Daily Digest 4/22 – SBA Reports Data Breach, The Worst Is Yet To Come For Oil Prices

Economy

As lawmakers battle over who is responsible for testing, Harvard researchers say the US needs to test 20 million people a day to ‘fully remobilize the economy’ (Roger B.)

“Massive testing is essential because it is more finely targeted—more of a precision device than a blunt instrument,” the report stated. “Rather than giving an entire city a stay-at-home order of indefinite duration, only those who are infected would need to stay at home or in a medical facility, and only for the specific amount of time required by the course of the disease.”

Corporate America seeks legal protection for when coronavirus lockdowns lift (Sparky1)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) are seeking temporary, legal and regulatory safe harbor legislation to curb liabilities for employers who follow official health and safety guidelines. The Business Roundtable, which represents corporate chief executives, is also exploring ways to limit coronavirus liabilities.

Trump, the Company, Asks Trump, the Administration, for Rent Relief (Sparky1)

The Trump Organization owns and operates the luxury hotel, but it is in a federally owned building on Pennsylvania Avenue. As part of its deal to open the 263-room hotel, the company signed a 60-year lease in 2013 that requires the monthly payments to the General Services Administration.

The Trump Organization is current on its rent, according to Eric Trump, the president’s son, but he confirmed that the company had opened a conversation about possible delays in future monthly payments.

Social Distancing Scoreboard (Sparky1)

According to the World Health Organization and the CDC, social distancing is currently the most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19. We created this interactive Scoreboard, updated daily, to empower organizations to measure and understand the efficacy of social distancing initiatives at the local level.

SBA reports data breach in disaster loan application website (Sparky1)

Business owners have had issues with the disaster loan website before. The site was taken down for maintenance for several hours on March 16, and owners could not apply during that time. On March 29, the SBA revised its application process for the disaster loans and owners had to reapply. Many learned days or weeks later that they needed to reapply.

CDC’s failed coronavirus tests were tainted with coronavirus, feds confirm (uleaveuswithnoalternative)

The CDC had been vague about what went wrong with the tests, initially only saying that “a problem in the manufacturing of one of the reagents” had led to the failure. Subsequent reporting suggested that the problem was with a negative control—that is, a part of the test meant to be free of any trace of the coronavirus as a critical reference for confirming that the test was working properly overall.

Dr. Malcom Kendrick: The Anti-lockdown Strategy (Marshall S.)

I wrote about this situation in my last blog, as the impact of COVID of care homes was becoming apparent – even to politicians. I thought that someone, somewhere, might have realised the policy of flinging COVID positive patients – or patients who may have COVID – out of hospital, and into care homes, might prove a complete and utter disaster.

I now call care homes COVID incubators. Places where the disease can grow and multiply, happily finding new host after new host. Not so happily for the residents.

Home sales drop 8.5 percent in March amid coronavirus pandemic (Sparky1)

“Unfortunately, we knew home sales would wane in March due to the coronavirus outbreak,” NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement. “More temporary interruptions to home sales should be expected in the next couple of months, though home prices will still likely rise.”

Iran orders people back to work amid coronavirus (Sparky1)

Insisting that they have managed to control the virus, the theocratic regime has ordered its impoverished citizens to return to work or face severe fines or even imprisonment. President Hassan Rouhani has said it is safe for people to return to work and for schools to reopen and many shops, factories, warehouses and workshops have resumed operations, exposing their workers to the disease.

Techno-Tyranny: How The U.S. National Security State Is Using Coronavirus To Fulfill An Orwellian Vision (Kim WB)

However, their main focus is ensuring that “the United States … maintain a technological advantage in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other associated technologies related to national security and defense.” The vice-chair of NSCAI, Robert Work – former Deputy Secretary of Defense and senior fellow at the hawkish Center for a New American Security (CNAS), described the commission’s purpose as determining “how the U.S. national security apparatus should approach artificial intelligence, including a focus on how the government can work with industry to compete with China’s ‘civil-military fusion’ concept.”

Lockdowns leave poor Latin Americans with impossible choice: stay home or feed families (Sparky1)

In recent days, as some governments have announced aid packages to help their poorest citizens stay home, there have been reports of containment measures fraying in places such as Venezuela’s Petare and Brazil’s Rocinha, two of Latin America’s largest communities.

“There’s an avalanche of people here in the streets,” José Martins, a leader in Rocinha, told local media. “I think 60% to 70% of shops have reopened.”

Establishing Prokaryotic Expression System of Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) gene in pigs (newsbuoy)

Immunohistochemistry showed that the ACE2 protein was expressed in all major tissues of pigs. It is the first time that polyclonal antibody of ACE2 in pigs was obtained and the expression of ACE2 was confirmed. These results will provide a basis for investigating on ACE2’s biological activity in pigs.

Nigerian citizen: I prefer to die from Covid-19 than hunger (Sparky1)

Nigeria’s lockdown is making life increasingly difficult for the country’s poor. CNN’s Stephanie Busari reports from Lagos on the desperation many face.

We’re mapping Covid-19-related slaughterhouse closures (Sparky1)

Similar political skirmishes are playing out across the country, as elected officials and meatpacking companies grapple with the reality of an industry that isn’t built to absorb systemic shocks, and slaughterhouse lines that are designed for efficiency and speed rather than a control on physical distance. Meanwhile, it falls to workers—often immigrants, sometimes undocumented, with limited bargaining power and English fluency—to make decisions that affect their safety.

US pressures Mexico to reopen plants amid worker walkouts (Sparky1)

He expressed concern about virus lockdowns damaging the flow of parts and goods that feed businesses in the three nations of the North American free trade zone — United States, Mexico and Canada — and warned that “if we do not coordinate our response, these chains can evaporate.”

Trump tells Chevron to “wind down” oil fields in Venezuela (Sparky1)

After levying a series of financial and economic sanctions on Maduro and his allies, the Trump administration has waged a campaign of maximum pressure in recent weeks. U.S. federal prosecutors have indicted Maduro as a narcotrafficker, putting a $15 million bounty on his head, while sending warships and planes to intercept illegal drug shipments crossing the Caribbean bound for the United States.

U.S. Warships Enter South China Sea Hot Spot as Tensions With China Escalate (Sparky1)

Despite working to control a pandemic that spread from China earlier this year, Beijing has not reduced its activities in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which one-third of global shipping flows. Instead, the Chinese government’s yearslong pattern of assertiveness has only intensified, military analysts said.

Q&A: Oil prices hit new lows as economic pain deepens (Sparky1)

There’s little mystery around the sharp drop-off: Efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus have major cities around the world on lockdown, air travel has been seriously curtailed and millions of people are working from home, leading to far fewer commuters on the roads.

Oil Price Collapse Delivers a Loud Warning (RW)

Yesterday, the price of the front futures contract for U.S. domestic crude oil, known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, closed in negative territory for the first time in history. The reason was that no one wanted to take physical possession of that crude oil because they could not find any place to store it. There is now such a global oversupply of crude that traditional storage places, like tankers and storage tanks, are full for the most part.

The Worst Is Yet To Come For Oil Prices (Michael S.)

While forecasts have suggested that U.S. oil production could fall by 1 or 2 or 3 million barrels per day (mb/d) by the end of 2021, depending on who you ask, the lack of storage and collapsing prices means that shut ins could begin to mount very quickly. “[T]he physical reality of a still massively oversupplied oil market will likely exert downward pressure on the June WTI contract,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote on Tuesday. “But with ultimately a finite amount of storage left to fill, production will soon need to fall sizeably to bring the market into balance, finally setting the stage for higher prices once demand gradually recovers.”

North Dakota regulators weigh financial help for state’s oil producers (Sparky1)

In a virtual meeting, the North Dakota Industrial Commission evaluated financial measures that could be used to assist the ailing industry, including loans to help operators restart wells or a tax holiday for wells brought back online.

Thousands turn to backyard ‘victory gardens’ during pandemic (Sparky1)

“We have over 29,000 registered for the free, online vegetable gardening course. Normally we might get 20 or 30 registered all year,” said Gail Langellotto, professor of horticulture at Oregon State University and statewide coordinator of the master gardener program.

Cattle industry losses expected to quickly outpace federal aid (Sparky1)

“The bottom line is there will be guys in cow-calf production that at this point probably will not be able to cover their production costs,” said Derrell Peel, a professor of agribusiness and an Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist, who lead the study.

Coronavirus pandemic ‘will cause famine of biblical proportions’ (Sparky1)

Covid-19 is likely to be sweeping through the developing world but its spread is hard to gauge. What appears to be certain is that the fragile healthcare systems of scores of developing countries will be unable to cope, and the economic disaster following in the wake of the pandemic will lead to huge strain on resources.

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