U.S. Disease Team Still in Limbo; Deaths at 1,115: Virus Update
By Michelle Cortez
and Robert Langreth
February 12, 2020, 5:10 PM CST
Top U.S. health experts seeking to join an international group heading to the center of the coronavirus outbreak in China said they still have no answer on whether they’ll be allowed into the country, and the wireless industry scrapped its biggest annual showcase.
Warm weather may not slow down the spread of the deadly pathogen, said a top U.S. health official, counter to a theory put forward by President Donald Trump. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in separate appearances that it would take time to measure the impact of the contagion.
Global death toll at 1,115; confirmed cases worldwide at 45,169
See a breakdown of virus cases here
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MGM Resorts Withdraws Outlook as Casinos Suffer (6:14 a.m HK)
MGM Resorts International withdrew its earnings forecast for 2020, citing the impact of the virus on its casinos in Macau and Las Vegas. The company said the virus has made its outlook “unpredictable.”
MGM said it’s losing $1.5 million a day in Macau. Last year, MGM got about 27% of its revenue from Macau, the largest gambling market in the world.
Like other casino owners in the Chinese enclave of Macau, MGM Resorts shut its operations there this month under a government order. That’s led to a loss of business — all while the company has to keep paying staff and maintaining its properties.
The Chinese government closed Macau’s casinos for a 15-day period that began Feb. 5, although Matt Maddox, chief executive officer of rival Wynn Resorts Ltd., told investors last week there’s no certainty as to when they will reopen. Wynn said it is losing about $2.5 million a day in Macau.
Europe to Step Up Crisis Preparations (3:47 p.m. NY)
The European Union is preparing for potential medical shortages and the risk of travel restrictions that could disrupt the bloc’s border-free zone.
During an emergency meeting scheduled in Brussels on Thursday, EU health ministers plan to ask the bloc’s executive arm to assess the consequences of global health threats like the coronavirus on the availability of medicine and the security of supply chains, according to a draft of a joint communique seen by Bloomberg. The draft is still subject to changes.
The document acknowledges that “measures regarding travel” could be necessary if the situation deteriorates, while ministers will vow to protect the “free movement” of people — a key pillar of EU integration — in such case.
Similar temporary measures have been applied in the past to limit the flow of asylum seekers from poorer to richer EU members.
Mnuchin: More Data Needed to Assess Impact (3:17 p.m. NY)
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that two to four more weeks of economic data are needed to forecast the impact of coronavirus.
Mnuchin also told a Senate Finance Committee hearing that implementation of the first phase of a U.S. trade deal wh China is being slowed by the virus. On Tuesday, White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said agricultural purchases under the deal may not be as large as the Trump administration had hoped due to coronavirus.
CDC Says Warm Weather May Not Slow Outbreak (1:06 p.m. NY)
It’s too early to know if warm spring weather that typically heralds the end of cold and flu season will also slow the coronavirus, said a top official from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Wednesday that she hopes “it will go down as the weather warms up, but it’s premature to assume that.”
Messonnier’s remarks Wednesday run counter to a theory put forward by President Donald Trump that heat would stop the new coronavirus.
“The heat, generally speaking, kills this kind of virus,” Trump said Monday at the White House. “A lot of people think that goes away in April as the heat comes in.” At a campaign rally this week, he went further, according to a CNN report on his remarks, saying, “in theory when it gets a little warmer it miraculously goes away.”
During a call with reporters Wednesday Messonnier said, “I would caution against over-interpreting that hypothesis.”
The theory that the coronavirus will slow down when warm weather sets in is mostly based on the fact that other respiratory viruses such as influenza exhibit seasonal patterns, not specific data about this new virus, she said.
More from the CDC press briefing:
- CDC officials haven’t yet been allowed into China or been given direct access to raw data on the epidemic.
- Some states conducting tests using CDC coronavirus test kits are getting inconclusive results. The CDC said it was working to resolve the problem.
- CDC is optimistic that lower case counts coming from China in the last few days mean that the country’s quarantine is working, but that it’s “too soon to say that for sure,” Messonnier said.
Posted by Bloomberg