China says chicken imported from Brazil tests positive for coronavirus; relief talks at a standstill

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Democrats and the Trump administration are "miles apart" on negotiations for the next pandemic relief package, in what is now a common refrain for progress on a possible deal. Daily new cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. fell again on Tuesday, marking three straight days of daily new cases below 50,000. However, some epidemiologists caution it's too early to establish a trend, particularly because the numbers come as nationwide testing falls as well. Covid-19 deaths, which lag behind cases, topped 1,000 again on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in China, the government of Shenzhen city said Thursday that a sample of frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Reuters.

Here are today's top headlines:

The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 20.4 million
  • Global deaths: At least 745,923
  • Countries with the most cases: United States (more than 5.1 million); Brazil (more than 3.1 million); India (more than 2.3 million); Russia (at least 900,745) and South Africa (at least 568,919)


IEA lowers global oil demand forecasts

The International Energy Agency (IEA) lowered its global oil demand forecasts for the first time in several months on Thursday, as the number of coronavirus infections remains high and amid ongoing weakness in the aviation sector.

The IEA said in its latest monthly report that it now sees global oil demand for 2020 at 91.1 million barrels per day, reflecting a fall of 8.1 million barrels per day year-on-year.

This revised forecast is 140,000 barrels per day lower than the IEA's previous projection. The agency also revised down its 2021 global oil demand estimate by 240,000 barrels per day to 97.1 million barrels per day, with jet fuel demand identified as the "major source" of weakness. — Sam Meredith

Philippine President Duterte may receive injection of Russia's vaccine in May 2021

Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, may be injected with Russia's coronavirus vaccine as early as May next year, according to a report by the Philippine government's official newswire.

The Southeast Asian country is targeting to start "phase three" trials for the vaccine in October, said the report by Philippine News Agency, which quoted a presidential spokesman. Phase three trials are larger scale trials that can involve thousands of people, and are deemed essential in any vaccine development. 

The Philippines is among a few countries that Russia has offered its vaccine to, and Duterte himself volunteered to participate in trials. That's despite skepticism among scientists and health experts over the safety and effectiveness of Russia's vaccine.

The Philippines has reported more than 143,700 coronavirus cases so far — the highest number in Southeast Asia, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. —Yen Nee Lee

 

Chicken imported from Brazil tests positive for virus, says China's Shenzhen city government

The government of Shenzhen city in China said a sample of frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil has tested positive for the coronavirus, Reuters reported.

Health authorities in the southern Chinese city traced and tested everyone who might have come into contact with the food products and no one has tested positive, Reuters reported, citing the municipal government.

On Wednesday, China reported it found the virus on the packaging of shrimps shipped from Ecuador. Since June, several other Chinese cities have also reported cases of contaminated seafood. —Huileng Tan

Trump says the government is sending 125 million masks to U.S. schools

U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response event about reopening schools in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building Library at the White House in Washington, August 12, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

President Donald Trump said the federal government is sending 125 million reusable face masks to school districts across the United States as schools consider whether it's safe to reopen this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have to open up our schools and open up our businesses," Trump said during a White House press conference on the coronavirus, adding that all school districts should be making plans for how to resume in-person education for students "as soon as possible." 

"To support the reopening of America's schools, we provided $13 billion in elementary and secondary schools towards the CARES Act and CARES Act funding," he told reporters. "We will provide up to 125 million reusable masks to various school districts around the country." —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

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Trump talks about getting kids back in school

Walt Disney World actors will return to work after company offers coronavirus tests

A Disney cast member welcomes guests to Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort on July 11, 2020.
(Photo by Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images)

Actors who had concerns about safety measures being taken by World Disney World theme park came to an agreement to return to work after Disney said it would provide them with coronavirus tests, Reuters reported.

"I'm happy to announce that Equity's executive committee has signed a memorandum of understanding with Disney for Equity performers to return," Kate Shindle, president of the Actors' Equity Association, said in a statement.

Walt Disney World reopened to the public on July 11 with social distancing and other safety measures in place. —Riya Bhattacharjee, Reuters

American Airlines gives employees more time to apply for early retirement

Congress has yet to reach a deal for a new national coronavirus aid package, which has airlines' hopes of another $25 billion in federal support to pay their employees on hold. 

As a result, American Airlines on Tuesday extended a deadline for front-line workers, like flight attendants, to decide whether to take voluntary retirement or leaves of absence until Aug. 17 instead of Wednesday. Airlines are prohibited from laying off workers until Oct. 1 under the terms of $25 billion payroll support Congress approved in March, but carriers have urged workers to take leaves or volunteer to depart the companies altogether to help cut labor costs.

Labor unions and airline executives are asking for another $25 billion and the proposal has gained bipartisan political support.

"We believe the right thing to do is keep the application window open until we have more clarity about how Congress and the administration intend to proceed," American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and its president, Robert Isom, said in a staff note. "We recognize it's very difficult to make a decision on whether to participate in the voluntary programs when a potential [payroll support] extension is under discussion, and we want to ensure our team members have as much information as possible before making such a significant decision." —Leslie Josephs

Kamala Harris blames President Trump for severity of coronavirus outbreak

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris blamed the severity of the nation's coronavirus outbreak on President Donald Trump during her first appearance alongside former Vice President Joe Biden.

Harris said Trump was "delusional" to think he knows better than the country's public health experts by pushing "miracle cures" he saw on Fox News, adding that he failed to take the virus "seriously from the start."

"While other countries were flattening the curve, he said the virus would just poof go away, quote 'like a miracle.' So when other countries opened back up for business, what did we do? We had to shut down again," Harris said during her speech in Wilmington, Del.

Biden also criticized Trump, saying the nation has lacked "real leadership or plan from the president of the United States." —Noah Higgins-Dunn 

Why some businesses aren’t rushing to apply for PPP loan forgiveness

Jovita Carranza, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), speaks during a House Small Business Committee hearing on July 17, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
Erin Scott | Getty Images

The U.S. Small Business Administration opened its forgiveness portal to receive applications from lenders in the Paycheck Protection Program, but accountants warn that entrepreneurs should proceed slowly.

Some 5 million loans, totaling $525 billion, have been approved since the PPP loans were made available on April 3 via the CARES Act, according to SBA data.

Borrowers are eligible for forgiveness if they devote at least 60% of the proceeds to payroll costs. Partial forgiveness may be an option if a business falls short of the threshold.

Though the SBA will allow lenders to submit forgiveness applications starting on Aug. 10, the agency continues to release guidance in the form of frequently asked questions.

Further, Congress still hasn't addressed whether it will draft legislation to allow borrowers to claim tax deductions for expenses that are covered by the PPP loan.

Amid this ambiguity, accountants recommend that businesses wait and see if there's further clarity from the SBA and from lawmakers.--Darla Mercado

What it's like to be in a coronavirus vaccine trial

Louis, a Las Vegas resident, signed up for Moderna's vaccine trial
Source: Louis

Louis, a Las Vegas resident in his mid-forties, was among the first to sign up for Moderna's Phase 3 clinical research trial for its investigational vaccine. He decided to speak out about his experience with CNBC because he hoped to help combat widespread "disinformation" about vaccines

Louis said he is doing his best to avoid exposure to the virus, but it's been a challenge working at one of the busiest bars on the strip. He and his girlfriend signed up together. Both had co-workers and friends who had contracted Covid-19 while on the job, and they wanted to do their part. 

The experience took about five hours. He received his first shot on August 5, and plans to return in a month for the second. So far, his symptoms have been mild. But Louis doesn't know if he received the placebo or the real thing. Either way, he's taking precautions like wearing a mask. "I'm not superman," he told us. —Christina Farr

Testing crisis in key states skews drop in new cases

The coronavirus outbreak appears to be leveling off in the United States as the average number of new cases declines across the country every day, but testing shortages in key states and other gaps in Covid-19 data call into question whether the outbreak is really slowing.

The country recorded an average of 52,875 new cases every day over the last seven days, down 19% from an average of 65,285 new cases per day on July 28, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. However, Covid-19 testing has declined as well, falling from a seven-day average of about 814,000 tests per day two weeks ago to about 716,000, a 12% decline, over the same two-week period, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer project founded by journalists at The Atlantic magazine.

"I really have come to believe we have entered a real, new, emerging crisis with testing and it is making it hard to know where the pandemic is slowing down and where it's not," Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said in an interview with CNBC.

The decline in testing is particularly acute in some of the hardest hit states with the worst outbreaks, which further skews the overall case numbers across the U.S. 

In Texas, for instance, new cases have fallen by 10% to an average of 7,381 a day from 8,203 two weeks ago, based on a seven-day moving average. Testing, however, is down by 53% over the same time frame. Meanwhile, the percent of positive tests has doubled over the last two weeks to about 24%, according to Johns Hopkins University. —Will Feuer

Trump's $300 unemployment boost could take a month to reach workers

A $300-a-week boost to unemployment benefits authorized by President Trump could take at least a month to reach workers.

In some states, the benefit may not be available at all.

An executive order, which Trump issued Saturday, would divert up to $44 billion in federal disaster-relief funding to jobless Americans in order to give them an extra $300 a week in benefits. (States were asked to put in another $100 a week, but current guidelines allow them to skirt that requirement.)

The White House believes aid will arrive in about two weeks. But administrative challenges could hold up that aid for much longer, labor experts said.

Governors in many states, like California, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey and New York, have already signaled apprehension toward offering the benefit. They may also shy away from the effort and cost of building out the program, experts said. — Greg Iacurci

REI is selling its Bellevue headquarters and shifting work to smaller hubs

A customer leaves the Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) outdoor gear and clothing store in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The sporting goods retailer REI Co-op announced Wednesday it will be pursing a sale of its recently finished corporate office in Bellevue, Washington, instead shifting its employees to multiple hubs across the Seattle area, as the coronavirus pandemic upends the office landscape and forces corporations to rethink their real estate. 

The Seattle-headquartered company said in a press release that the approach is to "lean into remote working as an engrained, supported, and normalized model for headquarters employees, offering flexibility for more employees to live and work outside of the Puget Sound region and shrinking the co-op's carbon footprint." 

"Our new experience of 'headquarters' will be very different than the one we imagined more than four years ago," REI President and Chief Executive Eric Artz said in a statement. 

REI's corporate staffers have been working from home because of the Covid-19 crisis since early March. REI was one of the first retailers to announce plans to temporarily shut its stores to try to help curb the spread of the virus, also in March. The company said the move out of the Bellevue space will also have "financial benefits," beyond giving workers more flexibility. — Lauren Thomas 

Coronavirus' impact on schools will worsen racial inequity, experts say

RichLegg | iStock | Getty Images

Racial and economic inequalities are about to get worse as schools across the country move to virtual learning, experts warn. 

While the average learning loss for students is seven months if students don't return to in-person classes until January, Black students may fall behind by 10.3 months and Hispanics by 9.2 months, a June report from McKinsey & Company found. It will also disproportionately hurt potential future income, with White students earning $1,348 a year less over a 40-year working life, Black students earning $2,186 a year less and Hispanic bringing in $1,809 less, McKinsey estimated.

Plus, the move to virtual learning has families with means to create in-person "learning pods" to supplement their education. That leaves many Black, Hispanic and low-income students behind, critics said. 

"The reality is we, a lot of time, have in-group favoritism, so these pods will likely look like and reflect the people we spend the most time with," Keisha Scarlett, chief of equity, partnerships and engagement for Seattle's public schools. "These will end up being segregated environments for these students." —Michelle Fox

Pelosi says Democrats and White House are 'miles apart' on stimulus deal

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, left, listens as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks to members of the media following a meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.
Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Coronavirus aid talks in Washington have stalled, and there are no signs they will restart in the coming days. 

Democrats and Trump administration officials last met Friday to try to hash out differences over how best to combat the pandemic. Neither side has said if or when negotiators will meet again. 

On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told MSNBC the sides are "miles apart" on a relief agreement. She described the differences between them as a "chasm" as Democrats push for more than $3 trillion in spending and Republicans propose a roughly $1 trillion plan. 

She indicated she does not want to meet with White House officials again until they are ready to increase the price tag on their offer. 

With talks at a halt, President Donald Trump took executive action over the weekend to try to extend extra unemployment benefits, eviction protections and student loan assistance. It is unclear when those measures would take effect or if federal and state governments can effectively implement them. — Jacob Pramuk

Stein Mart files for bankruptcy and plans to close most of its 281 stores

A Stein Mart store in Allentown, Pa.
Shuvaev | Wikipedia Commons

Another retail victim of the coronavirus pandemic, off-price chain Stein Mart announced Wednesday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and plans to permanently close most, if not all, of its locations. It has 281 stores across 30 states in the U.S., according to its website. 

"The combined effects of a challenging retail environment coupled with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic have caused significant financial distress on our business," Chief Executive Hunt Hawkins said in a statement. "The Company lacks sufficient liquidity to continue operating in the ordinary course of business." 

Stein Mart said it is evaluating alternatives, including the potential sale of its e-commerce operations and intellectual property. More than 40 retailers have filed for bankruptcy in 2020, according to a tracking by S&P 500 Global Market Intelligence. —Lauren Thomas 

Where Kamala Harris stands on masks, stimulus checks and more

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris launches her campaign for President of the United States at a rally at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in her hometown of Oakland, California, January 27, 2019.
Elijah Nouvelage | Reuters

Joe Biden's selection of California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate brings him a powerful ally in the fight against the coronavirus if the two win the 2020 presidential election.

Harris has pushed for free Covid-19 testing, free masks as well as legislation aimed at addressing health-care disparities in communities of color. She has also called for a slew of changes aimed at protecting American taxpayers, including federal laws barring landlords from evicting renters and monthly checks for Americans who make less than $120,000.

Biden and Harris will likely need to clearly define how they would respond to the virus differently than President Donald Trump, who has come under intense criticism by public health officials and infectious disease specialists for his handling of the pandemic. –Berkeley Lovelace Jr. 

Masters golf tournament rescheduled for November

Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Fred Ridley said the intended dates for the 2020 Masters Tournament are November 9-15 without patrons or guests on the grounds

The Masters were postponed from April due to the risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

"Since our initial announcement to postpone the 2020 Masters, we have remained committed to a rescheduled Tournament in November while continually examining how best to host a global sporting event amid this pandemic," said Ridley. "As we have considered the issues facing us, the health and safety of everyone associated with the Masters always has been our first and most important priority.

Augusta decided in April to cancel the 2020 Augusta National Women's Amateur. —Melodie Warner 

Florida sheriff bans deputies from wearing masks

File photo of Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods speaks during a press conference in Ocala, Florida.
Gerardo Mora | Getty Images

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods is among the first law enforcement officials to outright ban masks for his deputies and visitors to the sheriff's office, the Washington Post reported

The decision comes as Florida reported a record 276 new Covid-19 deaths Tuesday, bringing the total number of Covid-19 deaths in Florida to 8,553.

Marion County and its largest city, Ocala, are debating a mandatory mask rule. The Ocala City Council passed an emergency mask order last week, but Republican Mayor Kent Guinn vetoed it.

Woods told his deputies on Tuesday that officers can still wear masks in some areas, including the courthouse and county jail. However, they must immediately remove the face coverings afterward, Woods said in an email to the department shared with the Washington Post. —Melodie Warner 

Amazon to hold new seller conference online due to coronavirus

Amazon on Wednesday announced a new conference to help U.S. third-party sellers grow their businesses. The conference, Amazon Accelerate, will run from Sept. 1 through 3. 

The event, which is free to attend, will be held online only due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sellers will be able to tune into panels like "Growing to a $1 Million Business" and "Responding to Changes in Consumer Demand."

Amazon says it will be the "largest ever U.S. event dedicated to seller success," with Amazon's CEO of worldwide consumer, Jeff Wilke, delivering the keynote address. Other top executives will host discussions during the event, including Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon's vice president of worldwide customer trust and partner support, and Amazon fashion group leader Christine Beauchamp. —Annie Palmer

Florida, Texas, California still lead the U.S. in daily new cases

Russia's vaccine could be rolled out in November

Russia has been working on its coronavirus vaccine effectively for the past six years, the head of the country's sovereign wealth fund told CNBC, and could be rolled out before the end of the year.

Russia said its work in recent years on developing a vaccine for Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) had helped it to create a vaccine against the new coronavirus.

"We were just fortunate that the coronavirus was very close to MERS, so we pretty much had a ready-to-go vaccine on MERS, studied for two years on MERS (and) slightly modified to be the coronavirus vaccine, and that is the real story, no politics ... Russia has always been at the forefront of vaccine research," Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of Russia's sovereign wealth fund RDIF, which is backing the vaccine, told CNBC.

Russia announced Tuesday that it had registered a coronavirus vaccine, making it the first country to do so. There are doubts over its efficacy and safety, however, and larger-scale Phase 3 clinical trials have not yet taken place. Furthermore, no data has been published yet from earlier clinical trials that were carried out in less than two months. —Holly Ellyatt

Dr. Gottlieb suggests virus was circulating at 'very low level' in New Zealand before resurgence

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Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb on New Zealand outbreak, back-to-school concerns

New Zealand officials said they are investigating whether the country's first reported cases of the coronavirus in months could have been imported by freight, but former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC he finds it "hard to believe."

"It's also possible that it was circulating at a very low level and now it's being manifest," he said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." 

The comments come as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reimposes strict containment measures across the entire country after four cases of the virus were identified in Auckland. The country's health officials are urgently trying to determine the source of spread and to block the chains of transmission. —Will Feuer

Singapore reports lowest number of new cases in over four months

Singapore reported 42 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, marking its lowest daily count in about four and a half months, according to Reuters. 

The island country was one of the first nations to be hit by the coronavirus and saw a delayed outbreak after the virus was largely contained in the general population but was allowed to circulate widely in the city state's migrant worker population's dormatories. The outbreaks in the dorms pushed Singapore's daily new case count to one of the highest in Asia. 

Authorities have since brought the outbreak under control by aggressively investigating new cases and quarantining infected individuals. Most of the new cases reported on Wednesday were among workers currently in quarantine, Reuters reported. —Will Feuer

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