Coronavirus: Trump tests positive; U.S. waits on stimulus deal

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U.S. President Donald Trump has confirmed that he and first lady Melania Trump have contracted the coronavirus

It comes as new cases of Covid in the U.S. have slowed slightly on a weekly basis over the past three days, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. recorded 42,812 new infections on Wednesday, nudging the seven-day average of daily new cases to 42,784 — 1% lower than a week ago. It's too soon to celebrate, as CNBC's data team classifies any change less than 5% as holding "steady," but the data is headed in the right direction. 

The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 34 million 
  • Global deaths: At least 1.01 million
  • U.S. cases: More than 7.23 million
  • U.S. deaths: At least 206,971

Trump tests positive for coronavirus

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for Covid-19, the president announced on Twitter.

The news comes hours after White House aide Hope Hicks was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus.

In the tweet, Trump added: "We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!"

U.S. stock futures plunged in the early hours, with the virus now front and center for investors once again. Trump has come under criticism for his handling of the pandemic, after admitting to knowingly downplaying the severity of Covid-19 in a taped conversation

— Elliot Smith

Trump aide Hope Hicks tests positive for coronavirus

Hope Hicks, one of President Trump's closest aides, has tested positive for coronavirus, NBC News reported Thursday night.

Hicks, 31, had traveled with the president to Tuesday night's debate in Cleveland. She was seen not wearing a mask.

Hicks, who is known to spend a lot of time with the president, is among the most senior administration officials to have contracted the virus. Earlier this year, national security advisor Robert O'Brien tested positive, as did Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller. Both recovered.

The White House declined to comment on Hicks' condition. – Mike Calia

More than 19,000 Amazon employees caught Covid-19

Peter Endig | AFP | Getty Images

Amazon has recorded 19,816 confirmed or presumed cases of coronavirus among its 1.37 million front-line employees in the U.S. since March, the company disclosed in a post on its website. 

Amazon said the number of cases was 42% lower than what was forecast if the rate had matched the general U.S. population. That total, however, does not include third-party delivery drivers.

Amazon said it is conducting thousands of tests daily and will have the capability to conduct 50,000 tests a day across 650 sites by November. — Spencer Kimball 

‘Let’s get this done’ — GOP congressman urges action on coronavirus stimulus

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Rep. Tom Reed discusses stimulus negotiations: Now is the time to do the deal

House Dem proposal calls for second round of small biz loans

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during her weekly news conference in the Capitol on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.
Caroline Brehman | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

House Democrats' latest coronavirus relief proposal includes a revamp of the Paycheck Protection Program, the forgivable loans program for distressed small businesses.

The new HEROES Act, which was released earlier this week, comes in at about $2.2 trillion  — down from the $3.4 trillion proposal lawmakers put forward in May.

Aside from a long-awaited round of $1,200 stimulus payments, House Democrats are calling for improvements to the PPP loan program. Loans under PPP are forgivable if borrowers commit at least 60% of the proceeds to payroll costs. However, firms underneath that threshold can apply for partial forgiveness.

In particular, House Democrats propose allowing some firms to take a second PPP loan. The opportunity would be open to companies with fewer than 200 employees and which have experienced a 25% reduction in quarterly revenue year over year.

Lawmakers also want to simplify forgiveness of PPP loans that fall under $150,000.

Finally, the proposal calls to allow the tax deductibility of business expenses that are covered by forgiven PPP proceeds. —Darla Mercado

Pfizer CEO criticizes presidential debate as 'disappointing'

Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on "Drug Pricing in America: A Prescription for Change, Part II" February 26, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee | Getty Images

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has criticized the U.S. presidential debate as 'disappointing' in a memo to company employees, warning the political rhetoric is "undercutting public confidence" in a vaccine.  

President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden clashed on the timing of a vaccine during the debate. Biden accused Trump of misrepresenting for political gain how long it will take to make a vaccine widely available to the American public. The former vice president and his running mate Kamala Harris have said the public cannot trust what Trump says about vaccine development. 

Public health experts, including the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have said a vaccine likely won't be widely available to Americans until well into 2021, contradicting Trump.  

Read the full memo: 

Dear U.S. Colleagues,

Tuesday night I joined the millions of Americans who tuned in to the Presidential debate. Once more, I was disappointed that the prevention for a deadly disease was discussed in political terms rather than scientific facts. People, who are understandably confused, don't know whom or what to believe. Global health has too much at stake, and the public trust and acceptance of a vaccine is so important to me, that I'm writing to explain the principles we are using at Pfizer today. 

Remember from the beginning of the year, it was clear that the suffering and destruction from the COVID-19 pandemic would be extreme. In February, cases began spiraling across the globe. Addressing a pandemic requires many simultaneous fronts of attack, but it became obvious that a safe and effective vaccine could be an essential part of the solution. And, it would take a huge effort by a company with scale to achieve that goal. I knew Pfizer had an obligation to step up and lead.  

That is why in March, I declared a bold ambition: that Pfizer would create a vaccine, and we would devote any and all resources necessary to be successful. I further announced, after consulting with our scientists, that we could have vaccine data ready to submit to the FDA by end of the third quarter, in October, and hopefully a hundred million doses delivered by the end of the year. I knew our goal was ambitious, but it would also be critical to protect against the second wave of cases that could accompany the return of colder weather in the Fall.

Since then, and every day for the last seven months, we've kept our shoulder to that wheel. Our scientists have leveraged our vaccine research and development expertise, our manufacturing team has innovated to solve production and delivery hurdles, and we've recruited more than 35,000 people in clinical trials in multiple countries. Every ounce of our ability has been spent and nearly $2 billion put at risk.

Now, we are approaching our goal and despite not having any political considerations with our pre-announced date, we find ourselves in the crucible of the U.S. Presidential election. In this hyper-partisan year, there are some who would like us to move more quickly and others who argue for delay. Neither of those options are acceptable to me. Against this backdrop, people need to know three things:

First, we are moving at the speed of science. With a virus this ferocious, time is our enemy. This week, we will hit the grim marker of 1 million deaths globally and the number continues to climb. This danger supersedes any other timing considerations.

Second, we would never succumb to political pressure. The only pressure we feel—and it weighs heavy—are the billions of people, millions of businesses and hundreds of government officials that are depending on us. We've engaged with many elected leaders around  the globe through this health crisis, but Pfizer took no investment money from any government. Our independence is a precious asset. 

Third, our priority is the development of a safe and effective vaccine to end this pandemic. I have a duty to Pfizer's 171-year history to honor our legacy of discovering and manufacturing high-quality medicines. We will never cut a corner. Pfizer's purpose is simple: "Breakthroughs that Change Patients' Lives." It's our North Star.

Finally, I enjoy a robust policy debate, but I'm not a politician. I'm a scientist, business leader, husband and father, friend and neighbor who cares deeply about the integrity of this potential vaccine. The amplified political rhetoric around vaccine development, timing and political credit is undercutting public confidence. I can't predict exactly when, or even if our vaccine will be approved by the FDA for distribution to the public. But I do know that the world will be safer if we stop talking about the vaccines' delivery in political terms and focus instead on a rigorous independent scientific evaluation and a robust independent approval process.  

Let's continue to work together to build trust in the science. That is what we are doing at Pfizer.  Imagine the compounded tragedy if we have a safe and effective vaccine that many people didn't trust.

That is a risk none of us should accept.

Health measures could dampen flu season, Fauci says

A man walks past a free flu shot advertisement outside of a drugstore on August 19, 2020 in New York.
Bryan R. Smith | AFP | Getty Images

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said public health measures, like avoiding close contact with others and mask wearing, could help suppress the forthcoming influenza season, which will overlap with the coronavirus in the U.S. 

Health officials will soon face a "diagnostic challenge" as the coronavirus overlaps with the Northern Hemisphere's flu season since the symptoms of both diseases are very similar, Fauci warned. 

Steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, however, are also effective in preventing the spread of the flu, such as wearing face coverings, avoiding crowds, frequent hand washing and disinfecting surfaces. The nation's top infectious disease expert also suggested people get vaccinated against the flu. 

"Steps to fight the flu and Covid-19 overlap greatly," Fauci said during a briefing about the importance of influenza and pneumococcal disease prevention during the pandemic. "We don't want those two diseases together." — Noah Higgins-Dunn

Drive-thru customers are waiting in longer lines this year

Average drive-thru times across 10 fast-food chains have slowed down by nearly half a minute, according to an annual study conducted by SeeLevel HX. 

The coronavirus pandemic has heavily shifted consumer preferences in favor of the easy pick-up option, which also appears safer to consumers. 

The study, which took place from June through August, also tallied up chains' safety precautions during the coronavirus pandemic. While customers may choose drive-thru lanes for a contactless experience, 80% of respondents had their orders handed to them by an employee, instead of being placed on a tray or window. —Amelia Lucas

NHL wants to include new ad tech for 2021-22 season after missed revenue

Digitally Enhanced Dasherboards from the 2020 NHL All-Star game in St. Louis.
Source: NHL

The National Hockey League wants to add new advertising technology to help make up lost income after its season was interrupted due to Covid-19.

In an interview with CNBC, NHL Chief Business Officer Keith Wachtel said the league hopes to have interchangeable virtual ads around rink dasher boards that can replace in-arena physical ads on game broadcasts. 

The NHL worked with London-based company Supponor to develop the tech, which Wachtel said will allow brands to have ownership of the board space which he called "valuable inventory." The tech would allow for clubs to sell ads, even for road games, that would appear during live contests.

"You can provide [corporate sponsors] messaging, social media, but you can also provide production elements," Wachtel said. He added the technology would "change the way leagues and marketers look at signage for sports properties."

The NHL hopes to have the tech ready for its 2021-22 season.  --Jabari Young

It may take airlines 12 months to bring back furloughed pilots, American Air captain says

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Airline furloughs will trickle into the economy: Allied Pilots Association spokesman

Dennis Tajer, a labor union official and captain at American Airlines, told CNBC it can take between 12 to 15 months to bring back furloughed pilots due to an intricate training system. 

"It's a very large ship and when you stop it, it takes a lot of energy to get it back up and running," said Tajer, who is a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines pilots. 

When a carrier furloughs a pilot, it typically starts with the more junior employees, who generally fly narrow-body aircraft, Tajer explained on "Squawk Box." He added, "That causes a trickle-down of training that has to happen in order to maintain a system, even a greatly reduced system." 

However, there is only a limited number of flight simulators and training instructors, which creates challenges when a significant amount of pilots need to use them, he said. 

"It takes months and months on the down cycle and back up to get these pilots back up and flying," said Tajer, who contended Washington needs to extend more coronavirus aid to airlines. "The public is ready to fly when it is safe to fly." —Kevin Stankiewicz

Pelosi, Mnuchin try to reach stimulus deal as House vote looms

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are taking what looks like one last crack at a coronavirus stimulus deal before the 2020 election. 

The prospect of an agreement looks dim. 

While the pair agreed to continue discussions after an in-person meeting Wednesday, it is unclear what progress they made. Mnuchin put forward a $1.6 trillion package — less than the $2.2 trillion bill House Democrats introduced this week. 

Democrats, after delaying planned passage of their proposal to allow more time for talks, could soon vote on the measure if negotiations falter. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes the bill, meaning it likely will not become law. 

Millions of jobless Americans, and airlines that started to furlough tens of thousands of employees Thursday, are waiting for Congress to pass a fifth relief package. —Jacob Pramuk

Airlines start furloughing 32,000 employees but hold out hope for government help

American Airlines and United Airlines have begun furloughing 32,000 employees after the industry failed to secure another aid package from Washington.

Airlines and their labor unions were prohibited from cutting jobs until Oct. 1 under the terms of $25 billion in federal payroll support Congress passed in March. With travel demand still stuck around 30% of last year's levels, airline executives and labor unions urged lawmakers and the Trump administration for another $25 billion to preserve their workforce until March 31. 

While that gained bipartisan support, Democrats and the White House were unable to reach a deal on a national coronavirus stimulus package that would have included the aid.

United and American said if officials in Washington close in on a deal, they will reverse the furloughs and recall workers but it isn't clear that will happen soon.

Some airlines like Southwest and Delta don't expect to furlough workers, at least imminently, in part thanks to thousands who took buyouts and leaves of absence, a trend that helped reduce furloughs at American and United, too. —Leslie Josephs

Texas, California and Florida lead in new cases reported

Dow rises 200 points at open amid hope for more fiscal stimulus

U.S. stocks opened higher as investors see positive signs for more fiscal stimulus to combat the coronavirus recession, reports CNBC's Yun Li, Maggie Fitzgerald and Eustance Huang. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 200 points, or 0.7%, while the S&P 500 gained 0.8% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.1%. —Melodie Warner 

Pandemic-weary Americans want a meaningful holiday season

Adam Berry | Getty Images

As the holidays approach, Americans aren't just looking for gifts to put under the Christmas tree. They plan to direct more of their dollars toward retailers that share similar values during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey by Accenture.

The majority of those surveyed — 61% — said they plan to minimize in-store shopping to reduce health risks to essential workers, the survey of more than 1,500 U.S. consumers in August by the consulting firm found. More than 40% said they won't shop with retailers that have laid off staff or reduced employees' benefits because of the pandemic.

And over three-quarters of consumers said they want retailers to close on Thanksgiving Day, so workers can take a break and spend time with their families.

Jill Standish, who leads Accenture's retail practice, said the global health crisis has inspired Americans to think of the season differently and empathize with others, including strangers who stock shelves or check them out at the store. 

"We've all been in lockdown, and with our families, and school and home and work all collide," she said. "Holiday is just another extension of that. And yet it's made us all a little bit more tolerant, a little bit more human." — Melissa Repko

Weekly jobless claims tick lower

Initial jobless claims ticked lower last week, coming in at 837,000. That's 36,000 lower than the previous period and just under the 850,000 filings Wall Street was expecting. 

The Labor Department readout marks the fifth consecutive week with fewer than 1 million claims, after five months of 1-million-plus filings spurred by the coronavirus economic shutdown in mid-March, CNBC's Jeff Cox reports. 

Continuing claims, representing those filers who have received benefits for at least two weeks, also feel during the period, though both numbers remain significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels. —Sara Salinas

PepsiCo sales rise 5% in latest quarter, fueled by snack demand

PepsiCo said its third-quarter sales rose more than 5%, fueled by higher demand for its snacks and breakfast options.

The company also issued an outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year for the first time since it yanked its forecast in April. It's now expecting organic revenue growth of 4%, in line with its prior outlook, and core earnings per share of $5.50, down 38 cents from its original forecast.

Still, the pandemic isn't over. CEO Ramon Laguarta said that the company expects a longer recovery for its international beverage business because of reinstated pandemic restrictions in Europe. —Amelia Lucas

Covid-19 vaccine trial participants report exhaustion, fever and headaches

In this May 4, 2020 photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, receives an injection.
University of Maryland School of Medicine | AP

Participants in two of the leading coronavirus vaccine trials told CNBC that they are experiencing high fever, body aches, bad headaches, day-long exhaustion and other symptoms after receiving the shots. 

In interviews, all five participants — three in Moderna's study and two in Pfizer's late-stage trials  — said they think the discomfort is worth it to protect themselves against the coronavirus. 

Luke Hutchison, a 44-year-old computational biologist in Utah, said he was bed bound with a fever of over 101, shakes, chills, a pounding headache and shortness of breath after receiving his second dose in Moderna's phase three trial. Another participant, testing Pfizer's candidate, similarly woke up with chills, shaking so hard he cracked a tooth after taking the second dose.

While it's possible some of the symptoms described could be attributed to an unrelated illness, Moderna and Pfizer previously said some participants in their phase one trials experienced mild Covid-19 symptoms. –Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Bed Bath & Beyond posts first same-store gains since 2016

Shoppers exit a Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. store in New York, U.S.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Bed Bath & Beyond reported its first same-store sales increase in nearly four years, as its online business surged more than 80% during the quarter amid the coronavirus pandemic. Shoppers stocked up on dorm decor for the back-to-school season, face masks and cleaning supplies. 

"When home is everything, we're really poised to be the epicenter of that," CEO Mark Tritton told CNBC

For the quarter ended Aug. 29, same-store sales rose 6% — its first quarter of same-store sales growth since the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016. Analysts had been calling for a decline of 2.1%, according to FactSet. Online sales helped drive the gains, with digital comparable sales surging roughly 89%, Bed Bath & Beyond said. Same-store sales at its stores were down 12% year over year. 

Its shares surged more than 10% in premarket trading. —Lauren Thomas 

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