Gregg Jarrett: Coronavirus crisis — Trump must assemble economic recovery task force, before it’s too late

All across America, the fear of contracting the dreaded coronavirus is compounded by another crippling illness –acute financial despair as business closures and rampant joblessness grip the nation in a vise of economic hardship. It is welcome news, then, that President Trump is contemplating the creation of a second task force dedicated to devising a comprehensive plan to reopen the U.S. economy and rebound from the debilitating consequences of a pandemic that has all but ground businesses to a halt. Such a task force is not just imperative, it is indispensable if our country is to recover its economic vitality as rapidly as conditions reasonably permit. The idea, suggested by my Fox News colleague Dana Perino, is every bit as essential as the medical task force assembled by the president to battle the COVID-19 plague. That team advising the White House has done commendable work, but its sole objective of reducing transmission is understandably myopic. It was neither assigned nor qualified to consider the dire macroeconomic impact of widespread lockdowns that have ravaged and reversed the engine of commerce and growth. Pervasive unemployment, empty bank accounts and mounting debt are choking Americans in the wake of all the shuttered businesses that are the lifeblood of our economy. The result is a pecuniary pandemic that is just as frightening as the virus itself –perhaps more so. Trump well recognizes that human suffering has more than one dimension and that physical welfare is invariably intertwined with personal economic health. On Saturday, the president reiterated his earlier expressed belief that well-intended remedies must not be fatal. He told reporters, “The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself. We’ve got to get our country open.” If, as a nation, we ignore or minimize the unintended consequences of shutdowns designed to arrest the virus yet fail to craft a blueprint for a speedy recovery, we are quite like the surgeon who announces that “the operation was a success but the patient died.” Congress recently passed a $2 trillion economic aid package that offers some immediate, albeit limited, relief. But this is little more than palliative care. Perino has recommended an economic task force composed of “a nonpartisan/bipartisan mix of experts across industry sectors.” These are people who are more practiced than politicians on what is needed to resuscitate economic activity by restarting businesses and putting Americans back to work. This new task force should not compete with the White House team of medical professionals. Both should work in concert to weigh the economic exigencies against the health risks in determining when and where businesses can reopen while taking every precaution to safeguard the well-being of employees and the public at large. Reporters who incessantly remonstrate with Trump and clamor for him to declare a nationwide shutdown are (no surprise) mistaken. The coronavirus does not constitute the identical threat everywhere because the number of infected cases differs dramatically by region. City and state officials are better equipped to make those decisions, as the president has correctly explained. A one-size-fits-all approach would be inappropriate and counterproductive. An economic task force could provide needed guidance. In doing so, it should consider input from doctors on the frontlines of treating virus patients, like UCLA’s Joseph A. Ladapo who penned a column in USA Today arguing persuasively that it is too late for shutdowns. Dr. Lapado, who also holds a Ph.D. in economics, statistics and decision making, warned that “we will always be vulnerable to the virus spreading rapidly again as soon as shutdown measures are lifted, unless they are immediately reimplemented –over and over and over again.” As we await the production of an effective vaccine in the next 12 to 18 months, Americans may have to accept that the virus cannot be controlled and that our notion of shutdowns as a panacea is wrong, as well as destructive. According to Dr. Lapado, none of the economic models (nor common sense) supports shutdowns. He sums it up this way: “Can you imagine a United States in which children are forced to forgo proper schooling, unemployment and poverty decimate millions more lives and our economy is strangled into a persistent depression? And all for a virus that, when all is said and done, most people will recover from –even the elderly (death rates are highest in adults older than 80, at 10-20%)? The lockdown cost will be staggering –far more costly than COVID-19’s horrific wrath. Here is my prescription for local and state leaders: Keep shutdowns short, keep the economy going, keep schools in session, keep jobs intact, and focus single-mindedly on building the capacity we need to survive this into our health care system.” President Trump should move expeditiously to mobilize this new economic task force to tackle the financial calamity of business closures that, however well-intentioned, may cause lasting damage to America’s economic health. Viable solutions and a comprehensive plan for recovery is desperately needed now. Time is of the essence.

Indeed it is..  Thanks Gregg!  Gregg Jarrett is a Fox News legal analyst and commentator, and formerly worked as a defense attorney and adjunct law professor. He is the author of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling book “The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump.” His latest book is the New York Times bestseller “Witch Hunt: The Story of the Greatest Mass Delusion in American Political History

Chick-fil-A to add handwashing stations to drive-thrus, curbside pick-up areas

Chick-fil-A has committed to installing outdoor handwashing stations at all drive-thru and curbside locations by April 11, the company said. The fast-food chain confirmed in a press release that it would be supplying the stations in accordance to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ), noting that handwashing with soap and water is the most effective way to reduce risk of infection of COVID-19, which continues to spread across the United States. Due to the pandemic, Chick-fil-A was forced to close all dining rooms, but remains open to drive-thru and curbside pick-up, according to the restaurant’s press release. For those employees who serve customers outside or work outdoors, the company is adding handwashing stations for team members to “wash their hands a minimum of every 30 minutes and every time they interact with cash.” Customers have been asked to swipe their own cards or use mobile ordering and in-app payment, to limit interactions. The chain added that it has also provided Purell Wipes for its employees to “regularly sanitize their hands,” and has been placing emphasis on team members frequently disinfecting any other items they touch. This step comes after Chick-fil-A put into place social distancing protocols, and limiting physical contact between guests and employees. “These certainly are unprecedented times; yet we remain grateful…grateful for the tremendous work of those providing care for the sick, grateful for the opportunity to be a source of comfort and hospitality, and grateful for our Team Members, our Operators and the communities they serve,” wrote Tim Tassopoulos, the president and COO of Chick-fil-A in a statement released the same day the handwashing stations were announced. “On behalf of our more than 1,800 independent Owner-Operators and their 150,000 Team Members living throughout your communities, know we care for you and your health and are here for you now and in the years to come.”

U.S. Airlines Seek $50 Billion from Federal Government for Coronavirus Recovery

The U.S. airline industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak and will ask the federal government for a $50 billion aid package, according to Airlines for America (AFA), an airline advocacy organization. “U.S. carriers are in need of immediate assistance as the current economic environment is simply not sustainable,” an AFA statement said. “This is compounded by the fact that the crisis does not appear to have an end in sight.” CNN reported on the move that reverses an earlier stance the air travel industry could weather the storm — before the full impact of the virus outbreak came to light: The requested aid would be in the form of loans, grants and tax relief. The airlines are looking for up to $25 billion in grants for passenger air carriers and $4 billion in grants to cargo carriers, and the same amounts in loans or loan guarantees, Airlines for America outlined in a briefing document. The U.S. aid package has been discussed with key lawmakers and staff, as on Capitol Hill and the Trump administration, two sources said. The discussions were described as early-stage. But one source noted there is a growing recognition from the federal government that conditions “are getting very bad, very fast.” In addition the request to help the airlines, a trade group for the nation’s airports is requesting a separate $10 billion bailout, an airport industry source told CNN. The request also is in line with expected revenue drops at airports because most of the fees airlines pay are based on flight volume. Aircraft manufacturer Boeing is quoted in the CNN report that it is in discussions with the feds and the airline industry. “We’re leveraging all our resources to sustain our operations,” Gordon Johndroe, a Boeing spokesman, said. “Meanwhile, ready short term access to public and private liquidity will be one of the most important ways for airlines, airports, suppliers and manufacturers to bridge to recovery, and we appreciate how the Administration and Congress are engaging with all elements of the aviation industry during this difficult time.” America’s major airlines would run out of money as soon as June 30 without financial assistance, AFA reported. President Donald Trump said at a coronavirus press conference on Monday at the White House his administration is behind helping the industry. “We’re going to back the airlines 100 percent,” Trump said. “We’re going to be in a position to help the airlines very much.” “We’ve told the airlines we’re going to help them,” Trump said. “It’s very important.” “There are about 460,000 jobs in the US airline industry, according to the Labor Department, and most of them provide good pay and strong benefits,” CNN reported. “The industry is crucial for the efficient functioning of the U.S. economy, not only enabling business travel but also leisure travel, which itself is a major sector of the U.S. economy. Commercial aviation taxes and fees totaled $26 billion in 2019, or an estimated $71 million per day, AFA reported. CNN reported that the last bailout for U.S. airlines was $15 billion bailout – $5 billion in cash and $10 billion in loan guarantees — following the 9/11 terror attack.

Airline passenger traffic is down 94% right now.  So, they’re probably offering REALLY good deals right now.  Just sayin..   For more on this story, click on the text above.

65 Companies in America Doing Their Part to Fight the Coronavirus

President Donald Trump continues to ask all companies in America to find ways to help the country fight the coronavirus. From offering free meals and assistance to medical and health care workers to constructing masks, ventilators, and protective equipment, here are some of the top ways that America’s top businesses have answered the call. President Trump has welcomed several CEOs to the White House to thank them for their efforts, and Breitbart News has been tracking some of the biggest contributions from America’s businesses. Click here to see their list.

Great job all!!!     🙂

Starbucks extends catastrophe pay to employees until May 3, says lobbies will remain closed through then

Starbucks has announced it will be extending temporary benefits to its employees through at least May 3, including catastrophe pay for those who cannot–or choose not to–be at work amid the ongoing coronavirus health crisis. The coffee chain’s temporary benefits for employees was originally set to expire on April 19. “As we continue to navigate COVID-19 together, I want to first take a moment to share my deepest gratitude and appreciation for all of you,” wrote Rossann Williams, the executive vice president and president of U.S. company-operated business and Canada, in a letter to employees.” You’ve led through an unbelievable amount of change these last few weeks and have come together in deeply human ways to support each other and our communities, including our brave front-line responders and health care workers.” In the letter, Williams outlines the continuing steps the company plans to take to protect the health of its employees, or “partners,” by extending all COVID-19 benefits through the beginning of May. Employees who are sick, taking care of loved ones, or simply feel more comfortable self-isolating at home are eligible for catastrophe pay through May 3. Partners who choose to work will be receiving Service Pay, or an additional $3 per hour. “We will continue other temporarily expanded benefits for partners, whether they are working a shift or not, like childcare support through Care@Work and our expanded Food/Beverage Benefit and discounts,” Williams said. Other resources, including mental health services and the company’s CUP Fund (a financial resource started by partners in 1998, for workers to use “when facing an unexpected financial hardship”) would also remain available. Starbucks further confirmed that its stores, which are currently operating on a “to go” model and prohibiting customers from remaining in its lobbies or seating areas, would extend the closure of its lobbies through at least May 3. “After May 3, we do intend to slowly begin to adjust back to more normal operating models and benefits plans, recognizing that the COVID-19 situation in each community is still incredibly different and fluid,” Williams said. Also through May 3, Starbucks is offering a free tall coffee — hot or iced — to frontline workers who visit its locations. The Starbucks Foundation announced it would also be giving over $3 million to support relief efforts, including a $1 million donation to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and $1 million to Give2Asia in support of the region’s front-line medical workers, among other donations.

Oil sinks to 18-year low but holds $20 level

West Texas Intermediate crude oil tumbled to an 18-year low after President Trump extended COVID-19 social distancing guidelines until at least April 30. WTI futures for May delivery fell 6.6 percent to $20.09 per barrel, closing at their lowest level since February 2002. The contract hit a session low $19.27 a barrel, down 10.4 percent. The losses came despite President Trump telling “Fox & Friends” on Monday that he would hold a phone call later in the day to discuss low energy prices with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Monday’s slide comes after prices plunged Friday in response to Saudi Arabia saying it has not held talks with Russia regarding a “joint agreement to balance oil markets.” Crude oil prices have crashed 68 percent this year as the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia has added to a supply glut at the same time the COVID-19 pandemic has caused demand destruction.

Stocks jump building on best week since 1938

U.S. equity markets locked in gains Monday as traders digested the news that social-distancing guidelines were extended until at least April 30 and as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reiterated details on how small businesses can obtain loans quickly in an interview on FOX Business. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 690 points or 3 percent. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite gained 3.3 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively. Last week, the Dow added 13 percent, making for its best week since 1938. The markets also absorbed news of worker furloughs in the retail sector. Macy’s plans to furlough the majority of its 130,000 employees and while The Container Store said it has furloughed some corporate staff. Shares of both companies fell on the news. Airlines slid as they awaited the release of tens of billions of dollars of aid from the federal government. Additionally, cruise operators remained under pressure after receiving a downgrade from Berenberg Research. General Motors was in focus after President Trump praised the automaker, saying it was doing a “fantastic job” ramping up ventilator production. Abbott Laboratories surged after the company’s five minute COVID-19 test received Food & Drug Administration approval. Johnson & Johnson announced testing for its COVID-19 vaccine would begin by September and that it could be available for emergency use authorization in early 2021. Regeneron and Sanofi said Monday that their rheumatoid arthritis drug Kevzara treated its first patient with severe COVID-19 in a global clinical trial. Elsewhere, Apple gained despite Reuters reporting iPhone demand was likely to be down 18 percent from a year ago. Jefferies CFO Peg Broadbent died over the weekend due to complications related to COVID-19. On the commodities front, West Texas Intermediate crude was trading down 6.6 percent at $20.09 per barrel, closing at its lowest level since February 2002. Meanwhile, gold futures for April delivery fell 0.2 percent to $1,622 an ounce. U.S. Treasurys gained, pushing the yield on the 10-year note down 7.7 basis points to 0.667 percent. In Europe, Germany’s DAX gained 1.9 percent while Britain’s FTSE and France’s CAC were up 1 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. Asian markets fell, with Japan’s Nikkei falling 1.6 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sliding 1.3 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite shedding 0.9 percent.

This is great news!  Let’s pray this trend continues.    🙂