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The Fed chair says ‘policies will need to be ready’ to aid damaged economy.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell said more government support might be needed to restore economic prosperity as a downturn “without modern precedent” strikes the United States.
“The recovery may take some time to gather momentum, and the passage of time can turn liquidity problems into solvency problems,” Mr. Powell said, according to prepared remarks set for delivery at a Peterson Institute for International Economics virtual event.
Mr. Powell signaled that Congress may need to provide more money for households and businesses in order to avoid a painful recession that could leave people jobless and saddled with debt.
“Additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery.”
Coronavirus lockdowns have left more than 20 million people out of work, disproportionately hitting service sector workers, many of them low-income and without savings, and the Fed has rushed to support the United States economy. Mr. Powell and his colleagues slashed interest rates to zero, rolled out unlimited bond buying meant to restore order in government bond markets, and unveiled nine emergency lending programs in partnership with the Treasury Department.
Mr. Powell characterized the Fed’s ability to help as a “bridge across temporary interruptions to liquidity.” But he suggested that more than a bridge may be needed as huge uncertainties continue to confront the economy, from the speed of reopening to the scope of testing and timing of a vaccine.
“While the economic response has been both timely and appropriately large, it may not be the final chapter, given that the path ahead is both highly uncertain and subject to significant downside risks,” he said. “Since the answers are currently unknowable, policies will need to be ready to address a range of possible outcomes.”
Americans are increasingly on the move, even as top public health officials warn of dangers.
With American states starting to reopen their economies, about 25 million more people ventured outside their homes on an average day last week than during the preceding six weeks.
Testifying before Congress on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, predicted dire consequences if the nation reopened too quickly, noting that the country still lacked critical testing capacity and the ability to trace the contacts of those infected.
“There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control,” Dr. Fauci warned.
That could result not only in “some suffering and death that could be avoided,” he said, “but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery.”
The success of social-distancing measures has always been largely dependent on individual behavior. But the public is also wrestling with a barrage of conflicting messages.
“We have met the moment and we have prevailed,” President Trump declared on Monday.
On Tuesday, the federal government’s own top experts painted a starkly different picture. “We are not out of the woods yet,” Dr. Redfield testified.
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the suggested guidance was more detailed than previously known. The A.P. obtained a 63-page document that advocated a coordinated national response, with step-by-step measures outlined for community leaders.
But after weeks largely confined to their homes, people in nearly every part of the country were showing signs of restlessness.
From March 20, when states began telling people to stay home, to April 30, when many states eased those restrictions, 43.8 percent of U.S. residents — about 144 million people — stayed home.
Last week, the share of people staying home was 36.1 percent, on average, or about 119 million people. That’s a drop of 7.7 percentage points from the average during the peak period for sheltering in place.
Manafort is released to home confinement amid concerns of contracting the virus in prison.
Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, was released from prison on Wednesday and granted confinement in his home in Northern Virginia because of concerns over the virus, one of his lawyers, Todd Blanche, said.
Mr. Manafort had been in a minimum-security prison in Pennsylvania, serving a sentence of seven and a half years for financial and lobbying violations related to his work for a corrupt Ukrainian politician.
Prisons and jails across the country have been hot spots for the spread of the virus. Attorney General William P. Barr ordered a review in April to determine who among the 144,000 federal inmates could be safely released to home confinement.
In April, Mr. Manafort’s lawyers asked the Bureau of Prisons to release their client to home confinement. The lawyers said he was at high risk of contracting the virus because of his age, 71, and pre-existing health conditions, including being hospitalized in February after contracting the flu and bronchitis.
Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, had also been told he would be released to home confinement, and was expected to by home by May 1. But officials have not moved him, and he remains in quarantine in Otisville, a person familiar with his situation said.
Mr. Cohen is serving three years for violating campaign finance laws in part because of a hush money scheme to silence two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the affairs.
The Texas attorney general warns Austin, Dallas and San Antonio over defying state orders.
The Republican attorney general in Texas has heightened tensions with three of the state’s largest Democratic-led cities, warning officials in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio that their local mask-wearing requirements and other restrictions, all more strict than Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive orders, were unlawful.
When Mr. Abbott ended his stay-at-home order and set the stage for the state’s partial reopening this month, he angered many local officials by contending that his reopening policies supersede any conflicting orders issued by cities or counties.
The office of the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, issued letters to leaders in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio and threatened legal action over several local restrictions, including extensions of stay-at-home orders, protocols for houses of worship and requirements for face masks.
“We trust you will act quickly to correct mistakes like these to avoid further confusion and litigation challenging the county’s and city’s unconstitutional and unlawful restrictions,” a deputy attorney general wrote in a letter to the mayor of Austin and the county judge of Travis County, which includes Austin.
Officials elsewhere received similar missives as part of the latest skirmish in the long-running battle between the conservative state leaders and politicians in more liberal major cities. Republican state officials have clashed with Democratic local officials over homelessness, public schools, crime and other issues in recent years.
The elected officials who received the new warnings disputed the state’s reading of their local orders. “We intentionally modeled the public health guidelines based on the governor’s recommendations, never imagining he did not want his own guidelines followed,” the top elected official in Dallas County, County Judge Clay Jenkins, said in a statement.
Over 100 children in New York State are believed to have a rare illness tied to the virus.
New York State health officials are investigating more than 100 cases of a rare and dangerous inflammatory syndrome that afflicts children and appears to be connected to the virus, officials said.
So far, three deaths in the state have been linked to the illness, which is known as pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome and causes life-threatening inflammation in critical organs, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Tuesday.
More than half of the state’s pediatric inflammatory syndrome cases — 57 percent — involved children ages 5 to 14.
On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 82 cases of the syndrome, which has symptoms that overlap with those of toxic shock or Kawasaki disease, had been reported in New York City, an increase of 30 from the previous day.
The dead included a 5-year-old boy, who died last week in New York City; a 7-year-old boy in Westchester County and an 18-year-old girl on Long Island.
“This is a truly disturbing situation,” Mr. Cuomo said at his Tuesday news briefing. “And I know parents around the state and around the country are very concerned about this, and they should be.”
The White House has no authority to delay 2020 election, but Kushner does not dismiss the possibility.
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, refused on Tuesday to rule out postponing the presidential election in November, a comment that fed directly into Democratic concerns that Mr. Trump might use the crisis to delay or delegitimize the contest and one that contradicted Mr. Trump himself.
“I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan,” Mr. Kushner told Time magazine in response to a question about whether the election would be held in November.
The date of the general election is set by federal law and has been fixed since 1845. It would take a change in federal law to move that date. That would mean legislation enacted by Congress, signed by the president and subject to challenge in the courts.
But Mr. Kushner’s comment raised alarms both because of the expansive power that Mr. Trump has conferred on members of his family who serve in his administration and because it played into the worst anxieties of Mr. Trump’s detractors — that the president would begin to question the validity of the election if he feared he was going to lose.
Doubts about a smooth voting process in November have increased as states have canceled or postponed presidential primary elections to avoid the spread of the virus.
Mr. Kushner’s remarks also undercut the president’s own publicly stated position on the issue.
“The general election will happen on Nov. 3,” Mr. Trump said last month at a news conference when asked about Mr. Biden’s comment. But he also appeared to raise the specter of election fraud, noting that “I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting.” He added, “It should be, you go to a booth and you proudly display yourself.”
The stay-at-home order in L.A. County could last into July; Cal State cancels in-person classes this fall.
The Los Angeles County public health director, Barbara Ferrer, told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that it was likely that the stay-at-home orders would last into July and that she did not see the timeline shortening without “dramatic change to the virus and tools at hand.”
“Our hope is that by using the data, we’d be able to slowly lift restrictions over the next three months,” she said.
Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, sought to ease some of the anxiety that followed her comments, saying that there would be a gradual easing of restrictions.
“Go slow, don’t go fast and get it right,” he said in an appearance on CNN. “She is saying we are not going to fully reopen in the next three months.”
“We are not moving past Covid-19, we are learning to live with it,” he said. But that does not mean, he added, that you “freeze life where it is.”
Officials were urging caution in other parts of California as well, The Los Angeles Times reported.
“The conditions really haven’t changed in our county,” Dr. Sara Cody, an architect of the nation’s first regional shelter-in-place order, told the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “We don’t suddenly have a vaccine. We have exactly the same conditions we had in March. If we did ease up, we would see a brisk return of cases, of hospitalizations, and a brisk return of deaths, to be quite blunt.”
California State University on Tuesday became the first large American university system to tell students that they will not be returning to campus in the fall, preparing them instead for a second straight semester in which instruction will take place almost exclusively online.
The decision by Cal State, the nation’s largest four-year public university system, affects its 23 campuses, and is the most sweeping sign yet of the long-term impact of the coronavirus on higher education. McGill University in Montreal, one of Canada’s most prestigious universities, made a similar announcement on Monday, saying it would offer most of its courses online in September.
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the finances of American colleges and universities, a large number of which were already struggling before virus-related closures. Many are concerned about growing signs that a large number of students will choose to sit out the fall semester if classes remain virtual, or demand hefty cuts in tuition.
A $14 billion federal bailout passed by Congress this spring will not be enough to save some universities if enrollment drops significantly, experts said.
Testing, vaccines and delayed guidelines: Catch up with the highlights from the Senate testimony.
The senators and witnesses who participated in the hearing on Tuesday of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions did so from dens, offices and a mostly empty committee room. But while their homes — and even their dogs — created an unusual backdrop for the proceedings, the hearing produced the customary array of partisan talking points, dire warnings and even the occasional flash of anger.
TESTING: The committee chairman, Lamar Alexander, described a future vaccine or treatment as the “ultimate solution,” but he said “until we have them, all roads back to work and school go through testing.” Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, who is overseeing the government’s testing response, testified that the country would have the ability to conduct 40 million to 50 million tests per month by September. But his remarks drew skepticism from Democratic senators, including Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who said, “This administration has had a record of bringing us broken promises that more supplies and testing are coming, and they don’t.”
VACCINES: Scientists hope to know by late fall or early winter whether they have at least one possible effective vaccine, Dr. Fauci told the senators. But he cautioned, “Even at the top speed we’re going, we don’t see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this term.” Dr. Fauci emphasized the importance of having “multiple winners,” meaning more than one vaccine available, to provide “global availability.” He repeated his cautious optimism that an effective vaccine would be developed but said there was no guarantee that would happen.
SCHOOL REOPENINGS: The closing of schools and universities has represented one of the biggest upheavals in the outbreak, and Dr. Fauci and others said that the answer might be that schools would reopen differently throughout the country, depending on the state of the local outbreak.
Balancing the decision of whether to keep schools closed for safety reasons or to reopen them to allow parents to return to work — a major factor in any economic recovery — is a difficult question.
“If we keep kids out of school for another year, what’s going to happen is the poor and underprivileged kids who don’t have a parent that’s able to teach them at home will not get to learn for a full year,” said Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky.
Dr. Fauci pushed back, saying that the virus’s effect on children was still not well understood, and that recent cases of children who had tested positive and developed a serious inflammatory syndrome was worrisome. “We really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children,” he said.
AUTHORITY: Mr. Paul and Dr. Fauci had a tense exchange about whether children should return to school. The senator noted that the mortality rate in children was low and suggested that schools should be reopened by district. “As much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end all,” Mr. Paul said. “I don’t think you’re the one person who gets to make the decision.” Dr. Fauci gave a pointed response: “I have never made myself out to be the end all and only voice in this,” he said. “I’m a scientist, a physician and a public health official. I give advice on the best scientific evidence.” Dr. Fauci warned that in making decisions about school openings, officials should not be “cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects” of Covid-19.
C.D.C. GUIDANCE: Dr. Redfield said that an expansive set of C.D.C. guidelines for states to reopen would be released “soon,” but he would not specify another White House effort to revise or scuttle them. “Soon isn’t terribly helpful,” Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, replied in a heated exchange about whether his state, which has a stay-at-home order expiring in the next few days, would know how to properly reopen. Mr. Murphy said the guidelines that the White House released in April for opening the country were “criminally vague.” More recently, White House and senior health officials rejected the C.D.C. recommendations over concerns that they were overly prescriptive, infringed on religious rights and risked further damaging the economy
Readers offer their takes on solitary living during the pandemic.
Everson Kalman, 40, of Oneonta, N.Y., said that living alone was a lot like being in jail. “Nebulous fear and constant dread. The sense that a lot is going on beyond the surrounding walls, though nothing changes much from day to day.”
Bette Ferber, 90, of Los Angeles, recalled simple pleasures, like holding hands. “I wait for the day when this quarantine is over and I can go back out into the world. And most importantly, I live for the day when I can hold the hands of those I love.”
Julie Lunde, 26, of Tucson, Ariz., learned to chop onions. “Because my apartment is a studio, the stink of onions has permeated my living area. The only onion-free zone is the bathroom, which happens to be disproportionately large and well lit, so I’m spending an increasing amount of time in there. It’s true that chopping raw onions can induce tears, which I view as a benefit; crying over cut onions is the best kind of crying I do these days.”
Twitter employees can work from home forever. If that becomes the norm, Manhattan faces a reckoning.
Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter, has told employees that they would not be expected to return to the company’s offices and could work from home forever if they wanted.
Twitter sent its employees home in early March to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, but Mr. Dorsey had previously said that he wanted Twitter’s work force to be more diversified around the world and that he welcomed remote work.
The move underscored the prospect of profound shifts in working life that may outlive the virus.
Nowhere are those concerns felt more deeply than Manhattan, the largest business district in the United States. Its office towers have long been a symbol of the city’s global dominance. With hundreds of thousands of office workers, the commercial tenants have given rise to a vast ecosystem, from public transit to restaurants to shops. They have also funneled huge amounts of taxes into state and city coffers.
But many companies are now wondering whether it’s worth continuing to spend as much money on Manhattan’s exorbitant commercial rents. They are also mindful that public health considerations might make the packed workplaces of the recent past less viable.
“Is it really necessary?” said Diane M. Ramirez, the chief executive of Halstead, the real estate company that has more than a thousand agents in the New York region. “I’m thinking long and hard about it. Looking forward, are people going to want to crowd into offices?”
When her company, and dozens of others, make that call after the pandemic, New York City real estate could face a reckoning.
Not even the virus can quiet the siren song of the ice cream truck.
Two distinct sounds have been competing in New York City’s streets during the coronavirus pandemic: the wail of sirens and the songs of ice cream trucks.
In New York, ice cream trucks are considered essential businesses, the same as any other food delivery service. This month, a video team from The Times spent a day with Godfrey Robinson, the co-founder of FunTime Frostee, a Brooklyn-based franchise. For 26 years, Mr. Robinson has delivered ice cream along the same route, a loop through East New York, Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and part of Queens.
Though his business is down by more than half, Mr. Robinson stays out on the streets, he says, out of obligation. His customers seemed happy to see him.
“I’m glad I heard the ice cream truck,” one said, “‘cause it’s better than hearing the sirens of the fire truck and ambulance.”
Your rent and neighborhood questions, answered.
The coronavirus pandemic has created many quandaries, such as how to talk to your neighbors about social distancing, how to break a lease you can no longer afford and what you can do as a landlord who is having trouble collecting rent. We have some help and advice:
Look but don’t touch: County fairs and livestock shows try to find their way online.
Mia Achziger, 12, loved everything about the Clark County Fair. From the minute she left the fairgrounds last year in Washington State, she had been looking forward to going back. She was eager for judges this summer to view her two goats, Kurt Russell and Sam Elliott, and her 1,000-pound cow, Bell.
But last week officials decided to cancel the fair, adding it to the long list of annual summertime events — held so dear they practically are American traditions — that have been scrapped because of the pandemic.
In some areas, fairs have been pared back with the elimination of midway rides and games. A few still hold out hope they will carry on.
But for rural children in local 4-H and National FFA Organization clubs, the fair cancellations are a particularly painful blow. They have been tending their animals for months to prepare them for their turns in the ring at livestock shows.
Leaders of local farm clubs are trying to make up for the losses by hosting online livestock shows, asking children to submit photos and videos of themselves displaying their cows, sheep and goats. Judges are left scrutinize the animals and their features through a computer screen.
“I don’t think anything will ever take the place of a live livestock show — the sights, the sounds,” said Ryan Rash, a popular livestock judge. “But in this time of crisis, it’s all the kids have to look forward to.”
The pandemic is pummeling Latin America.
Deaths from all causes doubled in Lima, Peru, and tripled in Manaus, Brazil. In Guayaquil, Ecuador, deaths reached five times the usual number for the time of year.
Brazilian cities are burying rows of stacked coffins in mass graves. Hundreds of Ecuadoreans are searching for the bodies of family members who went to hospitals and never returned.
Latin America’s pain is unfolding without the intense global attention paid to the catastrophes in Europe and the United States. But the pandemic has struck cities across the region with some of the worst outbreaks in the world, comparable to the devastation in New York, Madrid or Paris, an analysis of mortality data by The New York Times has found.
Reporting was contributed by Eileen Sullivan, Alan Blinder, Jeanna Smialek, Manny Fernandez, Katie Thomas, Denise Grady, Michael Mason, Sheila Kaplan, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Annie Karni, Maggie Haberman, Marc Santora, Alexandra Alter, Karen Barrow, Gabriel J.X. Dance, Lazaro Gamio, Matthew Haag, Shawn Hubler, Dionne Searcey, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Sharon LaFraniere.
Source: NY TIMES RSS FEED