Trump plans for big bang stimulus as US infections top 5K; NYC prepares for lockdown

Investors on Tuesday cheered President Donald Trump’s plans for a massive fiscal stimulus, even as coronavirus infection rates around the world continued to surge, forcing the European Union to join other nations in a restrictive quarantine effort to contain the pandemic.

The 28-nation trading bloc followed the lead of members Italy, Spain, France and Germany in locking down its outside border for the time being, to slow the disease’s march across the continent.

Markets recovered after a free-fall session drove the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a record point drop. In the U.S., however, those affected by COVID-19 infections have topped 5,000 — leading New York City to float the possibility of a “shelter-in-place” order that officials hope will curb spreading of the disease. All around the world’s largest economy, officials are moving to keep more people off the streets in a way that’s diminishing crowds but choking growth.

As Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced a wide range of proposals to get money into the hands of taxpayers immediately, the Senate is slated to take action this week on a stimulus bill that passed the House last week. Officials are hoping to blunt the virus’ impact on the global economy, which many analysts now believe will sink into a recession this year.

Mnuchin said those measures may include $1,000 checks for everyone affected, and other moves to shore up small businesses, something the top U.S. finance official referred to as “business interruption payments.”

Those proposals are meant to help ease the massive disruptions to public life, as officials across the U.S. move to discourage large gatherings, mainly by ordering social distancing measures that will close gyms, restaurants, bars and nightclubs — keeping citizens indoors as much as possible.

Open Table, an online reservation site, has reported more than 50% drops in major metropolitan areas around the country. The same is true for food delivery services like Grubhub and Uber Eats, which are struggling even as many workers hunker down at home.

As of Tuesday, there were nearly 5,000 cases domestically, with fewer than 100 deaths.

‘A lot of kinks in the system’

All industries appear to be impacted by the outbreak, including retail. Many companies have announced store closures or limited capacity of shoppers, while groceries and pharmacies are taking steps to stay open while also looking out for the health of their employees.

As Europe continues to test more of its population, the U.S. is slowly ramping up its own capabilities — which is likely to lead to a jump in new cases. The world’s largest economy now has over 5,700 COVID-19 infections, with the global count closing in on 200,000 amid nearly 8,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data. However, more than 80,000 recoveries have been reported.

The White House’s coronavirus Task Force announced that drive-thru testing is being set up this week, and will likely be in full swing by next.

Admiral Brett Giroir, the “tsar” in charge of testing who is also the assistant secretary for Health, warned the drive-thru would not be perfect. He expected only 47 sites across 12 states, and has already run a trial of the system on Monday.

Accordingly, he anticipated “a lot of kinks in the system.”

However, testing capabilities are definitively ramping up, which raised hopes that the U.S. may be able to stem the tide of illnesses, much like South Korea did with its aggressive testing efforts. Currently, there are nearly 32,000 tests from the Centers for Disease Control and 27,000 from clinical labs — of which 8,200 alone were from Monday.

In New York City, where new cases continue to mount, a newly-announced partnership with BioReference Laboratories may increase capacity to 5,000 tests per day.

Anjalee Khemlani is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @AnjKhem

Javier David is an editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @TeflonGeek

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