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US cases top 226,000, unemployment rate soars

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

  • Global cases: More than 981,221
  • Global deaths: At least 50,230
  • US cases: At least 226,374
  • US deaths: At least 5,316

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

2:00 pm: China defends its coronavirus data after report says US intelligence doubted numbers

1:52 pm: Robert Herjavec: Possibly losing everything is scary whether you’re a ‘Shark’ or small business

The coronavirus takes an emotional toll on business owners who have invested their lives building a company and brand, “Shark Tank” investor and cybersecurity entrepreneur Robert Herjavec said.  

He said he has had to lay off about 8% of Herjavec Group’s 350-person workforce, a “painfully brutal” move.

“The thought of it possibly all going away is really scary,” Herjavec said on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley.” “I don’t care if you’re a Shark. I don’t care how much money you’re worth. I don’t care if you’re a small business. People take a lot of pride in their small businesses.” 

Entrepreneurs do not start businesses “just for a paycheck,” said the CEO and founder of Herjavec Group, which provides cybersecurity products and services to business. 

“They have their entire ego and who they are and everything tied into that, so it’s been really hard,” he said. —Kevin Stankiewicz

1:47 pm: FDA eases blood donation restrictions to address blood supply shortage

The FDA revised guidelines to make it easier for some people to donate blood who were previously restricted.

The revised guidelines lift blood donation restrictions on those who have recently gotten tattoos and piercings, as well as sex workers and injection drug users. People will be able to donate blood three months after getting a new tattoo or piercing rather than one year. Sex workers and injection drug users were previously not allowed to give blood, but can now do so after refraining from sex work or injection drug use for three months.

Gay men will now be able to give blood if they refrain from sexual contact with another man for three months instead of one year.

These changes may be able to address issues with the blood supply in the U.S., according to the FDA. “As a result of this public health emergency, there is a significant shortage in the supply of blood in the United States,” the FDA said in the revised guidelines. —Hannah Miller

1:39 pm: Chanos says gig economy companies like Uber will emerge from coronavirus crisis ‘harmed’

The coronavirus pandemic may not be the boon for gig economy companies that some believe it will be, Kynikos Associates Founder Jim Chanos said on CNBC’s “Halftime Report.” 

“I think the gig economy companies are going to come out of this harmed, not enhanced,” said the billionaire investor and famous short seller. “I know there’s a body of thought that oh, well everybody will just do food delivery and we’ll all take Ubers and no one is going to buy a car again and I think the flip side of it is that the labor pool issue for the gig economy companies is going to loom very very large coming out of this crisis.”

Chanos said the unemployment benefits being paid to gig economy workers, as outlined in the $2 trillion relief bill, could highlight certain issues with the models of companies like Uber, Lyft and GrubHub. Because these companies classify drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees, the companies have avoided paying into unemployment programs the way a traditional employer would, meaning the payments fall on taxpayers. —Lauren Feiner

1:33 pm: Walgreens sees surge of sales in first part of March before dropoff as lockdown orders went into effect across the US

Walgreens Boots Alliance Global Chief Financial Officer James Kehoe said the company saw a surge in sales in the first part of March and then a noticeable drop as lockdowns took effect. He said the company cannot reliably forecast the impact of COVID-19.

Walgreens executives dialed in from different locations to report fiscal second-quarter earnings as they hunkered down and socially distanced from one another.

The international drugstore chain offered clues about how retailers still open during the pandemic may fare. Walgreens leaders described the complexities of predicting business trends, as customer patterns shift rapidly during a global crisis. For example, they said, some customers bought many months of prescriptions. On the other hand, heavily trafficked stores like those on the Las Vegas Strip have been hit hard by closed casinos, restaurants and nearby businesses. —Melissa Repko

1:21 pm: Amazon blocks sale of N95 masks to the public, begins offering supplies to hospitals

Amazon is no longer offering N95 masks to the general public, as it prioritizes the delivery of essential supplies to hospitals, government agencies and other groups amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier this week, the company rolled out a new section of its website dedicated to COVID-19 related supplies. There, any U.S.-accredited hospital or state or federal agency can fill out a form to access necessary items like N95 masks, surgical masks, facial shields, surgical gowns, surgical gloves and large-volume sanitizers. News of the website was first reported by Vox. 

The site states it is not accepting requests from the general public, noting: “We are not accepting requests from individuals or non-qualified organizations at this time.” Amazon also noted it will not make a profit from the orders. —Annie Palmer

1:08 pm: Even with 6.6 million more workers seeking unemployment, millions more still need to file

People gather at the entrance for the New York State Department of Labor offices in Brooklyn, which closed to the public due to the coronavirus disease outbreak March 20, 2020.

Andrew Kelly | REUTERS

The 6.6 million claims workers filed for unemployment benefits last week is not expected to be an accurate reflection of the real number of Americans who found themselves suddenly out of work.

The number is expected to continue to grow by millions this month.

Weekly jobless claims for the week ending March 28, was double the already shocking 3.3 million record filings of the week earlier. It also is well above the 3.1 million consensus forecast of economists, which had become irrelevant by Wednesday, as a number of major firms put out estimates that were closer to 5 million. —Patti Domm

12:54 pm: Chime pilots way to get $1,200 stimulus checks to users instantly after talks with Mark Cuban

Chime, the biggest U.S. digital bank start-up, is piloting a way for its users to receive their federal $1,200 stimulus checks instantly, weeks before the government is expected to send the payments.  

The San Francisco-based company said it randomly picked 1,000 of its customers to get the payments Thursday using a feature called SpotMe that typically allows members to go negative in their accounts without incurring fees. 

Since the bank is using its own capital to front the money until the government makes those payments, part of the historic $2 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law last week, it is taking on some risk, according to CEO Chris Britt. If he gets reassurance from the government that Chime users can’t redirect stimulus payments to other bank accounts, he plans on expanding it to more of the bank’s 8 million users, he said. —Hugh Son

12:46 pm: DNC postponed until August, delaying official presidential nomination as coronavirus spreads

The Democratic National Convention, which was set for July, has been delayed until August as the coronavirus continues to spread.

“In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention,” said DNC Convention Committee CEO Joe Solmonese in a press release.

“I have always believed that American innovation and ingenuity shine brightest during our darkest days, and for that reason, I’m confident our convention planning team and our partners will find a way to deliver a convention in Milwaukee this summer that places our Democratic nominee on the path to victory in November,” he said. —Yelena Dzhanova

12:37 pm: Small landlords struggle as renters either can’t or choose not to pay amid coronavirus layoffs

As job losses climb into the millions due to the coronavirus pandemic, laid-off workers increasingly can’t make the rent. That’s also bad news for small landlords.

Unlike large real estate companies and REITs that own multiple rental buildings, small, so-called “mom and pop” landlords have neither the cash nor the credit availability to cover their costs when the rent runs out.

There are about 8 million individual landlords in the United States, meaning those who typically own between one and 10 properties. They own and manage half the rental properties in the nation and house about 48 million renters, according to Avail, a software company that sells them the type of online rental platforms used by larger landlords. —Diana Olick

12:24 pm: Dow jumps more than 400 points after Trump tells CNBC Saudis and Russia will ease oil pressure

12:17 pm: Fed’s Kaplan sees the jobless rate rising to mid-teens then falling to 8% this year

U.S. unemployment will peak in the “low- to mid-teens” before falling to about 8% by the end of 2020, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said Thursday.

From there, the recovery likely will be more U-shaped as consumers struggle to recover from an economic near-stoppage brought on by efforts to contain the coronavirus, the central bank official said during a “Squawk on the Street” interview. Kaplan said he anticipates a “severe contraction” in the second quarter spilling into the third quarter before a recovery begins.

“The issue is, what’s the strength of the rebound?” he said. After unemployment peaks, Kapan said he sees it slipping “below 10%, probably closer to 8%.” —Jeff Cox

12:11 pm: Trump administration awards $25 billion in emergency transit funding

The U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced it was allocating $25 billion in emergency funding grants to public transportation systems to address a massive falloff in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The funds, including $5.4 billion to the New York City area, were approved by Congress last week and transit systems should start receiving payments in the coming weeks. —Reuters

12:06 pm: Uber said it would compensate drivers who test positive for COVID-19. This driver was still denied

When Attila Erzeybek, an Uber driver in Phoenix, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 23, he applied quickly for the financial assistance the ride-sharing company has promised it will offer to drivers who fall ill amid the pandemic.

His case was unambiguous: He sent Uber a letter from his doctor, which stated that he had the respiratory illness and needed to self-quarantine.

And so he was shocked when the company denied him.

After reviewing your documents, we have determined that you’re not eligible for the financial assistance because the document does not show the symptoms or risk of COVID-19,” the company wrote him. It then deactivated his account. —Annie Nova

12:01 pm: Updated map of US cases, which now total 217,263

11:53 am: New York Gov. Cuomo says coronavirus outbreak in Long Island is ‘troubling’ as state cases surge to 92,381

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a coronavirus outbreak in Long Island is “troubling” as the infection has now spread to every county across the state, surging to 92,381

“You look to see in Nassau County 1,000 new cases, Suffolk County 1,141 new cases. That is troubling news,” Cuomo said Thursday at a press conference in Albany, referring to the two counties that comprise Long Island. Suffolk County is home to the Hamptons, the wealthy playground for Manhattan’s rich. 

Cuomo said the COVID-19 outbreak isn’t just hitting urban areas. The coronavirus has spread to Parts of upstate New York have more cows than people. New York state, don’t think of just New York City. Upstate New York is a rural community and you see that is not just urban areas, it’s suburban areas that’s Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk. … In many ways New York state is a microcosm of the United States” —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

11:30 am: Google relaxes its broad ban on ads that mention coronavirus 

 Google is relaxing its policy on some ads related to COVID-19 after originally blocking all ads related to the pandemic. 

Under its “sensitive events policy,” Google said it started blocking ads related to coronavirus in January. That policy was designed to block ads attempting to capitalize on shorter-term events like natural disasters, but as the pandemic continues as a major issue, the company said it’s adjusting enforcement “to ensure that we are protecting users while prioritizing critical information.” 

The policy change comes as analysts believe Google is set to take a significant hit in ad revenue as the online advertising space slows down. Axios first reported the news Thursday. —Megan Graham 

11:26 am: Goldman CEO David Solomon says ‘no question’ that the initial US response to coronavirus was slow 

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said that while there is “no question” that the initial U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic was slow, progress is now being made and a “path forward” from the crisis will emerge in coming weeks.

“There’s no question, David, that we were late to this, we were slow to adapt,” Solomon said Thursday on CNBC in response to a question from anchor David Faber.

“But I really see now lots of focus” from the government and private companies, Solomon said. “With the resources we have, the ingenuity we have, the creativity, I’m very optimistic we’ll make progress and start to plot a path forward in the coming weeks.”

Solomon said that as testing and other measures ramp up, it will eventually give policymakers confidence in the trajectory of the virus. That understanding will “give us the opportunity to start to slowly open up parts of the economy,” he said. —Hugh Son 

11:18 am: This map shows which states are seeing the most job losses due to the coronavirus 

Another record-breaking spike in U.S. jobless claims hit Americans across the country, but varied in impact by state as each governor takes a different tact in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Claims for state unemployment benefits were most concentrated in Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington state and Massachusetts with claims of 73, 62, 50, 47 and 47 per 1,000 workers, respectively. The data is for jobless filings through the end of last week. —Thomas Franck, John W. Schoen 

11:10 am: DOJ and HHS partner to distribute medical supplies confiscated from price gougers

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services plan to distribute more than half a million of personal protective equipment, or PPE, including approximately 192,000 N95 respirator masks, to health care workers in New York and New Jersey fighting the coronavirus, HHS said in a press release.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation confiscated the supplies during an enforcement operation by the DOJ’s COVID-19 hoarding and price gouging task force on March 30. In addition to the N95 respirator masks, the supplies found included 598,000 medical grade gloves and 130,000 surgical masks, procedure masks, N100 masks, surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, bottles of hand sanitizer, and bottles of spray disinfectant, the release said.

HHS said it will pay the owner of the hoarded PPE pre-coronavirus fair market value for the supplies. —Noah Higgins-Dunn 

10:23 am: Volkswagen extends Tennessee plant shutdown

Volkswagen extended the temporary shutdown of its Chattanooga plant in Tennessee until 10 p.m. April 12 due to the coronavirus. The plant was expected to reopen earlier this week. It ended production on March 21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The health and safety of our team remains our highest priority,” the German automaker said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation and will take any and all additional steps as they become necessary, communicating updates as they are available.”

VW said it will continue to pay all Chattanooga employees in full. However, all employees will be required to take paid time off on April 10. Hourly and salary non-exempt employees will have the option to take “no pay-no penalty” for this day, and salary-exempt employees may use comp time, the company said.

The planned reopening is still prior to President Donald Trump’s extension of national social-distancing guidelines through April. —Michael Wayland 

10:15 am: Grubhub gives independent restaurants $250 to help drive delivery sales

Grubhub is giving independent restaurants and regional chain franchises $250 each to offer customers a promotion of $10 off any order of at least $30. Grubhub said that participating restaurants have seen sales spike 30%, compared with those who are not offering the promotion.The third-party delivery provider plans to spend almost $30 million through April on the program. Grubhub reported revenue of $1.3 billion in 2019. —Amelia Lucas

9:50 am: Amazon will start taking workers’ temperatures and provide face masks after public outcry 

Amazon fulfillment center warehouse.

Getty Images

Amazon is taking greater steps to protect warehouse workers following weeks of public outcry. 

In a blog post, Dave Clark, who runs Amazon’s retail operations, said the company will start taking employees’ temperatures when they report to work and supply them with face masks. 

Temperature checks began last Sunday at select sites in the U.S. and will now begin to roll out to Amazon’s entire operations network and footprint of Whole Foods Stores in the U.S. and Europe by early next week, Clark said. Anyone who registers a fever over 100.4 will be told to go home and will only be allowed to return after they’ve gone three days without a fever, he added. —Annie Palmer

9:41 am: Ex-FDA chief warns ‘parts of our lives’ will stay shut down without a coronavirus drug by fall 

The coronavirus will continue to disrupt daily life in the fall unless there is an effective drug to treat it, said former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb

“If we don’t have it, this virus is going to come back in the fall and it’s going to continue to shut down parts of our lives,” Gottlieb said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“This is going to circulate in the background. The consumer is not going to bounce back. People are going to be afraid to go out and we’re going to continue to see people succumb to this virus,” he added. 

Gottlieb said the sense of “urgency” being applied to the development of a COVID-19 vaccine needs to be applied to developing a therapeutic. —Kevin Stankiewicz

9:33 am: Stocks open flat after US jobless claims surge by a record 6.6 million 

Stocks opened flat as grim U.S. unemployment data offset a surge in oil prices and added to the fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak and its economic ramifications. Thursday’s moves come after the market suffered steep losses in the previous session. Stocks were pressured on Wednesday by comments from Trump, who said the U.S. should prepare for a “very, very painful two weeks.” White House officials are projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 virus deaths in the U.S. —Fred Imbert, Pippa Stevens

9:23 am: San Diego hospital prepares for ‘slow-moving tsunami’ of coronavirus cases

San Diego-based hospital system Scripps Health is preparing for coronavirus cases in the city to “spike” in what CEO Chris Van Gorder describes as a  “slow-moving tsunami” — even as it is already running out of surgical masks and doctors prepare to convert anesthesia machines into ventilators in a pinch.

“We know it’s coming,” he continued. “We can actually see it. We’ve got the early stages of it already coming ashore. You can see that with the positive patients we have in our hospital. But we don’t know how big that tsunami is actually going to be.”

Scripps Health operates five hospitals with 1,453 beds, 28 outpatient centers and treats roughly 600,000 patients each year. As of Monday, it had processed 4,822 coronavirus tests, identifying 217 COVID-19 patients, Van Gorder said. They had just nine coronavirus patients in the intensive care unit and five of them were using ventilators as of last week, he said. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr. 

9:20 am: Jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr., songwriter Adam Schlesinger die from coronavirus complications

On Wednesday, complications from COVID-19 claimed the lives of pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis Jr. and singer-songwriter Adam Schlesinger, the New York Time reported

Marsalis, who was 85 years old, contributed to a late-20th-century resurgence in jazz and influenced four musician sons on to prominent careers, including jazz artists Wynton and Branford.

Adam Schlesinger, 52, was a singer-songwriter for the bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy. He had an award-winning second career writing songs for film, theater and television. —Melodie Warner

8:31 am: US weekly jobless claims soar to 6.6 million

The torrent of Americans filing for unemployment insurance continued last week as 6.6 million new claims were filed, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones estimated 3.1 million, a week after nearly 3.3 million filings in the first wave of what has been a record-shattering swelling of the jobless ranks.

Before the coronavirus shut down major parts of the U.S. economy, the highest weekly claims was 695,000 in 1982. The Great Recession high was 665,000 in March 2009.

The sudden stop spurred by social distancing policies caused a cascade of joblessness unlike anything the nation has ever seen. —Jeff Cox

8:02 am: Restaurants tack on extras to takeout orders

Buy a meal, get a free roll of toilet paper. 

Restaurants are turning to bundling in-demand consumer products with food and drinks to reach out to their customers even as the future of their businesses is unclear. 

States have closed dining rooms, forcing eateries to pivot to takeout and delivery. Total restaurant transactions plunged 36% during the week ended March 22 from a year earlier, according to the NPD Group.

Several weeks ago, Dave Goodside, owner of Beach Cafe on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, asked his paper vendor for 10 cases of toilet paper, or about 800 rolls. The cafe offers one free toilet paper roll and two pairs of polyethylene gloves, typically used for food preparation, with every order. Goodside estimates that Beach Cafe is filling about 20 to 30 orders a night. Other restaurants around the country are taking similar measures.—Amelia Lucas

7:52 am: Switzerland cases top 18,000

Switzerland’s public health agency reported the total number of coronavirus infections nationwide had climbed to 18,267, up from 17,139.

The country, which has recorded the ninth-highest number of infections worldwide, has confirmed 505 deaths as a result of COVID-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. —Sam Meredith

7:27 am: Small Business Association challenged to make $349 billion worth of loans fast

7:12 am: Boeing offers voluntary layoffs to employees 

A worker applies sealer to a cargo door frame as the bottom section of a Boeing 737 fuselage is assembled at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Boeing is offering buyout and early retirement packages to employees, according to a memo from Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun. The memo says Boeing will offer a voluntary layoff plan that allows eligible employees who want to exit the company to do so with a pay and benefits package.

“This move aims to reduce the need for other workforce actions,” Calhoun wrote in the memo. —Will Feuer

7:05 am: US surgeon general asks CDC to see if face masks can prevent spread after all

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks during a press briefing about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, March 14, 2020.

JIM WATSON | AFP via Getty Images

America’s top doctor appears to have softened his stance over the effectiveness of face masks when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams had initially advised against the general public wearing face masks, saying they were “not effective” in preventing people from contracting COVID-19 and amplified the risk of health-care providers being unable to get them.

However, Adams told NBC’s “TODAY” on Wednesday that he has now asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate whether this recommendation should change. —Sam Meredith

6 am: Spain’s death toll crosses 10,000

Spain’s health ministry reported that a record 950 people died overnight as a result of the coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 10,003.

It becomes only the second country worldwide to surpass 10,000 coronavirus deaths. To date, Italy has reported that 13,155 people have lost their lives to COVID-19. —Sam Meredith

5:45 am: Spain reports nearly 900,000 people have lost their jobs since lockdown

A tourist wears a protective mask as she carries her suitcases past a closed Nike store at Las Ramblas on March 15, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain.

David Ramos | Getty Images

Almost 900,000 Spanish workers have lost their jobs since the country went into lockdown, social security data showed.

The euro zone’s fourth-largest economy reported that 898,822 people have lost their jobs since March 12, when the lockdown measures were first introduced. More than half of those who lost work were temporary employees. 

Spain has reported the third-highest number of cases of any country worldwide, with more than 104,000 infections. —Sam Meredith

4:50 am: Israel’s Netanyahu in self-isolation after health minister tests positive

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to go into self-quarantine for a second time after the government confirmed that Health Minister Yaakov Litzman tested positive for the coronavirus.

Several other senior government officials were also thought to be self-isolating after coming into contact with Litzman, Israeli media reported. More than 6,200 people have contracted the COVID-19 infection in Israel, with 30 deaths nationwide. —Sam Meredith

Read CNBC’s coverage from CNBC’s Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Spain deaths surpass 10,000; Russia reports record spike in cases

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