May 1 coronavirus news

By Emma Reynolds, Jessie Yeung and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 9:56 p.m. ET, May 1, 2020
45 Posts
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7:16 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

Unemployment claims from Asian Americans have spiked 6,900% in New York. Here's why

From CNN's Shannon Liao

Across New York, Chinese restaurants have shut down and Asian American workers have filed for unemployment benefits at extraordinary rates. In the state, about 147,000 self-identified Asian workers have filed initial unemployment claims in the last four weeks alone, up from just 2,100 during the same period last year. 

That's a 6,900% increase — by far the largest percentage increase experienced by any one racial or ethnic group. 

In contrast, claims were up 1,840% for white workers, 1,260% for black workers, and 2,100% for Hispanic and Latino workers in New York.

New York stands out from other states in that in early April, it started releasing detailed demographic breakdowns of unemployment claimants every week. Not surprisingly, claims are skyrocketing for every group in the state, reflecting the sharp economic downturn that nationwide has left 30 million Americans filing first-time unemployment claims since mid-March.

But even so, the increase for Asian Americans is an oddity: It's so large, it's disproportionate to the size of their labor force. Asian workers make up about 9% of New York state's population and work force, but now account for 12.5% of initial claims over the last four weeks. A year ago, they made up just 3.7% of claims during the same time period. 

For the other groups, claims are either roughly in line — or well below — the size of their populations. White workers, for example, make up 65% of New York's labor force, but only 51% of recent claims.

What's the cause? Academics and members of the community point to several potential factors ranging from xenophobia to Asian Americans working in industries hard hit by the pandemic, including food and services. Many Asian workers also say they began social distancing earlier in the crisis than others — a factor that led some to close down businesses even before official lockdowns. 

Read more:

7:08 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

10,000 jobs could be at risk as Lufthansa looks to reduce fleet size

From CNN's Chris Liakos

Passenger planes of German airliner Lufthansa are seen parked at Willy Brandt Berlin Brandenburg International Airport in Schoenefeld, Germany on April 28.
Passenger planes of German airliner Lufthansa are seen parked at Willy Brandt Berlin Brandenburg International Airport in Schoenefeld, Germany on April 28. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Lufthansa plans to reduce its fleet by around 100 aircraft, leaving the German airline with 10,000 excess staff, its chief executive told shareholders on Friday.

Carsten Spohr said that preliminary figures for the first quarter showed a loss of 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) and warned that the second quarter will be even worse.

We will no longer be able to rule out laying off staff for operational reasons,” said Spohr.

700 of Lufthansa’s roughly 760 aircraft are grounded. The airline, one of the largest in Europe, has had to cancel 3,000 flights a day and is experiencing a 99% decline in passengers, with 80,000 of its staff on reduced working hours.

Lufthansa is in intensive bailout talks with the German government and is negotiating with the governments of Austria and Belgium for help for its subsidiaries Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines. Swiss International Air Lines is also part of the group.

“The future of Lufthansa is currently being decided. The question is whether we can avoid bankruptcy with the support of the governments of our four home countries,” said Spohr.

Lufthansa's CEO said it was preparing to spend this summer on the ground and can hope for a proper restart in the autumn at the earliest. “It is going to be a very slow start-up phase and we expect that global demand will only find its new balance in 2023,” he added.

7:00 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

Biotech firms partner to manufacture potential Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

A new collaboration has been announced in the world's quest for a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

Biotechnology company Moderna and Switzerland-based Lonza Ltd. said on Friday that they were agreeing to a 10-year collaboration to manufacture a potential Covid-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273.

Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel said in a news release on Friday that the collaboration would enable the firm to accelerate its manufacturing capacity for mRNA-1273 and other products by a factor of 10.

"Lonza’s global presence and expertise are critical as we scale at unprecedented speed. Our common goal is to potentially enable manufacturing of up to 1 billion doses of mRNA-1273," said Bancel in the release.

The release noted that under the terms of the agreement, the companies plan to establish manufacturing suites at Lonza’s facilities in the United States and Switzerland for the manufacture of the potential vaccine.

In April, Moderna submitted an Investigational New Drug application to the US Food and Drug Administration for Phase 2 and late-stage studies of mRNA-1273 and the company expects to begin the study in the second quarter of 2020, according to its news release.

Moderna isn't the only company with a potential Covid-19 vaccine in the works. The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is collaborating with the biotechnology company BioNTech to develop a vaccine, which the companies announced on Wednesday could be widely supplied by the end of the year.

Last week, scientists at Oxford University's Jenner Institute announced they would begin testing a vaccine on humans which, depending on the trial results, could be ready as early as September. 

Officials say that more than a half-dozen vaccine programs are in the clinical trial phase and more than 80 are in preliminary phases.

7:35 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

Drug dealers pose as food delivery drivers during coronavirus lockdown – Interpol

From CNN's James Frater and Rob Iddiols in London

Police in Spain released images showing drugs that were concealed in the false bottom of a food delivery backpack, an Interpol report said.
Police in Spain released images showing drugs that were concealed in the false bottom of a food delivery backpack, an Interpol report said. INTERPOL/Spanish National Police

Drugs dealers are disguising themselves as food delivery drivers to continue dealing drugs, Interpol warns.

Police in the UK, Ireland, Malaysia and Spain have reported instances of drug couriers posing as food delivery workers, while carrying illicit drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, ketamine and ecstasy, according to the international police organization.

In April, police in Spain arrested seven men dressed as food delivery drivers delivering cocaine and marijuana by bicycle, motorcycle and car. The drugs were concealed in the false bottom of a food delivery backpack, the Interpol report said.

In another case in Ireland, officers recovered 8 kilograms (17 ponds) of cocaine as well as two handguns hidden in pizza boxes.

“Delivery riders may be complicit or unwitting links in drug transportation,” it said in a statement. “In cases brought to Interpol’s attention, suspects were sometimes falsely disguised as food delivery drivers. At other times, legitimate food delivery drivers knowingly and willingly delivered drugs on behalf of criminal organisations for financial gain.”

“Legitimate food delivery drivers have also been used as unwitting drug mules,” said the organization, which coordinates data from 194 international police forces. 

“In one Malaysian case, a food delivery rider in the Gombak district of Kuala Lumpur contacted police and asked for his food package to be inspected after he became suspicious. The rider had been tasked with delivering a single order of Indian flatbread yet the parcel weighed approximately 11 kilograms.”

“Criminals continue to adapt their activities to a world upended by Covid-19,” said Stephen Kavanagh, Interpol’s Executive Director of Police Services.

6:37 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

UK aviation sector facing a "tsunami of job losses"

From CNN's Simon Cullen in London

Ryanair passenger aircraft are seen parked at Stansted Airport in Stansted, England, on April 15.
Ryanair passenger aircraft are seen parked at Stansted Airport in Stansted, England, on April 15. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

The British aviation industry is about to experience a “tsunami of job losses” linked to the coronavirus pandemic, said the General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots' Association, Brian Strutton.

Ryanair on Friday announced plans to cut up to 3,000 jobs as it seeks to slash costs.

“We’re now seeing the start of what can best be described as a tsunami of job losses. I expect that all airlines are going to be making similar kinds of announcements now. And we’re going to be seeing an industry in crisis,” Strutton said.

He was critical of the lack of support provided by the UK government.

“The US government has given 25 billion to US airlines. European governments are supporting their airlines. Why isn’t the British government doing the same?”

The UK Department for Transport has previously said that airlines can draw upon an “unprecedented package of measures” including schemes to raise capital and financial support for employees.

Earlier this week, British Airways announced plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs.

6:21 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

What's in store for the cruise industry? 

From CNN's Jen Rose Smith

Holland America's cruise ship Zaandam arrives to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on April 2.
Holland America's cruise ship Zaandam arrives to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on April 2. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

When travelers come aboard the Zaandam, a cruise ship in the Holland America Line, they have access to nine levels of elegant lodgings, entertainment and fine dining.

Passengers have enjoyed largely smooth sailings over the past 20 years. But by late March, the vessel had been transformed into an isolation ward, and by the time it finally docked in Florida in early April, four passengers had died, two of whom had been diagnosed with Covid-19.

The Zaandam was one of many ships affected by the global pandemic that brought the cruise industry -- and most of the world -- to a standstill. 

The CDC recommended in mid-March that travelers put off any planned cruises and that "No Sail Order" has been extended until further notice or until 100 days pass from the extended order's publication on April 15.

The cruise industry, which the Cruise Lines International Association says was worth $150 billion worldwide in 2018, is now assessing the damage.

In a quarterly report released on April 3, Carnival Corporation, the world's largest travel leisure company, predicted that the coronavirus impact could be grave. Carnival stock dropped over 82% by March 18 from a high in mid-January. Wedbush analyst James Hardiman recently estimated Carnival was burning $500 million in cash reserves each month. 

But even as the coronavirus continues to spread, some key industry players are already seeing signs of growth in the coming years. 

Read more:

6:11 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

Expert report predicts up to two more years of pandemic misery

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The new coronavirus is likely to keep spreading for at least another 18 months to two years—until 60% to 70% of the population has been infected, a team of longstanding pandemic experts predicted in a report released Thursday.

They recommended that the US prepare for a worst-case scenario that includes a second big wave of coronavirus infections in the fall and winter. Even in a best-case scenario, people will continue to die from the virus, they predicted.

"This thing's not going to stop until it infects 60 to 70% of people," Mike Osterholm, who directs the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, told CNN. "The idea that this is going to be done soon defies microbiology."

Osterholm has been writing about the risk of pandemics for 20 years and has advised several presidents and wrote the report along with several epidemiologists and a historian.

Because Covid-19 is new, no one has any immunity, they said.

The length of the pandemic will likely be 18 to 24 months, as herd immunity gradually develops in the human population," they wrote.

Their predictions are different from models presented by groups such as the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington and Imperial College London, whose report predicting millions of deaths in the US and UK helped galvanize responses by both governments.

The CIDRAP-led team used those reports, historical data on past pandemics, and published reports about the medical details of Covid-19 to put together their forecast.

Read more:

6:02 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

Heathrow airport expansion to be delayed by at least 2 years because of coronavirus

From CNN's Simon Cullen in London

A plane comes in to land at Heathrow airport over nearby houses on February 27.
A plane comes in to land at Heathrow airport over nearby houses on February 27. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Heathrow’s expansion plans – which include a third runway – will be delayed by at least two years because of the effect coronavirus is having on the aviation sector, the airport says.

In a market update released on Friday, the airport also acknowledged that continuing legal challenges could delay the project.

“It’s the last thing on my mind at the moment,” Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye told Sky News when asked about the expansion plans.

The airport said it expects passenger numbers will have been down by 97% in April because of travel restrictions linked to the pandemic.

Holland-Kaye said it was likely that there would be new health checks at airports when flights resume.

We will (probably) see some kind of health screening as you go into the terminal – maybe a thermal scanner. We’ll see probably passengers wearing surgical masks,” he said.

“I don’t think we’ll see social distancing in that phase within an airport. The reason for that is that it’s impossible to socially distance in any form of public transport," he added.

5:55 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

Chinese province at center of Covid-19 outbreak to lower emergency response level

From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

A man and a young girl visit Wuhan Zoo in China’s Hubei province on April 27, after the government started lifting travel restrictions in the region earlier in April.
A man and a young girl visit Wuhan Zoo in China’s Hubei province on April 27, after the government started lifting travel restrictions in the region earlier in April. Getty Images

China’s Hubei province will lower its coronavirus emergency response level from the highest level starting on May 2, according to Yang Yunyan, the vice governor of Hubei.  

Hubei province, which was hardest hit by Covid-19 and is home to the city of Wuhan, will move from the province’s highest designation of “level one” to “level two,” out of a four-tier system.

In a news conference held on Friday, vice governor Yang said:

We have basically curbed the spread of the epidemic.”

This, along with a strict lockdown and fast treatment of patients, has allowed Hubei to lower the emergency response level for the first time since January 24, he added.

Yang encouraged Hubei residents “to stay at home as much as possible and avoid gatherings with other people” while health officials continue to carry out “targeted efforts in the community.”

He said that the government's focus will now shift to controlling “domestic rebound and imported cases” and monitoring “large workplaces and key groups of people.”