Coronavirus updates: Wife of U.S. labor secretary tests positive; antibody treatment trial paused

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The wife of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia has tested positive for Covid-19, the department announced late Tuesday. Scalia and his wife, Trish, were at the White House Rose Garden event last month where President Donald Trump officially nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

A pair of coronavirus drug trials have been paused in the U.S. over safety concerns. Eli Lilly's antibody treatment trial has been put on hold, the company confirmed to CNBC, and Johnson & Johnson announced Monday it has paused late-stage trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate. While brief suspensions are routine in the world of drug trials, the latest cast added uncertainty on drug development timelines.

Here are some of the biggest developments on Tuesday:

The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 38The U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia's wife has tested positive for the coronavirus, the department said in a statement. million
  • Global deaths: At least 1.08 million
  • U.S. cases: More than 7.8 million
  • U.S. deaths: At least 215,101

Wife of U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia tests positive

The U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia's wife has tested positive for the coronavirus, the department said in a statement Tuesday night.

"Mrs. Scalia is experiencing mild symptoms but doing well," the statement said, adding that Scalia himself tested negative for the virus and has no symptoms.

Scalia and his wife, Trish, were at the White House Rose Garden event last month where President Donald Trump officially nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, reported NBC News.

It's not clear if Trish Scalia contracted the virus at the event, but several people in attendance — including the president and the first lady — tested positive after attending the ceremony. — Yen Nee Lee

Singapore's economy shrinks by7% year-on-year in the third quarter

Singapore, a major financial center located in Southeast Asia, said preliminary estimates showed that its economy contracted by 7% year over year in the third quarter — slower than the 13.3% decline in the previous quarter.

On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted basis, the economy rebounded by 7.9% in the July-to-September period — reversing the previous three months' 13.2% contraction, said the country's Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Since early June, the country has been gradually easing a partial lockdown that was imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Most economic activities have resumed, but some measures such as compulsory mask-wearing and restrictions on large gatherings remain in place.

Meanwhile, the Monetary Authority of Singapore — the country's central bank — said it kept policy on hold and warned that the global economic backdrop remains sluggish. — Yen Nee Lee

HHS gives $480 million boost to Cue Health

The U.S. is investing $481 million in California-based start-up Cue Health to boost manufacturing of its coronavirus test that produces results in about 20 minutes and without needing to be processed at a lab, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday.

As part of the agreement, Cue, which is backed by Johnson and Johnson among other investors, will increase production to 100,000 test kits per day by March, according to HHS. It added that the U.S. will acquire 6 million tests and 30,000 lab instruments used to process the tests.

Cue is a molecular test and it uses an in-house nasal swab, called the Cue Sample Wand, collected from the lower part of the nose, HHS said. That's different from some other rapid molecular tests that use nasopharyngeal swabs inserted deep into the nose. —Will Feuer

Top-ranked golfer Dustin Johnson tests positive for the coronavirus

Dustin Johnson, the world's top-ranked golfer, has withdrawn from this week's PGA Tour event in Las Vegas after testing positive for the coronavirus.

"Obviously, I am very disappointed," Johnson said in a statement from the PGA Tour. "I was really looking forward to competing this week, but will do everything I can to return as quickly as possible."

Johnson, who tied for sixth in last month's U.S. Open, was experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 and informed the PGA Tour so he could be tested, according to the statement. Johnson won this year's FedEx Cup, the tour's playoff. —Kevin Stankiewicz

Dropbox makes remote work permanent

Dropbox will make remote work the standard practice, even after the Covid-19 pandemic ends.

"Remote work (outside an office) will be the primary experience for all employees and the day-to-day default for individual work," the company said in a blog post.

For employees who need to meet or work together in person, the company is setting up "Dropbox Studios" in San Francisco, Seattle, Austin and Dublin —when it's safe to do so. However, it likely won't be soon, since Dropbox extended its mandatory work-from-home policy through June 2021. —Jessica Bursztynsky

Life during Covid-19 could spur employers to update workplace benefits

Kamon Supasawat | Moment | Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has left its imprint on just about everything – including the world of employee benefits.

Just in time for the 2021 benefits enrollment season, workers can expect employers to emphasize the use of telemedicine. More than four out of 10 employers polled by Aflac say they now offer remote health care to their employees, up from 29% in the prior year.

Further, companies are keenly aware that many workers are juggling childcare responsibilities while staying on top of their workflow.

As a result, 30% of employers polled by Willis Towers Watson either plan on or are considering offering access to backup childcare.

Finally, wellness initiatives are in the spotlight, as employers plan on promoting stress management programs, healthy living resources and other perks to their employees.

You might even get a gentle nudge from your employer to use up all those vacation days you've accumulated this year. —Darla Mercado

             

U.S. pauses Eli Lilly antibody treatment trial over safety concerns

U.S. regulators have paused a late-stage trial of Eli Lilly's leading monoclonal coronavirus antibody treatment over potential safety concerns, CNBC's Christina Farr and Berkeley Lovelace Jr. report.

"Safety is of the [utmost] importance to Lilly. We are aware that, out of an abundance of caution, the ACTIV-3 independent data safety monitoring board (DSMB) has recommended a pause in enrollment," an Eli Lilly spokeswoman told CNBC.

Two vaccine candidate trials — one by AstraZeneca and one by Johnson & Johnson — have been similarly paused over safety concerns. The latest from Eli Lilly marks the first suspension of a coronavirus treatment trial. —Sara Salinas

University of Delaware pulls 19 student-athletes for breaking protocol

The University of Delaware's athletic department issued suspensions to 19 swimming and diving student-athletes for attending an indoor, off-campus gathering that violated the university's coronavirus protocol.

The student-athletes were immediately quarantined and all tested negative for Covid-19, according to a statement from the university. Their suspensions, which range from six weeks to the full semester, mean they can't participate in athletic events, including practices, a spokesperson said.

"We have spoken to our student-athletes at length about their responsibility of being back on campus.  The protocols and guidelines put into place are ones that must be followed for us to provide a safe environment for not only the University, but our community as well," said Chrissi Rawak, director of the university's Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Services, in a statement. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

Trump urges Congress to 'go big' on coronavirus aid as McConnell pushes narrow bill

Congress looks as far as ever from breaking a stalemate over a fifth coronavirus stimulus package.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his chamber plans to vote on a "targeted" aid bill later this month. The plan, though, could resemble one Senate Democrats already blocked in December.

As the Senate GOP pushes for a narrow relief plan, President Donald Trump called for a broad one as he stares down the prospect of losing his reelection bid on Nov. 3. He urged Congress to "go big or go home!!!"

Democrats and the Trump administration have engaged in last-ditch talks to try to reach a stimulus deal before the 2020 election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the White House's latest $1.8 trillion offer "falls significantly short" of what the U.S. needs to address the crisis.

— Jacob Pramuk

Delta posts another big loss, expects to break even in spring 2021

Delta Air Lines has lost more than $11 billion from the pandemic — $5.4 billion in the last quarter alone — as many travelers continue to stay home.

There is some good news, however. Bookings are starting to pick up, particularly for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, said CEO Ed Bastian. Even winter, which is a generally slow season, could attract travelers after the virus threw the peak summer vacation season into disarray, he said.

But it isn't a strong turnaround, at least yet. Delta expects to break even in early 2021 and possibly be cash positive in the spring. Delta shares were down 2.4% in afternoon trading. —Leslie Josephs

Fauci says Trump's rapid coronavirus recovery 'amplifies' public misunderstanding of Covid-19

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said President Donald Trump's rapid recovery from Covid-19 poses a challenge for health officials attempting to convey the seriousness of coronavirus to Americans, STAT News reported.

While Fauci is glad the president has returned to health, he said the high-profile nature of Trump's recovery "amplifies some of that misunderstanding that people have that it's a benign disease and nobody has anything to worry about."

Trump, who was hospitalized for Covid-19 earlier this month, has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the virus without evidence. —Hannah Miao

Ex-Obama health advisor says his analysis shows failed U.S. coronavirus safety measures cost lives

VIDEO3:5803:58
Dr. Zeke Emanuel on his study comparing Covid-19 death rates in the U.S. and abroad

Tens of thousands of American lives could have been saved with a more coordinated national response to the coronavirus, former Obama health advisor Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel contended on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"The problems we've had here — the number of cases, the number of deaths, the number of hospitalizations — was not inevitable,” Emanuel said, drawing on a recent research paper he published that analyzed per-capita deaths from Covid-19 across the U.S. and 18 comparable nations. 

Emanuel, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's medical school, pointed to the trajectory of the outbreak in Italy, which was hit hard early on in the pandemic. "We had from May 10 to today roughly 90,000 more deaths than we should have had we followed Italy's course — 90,000 Americans who died needlessly," he said.

"Italy didn't have anything special or different in terms of treatment, vaccines, diagnostics compared to the United States," added Emanuel, who was a health policy advisor for the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011. "What they had is better implementation of the public health measures, and that actually could have saved tens of thousands of lives in the United States." —Kevin Stankiewicz

Iran’s coronavirus daily death tolls hit record highs

Iran on Monday registered a record single-day fatality count for the second day in a row, reports CNBC's Natasha Turak.

The national single-day death toll from the virus was reported at 272 on Monday, up from the previous day's record of 251.

Iran is the Middle East's coronavirus epicenter, with more than 504,000 cases and 28,826 deaths recorded so far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Experts have noted that virus figures may be higher in other countries in the region, such as Yemen and Syria, but both are mired in wars and lack the medical and testing infrastructure to accurately report numbers. —Melodie Warner 

Cristiano Ronaldo tests positive, will miss Wednesday's match

TURIN, ITALY - OCTOBER 21: Juventus player Cristiano Ronaldo during the Champions League press conference at Allianz Stadium on October 21, 2019 in Turin, Italy.
Daniele Badolato | Juventus FC | Getty Images

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo has tested positive for the coronavirus and has been dropped from Portugal's Nations League match against Sweden on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

The Portuguese soccer federation said Ronaldo was doing well and had no symptoms, according to AP.

Ronaldo's result prompted another round of tests for the rest of the squad and the federation said everyone else in the team tested negative, AP reports. —Melodie Warner 

IMF revises global GDP forecast higher, assuming continued social distancing

The International Monetary Fund is slightly more positive on the global economy.

It now expects the global economy to contract by 4.4% in 2020 — an upward revision from an estimate of -4.9% made in June. This forecast assumes that social distancing will continue into 2021 and that local transmission will fall everywhere by the end of 2022.

However, the IMF also warned that the recovery might take longer than originally expected. Its growth expectations for next year were cut to 5.2%, from an estimate of 5.4% made in June. —Silvia Amaro 

Texas, California lead reports of new U.S. cases

AMC could run out of cash by the end of 2020

In a public filing Tuesday, AMC, the largest cinema chain in the world, warned that it could run out of cash by the end of the year or by early 2021.

The company blamed a bare movie calendar and continued lackluster attendance for the chains continued troubles. AMC has already renegotiated its debt to improve its balance sheet this year and is currently exploring several ways of acquiring additional sources of liquidity and ways to increase attendance levels.

Currently, the company is looking into additional debt and equity financing, renegotiating with landlords concerning lease payments, possible asset sales, a joint-venture with an existing business partner and minority investments in its stock. —Sarah Whitten

First Q3 bank earnings show signs of stabilization

VIDEO3:0403:04
How Citigroup's Q3 earnings compare to JPMorgan's results

The first of the third-quarter bank earnings reports are out, and they're showing signs of stabilization after a tumultuous first half of the year. The results suggest Americans could be in better financial standing, and defaulting on bank loans less than in recent months.

JPMorgan Chase beat analysts' profit estimates for the quarter and set aside less money for loan defaults tied to the coronavirus pandemic, CNBC's Hugh Son reports. The bank listed a $611 million provision in credit costs for the period, compared with $10.5 billion during the second quarter.

Citigroup, similarly, reported stabilizing credit costs and third quarter results that topped Wall Street estimates: Net credit losses declined to $1.9 billion in the third quarter from $2.2 billion in Q2, and the company's overall cost of credit dropped to $2.26 billion from $7.9 billion on a quarter-over-quarter basis, CNBC's Son and Fred Imbert report. —Sara Salinas

J&J vaccine trial pause should 'reassure' public on safety, CFO says

VIDEO4:2904:29
Johnson & Johnson CFO Joseph Wolk on Covid-19 study pause

Johnson & Johnson pausing its late-stage Covid-19 trial due to an unexplained illness should "reassure" the public that the company is upholding high scientific and safety standards, the company's chief financial officer said.

"We're letting safety protocol follow proper procedure here," CFO Joseph Wolk said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box." He added that pauses in trials are "not uncommon," especially in a 60,000 person clinical trial.

J&J confirmed to STAT News on Monday that a "pausing rule" in the trial had been met, but declined to provide further details on the patient.

"We must respect this participant's privacy," the company said in a statement. "We're also learning more about this participant's illness, and it's important to have all the facts before we share additional information." –Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Dr. Fauci warns 'we're in a bad place'

VIDEO3:3903:39
We're in a bad place heading into fall: Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House coronavirus advisor and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told CNBC Monday that the country is in a "bad place" headed into the colder fall and winter seasons.

"We're in a bad place now. We've got to turn this around," Fauci said in an interview on "The News with Shepard Smith."

Daily new cases in the U.S., as a seven-day average, reached 49,542 on Monday, marking a 12% increase over the previous week, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. Fauci attributed those numbers in part to what he saw as an all-or-nothing approach to safety measures in some places.

"We've got to convince Americans that public health measures do not mean shutting the country down," Fauci said. "It's actually an avenue to keeping the country open." —Sara Salinas

UK puts 'alert system' in place with more rules, lockdowns and shutdowns

A couple wearing protective face coverings chat in the street in Liverpool city centre, north-west England on September 18, 2020.
OLI SCARFF | AFP | Getty Images

The British government has revealed a new approach to curbing a rapid spread of coronavirus cases in parts of England, including a tiered "alert system."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the alert system on Monday, with areas to be designated either "medium," "high" or "very high" risk (Tiers 1, 2 and 3 respectively) depending on the severity of their infection rate.

Nationwide restrictions will limit social gatherings to six people and pubs and restaurants will be forced to close at 10 p.m. In the "high" risk areas, social gatherings will be barred from taking place indoors. More parts of England will move into that category this week.

Only one area is about to be put on the "very high" level — the northern city of Liverpool. From Wednesday, the city and its residents will be subject to the strictest rules.

Pubs, bars, gyms, leisure centers, betting shops and casinos will have to close with households no longer allowed to mix either outdoors and indoors. People will be asked not to travel into or out of the area as well. —Holly Ellyatt

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