reported in the 10-19 age range. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

11:29 am: Fannie and Freddie will now buy loans in mortgage bailout program, in a bid to loosen lending

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced that the two mortgage giants will now buy home loans that go into the government's forbearance program just after they close.

Fannie and Freddie had not been doing that, and as a result, lending had tightened up dramatically.

"We are focused on keeping the mortgage market working for current and future homeowners during these challenging times," FHFA Director Mark Calabria in a release. "Purchases of these previously ineligible loans will help provide liquidity to mortgage markets and allow originators to keep lending."

Mortgage lenders, both bank and non-bank, sell most of their loans to either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, known as government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs. Or, if they are backed by the FHA, they are sold to Ginnie Mae. It can take a few weeks after a loan closes for it to be sold. When the government's mortgage bailout, which started just over a month ago, some loans that had just closed but were not purchased yet went into forbearance.

The forbearance program allows borrowers with economic hardship due to Covid-19 to delay monthly payments for up to a year. Those payments must be made at a later date. The CARES Act, which was signed into law late last month, does not require that borrowers provide any documentation or proof of hardship. —Diana Olick

10:42 am: NYC can't ease restrictions until it can run 'hundreds of thousands' of tests a day, Mayor de Blasio says

The Store Fanelli is seen shuttered due to COVID-19 pandemic on April 20, 2020 in New York City.
Eduardo Munoz | VIEW press | Getty Images

New York City will need to run "hundreds of thousands" of coronavirus tests a day before officials can ease social distancing guidelines, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

"To get to low-level transmission and to hold onto it, you need a huge amount of testing. Not just tens of thousands of tests per day but as many as hundreds of thousands tests per day for a city of 8.6 million people," de Blasio said at a press conference.

There is still widespread transmission throughout the city, meaning that health officials aren't able to trace the origin of most Covid-19 cases and residents need to maintain social distancing to contain the outbreak, de Blasio said. To get to the next phase, low-level transmission, the city needs greater testing so that it can isolate individual cases faster and trace and isolate the patient's contacts, de Blasio said. —Noah Higgins-Dunn, Jasmine Kim

10:33 am: Lockdowns have led to an unprecedented drop in air pollution for major cities

The area around Colosseum is empty of tourists during the Coronavirus emergency, on March 30, 2020 in Rome, Italy.
Antonio Masiello | Getty Images

IQAir, a Swiss-based air quality technology company, compared measurements of the world's deadliest air pollutants before and during the Covid-19 outbreak in 10 major cities.

The findings, published Wednesday on Earth Day, revealed a "drastic drop" in air pollution for almost all of the cities under lockdown from the same period a year earlier.

New Delhi recorded a 60% drop in air pollution with 2019 levels, Seoul registered a 54% decline over the same period, while the drop in China's Wuhan came in at 44%. See how lockdowns have affected other major cities here. —Sam Meredith

10:28 am: Pandemic is freezing funding for space companies, and more than half may not make it, analyst says

Years of private funding flowing into young and growing space companies has ground to a halt during the coronavirus pandemic, in what one firm describes as a "culling" of space companies backed by venture capital.

Investment in private space companies had seen a golden age in recent years, including a record of nearly $6 billion last year. But that's ended due to the coming "Covid-19-induced recession," a report by Quilty Analytics on Monday said, in a shakeout the firm expects will last about two years. Quilty is a boutique research and investment firm focused on the satellite and broader space industry.

"When the dust settles, we believe that a bit less than half of the companies listed on our Top Venture Companies list below will remain healthy and operational (or alternatively, will have completed a decent exit event)," analysts Chris Quilty and Justin Cadman said in the report. —Michael Sheetz

10:08 am: AT&T misses revenue estimates as coronavirus weighs on business 

A man walks with an umbrella outside of AT&T corporate headquarters on March 13, 2020 in Dallas, Texas.
Ronald Martinez | Getty Images

AT&T's first-quarter revenue fell short of Wall Street expectations and the company pulled its annual forecast on Wednesday, as the impact of the coronavirus outbreak overshadowed a strong growth in monthly phone subscribers.

The U.S. media and telecommunications giant said the pandemic reduced earnings by 5 cents per share. Advertising sales, which was severely hit due to the postponement of live sports such as March Madness and lower wireless equipment sales led to a $600 million decline in revenue, AT&T reported.

The company said it had limited visibility for the rest of the year, but added that it had enough free cash flow to pay dividends and make debt payments. —Reuters

9:38 am: Dow jumps more than 400 points as oil stages sharp turnaround after record plunge 

Stocks rose for the first time in three days on Wednesday as crude prices tried to stabilize after a record plunge.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 450 points, or 1.9%. The S&P 500 climbed 2.1% while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 2.2%.

The West Texas Intermediate contract for June was up 12.3%, trading at $12.99 per barrel, after an earlier decline. Brent futures, meanwhile, were up 5.9% at $20.48 per barrel, recovering from a sharp overnight drop. —Fred Imbert, Maggie Fitzgerald 

9:35 am: Scramble to make nasal swabs for coronavirus testing leads to 3D printers 

3D printed swabs
Source: University of South Florida

Some health experts say the U.S. may have to do millions of tests — as many as 20 million to 30 million — per day.

That will take many more nasal swabs — a simple, but critical tool that's in short supply.

A group of hospitals and companies is turning to 3D printers to ramp up production. Researchers at University of South Florida Health, a Tampa-based medical school, and Northwell Health, New York's largest health-care provider, teamed up to develop a 3D-printed swab that they can make at hospitals. They tested the design and produced the swabs with Formlabs, a 3D printing company that plans to make hundreds of thousands of them.

The swabs are used for the most common type of Covid-19 test. The stick, which has a bristled end, goes deep into a person's nasal cavity and collects a sample that's tested for the coronavirus. 

The thousands of additional swabs could help alleviate some of the supply chain struggles that have slowed efforts for widespread testing. —Melissa Repko

9:21 am: Macy's weighs raising as much as $5 billion in debt to weather coronavirus crisis 

Macy's is taking extreme measures to avoid dire outcomes like bankruptcy and will try to raise billions in debt to weather the pandemic crisis, according to people familiar with the matter.

The country's largest department store chain is looking at raising as much as $5 billion in debt, the people said. It will seek to use its inventory as collateral to raise $3 billion and real estate to raise $1 billion to $2 billion, they said. It is not planning to pledge its prime Herald Square location in New York as part of the deal, one of the people said. The people requested anonymity because the information is confidential.

The retailer earlier this year retained investment bank Lazard to help shore up its balance sheet. —Lauren Hirsch 

9:15 am: Delta books first-quarter loss after burning $100 million in cash a day during coronavirus travel slump 

Planes belonging to Delta Air Lines sit idle at Kansas City International Airport on April 03, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Jamie Squire | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines' on Wednesday posted a pretax loss of $607 million for the first quarter and issued a bleak forecast for this spring as the coronavirus saps travel demand.

The Atlanta-based carrier's revenues plunged 18% in the quarter to $8.6 billion. CEO Ed Bastian said second-quarter revenue will likely fall 90% on the year.

The airline spent the quarter shoring up cash and slashing expenses to combat the sharp drop in revenue. It burned through $100 million a day at the end of March, a rate it expects to halve by the end of the second quarter.

Airlines are among the industries hit hardest by coronavirus and harsh measures to stop it from spreading, like stay-at-home orders. Carriers including Delta were granted a portion of $25 billion in government grants and loans dedicated to paying employees through Sept. 30. —Leslie Josephs

9:04 am: Nasdaq CEO sees taking workers' temperatures as part of coronavirus plan to reopen their offices 

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman told CNBC on Wednesday that taking employees' temperatures will probably be part of its plan to return workers to company offices around the world.

"We will likely ask them a series of questions, take their temperature and do other things to make sure we can manage our employees successfully," Friedman said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Nasdaq has offices in 30 countries. Friedman said that decisions on returning employees, including in New York City, will depend on the curve of the virus in each specific place.

The first criterion in sending workers back will be whether the number of new Covid-19 cases is on the decline, Friedman said, adding Nasdaq will also evaluate whether local hospitals are "able to manage through the case load they have." —Kevin Stankiewicz 

Nasdaq CEO says taking temperatures will likely be part of plan to return workers to office

8:49 am: Oil jumps 14%, reversing steep losses after a volatile overnight session 

Oil jumped more than 10% on Wednesday, reversing steep losses after a volatile overnight trading session which saw international benchmark Brent crude fall to its lowest level in more than 20 years.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, rose $1.73, or 14%, to trade at $13.19 per barrel. Earlier in the session WTI had traded as low as $10.26. Brent crude traded 7%, or $1.37, higher at $20.68, after previously breaking below $16. —Sam Meredith, Pippa Stevens, Eustance Huang 

7:48 am: Most antibody tests will 'give a very high false positive rate'

Serology tests, which can detect the presence of coronavirus antibodies and identify whether someone has already been exposed to Covid-19, have a "very high false positive rate," former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC. 

Earlier this week, University of Southern California professor Neeraj Sood, who led a large antibody study in Los Angeles county, claimed the tests he used were very accurate. However, Gottlieb was cautious about the antibody tests.

"They shouldn't be using these tests to make individual decisions for individual patients," Gottlieb said. "They're good for population-level studies and they're good maybe in certain professions where there's a very high exposure to coronavirus, but for the general population an antibody test probably isn't that helpful." —Will Feuer

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

Gottlieb: Most Covid-19 antibody tests will give a very high false positive rate

7:06 am: Sweden resisted a lockdown, and its capital is expected to reach 'herd immunity' in weeks

People enjoy themselves at an outdoor restaruant, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in central Stockholm, Sweden, on April 20, 2020.

Its neighbors closed borders, schools, bars and businesses as the coronavirus pandemic swept through Europe, but Sweden went against the grain by keeping public life as unrestricted as possible.

The strategy has been controversial. The country tried to slow the spread of the virus while allowing some exposure to it, aiming to build immunity among the general population while protecting high-risk groups like the elderly. Some health experts likened it to playing Russian roulette with public health.

But now, the country's chief epidemiologist said the strategy appears to be working and that "herd immunity" could be reached in the capital Stockholm in a matter of weeks.

The number of cases in Sweden is almost double that in neighboring Denmark (it has 8,108 cases and has reported 370 deaths) and Finland (with just over 4,000 cases and 141 deaths) that imposed strict lockdown measures. Since their populations are each about 5 million — half of Sweden's — the rates are about the same, although the comparison could be skewed by testing numbers in each country. But Sweden's 1,937 deaths is far higher in number and proportionally to Denmark's 370 and Finland's 141. —Holly Ellyatt

6:55 am: Pandemic will drive carbon emissions down 6%

The coronavirus pandemic is expected to drive carbon dioxide emissions down 6% this year, the head of the World Meteorological Organization said, in what would be the biggest yearly drop since World War II.

"This crisis has had an impact on the emissions of greenhouse gases," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas told a virtual briefing in Geneva. "We estimate that there is going to be a 6% drop in carbon emissions this year because of the lack of emissions from transportation and industrial energy production." —Reuters

5:52 am: Cases exceed 10,000 in Poland

A mural paying tribute to the sacrifice of doctors, nurses and paramedics fighting with epidemic of the new coronavirus COVID-19, is seen in Warsaw Poland, on April 2, 2020.
Wojtek Radwanski | AFP | Getty Images

The number of confirmed infections has passed 10,000 in Poland. The somber milestone comes as the country prepares for a presidential election on May 10.  Poland was among the first countries in Europe to impose lockdown measures to try to contain the virus.

A deputy health minister said the rise of new infections "had been contained to a degree," Reuters reported.

 "We are still seeing increases," ministry spokesman Wojciech Andrusiewicz told reporters. "What we can achieve is to level them off. If it wasn't for the restrictions, we could be seeing 30,000 to 40,000 people infected." —Holly Ellyatt

5:15 am: Spain's daily death rate remains stable

A nurse and a firefighter talking are seen in the Villalba General Hospital on April 05, 2020 in Madrid, Spain.
David Benito

Spain's death toll from has risen to 21,717 from 21,282 the previous day, a rise of 435 deaths, the country's health ministry said.

Spain reported 430 deaths on Tuesday, higher than the 399 deaths reported Monday. The total number of cases has reached 208,389, up 4,211 from the day before. —Holly Ellyatt

4:50 am: India halts antibody tests as reliability questioned

India has ordered a pause in testing for antibodies because of concerns over the accuracy of the results, health officials said Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Earlier in April, India's health authorities approved blood tests for coronavirus antibodies as a faster way to bolster the screening effort, and they ordered more than a half-billion testing kits from China.

But the chief of epidemiology at the Indian Council of Medical Research said he has asked health authorities to temporarily stop the tests for antibodies because of conflicting results. India has almost 20,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19. —Holly Ellyatt

4:31 am: Virus is a 'huge challenge' for Russia and the world, Putin's spokesman says

Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a video conference meeting on the COVID-19 coronavirus situation in Russia, at Novo-Ogaryovo residence.
Alexei Druzhinin

Russia and President Vladimir Putin are facing a "very problematic" situation as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates in the country, the Kremlin's spokesman told CNBC on Tuesday.

"It's a huge challenge and a huge danger for every nation in the world. It's not only about Putin or about Russia, every country is facing this challenge and it's quite unprecedented, we have never faced it before," Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, told CNBC Tuesday.

He noted that it was the first major international pandemic situation that anyone — including Putin — had faced.

Russia confirmed 5,236 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the country's official tally to 57,999. Nonetheless, the official death toll remains strikingly low — 513 people. —Holly Ellyatt

Read CNBC's coverage from CNBC's Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: India halts antibody tests; Poland's total cases exceed 10,000