Despite optimistic talk, negotiators on Capitol Hill have so far failed to reached a deal in a last ditch push to pass a fifth relief package, as Federal Reserve officials warn the economy needs more fiscal stimulus to recover from the pandemic. If a new deal isn't struck in short order, the nation's major airlines will start laying off tens of thousands of employees, demonstrating that the U.S. economic recovery remains fragile.
Here are some of the biggest developments Wednesday:
The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing the need to protect public health during the pandemic, extended its no-sail order for passenger cruise ship travel from U.S. ports until Oct. 31.
"Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas provide current evidence that cruise ship travel continues to transmit and amplify the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19," the CDC said in a statement.
It also said that at least 3,689 probable coronavirus cases were detected on cruise ships in U.S. waters between March 1 and Sep. 29, in addition to at least 41 reported deaths. But those numbers are "likely incomplete" and underestimated the actual situation, the CDC added.
Shares of major cruise companies have suffered as a result of the pandemic. Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corp and Norwegian Cruise Line are at least 50% lower compared to the start of the year. — Will Feuer, Yen Nee Lee
House Democrats have delayed a vote on their $2.2 trillion stimulus package to give Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin another day to reach a deal, two Democratic leadership aides told NBC News.
Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke earlier today for the first time since last month. Though they did not reach an agreement on a stimulus package, they agreed to continue negotiations.
The House bill is largely a symbolic gesture, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is opposed to the Democratic legislation. —Spencer Kimball
The U.S. economy is in a "very big hole" and needs additional fiscal stimulus to help Americans recover from the financial shock of the coronavirus pandemic, San Francisco Federal Reserve President Mary Daly said.
"We are not out of those woods yet, so we need a longer bridge," the central bank official said on CNBC's "Closing Bell." "Along with what the Federal Reserve has done, we need the fiscal agents to offer support to parts of the economy that have yet to recover, the millions of Americans who are still sidelined and wondering how they are going to pay their bills."
Daly's comments come as House Democrats and the White House have failed to reach an agreement on a fifth relief package for weeks now. It will take two or three years for the economy to fully recover at the current rate of job growth, Daly warned.
"When I think about the fiscal side of the house right now, I think about providing support for the American people to get up over the coronavirus," Daly said.
Federal Reserve officials have stressed that they cannot directly transfer money into the hands of Americans like Congress can. The central bank has slashed interest rates to near zero and has created over a dozen lending and liquidity programs to boost the economy. —Spencer Kimball
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have failed to reach an agreement on a fifth coronavirus stimulus package in their first meeting since last month.
Pelosi said she had an extensive conversation with Mnuchin, but there were areas that need further clarification. Their talks will continue, Pelosi said.
Mnuchin said going into the talks that the White House had found common ground with Democrats on direct payments to Americans, small business loans and airline aid. Assistance for state and local government and liability protections for businesses remain sticking points.
House Democrats, in the meantime, will move ahead and vote on their latest $2.2 trillion rescue package. It's largely a symbolic move since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes the plan. — Spencer Kimball
Moderna doesn't expect to apply for an emergency use authorization with the Food and Drug Administration for its potential Covid-19 vaccine until after the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3, CEO Stephane Bancel told the Financial Times.
"November 25 is the time we will have enough safety data to be able to put into an EUA [emergency use authorisation] file that we would send to the FDA — assuming that the safety data is good, ie a vaccine is deemed to be safe," Bancel told the international news publication.
The biotech firm also does not expect to have full FDA approval to distribute the vaccine to all Americans until next spring, he told the FT.
Moderna is a frontrunner in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, next to Pfizer. Bancel's prediction for when Moderna's vaccine will be available may be at odds with President Donald Trump, who has said a vaccine could be ready to distribute as early as October with enough vaccine doses for all Americans by April. –Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
Appalachian State University officials are warning students to "remain vigilant" despite being at lower risk for severe illness from Covid-19 after one of the university's students died of complications from the virus.
Chad Dorrill, 19, was attending classes online and living off-campus in Boone, North Carolina, when he began feeling ill and returned home, according to a statement from Sheri Everts, the university's chancellor. He was later diagnosed with the coronavirus, the university said.
According to an account from his family, Dorrill's doctor cleared him to return to Boone after initially following quarantine procedures. However, upon returning, Dorrill experienced additional complications and was later hospitalized.
"Chad's family asked that this moment stand as a stark reminder of how Covid-19 is deadly serious for all of us, even for otherwise healthy young adults," said Peter Hans, University of North Carolina System president. — Noah Higgins-Dunn
Today marks the first day in more than six months that New York City dining rooms can once again serve customers.
But for many diners who opt to eat indoors, their favorite establishment could look different. At O.d.o. by Odo in Manhattan's Flatiron District, for example, the restaurant's trademark chef's counter will sit empty because it is technically classified as a bar.
The Japanese fine-dining restaurant, which was awarded its first Michelin star last year, plans to continue offering outdoor dining to supplement sales. With capacity limited to 25%, O.d.o. needs extra sales to cover expenses. —Amelia Lucas
Airlines are preparing to furlough more than 30,000 workers as early as Thursday when the terms of $25 billion in federal aid that prohibit job cuts expires, unless Washington moves forward with billions more in support.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was optimistic that the Trump administration and Democratic lawmakers could reach a deal on a new, national coronavirus package that could include another $25 billion in airline payroll support that would preserve sector jobs through March 31.
But with the deadline just hours away, airlines so far hadn't reversed their decision. The job cuts would have been much higher if tens of thousands of employees hadn't volunteered for buyouts or temporary leaves of absence. —Leslie Josephs
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called upon local governments to begin enforcing his executive order requiring people to wear face coverings when in public as the state reports growing clusters of coronavirus cases.
Cuomo said the time for public education on the importance of face coverings has passed — local law enforcement should begin punishing those who don't follow the order. While there aren't enough state troopers for Cuomo to deploy himself, he asked local governments to assign their police officers to a "task force" that would issue tickets to those who break the ordinance.
"I will enforce it with the task force, and I will ticket people who don't wear masks because that will save lives," he said. "The local governments' failure to enforce the law has exacerbated this problem. They've made it worse, not better."
There are 20 "hotspot" ZIP codes in New York that are reporting higher "positivity rates," or the percentage of total tests returning positive, than the rest of the state. Many of those clusters are coming from Brooklyn as well as Orange and Rockland counties, Cuomo said. —Noah Higgins-Dunn
The National Football League postponed Sunday's Tennessee Titans-Pittsburgh Steelers game after the Titans revealed eight new Covid-19 cases earlier in the week.
The league announced it would reschedule the Week 4 game "to allow additional time for further daily Covid-19 testing and to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel," the league said in a statement on Wednesday.
The NFL said the Titans returned the positive cases, which included three players, after the club played the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The Titans immediately canceled in-person activities at the club's practice site. The Vikings said they have returned no positive test.
The NFL said the Titans-Steelers game would be played "either Monday or Tuesday" and the league hopes to finalize details "as soon as possible." As of now, the Vikings' contest against the Houston Texans will remain as scheduled. —Jabari Young
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plans to give coronavirus stimulus talks with Democrats "one more serious try."
Ahead of a planned conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mnuchin said he is "hopeful" the sides can find a "reasonable compromise." The Treasury secretary expects to counter a $2.2 trillion House Democratic relief package with an offer resembling a roughly $1.5 trillion bill put forward by a bipartisan House group earlier this month.
Separately, Pelosi also said she is "hopeful" about the prospects of an aid deal.
Mnuchin highlighted several areas were Democrats and the Trump administration have found common ground, including small business loans, direct payments to individuals, school funding and airline industry aid. Major sticking points include relief for state and local governments, a Democratic priority, and liability protections for businesses and schools, a GOP goal. —Jacob Pramuk
New York City is reopening indoor dining at restaurants at 25% capacity, but many remain concerned about safety as Covid-19 cases in New York have been rising again.
But restaurant mogul Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group is confident the dining industry can reopen safely, and his firm is relying on some new technology to keep diners and employees safe.
Meyer's company partnered with biometric screening company CLEAR, which was originally created for airport security after 9/11, and created an app called Health Pass that all employees will use as part of daily safety health checks.
Meyer's restaurants are taking other safety steps, including upgraded air filtration and purification systems, a new layout with plexiglass dividers at host stations, and reconfigured guest flow and team member movements. Diners will also have their temperature taken and be asked to scan a QR code upon arrival that is linked to a contact form. —Eric Rosenbaum
In ordinary years, high school graduates miss out on billions in federal grants because they don't fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
This year, nearly 40% of parents who didn't plan to apply for federal aid now will as a result of the pandemic, according to a recent survey.
The FAFSA serves as the gateway to all federal money, including loans, work-study and grants. For the 2021-2022 school year, the FAFSA filing season opens Oct. 1.
Some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, or from programs with limited funds. The earlier families fill out the FAFSA, the better the chance to be in line for that aid, according to Ashley Boucher, a spokeswoman for Sallie Mae.
However, financial aid is also calculated based on a family's income from a year earlier. So, if you're filling out the FAFSA for the 2021-2022 academic year this October, it's your income in 2019 that's considered.
Families who have experienced a financial shock due to Covid-19 should reach out to the college financial aid office and ask for a "special circumstances" form to account for any changes in 2020, such as a job loss or furlough, Boucher said. —Jessica Dickler
Shares of Moderna and Regeneron ticked higher in premarket trading Wednesday, after positive coronavirus drug news for each of the pharmaceutical companies.
Moderna gained roughly 3% ahead of the market open after a study released on Tuesday found that the company's vaccine candidate was essentially as effective in older adults as in younger adults, with minimal side effects, Reuters reported.
Shares of Regeneron rose about 1.5% after the company announced its Covid-19 antibody treatment reduced viral levels and eased symptoms in non-hospitalized patients. The company plans to "rapidly" discuss the results with regulatory agencies, according to Reuters. —Sara Salinas
A Covid-19 test that can be done at the point of care and gives results in 15 minutes has been given the go-ahead in Europe, according to its maker Becton Dickinson.
The test should be commercially available in Europe by the end of October, the diagnostics specialist said Wednesday. It announced its antigen test had been granted a "CE mark" in Europe, meaning it conforms with health, safety and environmental protection standards for products sold within the region.
In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to the company's rapid antigen test, that works by looking for proteins that can be found on or inside the Covid-19 virus.
It has been widely reported that while antigen tests can be carried out faster than molecular diagnostic tests which are conducted in laboratories, they are generally less accurate. —Holly Ellyatt