Coronavirus live updates: Congress green-lights relief bill, Google offers small biz support

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 558,905
  • Global deaths: At least 25,336
  • US cases: At least 92,932
  • US deaths: At least 1,300

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

1:45 pm: Italy tops 9,000 deaths, overtakes China in cases

Italy recorded 919 new deaths from coronavirus, the highest daily toll anywhere in the world, while the number of confirmed cases eclipsed the total in China where the virus first emerged.

Italy was the first Western country to introduce severe restrictions on movement after uncovering the outbreak five weeks ago. It has tightened them week by week, banning all non-essential activities until at least next Friday.

Only the United States has now recorded more cases, while Italy has suffered almost twice as many deaths as any other nation. —Reuters

1:30 pm: House passes $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill

In this image from video, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, March 27, 2020.

House Television via AP

The House passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, sending the unprecedented measure to President Donald Trump’s desk after a scramble to block efforts to delay its passage.

The plan, which includes one-time payments to individuals, strengthened unemployment insurance, additional health-care funding and loans and grants to businesses to deter layoffs, got through the Senate unanimously on Wednesday night. On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described the bill “as mitigation” of the disease’s destruction, predicting there would be more plans to aid “recovery.” —Jacob Pramuk

1:23 pm: Google is offering $340 million in free ads for small businesses as part of coronavirus help package

Google is offering $340 million in ad credits to small and mid-size businesses with active Google ad accounts as part of an $800 million coronavirus response package, the company announced.

As part of the package, the company is also donating the following:

  • A $200 million investment fund that will help NGOs and financial institutions provide small businesses with capital
  • $250 million in advertising grants to help the World Health Organization and government agencies offer information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • $20 million in Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers
  • Unspecified financial support to help increase production capacity for life-saving equipment, including face masks and ventilators. —Jennifer Elias

1:11 pm: Coronavirus relief bill gives small businesses more time to cover payroll taxes

Small businesses facing payroll tax payments are likely to get some relief from Congress – the option of deferring payment to Uncle Sam until next year.

In particular, the pending $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill will permit small businesses to defer their share of Social Security payroll taxes in 2020. Payroll taxes are shared by workers and their employers, so that each pays 6.2% toward Social Security and 1.45% toward Medicare.

Sole proprietorships would also qualify. —Darla Mercado

1:04 pm: Cramer sees oil plummeting below $20 per barrel on dual coronavirus-price war crises

CNBC’s Jim Cramer said he thinks the price of oil will fall further because of demand and supply shocks from the dual crises of the coronavirus pandemic and global producer infighting.

Cramer cited oil prices as something high-frequency, computerized stock market traders are watching.

“I think oil takes out $20,” Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street.” With U.S. oil trading around $21.50 per barrel early Friday, prices would have to fall more than 7% to go below $20. It was down more than 4% late Friday morning.

On March 18, the per-barrel price of West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, closed just above $20, in an over 24% single-day plunge that was its third-worst session ever. —Kevin Stankiewicz

12:54 pm: WHO officials enroll first patients from Norway and Spain in ‘historic’ coronavirus drug trial

The first patients in a “historic” trial to test treatments for the coronavirus have been enrolled in Norway and Spain, World Health Organization officials announced.

World health officials are testing four of the most promising drugs to fight COVID-19, including malaria medications chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, an antiviral compound called Remdesivir, a combination of HIV drugs Lopinavir and Ritonavir and a combination of those drugs plus interferon-beta. —Will Feuer

12:48 pm: The Fed’s balance sheet just passed $5 trillion for the first time ever due to rescue bill

Though its efforts to keep markets running and boost the economy are just getting into gear, the Federal Reserve’s asset portfolio has reached levels never seen before.

The central bank’s balance sheet, which consists largely of bonds and other assets it has purchased over the years, ballooned to $5.3 trillion for the week ending Wednesday. That’s well above the $4.52 trillion peak it hit in mid-May 2016 before the Fed started rolling off the bonds it had acquired during and after the financial crisis.

This latest peak has occurred in rapid fashion, the result of expansion begun in small steps earlier this year then accelerated with the growth of the coronavirus crisis. —Jeff Cox

12:43 pm: ‘Throw Massie out’ – Trump rages on Twitter after GOP Rep hints he’ll oppose coronavirus stimulus bill

Rep. Thomas Massie, leaves the House Republicans’ caucus meeting in the Capitol on immigration reforms on Thursday morning, June 7, 2018.

Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

President Donald Trump lashed out at Rep. Thomas Massie, calling him a “third rate Grandstander” after the Kentucky Republican signaled he would oppose a $2 trillion relief bill intended to soften the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous & costly,” Trump said of Massie in a series of furious tweets.

Trump said that while Republicans had to “give up some stupid things” through negotiations with Democrats “in order to get the ‘big picture’ done,” the bill was “90% GREAT!”

“WIN BACK HOUSE, but throw Massie out of Republican Party!” Trump added. —Jacob Pramuk, Kevin Breuninger

12:39 pm: Pence says economic fundamentals remain strong despite massive coronavirus impact

Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain robust despite the coronavirus pandemic that has tanked markets and led to unprecedented layoffs of millions of Americans. 

“While the stock market has ebbed and flowed, and even this week made dramatic moves, President Trump and our entire economic team believe that all the fundamentals continue to be strong,” Pence said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” “And that, as we deal with the coronavirus that this economy will come roaring back once we see our nation through this challenging time.” —Tucker Higgins

12:33 pm: IMF chief Georgieva says the world is in a recession, containment will dictate strength of recovery

International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva said that the global economy is now in a recession thanks to COVID-19, but that she’s heartened to see world leaders finally realizing that only coordinated effort will be able to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We have stated that the world is now in recession and that the length and depth of this recession depend on two things: Containing the virus and having an effective, coordinated response to the crisis,” she told CNBC’s Sara Eisen

“I’m very encouraged by what I see now. I see much clearer understanding [among global leaders] that if we don’t beat it everywhere we won’t be able to get out of it,” she added. —Thomas Franck

12:19 pm: Apple announces COVID-19 website and app in partnership with CDC and the White House

Apple has developed a new website and app that will provide a screening tool for COVID-19 symptoms as well as up-to-date information from trusted sources about the coronavirus outbreak.

The software was developed in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control, the White House-led Coronavirus Task Force, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The COVID-19 app is available on Apple’s App Store, and there is also a website that can be accessed from Windows or Android phones and computers. —Kif Leswing

12:12 pm: GOP Rep. Massie pledges to delay vote on massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), trailed by reporters, walks to the floor of the House of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

House members are scrambling back to the Capitol on Friday morning as one member’s opposition to a $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package is set to delay its passage.

With few representatives in Washington this week as the outbreak tears across the country, House leaders hoped to approve the legislation quickly Friday by voice vote — which simply decides whether shouted yeas or nays from members present are louder. But Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., said he plans to force a typical recorded vote, which could hold up passage for hours as the House needs a quorum of 216 representatives present.

In a series of tweets announcing his plan to request a full vote, Massie argued the unprecedented rescue measure spends too much taxpayer money, criticizing Democrats for pushing for changes this week rather than approving an earlier version of the legislation. —Jacob Pramuk

12:08 pm: Bank of America CEO says struggling customers can defer loan payments online with ‘two-clicks’

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said that retail customers who are struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic can defer loan payments online with a simple two-click process.

“What we’ve told people is we’ll defer payments,” Moynihan told CNBC’s Jim Cramer. “If you have a cash flow interruption because of your employment and you need to defer your payments for 30, 60, 90 days, call us up.”

The second-largest U.S. bank by assets has had 150,000 requests for payment deferrals since the coronavirus crisis began in earnest in the U.S. this month, Moynihan said. To streamline the process, which can tie up call center lines, the bank is ramping up a way to apply for relief online, he said. —Hugh Son

11:59 am: Trump criticizes GM, CEO Mary Barra for wanting ‘top dollar’ for producing ventilators

President Donald Trump criticized General Motors and its CEO Mary Barra for their response to producing needed ventilators amid the coronavirus pandemic and wanting “top dollar” for such work.

Trump, in a tweet, said, “As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out. They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke ‘P’.”

In the initial tweet, the meaning of “Invoke P” wasn’t immediately clear. But Trump followed up with a second tweet saying he was referring to invoking the Defense Production Act that would force companies to produce such equipment. —Michael Wayland, Lauren Hirsch

11:53 am: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extends school closures as coronavirus cases rise

Paramedics wearing protective equipment carry a stretcher into Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, March 26, 2020.

Angus Mordant | Bloomberg | Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended school closures across the state by two weeks to April 15 as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, he said.

“When you look at the number of cases that’s still increasing, it only makes sense to keep the schools closed,” he said at a press conference.

Cuomo is also calling on hospitals across the state to double their capacity. The state currently has 53,000 hospital beds, but will need 140,000 of them for coronavirus patients over the next three weeks when the outbreak is expected to peak in New York, he said.

“We’re asking hospitals to try to increase capacity 100% … “We’re looking at converting dorms. We’re looking at converting hotels,” he said. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

11:47 am: Mnuchin says taxpayers will be ‘compensated’ for airline relief

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that the coronavirus economic stimulus bill before Congress is not an airline bailout and that taxpayers will be compensated for relief given to companies hobbled by the global pandemic.

At the same time, Mnuchin said in an interview with Fox Business Network that plane-maker Boeing has not requested government help.

“I’ve been very clear this is not an airline bailout,” Mnuchin said. “And that taxpayers need to be compensated for relief they’re giving to airlines.”

U.S. airlines are preparing to tap the government for up to $25 billion in grants to cover payroll in a sharp travel downturn triggered by the coronavirus, even after the government warned it may take stakes in exchange for bailout funds, people familiar with the matter said. —Reuters

11:39 am: ‘This will not be licked by Easter,’ doctor warns in call for two-week US lockdown

President Donald Trump wants the country to “open up,” but a growing number of health experts want a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Those experts are saying the United States needs to impose a two-week or longer pause of non-essential activity before federal and state governments can even think about economic and social life starting to return to normal. 

Far stricter restrictions on businesses and individuals need to be adopted – and not the loosening of restrictions called for by some, including Trump, the experts say. 

“This will not be licked by Easter,” said Dr. Aaron Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, who is one of the loudest voices calling for a shutdown. —Dan Mangan

11:30 am: America’s department stores can make it as much as 8 months with closed stores, analyst says

A sitting area typically filled with people is virtually empty as a man walks through Herald Square with a protective mask on March 12, 2020 in New York City.

Gary Hershorn | Getty Images

With stores temporarily shut due to the coronavirus pandemic — and a slim-to-zero chance of opening in the near future — America’s department stores are facing a cash crunch

Department store chains have enough liquidity to make it about five to eight months, with their stores sitting dark, in this coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis by Cowen & Co. It says that is “better than feared” because the firm does not anticipate the temporary store closures will drag on for that long. 

In making these assumptions, Cowen is measuring liquidity as cash plus revolvers, relative to key expenses such as rent, labor and promised dividend payments. Cowen said labor costs are about 10% of annual sales, while rent is about 3%, to give a sense of what some of these expenses look like. —Lauren Thomas

11:18 am: Digital divide of US households without internet 

Data from Pew Research Center shows large swaths of the U.S. are trying to cope without a household internet connection while much of the country hunkers down to work and shop from home.

Before coronavirus hit the U.S., about 7% of private-industry workers had access to a flexible workplace benefit, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those jobs tend to pay well, which helps explain why access to telework varies sharply by income, according to the Pew Research Center.

Lack of internet access has also left millions of households cut off from vital services and information during the pandemic. —Melodie Warner, John Schoen

10:27 am: Real ID deadline gets pushed back due to coronavirus 

With air travel at a near standstill amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security is extending the Real ID enforcement deadline a full year to Oct. 1, 2021.

“The federal, state and local response to the spread of the coronavirus here in the United States necessitates a delay in this deadline,” DHS acting secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.

States across the country have temporarily closed or restricted access to departments of motor vehicles, which has prevented millions of people from applying for and receiving their new state-issued Real IDs, the statement said.

For now, adults boarding any federally regulated aircraft can continue to use their current driver’s licenses as usual for domestic travel and wait until 2021 to obtain a Real ID-compliant license. —Jessica Dickler

10:21 am: US consumer sentiment falls to lowest level in more than 3 years 

Doug Hassebroek shops with a protective mask during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brooklyn, New York, March 25, 2020.

Caitlin Ochs | Reuters

U.S. consumer sentiment fell to a three-year low as the coronavirus outbreak ramps up, according to data from the University of Michigan. 

The index of consumer sentiment dropped to 89.1 in March — its lowest level since October 2016 — from 101 in February. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected consumer sentiment to fall to 90.

March’s decline in sentiment was the fourth-largest in nearly 50 years, according to Richard Curtin, chief economist for the Surveys of Consumers. —Fred Imbert 

9:35 am: Dow tanks more than 800 points following a massive 3-day bounce 

Stocks fell sharply, giving back some of the strong gains experienced in the previous three days to cap off another volatile week on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 800 points at the open, or over 3%. The S&P 500 slid 3.2% while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.9%.

Chevron, Boeing and American Express led the 30-stock Dow lower, sliding more than 5% each. Energy and industrials were the worst-performing sectors in the S&P 500 as they dropped 5.8% and 4.3%, respectively. —Fred Imbert

9:03 am: Billionaire Leon Cooperman: I’m optimistic the stock market has bottomed on coronavirus fears 

Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman told CNBC he’s optimistic that the stock market has bottomed on coronavirus fears.

“If I’m right on the virus call, if I’m right and that’s the big ‘if’ … I think the market at the recent low … was close enough to the bottom to be called the bottom,” Cooperman said on “Squawk Box.”

The S&P 500 hit its recent low of 2191.86 on Monday, which was about 35% lower than the index’s last month’s all-time high.

The investor, who made his fortune picking individual stocks, said he sees an S&P range of 2,200 to 2,800 this year. —Kevin Stankiewicz

8:50 am: CEO behind Buffett, Bezos health venture says US ‘death toll curve’ worse than China

The CEO behind the joint health-care venture between JPMorganAmazon and Berkshire Hathaway is calling for a national “shelter-in-place” order as deaths from the coronavirus continue to rise in the U.S.

“Our death toll curve is now worse than when China was at the same stage,” Haven CEO Dr. Atul Gawande told CNBC. “We have 12 states with more than 1,500 cases. China had one province,” said Gawande, also a renowned surgeon, author and speaker.

Gawande said health officials are learning from Washington state, where the death toll there appears to be declining. “Shelter in place, which some states are doing,” he said. “We don’t have the others on board. We really need a national shelter in place.” —Berkeley Lovelace

8:29 am: US infections on the rise 

8:13 am: Build-A-Bear Workshop and The Cheesecake Factory announce furloughs

Mall staples Build-A-Bear Workshop and The Cheesecake Factory both announced they are furloughing workers. Build-A-Bear plans to furlough more than 90% of its workforce, and The Cheesecake Factory has furloughed 41,000 hourly restaurant workers, according to regulatory filings.

Furloughed employees for both companies will continue to be eligible for employee benefits, including insurance.

Citing the impact of government regulations and landlord decisions to close properties, Cheesecake Factory is not paying rent for the month of April. —Amelia Lucas

8:04 am: Dow futures point to 800-point drop

U.S. stock futures pointed sharply lower following a strong rally sparked by increasing expectations of a massive fiscal stimulus from Congress while investors shook off grim unemployment data.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures implied an opening drop of about 800 points amid volatile trading. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures also pointed to more than 2% declines at the open. —Fred Imbert

7:20 am: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive

Screen grab of Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the nation from 10 Downing Street, London, as he placed the UK on lockdown as the Government seeks to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

PA Video – PA Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he has tested positive for COVID-19. “Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” he said on Twitter. “I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.” 

“The test was carried out in No 10 by NHS staff and the result of the test was positive,” a spokesman for No. 10 Downing Street said in a statement. “In keeping with the guidance, the Prime Minister is self-isolating in Downing Street. —Will Feuer

7:13 am: New York hospitals will run out of medical supplies in a week, former FDA chief says

7:07 am: UK to pay pensions and pensions of furloughed staff

Britain will announce it intends to cover the costs of employer national insurance and pension contributions for businesses furloughing staff, a statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said. —Reuters

7:05 am: Norway predicts 2% economic slowdown this year

Norway’s government now predicts its gross domestic product excluding oil will contract by 2% this year as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, a sharper drop than the 1% contraction it expected last week. The forecast is based on the assumption that the urgent situation in Norway and other countries remains for the coming two months, and that growth thereafter gradually returns to the normal, the government said in a white paper. —Reuters

6:59 am: Spain’s death toll spikes by 769 overnight to 4,858

Two workers transport a coffin at La Almudena cemetery on March 26, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. Spain plans to continue its quarantine measures at least through April 11.

Carlos Alvarez | Getty Images

Spain’s death toll rose overnight by 769 cases to 4,858, the health ministry said, the highest number of fatalities recorded in 24 hours for the country. The total number of those infected rose to 64,059 from 56,188 on Thursday. —Reuters

6:10 pm: Hungary announces two-week lockdown

Hungary has become the latest country to announce a two-week lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said via public radio that while citizens must maintain social distancing, they would be able to go to work, shop and take limited exercise outdoors, starting Saturday. Orban said people can still go outside, but they cannot be in a group. Hungarian police will enforce compliance with the rules and apply fines, if needed. —Silvia Amaro

5:37 pm: Iran’s death toll rises to 2,378

The Iranian health ministry reported a total of 2,378 deaths from the virus and 32,332 confirmed cases, according to Reuters. —Silvia Amaro

5:30 am: Italy’s business morale plunged in March

A worker carries out sanitation operations for the Coronavirus emergency in Piazza dei Miracoli near to the Tower of Pisa in a deserted town on March 17, 2020 in Pisa, Italy.

Laura Lezza | Getty Images

Morale among Italian businesses plunged in March as the outbreak dampened economic activity, Reuters reported.

Data by statistics institute ISTAT showed that its composite business morale index — which captures the manufacturing, retail, construction and services sectors — sank to a reading of 81.7 this month from last month’s 97.8. The March reading was the lowest since June 2013, Reuters reported. —Yen Nee Lee

Read CNBC’s coverage from CNBC’s Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Russia reports spike in cases; Hungary imposes national lockdown

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