Health and Science

Spain-Portugal reopen border; South Korea reports uptick in coronavirus cases

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Cramer on Covid vaccine: Pfizer credible but I want more information
Cramer on Covid vaccine: Pfizer credible but I want more information

South Korea is battling coronavirus infections from new clusters after social distancing measures were relaxed on May 6. On Wednesday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 51 cases — up from 43 on Tuesday and 42 cases on Monday.

In the U.S., New York is cracking down further on travelers heading to the state from regions where hotspots are seeing steep increases in new Covid-19 cases. Gov. Andrew Cuomo added eight new states to New York's travel advisory, bringing the total to 16 states from which residents who travel to New York are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The enhanced travel advisory comes as former Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he estimates roughly 25% of New York City residents have likely been infected with the virus. 

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 U.S. team. 

  • Global cases: More than 10.45 million 
  • Global deaths: At least 510,632
  • Countries with the most cases: United States (more than 2.6 million); Brazil (more than 1.4 million); Russia (646,929); India (566,840); United Kingdom (314,160)

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Swing state voters not impressed with Trump's handling of epidemic

11:30 a.m. London time: Voters in six key 2020 election states are not impressed with President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus crisis, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll. 

As cases spike in pockets of the U.S. South and West, likely voters in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin say Trump shoulders much of the blame, the survey released Wednesday found. 

When asked to select two people or groups most responsible for the recent increase in hospitalizations, 35% said the president — the largest share among the answers. Trump was followed by "people not wearing masks" at 34%, "states reopening their economies too soon" at 32% and "people not social distancing" at 29%. — Jacob Pramuk

Spain and Portugal reopen border after three month closure

10:45 a.m. London time: Spain and Portugal officially reopened their joint border Wednesday after a three-month closure amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa opened the border, accompanied by Spain's King Felipe and Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Reuters reported.

"It is a reunion between neighbors, who are brothers and friends," Costa tweeted on Wednesday. "This shared frontier depends on our shared prosperity and a common destiny in the European project." He also added that "the pandemic offered us a new vision of the past we do not want to come back to: a continent with closed borders." — Holly Ellyatt


Russia vote takes place under shadow of coronavirus

10:00 a.m. London time: A week-long vote on constitutional changes in Russia comes to a close Wednesday, with citizens voting on changes which include an amendment that would allow President Vladimir Putin to run for further terms in office, and potentially lead the country until 2036. 

Unlike most votes, however, the one in Russia is seen as a foregone conclusion, with the amendments already passed by parliament.

Still, the vote is seen as a litmus test of President Vladimir Putin's popularity. He has seen his popularity ratings decline in recent months as ordinary Russians have suffered during the coronavirus crisis: Russia has the third-largest number of cases in the world, with almost 647,000 reported infections, to date, and 9,306 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Public discontent with the worsening economic situation is expected to continue rising as the unemployment rate climbs, experts have warned. — Holly Ellyatt

Australia to lock down 300,00 in Melbourne suburbs as cases spike

1:55 p.m. — Australia will lock down 300,000 people in Melbourne suburbs for a month after the state posted two weeks of double-digit increases in cases, Reuters reported.

The lockdown will begin late Wednesday with more than 30 suburbs returning to the country's third-strictest movement restriction level.

Residents will only be able to leave their homes for grocery shopping, health appointments, work or care giving and exercise.

Australia has reported over 7,000 cases of the coronavirus and over 100 deaths so far.

In June, Australia's chief medical office said the country had eliminated the novel coronavirus in many parts of the country, Reuters reported. The country recently began to loosen movement restrictions. —Huileng Tan

Asia's economy shrink will 'for the first time in living memory,' says IMF

1:35 p.m. — The International Monetary Fund has predicted that Asia's economy will shrink by 1.6% this year – the region's first economic contraction "in living memory." The fund had in April projected Asia may register no growth in 2020.

The region is still in a better shape compared to others, Changyong Rhee, director of the Asia and Pacific department at IMF, told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia."

But "Asia cannot be the exception" when the rest of the world is suffering from the effects of the pandemic," he added.

Rhee said Asia's economy is expected to rebound to a growth of 6.6% next year, but that level of economic activity would still be lower than what the IMF had projected before the virus outbreak. —Yen Nee Lee

Street vendors walk with their wares in Bangkok on June 18, 2020, as sectors of the Thai economy are being reopened following restrictions to halt the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Romeo Gacad | AFP | Getty Images

Japan may reimpose state of emergency in worst-case scenario, says official

1:00 p.m. Singapore time — Japan could declare another state of emergency in a worst-case scenario, said Yoshihide Suga, the country's chief cabinet secretary, according to Reuters.

That came as capital Tokyo reported five straight days of more than 50 new cases as of Tuesday, sparking concerns.

Japan has reported over 18,500 cases of coronavirus and over 900 deaths so far. —Huileng Tan

Concerns in South Korea over new clusters

11:40 a.m. Singapore time — South Korea is battling to contain new clusters after social distancing measures were relaxed on May 6. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 51 cases on Wednesday — up from 43 on the day before and 42 cases on Monday.

Most of the locally transmitted cases in June were from the densely populated Greater Seoul region, although outbreaks have also been reported in other parts of the country, according to Yonhap news agency. It said the main cause for the latest spike has been traced to clusters at small religious gatherings.

Last Monday, health authorities in South Korea said the country was experiencing a "second wave" of coronavirus infections around the capital Seoul. — Huileng Tan

Couples wearing face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic walk through a market in Seoul on April 22, 2020.
Ed Jones | AFP | Getty Images

Senate extends small business relief program

10:20 a.m. Singapore time — Senate Democrats successfully drove a temporary extension of a popular relief program for small businesses, the Associated Press reported.

The GOP-controlled chamber unexpectedly approved the extension amid growing pressure. Republicans had delayed consideration of a fifth coronavirus relief bill and are preparing to go home for a two-week recess.

Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Small Business Committee, asked for unanimous approval of the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program through Aug. 8. — The Associated Press

Texas reports record number of new cases, bans elective surgeries in more counties

People ride past murals painted on boards covering bar windows on 6th Street on May 20, 2020 in Austin, Texas.
Tom Pennington | Getty Images

6:18 p.m. ET — Texas reported more than 6,900 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, a record daily increase that brings the state's total to nearly 160,000 cases, according to the state's department of health. There are 6,533 people currently in Texas hospitals with Covid-19, after another record increase, according to the state's department of health.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Greg Abbott suspended elective surgeries in Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces and Webb counties to ensure hospital bed availability for Covid-19 patients. There are now eight counties in Texas, including those housing the state's largest cities — Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin — that have been ordered to postpone elective procedures. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

Experts tell Congress Trump's decision to cut ties with WHO is 'tragic'

President Donald Trump reacts while holding a roundtable on the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act at the White House in Washington, August 23, 2018.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

6:04 p.m. ET — President Donald Trump's decision to cut ties with the World Health Organization is a "tragic" mistake and will hurt U.S. interests, four global health experts testified before members of the Senate.

The witnesses, who included former U.S. Ambassador Jimmy Kolker; former head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Dr. Mark Dybul and others, acknowledged the WHO is an imperfect agency. However, they said the U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations agency hamstrings global pandemic preparedness and cedes influence to U.S. rivals, such as Russia and China.

"You asked, Mr. Chairman, who's the fire department, who responds when there's an outbreak that threatens to become an epidemic," Kolker said, addressing Senator James Risch, a Republican from Idaho who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. "My reply to that question is there is no alternative to WHO." —Will Feuer

More states roll back or pause reopening measures

5:41 p.m. ET — A growing number of states are rolling back or pausing reopening measures amid spikes in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the country. This week, Nevada and New Jersey delayed their reopening progress, while Arizona closed bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks.

Over the weekend, California ordered bars and counties to close in select counties, while Washington delayed moving into the fourth phase of reopening. For more on states' reopening progress, click here.—Hannah Miller

What top U.S. health officials say we should do differently for the next pandemic

5:02 p.m. ET — Appearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers that the U.S. would need to do a better job of responding to any future pandemic "in a coordinated way" rather than facing challenges with disparate responses during future pandemics.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said now is the time to make greater investments in the nation's public health infrastructure, saying that the U.S. has underinvested in the "core capabilities of public health" for decades.

Adm. Brett Giroir warned lawmakers that other preventative procedures, such as cancer screenings and immunizations, fell drastically during the nation's Covid-19 response, posing a threat the health system. He added that the U.S. has to continue to focus on health disparities that have led to higher mortality rates for Black people and Hispanics. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

UAW wants GM to temporarily close SUV plant in Texas 

An employee uses a flash grinder to smooth out the metal frame of a sports utility vehicle (SUV) on the production line at the General Motors Co. (GM) assembly plant in Arlington, Texas.
Matthew Busch | Bloomberg | Getty Images

4:44 p.m. ET — A local chapter of the United Auto Workers union has asked General Motors to temporarily close its Arlington, Texas, SUV plant due to the growth of Covid-19 cases in the state.

"Due to the most recent data on the Covid -19 outbreak, the Bargaining Committee has asked General Motors to shut down Arlington Assembly until the curve is flattened for the benefit and well-being of our members," reads a message on the organization's website. "Every day we are setting new records in the number of people who are testing positive in the Dallas-Fort Worth area."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week announced he would roll back some of the state's reopening plans, closing bars and reducing capacity for indoor dining, among other modifications and closures.

GM, in an emailed statement, said officials are aware of the request, but "there have been no changes to our production plans at Arlington because our safety protocols are working, thanks to a strong team effort." —Michael Wayland

Cirque du Soleil CEO eyes beginning of 2021 for shows to return

Cirque du Soleil CEO Daniel Lamarre on the company's bankruptcy filing
Cirque du Soleil CEO Daniel Lamarre on the company's bankruptcy filing

4:07 p.m. ET — Cirque du Soleil is targeting early next year as the restart date for its shows, CEO Daniel Lamarre told CNBC. The circus would likely begin with its Las Vegas and Orlando shows because the cast and crew are based locally, Lamarre said on "Squawk on the Street."

Lamarre's comments come one day after the Montreal-based Cirque filed for bankruptcy protection, citing the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on its business.

While it may take about two years for the company to return to pre-pandemic profit levels, Lamarre said Cirque needs about 40% of its seats filled to break even. "With the social distancing, if we could operate with 50% of our capacity, we would start making a little bit of profit," he said. —Kevin Stankiewicz

Massachusetts to require visitors from most states to self-quarantine

Mass. Gov Charlie Baker gives his daily update on the State on June 26, 2020 in Boston, MA.
Stuart Cahill | Boston Herald | Getty Images

2:53 p.m. ET — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced that starting Wednesday, travelers arriving from most states will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Visitors from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York and New Jersey are exempt from the directive. Essential critical infrastructure workers are also exempt if they are traveling to Massachusetts for work purposes.

Massachusetts follows other states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, in implementing travel restrictions on out-of-state visitors. —Hannah Miller

Airbus to cut 15,000 jobs amid long travel industry recovery 

2:49 p.m. ET — European aircraft manufacturer Airbus announced it will be cutting 15,000 jobs, mostly in Europe, the Associated Press reports.

"With air traffic not expected to recover to pre-COVID levels before 2023 and potentially as late as 2025, Airbus now needs to take additional measures," the company said in a statement, according to the AP.

The job cuts should begin within months, the AP reports. While the company will work toward voluntary cuts and early retirements, layoffs have not been ruled out. Airbus's commercial aircraft business activity has dropped around 40% since the pandemic shuttered mass tourism and the airline industry. —Suzanne Blake

CDC disappointed American Airlines will resume full flights

2:43 p.m. ET — Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, expressed "substantial disappointment" with American Airlines over its plan to resume full flights starting Wednesday.

Redfield told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the new policy is currently under "critical review" at the agency as he said it doesn't send the right message to Americans amid a pandemic.

American Airlines told CNBC that it is "unwavering in our commitment to the safety and well-being of our customers and team members."

"We have multiple layers of protection in place for those who fly with us, including required face coverings, enhanced cleaning procedures, and a pre-flight COVID-19 symptom checklist — and we're providing additional flexibility for customers to change their travel plans, as well," the airline said. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr. 

TSA chief says passenger temperature checks aren't foolproof 

A TSA officer checks a man's ID at a screening checkpoint at Orlando International Airport.
Paul Hennessy | SOPA Images | Getty Images

2:04 p.m. ET — The head of the Transportation Security Administration said the federal government hasn't yet made a decision about whether to screen passengers for high temperatures and that the procedure might not be the most effective at weeding out travelers with Covid-19.

"I know in talking to our medical professionals and talking to the Centers for Disease Control is that temperature checks are not a guarantee that passengers who don't have an elevated temperature also don't have Covid-19," Pekoske said.

The reverse may also be true, where travelers could have temperatures but not Covid-19. Another issue is that travelers may come into close contact with one another in other areas, such as at car rental offices.

The aviation industry is grappling with how to keep travelers and employees safe in the pandemic and ensure that customers feel comfortable flying again. U.S. airlines now require that travelers wear masks on board and have threatened to deny them flights if they don't comply.

While demand has rebounded from lows hit in April, it's still off roughly 80% from a year ago, according to federal data. —Leslie Josephs

More states roll back or delay reopenings as cases climb

1:30 p.m. ET — More than 12 states have now paused or rolled back their reopening plans as average new cases in the U.S. jumped 40% over the past week to about 39,750 per day on Monday, based on a seven-day moving average, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

New cases rose Monday by 5% or more in 40 states across the U.S., based on a seven-day average. Arizona, Florida and California are now seeing an average of more than 5,000 new cases a day.

On Monday, more states rolled back or paused their reopening plans as coronavirus cases continue to spread in states across the West and South.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey shuttered the state's bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks and said the state will try to reopen the businesses in 30 days. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that the state's restaurants won't be allowed to resume indoor dining on Thursday as originally planned, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he may make a similar decision for restaurants in New York City. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

U.S. could see 100,000 new cases per day, Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on June 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Kevin Dietsch | AFP via Getty Images

1:14 p.m. ET — The U.S. is "not in total control" of the country's coronavirus outbreak and the nation might see daily new cases top 100,000 per day unless action is taken, White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

"I can't make an accurate prediction, but it's going to be very disturbing," Fauci told senators in a hearing held by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned."

Fauci's comments come one day after Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the U.S. has "way too much virus" to control the outbreak right now. —Will Feuer

Minnesota Amazon warehouse workers were infected with Covid-19 at a higher rate than the surrounding area, memo shows 

12:50 p.m. ET — Coronavirus infection rates at an Amazon warehouse in Minnesota were far higher than the surrounding community, according to an internal memo obtained by CNBC.

At least 45 workers at Amazon's Shakopee facility, known as MSP1, came down with the coronavirus, resulting in a rate of infection of 1.7%, according to the memo, which was first reported by Bloomberg.

The memo, issued in mid-May, shows that infections were nearly five times the rate of surrounding counties and far higher than the rate of 0.1% in Scott County, where MSP1 is located. 

The memo contradicts Amazon's previous messaging about the rate of infections at warehouses. The company has previously rebuffed accusations that its warehouses have spread the virus, saying the "overall rate of infection and increase or decrease of total cases is highly correlated to the overall community rate of infection."

Amazon continues to report new coronavirus cases at its facilities nationwide, including at MSP1, which as of Tuesday, has reported 92 cases total, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. A total of 198 coronavirus cases have been confirmed among Amazon workers throughout Minnesota, the agency said. Outbreaks have been reported at three other facilities in Minnesota. —Annie Palmer

Fauci says new virus in China has traits of swine flu and pandemic flu

Fauci: New virus in China has traits of 2009 swine flu and 1918 pandemic flu
Fauci: New virus in China has traits of 2009 swine flu and 1918 pandemic flu

12:14 p.m. ET — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told lawmakers the new strain of flu carried by pigs in China has characteristics of the 2009 H1N1 virus and the 1918 pandemic flu.

He told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that scientists are keeping an eye on the virus, which they call "G4 EA H1N1."

"It's something that still is in the stage of examination," he said. It's not "an immediate threat where you're seeing infections, but it's something we need to keep our eye on, just the way we did in 2009 with the emergence of the swine flu."

Both H1N1 and the 1918 flu were both considered horrific viruses. Fauci has often compared to Covid-19 to the 1918 flu, which is estimated to have killed between 30 million to 50 million. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

New York adds eight additional states to travel advisory