Coronavirus headlines: Powell says recovery may begin by summer, will likely be slow

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

CLEVELAND (WJW) — As of Sunday morning, there are 4,651,119 confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, including 312,119 deaths, Johns Hopkins University reports.

In the United States, there are 1,467,884 confirmed cases and 88,754 deaths.

Ohio has seen 27,474 cases and 1,610 deaths.

10:15 p.m. update:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell expressed optimism that the U.S. economy can begin to recover from a devastating recession in the second half of the year, assuming the coronavirus doesn’t erupt in a second wave. But he suggested in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that a full recovery won’t likely be possible before the arrival of a vaccine. Powell noted that the economy was fundamentally healthy before the virus struck suddenly and forced widespread business shutdowns and tens of millions of layoffs. He said that once the outbreak has been contained, the economy should be able to rebound “substantially.” 

8:45 p.m. update:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Most Americans give the U.S. Postal Service high marks for its work getting mail to far-flung corners of the country each day. Yet it’s not popular with President Donald Trump. He’s threatened to block the U.S. Postal Service from any coronavirus relief funding unless it hikes package rates for Amazon and other large customers. Postal Service officials insist they’ll run out of money by September without help. This month, they reported a $4.5 billion loss for the last fiscal quarter, on about $18 billion in revenue. From coastal Maine to Philadelphia’s close-knit neighborhoods, many residents call the service essential to their communities.

6:30 p.m. update:

President Donald Trump’s idea of golf getting back to normal is having thousands of fans who aren’t wearing masks in attendance and “practically standing on top of each other.”

Trump joined the NBC broadcast Sunday of “TaylorMade Driving Relief,” a Skins game involving Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff. It was the first live golf on television since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf and other sports on March 12.

The PGA Tour plans to return on June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. The tour has said it will not have fans for at least a month.

“After that, hopefully, it will be back,” Trump said in his interview with NBC host Mike Tirico. “We really want to see it back to normal so when we have all these thousands, tens of thousands of people going to your majors and going to golf tournaments, we want them to be having that same experience. We don’t want them having to wear masks and be doing what we’ve been doing for the last number of months. Because that’s not getting back to normal.

“We want to be back to normal where you have the big crowds, and they’re practically standing on top of each other and they’re enjoying themselves, not where they’re worried,” he said. “But in the meantime, they do the social distancing, and they practice that. And they’ve been doing really well. The country is ready to start moving forward.”

No fans or media were allowed for the Skins match at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida. The same policies will be in place next Sunday at nearby Medalist for a charity match of Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady.

Trump said he knows most of the PGA Tour players and has played with many of them. That includes McIlroy three years ago. McIlroy criticized Trump on the McKellar Journal podcast this week for politicizing the pandemic and says he would not play golf with him again.

Tirico raised McIlroy’s name as being among those who have played with Trump and what they talk about on the golf course. The president didn’t bite on McIlroy’s recent comments.

“A lot of them are very political, actually,” Trump said. “Some like my politics very much, and probably some don’t. I guess the ones that don’t, I don’t get to see as much.”

3 p.m. update:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Barack Obama criticized some U.S. leaders overseeing the coronavirus response as he delivered an online commencement speech for graduates of historically black colleges and universities.

Obama told graduates that the pandemic shows many officials, as he put it, “aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

Obama spoke during a two-hour livestreaming event broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

At one point he said that “more than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing.”

Obama did not name President Donald Trump or any other federal or state officials in either of his appearances. But earlier this month, he harshly criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic as an “absolute chaotic disaster” in a call with 3,000 members of his administrations obtained by Yahoo News.

1:30 p.m. update:

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s been seven weeks since Congress unleashed more than $2 trillion to help deal with the coronavirus crisis, and seven weeks since lawmakers created an oversight commission that’s supposed to keep track of how all that money is spent. But today, that commission remains without a leader. Four of its five members have been appointed, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell haven’t agreed on a chair. So the commission is rudderless as the federal government pumps unprecedented sums into the economy. The four members can still do oversight work, but they can’t hire staff or set up office space, and haven’t met as a group.

12 p.m. update:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis says he expects to see many K-12 public schools open this fall in his state and elsewhere despite the coronavirus threat, though “it’s not going to look like any other school year.”

Polis tells “Fox News Sunday” that Colorado schools will likely run in a “hybrid” fashion that limits social interactions in hallways and during lunchtime, and has up to 20% of kids continue with online classes at home if that’s their parents’ preference.

The Democratic governor says schools also may close periodically when “there’s an inevitable outbreak.”

President Donald Trump has urged K-12 schools to reopen, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told Congress last week it may be reckless to rush kids back before doctors have a better sense of the dangers.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told CNN on Sunday they also hope to reopen some K-12 schools but stressed it ultimately will depend on the latest health guidance on how to keep communities safe.

11 a.m. update:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is declining to criticize local leaders amid images of crowded bars and boardwalks in areas where coronavirus restrictions are being lifted.

Azar told CNN in an interview Sunday that “the president has left it up to states to know their local situation the best,” and said it’s therefore “very hard to judge in any community whether a bar being open, a restaurant, a school is the right thing.”

Azar noted that many counties across the country have yet to suffer a single death, and so, “There should not be one-size-fits-all approaches to reopening.”

But he adds: “Reopen we must because it’s not health versus the economy, it’s actually health vs. health,” citing “serious health consequences” caused by the shutdown, including the risk of suicide, delayed cardiac procedures and cancer screenings.

As for the images, he said: “I think in any individual instance you’re going to see people doing things that are irresponsible,” but says: “That’s part of the freedom we have here in America.”

10 a.m. update:

SOAVE, Italy (AP) — In separate, stark warnings, two major European leaders have bluntly told their citizens that the world needs to adapt to live with the coronavirus and cannot wait to be saved by the development of a vaccine.

’’We are facing a calculated risk, in the awareness … that the epidemiological curve could go back up,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said late Saturday. “We are confronting this risk, and we need to accept it, otherwise we would never be able to relaunch.”

Conte added that Italy could “not afford” to wait until a vaccine was developed. Health experts say the world could be months, if not years, away from having a vaccine available to everyone despite the scientific gold rush now on to create such a vaccine.

For his part, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalized last month with a serious bout of COVID-19, speculated Sunday that a vaccine may not be developed at all, despite the huge global effort to produce one.

“I said we would throw everything we could at finding a vaccine,” Johnson wrote in the Mail on Sunday newspaper. “There remains a very long way to go, and I must be frank that a vaccine might not come to fruition.”

Johnson said Britain was taking “baby steps” toward reopening, “trying to do something that has never had to be done before — moving the country out of a full lockdown.”

“Despite these efforts, we have to acknowledge we may need to live with this virus for some time to come,” Johnson wrote.

The comments by Conte and Johnson came as both nations around the world and U.S. states are struggling with the increasing need to reactivate economies blindsided by the pandemic. With 36 million people newly unemployed in the U.S. alone, that economic pressure is building even as authorities acknowledge the risks of kicking off new waves of infections and deaths.

8:30 a.m. update:

CLEVELAND (WJW) — Uber has significant changes going in effect Monday for riders, drivers and delivery personnel.

According to the company, Uber will require all users to wear a mask or face covering beginning May 18.

Here are the main changes that riders, drivers, and delivery people will see starting on Monday:

  • Go Online Checklists: Riders and drivers will have to confirm that they have taken certain steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Click here for those steps.
  • Mask Verification: Before drivers can start accepting trips, they will be required to take a selfie with a mask on. New Uber technology will verify that the driver is wearing a mask or face covering and let the rider know when the driver is en route.
  • Accountability for all: Uber has added new options for feedback, including if a rider or driver is not wearing a mask or face cover. Drivers and riders are being encouraged to cancel trips if they don’t feel safe, including if a user is not wearing a mask or face cover. In addition, riders, drivers, and delivery people who repeatedly violate the policy risk losing access to the app.
  • New Limits for UberX and UberXL: To allow for more distance in the car, Uber is advising riders to no longer sit in the front seat. This means every ride with Uber will have one less passenger seat available. For example, rides with UberX can have a maximum of 3 passengers and only in the back seats.
  • Rideshare Health Safety Education: Working with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Uber has compiled safety tips and recommendations specifically geared toward ridesharing and food delivery. These tips will be used to educate riders and drivers globally. See a video here

7:30 a.m. update:

CLEVELAND (WJW) — Despite the fact that the coronavirus continues to spread across the Buckeye state, evidenced by the fact that the state reported 520 new cases in the past 24 hours, Ohio continues to gradually reopen.

Personal care services, like barbers and salons, are back open, as well as outdoor patios at restaurants and bars.

Click here for more on the plan to restart Ohio

For the first time in nearly two months, restaurants re-opened to outside dining on Friday, however, some of those restaurants came under fire for their lack of social distancing guidelines.

At several Cleveland-area restaurants this weekend patrons were spotted without masks and not social distancing.

Similar behaviors were spotted at popular Columbus-area restaurant Standard Hall on Friday.

The Columbus Public Health Department issued a warning to the restaurant after receiving numerous complaints about the lack of social distancing.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine told our sister station in Columbus, WCMH, if restaurants don’t comply with the social distancing guidelines they could be in jeopardy of losing their liquor license. 

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