Coronavirus updates: CDC flips on airborne virus spread; millions in danger of missing stimulus checks

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U.S. deaths related to Covid-19 are quickly approaching 200,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. It's a dire benchmark as the country continues to debate public safety measures and looks ahead to a contentious presidential election. It's also far higher than every other nation's official death toll — Brazil is the only other country to have recorded more than 100,000 virus-related deaths, with roughly 136,000 fatalities so far. 

China is on its way to recovering from a coronavirus pandemic-led economic crisis and the country will continue to be the most important marginal driver of global GDP, said Jim O'Neill, former chief economist at Goldman Sachs.

Here are today's top headlines: 

The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 31.32 million 
  • Global deaths: At least 964,839
  • Countries with the most number of cases: United States (more than 6.85 million), India (more than 5.56 million), Brazil (more than 4.55 million), Russia (more than 1.1 million) and Colombia (at least 770,435)

Ex-Goldman economist Jim O’Neill says China’s economy ‘well on the way’ to recover

British economist Jim O'Neill told CNBC that China is "well on the way" to recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic. 

He pointed to the latest Chinese consumer spending numbers as a sign of accelerating recovery in the world's second-largest economy. China's retail sales for August rose 0.5% from a year ago — the first positive report for 2020 so far. 

O'Neill — who is also credited with coining the term BRIC to represent the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China — said the first three countries are "considerably behind" in their road to recovery. They will likely see a V-shaped rebound partially in the third quarter of 2020 and more so in the fourth quarter, he said. 

India, Brazil and Russia are among the most-affected countries in terms of coronavirus infection cases, behind the United States. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

Republicans propose billions more in aid for airlines

Two Republican Senators are proposing more than $28 billion in federal coroanvirus aid for the struggling airline industry, less than two weeks before some 30,000 jobs are set to be cut.

Sens. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, chairman of the Commerce Committee and Maine Sen. Susan Collins, chairman of the Appropriations  subcommittee that oversees transportation introduced the legislation.

Airlines are prohibited under the first round of aid, approved in March, from laying off workers until Oct. 1. In that time, airline losses have mounted and a strong rebound in air travel demand failed to materialize.

Bipartisan lawmakers and President Donald Trump has expressed support for more aid for one of the hardest-hit sectors in the pandemic but Congress and the White House have so far failed to reach a deal on a new, national coronavirus relief bill that could include the aid, prompting other proposals.--Leslie Josephs

How remote work may change your retirement planning

courtneyk | E+ | Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has millions of Americans working remotely — some even for the rest of their careers. That's led some to consider relocating to their retirement destination before they even leave the workforce. 

"The pandemic was unexpected, working from home was unexpected, but nonetheless many companies realized that workers can be just as productive working from home," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. "We may begin to see a boost in people buying retirement homes before their retirement."

For now, the evidence is anecdotal, with demand in vacation resort areas rising significantly, he said. 

Before you make a move, first work out your retirement budget, including housing and other cost-of-living expenses in your desired location. Check the area out by spending some extended time there and research the tax implications of living in one state and working in another.

After you do your research, make a list of pros and cons of staying, as well as pros and cons of moving, said Barbara O'Neill, author and CEO of Money Talk: Financial Planning Seminars. Include not only financial reasons, but emotional ones as well. —Michelle Fox

WHO says 156 global economies have joined vaccine initiative

The World Health Organization said that 156 global economies, representing two-thirds of the world's population, have committed to the Covid-19 vaccine global access facility, or COVAX, which aims to work with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries with "equitable access to safe and effective vaccines" and protect the most vulnerable populations, such as older people and health-care workers. The facility will pool the resources and demand to procure Covid-19 vaccines for participating countries. 

WHO officials said 38 other economies are expected to commit in the coming days. The Trump administration said it doesn't plan on joining the WHO-backed initiative. Global health officials said during a press briefing that China also hasn't joined the initiative, though WHO is engaged in "constructive" discussions with the country. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

North American box office wraps another disappointing weekend

Shares of AMCMarcusCineworld and Cinemark sank after yet another disappointing weekend at the domestic box office.

As "Tenet" entered its third week in North American theaters, ticket sales only reached an estimated $13.2 million. During the same weekend last year, the domestic box office hauled in $125.4 million.

The box office in the U.S. and Canada was down around 11.5% compared with the previous weekend, an unsurprising figure considering there were no major movie releases on Friday. And there won't be until "Black Widow" arrives in November. —Sarah Whitten

CDC reverses guidance on airborne virus spread, saying draft of changes 'was posted in error'

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course Monday on a guidance change the organization made last week, saying that the previous update "was posted in error."

The guidance, which has not been removed from the CDC's website, said the coronavirus spreads through airborne particles that can remain suspended and travel beyond six feet. It also recommended that people use air purifiers to reduce airborne germs indoors to avoid the disease from spreading.

"A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency's official website," the CDC said. "CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted."

The World Health Organization questioned the change in airborne transmission, saying it had not seen any "new evidence" on airborne particles. —Chris Eudaily, Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Operation Warp Speed leader says U.S. could immunize vulnerable Americans by December

President Donald Trump's coronavirus vaccine czar told CNBC on Monday that the U.S. could immunize Americans "most susceptible" to Covid-19 by December.

Most of the elderly and health-care workers could get a vaccine in January, followed by the rest of Americans in February, March and April, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who is leading the Trump administration's Operation War Speed initiative, said on "Squawk on the Street."

Slaoui's remarks came shortly after Trump reiterated on "Fox News" that the U.S. could have a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of October. Trump's vaccine forecast has added to concerns from infectious disease experts and scientists that he is pressuring U.S. regulators to approve a vaccine before it's been adequately tested.

When asked by CNBC on Monday whether he would publicly take a vaccine once it's been granted emergency use authorization or approval, Slaoui said, "certainly." –Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Millions in danger of missing stimulus payments, government watchdog reports

The Government Accountability Office, Congress' auditing arm, said in a report millions of Americans may miss their coronavirus relief payments of up to $1,200 per person because government records are incomplete, the Associated Press reported. 

The government watchdog said that possibly 8.7 million or more individuals who are eligible for the stimulus money haven't received those payments because of IRS and Treasury Department records are faulty, the wire service said.

The GAO said the IRS had implemented several recommendations it had made in a June report to make sure those eligible for payments got them, according to AP. But the agency said the Treasury and the IRS have still failed to update information on how many eligible recipients have yet to receive funds.

The GAO said in its report, "such information could hinder outreach efforts and place potentially millions of individuals at risk of missing their payment." —Terri Cullen

Cases in Texas, California and Florida continue to climb

CDC warns Covid-19 can remain suspended in the air and travel beyond six feet

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning Covid-19 could spread through airborne particles that can remain suspended in the air and travel beyond six feet, Reuters reported.

The agency issued updated guidance on Friday recommending people use air purifiers to reduce airborne germs indoors to avoid the disease from spreading.

The agency previously said the virus mainly spreads through respiratory droplets when a sick person coughs, sneezes or talks. The CDC  now warns that poorly ventilated places increase the risk of the virus spreading. —Melodie Warner 

Walmart debuts new fashion brand as apparel retailers struggle

Americans are spending more time at home, gravitating towards casual clothes and watching the budget during the pandemic. Apparel retailers, such as J.C. Penney, have filed for bankruptcy. Others, like Kohl's, have seen sales drop.

For Walmart, that represents a new opportunity to grab market share in the apparel business. The company has launched a new private clothing label, Free Assembly, that will sell online and in 250 stores.

The men's and women's clothing line is made up of modern essentials that range from corduroy wide-legged pants for women to flannel button-downs for men. Dwight Fenton, the former chief creative officer of Bonobos, designed the brand and its clothing. Walmart acquired Bonobos, an online men's apparel retailer, in 2017. 

The pandemic has led to a dramatic shakeout between the haves and have-nots, particularly in the retail industry and apparel business. Apparel revenue is expected to drop by 20% to 30% industrywide this year and by 10% to 25% in 2021 compared with last year, according to McKinsey & Company.

On the other hand, it's expected to grow by 10% to 20% in 2020 for mass retailers like Walmart and Target, said Althea Peng, who leads McKinsey's apparel fashion and luxury work in the Americas. —Melissa Repko

September sell-off picks up steam as Dow drops more than 400 points

U.S. stocks fell sharply at the open as a number of factors rattled traders amid a three-week losing streak for the market, reports CNBC's Fred Imbert. 

The U.K. is reportedly considering another national lockdown to curb rising coronavirus cases. Meanwhile, negotiations for a second U.S. stimulus bill could become more complicated if focus shifts to a bitter nomination process following the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 470 points, or 1.7%. The S&P 500 lost 1.4%, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.3%. The major stock averages were all coming off their third consecutive losing week. —Melodie Warner 

Black doctors’ group creates panel to vet Covid-19 vaccines

A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida.
Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A group of Black physicians has created their own expert task force to independently vet regulators' decisions about Covid-19 drugs and vaccines as well as government recommendations for curbing the pandemic, according to a STAT News report.

"It's necessary to provide a trusted messenger of vetted information to the African American community," said Leon McDougle, a family physician and president of the National Medical Association, an organization founded in 1895 in response to racist professional societies excluding Black doctors. "There is a concern that some of the recent decisions by the Food and Drug Administration have been unduly influenced by politicians," he told STAT.

One example Dr. McDougle gave was the agency's go-ahead to use hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19 even though there was no reliable evidence that it worked and some concerns it could cause heart damage. The FDA later revoked the emergency use of hydroxychloroquine

The group will also evaluate how well the clinical trial participants represent the demographics of the American population, as well as the fairness of vaccine distribution plans. —Melodie Warner 

The latest on U.S. spread


Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise submit health protocols to the CDC

The Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Anthem of the Seas is docked at Cape Liberty port in Bayonne, New Jersey.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez | Getty Images

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line submitted a report to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention providing a set of health and safety protocols, Reuters reported.

The cruise lines are hoping the protocols will allow them to once again set sail after operations were halted by the CDC's March 14 no-sail order prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the wire service.

The protocols included 74 steps, such as enhanced sanitation practices, controlling shore excursions and better protection for crew members. The companies also recommendations rigorous screening and testing before boarding, and set plans to address an outbreak while on board, Reuters said. 

"We studied the industry's experiences combating the pandemic – and we then incorporated the many lessons learned and advances made by medicine and science over the past six months," the task force's co-chair and Utah Governor Mike Leavitt told Reuters. —Terri Cullen

Europe likely to see more restrictions in coming days as cases rise rapidly

Local police control people's movement in a traffic checkpoint at the Puente de Vallecas neighbourhood, under partial lockdown, in Madrid, on September 21, 2020.
Pierre-Philippe Marcou | AFP | Getty Images

European nations are likely to impose more restrictions on public life in the coming days, analysts warned, as the number of new coronavirus cases continues to rise rapidly.

"Expect lots more restrictions over the days and weeks ahead, especially in Europe," Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note. "The fact that the virus is already spreading quite rapidly is a big worry."

Local restrictions have been imposed in various parts of Europe to quell outbreaks of infection, with parts of northern England in lockdown, for example, as well as areas of Spain's capital Madrid.  The U.K.'s top scientific advisor warned on Monday that without action, the U.K. could see 50,000 new cases per day by mid-October. The British government is believed to be considering a short, national lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.

Coronavirus cases are rising so rapidly in Europe that the World Health Organization warned last week that there was a "very serious situation" unfolding in the region, calling the resurgence in infections a "wake up call." —Holly Ellyatt

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