U.S. hits 4.5 million coronavirus cases, Vietnam posts record rise in infections

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New U.S. coronavirus cases increasingly look to have peaked, but Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise as they lag behind the surge in confirmed cases. Eight states, including California, Florida and Texas, all hit record-high average daily deaths on Wednesday, according to data from John Hopkins University. Wall Street received more pandemic-era economic data Thursday morning, with reports on gross domestic product and weekly jobless claims

Here are some of today's biggest developments:


The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 17.3 million
  • Global deaths: At least 673,527
  • Top five countries: United States (over 4.4 million), Brazil (more than 2.6 million), India (over 1.6 million), Russia (at least 838,461), South Africa (at least 482,169)

Pfizer and BioNTech to supply 120 million doses of virus vaccine to Japan

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech have agreed to supply Japan with 120 million doses of their vaccine candidate against the coronavirus in the first half of next year.

The companies said in a joint statement that the mRNA-based vaccine candidate would be subject to clinical success and regulatory approval, adding they remain on track to seek regulatory review as early as October.

Pfizer and BioNTech did not disclose the financial details of the agreement. — Sam Meredith

U.S. surpasses 4.5 million coronavirus cases

People wearing masks are seen walking on the Brooklyn Bridge in July.
Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Images

More than 4.5 million people in the U.S. have now tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data compiled by NBC News, with 153,250 related deaths.

It comes just eight days after the country, which has recorded by far the highest number of Covid-19 cases worldwide, reported over 4 million cases of the virus.

U.S. health officials confirmed the first human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus back in January. — Sam Meredith

Analysts cut Hong Kong forecasts as resurgence dims economic outlook

Several economists have downgraded their economic forecasts for Hong Kong as the Asian financial hub experiences a surge in coronavirus cases. The rise in new infections forced authorities to impose stricter social-distancing measures this week.

Hong Kong said Wednesday that advance estimates showed its economy contracted by 9% in the second quarter compared to a year ago. It was the fourth consecutive quarter of on-year contraction, according to official data.

The government said a renewed outbreak locally "clouded the near-term outlook for domestic economic activity."

Economists concurred that the stricter social-distancing measures imposed after a recent uptick in cases will dampen any economic momentum. Some don't agree with the government that recovery may come as soon as this year. —Yen Nee Lee

Vietnam reports record rise in cases as infections jump in Danang

Vietnam reported 45 new cases in the city of Danang — making it the largest single-day increase in the country, Reuters reported Friday citing the health ministry. That brings the total number of cases in Vietnam to 509. There have been no deaths.

The new cases were patients aged between 27 to 87 and are linked to three hospitals and two clinics in Danang, a central coastal city.

The Southeast Asian country — which shares a border with China, where the virus first emerged — had not recorded any locally transmitted cases for more than three months before a resident of Danang was tested positive on Saturday, said the Vietnamese government.

Vietnam has started mass testing in the capital of Hanoi and is scrambling to contain the spread of the virus. The current wave of infections is traced to Danang, a tourist hot spot that has been welcoming many domestic travelers. —Huileng Tan

Trump says keeping schools closed will cause 'probably more death'

President Donald Trump on Thursday continued his campaign to pressure officials into reopening schools regardless of the state of the local outbreak, adding that school closures are also causing deaths as well as economic harm.

Trump also called on Democrats to work with Republicans to pass the latest coronavirus relief bill, which currently includes $105 billion to help schools reopen for in-person learning in the fall.

"The lower they are in age, the lower the risk," Trump said. "We have to remember that there's another side to this. Keeping them out of school and keeping work closed is causing death also. Economic harm, but it's causing death for different reasons, but death. Probably more death."

The president also indicated that if some state or local officials decide not to reopen schools, he thinks the school funding should be reallocated to parents, " so they can send their children to the school of their choice." —Will Feuer

Gilead sales fall 10% during second quarter

Gilead Sciences' drug remdesivir is being used on patients in the U.S. hospitalized with Covid-19, but overall sales for the company fell 10% from a year ago in the second quarter.

Second-quarter sales fell 10% from a year ago to $5.14 billion while analysts polled by Refinitiv expected $5.31 billion, CNBC's Berkeley Lovelace Jr. reports. Gilead posted earnings of $1.11 per share excluding some items, which missed analyst expectations of $1.45 per share.

Shares of Gilead fell more than 3% during extended trading. —Chris Eudaily

Moderna board member resigns to avoid conflict of interest

Dr. Elizabeth "Betsy" Nabel is resigning from Moderna's board of directors effective immediately to avoid any "potential or even apparent conflict of interest" during the company's phase three trial for its coronavirus vaccine candidate, Moderna said in a statement. Nabel is president of Brigham and Women's Hospital, which is one of 89 clinical trial sites participating in the phase three trial of Moderna's potential Covid-19 vaccine.

"In the context of the start of the 30,000 participant Phase 3 trial for Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine candidate, and Brigham and Women's Hospital's final preparation as a site for enrolling up to 300-500 trial participants, we have accepted Betsy's resignation out of an abundance of caution to avoid any potential or even apparent conflict of interest on her part or Moderna's part," the company said in a statement. 

Moderna began its late-stage human trials on Monday in collaboration with the the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. On Thursday, senior administration officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on a conference call that Moderna and competitor drugmaker Pfizer, which began a phase three trial for its leading vaccine candidate on Monday, have already vaccinated "several hundred people" within the first few days. — Noah Higgins-Dunn

Stimulus checks are likely coming, but how much remains unclear

Sen. Klobuchar: $600 unemployment benefit should stay
Sen. Klobuchar: $600 unemployment benefit should stay

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are negotiating the terms of the next economic relief package, and that could include a second round of stimulus checks.

But the terms of exactly how much those one-time payments could be is still up in the air.

Earlier this week, Senate Republicans unveiled the HEALS Act, which included another set of $1,200 payments similar to the first round of checks.

But in a recent interview, President Donald Trump said he hopes the maximum individual amount for the one-time checks will be bigger than $1,200.

Meanwhile, one group of Senate Republicans proposed a new bill on Thursday that would lower the payments per individual to $1,000. But because dependents would also be eligible for the $1,000 sums, the total families receive could be more generous than the first round of checks.

Experts question whether stimulus checks are the right aid to focus on now.

How much the economy is boosted by those payments is questionable, they said. Meanwhile, many Americans are in need of other relief, particularly when it comes to expanded unemployment benefits.—Lorie Konish

U.S. official sees progress in Sun Belt outbreaks

People wearing face masks as a preventive measure walk at Lake Eola Park, Florida, July 25, 2020.
Paul Hennessy | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services is seeing "signs of progress" in southern states fighting the coronavirus pandemic, though the number of deaths remains high. 

"No one's declaring victory," Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at HHS, told reporters on a conference call. "Very consistent with what we've said over the last few weeks, we continue to see signs of progress across the Sun Belt and diffusely throughout the country."

Giroir said the number of coronavirus tests that come back positive is beginning to level off in some parts of the U.S. and "starting to drop in some places precipitously because of the actions that we're taking.

On Wednesday, daily new cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. topped 70,000 again for the first time in almost a week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Still, new cases have dropped in recent days, driving the seven-day average of new cases down more than 3% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of the data from Hopkins. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Chubb CEO says pandemic is 'unlike any other catastrophe'

How pandemic insurance can be available to businesses in the future
How pandemic insurance can be available to businesses in the future

Chubb Chairman and CEO Evan Greenberg told CNBC that the measures the insurance industry can help businesses navigate pandemic interruption, suggesting that companies partner with the government to set up a program to help small, medium, and large businesses.

"The government takes the tail risk, and limits the amount of liability insurance the company would take. Insurers could play a broader role in assuming coverage in the future, should we have future pandemics," Greenberg said. 

Property and casualty insurers don't typically assume risk for pandemic-related claims, but Covid-19 could change that. According to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, business losses due to pandemic interruption are estimated to be $1 trillion. Chubb is developing a program where the insurance industry would assume 5-6% of the risk associated with interruption, up to $15 million, while the government would assume the rest.

"Putting business interruptions aside, the industry is likely to pay out, in the pandemic, somewhere in the range of $100 billion globally," he told "Squawk Box. "What were trying to do as a company is help the debate, help spark ideas." --Anjali Sundaram

Correction: This item was revised to correct that Chubb's payroll plan proposes that the insurance industry assume 5-6% of the risk, up to $15 billion.

Dunkin’ Brands CEO says restaurant industry is in ‘fight mode’

A Dunkin' worker hands a coffee out of a drive-thru window wearing gloves and a mask as the Coronavirus continues to spread on March 17, 2020 in Norwell, Massachusetts.
MediaNews Group | Boston Herald | Getty Images

When restaurants were hit by the effects of the coronavirus, they had to adapt, including major companies like Dunkin' Brands. Dunkin' Brands CEO Dave Hoffmann said fast thinking and breaking through bureaucracy allowed Dunkin' Brands to expand curbside pickup and delivery in thousands of stores, CNBC's Kate Rogers reports.

"We think the industry is in a fight mode right now, and we are gearing up for that fight," Hoffmann said. "We are a long way away from waving a big-time victory flag, but we like our offering going into the fall and winter seasons."

Today, 96% of Dunkin' and Baskin-Robbins locations are open in the United States, but the company may close around 800 of its underperforming stores.

Dunkin' Brands reported second-quarter earnings Thursday. While same-store sales fell 18.7% in the U.S., sales were raised by higher average tickets. Shares lost nearly 4% Thursday and have been down more than 9% since the start of the year. –Suzanne Blake

Relief deal looks elusive in Congress as U.S. economy craters

Congress did not make large strides in nearing a conclusion over a coronavirus relief deal as the U.S. economy continues to suffer from the impact of coronavirus, CNBC's Jacob Pramuk reports.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., attempted to a pass a unanimous extension of federal unemployment insurance that would diminish benefits from $600 to $200 per week. Ultimately, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. denied it on Thursday.

The Trump administration, Republicans and Democrats in Congress left the meeting without a resolution on their differing ideas for a coronavirus aid package. Democrats want to extend the $600 per week jobless benefit and are also looking at direct aid for state and local governments and funds for rent, mortgage and food assistance, far beyond what Republicans have proposed in cutting the benefits to $200 a week through September and then setting a 70% wage replacement.

Initial jobless claims increased to 1.43 million last week while U.S. GDP fell by a record 32.9% in the second quarter. The policy providing $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits expires after Friday. –Suzanne Blake

FDA says it would clear a vaccine that's 50% effective

The Food and Drug Administration would authorize a coronavirus vaccine that is at least 50% effective so long as it proves safe, Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said Thursday.

"We all want a vaccine tomorrow. That's unrealistic. And we all want a vaccine that's 100% effective. Again, unrealistic," Hahn said in an interview with Dr. Howard Bauchner of the The Journal of the American Medical Association. "But we said 50%, and the reason was because we felt that that was a reasonable floor given the pandemic."

Ideally, the vaccines that get authorized will prove to be more than 50% effective, Hahn said, but the U.S. might authorize a vaccine that, on average, reduces a person's risk of a Covid-19 infection by just 50%. —Will Feuer

Young people appear to be causing cases to surge, WHO says

Young people "letting down their guard" appear to be causing coronavirus cases to surge in some countries, and while their risk of death is generally low, they may suffer from long-term symptoms even after they recover, World Health Organization officials said during a press conference. 

Convincing younger people across the globe that the virus could pose a serious risk for their health remains a challenge for WHO, Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "We have said it before and we will say it again, young people are not invincible," he added. 

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO's emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said the majority of younger people tend to have milder forms of Covid-19, but that's not always the case. Some younger people have gotten seriously sick and died. Global health experts are also beginning to discover other side effects the virus could cause in young people, including extreme fatigue, shortness of breath or difficulty resuming normal activities like going back to work or the gym, even after they recover, Kerkhove said. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

Delta leaves furloughs on the table, while United warns it could cut more pilots

The more than 17,000 Delta Air Lines employees that took buyouts or early retirement packages could help the company reach its goal of "minimizing furloughs," CEO Ed Bastian said in a staff memo.

Airlines, barred under the terms of $25 billion in federal aid to lay workers off until Oct. 1, are urging employees to take voluntary programs like buyouts, early retirements and extended leaves of absence.

United has extended the deadlines to apply for such programs until early August for many work groups. More than 200 lawmakers and airline labor unions are urging Congress to extend the payroll support in the next aid bill.

With additional aid uncertain, however, and travel demand still weak in the pandemic executives are preparing workers for the worst. United told its more than 12,000 pilots that it could have to furlough more than expected through 2021. —Leslie Josephs

Dr. Anthony Fauci baseball card listed on eBay for as much as $9,995

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reacts after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, DC.
Rob Carr | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

A limited-edition baseball card featuring White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci sold out in 24 hours on July 24, setting a new sales record for memorabilia company Topps. The card includes a photo of Fauci throwing the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball game on July 23.

"That is a combination of humbling and really embarrassing," Fauci said about the Topps record during ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday.

The card is now listed on eBay for as much as $9,995 as of Thursday, with several resellers offering $150 to $550 for a single card. Kenny Goldin, founder and CEO of Goldin Auctions, tells CNBC Make It that a single card is likely worth $125 to $145. Topps printed a total of 51,512 Fauci cards, for $9.99 each. — Cory Stieg

Lowe's awards another round of bonuses amid the pandemic

Lowe's hourly employees will get another round of bonuses as the pandemic shows no signs of slowing. 

The home improvement retailer said full-time employees will receive $300, and part-time and seasonal employees will receive $150, on Aug. 21. It gave similar bonuses in March, May and July. The company also raised pay by $2 an hour for the month of April.

In total, the company has spent about $500 million on the additional pay.

Lowe's CEO Marvin Ellison said in a statement that he hopes employees can use the bonuses to cover childcare costs or other expenses, especially during back-to-school season.

Other essential retailers have also increased employee pay and benefits. Walmart has spent $1.1 billion on bonuses, including one that will be paid next month. Home Depot said earlier this month that it's spent $1 billion so far on expanded benefits, including weekly bonuses for hourly employees, backup care for employees' family members and expanded paid time off. —Melissa Repko

Walmart to cut corporate jobs as e-commerce gains importance

As more Americans shop online during the pandemic, Walmart said it's cutting corporate roles to blend together its e-commerce and brick-and-mortar businesses.

The company confirmed that it will eliminate roles, but would not say how many. A report by Bloomberg said it's laying off hundreds of workers and cited people familiar with the matter.

Walmart has been trying to turn e-commerce into a profitable business. That's become even more crucial during the pandemic. The company's e-commerce sales in the U.S. shot up by 74% in the first quarter, which ended April 30. —Melissa Repko