California coronavirus cases surpass New York, Cuomo urges federal mask mandate

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The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday morning a nearly $2 billion deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for 100 million doses of a potential vaccine. Under the agreement, the government can buy an additional 500 million doses and the vaccine would be provided to the public "at no cost." Congress is still hammering out details of a second relief bill, which top lawmakers expect to pass in August. 

California has reported a record spike in coronavirus cases and passed New York as the U.S. state with the most confirmed infections since the pandemic began. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on the Trump administration to implement a federal mask mandate as local authorities in Washington, D.C. and Ohio issue orders requiring residents to wear masks in public spaces.

Here are some of today's biggest developments:

The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 15 million
  • Global deaths: At least 618,061
  • U.S. cases: More than 3.9 million
  • U.S. deaths: At least 142,677

The Philippine government is planning more support for the economy

The Philippine government will be announcing more support to its economy which has been weighed down by the rapid spread of the coronavirus disease, said Karl Kendrick Chua, acting secretary of the country's National Economic and Development Authority.

He told CNBC's "Capital Connection" that there would be more fiscal stimulus and capital support for the banking sector to help individuals and businesses financially affected by the virus outbreak.

Some of those plans could be outlined by President Rodrigo Duterte when he delivers his state of the nation address on Monday. The president's annual speech marks the opening of the next session of the Philippine Congress.

The country has reported the second-highest number of cumulative cases in Southeast Asia, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. New infections are still climbing quickly in recent weeks, which Chua partly attributed to efforts in expanding the country's testing capacity. 

"From testing just a few hundred in early March or February, we're testing close to 30,000 as of yesterday," he said, adding that there have been fewer severe or critical cases as a result of the increase in testing. 

Australia forecasts largest budget shortfall in decades as it battles outbreak

Australian finance minister says government's wage subsidy helped preserve jobs

Australia has projected its largest budget deficit since World War II as the government increased spending to soften the economic hits from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The country is expected to swing from a balanced fiscal position previously to a deficit of 85.8 billion Australian dollars ($61.27 billion) in the financial year that ended on June 30, said a joint statement released Thursday by the Australian treasurer and finance minister. The deficit is likely to deepen further to 184.5 billion Australian dollars ($131.78 billion) in the new financial year, it added.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia" that the numbers are "overwhelmingly" a result of the pandemic's hit on the Australian economy. But he said that Australia's financial position is still better than many countries around the world. — Yen Nee Lee

Coronavirus cases are climbing quickly in several Asia Pacific countries

Some Asia Pacific countries are still experiencing a sharp climb in the number of new cases — months after the virus first emerged in the region. 

Countries including India, Indonesia and the Philippines are still in the middle of their first wave of coronavirus outbreak. The continued virus spread led India to become only the third country to report more than 1 million cumulative cases, while Indonesia overtook China to record the most confirmed infections in East Asia.

In some countries such as Australia and Japan, renewed outbreaks in certain cities appeared to be heralding a second wave, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed. — Yen Nee Lee 

President Trump touts Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine: 'We think we have a winner'

President Donald Trump applauded the federal government's $1.95 billion deal with Pfizer and biotech firm BioNTech, calling it "a historic agreement" that will help the country distribute a coronavirus vaccine in record-breaking time. Germany-based BioNTech and Pfizer, which are jointly developing four potential vaccines, announced the deal earlier in the day that will give the U.S. 100 million doses of their potential vaccine if it proves safe and effective. 

"Hopefully the approval process will go very quickly, and we think we have a winner there. We also think we have other companies right behind that are doing very well on the vaccines, long ahead of schedule," Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. 

Trump also said that officials are "monitoring and aggressively acting to control the infection in Texas, Arizona, California, Florida." He said that protests over the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, "presumably triggered a broader relaxation" of coronavirus mitigation efforts, a substantial increase in travel and increased gatherings on the nation's beaches and in packed bars. — Noah Higgins-Dunn

GOP considers enhanced unemployment extension at reduced $100 per week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Capitol Hill July 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Tasos Katopodis | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Republicans are considering extending the enhanced unemployment insurance designed to mitigate the economic damage from the coronavirus at a slashed rate of about $100 per week, or $400 a month. 

Congress passed an additional $600 per week benefit, on top of what people would normally receive from states, as part of the $2 trillion rescue package in March. It expires at the end of the month, leaving millions of people facing a sudden income cliff. 

Republicans had been considering an extension with an enhanced benefit of $200 per week as the party puts together a proposal intended to kickstart negotiations with Democrats. But no final decision has been made, and Democrats are unlikely to sign off on the $100 a week sum. 

Congressional leaders have indicated this week that they likely will not pass a broad coronavirus relief plan until August, meaning they would miss the deadline to extend the jobless benefit. Roughly 30 million Americans are receiving unemployment insurance in some form.— Kayla Tausche and Jacob Pramuk 

Former CDC director says U.S. response mixes politics with science in ‘very dangerous’ way

Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. surgeon general and director of the Centers for Disease Control of Prevention, said in an interview with CNBC that the U.S. government's response to the coronavirus has been uncoordinated and its guidance has been unclear. 

If he were to grade the nation's leadership in the pandemic, Satcher said he would give them a C "at best." 

"I think we are mixing the politics and the science in a way that can be very dangerous," said Satcher, who President Bill Clinton appointed to both positions. "In my work, in public health and in government, I have not seen this before. People may disagree for a short period of time, but then they get together and discuss it and then the decision is made." 

Satcher added that the country must make a committed, long-term effort to eliminate the health disparities in communities of color that have been laid bare by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The problem is often when one administration leaves and another comes, you forget about the commitments the nation made," he said. "It shouldn't go away when a new administration comes in." —Noah Higgins-Dunn

California reports record daily increase of infections

Gavin Newsom, governor of California, speaks during a news conference in Sacramento, California, on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
Rich Pedroncelli | AP | Bloomberg via Getty Images

California reported more than 12,800 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, which is the highest-reported daily tally the state has recorded so far, Gov. Gavin Newsom said. 

California surpassed New York in total confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 409,500 cases as of Wednesday. The state now has the most cases in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University data. However, New York has reported more than four times the number of deaths, according to Hopkins. 

"We're a state, again, size of 21 states combined, so it's not surprising now in some respects as we've begun to reopen key sectors of our economy," Newsom said at a press briefing Wednesday. "People continue to mix and people continue to come in close contact with others that may have contracted this disease that our numbers would start to go up in total now." 

Hospitals scramble to adopt new HHS data system

Members of the medical staff prepare to transfer a patient to another room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on July 2, 2020 in Houston, Texas.
Go Nakamura | Getty Images

Hospitals and states are scrambling after the Trump administration last week hastily implemented a new Covid-19 data reporting system that has left some, mostly rural, states in the dark about the severity of their own coronavirus outbreaks. 

In Missouri, the state has not been able to update its public coronavirus hospitalizations dashboard since July 12 due to the policy change. 

"This is the worst possible time for a data blackout," Missouri Hospital Association spokesman Dave Dillon said. "It is quite possible that during the downtime, Missouri exceeded the all-time high for hospitalizations."

Hospitals in Idaho and Montana, especially smaller and more rural ones, have experienced similar issues, officials in those states told CNBC in interviews.

 An HHS spokeswoman told CNBC the agency has "held a number of calls" with hospitals and industry representatives to "share details of the program changes and respond to questions." HHS also set up a service desk to help hospitals submit their data, she said. The new TeleTracking system provides more frequent and detailed data, which will help the U.S. response, she said. —Will Feuer

Gates denies conspiracy theories on vaccines

Bill Gates addresses a virtual Covid-19 conference hosted by the International Aids Society. July 11, 2020
International Aids Society Handout

Billionaire Bill Gates denied conspiracy theories that accuse the tech mogul and philanthropist of wanting to use coronavirus vaccines to implant tracking devices in people. 

Gates, whose foundation has donated millions to coronavirus vaccine and treatment research, addressed a poll from Yahoo News/YouGov survey that found 28% of U.S. adults believed a debunked conspiracy theory suggesting Gates planned to use a potential vaccine for Covid-19 to implant microchips in billions of people to monitor their movements. 

"We need to get the truth out there," Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said during an interview on CBS News. "I hope it'll die down as people get the facts," he said, adding that he wants to bring the coronavirus pandemic to an end. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

For retail workers, industry upheaval makes future unclear

An employee wearing a face mask is pictured inside a shop at Westfield Santa Anita mall during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Arcadia, California June 25, 2020.
Mario Anzuoni | Reuters

The pandemic has led to bankruptcies and dramatic cuts in the retail industry.

Now, retail employees are looking towards an uncertain future as they try to find work, remain furloughed or get pushed into new roles. About 1.9 million store-based retail workers were unemployed — with 1.1 million of those classified as temporary layoffs, such as furloughs in June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other workers have had to pick up additional tasks, such as setting up hand sanitizer stations, enforcing mask wearing and social distancing or fulfilling online orders. 

Companies and workers are staring down new challenges that could determine their longer-term fate — such as the spread of the coronavirus across the Sunbelt, the risk of another Covid-19 wave in the fall, and uncertainty around the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons.

"The problem with this environment is that you don't know what's coming," said Mark Mathews, vice president of research development and industry analysis at the trade group National Retail Federation. "The peak or trough in demand can be so immediate that it's difficult to plan for that and to have inventory in stock and to get people in the store to help you deliver some of that stuff to the consumer." — Melissa Repko and Lauren Thomas

Ohio Gov. announces statewide mask mandate

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
John Minchillo | AP

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a statewide mask mandate beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. The statewide order follows a previous face covering requirement for counties deemed to have a risk of level three or higher by the Ohio Department of Public Health.

The mandate requires masks in any indoor place that is not a residence and outdoors when social distancing is not possible. People with medical conditions or disabilities, actively eating or drinking, under 10 years old or participating in sports are exempt.

DeWine also announced a quarantine requirement for those traveling to Ohio from a list of states including Florida, Texas and Nevada. –Alex Harring

D.C. mayor issues mask requirement

Washington, D.C. is requiring residents to wear masks when they are outside of their homes and are within six feet of another person as well as indoors in public spaces, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced in an executive order.  

People who don't comply with the order could face fines of up to $1,000. The mandate will not apply to children under the age of 2, people eating or drinking, people exercising outdoors away from others, and people with medical conditions among other exceptions.  –Suzanne Blake

Schumer criticizes Republicans for coronavirus relief delays as deadlines inch closer

Lawmakers inched closer to critical coronavirus aid deadlines Wednesday with no proposal in hand that could pass both chambers of Congress. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., aims to release a bill in the coming days that would serve as a starting point in talks with Democrats. Senate Republicans, however, have failed to come to a consensus among themselves or with the White House. 

After McConnell did not mention Covid-19 relief during remarks Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the omission "shows what a knot the Republicans are tied in." 

Millions of Americans wait to see whether Congress will maintain financial lifelines that have buoyed the economy while many businesses are shut down. A federal moratorium on evictions expires at the end of the week. The $600 per week enhanced federal unemployment insurance phases out at the end of July, though states will stop paying out the extra benefit days before that. 

Republicans are now considering a short-term jobless benefit extension as they acknowledge a broader pandemic relief bill will not become law before August. But Democrats, who wanted to keep the enhanced unemployment available at least until next year, are unlikely to support a temporary fix. —Jacob Pramuk

U.S. coronavirus deaths may reach 300,000 by year-end if trends hold, Gottlieb says

Gottlieb: U.S. coronavirus deaths may hit 300,000 by year-end if trends continue

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, told CNBC that coronavirus deaths in the U.S. could reach 300,000 this year unless present trends change. 

So far, at least 142,000 deaths in the U.S. have been linked to Covid-19, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.  

"Right now we have close to 1,000 casualties a day; so if we don't change that trajectory, you could do the math and see where we are towards the end of the year," Gottlieb said on "Squawk Box." 

Mortality rates from Covid-19 are coming down as medical workers learn more about the virus and how to best treat patients, Gottlieb said. But the challenge, he said, is that too many people in the U.S. are still ending up in the hospital from the virus. 

"Even if we end up preserving more life in the hospital, which we're doing, if we end up hospitalizing a whole lot more patients, you're ultimately going to have a lot of casualties, unfortunately, from this virus," said Gottlieb. —Kevin Stankiewicz 

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic-testing start-up Tempus and biotech company Illumina.

New York Gov. Cuomo urges Trump to sign executive order mandating masks

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged President Donald Trump to sign a federal mask mandate to help contain the coronavirus outbreak across the country.

Cuomo said he was encouraged by Trump's support of masks on Tuesday at a press briefing at which Trump also warned Americans that the pandemic in the U.S. will probably "get worse before it gets better."

The president adopted "a different tone" during his White House press briefing Tuesday night, which was a "good sign," Cuomo said in an interview with MSNBC.

Citing health experts who advise the White House, the governor said "40,000 more Americans will die because we don't have a mask policy."

"As incredible as that is, you can sign a piece of paper that will save the life of 40,000 Americans. Why wouldn't you want to do that?" Cuomo added. —Noah Higgins-Dunn, Jasmine Kim

Brazil's response was bungled by the federal government, local experts say

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with journalists while wearing a protective face mask as he arrives at Alvorada Palace, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brasilia, Brazil, May 22, 2020.
Adriano Machado | Reuters

Brazil had a lot of potential to manage Covid-19 well, but experts say it faltered as President Jair Bolsonaro repeatedly played down the virus, even as cases continue to rise.

Earlier this month, Bolsonaro was diagnosed with Covid-19 himself. Since being diagnosed with the coronavirus, Brazilians say things haven't changed much and the messaging is still confusing for many people, according to a report from CNBC's Christina Farr. 

Health ministers also haven't stayed in the job for long since the onset of the pandemic. Dr. Nelson Teich, an oncologist, quit in late May after a month. He had replaced Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who was fired by the president in April. 

In theory, Brazil could have been set up for success. Its health system, SUS, serves about 80 percent of the population. To prevent widespread chaos, the best private hospitals started to work closely with the public hospitals in the poorest parts of Sao Paulo to share resources, supplies and expertise. —Melodie Warner 

FEMA head says coronavirus hot spots may face PPE shortages

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor arrives to testify before a House Committee on Homeland Security meeting on Capitol Hill , July 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. Peter Gaynor testified on the national response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Andrew Harnik | Pool | Getty Images

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Pete Gaynor told lawmakers that the U.S. could face shortages of personal protective equipment in areas with climbing Covid-19 cases. While the U.S. has more face masks, gloves and other PPE now, compared with two months ago, a surge in demand in states with growing coronavirus hospitalizations and cases could cause "micro-shortages," Gaynor told the House Committee on Homeland Security. 

"We're in a much better place than we were coming out of March and April. However, we are not out of the woods completely with PPE," he told lawmakers. 

Gaynor said the agency is still competing for the equipment, saying that other countries, governors, mayors and tribal leaders are searching for the same supplies. He called the reliance on overseas suppliers for PPE a "national security issue." The U.S. has made some strides in producing the equipment, but it could take months before the country can manufacture enough PPE to match its demand, he said. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

Obama joins Biden in campaign video criticizing Trump's coronavirus response

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama criticized the U.S. response to the coronavirus in a campaign video released Wednesday.

The video opens up with Biden asking Obama whether the former president could imagine standing up and saying, "It's not my responsibility, I take no responsibility." The question was a jab at President Donald Trump, who delivered similar remarks in March in response to his administration's handling of the pandemic. 

"Those words didn't come out of our mouths when we were in office," Obama says in the video, which will be released in full Thursday.

Trump in March deflected when asked whether he'd take responsibility for his administration's lagging rate of coronavirus testing. "I don't take responsibility at all," he said. Yelena Dzhanova

California surpasses New York in confirmed coronavirus cases

California's confirmed coronavirus cases reached 409,000, surpassing New York's amount as highest in the country, according to data from John's Hopkins University.

California now has about 712 more cases than New York, according to Johns Hopkins. 

New York still has the highest number of coronavirus related deaths at 32,256, four times more than California. New York also has a higher rate of confirmed infections of about 2,100 per 100,000 people, twice that of California.

California has a higher population than any other U.S. state with around 40 million people. New York has about 19.5 million.

Testing has been a struggle in tracking the true amount of coronavirus cases in the country. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study based on antibody tests on 16,000 people in 10 regions showed true Covid-19 rates were more than 10 times higher than reported cases from late March to early May. —Suzanne Blake

Correction: New York has the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. at 32,256, four times more than California, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. A previous version of this entry misstated the state's death toll. 

Dr. Fauci doesn't see virus being eradicated

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, warned that it is unlikely the coronavirus will ever be eradicated. 

While the virus will not disappear, it's possible world leaders and public health officials could work to bring the virus down to "low levels," the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said during an interview with the TB Alliance.

"I think with a combination of good public health measures, a degree of global herd immunity and a good vaccine, which I do hope and feel cautiously optimistic that we will get, I think when we put all three of those together, we will get control of this, whether it's this year or next year. I'm not certain," he said.

But, he added, "I don't really see us eradicating it.

Fauci's comments are at odds with President Donald Trump, who reiterated his claim Tuesday evening that the virus would disappear. The president's remark comes amid warnings from experts, including at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that Covid-19 cases and deaths could rise this fall. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

United CEO expects airfare to drop and revenue to plateau until there’s a coronavirus vaccine

United CEO doesn't expect to get above 50% revenue until vaccine is available

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said he expects airfares to dwindle as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Flight demand appeared to have bottomed out, but revenue could plateau at half of 2019 levels until there's widespread access to a Covid-19 vaccine, Kirby said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

While United's revenue fell more than 87% in the second quarter from the year before, United said Tuesday the company expects to have $18 million in liquidity after raising more than $16 billion through debt, stock stales and federal aid throughout the coronavirus crisis, CNBC's Leslie Josephs reports.

Airlines received $25 billion in federal support that restricts them from cutting jobs until Sept. 30, but United warned 36,000 workers on July 9 about a potential loss of jobs.

"I'm confident we can get through the crisis without any more funding but it's also going to have an impact on employment," Kirby said. —Suzanne Blake

7-day average of U.S. deaths ticks higher

'Pretty surreal' to watch 'politicization' of mask wearing in the U.S., analyst says

While the rest of the world generally adopted face masks as part of a range of protective measures during the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. has appeared to follow a different course on the issue.

Most of Europe and Asia has taken to wearing face masks. In many countries it is compulsory and failure to do so can result in a fine, in some cases.

But the U.S.' stance on face coverings, and what one political analyst characterized as "the politicization of mask wearing," is a curiosity for the rest of the world. —Holly Ellyatt

U.S. strikes deal with Pfizer, BioNTech for potential vaccine doses

A man walks past Pfizer's world headquarters in New York.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters

The U.S. government struck a nearly $2 billion deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for 100 million doses of a potential vaccine against the coronavirus. Under the agreement, the government can opt to buy 500 million additional doses. 

The purchases are conditional on the Pfizer-BioNTech drug proving safe and effective. The companies reported additional positive data earlier this week, and expect the vaccine candidate to enter a large trial of up to 30,000 participants later this month, assuming they receive regulatory approval. 

The Department of Health and Human Services said the vaccine would be provided to the American public "at no cost."  —Sara Salinas

Germany looks to tighten rules on slaughterhouse employment after outbreaks

Germany is set to introduce a new law requiring slaughterhouse companies to employ staff directly rather than through subcontractors, Reuters reported.

Slaughterhouses in Germany have seen large-scale outbreaks of the coronavirus among workers, most of whom are of Eastern European origin. The working environment and often-cramped accommodation provided for workers have been blamed for increased infections. In some cases, the factory outbreaks have led to localized lockdowns.

The draft law, seen by Reuters, bans subcontracting in the industry's core business areas of animal slaughtering and meat processing. It also reportedly provides stricter regulation of shared accommodation and a minimum quota of annual on-the-spot inspections. –Holly Ellyatt

Hong Kong reports record spike, rolls out new restrictions

Hong Kong is mandating masks in all indoor, public areas such as malls and markets beginning Wednesday at midnight, local time, as the city grapples with a new cluster of cases that led to a record one-day spike of 113 new infections, Reuters reported.

"This is the most critical time for Hong Kong. We ask citizens to be patient and stay at home as much as possible," Health Secretary Sophia Chan said, according to Reuters. —Will Feuer

United says it could ban travelers for not wearing masks in the airport

A passenger wears a face mask as she exits one of the terminals at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

United Airlines will require travelers to wear masks, not just on board but in airports, including kiosks, lounges, gates and baggage claim. If travelers don't comply, they could be denied travel or banned from the airline for as long mask requirements remain. All major airlines already require travelers to wear masks on board, an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19. The Trump administration has no federal requirement for masks on flights, but it has recommended them.

Chicago-based United, which operates in more than 360 airports worldwide, said children over age 2 have to wear a mask. Those who need an exemption for a medical issue or other reason should talk to airport staff, United said.

Other airlines are also stepping up scrutiny on mask exemptions. Delta Air Lines said Monday that travelers who want an exemption from the mask rule have to take part in a virtual consultation with a third-party medical professional and a Delta agent, which the airline says can take more than an hour.

"Any false claims of a disability or health condition to obtain an exemption from wearing a mask or face covering may result in the suspension of travel privileges on any Delta flight for the duration of the mask/face covering requirement," Delta said. —Leslie Josephs

Virus is 'beginning to accelerate in Africa,' WHO says

The spread of the coronavirus is starting to accelerate in parts of Africa, according to Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's health emergencies program, according to Reuters. He also pointed to signs of "worrying trends" in southern Europe and the Balkans. 

"Obviously the Americas is clearly still the major hot spot, North, Central and South America, but we have disease beginning to accelerate in Africa," Ryan told the Newstalk radio station in Ireland, according to Reuters.

More than 213,600 new cases of the coronavirus were recorded around the world on Tuesday, according to the WHO. Most of that increase is attributable to the Americas, driven by countries like the U.S. and Brazil. Africa, which has confirmed somewhat few cases relative to population of the continent, reported 13,962 new cases on Tuesday, the WHO says.

"Also, even in Europe, while certainly in western Europe the disease has come under control, we still have some worrying trends in southern Europe and the Balkans so we're not out of the woods just yet in the European environment. It requires sustained vigilance," Ryan said, according to Reuters. —Will Feuer

Read CNBC's previous coronavirus live coverage here: Employment recovery falters in virus-ridden states; Trump urges mask use