US coronavirus cases top 667,000 as Dr. Birx outlines phases to reopen US economy

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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 2,076,000
  • Global deaths: At least 138,008
  • US cases: More than 639,600
  • US deaths: At least 30,985

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

8:08 am: Jeff Bezos says widespread testing needed before economy can get running again

Jeff Bezos published Amazon‘s annual shareholder letter, in which he detailed how the company has responded to the coronavirus pandemic so far.

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Bezos stressed the importance of testing in order for the public to return to work, as well as for his own employees to be protected from the virus. He pointed to Amazon’s efforts to develop “incremental testing capacity,” which the company announced last week. As part of that announcement, Amazon said it hopes to begin testing all of its employees, including those who show no symptoms.

“Regular testing on a global scale, across all industries, would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running,” Bezos said. “For this to work, we as a society would need vastly more testing capacity than is currently available.” —Annie Palmer

7:43 am: US hot spots span the East Coast

7:15 am: Trump to unveil reopening guidelines

President Donald Trump said Wednesday evening that he would release on Thursday national guidelines for reopening the economy. 

“We’ll be opening up some states much sooner than others,” he said at a White House coronavirus task force briefing. “We think some of the states can actually open up before the deadline of May 1.”

The governors of seven states on the East Coast and three states on the West Coast have announced regional working groups to coordinate the reopening of the regions. With the exception of Massachusetts, all ten states actively developing plans to reopen are led by Democratic governors. —Will Feuer

7:06 am: China races toward a vaccine

Sinovac CEO Yin Weidong.

Three Chinese companies have vaccine candidates in clinical trials, CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reports from Beijing. One company, Nasdaq-listed Sinovac, has already started enlisting volunteers to receive the first experimental doses. The company aims to complete safety and efficacy trials by June.

The Chinese government has allocated land for mass production of a successful vaccine candidate once it’s ready, Yoon reports, and has expedited the approval process for human clinical trials. —Will Feuer

7:03 am: UK set to extend lockdown for three more weeks

Dominic Raab, who is deputizing for Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he is recovering from a serious case of Covid-19, is meeting government ministers Thursday, and is chairing a meeting of its emergency response committee.

It’s widely expected that the country’s lockdown will be extended for three weeks, amid stark warnings that the U.K. could end up being the worst hit country from the coronavirus in Europe.

The U.K.’s top medical expert stated Wednesday that the country is probably seeing its peak of the virus (the death toll currently stands at 12,868 in British hospitals, with 761 daily deaths reported Wednesday), but it is too early to consider lifting lockdown measures that have been in place since March 23. — Holly Ellyatt

6:35 am: Spain’s daily death toll rises slightly

The number of daily deaths in Spain has risen slightly, according to health ministry data.

In the past day, 551 people have died from the coronavirus, bringing the total death toll to 19,130. The daily death toll on Wednesday was 523.

The overall number of infections now stands at 182,816, the ministry said, 5,183 more cases than yesterday. —Holly Ellyatt

5:40 am: WHO says coming weeks are ‘critical’ as Europe’s cases near 1 million

The World Health Organization’s European regional director said that in the past 10 days, the number of confirmed cases in Europe has doubled to reach almost 1 million.

WHO’s Hans Kluge told reporters in an online briefing, reported by Reuters, this meant that about 50% of the global burden of Covid-19 was in Europe, where he said more than 84,000 have died from the virus.

“The storm clouds of this pandemic still hang heavily over the European region,” Kluge said. Commenting on the gradual lifting of restrictions on public life, Kluge said “there is no fast track back to normal.” —Holly Ellyatt

4:30 am: Dutch study suggests 3% of population might have antibodies

A study of Dutch blood donors has found that around 3% have developed antibodies against Covid-19, health authorities said, Reuters reported. The findings give an indication of what percentage of the Dutch population may have already had the disease.

The head of the National Institute for Health disclosed the results during a debate with parliament.

“This study shows that about 3% of Dutch people have developed antibodies against the coronavirus,” Jaap van Dissel said, the news agency reported. “You can calculate from that, it’s several hundred thousand people,” in a country of 17 million. —Holly Ellyatt

Read CNBC’s coverage from CNBC’s Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: WHO says coming weeks are ‘critical’ as Europe’s cases near 1 million

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