Europe prepares stimulus as US Senate passes $484 billion in relief; CDC warns of virus second wave


The Atlantic Council’s Coronavirus Alert is a regular summary of policy, economic, and business events around the emergency. To stay updated, sign up to the Coronavirus Alert here.

In top stories today:

  • US Senators passed a $484 billion in relief for small businesses and hospitals, while Europe’s leaders prepared for a stimulus package of their own. A second wave of coronavirus could be even worse because of flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Cases of coronavirus emerged in California earlier than first thought. Press reports revised the death toll upwards in the UK and beyond.  
  • The statistics say… there are now more than 2.5 million cases worldwide in 185 countries and territories; in excess of 175,000 people have died.
  • QUOTE:  “As managers wrestle with how to restart production lines and restaff offices, they must also consider how to prepare for inevitable future shocks,” wrote the editorial board of the Financial Times (FT). “If they do not, governments and regulators will need to find ways to encourage or oblige them to shore up their defenses.”
  • The European Union’s twenty-seven leaders will hold a virtual summit on April 23, when they are expected to back a 540 billion-euro package to help pay wages, support companies, and fund healthcare across the bloc, AP reported. The plan is for the three measures to be operational by June 1, European Council President Charles Michel said in his invitation letter to the summit, AP said.
  • QUOTE: “As the COVID-19 crisis continues to ravage the economy, Germany will face profound strategic questions over the extent of its support for the monetary union,” Ferdinando Giugliano wrote on the website of Bloomberg. “Germany’s economic primacy looks set to strengthen in the crisis. Inevitably, its political might will grow too.”
  • The US Senate passed a $484 billion relief package to replenish a loan program for small businesses and to fund hospitals and coronavirus testing, just a fraction of the stimulus amounts that Congress will consider in the weeks ahead, The New York Times reported. The House of Representatives is expected to pass the measures on April 23, and US President Donald J. Trump has indicated he will sign the bill, the newspaper added.
  • A second wave of the coronavirus outbreak could be far more serious as it’s likely to coincide with flu season, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an interview with The Washington Post. Two respiratory outbreaks at the same time would place unimaginable strain on the healthcare system, Redfield said. Officials need to stress the continued importance of social distancing and to ramp up testing as stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, he said, the Post reported.
  • “Political wrangling, controversy mark re-opening of U.S. states” reads the headline to a Reuters article. A majority of Americans believe stay-at-home restrictions should remain until public health officials consider it’s safe to lift them, the newswire cited a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll as showing. About half a dozen states including Georgia and South Carolina pushed ahead with reopening their states on April 21, Reuters reported.
  • QUOTE: “It’s a matter of concern, this whole idea of opening up,” Dr. Boris Lushniak, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Health, told Reuters in an interview. “It’s based on non-science generated parameters.”


  • President Donald J. Trump said April 21 that holders of green cards will be unable to move to the United States for 60 days, though temporary workers on nonimmigrant visas can do so, citing Americans’ access to work following millions of job losses caused by the coronavirus crisis, The Washington Post reported. Temporary workers on nonimmigrant visas will be able to move to the US, the newspaper said.
  • Health officials in Santa Clara County, California said two people died from coronavirus at home on February 6 and February 17, whereas the first US death was reported on February 29 in Kirkland, Washington, the Associated Press (AP) reported. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has promised an update on April 22 of the state’s ability to test for coronavirus and also to track and isolate those who test positive, AP reported.
  • QUOTE: “When medical historians look back at the COVID-19 pandemic, they will reckon with how the United States, with its vast technological and scientific resources, stumbled so badly in the face of an emerging virus,” Matthew Herper wrote on the website of news service Stat. “[O]ur inability to start and run clinical trials faster—whether in normal times or in a pandemic—is a legacy of our decision not to develop the technologies and approaches that would make doing so easier.”
  • At least 25,000 more people died from coronavirus in the past month worldwide than official figures show, The New York Times reported, citing mortality data from eleven countries. While this gives a clearer picture, it’s still incomplete, the newspaper said.
  • The coronavirus outbreak has already led to as many as 41,000 deaths in the UK, more than double the official figure, the Financial Times reported, according to the newspaper’s analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics. The FT tally includes deaths outside hospitals and supports early evidence that coronavirus deaths peaked in the UK on April 8, the newspaper said.
  • Pressure is increasing on the UK government to ease restrictions, with the nationwide lockdown in place since March 23, Bloomberg reported. The newswire runs a question and answer format article about possible next steps, covering issues from phased stages to testing and the public’s compliance with the lockdown.  


  • Reuters publishes a special report with the headline “Recovered, almost: China’s early patients unable to shed coronavirus.” A growing number of patients tested negative for the disease at some point after they recovered, only to test positive again, in some cases seventy days later, Chinese doctors find in Wuhan, the city where the outbreak first emerged in December, the newswire reported.
  • “China’s Coronavirus Diplomacy Has Finally Pushed Europe Too Far.” That’s a Bloomberg headline. The European Union aims to diversify supply chains to cut its reliance on China after Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has dented trust, the newswire reported.
  • READ MORE: “Today’s institutions are rooted in the post-1945 settlement and in the Cold War,” write Gerard Araud, France’s former ambassador to the United States, and the Atlantic Council’s Benjamin Haddad. “They have to evolve and to be reformed to be more effective and to reflect our values.”


  • Germany’s vaccines regulator approved human testing of a possible vaccine against coronavirus, only the fourth worldwide of a preventive treatment, Reuters reported. The trial, developed by German biotech company BioNTech, will be on two hundred healthy people between eighteen and fifty-five years old to start with, then in a second stage on more people including those at higher risk, the newswire said.
  • From the United States’ national spelling bee in June, to Spain’s Running of the Bulls in July, and Germany’s Oktoberfest five months away, a spate of events canceled in the past day alone shows that a return to normality “could still be a long and dispiriting process,” as the AP puts it.
  • Throughout Brazil on Sunday, President Bolsonaro’s supporters protested against Congress, the Supreme Court, and quarantine measures. On the day of the Army in Brazil, they requested military intervention and invoked AI-5, an act that institutionalized torture, repression, and censorship during Brazil’s 1964 military dictatorship. The Supreme Court has accepted a request to investigate the demonstrations. President Bolsonaro was widely criticized for participating (against the advice of his advisors) in a demonstration in Brasilia. After being pressured by Chief Justice Dias Toffoli and some military members of the administration, President Bolsonaro toned down his stance and explicitly restated the supremacy of the constitution, thus averting a potential constitutional crisis.
  • READ MORE: “Stabilizing prices will require an additional step to support the market until oil consumption begins to recover: alleviating the storage crisis directly, or limiting the amount of oil being produced,” write the Atlantic Council’s Reed Blakemore and John Soughan. “Accomplishing either is deeply complicated.”