Schools and businesses are facing growing uncertainty as the summer months come to an end. Some college students are on the way back home, just days into a new semester marred by campus Covid-19 outbreaks. And remote K-12 learning leaves more than 100,000 homeless New York City students with fewer places to go. The discussion around U.S. use of convalescent plasma as a coronavirus treatment continued, as Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn walked back earlier comments on the treatment's effectiveness.
Here are some of the biggest developments Tuesday:
- AstraZeneca vaccine data could be ready for review this year, leading scientist says
- 30 states approved to offer an extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits
- American Airlines says it will shrink by 40,000 workers without more aid
- Restaurant bankruptcies poised to balloon in coming months, bringing more pain for landlords
- The U.S. box office's recovery won't be as swift as China's
The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:
- Global cases: More than 23.9 million
- Global deaths: At least 819,945
- Top five countries: United States (over 5.7 million), Brazil (over 3.6 million), India (over 3.2 million), Russia (over 968,000), South Africa (over 613,000)
India set to hold national college exams despite student backlash
India's National Testing Agency has confirmed students will sit for admission tests to medical and engineering schools from next week, despite calls for the exams to be postponed once again due to the coronavirus crisis.
The major entrance exams, already twice postponed this year, are now scheduled to be held in early September. India's National Testing Agency said on Tuesday that the decision had been made "in view of the academic interest of the students."
The All-India Students' Union, a leftist group representing university students nationwide, has criticized the decision, saying many students will not be able to reach their exam centers and there was a risk it could fuel a jump in Covid-19 infections.
To date, India has reported more than 3.2 million cases of the coronavirus, with 59,449 related deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. — Sam Meredith
Coronavirus antibody therapy in Australia aims for trial in early 2021
Australian researchers are hoping to start human trials of an antibody therapy early next year, Reuters reported.
Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute is said to have made good progress identifying the most potent antibodies that can stop the virus causing Covid-19 from entering human cells, according to the news wire. A large-scale trial of a vaccine could also start by the end of 2020, Reuters added.
Australia in recent weeks experienced a surge in infection cases in Victoria state, which now accounts for the majority of the country's total reported cases. More than 25,000 people have now been infected in Australia and about 525 people have died, a large number of them in Victoria. — Saheli Roy Choudhury
Coronavirus reinfection cases look like ‘outliers’ right now, WHO official says
The three reported cases of Covid-19 reinfection currently look like outliers compared to the millions who have been infected by the coronavirus, a World Health Organization official said on Wednesday.
Two patients in Europe and one in Hong Kong were confirmed to have been infected with a different strain of the virus, according to Reuters. That raised concerns over the long-term efficacy of any potential vaccine that is currently in development.
"At this point, they do look like outliers. We've got (about) 24 million cases that have been reported globally and these are the first three that have been confirmed to be reinfections," Matthew Griffith, a member of the World Health Organization's regional office of the Western Pacific, said on CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia."
"We've seen reports in the past about what looked like could've been reinfections, but there have been studies on those cases, and what it turned out to be was a viral shedding," Griffith said. He added, "Those people were not likely to have been infectious, not likely to have been reinfected." — Saheli Roy Choudhury
South Korea reports over 300 cases
South Korea reported 320 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, 307 of which were local, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Once considered a model for other countries in fighting the pandemic through mass testing and aggressive contact tracing, South Korea is facing a resurgence in infection numbers. The country has reported more than 3,300 new cases in the last two weeks, many of them traced to a church in Seoul and the Aug. 15 Liberation Day rally, according to Yonhap News Agency.
Authorities have already started to implement stricter social distancing measures. For example, people not wearing masks in Seoul are not allowed to take public transportation while rallies of 10 or more people are restricted, Yonhap reported. — Saheli Roy Choudhury
Some Indonesian students may never catch up as schools remain closed
Indonesia's education quality is considered "low and stagnant," and its 69 million students may be held back even more as most schools remain closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report published by Singaporean think tank ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.
Some students may never catch up in their learning, the report said. That's especially so for "low achieving" students whose teachers failed to adapt the curriculum for remote learning, and those living in rural Indonesia with little internet availability, it added.
The report, released last week, came as the Indonesian government's plan to reopen some schools faced opposition from teachers and health experts. They argued that allowing students to return to schools could worsen the coronavirus spread in the country — which has Southeast Asia's largest death toll and the second-highest number of infections behind the Philippines.
As of Tuesday, Indonesia has reported more than 157,800 cases and over 6,800 deaths. — Yen Nee Lee
The pandemic brings new challenge as Texas evacuates residents for Hurricane Laura
Texas officials are preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Laura as the coronavirus pandemic throws new challenges on the state's emergency response plans.
The state is trying to evacuate residents in high-risk areas in a socially distanced manner, Gov. Greg Abbott said at a news briefing. Officials are encouraging evacuees to head for hotels, where they can self isolate, instead of potentially crowded evacuation centers. Abbott said the state is also providing protective equipment, such as masks, at shelter locations, as well as Covid-19 testing services.
"We are responding to Hurricane Laura while also responding to a pandemic," Abbott said. "And we are not taking our eye off of what needs to be done to adequately respond to the pandemic, so several things are being done as we assist those who are evacuating that's different from what has been done in the past." —Will Feuer
GM using salaried workers amid high absenteeism
General Motors is taking unconventional steps to keep a truck and van plant in Missouri running amid high worker absenteeism due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Detroit automaker is using paid volunteer salaried employees to fill positions of absent hourly union workers at the company's Wentzville Assembly plant as it attempts to refill deliver inventories following plants nationwide being shut down for about two months this spring due to Covid-19.
The use of salaried employees has drawn the ire of the local United Auto Workers chapter, which has filed grievances about the practice. The UAW argues the automaker is violating its contract with the union.
Such a practice is uncommon – particularly for a unionized workforce – but not unprecedented. Honda Motor last month confirmed to CNBC that it was using salaried employees to fill positions in its manufacturing operations.
– Michael Wayland
Spirit Airlines' pilots agree to cut hours to avoid furloughs
Furloughs have been looming for some 75,000 U.S. airline workers as the end of federal aid that prohibit job cuts until Oct. 1 nears an end.
Earlier, American said it plans to cut 19,000 jobs in October unless the industry gets another round of federal aid.--Leslie Josephs
The U.S. box office's recovery won’t be as swift as China’s
China's box office has flourished, proving that with time and ample safety guidelines, audiences will return to theaters in droves. However, the outlook for the box office recovery in the U.S. is less optimistic, industry analysts say.
The first weekend that major movie theaters were open, the U.S. tallied $10 million in ticket sales. Still, there is a fear that coronavirus cases could continue to surge, preventing social distancing regulations from relaxing and even forcing theaters to reclose.
So far, China has been able to reopen around 82% of its 10,800 theaters while the U.S. has reopened less than 30% of its 5,400 theaters. —Sarah Whitten
New York Fashion Week cleared to return with safety precautions
New York Fashion Week has been cleared to return this fall, but the runways will be subject to numerous health precautions to protect against the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
The annual fashion show, scheduled for Sept. 13 to 17, will have to cap attendance at 50 people if a show is held outside. No spectators will be allowed for indoor runway shows, which will also be limited to 50% capacity, Cuomo said. This year's NYFW will also feature more virtual events, including "live-streamed runway shows, exclusive designer-related content and cultural programming," according to a press release.
"When Covid-19 hit New York, so many of our cherished events were forced to cancel or be postponed. The pandemic is far from over, but we're proud to support event organizer IMG in moving forward with NYFW, in adherence with strict state public health guidance," Cuomo said in a press release. — Noah Higgins-Dunn
U.S. needs more rapid coronavirus testing to reopen offices, says ex-Google CEO
"There's plenty of technology that allows for rapid testing, and with rapid testing corporations could open. People could go to work," Schmidt said on "Squawk Box."
Schmidt said Washington politicians should have made rapid testing more of a priority during the earlier coronavirus relief packages. He called it a "tragedy" that quick-turnaround testing for Covid-19 is not more widely available months into the pandemic. —Kevin Stankiewicz
Remote workers are suffering isolationism as pandemic drags on
Millions are socially distant yet more digitally connected than ever before, and it's an environment giving rise to loneliness and isolationism for many remote workers.
At least one expert says this pandemic is adversely affecting the youngest members of the workforce: "Young adults haven't worked through the same adversary as their older colleagues and therefore don't that the same trial and error experience to figure out ways to cope. Compared to their older colleagues younger workers are more likely to seek 'peer-counseling' than professional help," said Terri Patterson, a principal at Control Risks' Crisis and Security Consulting, based in Washington, D.C.
Remote work creates barriers and distorts coworkers' natural cadence, according to a report by the Harvard Business Review. Experts recommend workers who feeling isolated should be proactive and schedule time to talk to peers, whether professionally or personally. Managers can also do more by fostering collaboration among teams, even if it seems forced at first. —AJ Horch
Restaurant bankruptcies poised to balloon in coming months, bringing more pain for landlords
Another wave of restaurant bankruptcies is likely on the horizon, spelling trouble for eatery landlords.
The National Restaurant Association estimates it lost $165 billion in sales between March and July due to the coronavirus pandemic. Government funds and expanded outdoor dining have kept many restaurants afloat through the summer months, but both of those are reaching their expiration dates.
Some restaurant landlords have responded to the Covid-19 crisis by striking short-term deals with their tenants, dramatically slashing base rent and asking for a percentage of sales instead. If property owners can't strike a deal, they risk losing rent until a new tenant moves in. Chains like McDonald's, Starbucks, Dunkin' and Yum Brands' Pizza Hut are forecasting higher-than-usual closures of their restaurants this year.
"Chains are going to close their underperforming locations," said Michael Jerbich, president of B. Riley Real Estate, a division within B. Riley Financial. "The bigger companies with the stronger balance sheets will be the ones to survive." —Amelia Lucas
As more customers shop online, Best Buy designates some stores as shipping hubs
With more customers shopping online, Best Buy is turning about a quarter of its stores into fulfillment hubs.
Starting next month, CEO Corie Barry said it will start testing a ship-from-store hub model. About 250 stores will be part of the pilot, though all of its stores ship online orders. She said the retailer chose the hubs based on space, proximity to shipping carriers and ability to sup