Wednesday, April 22, 2020

7:25 pm ET: Moving Past ‘Invisible Enemy,’ Trump Nudges Nation to Reopen

For weeks, the Trump administration played up the dangers of the coronavirus as it sought to convince Americans to disrupt their lives and stay home. Now, as President Donald Trump aims for a swift nationwide reopening, he faces a new challenge: Convincing people it’s safe to come out and resume their normal lives.

It’s a defining question for a cloistered nation — and a political imperative for Trump, whose reelection likely rides on the pace of an economic rebound.

Can the country move beyond a crippling fear of the virus and return to some modified version of its old routines, doing what’s possible to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, but acknowledging that it may be a fact of life for years to come? Read more...

— The Associated Press

4:30 pm ET: Stocks Climb After Two Drops; Oil Prices Crawl Off the Floor

Stocks are closing higher on Wall Street after two days of losses, and the price of oil burst higher a day after a historic plunge. U.S. crude jumped after President Donald Trump threatened the destruction of any Iranian gunboats that harass U.S. Navy ships, raising the possibility of a disruption to oil supplies. Energy companies, which are still in deep trouble with the price of oil this low, posted some of the bigger gains. In another encouraging sign of waning pessimism in the market, Treasury yields rose. The S&P 500 index rose 2.3%. It’s still down for the week. Read more...

3:01 pm ET: Few Americans Support Easing Protections According to AP-NORC poll

Despite pockets of attention-grabbing protests, a new survey finds Americans remain overwhelmingly in favor of stay-at-home orders and other efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. A majority say it won’t be safe to lift such restrictions anytime soon, even as a handful of governors announce plans to ease within days the public health efforts that have upended daily life and roiled the global economy.

The survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that more than a month after schoolyards fell silent, restaurant tables and bar stools emptied, and waves from a safe distance replaced hugs and handshakes, the country largely believes restrictions on social interaction to curb the spread of the virus are appropriate. Read more...

— The Associated Press

2:35 pm ET: National Park Foundation: Pandemic Could Help Us Appreciate Wildlife 

Advocates for Earth Day are showing their support, virtually, for environmental protection this year. Stay-at-home orders across the country have had a noticeable impact on the environment, in the form of cleaner air, and animals taking the opportunity to enjoy areas normally occupied by their human neighbors. 

Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation, told Cheddar Wednesday that the changes in the environment have allowed him to see more wildlife than he has ever seen before. Read more...

— McKenzie Marshall

12:26 pm ET: Stocks Claw Higher Worldwide; Oil Prices Crawl Off the Floor

Stocks around the world are clawing higher on Wednesday, and the S&P 500 climbed toward the first gain in what’s been a dismal week for markets.

Even the oil market gained ground. Prices for crude have been turned upside down because of how much extra oil is sloshing around following a collapse in demand. U.S. oil jumped 25% after President Donald Trump threatened the destruction of any Iranian gunboats that harass U.S. Navy ships, raising the possibility of a disruption to oil supplies.

The S&P 500 was up 2.1% in midday trading, following up on milder gains in Europe and Asia. Treasury yields also inched higher in a sign of a bit less pessimism in the market. Read more...

— The Associated Press

12:18 pm ET: Crunch Gyms to Offer Smaller Classes, More Sanitation for Reopening

When Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced that the state will reopen some shuttered businesses as soon as Friday, his decision was quickly met with criticism and some confusion from local officials. The order allows gyms, hair and nail salons, bowling alleys, and tattoo parlors to reopen first, with dine-in restaurants and movie theaters allowed to open their doors on Monday. 

Ben Midgley, CEO of Crunch Fitness Franchise, told Cheddar Wednesday that the company will take a close look at its approach to reopening its facilities.

“We are taking a thoughtful and careful approach to this. We want to step into this very carefully, so we’ve prepared a 30-page readiness plan for our clubs so we can make sure we are following a number of different aspects,” Midgley said. Read more...

— McKenzie Marshall

11:35 am ET: Small Business Network Predicts 7.5 million Closures in Next Five Months

Main Street America, a network of 1,600 commercial districts covering 300,000 small businesses, has conducted a survey offering some sobering statistics on the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The group reached out to 6,000 small business owners about their economic prospects for the coming months. After extrapolating the data, it found that a significant number of businesses are under threat of closing across the U.S.

"We're looking at potentially 7.5 million businesses closing over the next five months, absent some pretty significant intervention to help support those businesses," Main Street America CEO Patrice Frey told Cheddar. Read more...

— Alex Vuocolo

10:20 am ET: Driscoll's CEO: Social Distancing on Farms 'Very Different' From Office or Factory

In the next four weeks, it will be peak strawberry season in California. This is when U.S. producers switch from Mexican imports to domestic crops of the popular fruit.

For Driscoll's, the world's biggest supplier of berries, that means the most important part of the year is overlapping with the fallout of coronavirus.

"This year it looks like we're going to have a record crop of strawberries," Soren Bjorn, president of Driscoll's, told Cheddar. "We have a few challenges ahead of us, for sure."

The biggest concern for the California-based company is keeping farmers, who are used to working in tight-knit groups, from congregating in the fields.

"Social distancing in the field is a very different thing than in an office or a factory," Bjorn said. Read more...

— Alex Vuocolo

9:57 am ET: Six Things To Do to Help the Planet While Stuck at Home

Fifty years ago, 20 million Americans took to the streets to celebrate the first Earth Day. Today, most of the country is under stay-at-home orders to help contain the coronavirus pandemic. 

With so many people staying put, there are signs the environment is benefiting from fewer human interactions with clearer air and creatures roaming free. 

However, these environmental benefits are expected to subside as Americans get back to a more typical lifestyle, meaning there is still a need to actively help protect the planet.

This Earth Day, you may be wondering how to help the environment, even as you prioritize health and safety by staying at home and observing social distancing. 

Being stuck at home does not mean fifty years of environmentalism falls by the wayside. Here are five things you can do to help the planet without leaving your neighborhood (and one that requires a little more of a drive). Read more...

— Megan Pratz

9:50 am ET: Markets Bounce Back After Three Day Lull

Stock markets opened higher Wednesday as June contract futures for West Texas Intermediate oil rose 12.3 percent to $12.99 per barrel, and Brent futures were up 5.9 percent to $20.48 per barrel. Plummeting oil prices over the past three days have kept markets in the red, but confidence returned as the historic plunge, caused by the lack of demand amid the coronavirus pandemic, began to reverse. 

In addition, Congress passed a $484 billion coronavirus relief bill to provide more funding to small businesses in need of assistance. Read more...

— Alex Vuocolo

8:00 am ET: Trump Blocks Green Cards, Gronk Rejoins Brady & Earth Day @ 50

COVID-19: LATEST DEVELOPMENTS: President Trump is suspending immigration to the U.S. for 60 days, citing a job shortage for Americans. The temporary ban would only apply to immigrants seeking permanent residency (green cards), and not guest worker programs, which help businesses provide visas for everything from tech and medicine to farm labor. Meanwhile, the head of the CDC is warning that a second wave of infections next winter could be far worse than the first wave, given that it would also coincide with flu season. Cases are back on the rise in California; officials in the Bay Area now say two deaths in early February were COVID-19 related, meaning the virus was killing people weeks before the first “official” U.S. death on Feb. 26. Overseas, Spain canceled the annual Running of the Bulls and Germany canceled Oktoberfest, while Italy saw its first drop in active cases — a very welcome sign. UPDATES

SMALL BIZ FUNDING: The Senate passed another coronavirus aid package that will refill the depleted small-business loan program known as PPP with another $320 billion. Republicans also got additional funding for small businesses and Dems won another $100 billion to be set aside for hospitals and testing. The House is expected to approve the measure as soon as today and President Trump said he will sign it. POLITICO

TREATMENT UPDATE: VACCINE TRIALS: A coronavirus vaccine in development at the University of Oxford will begin clinical trials in humans today, a huge milestone in the race for a cure. Twin trials will begin in parallel and researchers will begin production at the same time, just in case the vaccine proves effective and safe. The British government says it is “throwing everything” at the development of the drug, which Oxford researchers say has an 80 percent chance of success. SKY NEWS

TREATMENT UPDATE: CHLOROQUINE STUDY: The malaria drug pushed by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment is showing no benefit, according to the largest study of hydroxychloroquine taking place at U.S. veteran hospitals. The study of 368 patients — which has not yet been reviewed by scientists — showed more deaths among patients who took the drug than those who did not. AP

CANADA SHOOTING UPDATE: The death toll in the mass shooting in Nova Scotia from last weekend has risen to 22, as investigators comb through burned-out homes in several crime scenes spread across rural communities. There is also growing outrage over why an emergency alert was not sent to mobile phones, even as the gunman rampaged through the province for 12 hours before he was killed. CBC

GM KILLS OFF MAVEN: General Motors is pulling the plug on Maven, the car-sharing program it launched with much fanfare four years ago. Maven had already been shut down in big markets like NYC, but GM decided to close it completely amidst the pandemic. Car-sharing is one of several new mobility trends that have not been able to turn a profit and could now see the end of the road in a prolonged recession. THE VERGE

STREAMING WARS: What’s another new streaming platform while we’re all stuck inside? WarnerMedia announced the launch date for HBO Max: the latest competitor in the crowded field will debut May 27 for $15 a month. That’s the same price as HBO Now, but will include thousands more hours of content, like the entire runs of Friends and Big Bang Theory. HBO Now subscribers and some HBO TV subscribers will automatically be upgraded. VARIETY

GRONK TO THE BUCS: Tom Brady will be reunited with his favorite tight end. Rob Gronkowski has agreed to be traded from the Patriots to the Buccaneers, where Brady just signed for what could be his last season in the league. Gronk announced his retirement last year, but never ruled out a return to football, provided he could play with Brady again. The Pats will receive a 4th-round pick in the NFL Draft in exchange for the remaining year on Gronk’s contract. ESPN

'HUNGER GAMES' PREQUEL: A prequel to the smash-hit The Hunger Games franchise is officially in the works. Lionsgate unveiled that it is developing the rumored film based off the new novel from the series’ author, Suzanne Collins, which goes on sale next month. There’s no word yet on casting. DEADLINE

SPOTTED...Kylie Jenner, in social-distance casual, looking nearly unrecognizable: SEE PICS

LEFTOVERS: EARTH DAY AT 50: Today is the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, and it’s happening amid a period of unprecedented anxiety —- but also unprecedented calm — for the planet. In India, where the air is cleaner than it has been in decades, residents of the northern region of Punjab are looking out their windows to a sight many of them didn’t even know was there: clear, unobstructed views of the Himalayas, visible for the first time in 30 years. CLEAN TECHNICA

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