Merkel and Trump lead their countries into a new phase. Your paths here were quite different.
Germany was a leader in the West in the fight against the pandemic and then a leader in the calibrated restart of public life. On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel had a message of hope for the country: the experiment was working.
"We can have a little audacity," said Merkel.
Germany's successful strategy was good news for countries eager for a signal that life can continue with the virus. But it was also a reminder of differences in other Western countries, including the United States, where some states have taken steps to reopening even when infections increase, and where President Trump is clearly looking forward to pass the pandemic and for recovery – whatever it takes.
"I hope that is not the case," Trump said on Wednesday, when asked if the deaths would increase as a result of the reopening of the American economy he is looking forward to, before adding: "It could very well be the case."
Germany closed early and has been systematically testing its way back to some appearance of normalcy. Face masks, already mandatory in stores and public transport, are quickly becoming the new normal, and socializing in restaurants and bars – even those that can now be reopened – will still take place under strict restrictions.
With these limitations, Merkel on Wednesday managed to announce the restoration of many freedoms on file for almost two months. All stores will be able to reopen. Restaurants and hotels can be resumed in time for two long weekends in late May.
"We can say today that the first phase of the pandemic is behind us," said Merkel.
Trump tried to signal the same kind of optimism this week, announcing the extinction of the White House task force on Tuesday before promptly reversing the course on Wednesday morning, after public outcry and private lobby changed their minds.
"We have to open our country again," said Trump on Wednesday. "People want to come back and you will have a problem if you don't."
Research released on Wednesday shows an unprecedented increase in modern food insecurity. Nearly a fifth of young children are not eating enough, according to research by their mothers by the Brookings Institution. The rate is three times higher than in 2008, in the worst of the Great Recession, reports Jason DeParle.
When food is scarce, parents often skip meals to keep children fed. But a survey of families aged 12 and under found that 17.4% reported that the children themselves were not eating enough, compared with 5.7% during the Great Recession.
Inadequate nutrition can leave children with permanent developmental damage.
"This is alarming," said Lauren Bauer, a Brookings fellow in economic studies, who oversaw the research. “These are families that reduce portion sizes, making children skip meals. The numbers are much higher than I expected.
Bauer said disruptions to school meal programs could be part of the problem, with some families unable to reach distribution locations and older siblings at home competing for limited food.
The findings come when Democrats and Republicans are at odds with proposals to increase food stamp benefits. Democrats want to increase benefits by 15% during the economic crisis, arguing that a similar move in 2009 reduced hunger during the Great Recession. Congress approved a short-term increase to about 60% of the case load, but the increase omits the poorest recipients. Citing large expansions of other safety net programs, Republicans say this is enough to meet growing needs.
President Trump, contrary to his comments on Tuesday, said the White House coronavirus task force "would continue indefinitely", although perhaps with different members.
"We will have something in a different way," Trump told reporters later on Tuesday, during a trip to Arizona.
But in a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, the president seemed to contradict that statement and emphasized his desire to reopen the economy, despite a steady increase in coronavirus cases and public health warnings that more trade means more deaths.
Because of the success of the task force, He wrote, "would continue indefinitely with a focus on SECURITY AND OPENING OUR COUNTRY AGAIN".
Trump spoke to reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon about why he had changed his mind.
"I thought we could get this over with earlier," he said. “But I had no idea how popular the task force is until yesterday, when I started talking about closing. I get calls from very respected people saying, 'I think it would be better to continue. He did a good job. & # 39; "
Trump also said on Wednesday that Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government's leading infectious disease specialist, and Deborah L. Birx, coordinator of the coronavirus task force, will remain on the task force in their current roles.
Trump often reacts to news coverage of his decisions, and reports on Tuesday that he could end the task force have provoked strong criticism.
In the past few days, there have been signs of the task force's imminent demise: the panel did not meet on Saturday, as it usually does, and canceled a meeting on Monday. And the president has stopped linking his news to task force meetings and no longer routinely distributes task force members around him in his public appearances.
The task force often served as a public check of Trump's questionable or false statements, warning about promises of a quick vaccine or the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine.
A coalition of online retailers backed by Amazon started a seven-digit advertising blitz on Wednesday, opposing President Trump's demand that the United States postal service raise its package delivery rates to avoid bankruptcy during the coronavirus crisis, his main lobbyist said.
The ads will begin running nationally on Wednesday night on "Hannity", one of Trump's favorite shows on Fox News and on Rush Limbaugh's radio show on Thursday. They don't mention the president, but they label his proposal to raise delivery prices "a huge tax on packages" for small businesses and Americans who rely on the post office for prescription drugs and other products.
Amazon, CVS and others involved in the campaign rely on the Postal Service to deliver millions of packages a year. Its business could be significantly disrupted if the agency raised rates or went bankrupt.
Many of the companies have been quietly lobbying legislators on Capitol Hill on the issue, but the advertising effort will more visibly establish their position in a high-risk political struggle for the Postal Service's finances and its future. Democrats are pushing to include $ 25 billion in the next round of relief legislation to support the service, which said it could run out of money until September without a Congressional lifeguard.
But Trump said he will not sign any pandemic aid packages that help the Postal Service unless he quadruples his package delivery fees. Their views on the postal service seem to be predominantly shaped by his dislike for the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post.
"All of these companies know that in order to keep this market competitive and keep operations more efficient, affordable US involvement is absolutely essential," said John M. McHugh, former army secretary and coalition president. Trump's "dangerous" proposal, especially when Americans kidnapped at home increasingly rely on delivery services and postal leaders project deficits.
The Pentagon goes on to ban enlistment by people who have had the virus.
Those who wish to join the American armed forces but have been hospitalized with the new coronavirus will be temporarily barred from joining the armed forces, according to a directive issued this week by the Pentagon, officials said on Wednesday.
Defense Department officials said the measure was "provisional guidance" and would likely be updated as military officers learn more about the disease and its long-term risk for someone joining the armed forces. Like the rest of the country, the Department of Defense is struggling to find out how to better manage and protect the country's 1.2 million soldiers on duty against the disease and its effects.
Defense Department officials said on Wednesday night that recruits who had the coronavirus and are currently barred from entering the armed forces are likely to have a return date to return for consideration.
The armed forces already have a system in place for granting recruitment exemptions to recruits who otherwise would not be able to apply for various medical and other reasons.
As of Wednesday morning, there were just over 7,000 cases of coronavirus among military personnel, contractors and Department of Defense civilians.
Phoenix temperatures are expected to reach 105 this week. Sacramento has already broken heat records recently, as have Galveston, Texas, Salt Lake City and Fort Myers, Florida.
But the usual strategy that cities rely on to protect the most vulnerable from the heat – encouraging people to gather and cool in public buildings like libraries or recreation centers – does not work in an age of coronavirus and social detachment. This makes cities run to test other ideas.
Not only did the Covid-19 crisis make meeting with public health and emergency management officials dangerous, but also the people most vulnerable to heat-related illnesses – the elderly or the chronically ill – also tend to be more vulnerable to the virus. Last year was the second hottest on record, and climate change is intensifying heat waves around the world.
Arizona asked a team of university professors to produce one of the most robust public modeling assessments in the state to stop its work, receiving criticism about whether the move is politically motivated.
The request from the Arizona Department of Health Services was sent on Monday to the modeling team at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, shortly after Republican Governor Doug Ducey announced plans to relax some measures of social detachment.
Previous results from the modeling team have made it clear that the only situation in which the state's virus cases do not increase sharply is to wait until the end of May to reopen Arizona's economy. The governor said that, if companies follow protocols for social security and distance, cosmetologists and barber shops will be able to reopen on Friday, and that restaurants and cafeterias will do it on Monday.
"It is intriguing that they ask these experts to stop their work when they produce results inconsistent with decisions made by the executive branch," said Will Humble, a former director of state health services who is now executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association. .
Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for Ducey, said in a statement that Arizona officials found the modeling group's work less useful for influencing policies during the pandemic than the modeling developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is not available to the public. public.
"We can see which models are accurate – which ones correspond to the real facts and are most useful – and which are not," said Ptak. He added that Dr. Cara Christ, director of health services for the state, made the decision to ask the modeling team to suspend her work.
The team, made up of about two dozen teachers, was not being paid by the state. Tim Lant, a mathematical epidemiologist from the state of Arizona and a member of the team, said he would continue to do his modeling work on a daily basis, using publicly available data.
Sixty-four children in the state of New York were hospitalized with a mysterious disease that doctors still don't fully understand, but that they may be linked to Covid-19, the coronavirus disease, officials said on Wednesday.
On a advising health service providers, state health officials said most children who were believed to have what was labeled "pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome" tested positive for the virus or antibodies.
State health officials noted that the symptoms of the mysterious disease overlap with those associated with toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease, a rare disease in children which involves inflammation of blood vessels, including coronary arteries. Fever, abdominal symptoms and a rash may also be present, authorities wrote.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, most infected children have not developed severe respiratory failure of the type that affects adults. But in the past few weeks, the new unusual syndrome emerged among children in New York City and on the outskirts of the United States, a sign that children may face a higher than expected risk of the virus.
The number of children in the United States showing signs of the syndrome, which was first detected last month in Europe, remains small. It is known that no one died and many responded well to treatment.
A 57-year-old man from El Salvador died of Covid-19 in federal immigration custody on Wednesday, according to his family and lawyers, making him the first detained immigrant known to succumb to an outbreak that is increasing in federal detention. immigration facilities.
Immigration and Customs have confirmed that at least 705 people detained in their custody have contracted the virus, about half of those who have been tested. The agency released hundreds of clinically vulnerable detainees after facing a series of lawsuits related to the pandemic, but about 29,000 remain in detention.
Escobar was an undocumented immigrant to the United States about 40 years ago, when he was arrested this year during a traffic stop. He unsuccessfully sought to be released from Otay Mesa in mid-April because of his pre-existing health problems – he was diabetic and required several foot surgeries.
He was hospitalized in late April because of complications associated with the virus.
Similar to cruise ships and nursing homes, detention facilities have crowded living spaces and shared dining areas, in addition to common bathrooms and a lack of space to isolate infected detainees, which makes physical distancing difficult.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study the spread of the virus in prisons and detention centers in the United States, public and private. Although it does not have complete data for the approximately 2.1 million people imprisoned nationally, the study found that almost 5,000 prisoners contracted the virus along with more than 2,000 employees, resulting in 103 deaths in total.
What will this week's job data show?
Government figures due on Friday undoubtedly show that the loss of jobs in April was the worst of all. But they could provide important recovery tips.
Economists polled by MarketWatch expect the Department of Labor report to show that US payrolls fell 22 million jobs last month – a decade of earnings shattered in weeks. Payroll processing company ADP said on Wednesday that the private sector lost over 20 million jobs in April, with cuts spread across all sectors and sizes of employers.
It is no surprise that employers have cut millions of jobs; weekly unemployment benefit claims, released every Thursday, accompanied the destruction. But the monthly numbers due on Friday are more comprehensive than the weekly numbers, which almost certainly underestimate the damage.
Friday's report can also help answer a question that could be crucial to the eventual recovery: how far did the damage spread?
If the losses are concentrated in sectors directly affected by the virus, such as retail and services affected by home stay requests, this may bode well for recovery, as it suggests that the damage has been contained. But if it spread to sectors like finance and professional services, it could suggest a ripple effect, with laid-off workers cutting spending, leading to revenue losses and even more layoffs. It may take much longer to get out of this type of hole.
The crisis has spread across the world. The European Union's economy is set to shrink 7.4 percent this year, investment is expected to collapse, and unemployment, debt and deficit rates will rise after the pandemic, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
To put these figures in perspective, the European Union's economy was expected to grow 1.2% this year. In its worst recession, during the 2009 financial crisis, the economy shrank 4.5%.
A company created six weeks ago by a pair of Republican agents raised hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from state and local governments desperate for coronavirus supplies. The company is now facing a federal criminal investigation and a growing chorus of complaints from customers who say their orders never arrived.
The company, Blue Flame Medical, boasted that could get quickly coveted test kits, N95 masks and other personal protective equipment through a Chinese state-owned company he joined, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.
The company was founded by two Republican political consultants, Mike Gula and John Thomas, who had little experience in the field of medical supplies. The Gula fundraising company has received more than $ 36 million since 2008 by several of the top Republican politicians and political committees. Mr. Thomas served as a general consultant in several campaigns.
Mr. Thomas had stated in an interview in March that the connections he and Mr. Gula have made through their political work have helped them find suppliers and connect with customers, such as major medical systems and law enforcement agencies around the world.
Orders came from state governments, local police departments and airports in California, Florida and Maryland. But things were not as planned.
California quickly recovered a payment of $ 457 million for 100 million masks, as first reported by CalMatters. Other state and local agencies that paid for Blue Flame said supplies never arrived or that orders were only partially fulfilled.
The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into the company, according to people familiar with the investigation, which was the first reported by the Washington Post. Some of the company's customers are requesting refunds or threatening their own investigations.
Trump says the refrigerator factories will reopen soon, despite the outbreaks.
Trump administration officials said on Wednesday that meat shortages in supermarkets and fast-food chains would be short-lived, despite outbreaks that closed meat packaging factories across the country and sickened thousands of workers.
At an Oval Office meeting with President Trump and Republican Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the meat shortage should end within 10 days when the plants go online.
The stocking conditions in the largest meat packing plants in the United States have turned them into hot spots and have killed dozens of workers.
Factories across the Midwest were temporarily closed, reducing the country's supply of ground beef, pork loin and chicken. Hundreds of Wendy's restaurants have run out of hamburgers, while Costco and Kroger have limited the number of meat items customers can buy.
The Trump administration issued an executive order last week put more pressure on the refrigerator facilities to remain open and help them reduce their liability in labor claims.
Refrigerator factories have installed new safety features, including barriers between workers and new requirements for protective equipment. But many workers are still nervous about returning to facilities that had become the focus of infection.
On Wednesday, Reynolds promised to put the facility up and running to help ensure food supplies.
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The reports were contributed by Reed Abelson, Katie Benner, Katrin Bennhold, Alan Blinder, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Keith Bradsher, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Ben Casselman, Ben Casselman, Niraj Chokshi, Helene Cooler, Michael Cooper, Michael Crowley, Elizabeth Dias, Caitlin Dickerson and Melissa. Eddy, Nicholas Fandos, Christina Goldbaum, Maggie Haberman, Andrew Jacobs, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Jodi Kantor, Josh Katz, Jillian Kramer, Michael Levenson Adam Liptak, Denise Lu, Neil MacFarquhar, Apoorva Mandavilli, Sarah Mervosh, Andy Newman and Michael Powell , Simon Romero, David E. Sanger, Margot Sanger-Katz, Marc Santora, Ed Shanahan, Ana Swanson, Kenneth P. Vogel, David Waldstein, Noah Weiland, Edward Wong and Carl Zimmer.