HAPPENING NOW:

President Trump and the White House coronavirus task force give daily update

Coronavirus:

What You Need To Know

On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

clear-day
75°
Partly Cloudy
H -° L 52°
  • clear-day
    75°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H -° L 52°
  • cloudy-day
    Today
    Partly Cloudy. H -° L 52°
  • cloudy-day
    77°
    Tomorrow
    Partly Cloudy. H 77° L 54°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Business News

    He ran marathons on every continent, including Antarctica — 83 of them in all, many followed by a visit to an obscure craft brewery. Last year, he watched 365 movies — most of them in theaters. And Anick Jesdanun made sure — always — that when millions of people read his coverage of the internet and its ripples, they got all the facts and the context they needed. Jesdanun, 51, deputy technology editor for The Associated Press, died in New York City on Thursday of coronavirus-related complications, his family said. For more than two decades, Jesdanun helped generations of readers understand the emerging internet and its impact on the world. And while his work may have been about screens and computers and virtual networks, Jesdanun’s large life was about the world and exploring all of the corners of it that he could, virtual and physical alike. “Before people knew the internet was full of falsehoods, he was the guy who said, `We’d better check that,’” said his colleague, AP technology writer Michael Liedtke. Jesdanun, known as Nick, was the first AP reporter to be given the “internet writer” byline two decades ago, when the world was less than 10 years into using the network widely. His early work focused on how the internet was changing everything: dating, reading, photography, democracy, access to health care. In 2000, he wrote about how internet-connected devices would be tracking our locations — something that was still years in the future. By example, conversation and hands-on editing, Jesdanun, working from a desk renowned for its messiness, taught a generation of AP journalists how to cover technology in ways that were understandable and accessible but unparalleled in their depth. “Nick was the steady bulwark of AP’s tech team for two decades,” said Frank Bajak, AP’s first technology editor. “He had the deepest institutional memory of AP’s tech coverage and patiently educated dozens of novice colleagues in all things digital.” As the internet grew and its pitfalls become more evident, Jesdanun wrote about everything from Facebook’s privacy travails to government regulations. He also found time to cover things closer to his heart, one of which appeared under this headline in February: “How to binge on Oscar movies in cinemas for cheap.” “There’s still no substitute for a movie theater,” he wrote in a first-person story last year. Quick with a smile, Jesdanun sometimes let his sillier side loose in AP’s “Tech Tests.” These often included video shorts in which he would run new gadgets through the paces (and occasionally give his nieces cameo roles). When the iPhone’s face-recognition model came out in 2017, he filmed a mostly deadpan video of him trying to stump it with everything from a Santa beard to a fake nose and mustache. While Jesdanun could seem reserved to those who didn’t know him, his colleagues talked of an embrace of the world that he carried into his work and that ensured his technology journalism was grounded in what people cared about. “His depth of knowledge was unmatched,” said his boss, current AP technology editor David Hamilton. And tech writer Mae Anderson, whose office desk was by Jesdanun's, remembered how they'd visit tech industry events and Jesdanun wouldn't relent until his sources produced the information he was looking for. “He always kept asking questions and pressing people to answer questions,' she said, 'much past the point I ever would. And it made the subsequent stories much better.” Jesdanun’s running, which he embraced “later in life,” was part of that commitment to engaging with his surroundings, said his cousin, Risa Harms. “It was a life force for him, a way for him to see the world and to meet people,” she said. “He’s a doer. He’s not somebody who felt comfortable being a recreational tourist. He visited a place and wanted to have something to do there. So he did a marathon.” She added: “I feel fairly confident that there was nothing on his bucket list. There was nothing he wanted to do that he didn’t have a chance to do.” Jesdanun, a Pittsburgh native who grew up in New Jersey, was a 1991 graduate of Swarthmore College. He worked in AP bureaus in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Washington before moving to New York. When he left Philadelphia for Harrisburg in 1993, he sublet his apartment to a colleague and left behind only a few pieces of furniture and, hanging from the ceiling, a glittering disco ball. “Do what you want with the rest,” Jesdanun told his tenant, “but the disco ball stays.” Barbara Ortutay, an AP tech writer and Jesdanun’s close friend, spent countless nights over the past 15 years hanging out with him at outdoor philharmonic concerts and movies around New York City. He was serious about photography and “was always documenting everything,” she said. “He loved Chinese pork buns and always bought some for the rest of us in the office,” Ortutay said Friday. “One of our last texts was about pork buns, and I thought he’d turned a corner because he said he wanted one.” Jesdanun is survived by his parents, Adisak and Orabhin Jesdanun; a brother, Gary Jesdanun; and several nieces, nephews and cousins. The AP, the only employer Jesdanun ever worked for, is planning a virtual memorial service at some point to give colleagues and friends the opportunity — in an undesired but perhaps appropriate forum — to remember its first internet writer. “Nick was a kind and gentle colleague who was deeply admired by everyone he worked with,” said AP deputy managing editor Sarah Nordgren, who oversees technology news. “He loved the AP and his work, and it showed every day.”
  • U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week for the second straight week as anxiety has spiraled over devastation to the economy from the coronavirus pandemic. Home-loan rates have been hitting all-time lows. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year loan dipped to 3.33% this week from 3.50%. A year ago the rate stood at 4.08%. Freddie Mac said demand from prospective homebuyers has weakened in response to economic concerns. The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 2.82% from 2.92%. The recent declining trend in mortgage rates has been driven by investors shifting money out of the stock market and into the safety of U.S. Treasurys as the crisis in confidence caused by the global viral outbreak has worsened. The number of cases confirmed worldwide crossed the grim milestone of 1 million this week. Long-term mortgage rates tend to track the yields on the 10-year Treasury note, so they typically fall in tandem. Financial markets have shuddered amid a cascade of job losses and shutdowns across the globe due to the COVID-19 virus, as a severe global recession looms closer. Wide swaths of the U.S. economy have ground closer to a standstill as authorities ask Americans to stay home to slow the spread of the virus. The U.S. lost a stunning 701,000 jobs in March, the worst since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, the government reported Friday. And it's just a small indication of what's to come. Economists expect as many as a record 20 million losses in April and an unemployment rate of around 15%, the highest since the 1930s. Stocks fell in U.S. trading Friday after the release of the unemployment report. Losses accelerated after New York's governor announced the biggest daily jump yet for deaths caused by the virus in the country's hardest-hit state. Deaths from COVID-19 in the state were estimated at nearly 3,000.
  • President Donald Trump offered assurances of better times and coronavirus tests to oil CEOs at a White House summit Friday, but no firm proposals for easing the industry's way as the coronavirus pandemic and plunging petroleum prices threaten America's yearslong fracking boom. Executives of Chevron, Exxon and other large and medium-size petroleum companies and industry trade groups, as well as Republican lawmakers, met with Trump in hopes of hammering out a U.S. response. Ramped-up oil and gas production from Saudi Arabia and Russia and the economic slump from the coronavirus outbreak have created a global oil glut, dropping oil prices well below $30 a barrel. “We'll work this out,” Trump promised the oil executives. No new action was immediately announced at Friday's gathering — other than Trump offering to try to get the oil executives tests for coronavirus, if they chose. “Would anybody like to be tested?” Trump asked. “We might be able to do that.” 'Let’s test these guys,” Trump added. “Listen, they gave us millions of jobs. If anybody wants to be tested, we’ll test them.” Trump had talked Thursday night of working with Saudi Arabia and Russia to persuade them to ease up on oil pumping, which is helping pull down oil prices and threatens more expensive U.S. shale oil production. The two countries “are fighting over this, and as everybody knows, it’s, you know, really killing an industry,” Trump said then. But at least one oil industry expert is urging the White House and oil company executives to focus instead on dealing with looming domestic problems from the oil market crisis, rather than fixate on the industry's bottom lines. Amy Myers Jaffe, director of the energy security program at the Council for Foreign Relations, pointed to the possibility of U.S. disruptions in diesel fuel for trucking -- trucks that Americans homebound by the pandemic increasingly depend upon — amid the market chaos. “This really requires ... a national coordinated response,” Jaffe said, referring to bottlenecks in U.S. fuel supplies arising from the current petroleum glut. “You have to think about national security.' Oil companies are pitching wildly varying actions for the administration. Some GOP lawmakers and small and medium-size oil companies are asking for measures including an oil embargo on Saudi Arabia or tariffs and other punitive measures to persuade the Gulf kingdom to stop flooding the global market with oil. In attendance Friday was Harold Hamm, executive chairman of the shale oil company Continental Resources, who has asked the Commerce Department to investigate what he contends is illegal dumping of below-cost crude oil onto the market by Saudi Arabia and Russia. Hamm and Continental together donated more than $1.5 million to Trump’s campaign and political action committee. Other big industry players who attended have been donors. Kelcy Warren, chairman and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, and his wife have given over $2.1 million to Trump, his inaugural committee and his election efforts. Exxon Mobil gave $500,000 to Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee, while Chevron donated $525,000. Small and medium oil producers — who are some of Trump’s and the GOP’s loyalist campaign supporters — want Trump to press global mediation to encourage major oil producers to ease back on pumping. One oil industry regulator in Texas, Ryan Sitton, has been floating the idea of production caps and reaching out to leaders from OPEC and Russia, suggesting that offering to cut production in some way might be a negotiation chip the U.S. could bring to the table. Oil giants, meanwhile — with cash reserves that smaller producers don’t have — have been more willing to let the markets run as they will, knowing they are in better position to ride it out. The American Petroleum Institute, which represents oil and gas producers as well as refineries, said in a letter to Trump that the group does not want the administration to take any steps that would restrict oil supply. The summit has oil companies “sitting before the man asking the man to make a decision. And underneath you have this beehive of conversation and activity and who knows how it will turn up,” said Bill Miller, a longtime Texas lobbyist, political analyst and veteran of past U.S. booms and busts. Oil companies and Republican oil-state lawmakers rallying to their support deny it’s a matter of oil billionaires seeking bailouts. Hydraulic fracturing and other technological advances unleashed the U.S. shale oil and gas boom over the past two decades, pushing the United States to the top spot among global petroleum producers. Russia and others fault U.S. frackers for the current supply glut. “You couldn’t tell people who spent their whole lives seeking out reserves and reservoirs” to ease up after fracking opened up a new boom,’ Miller said. It’s ’’hey, I love to eat, and it’s a buffet table.” A dozen Republican senators also are asking the Trump administration to reduce or suspend royalty payments on public land leases to ease costs for the industry. And the industry is asking Energy Secretary Dan Brouilette, who attended Friday's meeting, to use the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve — the underground reservoir of stockpiled U.S. government oil — to ease the supply glut and price fall for the industry. Trump said the U.S. would make space available in the reserve. “You’d think we’d want to fill in every cavity in the country' with crude, Trump said. The Trump administration has encouraged the U.S. oil and gas industry to dominate the world’s energy market. The past two weeks alone, the administration has pledged to ease up on environmental and public health enforcement for the oil industry and others during the pandemic, and published a final rule rolling back Obama-era mileage standards, locking in increased gas and diesel consumption by drivers for years. ___ Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Brian Slodysko contributed to this report.
  • The Walt Disney Co. on Friday overhauled its release schedule by moving the dates of half a dozen Marvel movies, announcing a new one for the live-action adaption of “Mulan” and pushing one movie, “Artemis Fowl,” to Disney Plus, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. “Black Widow,” the Marvel entry starring Scarlett Johansson, had been set to kick off the summer movie season. Instead, Disney said it will now open Nov. 6. Such delays have unique ramifications for Marvel movies because of their interconnection. With “Black Widow” on the move, that meant a domino effect, pushing most all upcoming Marvel releases back at least three months. “Black Widow” took the release date of “The Eternals,” which now moves to February 21 next year. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' departs that February date for May 7, 2021. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” shifts from next May to Nov. 5, 2021. And “Thor: Love and Thunder” is pushed three months, to Feb. 18, 2022. Disney isn't abandoning the summer completely. “Mulan,” which been scheduled for March and already had its red carpet premiere, will now open July 24. The company also didn't move the Pixar release “Soul” from its June 19 release date. Those plans, of course, are subject to movie theaters being reopened by then and the pandemic subsiding. While Disney shifted nearly all of its big-budget movies, it's going to send one to its streaming service. The Kenneth Branagh-directed science fiction adventure adaptation “Artemis Fowl' will go to Disney Plus instead of opening in theaters. The movie had originally been slate for release last August but had been rescheduled for May of this year. With the exception of Universal's “Trolls World Tour,” the major studios have chosen to delay their top releases rather than push them to digital release and sacrifice box-office revenue. “Jungle Cruise,” with Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, is being pushed back a full year to July 30, 2021. The release of the fifth “Indiana Jones” movie, which Steven Spielberg last month departed as director with James Mangold replacing him, is also being delayed a full year, to July 2022. Harrison Ford will be 80 years old by then. Wes Anderson's “The French Dispatch” is also postponed from July to Oct. 16. On Thursday, the Walt Disney Co. announced they will start furloughing some workers in two weeks at its theme parks resorts in Florida and California.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin says he supports cutting oil production by about 10 million barrels a day to shore up falling prices. His statement Friday that was reported on the Kremlin website came a day after President Donald Trump tweeted he was hoping for Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut production by that amount, or even by 15 million barrels. Russia last month declined to go along with a proposal for cuts at the so-called OPEC-plus meeting, which includes cartel members and Russia. The decision was seen by many as an attempt to hurt American shale-oil producers by driving down prices. Demand for oil has weakened amid the coronavirus pandemic. Putin said Friday that Russia is “ready for agreements with partners and within the framework of this mechanism - OPEC-plus — and we are ready for cooperation with the United States of America on this issue. I believe that it is necessary to combine efforts in order to balance the market and reduce production as a result of these coordinated efforts.” “According to preliminary estimates, I think that we can talk about a reduction in the volume of about 10 million barrels per day, a little less, maybe a little more,”he said.
  • Manufacturing giant 3M pushed back Friday against criticism from President Donald Trump over production of face masks that are badly needed by American health care workers. The company said it has been producing as many masks as possible for the U.S. “over the last several weeks and months.” 3M also said the administration asked it to stop exporting medical-grade masks to Canada and Latin America, which the company said raises “significant humanitarian implications” and will backfire by causing other countries to retaliate against the U.S. The unusual but not unprecedented spat between the president and a leading American manufacturer broke out after Trump directed heads of the Homeland Security Department and Federal Emergency Management Agency to use their authority under the 1950 Defense Production Act to acquire the “appropriate” number of N95 respirators from 3M and any of its affiliates. The N95 masks, also called respirators, provide more protection against the new coronavirus than ordinary surgical masks. Governors and hospital officials around the country have warned of a dire shortage of masks and other protective gear for health care workers treating people with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The president followed up his order with a barbed tweet Thursday night at the Minnesota-based manufacturer. “We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks. ‘P Act’ all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing - will have a big price to pay!” Trump tweeted. The events leading to Trump's order against 3M began weeks ago. A White House official said when Vice President Mike Pence visited a 3M factory in Minnesota last month, he was told that 3M had 35 million N95 masks that were intended for commercial uses but could be used by health care workers. This week, after 3M received liability protection that it sought, the White House learned that not all of those masks were ready for the U.S. market, the official said. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, has been leading administration contacts with the company to learn where the masks went and why some were not available as promised. The situation led Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss events that have not been made public. The company said it has been working with the Trump administration since last weekend and has shipped masks that it produces overseas back to the U.S., including 10 million N95 masks 3M made in China. 3M also raised concerns over what it said was a request by the administration to stop exporting masks to Canada and Latin American countries, where the company is a critical mask supplier. “Ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done. If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease,” the company said. “That is the opposite of what we and the Administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek.” The White House did not immediately comment on the company’s statement about limiting exports. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said essential health supplies and workers flow both ways across the border, and blocking exports of 3M masks would be a mistake. “I think of the thousands of nurses who cross the bridge in Windsor to work in the Detroit medical system every day,” Trudeau said. “These are things American rely on.” Doug Ford, premier of Ontario province, said he protested to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, expressing concern that Trump could create a shortage of masks for Canadian doctors and nurses. “The health and well-being of our frontline workers depend on these essential medical items and now more than ever our countries need to work together to combat COVID-19,” Ford tweeted. Last week, Trump invoked the same 1950 law to force General Motors to build ventilators used to treat COVID-19 patients. The president accused GM of not moving quickly enough and trying to charge the government too much. GM said it had been working on ventilators for weeks. Two days later, Trump praised the auto maker, saying it was “doing a fantastic job.” ___ Robert Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.
  • The federal government's relief program for small businesses is off to a slow start Friday, with only some businesses able to apply and several banks either not accepting applications or seeing long waits to do approvals. Millions of small businesses are expected to apply for these desperately needed rescue loans from the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which was put in place to help them retain workers and pay bills during the coronavirus pandemic. Roughly 5,200 loans valued at $1.8 billion have been processed so far, said Jovita Carranza, administrator of the Small Business Administration., on Friday afternoon. The program is being overseen by the SBA but banks are handling the application process. Some large lenders like Wells Fargo, Huntington Bank and Bank of America were ready to go at the program’s outset. BofA said its gotten 28,000 applications so far. But JPMorgan Chase only started accepting applications Friday afternoon after saying earlier that it wouldn’t. Ted Stein, who operates a small software business in West Virginia, filled out an online form Thursday through PNC Bank, saying he was interested in applying. On Friday, a bank representative told Stein he was unaware that the form was on its website. After Stein explained to him where to find it, the representative told Stein the bank wasn’t accepting applications and that he should keep checking his online account for guidance in the coming hours and days, Stein said. “It was almost comical, but heartbreaking. It’s tragicomedy, I guess,' he said. Even those banks accepting applications were limited in who they could accept. Bank of America said the loans were available to customers who had business deposit accounts and business loans with the bank. The program is part of the $2 trillion relief package signed into law last week, which was billed as a way to help local businesses that often form the fabric of communities stay afloat. The program will give businesses low-interest loans of about 2.5 times their average monthly payroll. The loans will be fully or partially forgiven if businesses show that the money was used to retain or rehire employees and pay some overhead expenses through June 30. Despite the hiccups Friday, the loan program got praise from former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who served in the Obama administration. 'It is ok to make some mistakes here” because the key need is for speed, Lew said in an interview on CNBC. “For these small businesses, it is a matter of life and death,” Lew said, adding that if the businesses can’t rehire workers it will impede the effort to get a recovery started once the virus is contained. Going into the program's launch Friday, the banking industry had been trying to temper expectations about how many businesses will get the cash they need on Friday. Banks large and small will have to process these loans as quickly as possible in order to get their customers a slice of the program. The banks have moved employees into new departments — a logistical challenge given many employees are working remotely — just to potentially keep up with the flood of applications. Not only that, but thousands of their employees are either sick or quarantined because of the virus. Although Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said money could be disbursed as early as Friday, at least some banks seemed to be hedging any bets on being able to deliver cash that quickly. When Jordan Gurrieri submitted his application to Bank of America, the receipt he got said, “we will process your application as soon as possible.” Gurrieri, co-founder of New York-based app developer Blue Label Labs, called the process “rough.” It took him more than 30 minutes to submit his application to Bank of America, more than three times what some other owners have reported. While Congress could approve more money later on, the program as it stands is expected to run out quickly. That could mean applicants who have the financial and legal expertise of a larger organization might be able to maximize their benefits, not leaving much for smaller businesses, especially those who wait or have problems applying. Congress made the program as wide as possible. An expansive definition of “small business” in the law means that it will be open to much more than just Main Street shops as lenders start processing applications. Bankers recommend applying for the loans through the bank they already have accounts with to speed along the process as quickly as possible. Independent contractors and the self-employed are not eligible to apply until April 10 under guidance from the Treasury Department. By then, banks could be overwhelmed with applications. “It’s hard for me to say this: There is only $350 billion in this fund. Every big restaurant and hotel chain is going to be going after this money. It’s not going to last,” said Ron Feldman, chief development officer at ApplePie Capital, which has been helping businesses get ready to apply. “If you want to get this loan, speed is your friend,” Feldman told 2,000 franchise industry officials on a conference call this week. ____ Ryan J. Foley reported from Iowa City, Iowa. Ken Sweet and Joyce Rosenberg reported from New York. Marty Crutsinger contributed to this report from Washington.
  • Growth in the U.S. service sector slowed in March with a much bigger decline expected in coming months from all the shutdowns and job layoffs that have occurred because of efforts to contain the coronavirus. The Institute for Supply Management said Friday that its service-sector index slowed to 52.5 in March from a reading of 57.3 in February. Any reading above 50 indicates the service sector, where most Americans work, is expanding. But with record layoffs over the past two weeks, economists believe services will fall into a contraction in April. The March report said service industries were already showing signs of the impact of the virus. Reports from the health care sector found significant shortages of personal protective equipment, test swabs and other basic medical supplies. “Extreme sourcing measures are required to procure necessary supplies for basic operations,” the ISM report said, quoting respondents to its survey. Anthony Nieves, chair of the survey committee for the ISM services report, said one factor that kept the index from sliding further in March was strength being seen in the government and health care parts of the index. ISM reported on Wednesday that its manufacturing index did fall into contractionary territory in March with a reading of 49.1. Private economists said they were looking for the services index to slide into contraction territory probably with the April report. “Conditions in both non-manufacturing and manufacturing are expected to weaken over coming months in response to virus-related shutdowns, supply chain disruptions as well as weak demand,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics.
  • San Marino needed medical masks. Badly. The tiny republic, wedged next to what would be two of Italy’s hardest-hit provinces in the COVID-19 outbreak, had already registered 11 deaths by March 17 — a sizeable number in a country of just 33,000, and a harbinger of worse to come. So authorities sent off a bank transfer to a supplier in Lugano, Switzerland, to pay for a half-million masks, to be shared with Italian neighbors. The next day, the truck returned, empty. The company was refusing to provide the masks. Said Dr. Gabriele Rinaldi, director of San Marino's Health Authority: “It was a very bitter lesson.’’ It’s not clear whether the mask supplier, which was not identified, refused to deliver because another customer offered more. But what is clear is that the oft-proclaimed solidarity among nations waging battle against the pandemic has been tested — if not shattered — by national and corporate self-interest. A health official in France's hard-hit eastern region said U.S. officials swooped in at a Chinese airport to spirit away a planeload of masks that France had ordered. 'On the tarmac, the Americans arrive, take out cash and pay three or four times more for our orders, so we really have to fight,' Dr. Jean Rottner, an emergency room doctor in Mulhouse, told RTL radio. The U.S. Embassy in Paris on Friday insisted that no one from the federal government bought masks destined for France. President Donald Trump has suggested, however, that states get their own medical equipment to fight the virus, setting off a mad scramble among state officials. France, meanwhile, has laid claim to supplies within its borders. In Lyon, inside the main southern European distribution facility of the Swedish medical supply company Molnlycke, were millions of masks that France was reluctant to let go for export. “We recognize that France has imposed an export ban for face masks and this ban was just extended,” said Jenny Johansson, the company’s global manager for corporate communications. She declined to comment on reports that France ultimately allowed a million masks apiece to go to Spain and Italy. “However, this is not only about France,” she said. “We see government restrictions across most countries in which we are active.” The European Union, a bloc of 27 nations built upon open borders and markets, has tried to temper this every-country-for-itself free-for-all. The day after San Marino’s health minister publicly lamented the rejected acquisition, Switzerland enacted an ordinance obliging companies to seek government authorization to export protective medical devices. But Swiss embassy political attache Lorenza Faessler noted that the ordinance specifically exempts the EU and several other countries in Europe, including San Marino. In any case, Faessler on Wednesday acknowledged that confusion and complexities mark the frantic scramble to acquire vital supplies like masks. “Brussels tried to regulate” this commerce, she said, but many countries have gone their own way. The EU's internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that progress had been made in dealing with exports of medical equipment by France, Germany and some other nations. “At the moment, only Poland and Slovakia are keeping the ban, but we’re discussing it, and a solution will be reached,’’ Breton was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Spain and Italy, which together have over one-half of the world's 54,000 coronavirus deaths, are increasingly taking steps to restrict the flow of supplies. Four days after Italy’s first COVID-19 case surfaced in northern Italy in late February, Civil Protection agency chief Angelo Borrelli signed an ordinance banning any export of medical supplies unless he personally approved an exception. As the daily number of infections in Italy grew by the dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, many nations blocked exports to keep their own medical supplies production within their borders, said Agostino Miozzo, director general of international relations for Italy’s Civil Protection agency. “We found ourselves in extreme difficulty in acquiring” medical supplies, he said. Last month, Italian customs police seized some 800,000 masks and disposable gloves that were about to be sent to Switzerland. Spain has launched three weekly flights to China to directly ferry home medical supplies. Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa has called China’s medical supply market “crazy.” Italy, too, has taken to using military planes to fly in masks and respirators from China and elsewhere, minimizing the risks that supplies will be diverted or seized by third countries. The United States, which has twice as many infections as any other nation now, is also moving supplies like thermometers, gowns, masks and gloves via air bridge, notably from Asia and Central America, according to the U.S. agency FEMA. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker took an unconventional approach in the scramble for supplies in his state: He called on the New England Patriots, the American football team. The team’s private plane landed in Boston from China on Thursday evening carrying more than a million masks. Baker secured the N95 masks from Chinese manufacturers but had no way of getting them to the U.S. without the assist from the team. After some incidents in which the flow of materials were blocked, countries have tried to make amends for what they say were missteps. Last month, Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek, apologizing to Italy, said the Italians were being given 110,000 masks and thousands of respirators to compensate for those mistakenly seized in a raid on a warehouse in the Czech town of Lovosice. The devices had been donated by China’s Red Cross for the Chinese community in Italy. The raid had been launched to break up what Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek called an “immoral” scheme to jack up the prices a company was charging the Prague government. Recently, Tunisia accused Italy of blocking a shipment of alcohol used to make hand-cleansing gel. Trade Minister Mohamed Sellini later backtracked. “I didn’t say Italy. I said it was hijacked at sea,' the minister insisted, adding, “All of the European Union is living in a state of hysteria.” ___ David Keyton in Stockholm, Bouazza Ben Bouazza in Tunis, Karel Janicek in Prague, Joseph Wilson in Madrid, Angela Charlton in Paris and Ben Fox in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.
  • A grim snapshot of the U.S. job market's sudden collapse emerged Friday with a report that employers shed hundreds of thousands of jobs last month because of the viral outbreak that's brought the economy to a near-standstill. The loss of 701,000 jobs, reported by the Labor Department, ended nearly a decade of uninterrupted job growth, the longest such streak on record. The unemployment rate surged in March from a 50-year low of 3.5% to 4.4% — the sharpest one-month jump in the jobless rate since 1975. And that's just a hint of what's to come. For the April jobs report that will be released in early May, economists expect as many as a record 20 million losses and an unemployment rate of around 15%, which would be the highest since the 1930s. The enormous magnitude of the job cuts is inflicting far-reaching damage on economies in the United States and abroad, which are widely believed to be sinking into severe recessions. As rising numbers of people lose jobs — or fear they will — consumer spending is shrinking. That pullback in spending, which is the primary driver of the economy, is intensifying pressure on those businesses that are still operating. Economists are holding out hope that an extraordinary series of rescue actions from Congress and the Federal Reserve will help stabilize the U.S. economy in the months ahead. The key goals of Congress' just-enacted $2.2 trillion relief package are to quickly put cash in people's hands and incentivize companies to avoid job cuts or quickly recall laid-off employees. The package includes an extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits on top of the usual state payments and will ideally enable the millions of newly jobless to pay their rent and other bills. But it won’t make up for the vast array of spending that Americans typically engage in that has now been lost — from eating out and paying for gym memberships to buying new furniture, autos and electronic gadgets. Indeed, Oxford Economics says that for the April-June quarter, that pullback will likely cause the sharpest quarterly drop in consumer spending on record. Katharine Abraham, an economist at the University of Maryland, said that if the extra aid manages to help many of the unemployed avoid building up excessive debt, “when businesses open back up ... they should be able to spend money.' Still, even factoring in the government's intervention, Joel Prakken, chief US economist at IHS Markit, predicts that the economy will sharply contract in the April-June quarter — by a 26.5% annual rate, the worst on records dating to just after World War II. Many economists say that additional government support will be needed, particularly if the virus persists into the late summer. The job losses during March were likely even larger than what was reported Friday because the government surveyed employers before the heaviest layoffs hit in the past two weeks. Nearly 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in the final two weeks of March, far exceeding the figure for any corresponding period on record. Those layoffs will be reflected in the jobs report for April. 'This was an ugly jobs report, showing that the pain in the economy started in early March, well before the spike in the weekly initial jobless claims data,” said Joseph Song, an economist at Bank of America Securities. “It is going to get much worse in coming reports.” Brad Hershbein, senior economist at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, said that last month's job loss likely reflected nervousness among businesses that had cut back on hiring even before the flood of layoffs. One sign of how painfully deep the job losses will likely prove to be: During its nearly decade-long hiring streak, the U.S. economy added 22.8 million jobs. Economists expect the April jobs report being released in early May to show that all those jobs could have been lost. Lower-income service workers bore the brunt of the job cuts in March, with restaurants, hotels and casinos accounting for roughly two-thirds of them — a loss of 459,000 jobs. Retailers shed 46,000. Yet the layoffs have also begun to creep into many other corners of the economy. Doctor's offices sliced 12,000 jobs, the most on records dating to 1972. Law firms cut 1,700. Banks and real estate companies also shed jobs. Many employers have cut hours for some staffers. The number of part-time employees who would prefer full-time work jumped by one-third in March to 5.8 million. Bridget Hughes had had her work hours cut in half before she was forced to take two weeks off from her job at Burger King and self-isolate after her aunt tested positive for COVID 19. She’ll be quarantined until next week. The restaurant where she worked in Kansas City, Missouri, has cut about two-thirds of its staff and is providing drive-thru service only. Hughes, 49, doesn’t know when she'll be able to return to work. She applied for unemployment benefits, but state officials told her it might be up to 30 days before her claim is processed and her first check is issued. “We were already living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. 'I don’t know if we’re going to make rent this month. We are struggling to get food on the table.” A key determinant of the economy’s future will be whether businesses can survive the shutdown and quickly rehire those workers who consider themselves to be temporarily laid off. If so, that would help the economy snap back and avoid the type of weak recovery that followed the past three downturns. But if the virus outbreak forces businesses to stay closed into the late summer, many may go bankrupt or won’t have the money to rehire their old employees. That would mean that many workers who now consider themselves on temporary layoff could lose their jobs. So far, some large and small businesses are still paying for health care benefits and keeping in touch with their newly laid-off workers, a slightly hopeful sign amid the flood of job cuts. Still, many worry that their jobs are gone for good. Megan-Claire Chase, 43, of Dunwoody, Georgia, was laid off a week ago from her job as a marketing manager at a staffing company. Chase, a four-year cancer survivor, was laid off back in 2008, and it took her two years to find a job. This time, she's even more fearful. “There is so much uncertainty,” she said. ″How do you bounce back? There is no timeline because there is no history.” ___ AP Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio contributed to this report from New York.

News

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance late Friday concerning the wearing of cloth face masks while out in public. The CDC, according to President Donald Trump, said that people, when going to public locations, should now wear “non-medical, cloth face coverings.” The action is voluntary, Trump said in his afternoon press briefing. Since the beginning of the battle against COVID-19, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had said that people didn’t need to wear masks unless they were sick and coughing, The New York Times reported prior to Trump’s announcement. Thursday evening, Trump had said his administration would have regulations when it came to the general population and the wearing of masks. Some opportunities for wearing masks while in public would be when going to pharmacies and grocery stores, the Times reported. Many people may now be looking for ways to make their own personal protective equipment or to make PPE for those working the front lines. There are many designs to make, from no-sew options to ones that need some needle and thread. No Sew Supplies: A bandanna or piece of finished cloth Hair elastics Sewn versions Supplies: Paper, to make a pattern Cotton fabric Fusible interfacing Elastic Pins Sewing machine The New York Times has an alternate pattern. Click here for step by step instructions. Kaiser Permanente has also shared a design approved by the health system for donation to hospitals, The Washington Post reported.
  • A Brooklyn landlord waived this month’s rent for hundreds of his tenants. Mario Salerno posted signs on the 18 buildings he owns throughout the borough letting tenants know they do not have to pay April’s rent, The New York Times reported. “My concern is everyone’s health,” Salerno told the Times. “I told them just to look out for your neighbor and make sure that everyone has food on their table.” Salerno had not calculated how much he would be losing from not collecting rent on the 80 apartments, but it’s likely hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Times reported. “I’m really not concerned about the rent right now, I’m concerned about people’s health,” Salerno told Greenpointers.com. “Not only are we up against an epidemic, these poor people have no jobs and they’re worried about getting sick. I didn’t think it was much on a person like me, who God was good to, to help them all out.” It has helped ease the stress for some tenants who are out of work because of the coronavirus. Tenant Paul Gentile has lived four years in one of Salerno’s buildings. He works as an attorney but lost his job when the courthouses closed March 18. “You don’t see that, especially in a landlord-tenant relationship in New York City,” Gentile told the Times. “He’s amazing.”
  • A Michigan sugar company purchased $131,000 worth of gift cards from restaurants in communities where it operates. The Michigan Sugar Co. gave each of its 1,300 employees a $100 gift card from more than 50 restaurants, MLive reported. “We hope this helps ease the pain of this pandemic for those businesses just a little bit,” Michigan Sugar Co. Board Chairman Adam Herford told MLive. The company has also donated personal protection equipment including masks, gloves and safety glasses to Michigan-area health care facilities.
  • A Detroit bus driver who complained about a coughing passenger in a video posted on social media, has died from the coronavirus. Jason Hargrove got sick four days after posting the video on March 21 where he went on a profanity-laced tirade about a woman who coughed repeatedly while on the bus. The bus drivers’ unions said Hargrove, 50, died Wednesday. The coronavirus can spread through the air, health officials have said. “Public workers doing our job, trying to make (an) honest living, take care of our families,” Hargrove said in the video. “For you to get on the bus ... and cough several times without covering up your mouth and you know (we’re) in the middle of a pandemic — that lets me know that some folks don’t care.” The city stopped collecting fares March 17. The buses were to be more thoroughly cleaned and passengers were required to enter and exit from the rear door only. Mayor Mike Duggan expressed condolences and urged others to watch Hargroves’ video. “He was infected before we closed the front doors (on buses),” Duggan said. “Some of his language is graphic, but I don’t know how you can watch it and not tear up. He knew his life was being put in jeopardy ... by someone who didn’t take this seriously and now he’s gone.”
  • A Pennsylvania man who lost a lung to cancer about a decade ago has survived another health battle -- this time, with the coronavirus. It started as what he assumed was just a cold, but when Richard Botti, 61, started to feel lung pain in early March, he thought his cancer had returned. It turned out to be COVID-19 instead. Because of his previous bout with cancer, he was at higher risk. His family told WPXI they got very concerned when his conditioned started to worsen. “It slowly got worse and he wasn’t getting out of bed,” said Vanessa Venezie, his daughter. “You immediately think the worst because of everything you’re seeing and reading.” He soon tested positive for the coronavirus and had to be hospitalized. However, he pulled through, spending 11 days at Heritage Valley Hospital hooked up to oxygen. Botti’s daughter wanted to share not all coronavirus outcomes are grim. “We’re just really happy and we want people to know there is hope for them,” Venezie said. “Stay focused on the positive. Do things that make you feel good. We can all get trapped in the negative.” Botti was taken back home by medics in an ambulance equipped to handle COVID-19 cases. He has to self-isolate in his room away from his family for two weeks.
  • More than one million people worldwide -- including more than 245,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Friday, April 3, continue below:  Face masks recommended, though Trump says he won’t wear one Update 6 p.m. EDT April 3: The Trump administration has provided new guidance that many people in the United States should start wearing face coverings when out in public is raising concern that it could cause a sudden run on masks. Though some people already have begun acquiring or creating face masks on their own, the administration’s new guidance would test the market’s ability to accommodate a surge in demand. It was expected to be limited to people in areas of the country hit hard by the coronavirus, not nationwide, as some health experts had urged. The new guidelines, announced Friday, encourage people to use more rudimentary covering like T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks. And President Donald Trump himself suggested scarves could be an good alternative to masks. The new recommendations were announced at a time when states are bracing for critical shortfalls like those that other parts of the world have experienced. They’re scrambling to stockpile all manners of equipment. Hobby Lobby closes all store locations Update 5:15 p.m. EDT April 3: Hobby Lobby is closing all its stores nationwide and furloughing employees without pay. The arts and crafts store released a statement Friday saying it’s closing its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hobby Lobby also said in the statement that it will be furloughing a large portion of corporate and distribution employees. Hobby Lobby statement: 'As the country continues efforts to manage and mitigate the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus, Hobby Lobby will, after careful consideration, close the remainder of its stores, and furlough nearly all store employees and a large portion of corporate and distribution employees, effective Friday, April 3rd, at 8:00 p.m. The stores will remain closed until further notice. “In order to allow our furloughed employees to take full advantage of the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Recovery Rebates provided to eligible employees by the federal government, we are ending emergency leave pay and suspending use of Company provided paid time off benefits (PPTO and Vacation) in accordance with the requirements outlined in the CARES Act (subject to State law requirements). However, we will maintain medical, dental, life, and long-term disability benefits for employees while furloughed through at least May 1, 2020, and will pay the cost of employee premiums for these benefits on behalf of employees while furloughed without pay. We encourage furloughed employees to file their claims with their State’s unemployment commissions as soon as possible. Upon return, employees will retain their original dates of hire and any accrued PPTO and Vacation. Our sincere gratitude goes out to our dedicated employees at this difficult time, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome them back, once we are able to reopen.” “We know our customers relied on us to provide essential products, including materials to make personal protective equipment, such as face masks, educational supplies for the countless parents who are now educating their children from home, and the thousands of small arts and crafts businesses who rely on us for supplies to make their products. Over the past several weeks, we implemented several best practices to provide a safer shopping environment, including the installation of physical barriers between customers and cashiers, enhanced cleaning, and the enforcement of social distancing measures. We are prepared to reopen our stores in a responsible way when the current situation improves, and look forward to welcoming our valued customers back to our stores. Until then, we pray for those affected by the virus, protection for the health care professionals caring for the sick, economic security for all impacted businesses and employees, and wisdom for our leaders.” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announces stay at home order starting Saturday Update 5:15 p.m. EDT April 3: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a shelter-in-place order that will go into effect 5 p.m. Saturday. Republican governors in Florida, Mississippi and Georgia on Wednesday also reversed course and issued stay-home directives after previously resisting such a statewide order. Nationwide death toll approaches 7,000 Update 4:45 p.m. EDT April 3: According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there have been at least 6,889 deaths from the 266,671 cases in the U.S. New York state alone accounts for more than 2,900 dead, an increase of over 560 in just one day. Most of the dead are in New York City, where hospitals are getting swamped with patients. About 15,000 people were hospitalized statewide, most of them in the city. White House to test anyone expected to be near Trump, Pence for COVID-19 Update 3:45 p.m. EDT April 3: The White House is stepping up precautions to protect the president and vice president from contracting the new coronavirus. Starting Friday, anyone who is expected to be in “close proximity” to either President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence will be given a quick COVID-19 test “to evaluate for pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers status to limit inadvertent transmission,' according to White House spokesman Judd Deere. All visitors to the White House complex already have their temperatures taken when entering the building and if they will be in close proximity to either Trump or Pence. Trump took the new COVID-19 test on Thursday and the White House doctor said results were back in 15 minutes. He tested negative. California reports 10,701 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide Update 3:35 p.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said Friday that 10,701 coronavirus infections have been confirmed in the state. Newsom said 2,188 of those infections were serious enough to require hospitalization. He added that 901 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care units Friday. “This disease can impact anyone,” he said. “Stay home. Take this seriously.” Supreme Court postpones oral arguments Update 3:30 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials with the Supreme Court on Friday announced the postponement of oral arguments planned for the Court’s April session due to the coronavirus outbreak. Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said officials with consider rescheduling cases from the March and April sessions for later in the Court’s term, if possible. “The Court will consider a range of scheduling options and other alternatives if arguments cannot be held in the courtroom before the end of the term,” she said. Arberg added that justices will continue to review cases argued so far this term and post opinions on the Supreme Court’s website. 3,067 COVID-19 cases reported in Tennessee Update 3:10 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials in Tennessee reported 3,067 total coronavirus cases across the state Friday, WHBQ-TV reported. Officials with the Tennessee Department of Health said 293 of those cases were serious enough to require hospitalization. Thirty-seven people have died of COVID-19 in the state while 248 people have recovered, according to WHBQ-TV. Ohio considering releasing some inmates due to coronavirus Update 3:05 p.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio said Friday that authorities are looking into the possibility of releasing 23 women who are pregnant or have had a child in prison, WHIO-TV reported. Officials said there were also 15 people over the age of 60 who are within 60 days of their planned prison release dates who might also be released. Authorities said all the inmates being considered for early release are non-violent, non-sexual offenders, according to WHIO-TV. Officials with the Ohio Department of Health have reported 3,312 coronavirus cases in the state. The virus has claimed at least 91 lives in Ohio. 1 in 5 Americans killed by COVID-19 middle-aged Update 2:50 p.m. EDT April 3: A first look at recent U.S. death certificate data confirmed that most of the initial American coronavirus deaths were people age 65 and older. But it also notes that about 1 in 5 were middle-aged. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the data online Friday. It reflects 1,150 U.S. coronavirus deaths that occurred through the last week of March. That tally is several hundred deaths lower than other totals reported for the same period, because it relies on death certificate information which can come in weeks after other kinds of reports. The new data said 56% of deaths were people 75 and older, and another 23% were people in their late 60s and early 70s. But another 17% were ages 45 to 64, and 3% were 35 to 44. The statistics were smaller for younger adults. One child died. Pennsylvania governor urges residents to wear cloth masks in public Update 2:40 p.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and state Secretary of Health Rachel Levine urged people Friday to begin wearing masks in public in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, WPXI reported. Officials stressed that N95 respirator and surgical masks were not necessary. Instead, they suggested people wear cloth masks, a bandanna or something similar to cover people’s noses and mouths, according to WPXI. “Wearing a mask will help us cut down the possibility that we might be infecting an innocent bystander, like the grocery store cashier, the pharmacist, or someone stocking shelves,” Wolf said. “These people are keeping us alive by getting us the supplies we need. We owe it to them to do everything we can to keep them safe. Right now, that means wearing a mask.” Mississippi officials report 181 new coronavirus cases Update 2:25 p.m. EDT April 3: Health officials in Mississippi reported 181 new coronavirus infections Friday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,358, WHBQ-TV reported. Officials also reported three new deaths, according to WHBQ-TV. Statewide, 1,358 people have died of COVID-19, officials said. 2 more federal inmates die of COVID-19, officials say Update 2:15 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials with the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Friday announced two more inmates have died of COVID-19. Authorities said Wallace Holley Jr., a 56-year-old inmate at the Federal Correction Institution Oakdale I in Oakdale, Louisiana, died Thursday. Officials said Holley, who had long-term,pre-existing medical conditions, tested positive for COVID-19 prior to his death. Margarito Garcia-Fragoso, a 65-year-old inmate at Federal Satellite Low Institution Elkton in Lisbon, Ohio, also died Thursday after he tested positive for COVID-19. He also had long-term, pre-existing medical conditions, officials said. COVID-19 cases top 10,000 in Louisiana Update 1:55 p.m. EDT April 3: Health officials in Louisiana reported 1,157 new coronavirus infections Friday, raising the state’s total number of cases to 10,297. Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health also noted the death toll attributed to the coronavirus doubled from the 185 reported Thursday to 370. IMF official: Recession caused by coronavirus ‘a crisis like no other’ Update 1:50 p.m. EDT April 3: The head of the International Monetary Fund says the recession sparked by the coronavirus pandemic is “way worse” than the 2008 global recession. IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva described the situation as “a crisis like no other.” “Never in the history of the IMF have we witnessed the world economy coming to a standstill,” she said. “We are now in recession, it is way worse than the global financial crisis and it is a crisis that requires all of us to come together.' Georgieva said 90 countries have already approached the institution for emergency financing. She called on countries to prioritize health expenditures and to make sure doctors, nurses and other health workers are paid. She added that the world’s most fragile countries must be protected, noting that “$90 billion have flown out” and damaged emerging economies. 4,372 new coronavirus cases reported in New Jersey Update 1:40 p.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Friday that 4,372 new COVID-19 cases have been reported, bringing the statewide total to 29,895. In addition, Murphy said 113 new fatal coronavirus cases were identified. In all, 646 people have died of COVID-19 in the state. Murphy identified one of the victims as James Brown, the principal of Grover Middle School in Caldwell. He was 48 years old. CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin tests positive for COVID-19 Update 1:15 p.m. EDT April 3: CNN reporter Brooke Baldwin announced Friday on Instagram that she’s been diagnosed with COVID-19. “I am OKAY,” she wrote Friday. “It came on suddenly yesterday afternoon. Chills, aches, fever. I’ve been social distancing. Doing ALL the things we’re being told to do. Still -- it got me.” She said she has no underlying health conditions and that overall, she feels “like one of the lucky ones.” “I look forward to being back on (television) and seeing you real soon,' she wrote. She also thanked health care workers for their efforts on the front line of the coronavirus battle. Baldwin is at least the second CNN anchor to test positive for coronavirus. Earlier, reporter Chris Cuomo said he was self-isolating after being diagnosed with the viral infection. Special small business loans available beginning Friday Update 1:10 p.m. EDT April 3: Beginning Friday, small businesses struggling to stay afloat as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread across the United States can apply for the nearly $350 billion in loans set up through the CARES Act passed by Congress last month. Four programs are now in place to help small businesses to stay in business until the public health crisis triggered by COVID-19 abates. The programs came from the CARES Act which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27. 109 new coronavirus cases reported in Oklahoma Update 12:45 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials in Oklahoma said 109 new coronavirus infections were reported Friday, raising the total number of cases in the state to 988, according to KOKI-TV. Four new coronavirus-related deaths were also reported in the state, bringing Oklahoma’s COVID-19 death toll to 38. The four new fatal cases involved patients who were all over 65 years old. Pennsylvania officials report 1,404 new coronavirus cases Update 12:40 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials in Pennsylvania reported 1,404 new coronavirus infections Friday, bringing the state’s total to 8,420, WPXI reported. In addition, officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 12 more deaths. Statewide 102 people have died of COVID-19, according to WPXI. 104 new coronavirus infections reported in DC Update 12:20 p.m. EDT April 3: Officials in Washington D.C. said 104 new coronavirus infections have been reported, bringing the total in the district to 757. Mayor Muriel Bowser said three new fatal cases were also reported Friday. In all, 15 people have died due to COVID-19 in Washington D.C. Delta Air Lines giving passengers 2 years to rebook flights Update 12:15 p.m. EDT April 3: Delta Air Lines announced Friday that the company is extending its window to redeem travel credits from one to two years amid the coronavirus outbreak. The change will allow for travel credits to be used through May 2022. “Just as our business is changing, we know that events in our customers’ lives are being changed and canceled, too,” airline officials said Friday in a statement. “Whether customers have been affected by recent schedule adjustments or want additional reassurance about upcoming travel, we’re now extending the ability to plan, re-book and travel with us for up to two years – giving Delta customers some extra breathing room.” Temporary military hospitals to begin taking COVID-19 patients, Pentagon says Update 11:55 a.m. EDT April 3: The Pentagon said it will begin accepting COVID-19 positive patients at Pentagon-supported medical facilities in Dallas and New Orleans that previously had been designated as non-COVID hospitals. COVID-19 positive patients in convalescent care and those deemed non-urgent cases will be accepted at the Morial federal medical station in New Orleans and at the Kay Bailey Hutchison federal medical center in Dallas. These patients must first be screened at a local hospital. President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that he had approved New York’s request that COVID-19 patients be accepted for care at the Pentagon-supported Javits center, which previously had taken on non-COVID patients. The Pentagon also said Friday that screening for care of non-COVID-19 patients on the hospital ship USNS Comfort in New York harbor is being modified in an effort to reduce a backlog at some New York hospitals. Instead of requiring patients to be tested for COVID-19 at the hospital from which they are being transferred, each patient transferred to the Comfort will be screened by temperature and given a short questionnaire pier-side. The Pentagon also announced that the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the active-duty military had risen to 978 as of Friday morning. That is up 85 from a day earlier. New York reports 562 new fatal COVID-19 cases Update 11:30 a.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said the state saw its “highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started” on Friday. Officials reported 562 new deaths attributed to COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll to 2,373. 102,863 coronavirus infections reported in New York Update 11:20 a.m. EDT April 3: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Friday that 10,481 new coronavirus infections have been reported, bringing the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 102,863. New York has been the state hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. UK prime minister to continue self-isolating Update 11 a.m. EDT April 3: Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom said Friday that he will continue to self-isolate past the recommended seven-day period as he deals with a “minor symptom” lingering since his COVID-19 diagnosis. Johnson said he continues to have a fever. “In accordance with government advice, I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes,' he said. “But we’re clearly working the whole time on our program to defeat the virus.” Mayor tells New York City residents to wear face coverings in public Update 10:50 a.m. EDT April 3: Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said Friday that residents should wear face coverings while around people who are not part of their families or households to stymie the spread of the new coronavirus. He said in a video posted Friday to Twitter that he’s been asked several times recently whether masks are appropriate for people in the general public. “The masks -- the surgical masks, those N95 masks -- we want to keep those for the health care workers, for the first responders,” he said. “We’re now advising all New Yorkers, when you go outside and you’re close to other people -- not your own family and people under your same roof, but when you’re close to other people -- have a bandanna, a scarf, some kind of face covering you can use when you happen to be in close proximity to people.” He emphasized that the mask does not protect against coronavirus and urged people to continue keeping at least 6 feet of space between each other. “(This) will help make sure that if, God forbid you’ve contracted the disease, even if you’re not yet symptomatic, that you won’t inadvertently spread it to someone else,” he said. “It’s a precaution to protect others.” Cruise ship en route to Florida confirms 12 COVID-19 cases Update 10:20 a.m. EDT April 3: Health officials have confirmed a dozen coronavirus infections on a Princess Cruise Lines ship headed toward Fort Lauderdale, Florida, company officials said Thursday. Princess Cruise Lines said that on Tuesday, crew members on the Coral Princess sent 13 COVID-19 test samples to health officials in Barbados. Of those, samples from seven guests and five crew members tested positive for the viral infection. The Coral Princess had set sail March 5 from Chile, one week before Princess Cruises announced a 60-day pause of operations. It was scheduled to travel to Argentina, where passengers were set to disembark March 19. Stocks open lower after US government reports 700,000 job losses Update 9:50 a.m. EDT April 3: Stocks wavered in early trading on Wall Street after the U.S. government reported that more than 700,000 jobs were lost last month. Businesses have shut down across the country and the world as people stay home in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. The S&P 500 was up 0.4% in the first few minutes of trading. European markets were down Friday after losses in most of Asia. The price of oil continued to rise on hopes for a global deal to limit overproduction, which helped boost energy stocks. The price of benchmark U.S. crude rose 7%. Grupo Modelo to halt production of Corona beer Update 9:45 a.m. EDT April 3: Grupo Modelo, the Mexican company that brews Corona beer, said Friday in a statement that it will halt production of the drink and others it brews to comply with Mexico’s closure of non-essential businesses. U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March Update 9:15 a.m. EDT April 3: A new report from the Labor Department on Friday showed the economic storm associated with the coronavirus battering the U.S. economy in March, causing the loss of 701,000 jobs, and pushing the jobless rate up by almost one percent -- the largest monthly increase in over 45 years. The unemployment rate was at 4.4 percent in March, not far under the 4.7 percent rate when President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the highest jobless rate of his presidency. 'Employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459,000, mainly in food services and drinking places,' the Labor Department reported. “Notable declines also occurred in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction,” the report added. UK officials report 684 new fatal coronavirus cases  Update 9:05 a.m. EDT April 3: Officials in the United Kingdom recorded 684 new fatal COVID-19 cases on Friday, raising the country’s coronavirus death toll to 3,605. The number is slightly higher than the 569 deaths reported Thursday. Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced 4,450 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases. In all, officials said 33,718 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in the U.K. Germany becomes 4th nation to surpass China’s total coronavirus count Update 7:53 a.m. EDT April 3: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus hit 54,137 early Friday, and Spain’s total number of infections surpassed that of Italy, according to a tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University. In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 1,030,628 people worldwide. Four countries – the United States, Spain, Italy and Germany – have now confirmed total infection counts well above China’s 82,509 tally. • The United States has reported 245,573 cases, resulting in 6,058 deaths. • Spain has reported 117,710 infections, resulting in 10,935 deaths. • Italy has confirmed 115,242 cases, resulting in 13,915 deaths. • Germany has reported 85,063 cases, resulting in 1,111 deaths. • China has recorded 82,509 cases, resulting in 3,326 deaths. • France has confirmed 59,929 infections, resulting in 5,398 deaths. • Iran has recorded 53,183 cases, resulting in 3,160 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 34,192 cases, resulting in 2,926 deaths. • Switzerland has confirmed 19,145 cases, resulting in 573 deaths. • Turkey has recorded 18,135 cases, resulting in 356 deaths. UK field hospital NHS Nightingale opens less than 2 weeks after project began Update 7:41 a.m. EDT April 3: Less than two weeks after crews began repurposing London’s ExCel conference center to accommodate overflow novel coronavirus patients, the NHS Nightingale field hospital stands ready to serve. Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, called the timely transformation a “spectacular and almost unbelievable feat.” “(It’s) an example – if ever one was needed – of how the impossible could be made possible,” he said Friday via a video-link from Scotland, where he has been self-isolating after being diagnosed with the virus in March. “In this dark time, this place will be a shining light,” Prince Charles said, adding, “It is symbolic of the selfless care and devoted service taking place in innumerable settings, with countless individuals throughout the United Kingdom.” To date, the United Kingdom has reported 34,192 cases, resulting in 2,926 deaths. Coronavirus cases continue mounting in Brazil, Japan Update 6:56 a.m. EDT April 3: With more than 1 million novel coronavirus cases now recorded worldwide, new – and some old – hotspots are emerging as the pandemic continues its global spread. • Brazil confirmed Thursday its third consecutive day logging at least 1,000 new cases. The South American country now reports a total of 7,910 infections, which have resulted in at least 299 deaths. • Japan confirmed early Friday that 235 additional novel coronavirus cases have brought the East Asian country’s total to 3,329, resulting in at least 63 deaths. • Tokyo reported its largest single-day increase in new cases on Friday with 97. Japan’s capital city has now confirmed a total of 684 cases. Portion of famed Paris market repurposed as makeshift morgue Update 6:33 a.m. EDT April 3: A portion of the Rungis food market on the outskirts of Paris has been converted into a temporary morgue to handle the swelling number of novel coronavirus fatalities reported in the region. According to The Washington Post, the Paris Police Prefecture is converting one isolated building in the world’s largest meat and vegetable market into a makeshift morgue, capable of accommodating between 800 and 1,000 coffins. “This location will permit the coffins of the deceased to be kept in the most dignified and acceptable conditions from a health point of view, pending their burial or cremation in France or abroad,” the prefecture said in a statement, circulated widely among French media. According to a tally maintained by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, France has recorded at least 59,929 COVID-19 infections since the global pandemic began, resulting in 5,398 fatalities. Libya confirms 1st coronavirus-related death Update 4:35 a.m. EDT April 3: Libya’s National Center for Disease Control confirmed the country’s first novel coronavirus-related fatality in a statement released Thursday. The patient, who was not diagnosed until after hear death, was an 85-year-old woman. According to a tally maintained by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the North African nation has reported a total of 11 infections to date. Lenders question Friday rollout of $349B small business coronavirus relief program Update 4:23 a.m. EDT April 3: The $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program is slated to launch today, but banks tapped to disperse the emergency federal small business loans told The Washington Post they are skeptical the plan is rollout-ready. “Having just received guidance outlining how to implement a $349 billion program literally hours before it starts, we would ask for everyone to be patient as banks move heaven and earth to get a system in place and running to help America’s small businesses and the millions of men and women who work at them,” Richard Hunt, president and chief executive officer of the Consumer Bankers Association, said in a statement. The Paycheck Protection Program, considered a key element of the $2.2 trillion economic relief package approved by Congress one week ago, is intended to deliver a “sharply streamlined, same-day approval process unheard of in the history of federally backed small business lending,” the Post reported. Several participating lenders indicated in interviews with the Post as late as Thursday, however, that they are still awaiting finalized program guidelines from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration before processing any applications despite today’s launch date. Amid coronavirus crisis Disney to furlough employees ‘whose jobs aren't necessary at this time’ Update 3:28 a.m. EDT April 3: Walt Disney Co. has officially notified employees that those “whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time” will be furloughed beginning April 19. The global entertainment empire shuttered all 12 of its theme parks on March 12 and has been paying its employees salaries in the interim. Per the latest announcement, those payments will cease on April 18. The company said in its statement it has been “forced to make the difficult decision to take the next step and furlough employees” because there is “no clear indication of when we can restart our businesses.” All furloughed workers will remain employed by Disney and retain their benefits. Mexico’s Grupo Modelo halts production of Corona beer Update 2:54 a.m. EDT April 3: Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo announced late Thursday it will temporarily halt production of Corona beer as the novel coronavirus pandemic pits essential products against those deemed nonessential. In a news release, Grupo Modelo said the move is in response to the Mexican government’s Tuesday directive that suspends temporarily most industries not deemed “essential” services such as health care and agriculture. In turn, the company plans to cease producing its brews on Sunday with no clear timeline outlined for a return to production. Supplies seized from suspected Brooklyn hoarder donated to medical staffs fighting coronavirus Update 2:32 a.m. EDT April 3: Some New York and New Jersey medical personnel are slightly better stocked after a Brooklyn man’s arrest led authorities to a stockpile of hoarded medical supplies, CNN reported. Prosecutors contend in court documents that Baruch Feldheim, 43, sold N95 masks to doctors and nurses at substantially inflated prices. In turn, the roughly 192,000 in-demand respirator masks and assorted other supplies are being redistributed to medical personnel across New York and New Jersey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Sony launches $100 million global coronavirus relief fund Update 2 a.m. EDT April 3: Sony is preparing to launch $100 million fund to provide global relief to those affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Sony extends its condolences to the families of those who have passed away as a result of the coronavirus crisis and extends its sympathies to all those who have been impacted,” Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony’s president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement, adding, “In order to overcome the unprecedented challenges that as a society we now face around the world, we will do all we can as a global company to support the individuals on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus the children who are our future, and those who have been impacted in the creative community.' US coronavirus deaths hit 6,053, total cases top 245K Update 12:30 a.m. EDT April 3: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 245,000 early Friday morning across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 245,540 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 6,053 deaths. U.S. cases now more than double the 115,242 reported in Italy and the 112,065 confirmed in Spain. Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 2,374 – or roughly 40 percent of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 537 in New Jersey and 417 in Michigan.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 92,720 confirmed cases – or more than three times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 25,590 and California with 11,042. Seven other states have now confirmed at least 6,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • Michigan: 10,791, including 417 deaths • Louisiana: 9,159, including 310 deaths • Florida: 9,008, including 144 deaths • Massachusetts: 8,966, including 154 deaths • Illinois: 7,695, including 163 deaths • Pennsylvania: 7,268, including 90 deaths • Washington: 6,588, including 271 deaths Meanwhile, Georgia and Texas each has confirmed at least 5,000 novel coronavirus infections; Connecticut, Colorado and Indiana each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Ohio, Tennessee and Maryland each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.