Thursday's top stories

Updated Apr 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Apr 9, 2020 - World

The view from the other side of the coronavirus peak

We'll soon be crowding into cafes it's 1954 in Rapallo, Italy. Photo: LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

Europeans and Americans are desperate to move beyond the worst of the crisis and return to something approximating normality, but the World Health Organization is cautioning that moving too fast will undermine the sacrifices made so far.

Where things stand: Nearly every country on Earth is still seeing their caseload increase, and a recent uptick in Singapore shows that apparent victory over the virus can be fleeting. But several countries are providing reason for optimism.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Apr 9, 2020 - World

God and COVID-19

Alone at the Western Wall. Photo: Guy Prives/Getty Images

Few aspects of life bring as many people together as religion.

Why it matters: In most crises, that is a blessing. In a pandemic, it can be dangerous.

How to understand the scale of American job decimation

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via St. Louis Fed; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Sentence from a nightmare: 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, a decline from the previous week's 6.9 million.

The big picture: Over the past three weeks, 1 in 10 working-age adults filed for unemployment, Axios' Courtenay Brown notes.

Biden rolls out new policies in effort to court Sanders supporters

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Biden campaign announced two new policies on Thursday on health care and student debt that are squarely aimed at appealing to supporters of Bernie Sanders, who ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The policies don't go as far as Sanders' platform, but they signal that Biden is serious about incorporating elements of his former rival's agenda in an effort to help unify the Democratic Party and defeat President Trump in the general election.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 9, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Reports: Saudi Arabia and Russia reach major deal to cut oil production

Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images

OPEC+, led by mega-producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, reached a tentative agreement Thursday to impose large cuts in oil production as the coronavirus pandemic fuels an unprecedented collapse in demand, per Bloomberg and Reuters.

Why it matters: The revival of the OPEC+ collaboration patches up the early March rupture between the countries, which had pushed already depressed prices down much further by threatening to unleash even more new supplies into the saturated market.

Apr 9, 2020 - World

Boris Johnson moved out of ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus

Johnson last December. Photo: Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care but is continuing to be monitored at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

Why it matters: It's a sign of improvement after Johnson spent three nights in intensive care for the coronavirus. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab remains in charge of the government.

Felix Salmon, author of Edge
Apr 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

A pause button for debts

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Governments have forcibly put much of the U.S. and the global economy on pause in recent weeks, for very good reason. Factories, offices, sporting arenas, restaurants, airports and myriad other institutions have closed down. But one thing hasn't been paused: monthly debt-service obligations.

The big picture: The less movement and activity there is in an economy, the more the coronavirus curve is flattened. But the obligations in bond and loan contracts can't be paused. That's worrying CEOs who fear a wave of business failures if economic activity doesn't pick up next month.

U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under coronavirus public health order

Photo: Jinitzail Hernández/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The U.S. has expelled more than 6,000 migrants using new powers enabling the federal government to almost immediately turn back border-crossers under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emergency public health order that went into effect March 21, according to new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.

The big picture: The order has drastically lowered the number of immigrants in CBP custody to fewer than 100, the agency's acting commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters on Thursday. The number of people coming into the U.S. overall has plummeted due to coronavirus-related travel bans in place at both the northern and southern borders.

New York's coronavirus death toll hits record high for third straight day

799 people died from coronavirus in New York over the past 24 hours, a record high for the third straight day that brings the state's total death toll to 7,067.

Why it matters: Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference that social distancing is helping to "flatten the curve" of coronavirus hospitalizations and that deaths are a lagging indicator. Still, he called the death figures "shocking and painful," noting that the virus has killed more than double the number of people who died in New York on 9/11.

Updated Apr 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion amid coronavirus crisis

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at a press conference in March. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The Federal Reserve announced Thursday that it will support the coronavirus-hit economy with up to $2.3 trillion in loans to businesses, state and city governments — made possible in part by Treasury funds set aside in the government stimulus package.

Why it matters: It adds to the number of huge, unprecedented steps the Fed has taken during the coronavirus outbreak to blunt the effects of the resulting economic shutdown. Its actions to date are bigger than any seen during other crises in U.S. history.

Senate in stalemate over $250 billion PPP injection

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Before the Paycheck Protection Program formally launched last Friday, we knew two things: The rollout would be rocky, and the initial $350 billion wouldn't be enough for America's small businesses.

The state of play: Banks and government officials have been working to smooth out the process. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) attempt to pump another $250 billion into the program via unanimous consent was blocked by Democrats, who are proposing an alternative that includes billions more for hospitals and states.

Apr 9, 2020 - Health

Fauci: Social distancing could reduce coronavirus death toll to 60,000

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC's "Today" on Thursday that he's hopeful that social-distancing measures in place across the U.S. will reduce the total number of coronavirus deaths.

Why it matters: Fauci said that while early models projected between 100,000 and 200,000 U.S. deaths from the pandemic, he now believes that number could come down to 60,000 — but he emphasized the importance of keeping social distancing in place to ensure that trend holds.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 9, 2020 - Energy & Environment

OPEC+ and G20 energy meetings mark zero hour for oil diplomacy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The next two days will be pivotal for determining whether large oil-producing countries can partially stabilize an industry reeling from very low prices and the historic, coronavirus-fueled collapse in demand.

Driving the news: The OPEC+ group led by Saudi Arabia and Russia begin meeting remotely later Thursday morning to discuss production cuts, to be followed by a virtual Friday meeting among G20 energy ministers that includes the U.S.

Another 6.6 million jobless claims filed last week amid coronavirus crisis

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via FRED; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, the Labor Department announced Thursday.

Why it matters: It adds to the staggering 10 million jobless claims in recent weeks — by far the sharpest spikes in American history — as the world economy has ground to a halt in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Apr 9, 2020 - Technology

Yelp cutting 1,000 jobs, furloughing others

An image from a Yelp donation program launched in the wake of Covid-19. Photo: Yelp

Yelp told employees Thursday that it is cutting 1,000 jobs and furloughing another 1,100 workers amid a massive drop in its business.

Why it matters: Yelp is the latest company catering to small businesses that has seen much of its customer base decimated amid the COVID-19 outbreak and related shutdowns.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Apr 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Investors see more volatility ahead as coronavirus hammers markets

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The stock market continues to bounce back and analysts and investors are lining up on opposing sides of the market's big new question — whether stocks have hit the bottom. The one thing they both agree on is that there will be significant volatility ahead.

On one side: The rebound from this recession may come at warp speed because the fall came at warp speed, Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, tells Axios.

Apr 9, 2020 - Health

Hospitals are starting to get their coronavirus cash infusion

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The federal government is sending $64 billion to hospitals, post-acute facilities and other medical providers to help cope with the coronavirus fallout.

Yes, but: Even though more funding is coming, safety net and rural hospitals fear they are getting a raw deal from the way some of the money is being distributed.

Biden and Sanders work toward truce on big issues

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden isn’t about to become Bernie Sanders, but he’s signaling that there’s potential for more common ground on issues such as health care, student debt, climate change and more in the weeks ahead.

What to watch: As Biden courts Sanders' endorsement, their teams will hold policy discussions in the next few weeks with the expectation that Biden will incorporate some elements of Sanders' agenda, a person familiar with those plans tells Axios.

Apr 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Some Trump aides eye May 1 start to coronavirus reopening

President Trump was flanked at yesterday's briefing by HHS Secretary Alex Azar (far left), Vice President Pence and Deborah Birx. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump's aides, encouraged by virus data showing fewer deaths than once projected, are working behind the scenes to deliver on his vow to reopen America "sooner rather than later."

What to watch: A senior White House official said there’s a lot of internal energy pushing for May 1, because that's the end of the White House's "30 Days to Slow the Spread."

Updated Apr 9, 2020 - Health

New Zealand sets sights on coronavirus elimination after 2 weeks of lockdown

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gives a coronavirus media update at the New Zealand Parliament. Photo: Mark Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images

New Zealand has flattened the curve of novel coronavirus cases after two weeks of lockdown and the next phase is to "squash it," professor Shaun Hendy, who heads a scientific body advising the government on COVID-19, told Axios.

Why it matters: Te Pūnaha Matatini, the Center of Research Excellence hosted by the University of Auckland of which Hendy is director, released research Thursday showing there could've been hundreds more Covid-19 cases were it not for the lockdown — and there's a good chance the strict measures will help stamp out the virus.

In photos: Food banks demand surges amid coronavirus crisis

People wait on line standing in squares 6 feet apart at a food bank in Edgewood, Washington, April 4. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

There's been an upsurge in demand for food banks across the U.S. because of the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Feeding America, the largest network of food banks in the U.S., projects a $1.4 billion shortfall over the next six months. "School closures, rising unemployment and rising poverty due to quarantine and stay-at-home orders will disproportionately impact people already at risk of hunger and could result in an estimated additional 17.1 million people experiencing food insecurity, an increase of 46%," the nonprofit said in a statement.

Apr 9, 2020 - Health

U.S. nearly empties medical supplies stockpile to fight coronavirus

The ICU of MedStar St. Mary's Hospital in Leonardtown, Maryland, April 8. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The federal government is in the process of deploying 90% of its stockpiled medical equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Health and Human Services spokesperson Katie McKeogh told Axios Wednesday night.

Why it matters: These shipments aren't enough to meet current demands from states, who are bracing for staggered surges in hospital resource demand through May.