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COVID-19 Deaths Surpass 500,000

Image via Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

More than 500,000 people have died from COVID-19 globally, while more than 10 million people have been infected, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

The United States accounts for more than 20% of global deaths as the spread of the virus continues. The U.S. reported a daily record of more than 45,000 cases on Friday as the seven-day average of new cases jumped by more than 41% from the prior week.

The number of cases in the U.S. surpassed 2.5 million as more than 125,000 Americans have now passed away from the coronavirus.

"We’ve got the tools to do this," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said yesterday. "But the window is closing, we have to act, and people as individuals have to act responsibility. We need to social distance, we need to wear our face coverings where we can’t social distance, particularly in these hot zones."

Former U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden said the spread of the virus is a result of community transmission instead of increased testing.

"As a doctor, a scientist, an epidemiologist, I can tell you with 100% certainty that in most states where you’re seeing an increase, it is a real increase," Frieden said. "It is not more tests, it is more spread of the virus."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is pushing for the CDC to mandate that face masks be worn in public, saying it's "long overdue." The CDC has thus far only recommended wearing a face mask to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The stock market, which has had a remarkable rebound since the March low, is finally starting to question the belief that the economy will have a swift rebound as the coronavirus continues to spread. The S&P 500 is now down nearly 7% since June 8, after rallying more than 47% from the March 23 low.

Looking ahead, the World Health Organization says there are currently 16 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 in clinical trials. WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said a vaccine candidate from AstraZeneca is the furthest along in development, followed by a vaccine candidate from Moderna.

With the market's direction now being largely dictated by the headlines about the coronavirus, it won't be surprising to see headlines about stimulus, vaccines or additional monetary policy actions come out to soften the blow to investors.

Leftover Crumbs

  • Facebook goes on damage control. Facebook, which has seen a slew of advertisers boycott its platform, will begin labeling content that is in violation of the company's policies. Facebook confirmed the new policy would have flagged U.S. President Donald Trump's post last month about mail-in voting with a link on voting information. "There are no exceptions for politicians in any of the policies I’m announcing here today," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. Not everyone was pleased with the move, including Rashad Robinson, the president of civil rights group Color Of Change, which is behind the boycott. "If this is the response he’s giving to major advertisers withdrawing millions of dollars from the company, we can’t trust his leadership."

  • Nike prepares for layoffs. A day after reporting its first quarterly loss in more than two years, Nike warned of looming layoffs as it focuses on a direct to consumer sales strategy through online channels. Nike does "not yet know how many jobs will be reduced, nor who will be specifically impacted," but aims to increase its digital business to 50% of sales from 30% currently. "We are shifting resources and creating capacity to reinvest in our highest potential areas, and we anticipate our realignment will likely result in a net loss of jobs," Nike said.

  • Amazon acquires self-driving car startup. Amazon has acquired self-driving car startup Zoox in a deal that is reportedly worth more than $1 billion. Zoox, which has about 1,000 employees, was previously valued at $3.2 billion in 2018. "Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience," Amazon CEO of Global Consumer Jeff Wilke said. "Like Amazon, Zoox is passionate about innovation and about its customers, and we’re excited to help the talented Zoox team to bring their vision to reality in the years ahead."

  • Gap partners with Kanye West. Gap announced a clothing line for men, women and kids in collaboration with Kanye West will be available beginning in 2021. Investors cheered the news as shares of Gap soared as much as 40% following the release. The deal is reportedly for 10 years and can see West receives royalties and equity if sales targets are met. "We are excited to welcome Kanye back to the Gap family as a creative visionary, building on the aesthetic and success of his YEEZY brand and together defining a next-level retail partnership," Gap's global head of brand Mark Breitbard said.

  • Microsoft will close physical stores. Microsoft announced it will close all of its physical stores throughout the world. Four locations—in NYC, Sydney, London and at the company's Redmond campus, will be "reimagined" as experience centers but won't sell products. Microsoft confirmed that no layoffs will result from the decision. The decision to close the stores, which debuted in 2009, had reportedly already been made to take place in 2021, but was accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.