Coronavirus live updates: WHO warns of pre-symptom spread, US mortgage industry on brink of ‘complete chaos’

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 1,292,564
  • Global deaths: At least 70,798
  • US cases: At least 338,995
  • US deaths: At least 9,648

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

12:55 pm: Wayfair shares surge 37% as coronavirus drives sales of office furniture and home decor

Wayfair shares surged more than 37% after the online furniture company said its business is booming, as people furnish their home offices or decorate while they are shut-in during the coronavirus pandemic.

Wayfair said in a press release that when it entered March, gross revenue growth was just under 20%, similar to trends during January and February. But by the end of the month, growth more than doubled. Wayfair said the trend has persisted into April.

Much of the country has shifted to working from home, or remote learning, as offices and schools close to try to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Some consumers have needed to spruce up their home offices — and have been looking online for a more comfortable chair or a standing desk. With most bricks-and-mortar stores temporarily shuttered, Wayfair has benefited from fulfilling these needs. —Lauren Thomas

12:43 pm: Dow rallies 1,200 points as US coronavirus case growth rate appears to slow down

Stocks jumped, rebounding from sharp losses in the previous week, as the number of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. appeared to slow down.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 1,200 points higher, or more than 5%. The S&P 500 gained 5.5% while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 5.4%. —Fred Imbert, Silvia Amaro

12:36 pm: NY Gov. Cuomo will ask Trump to allow coronavirus patients on Navy ship Comfort

The USNS Comfort passes the Statue of Liberty as it enters New York Harbor during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, U.S., March 30, 2020.

Brendan McDermids | Reuters

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he will ask President Donald Trump to allow the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort to be used to treat patients with the coronavirus, to relieve pressure on New York City’s hospital system.

The Comfort, a 1,000-bed hospital ship, currently is docked on the West Side of Manhattan.

The ship is now being used to treat a handful of patients without COVID-19. The original plan for the ship was to not treat coronavirus patients.

“I’m going to call the president this afternoon and ask him to shift the Comfort from non-COVID to COVID,” Cuomo said at a press conference. —Dan Mangan, Will Feuer

12:29 pm: WHO says the virus can spread one to three days before symptoms start

World Health Organization officials said the coronavirus can spread in asymptomatic patients, about one to three days before symptoms start.

“It’s very important to note that even if you are pre-symptomatic, you still have to transmit through droplets. You still have to have these infectious particles that come out of your nose and mouth,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s team lead on the coronavirus, said at a press conference from the organization’s Geneva headquarters.

She said models of the outbreak suggest that there are “large numbers of unrecognized transmission.” She emphasized those are unrecognized patients, not asymptomatic. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

12:19 pm: Italy reports the lowest daily increase of new cases in three weeks

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy rose by 636, more than 100 higher than the previous daily tally of 525, the Civil Protection Agency said, but the number of new cases fell sharply.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 came to 16,523, the highest in the world.

The total number of confirmed cases increased by 3,599 to 132,547, the lowest daily rise since March 17, underscoring hopes that the illness might be on the retreat thanks to a nationwide lockdown introduced on March 9.

Before Monday, daily increases since March 17 had all been in a range of 4,050-6,557. —Reuters

12:03 pm: New York City may have to bury coronavirus victims on public lands as deaths overwhelm mortuaries

Medical workers remove a body from a refrigerated truck outside of the Brooklyn Hospital on March 31, 2020 in New York City.

Stephanie Keith | Getty Images

New York City is preparing to bury dead COVID-19 patients in temporary plots on public land until the city’s morgues and cemeteries can catch up to the rapidly rising coronavirus death toll, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“If we need to do temporary burials to be able to tide this over to pass the crisis and then work with each family on their appropriate arrangements, we have the ability to do that,” de Blasio said at a news briefing from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “Obviously, the place we have used historically is Hart Island.”

Hart Island is located in the northeast Bronx of New York City. More than 1 million people are buried on the island, according to the city’s website. The city says it is New York City’s public cemetery and the Department of Correction has managed burials on the island for the past 150 years. Many of those buried on the island remain anonymous with unmarked graves. —Will Feuer, Noah Higgins-Dunn

11:57 am: Coronavirus crisis ‘not an excuse’—real estate CEO says those who can should pay their rent

The coronavirus pandemic should not be used as a reason for everybody to stop paying rent, the CEO of one of the nation’s largest real estate developers told CNBC. 

“It’s a whole ecosystem. The people that can pay need to pay,” Related Companies’Jeff Blau said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “Landlords need to help out those that can’t, and then the banks need to help out those landlords that are hurt by people that couldn’t pay the rent.”

“That’s how this whole thing, I think, has to get resolved,” added Blau.

Blau’s firm has a portfolio value of more than $60 billion and is behind projects such as New York’s Hudson Yards. It also owns the largest private portfolio of affordable housing in the U.S., with properties in 24 states. 

Blau said Related Companies’ has collected about 88% of its residential rents that were due April 1. About 95% of commercial rents were paid, but only 26% of retail tenants have done so, he said. —Kevin Stankiewicz

11:47 am: Coronavirus mortgage bailout: ‘There is going to be complete chaos,’ says industry CEO

A broad coalition of mortgage and finance industry leaders on Saturday sent a plea to federal regulators, asking for desperately needed cash to keep the mortgage system running, as requests from borrowers for the federal mortgage forbearance program are pouring in at an alarming rate.

The Cares Act mandates that all borrowers with government-backed mortgages—about 62% of all first lien mortgages according to Urban Institute—be allowed to delay at least 90 days of monthly payments and possibly up to a year’s worth.

Those payments would then have to be made at a later time through a payment plan. Servicers are granting the payment deferrals to borrowers with no questions asked, as is required by the law, but the servicers still have to pay mortgage bond holders.

In normal times, they have enough to cover these payments, and, in fact, at the end of last year the mortgage delinquency rate was near a record low, according to CoreLogic. Now that rate is skyrocketing, and servicers do not have nearly enough cash to cover those payments to bondholders. —Diana Olick

11:34 am: British PM Boris Johnson ‘in good spirits’ after being admitted to hospital for coronavirus tests

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is “in good spirits,” a day after he was admitted to hospital for coronavirus tests.

Johnson, 55, tested positive for COVID-19 just over a week ago, claiming he had developed “mild symptoms” including a high temperature and cough.

“Last night, on the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests as I’m still experiencing coronavirus symptoms,” the U.K. leader tweeted Monday. “I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe.” —Ryan Browne

11:26 am: Janet Yellen says second-quarter GDP could decline by 30% and unemployment is already at 12%-13%

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the economy is in the throes of an “absolutely shocking” downturn that is not reflected yet in the current data.

If it was, she said, the unemployment rate probably would be as high as 13% while the overall economic contraction is about 30%.

“If we had a timely unemployment statistic, the unemployment rate probably would be up to 12 or 13% at this point and moving higher,” Yellen told CNBC’s Sara Eisen during a “Squawk on the Street” interview. She said gross domestic product is down “at least 30% and I’ve seen far higher numbers.”

Those numbers, she said, look like a depression though they were “in very different form” from the Great Depression. —Jeff Cox

11:15 am: Marco Rubio expects the Senate to pass at least one more coronavirus relief bill 

Senators acknowledge they will have to pass another emergency bill to limit the damage from the coronavirus pandemic, Sen. Marco Rubio said. 

The Florida Republican, chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, said Congress will likely have to expand pieces of the $2 trillion stimulus package passed last month. Rubio expects an additional recovery bill after lawmakers assess the wreckage the outbreak leaves in its wake. 

“The appetite is there,” he said in a CNBC “Squawk Box” interview. “I think everyone I’ve talked to recognizes we’re going to have to go back and do more, and probably more than once.” 

The government has only started the rapid, at times rocky implementation of the largest emergency spending package in U.S. history. Designed to bolster resources for an overburdened health care system and blunt economic destruction as COVID-19 spreads, the law includes strengthened unemployment benefits, $350 billion in small business loans and $500 billion in loans and grants for companies, states and municipalities, among other measures. —Jacob Pramuk 

11:06 am: Priest tells Christians to practice social distancing as Easter approaches: ‘One of the most generous things you can do’ 

A prominent Catholic priest called on the faithful to practice social distancing this week, the peak of Lent, in contrast to some other religious leaders who have called for churches to remain open as Easter approaches and the coronavirus spreads.

“One of the ways of being kind, in addition to doing good things for your neighbors, is to practice social distancing and stay home and not give other people the disease,” Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, told CNBC on Monday morning

Not all religious leaders are offering the same advice as Martin. While many churches have opted to perform their services virtually, some have continued to hold gatherings despite warnings from the federal government and state leaders to avoid contact with other people. —Kevin Breuninger 

10:57 am: New York City will have enough N95 masks for the week but still faces other coronavirus shortages, de Blasio says 

New York City is receiving 600,000 N95 masks Monday, on top of the 200,000 the federal government sent Friday, giving the city’s hospitals enough masks this week, even as local leaders scramble to fill gaps in other necessary supplies to fight the coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

The city has received 291 new health-care workers from the federal government out of the 1,450 requested, de Blasio said. The city is still facing shortages of hospital gowns and ventilators. He said NYC hospitals used 1.8 million hospital gowns last week and will use about 2 million this week. 

“This is one of the areas where we’re seeing a real problem, surgical gowns. Our public hospital system has enough for this week, but some of the private hospitals and nursing homes are running low, and this is an area we’re very concerned about,” de Blasio said, standing outside the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Dr. Eric Wei, the chief quality officer for the city’s public health system NYC Health + Hospitals, said they are testing hydroxychloroquine and other treatments to see what works best to save patients.

“We’re willing to try just about anything to save patients,” he said. He also said the city is trying to broaden its testing for COVID-19 to make it more available to city health-care workers. —Noah Higgins-Dunn, William Feuer 

10:40 am: Rite Aid to hire 5,000 new employees 

Rite Aid announced that it plans to hire 5,000 new employees for full- and part-time roles at stores across the country. The positions include cashiers, pharmacy technicians and distribution center associates.

The company previously established a “Hero Program” that raised the wages of hourly employees by $2 per hour starting Mar. 15. The pay raise is expected to last at least through May 2. Current retail store management, including pharmacists, distribution center management and RediClinic professional associates, also received a “Hero Bonus” of $1,000. —Hannah Miller 

10:36 am: Navarro says he is qualified to disagree with Fauci on coronavirus treatment: ‘I’m a social scientist’ 

White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said he is qualified to disagree with Dr. Anthony Fauci on coronavirus research because “I’m a social scientist.”

“Doctors disagree about things all of the time. My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I’m a social scientist, PhD,” Navarro told CNN’s John Berman during a televised interview. “I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it’s in medicine, the law, economics or whatever.”

Navarro is the White House director of trade and manufacturing policy, and Fauci has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. Navarro earned an economics PhD from Harvard, according to the White House

The two officials reportedly tangled over White House messaging on hydroxychloroquine, a lupus and rheumatoid arthritis drug being studied for possible COVID-19 usage, during a meeting in the Situation Room on Saturday. 

Fauci said that research on the drug’s effectiveness against the new coronavirus was anecdotal, while Navarro countered it was “science, not anecdote,” according to the news website Axios, which first reported on the blow up. —Tucker Higgins 

9:58 am: Coronavirus-themed murals from around the world 

A man runs in front of a graffiti of a character from “Lord Of The Rings”, which holds a roll of toilet paper and says “My precious”, during coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in the Mauerpark in Berlin, Germany on March 25, 2020.

Abdulhamid Hosbas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Artists around the world are tapping their creativity to help find new ways to deal with the impact of the global pandemic.

Musicians who had to cancel their concert tours are instead moving online to connect with their audiences, offering impromptu performances on social media and live video streams. Some are even writing new coronavirus- and quarantine-inspired songs to help us wash our hands.

A few writers are taking advantage of their newfound time at home to finish their novels. And then there are the graffiti and mural artists who have been busy painting some pretty incredible coronavirus-inspired works on walls and buildings across the globe. —Adam Jeffery

9:50 am: Chief surgeon at top New York hospital likens the upcoming week in coronavirus fight to war: This is ‘our Fallujah’ 

The head of surgery at one of New York’s top hospitals likened the coming weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak to war, saying doctors were about to fight “our Gettysburg, our Somme, our Iwo Jima, our Khe Sanh, our Fallujah.”

New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in Manhattan is at the frontlines of the coronavirus epidemic in New York City. Surgeon-in-chief Dr. Craig Smith’s rousing memos to staff have been shared widely as an onslaught of COVID-19 patients pour into the hospital.

Officials and epidemiologists tracking the spread of the virus warn that this week could be among the most deadly yet in New York City. The virus has infected more than 67,551 people in the city and killed at least 3,048 people, according to Johns Hopkins University. —William Feuer

9:33 am: Stocks surge to start the week, Dow rallies 900 points 

Stocks jumped on Monday as Wall Street rebounded from a steep sell-off in the previous week. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 900 points higher, or more than 4%. The S&P 500 gained 3.8% while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 3.7%.

Last week, the major averages posted their third weekly decline in four. The Dow slid 2.7% while the S&P 500 lost 2.1%. The Nasdaq Composite closed last week down 1.7%. Stocks are also deep in bear-market territory as concerns over the coronavirus outbreak have virtually shut down the global economy and have dampened sentiment around corporate profits. —Fred Imbert, Silvia Amaro

9:26 am: A loss of taste and smell may be the best way to tell if you have coronavirus, new study shows 

If tests are not available, a loss of taste and smell could be the best way to detect whether someone has contracted the coronavirus, according to U.K. researchers.

A research team at King’s College London assessed the responses of more than 400,000 people reporting one or more suspected symptoms of COVID-19 to an app.

The data analyzed showed that 59% of those who tested positive for the virus reported a loss of smell and taste, compared with only 18% of who tested negative for the disease. These results, the researchers said, were “much stronger” in predicting positive COVID-19 diagnoses than a self-reported fever.

This appears to indicate that a loss of smell and taste should be added to the list of common coronavirus symptoms. Until now, health authorities like the WHO have said a fever, dry cough and fatigue are the symptoms to watch out for.

The general advice for those who display symptoms of COVID-19 is to stay at home in order to reduce the risk of spreading it to others and call your health facility. —Sam Meredith

9:19 am: Tyson Foods deploys walk-through temperature scanners at three U.S. sites 

Tyson Foods is using walk-through infrared body temperature scanners at three processing plants in an effort to keep coronavirus out of its sites and maintain the stability of U.S. food supply.

The scanners can check employees’ temperature as they walk into the building. Tyson gave CNBC an exclusive first look at video of how the walk-through scanners work. 

“One beef facility in Nebraska produces enough food every day to feed 18 million people. We have a vital role to continue to feed the nation. We are doing everything we can to keep employees safe,” Tyson’s senior vice president of health and safety Tom Brower told CNBC. —Frank Holland

9:08 am:  Bank of America sees booming rescue loan demand, with applications for nearly 10% of allotment 

Bank of America said it’s seen fierce demand for emergency rescue loans with current applications already accounting for nearly 10% of the entire amount allocated by Congress.

The bank confirmed that it has received applications from 177,000 small businesses for a total of $32.6 billion in financing. The current Bank of America numbers are its applications and do not represent the sums the Small Business Administration has approved.

The bank was the first major lender to set up and launch its portal for the Paycheck Protection Program though it was quickly inundated with requests.

The chaotic and widespread demand stems from the nation’s small business owners, who have scrambled to apply for the rescue funds out of fear they could miss out on the historic, $350 billion program. —Thomas Franck

8:12 am: CVS launches drive-thru rapid testing in Rhode Island and Georgia

CVS Health said Monday it will be running two new drive-thru coronavirus testing locations and hopes to perform up to 1,000 tests a day.

The sites are at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and at Twin River Casino near Providence, Rhode Island. They will use Abbott Laboratories‘ rapid COVID-19 test and make testing available to patients who meet the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state governments. Both sites have large parking lots that can accommodate multiple lanes of cars.

The new sites will be open to all patients, but in order to receive an appointment for a test, customers will be required to preregister and prequalify online. No one will be admitted without  preregistering. —Bertha Coombs

7:47 am: Japan’s Abe unveils ‘massive’ coronavirus stimulus worth 20% of GDP

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged on Monday to roll out an unprecedented economic stimulus package, equal to 20% of economic output, as his government vowed to take “all steps” to battle deepening fallout from the coronavirus, Reuters reported.

The package, to be confirmed by the cabinet on Tuesday, will total 108 trillion yen ($989 billion), far exceeding one compiled in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis totaling 56 trillion yen in size, with fiscal spending of 15 trillion yen. —Reuters

7:24 am: China vows to strengthen controls at land borders as cases rise

China will work to further avoid importing coronavirus cases through its land borders, the Chinese government said in a statement after a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

The risk of the virus being imported into China via land borders is increasing and the number of such cases has exceeded those recorded at airports recently, the statement said. Of the 38 imported cases with symptoms recorded in mainland China on Sunday, 20 had arrived in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang after travelling overland from Vladivostok in neighboring Russia, having flown to Vladivostok from Moscow. —Reuters

7:11 am: Germany draws up plans to end lockdown

A man and a woman wearing face masks walk past advertisements of a shoe store temporarily selling face masks and antibacterial hygiene products in Berlin on March 16, 2020.

Tobias Schwarz | AFP | Getty Images

Germany has drawn up a list of measures, including an obligation to wear masks in public, limits on public gatherings and the rapid tracing of infection chains, that officials think should allow life to return to normal after lockdown’s scheduled end on April 19.

The proposals, contained in a draft action plan compiled by the Interior Ministry document and seen by Reuters, say the measures should be sufficient to keep the number of people infected by each person below 1 even as public life is allowed gradually to resume.

For this to be possible, mechanisms will have to be in place to track more than 80% of people an infected person had contact with within 24 hours of diagnosis. In return, schools will be able to reopen on a regional basis and strict border controls will be relaxed, the paper said. —Reuters

7:06 am: Apple to produce 1 million face shields per week

Apple is designing and producing face shields for medical workers, CEO Tim Cook said in a video on Sunday. The company is aiming to produce 1 million face shields per week.

“We’ve launched a company-wide effort, bringing together product designers, engineering, operations and packaging teams, and our suppliers to design, produce, and ship face shields for health workers,” Cook said. —Kif Leswing

7:03 am: JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon says US can emerge from crisis stronger

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, detailed the bank’s strength in his widely-read annual letter. He said that JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, is prepared for the tumult caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

“We have the resources to emerge from this crisis as a stronger country,” Dimon said in the letter. “America is still the most prosperous nation the world has ever seen.”JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, is prepared for the tumult caused by the coronavirus epidemic, he said. 

Here’s the full letter. —Hugh Son

5:55 am: Spain’s daily death toll continues to decline

Spain reported that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country had topped 135,302, up from 130,759 the previous day.

It reported 637 deaths Monday, down from 674 the previous day, and continuing a downwards trend after a peak of 950 recorded on Thursday. A total of 13,055 people have died in Spain from the virus. —Holly Ellyatt

5:15 am: Europe looks for lockdown exit strategy as rate of new coronavirus cases and deaths slows

There are tentative hopes in Europe that the coronavirus outbreak could be slowing, as the number of new infections and fatalities starts to slow down, according to data over the weekend.

The figures are prompting European leaders to look for an exit strategy to national lockdowns, while urging the public to maintain discipline while the apparent recovery from the outbreak is in its infancy. —Holly Ellyatt

4:45 am: UK car sales fell 44% in March, industry data shows

U.K. passenger car sales in March fell 44% compared with the same month last year to 254,684 units, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said on Monday. 

The group, representing Britain’s car industry, cut its 2020 sales forecast by 23% to 1.73 million vehicles because of the impact of the coronavirus crisis. That’s 25% lower than the 2.31 million units registered in 2019. A further outlook will be published in April to reflect the latest conditions. —Holly Ellyatt

4:33 am: UK leader Boris Johnson ‘doing well’ in hospital, minister insists

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a coronavirus news conference inside number 10 Downing Street on March 19, 2020 in London, England.

Leon Neal – WPA Pool | Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “doing well” and is expected to be back at his office shortly, Housing Minister Robert Jenrick told the BBC. It comes after Johnson was admitted to the hospital on Sunday night for tests, 10 days after testing positive for coronavirus.

“He’ll stay in hospital as long as he needs to do that, but I’ve heard that he’s doing well and I very much look forward to him being back in Number 10 as soon as possible,” Jenrick told BBC radio. —Holly Ellyatt

Read CNBC’s coverage from CNBC’s Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Spain’s daily death rate declines further; US virus hotspots in focus

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