President Trump says he predicts the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. could reach 100,000.
Top economic adviser says the administration is in no rush to push with another financial aid package.
Seven Eastern states join together to buy $5 billion in vital virus-fighting supplies and equipment.
J. Crew, a fashion company that operates 170 retail stores, files for bankruptcy.
Trump Says U.S. Death Toll Could Reach 100,000
In an interview with Fox News, President Donald Trump says he predicts the coronavirus death toll in the United States could reach 100,000, far higher than he had forecast just weeks ago.
Just last month, Trump forecasted that 60,000 lives would be lost, acknowledging that the virus had proved more devastating than he had expected. During the two-hour broadcast, Trump also acknowledged that he was warned about the coronavirus in his regular intelligence briefing on Jan. 23rd, but asserted that the information was characterized as if it was “not a big deal.”
Justice Department Challenges Stay-At-Home Order
The Justice Department has sided with a Virginia church that claims the state’s stay-at-home order violates freedom. The Lighthouse Fellowship Church sued Gov. Ralph Northam after its pastor was fined for hosting a 16-person church service in a building that seats 225 people.
On April 5th, the church’s pastor was issued a criminal citation and summons for allowing more than 10 people to worship together. Attendees were seated more than six feet apart and the church had sanitized surfaces before the service, keeping up with the same standards that Virginia set forth for offices and retailers.
The church sought a temporary restraining order, which was denied by a district court judge, contending that the state of Virginia violated the church’s religious freedom by allowing stores and other commercial businesses, but not churches, to host socially distant gatherings of more than 10 people. That Justice Department stated that the double standard has interfered with the church’s free exercise of religion.
Crew Files For Bankruptcy
Fashion company J. Crew has filed for bankruptcy, making it the company is the first major retailer to fall victim to the pandemic. The company, whose popularity was lifted more than a decade ago by Michelle Obama, had amassed enormous debt even before the outbreak. J. Crew operates more than 170 stores and an additional 140 stores under a different brand.
The company had been planning an IPO this spring to pay down debt. The pandemic has since halved sales of clothing and related accessories in March and is believed to have had an even greater effect in April for most retailers.
Second Thoughts About Another Stimulus
Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s top economic adviser, said the administration was in no rush to push forward with another financial aid package, saying the government was in a pause period at the moment now. Kudlow said the administration wants to see how the trillions of dollars already allocated are working before the government pushes anything more out the door.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has since reported that $175 billion in loans allocated to a small business support program in the last aid package have been issued. In total, more than $660 billion in loans has been allocated for small businesses, forgivable if a significant portion is used to cover payroll costs. The program has come under fire for providing money to large publicly traded firms while Main Street businesses struggle to gain access.
The average loan size in the second round of funding was $79,000, compared to $206,000 in the first round. According to the SBA, businesses in California, New York, and Texas have received more funds than any other state. Kudlow said the White House would push for additional tax breaks for workers and businesses, including significant breaks for entertainment and sports events. He added that new write-offs could include expenses associated with investing in vaccines or retrofitting office space to ensure that it complies with best practices around the virus.
Eastern States Unite To Buy Vital Supplies
Governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware have announced their states would jointly purchase masks, gowns, gloves, ventilators, and other medical and protective equipment needed to fight the virus. Massachusetts and Rhode Island will also take part in the initiative.
By combining their orders, the governors said, they expected to be able to purchase at lower prices, better stabilize the supply chain, and avoid bidding against one another for scarce items. The seven states, which agreed in April to coordinate their reopenings, will work together on policies to ensure that adequate amounts of PPE are stockpiled and that other preparations are made for a possible second wave of infections. NY Governor Cuomo says New York hospitals would be required to build up a 90-day supply of PPE.