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Investors, ‘starved for returns,’ flood private markets



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Many global investors are turning toward Silicon Valley instead of Wall Street in search of returns.

The total invested in private markets hit all-time highs last year and continues to break multi-decade records this year. In the first half of the year, total investments in venture capital hit a 19-year high of $53.3 billion, according to data from Refinitiv published last week. That marked a 21% increase by total dollar amount compared to the first half of 2018.

The steady stream of funding comes alongside a drop in the number of publicly listed companies, rock-bottom global bond yields, and historically weak small-cap performance.

“The incentives for early exposure to rapidly growing, mature companies are still intact,” PitchbBook senior manager Garrett James Black said in the firm’s 2019 “Unicorn Report” published Monday. “With those imperatives in place and current market conditions — despite concern about a supposed imminent recession— looking to persist, unicorns aren’t going away anytime soon.”

Analysts say the trend is largely the result of relatively lower expectations for Wall Street investments such as stocks or bonds. As the trade war between the U.S. and China escalates and economic indicators weaken, investors have fled to safer assets such as Treasurys. The 10-year Treasury note fell below 1.7% Monday.

‘Starved for returns’

Money managers for pensions and endowments are turning to alternative investments — private equity, venture capital or hedge funds – to “keep up with expectations that they set years ago with their stakeholders,” according to McKinsey Partner Bryce Klempner.

“In a world where big institutional investors find themselves starved for returns, it’s not surprising that they have steadily increased allocations to private markets and you’ve seen capital continuing to flow into the asset class,” Klempner told CNBC in a phone interview. “Private equity has, on average, managed to outperform public markets over the last couple of decades.”

Growth in smaller public companies has been significantly slower than their private-market counterparts. PitchBook looked at the valuations of late-stage, Series D funded companies compared to the small-cap benchmark Russell 2000. That index is in correction territory, trading nearly 14% below its 52-week intraday high in August of 2018. The S&P 500 is off by 4% from its high.

Meanwhile, there has also been a contraction in the total number of public companies. Part of that is due to mergers and consolidation, but Klempner said managers — not just investors — tend to prefer private ownership, too. They’re able to operate “outside of the quarterly spotlight or the glare of public markets,” and often take a longer-term view, he said.

“As a consequence, you’ve seen considerable management talent migrate to private equity portfolio companies,” Klempner said.

One factor allowing companies to stay private was a change in legislation. The 2012 JOBS Act raised the limit of private shareholders in a company from 500 to 2,000 – meaning companies can stay private until they reach that limit. And in many ways, companies don’t need to go public: They can raise money with ease from private investors and don’t need the cash injection that comes with an initial public offering.

Foreign buyers

Foreign investors are also looking for early entrance into quickly growing tech companies, which in the case of Uber and WeWork, stayed off of public stock exchanges for a decade. Last year, venture capital deals that included “tourist” investors soared to more than $45 billion over 102 investments. Halfway through 2019, the deal total was at 53.

Another factor fueling the growth in private equity is acceptance and usage of secondary markets for investors to get liquidity. In traditional stock markets, it’s easier to buy and sell your stake with the click of a button or calling your broker. And there are plenty of buyers on the other side.

With private markets, that’s not always the case. Private companies aren’t listed on exchanges, meaning finding a buyer isn’t as seamless since alternative assets are mostly off limits unless you’re a qualified, or accredited investor.

“It’s important to emphasize that multiple companies are now increasingly comfortable buying and selling the securities of large, privately held companies in private transactions at the scale of billions of dollars,” PitchBook’s Black said in the report.

McKinsey’s Klempner called it a snowball effect. As secondary markets get deeper, the extent of the discount investors would need to sell a stake in a privately owned company is much less painful than it was a few years ago.

“For a long time, some investors were relatively wary of private markets because of the perceived illiquidity of those asset classes,” he said.

Despite the shift, Klempner highlighted the sheer size of public markets — $70 trillion, versus roughly $3 trillion to $3.5 in total assets under management for private equity — as a sign that stock markets are here to stay.

Still, some analysts have pointed to potential negative effects in the shift to private markets. There is potential for less liquidity in public markets, causing more volatility, and retail investors may have fewer high-growth opportunities as companies opt out of listing on exchanges.

“It throws a spotlight on the resilience of the liquidity of public markets and even questions the point of a public stock market,” Bernstein senior analyst Inigo Fraser-Jenkins said in a note to clients in May. “Soon, active investing is going to be mainly in private markets.”

Fraser-Jenkins also highlighted the difficulty of the average stock market investor to get exposure to high-growth companies until they list on public exchanges.

“This should be a concern for policymakers, as the public equity market allows for democratized access to investment vehicles in a way that private assets do not,” Bernstein’s Fraser-Jenkins said.

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Famously boisterous Nigerian mega-city Lagos adjusts to coronavirus lockdown



Commuters wearing a protective face masks walk on the street of Lagos, as a preventive measure against the spread of the new corona virus, COVIC-19, in Lagos, on March 26, 2020.


Fear of the coronavirus has induced an extraordinary calm in Lagos, Nigeria’s famously boisterous mega-city where streets known for miles of gridlock have emptied of traffic and eateries serving takeaways are almost the only shops open.

The largest city in sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 20 million population, has been transformed by a week-long shutdown of public life imposed as part of efforts to stem the spread of the highly infectious disease in Nigeria.

The lockdown order by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu applies to all non-essential shops – those not selling food, water or medicine – in the sprawling market megalopolis near Nigeria’s Atlantic Ocean coast.

He also banned gatherings of over 25 people and told everyone to stay home with the majority of Nigeria’s confirmed cases – 44 out of 65 – surfacing in Lagos and the state’s health minister warning that the coronavirus is spreading.

As the lockdown began, most residents were compliant but afraid – both of getting sick and of losing much-needed income.

“I believe some of our traders will be stubborn or so because most of them do not have (food) to eat at home,” said Fatai Adedabo, head of Computer Village, a collective market selling electronic accessories and offering phone repairs.

“We still have to monitor them and make sure the market is shut down totally.”

Adedabo was not alone in worrying that poverty could hinder containment of the respiratory pandemic, which has infected more than 531,600 people worldwide and killed more than 24,000.

Sanwu-Olu conceded that a 100% lockdown was not possible due to the large numbers of Lagos residents who could not afford to stockpile essentials. Nigeria’s Senate president said on Thursday authorities needed to help shield the poor from suffering the most on account of blanket closures.

Out of sight of police and yellow-vested enforcement officers patrolling Computer Village, some phone repairman expressed frustration with the shutdown and told Reuters they would continue to seek new clients.

But by mid-morning on Friday, the first full day of the lockdown, most in the typically teeming and exuberant city appeared to be soberly accepting the closure.

Adedabo was not alone in worrying that poverty could hinder containment of the respiratory pandemic, which has infected more than 531,600 people worldwide and killed more than 24,000.

Sanwu-Olu conceded that a 100% lockdown was not possible due to the large numbers of Lagos residents who could not afford to stockpile essentials. Nigeria’s Senate president said on Thursday authorities needed to help shield the poor from suffering the most on account of blanket closures.

Out of sight of police and yellow-vested enforcement officers patrolling Computer Village, some phone repairman expressed frustration with the shutdown and told Reuters they would continue to seek new clients.

But by mid-morning on Friday, the first full day of the lockdown, most in the typically teeming and exuberant city appeared to be soberly accepting the closure.

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Trump will not impose quarantine on New York, New Jersey, Connecticut



US President Donald Trump speaks to press as he departs the White House in Washington, DC, on March 28, 2020.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump said Saturday he will not seek to impose a quarantine on New York, New Jersey and certain parts of Connecticut, after floating the idea earlier in the day as way to contain the coronavirus from spreading out of hot spots where the disease has taken a particularly heavy toll. 

Trump said he decided a quarantine wasn’t necessary after consulting with the White House task force and the governors of the three states. He has asked the Centers for Disease Control to issue a strong travel advisory, which will be administered by the governors in consultation with the federal government. 

The CDC is urging residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to refrain from nonessential domestic travel for the next 14 days effective immediately. The advisory does not apply to critical industries such as trucking, health professionals, financial services and food supply. The governors of the three states have full discretion to implement the travel advisory, the CDC said.  

Earlier Saturday, Trump said he was considering a two-week quarantine on the three neighboring states and would make a decision later on Saturday, though his authority to impose such a measure was disputed from the beginning. 

“I’m thinking about that right now. We might not have to do it but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine,” Trump told reporters at the White House Saturday. “Short-term, two week on New York, probably New Jersey and certain parts of Connecticut.” 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in an interview with CNN, said that preventing people from moving in and out of the tri-state would amount to a federally imposed lockdown, which he believes is illegal. 

“A lockdown is what they did in Wuhan, China,” Cuomo said. “We’re not in China, and we’re not in Wuhan. I don’t believe it would be legal. I believe it would be illegal.”

Cuomo said he did not believe that Trump intended to impose a sweeping quarantine on the region but suggested he could sue if the administration did follow through.

“I’ve sued the federal government a number of times over the years. I do not believe it’s going to come to that on this,” Cuomo said. “This would be a declaration of war on states, a federal declaration of war.”

The federal government does have the authority to detain and medically examine individuals who are believed to have a communicable disease, but the law is less clear on imposing a quarantine for an entire region. 

The governors in the tri-state region said they were in the dark about Trump’s possible quarantine. Cuomo said that while he spoke with the president Saturday morning, a quarantine didn’t come up during their discussions.  New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told reporters on Saturday that Trump did not bring up a possible quarantine when they spoke on Friday.

“Nothing like quarantine came up,” Murphy said. “I literally saw the story as I was walking into this room. I’ve got no more color on it.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has said the tri-state governors were already implementing certain quarantine measures. Lamont said he wanted to speak “to the president directly about his comments and any further enforcement actions, because confusion leads to panic.”

When NBC News asked White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows what legal authority the administration has to order a quarantine, Meadows replied, “We’re evaluating all the options right now.”

Talk of a possible quarantine comes as New York and the surrounding states have borne the brunt of the infected cases in the U.S. More than 121,000 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the United States, and at least 2,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have become the center of the outbreak in the U.S. New York has more than 52,000 cases and at least 728 deaths; New Jersey has reported more than 11,000 cases and 140 deaths; and Connecticut has confirmed 1,291 cases and 27 deaths.

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Global deaths top 30,000, RI orders 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers



This is CNBC’s 24-hour blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. All times below are in Eastern time. This live blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks.

  • Global cases: More than 691,000
  • Global deaths: At least 32,000
  • United States cases: At least 125,300
  • United States deaths: At least 2,200

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

2:30 pm: Amazon workers plan strike at Staten Island warehouse to demand coronavirus protections

Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island plan to strike on Monday to call attention to the lack of protections for employees who continue to come to work amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Nearly 100 workers at the facility, known as JFK8, plan to participate in the work stoppage. The employees will walk out Monday morning and “cease all operations” until their demands are heard by site leadership, said Chris Smalls, a management assistant at JFK8 and a lead organizer of the strike.

Smalls and other associates said they’ve grown increasingly concerned about coming into work after an employee tested positive for the virus there last week. Amazon said it was supporting the individual who is in quarantine and taking “extreme measures” to ensure employees are safe at the site. The company said the facility would remain open. –Annie Palmer

2 pm: Rhode Island issues 14-day quarantine order for all out-of-state travelers

The Rhode Island National Guard, wearing masks and gloves, greets riders arriving at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick.

Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo issued a 14-day quarantine order for all out-of-state travelers coming to Rhode Island. The order replaces a previous order that mandated anyone coming to the state from New York to self-quarantine for 14 days, which provoked objections from Gov. Cuomo.

“I don’t think the order was called for,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference Sunday. “I don’t believe it was legal. I don’t believe it was neighborly … I understand the point, but I think there were different ways of doing it.” In a tweet on Sunday, Gov. Cuomo said, “We will not let New Yorkers be discriminated against.”

According to the current order: “Any person coming to Rhode Island from another state for a non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. This quarantine restriction shall not apply to public health, public safety, or healthcare workers.” –Cory Steig

1:40 pm: Global deaths from COVID-19 top 30,000

Global deaths from coronavirus topped 30,000, with Johns Hopkins University putting the number at 32,988. Italy’s death toll is currently the highest in the world at 10,779, with Spain reporting the second highest death toll at 6,606. Hubei, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, currently has 3,182 deaths, the third highest tally in the world. –Riya Bhattacharjee

1:20 pm: Rate of hospitalization in NY is slowing even as cases continue to mount, Cuomo says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the rate of hospitalization in the state is slowing even as confirmed coronavirus cases continue to mount every day.

The hospitalization rate has slowed from doubling every 2.5 days to every four days, Cuomo said at a press briefing on Sunday. There were 1,175 new patients in hospitals as of Saturday.

There are now 59,513 confirmed cases in New York, an increase of nearly 7,200 confirmed from the day prior. More than half of the confirmed cases are in New York City.

A total of 965 people have died, an increase of 237 from a day before, according to the governor. It’s the biggest one day surge in deaths since the beginning of the outbreak.

The CDC has ordered residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to avoid non-essential travel for 14 days to combat the virus spread. –Emma Newburger

12:58 pm: The coronavirus is starting to hit rural America hard

The coronavirus is rapidly surging throughout the United States, with some small rural counties leading the country in per capita rates of confirmed cases, according to a CNBC data analysis.

Rural counties like Gunnison County, Colorado; Blaine County, Idaho; and Summit County, Utah have all been struggling with a recent surge in infections. The counties, located in states popular for skiing and hiking, are now grappling with tourists spreading infections and overwhelming local hospitals.

The sparsely populated areas are ill-equipped to deal with the rapid spreads, and mayors and county officials are pointing to a major lack of testing and medical supplies for patients. —Emma Newburger, John Schoen

12:49 pm: Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson says it’s impossible to make everyone happy with virus relief bill

Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson warned that the U.S. faces a “very difficult road ahead” after President Trump signed a historic $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

Paulson, a key figure in helping the country avoid economic catastrophe during the 2008 financial crisis, drew on his experience from that tumultuous period in a statement issued late Friday. Paulson and his counterpart at the Federal Reserve bailed out banks to stabilize financial markets, actions that remain unpopular to this day.

“One clear lesson from 2008 is that it is very difficult to quickly get all the money where it is most needed, and Treasury has a lot of money so Treasury and the Fed have a very big job ahead of them,” Paulson said. —Hugh Son

12:35 pm: ‘Blast from the past’: Some drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback amid coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has led to the closures of movie theaters across the country and the delay of coveted 2020 blockbusters like Disney and Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” and MGM’s James Bond film “No Time To Die.”

But that does not mean going to the movies is out of the question.

Drive-in theaters throughout the U.S. have not only remained open, but have seen spikes in revenue as consumers desperately look for ways to escape their houses while abiding by the rules of social distancing.

Andrew Thomas, the owner of the Showboat Drive-In Theater in Hockley, Texas, saw a 40% increase in sales revenue two weeks ago, and a 95% increase this past week.

“Everyone is looking for a way to feel normal and this is a way of being safe,” Thomas said. “I spend all day answering emails from people who never heard of us before because they are trying to find something to do.” —Donovan Russo

12:23 pm: Italy coronavirus deaths rise by 756, lifting total death toll to 10,779

A woman prays during the Sunday Holy Mass celebrated by priests from the roof of the church San Gabriele dell’Addolorata in Rome on March 29, 2020, amid the spread of the COVID-19 (new coronavirus) pandemic.

Tiziana Fabi | AFP | Getty Images

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy climbed by 756 to 10,779, the Civil Protection Agency said, the second successive fall in the daily rate.

The number of fatalities, by far the highest of any country in the world, account for more than a third of all deaths from the infectious virus worldwide.

Italy’s largest daily toll was registered on Friday, when 919 people died. There were 889 deaths on Saturday.

The total number of confirmed cases in Italy rose on Sunday to 97,689 from a previous 92,472, the lowest daily rise in new cases since Wednesday. —Reuters

12:12 pm: UK lockdown must be lifted gradually, could last six months, medical official says

Thought provoking message on the giant advertising boards at Piccadilly Circus almost deserted due to the Covid-19 outbreak and social distancing on what would normally be a busy, bustling day with hoards of people out to shop and socialise on 22nd March 2020 in London, England, United Kingdom.

Mike Kemp

Britons may be subject to some form of lockdown measures for six months or longer, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries said, warning the country faces a second wave of coronavirus if they are lifted too quickly.

The government has said it will review in three weeks the lockdown steps it put in place last Monday. Harries said it is too soon to know if they have had the desired effect of reducing the peak of the spread of the virus in Britain.

“We must not then suddenly revert to our normal way of living, that would be quite dangerous. If we stop then all of our efforts will be wasted and we could potentially see a second peak,” Harries told a news conference. —Reuters

11:48 am: The US needs to have 2 weeks with ‘sustained reduction’ in daily cases before social distancing restrictions can be loosened, Gottlieb says

With the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. continuing to climb each day, it’s “too early” to lift COVID-19 mitigation measures, Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said.

“April is going to be a hard month,” Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Come May, “we’ll be able to contemplate lifting some of these measures, as we see the epidemic curve come down.”

Before social distancing restrictions can be loosened, the country needs to see 14 days of “sustained reductions” in the number of daily cases, Gottlieb said.

Another requirement, Gottlieb said, is having “the ability to test the population widely, so you can determine who has the infection and who doesn’t.”

By the end of this week, Gottlieb said the U.S. should have the ability to complete 750,000 tests a week, and “close to a million” by the following week. He added that the limitation on testing is a low supply of materials used to make test kits such as swabs and plastic components because the supply chain has been affected by the crisis.

The lifting of the aggressive social distancing measures will not be simultaneous around the country, Gottlieb said. A city like New York City could come down before other parts of the country, he said. –Cory Stieg

11:32 am: Rescue bill ‘may not be perfect,’ but should help get the Americans through the next ‘weeks and months,’ Kudlow says

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow acknowledged the difficulty of knowing if the Trump administration’s economic stimulus package will be enough to meet the needs of millions of people across the country struggling amid the pandemic.

A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment as restaurants, bars and other businesses shuttered across the country. The U.S. unemployment rate is likely to have already risen to 5.5%, a level not seen since 2015.

“It may not be perfect, but I think it’s going to give a tremendous amount of resources to get us through what we still believe is going to be a question of weeks and months,” Kudlow said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

President Trump signed the $2 trillion stimulus bill into law on Friday. The legislation is designed to provide relief to individuals, the health-care system and an entire corporate sector impacted by the outbreak.

Kudlow said that direct payments to individuals and funding for loans to small businesses will be made available within a week.

“It’s the largest mainstream financial assistance package in the history of the United States, so it’s hard to know if we could get everything, help everybody,” Kudlow said. —Emma Newburger

11:18 am: Mnuchin pledges ‘full transparency’ over $500 billion bailout to big business

The White House is providing “full transparency” over the coronavirus economic stimulus package that allocates $500 billion for loans to big business, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said.

The part of the $2 trillion stimulus bill that provides funding to distressed companies has been a major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats.

“We have full transparency in reporting what we’re doing to the American public,” Mnuchin said in an interview with Fox News.

After arguments over the bailout fund, Republicans agreed to add on a congressional oversight committee and inspector general to oversee how the money is allocated.

However, upon signing the bill Friday, Trump said he thinks the inspector general needs his permission in order to report back to Congress with information about loans and business recipients.

“I do not understand, and my administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the [the inspector general] to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision,” he wrote in a signing statement. –Emma Newburger

11:03 am: Facing testing supply shortage, Washington governor calls for mobilizing manufacturing base ‘like we did in World War II’

In Washington state, which has been dealing with the COVID-19 crisis the longest, there is “desperate need” for testing kits, Gov. Jay Inslee said.

“We simply don’t have materials to take the test itself,” Inslee told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

Citing materials like swabs, “we just do not have those simple things, that’s why we have to mobilize the entire manufacturing base of the United States like we did in World War II,” Inslee said.

Inslee said that he spoke to Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk, who offered help in getting ventilators. Musk pointed out that “we don’t necessarily have a shortage, we have a maldistribution of ventilators, where we have ventilators sitting in places where they’re not being used and aren’t going to states hit first, like New York, like Washington state, like California,” according to Inslee.

“This is where we need federal coordination to get the assets where they’re really needed,” Inslee said.

Inslee said he’s been in communication with the Army, FEMA and Vice President Mike Pence. “We’re not distracted by some of the noise out of the White House,” he said. –Cory Stieg

10:47 am: New Orleans could run out of ventilators, hospital beds by early April

A view of an empty street in the French Quarter amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on March 27, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Chris Graythen | Getty Images

New Orleans, which has emerged as a hot spot for the coronavirus health crisis in the U.S., could run out of ventilators and hospital beds by early April.

The outbreak’s current trajectory in the city puts it on pace for a shortfall of ventilators by April 4, and hospital beds by April 10, according to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

“Ventilators are the short-term, really big pressing issue we’re trying to solve for,” he said on “Meet The Press.” “Really difficult because every state is looking for these. There are only so many to be had.”

Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said her state’s numbers are “climbing exponentially.”

“We have hospitals that are already at capacity,” she said. “We’re running out of [personal protective equipment] as well.” —Greg Iacurci

10:29 am: Trump backed off quarantine for New York area after meeting with task force and governors, Mnuchin says

The White House coronavirus task force recommended a travel advisory for New York after meeting with the president on Saturday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

President Donald Trump backed off talk of imposing a quarantine on New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut on Saturday. He said he decided a quarantine wasn’t necessary after consulting with the White House task force and the states’ governors.

“The president did very seriously consider it,” Mnuchin said in an interview with Fox News. “The president wanted to consider all the options.”

The CDC is urging people from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to avoid nonessential travel for 14 days in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. —Emma Newburger

10:17 am: Could the presidential election be conducted by mail?

The coronavirus pandemic may push the U.S. to vote by mail in the November election, Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said.

“We may get there. I don’t want to go that far ahead, but that is possible,” the former vice president said on “Meet The Press.”

“We should look to all-mail ballots across the board to begin with because it’s an easier way for people to vote. But whether it’s required across all 50 states and territories, I’m not sure yet,” Biden said.

The Democrat also criticized President Donald Trump’s handling of the health crisis, saying he would manage the response by using the Defense Production Act to handle the shortfall of medical equipment like ventilators, masks, gowns and shields, and by starting discussions about another round of economic stimulus for Americans right away.

“The coronavirus is not the president’s fault,” Biden said. “But the slow response, the failure to get going right away, the inability to do the things that needed to be done quickly, they are things that can’t continue.” —Greg Iacurci

10:06 am: New York City medical supplies are running low, de Blasio warns

An NYPD police officer is seen wearing a protective face mask as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 27, 2020 in New York City.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

New York City must brace for “a long crisis” Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Sunday.

He said that except for ventilators, the city has enough medical supplies to get through the next week, de Blasio told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

“It feels like a wartime environment,” de Blasio said, referring to discussions with ER doctors. He compared the situation with the 1918 flu epidemic and the Great Depression.

The mayor said Thursday that New York City has 20,000 hospital beds, but will need three times that amount by May.

When asked about his comments two weeks ago encouraging New Yorkers to continue their normal lives, de Blasio said, “We shouldn’t be focusing, in my view, on looking back.” –Cory Stieg

9:53 am: Trump’s delay on dealing with coronavirus led to increased deaths, Pelosi charges

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized President Donald Trump’s behavior at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, calling it “deadly,” and saying his current delays in testing is costing lives.

“As the president fiddles, people are dying,” Pelosi told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

Pelosi quoted Trump as saying, “Just think, 20 days ago everything was great.”

“No,” Pelosi said. “Everything wasn’t great.” –Cory Stieg

9:42 am: Fauci warns against nonessential travel for New York region, says US could see up to 200,000 deaths

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

Sarah Silbiger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci is telling people in hot spots such as New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut to forgo nonessential travel for the time being, elaborating on the reason for the CDC’s travel advisory for the region.

“Just hold off,” Fauci told CNN’s State of the Union. “What you don’t want is people traveling from that area to other areas of the country and inadvertently and innocently infecting other people.”

Fauci’s warning comes after President Donald Trump backed off the idea of imposing an “enforceable” quarantine on the region. Fauci said he and other experts made it clear to Trump that a strong travel advisory would be better than a quarantine.

“You don’t want to get a point where you’re enforcing things that would create a bigger difficulty, morale and otherwise, when you could probably accomplish the same goal,” Fauci said. 

The infection rate in the New York City area now represents 56% of all new infections in the country, Fauci said. The U.S. could see up to 200,000 deaths and millions of infections, Fauci added, though he cautioned that nobody knows for certain. —Spencer Kimball

9:34 am: 2020 Detroit auto show canceled after venue chosen for field hospital

The 2020 Detroit auto show has been canceled as its venue will be used as a field hospital for the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

The event is the third large-scale auto show to be canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. The Geneva auto show was canceled last month, followed by a postponement of the New York International Auto Show, which was scheduled to begin next month, to late-August. —Michael Wayland

9:29 am: States quickly ramping up testing 

9:21 am: UK coronavirus death toll rises to 1,228 people

The number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the United Kingdom rose to 1,228, according to figures released on Sunday, an increase of 209.

The previous increase saw the death toll rise by 260 people. —Reuters

9:15 am: Chanel switches workshops to making face masks as coronavirus spreads

Empty Champs Elysees avenue is pictured on March 28, 2020 in Paris, France. The country has introduced fines for people caught violating its nationwide lockdown measures intended to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Pascal Le Segretain | Getty Images

 Luxury fashion group Chanel said it would launch the production of face masks to help bolster supplies in France, as the coronavirus sweeps across the country. 

Prototypes were being worked on and would roll off production lines once they received the approval of French authorities. 

On Saturday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said the government had ordered more than a billion face masks, mostly from China, to be supplied in the weeks and months ahead. 

France was using 40 million face masks per week, he said. Doctors, nursing home carers and police have complained of shortages. —Reuters

9:02 am: Iran’s president lashes out at criticism of country’s lagging response

Iran president Hassan Rouhani lashed out at criticism of the country’s lagging response to the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, saying the government has to weigh economic concerns as it takes measures to contain the pandemic.

Rouhani said authorities had to consider the effect of mass quarantine efforts on Iran’s beleaguered economy, which is under heavy U.S. sanctions. It’s a dilemma playing out across the globe, as leaders struggle to strike a balance between restricting human contact and keeping their economies from crashing.

Iran has 38,309 COVID-19 cases and 2,640 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“Health is a principle for us, but the production and security of society is also a principle for us,” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting. “We must put these principles together to reach a final decision.”

“This is not the time to gather followers,” he added. “This is not a time for political war.” —Associated Press

8:51 am: Relief Therapeutics, NeuroRx get FDA nod to start coronavirus trial

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has authorized the start of a mid-stage trial by U.S.-Israeli NeuroRx and Relief Therapeutics for the use of Aviptadil to treat Acute Respiratory Distress in coronavirus patients.

The companies said they are recruiting study sites and pharmacies to begin a phase 2 trial. The FDA issued a “study may proceed” letter 24 hours after their investigational new drug application.

Aviptadil is a patented form of Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide that has previously shown promise in treating Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), the companies said.

Coronavirus death is primarily caused by ARDS, in which severe inflammation causes the lungs to fill with fluid. —Reuters

8:35 am: New Jersey governor responds to CDC travel advisory for tri-state area

A view of the empty parking lot as the Westfield Garden State Plaza along with all New Jersey malls, is closed on March 18, 2020 in Paramus, New Jersey. New Jersey governor Phil Murphy ordered all New Jersey malls to close as of 8 P.M. last night amid concerns of the COVID-19 virus.

Elsa | Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the CDC travel advisory issued Saturday for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut “does not change the rules that have been established and in place for over a week now.”

Essential “frontline” employees such as those who work in health care and supermarkets are still permitted to get to and from their jobs.

The CDC advised residents of the tri-state area to stop nonessential domestic travel for 14 days in response to the coronavirus outbreak that has hit the New York City area particularly hard. There are more than 30,000 cases in New York City alone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“I encourage all New Jerseyans to continue practicing aggressive social distancing and take personal responsibility to help us get through this public health emergency,” Murphy said in a statement. —Chris Eudaily

8:24 am: Global cases near 700,000

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