The U.S. is wrapping up the first full business week feeling the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, with restaurants, bars, parks, retailers and workplaces shut down in many cities across the nation.
There are now 14,250 cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S., and at least 205 people have died in 25 states, according to the most recent data from the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering’s Centers for Systems Science and Engineering. The number of U.S. cases has more than doubled since Wednesday, though public health experts have cautioned that Americans will likely see a jump in cases as the number of available tests increases.
At least 44,872 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted by public health organizations in the U.S., as of March 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, now that at least four major diagnostics makers have said they are making tests for the novel coronavirus, it is expected to make millions more tests available in the U.S.
The state of California on Thursday issued a mandatory, stay-at-home order, excepting individuals who work in “essential services” such as pharmacies, grocery stores, takeout restaurants, banks and laundromats.
At the same time, demand for service types of workers and services is growing even as jobless claims rise. Walmart Inc. WMT, -2.22% is giving small cash bonuses in the range of $150 and $300 to employees, while it seeks to ramp up hiring, by adding 150,000 new workers. The meal-delivery kit company Blue Apron Inc. APRN, -33.05%, which is also hiring at two of its fulfillment centers, told MarketWatch it is seeing a sharp uptick in demand.
In Washington, D.C., the Trump administration is testing out new ideas, such as potentially expanding access to antimalaria drug chloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 through the Food and Drug Administration’s compassionate use program. At least three drugmakers — Bayer AG BAYRY, +0.41%, Mylan MYL, +11.97%, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. TEVA, +9.90% — have upped production of chloroquine products. In the case of Mylan, it is restarting a manufacturing line altogether. That said, chloroquine has not been designated a proven COVID-19 treatment by the FDA as it has not received an approval for this indication.
Worldwide, there are now 245,484 cases of COVID-19 and at least 10,031 people have died. More than 86,000 people have recovered after being sickened by the disease; nearly 70% of those recoveries have been in China.
In Western Europe, case counts continue to rise. Spain has 18,077 cases and 833 deaths, Germany has 16,290 cases and 44 deaths, and France has 10,891 cases and 371 deaths. Italy, which last updated its case counts on Thursday, has 41,035 cases and 3,405 deaths. More people have died from COVID-19 in France now than in China, which has reported a total of 3,253 deaths. The total number of cases in China, which have dramatically slowed there, is 81,250.
Other nations with high COVID-19 rates are: South Korea, which now has 8,652 cases and 84 deaths, and Iran, which has 18,407 cases and 1,284 deaths.
Here’s how companies are being impacted by COVID-19:
• Coty Inc. COTY, +5.10% said it expects fiscal third-quarter revenue to fall 20% due to the coronavirus outbreak, with profit expected to take a “meaningful impact.” Among the financial measures the company is taking to manage the pandemic, it is recommending to the board that shareholders receive 100% of their dividend in kind for the next two quarters, and JAB, the company’s largest shareholder, is paying off the loan it took for the 2019 tender offer in full. The company also withdrew its fiscal 2020 guidance, plans to start manufacturing and supplying emergency services with hand sanitizer, and is ramping up its e-commerce focus in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and as demand for its products on Amazon.com Inc. AMZ, +0.63% has nearly doubled in the U.S. in recent weeks.
• Sabre Corp. SABR, +7.07% is cutting more than $200 million in costs as the travel software company moves to combat the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. The Southlake, Texas-based company said measures include temporary pay cuts for its U.S. staff and a 25% pay cut for CEO Sean Menke. “This is an unprecedented time,” the company said in a statement. “The global travel industry is facing challenges beyond what has been experienced before.”
• Kohl’s Corp. KSS, -3.90% has closed all of its more than 1,100 retail stores in the U.S. until at least April 1. “To demonstrate our support of the efforts under way to contain the spread of the coronavirus, we are closing all Kohl’s stores,” CEO Michelle Gass said in a press release. Customers will still be able to shop through the company’s website Kohls.com and Kohl’s app.
• Tesla Inc. TSLA, +8.50% will temporarily halt production at its Fremont, Calif., auto factory and its solar-panel factory in Buffalo, N.Y., amid efforts to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. The halt appeared to end a game of chicken between Tesla and local authorities, as the California factory is located in a county under a regional “shelter in place” order issued Tuesday.
• Wells Fargo analyst Brian Fitzgerald upgraded Uber Technologies Inc. UBER, +14.54% ’s stock to overweight from equal weight. “We think Uber’s value remains tied to growth trends that will play out long after coronavirus-driven disruptions have subsided,” he wrote.
• Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. BBBY, +1.66% will temporarily close more than half of its stores in the U.S. and Canada, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The company will continue to operate stores which sell essential products for health care, personal care, infant care, cleaning supplies, and food and beverages.
Read more of MarketWatch’s COVID-19 coverage: