Coronavirus deaths top 40,000 in US, as poll highlights lockdown concern; cases seen slowing in Europe


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In top stories today:

  • The number of coronavirus deaths surpassed 40,000 in the United States, where protestors gathered in some state capitals to call for lockdowns to be lifted. Testing stayed in the news, while a poll indicated that a majority of Americans are concerned about a rushed easing of restrictions. Germany started a cautious reopening of its economy and the pace of the outbreak in Europe showed signs of slowing.
  • QUOTE:  “We need to face this fact: Returning to our old reality will be a slow and frustrating process that will take many months and require deep wells of patience,” Dr. David A. Kessler, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration from 1990 to 1997, wrote in The New York Times. “Our collective behavior will be the primary determinant of whether we can keep this virus in check.”
  • Protestors gathered in the state capitals of Washington and Colorado on April 19 to call for coronavirus lockdown orders to be lifted, Reuters reported. The death toll in the United States increased to more than 40,000 that day, the highest in the world and more than twice as many as in Italy, the newswire also reported.
  • Democrat and Republican governors reject US President Donald J. Trump’s suggestions that states have enough testing capacity to allow their economies to reopen, the Financial Times reported.
  • The statistics say… Total US deaths rose 12 percent to 41,379 on April 18, more than double the total a week earlier, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News.
  • Nearly six in ten Americans are worried about coronavirus restrictions being lifted too soon, compared with about three in ten who are more concerned about the economic impact of waiting for too long, according to a poll conducted for The Wall Street Journal and NBC News.
  • QUOTE: “Simply put: We are in it now,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt, who conducted the survey with Republican Bill McInturff, The Wall Street Journal reported. “The coronavirus has hit America like a series of tornadoes that won’t go away.”
  • Democratic leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on April 19 they were close to a deal to replenish a program to help small businesses cope with the economic crisis caused by coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal reported. The deal is expected to include $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion to expand nationwide testing for the virus, Mnuchin said on CNN, the newspaper reported.
  • Among the companies trying out new approaches is Uber. The lift-sharing service will try to revive its goods delivery service after dropping a similar idea two years ago, as it looks for new sources of revenue during the coronavirus outbreak, the Financial Times reported. The company will start testing two new initiatives—Uber Direct aimed at retailers and other businesses and Connect for personal cross-town deliveries—this week, the newspaper said.


  • Italy, Spain, and France, hot spots for the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, reported the smallest increases in fatalities in weeks, Bloomberg reported. Even so, Spain surpassed 200,000 cases of the virus, the country’s health minister said on April 20, Reuters reported. Confirmed cases stand at 200,210 compared with 195,944 a day earlier, Reuters said.
  • Retail stores of up to 800 square meters reopen in Germany on April 20 after widespread testing and public discipline helped to limit the spread of coronavirus in Europe’s biggest economy, Bloomberg reported. Countries including Italy, Spain, the United States, and beyond are likely to be watching what happens in Germany, Bloomberg said. The government “urgently” recommends that everyone wear face masks, the newswire added.
  • “With Broad, Random Testing for Antibodies, Germany Seeks Path Out of Lockdown,” reads a headline in The New York Times.
  • In Hong Kong, no new cases were reported on April 20, the first time since March 5, Reuters said. Singapore recorded more than 1,000 new cases in a day for the first time, the vast majority among foreign workers staying in dormitories, Bloomberg reported.
  • New Zealand will ease some of the world’s toughest restrictions on April 27, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on April 20, Reuters reported. That will be a few days after the end of the scheduled month-long lockdown at level 4, then the country will be at level 3 for three weeks, the newswire reported.


  • As many as 59 million jobs in Europe are under threat because of the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Financial Times reported, citing the consultancy McKinsey, which defines those at risk as workers who suffer a cut in hours, temporary furloughs or permanent job losses. McKinsey’s forecast, based on strict social distancing being maintained through the summer, says European Union unemployment could double to 11.2 percent by 2021 and not recover until 2024, the newspaper said.
  • READ MORE: “Place your bets for the coming race to growth,” writes the Atlantic Council’s Frederick Kempe. “It will be an epic contest among the world’s most significant economies, with generational and geopolitical consequences.”
  • The coronavirus outbreak is stirring anti-Semitism worldwide based on centuries-old lies that Jews are spreading infection, the annual report on Anti-Semitism Worldwide by the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University said, Reuters reported.
  • As many as 2 billion mobile phone users worldwide, many older and poorer people among them, will not be able to use the system proposed by Apple and Google that tracks whether they have come into contact with those infected with coronavirus, the Financial Times reported. The system only works on phones that are less than five years old, with many of the owners also those who are more vulnerable to coronavirus, the newspaper said.


  • Coronavirus didn’t escape from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the director of the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory said in an April 18 interview with state-run China Global Television Network, Bloomberg reported. That follows months of speculation about how the virus made the leap to humans, the newswire added. President Trump, speaking during his daily press conference on April 18, said there should be consequences if China is found to be “knowingly responsible” for the outbreak of coronavirus, Bloomberg said in a separate article.
  • QUOTE:  “Beijing’s attempts to take advantage of the situation are more likely to leave it isolated and distrusted on the world stage when the crisis recedes,” Jamil Anderlini wrote in the Financial Times. “Beijing could have gained far more sympathy if it had switched quickly to a strategy of transparency and co-operation.”
  • READ MORE: “To avoid the disastrous legacy of the Great Leap Forward, China should be more transparent and collaborative,” writes the Atlantic Council’s Evanna Hu. “Responding and preventing a second wave of a lethal worldwide pandemic needs to rise above the great power competition between the United States and China.”
  • The New York Times leads with concerns about the reliability of antibody tests for coronavirus that are seen as key to reopening the United States, citing public health officials and scientists. The speed of the tests’ introduction has compromised adequate scrutiny, the newspaper said.
  • Novartis will carry out a 450-person clinical study to determine whether the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, touted by many pundits and President Donald J. Trump, is an effective treatment for coronavirus, news service Stat reported, citing an interview with the company’s chief medical officer, John Tsai. It will be a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study, which is the medical gold standard, Stat reported. Patients who are very unwell and who are on ventilators will not be included in the study, the news service added.
  • The UK plans to collect blood from survivors of coronavirus to investigate whether convalescent blood plasma transfusions could improve outcomes for patients infected with the disease, Reuters reported.


  • Investors are resisting calls by the Group of Twenty (G20) economies to grant debt relief to emerging markets, an early sign that reaching agreement will be a considerable challenge, the Financial Times reported. A uniform and voluntary approach to the problem isn’t feasible, investors said, the newspaper reported.  
  • The newspaper also runs a story on so-called gender distancing in Latin America. The segregation of women and men in Panama, Peru, and Colombia delivers mixed results, the Financial Times said.
  • President Jair Bolsanaro of Brazil gave an enthusiastic speech to anti-quarantine protestors in Brasilia on April 19, The New York Times reported. “Everyone in Brazil must understand that they are subject to the will of the people,” Bolsonaro said. The protest in the capital, which demanded an end to business shutdowns prompted by coronavirus and included calls for a return to military rule, was one of several similar demonstrations across the country, the newspaper said.
  • India has eased some restrictions, mainly to ease pressure on farming, the BBC reported. No restrictions will be eased in hotspots for the disease, including all of the country’s major cities, the BBC said.