Deaths Exceed 300,000; Japan Eases Emergency Steps: Virus Update

The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic topped 300,000, after reaching the 200,000 threshold just three weeks ago. Japan prepared to lift the state of emergency for most of the country’s prefectures.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has sought to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic, said he doesn’t want to talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping right now. Fears are growing that the pandemic isreviving all the worst-case scenarios about ties between the two nations, edging them closer to confrontation.

TheAmerican Medical Association said people shouldn’t use antibody tests to determine whether someone is protected from the virus, but only to determine how broadly the virus has spread or whether the person could be a plasma donor.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases top 4.4 million; deaths exceed 301,000
  • Covid-19 revivesworst-case scenarios for U.S.-China relations
  • Migrant workers on front line in return to work across Asia
  • Tokyo to remain under emergency even as situation eases

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Apple Helps Suppliers Fight Virus (4:35 p.m. NY)

Apple Inc., whose globe-spanning supply chain has been tested by the pandemic, is helping suppliersreconfigure factories to limit the spread of Covid-19, one of several steps the iPhone maker is taking to protect workers. In an annual supplier responsibility report released Thursday, Apple detailed a range of responses from its partners, including health screenings, deep cleaning, deployment of face masks and hand sanitizer, and limiting the density of work areas.

Trump Mulls Made-in-U.S. Order (4:15 p.m. NY)

The Trump administration is preparing an executive order that would require certain essential drugs and medical treatments for a variety of conditions bemade in the U.S. The order comes in light of drug and device shortages during the pandemic. A draft of the order is circulating inside the government and was obtained by Bloomberg News.

“It is critical that we reduce our dependence on foreign manufacturers for essential medicines, medical countermeasures” to “ensure sufficient and reliable long-term domestic manufacturing” that prevents shortages and supplies to “mobilize our nation’s public health industrial base” when needed, says the nine-page draft.

U.S. Cases Rose 1.6%, Below 7-Day Average (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases rose 1.6% from the day before to 1.4 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That was below the average daily increase of 1.8% over the past week. Deaths rose to 85,066.

  • New York reported 157 deaths, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. That makes it the fourth day in a row that the toll was below 200.
  • New Jersey cases rose by 1,216, or 0.9%, below the week’s average of 1%. Beaches will open May 22, with social-distancing rules and capacity limits in place.
  • Florida reported 43,210 cases, up 1.9% from a day earlier, according to the state’s health department, compared with an average increase of 1.6% in the previous seven days.. Deaths rose 2.6% to 1,875.
  • California’s cases increased 2.8% to 73,164, while deaths increased 3.3% to 3,032,according to the state’s website.

Italy Cases, Deaths Rise (12:05 p.m. NY)

Italy registered anincrease of new cases and the most daily fatalities in seven days on Thursday, as the government prepares to further ease a lockdown starting May 18, with shops as well as bars and restaurants expected to reopen on a regional basis.

Civil protection authorities reported 992 cases — the most since Tuesday — compared with 888 a day earlier, and raising the total to 223,096. Daily fatalities rose to 262 from 195 on Wednesday, with a total of 31,368.

Trump Says He Doesn’t Want to Talk to Xi as Tensions Rise (8:31 a.m. NY)

Trump mused about eliminating the largest trading relationship in the world, with tensions high over the coronavirus outbreak. Asked in a Fox Business Network interview whether he had spoken to Xi recently, Trump said that they have “a very good relationship” but “right now, I don’t want to speak to him. I don’t want to speak to him.”

Trump has sought to blame China for the outbreak as public confidence in his handling of the U.S. response has sunk. There have been more than 1.3 million cases of Covid-19 in the U.S. and at least 82,900 deaths, the most in the world. China has reported only about 4,600 deaths from the disease.

Tokyo to Stay Under Emergency Even as Japan Eases (6:12 a.m. NY)

Abe will maintain a state of emergency for Tokyo and Osaka due to the coronavirus while lifting it for 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures earlier than scheduled, as infection cases have waned. The government will evaluate next week if it can release the remaining areas before the declaration ends on May 31, which could help Japan re-activate more of its virus-battered economy.

The government will immediately start work on a second extra budget to aid people and businesses reeling from the effects of the pandemic, Abe said. The plan will include subsidies for rents and raise the maximum subsidy for furloughed workers to 15,000 yen ($140) a day, he said.

— With assistance by Reed Stevenson, Jonathan Levin, Emma Court, and Michelle Fay Cortez

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