Coronavirus headlines: Nearly 80% of hotel rooms in the US are empty

Coronavirus

April 8, 2020

10:30 P.M. UPDATE:

(CNN) — The hotel industry has taken a massive hit as people continue to abide by stay-at-home orders during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Only 21.6% of hotel rooms in the United States were occupied between March 29 and April 4, according to new data from hospitality analytics company STR. That is a 68% decrease when compared to the same week last year.

Those numbers could continue to drop, according to STR. The percentage from last week is slightly down from the week before.

Oahu Island, Hawaii is one of the most impacted by the lack of hotel guests. Only 7% of hotel rooms are occupied, the lowest rate for any market in the country. That figure is down more than 90% from the same week last year.

Across the board, economy hotels and lodging in suburban areas tended to have more people staying than other hotels, according to STR.

The findings are consistent with the larger trend within the hospitality industry, as coronavirus has forced hotels to take drastic steps to survive.

Marriott, for example, has furloughed thousands of workers because of the high rate of cancellations. The Intercontinental Hotels Group, which owns the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotel brands, said that demand for rooms is the lowest it has ever seen.

The lack of occupancy impacts employees in the industry, too. An Oxford Economics study predicts that whopping 44% of hotel employees in every state will lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

Mitch Patel, who owns Vision Hospitality Group, told CNN earlier this month that he expects many hotels won’t survive.

“When this has been lifted, please go out and travel and eat and let’s be Americans again,” Patel said. “But only when it’s safe.”

9 P.M. UPDATE:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is rushing headlong into a conflict over the next coronavirus aid package. The White House wants to pump $250 billion into a small business fund but opposes Democrats’ proposal to tack on billions for protective gear, food stamps and aid to state and local governments. Still, signs of fresh progress have emerged. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers direct deposits to Americans will begin next week. Mnuchin also said $98 billion has been approved for the small business loans, according to a person unauthorized to discuss a private conference call with lawmakers and granted anonymity. President Donald Trump is urging passage of the small business funds “ASAP.” A test vote is set for Thursday. 

7:35 P.M.

(CNN) — Even as the total number of deaths reported each day remains at its highest levels, the number of new novel coronavirus cases in the United States is trending down, according to a major university that tracks figures worldwide.

Johns Hopkins University changed the trending status for the United States to “down” on Tuesday night, because of changes in the five-day moving average of new cases. The data could change as more cases are reported.

More than 424,000 people in the US have been infected with coronavirus, and more than 14,500 have died.

A record 1,858 deaths were reported in just one day Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Wednesday that there were 779 coronavirus-related deaths across the state Tuesday. It was the highest number of deaths reported in one day by New York officials.

Researchers say the peak has yet to come. The US will reach its highest daily number of deaths on or around Sunday, according to modeling by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The projections also suggest the US will reach its peak use of resources — such as hospital beds and ventilators — on or around Saturday.

But there’s a bit of good news: The modeling shows fewer people will die from coronavirus than previously predicted.

On Tuesday, the IHME estimated about 82,000 people will die from coronavirus disease by August. On Wednesday, that estimate was lowered to 60,415.

Still, that’s little consolation to the countless families grieving for loved ones who often die alone in hospitals.

And the actual number of deaths could be higher than we know.

Some deaths due to Covid-19 “may be misclassified as pneumonia deaths in the absence of positive test results,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The virus has claimed victims from virtually all demographics, including the young and healthy. But data shows black people are dying from Covid-19 at a disproportionately high rate.

While there have been signs that the number of cases in New York and some other hotspots are leveling off, officials are concerned about other cities.

On a conference call with House Democrats, Dr. Deborah Birx said the Philadelphia and District of Columbia areas are expected to be the new hot spots, according to a source on the call. She said that they also are carefully watching the Houston area, one of the most populous regions in the country.

Black Americans are ‘getting hit very hard’ by coronavirus, Trump says

In Louisiana, African Americans make up 32% of the state’s population — but more than 70% of state’s coronavirus deaths.

In Chicago, about 72% of coronavirus deaths are among black residents, who make up just 30% of the city’s population.

Even worse, widespread job losses during this pandemic have hurt black and Hispanic workers at a higher rate — meaning medical care for them is less affordable.

“It always seems that the poorest people pay the highest price. Why is that?” Cuomo said.

He said African Americans make up 9% of the state’s population, but about 18% of the state’s coronavirus deaths.

“Let’s learn from this moment,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to do more testing in minority communities, but not just testing for the virus. Let’s actually get more research and data that can inform us.”

President Donald Trump also has recognized that black Americans are suffering worse outcomes from coronavirus.

“It’s been disproportional. They’re getting hit very hard,” Trump said.

“This is a real problem, and it’s showing up very strongly in our data — on the African American community. And we’re doing everything in our power to address this challenge. It’s a tremendous challenge. It’s terrible.”

Millions of Americans are suddenly unemployed

More than 6.6 million US workers have filed for their first week of unemployment benefits as coronavirus cripples the economy.

In New York, the state with the most cases and deaths, officials estimate a loss of $10 billion to $15 billion in revenue. Cuomo announced those who have filed unemployment claims will receive an additional $600 a week to try to make ends meet.

Tennessee has seen a “record spike” in unemployment claims of more than 250,000 in the last three weeks, Gov. Bill Lee said.

In Oklahoma, about 135,000 residents filed for unemployment, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said.

In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice said an additional $600 would be distributed to those who lost their jobs.

Blood plasma treatment and vaccine trials move forward

Vaccines typically take years before they’re publicly available, but officials are racing to develop one for Covid-19 as quickly as possible.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it might be possible to have a coronavirus vaccine in 12 to 18 months, but some experts say that timeline is risky.

One vaccine trial administered its first dose last month, and now another vaccine trial has started.

Biotechnology company Inovio started a Phase 1 clinical trial this week and estimates that will be finished late this summer, a spokesperson for Inovio told CNN.

“We anticipate rapid enrollment of this initial study,” said Dr. Pablo Tebas, an infectious disease specialist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the study’s principal investigator.

“There has been tremendous interest in this vaccine among people who want to do what they can do to help protect the greater public from this pandemic as soon as possible.”

A source who was on the call with House Democrats told CNN that officials committed to making all vaccines and tests for the disease available to everyone, including those who cannot afford it.

In the meantime, the US Food and Drug Administration expedited the use of blood plasma treatment for seriously ill patients last month.

This week, Jason Garcia — a man who recovered from coronavirus — was told his plasma donation has been distributed so the antibodies he developed can help another patient do the same.

Garcia said doctors told him a patient had since improved.

When can students go back to school?

Several states have closed schools for the rest of this academic year. Now many parents are wondering whether they students can go back to class in the fall.

Fauci said it’s still too early to know, but he’s optimistic the country will be in better shape by the next school year.

“I fully expect, though I’m humble enough to know that I can’t accurately predict, that by the time we get to the fall that we will have this under control enough,” he said.

But the reopening of schools will likely depend on how soon coronavirus cases start to dwindle and how well the US can identify those with the disease or who have recovered from the disease, including those who were asymptomatic.

Knowing who is protected and who is vulnerable will help communities make decisions about using classrooms again.

“My optimistic side tells me that we’ll be able to renew to a certain extent, but it’s going to be different,” Fauci said. “Remember now, because this (disease) is not going to disappear.”

Your coronavirus questions, answered

4:45 P.M.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shot to a 3.4% gain on Wall Street Wednesday as investors chose to focus on the optimistic side of data about the coronavirus outbreak’s trajectory. The market had been on pace for a similar gain the day before, only for all of it to vanish in the afternoon. Stocks have been mostly climbing in recent weeks amid signs that deaths and infections may be nearing a peak or plateau in some of the world’s hardest-hit areas. Many analysts say they’re skeptical of the rally, though, given the continued rise in the financial and human toll of the pandemic. 

3:00 P.M.

(CNN) — The US war against coronavirus has taken devastating turns this week. But with more people taking social distancing seriously, researchers predict the coming months won’t be as dire as initially feared.

More than 400,000 people in the US have been infected with coronavirus, and more than 12,900 have died.

A record 1,858 deaths were reported in just one day Tuesday. And researchers say the peak has yet to come.

The US will reach its highest daily number of deaths on or around Sunday, according to modeling by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The projections also suggest the US will reach its peak use of resources — such as hospital beds and ventilators — on or around Saturday.

But there’s a bit of good news: The modeling shows fewer people will die from coronavirus than previously expected.

On Tuesday, the IHME estimated about 82,000 people will die from coronavirus disease by August. On Wednesday, that estimate was lowered to 60,415.

Still, that’s little consolation to the countless families grieving for loved ones who often die alone in hospitals.

And the actual number of deaths could be higher than we know.

Some deaths due to Covid-19 “may be misclassified as pneumonia deaths in the absence of positive test results,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The virus is disproportionately affecting minority groups, and tracking that data is important to warn those most at risk, said American Medical Association President Dr. Patrice Harris.

11:35 A.M.

(WJW) – Thousands boarded trains and planes out of Wuhan Wednesday, after 11 weeks of lockdown.

The coronavirus pandemic began there in December.

More than 3,200 people died in China during the outbreak.

New York City saw the single highest day death toll Tuesday.

Deaths in New York alone now exceed 4,000.

11:15 A.M.

9:30 A.M.

  • President Trump is expected to attend the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing at 5 p.m.

8:15 A.M.

  • Cuyahoga County reports 20 deaths
  • British PM Boris Johnson stable, responding to treatment, according to the Associated Press

5:30 A.M.

  • Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. will exceed 13,000 Wednesday
  • The U.S. has nearly 400,000 infections, according to John Hopkins University
  • 167 people have died in Ohio
  • More than 4,700 people in Ohio have coronavirus
  • Global coronavirus deaths have passed 82,000
  • There are more than 1.4 million coronavirus cases around the world

Coronavirus questions answered

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