Airline industry package to be proposed this weekend: coronavirus briefing

A proposal for saving the airlines will probably come out this weekend, President Trump said at the White House coronavirus task force briefing.

“It’s moving quickly,” Trump said, “We’re going to be in a position to help them a lot.”

“I think it’s going to be a very acceptable package,” he added.

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On OPEC, “they’re getting close to a deal,” Trump said after getting off of a call with Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s king.

Update at 6:37 PM: “They’ll probably announce something today or tomorrow,” he said regarding an OPEC agreement.

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) may have a therapy that may keep the virus from replicating, Trump said.

Therapeutics companies have 19 therapies in testing and 26 in active planning for trials, he said.

6:40 PM: Regarding the death toll of the coronavirus, Trump said “I think we’re looking at a much lower level, I hope, than 100,000”; previous models had projected 100K-240K deaths.

6:43 PM: Trump said he’s hearing that the PPP small business loan roll-out has been “very successful.”

The government will be helping farmers regarding COVID-19 impact.

According to the Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, the U.S. has 456,828 confirmed cases and 16,294 deaths.

6:49 PM: Vice President Mike Pence said the task force is keeping an eye on the Chicago area and the Boston area.

Turning to the paycheck protection program, $125B of loans have been approved, Pence said.

6:52 PM: So far the program has 30K individual users and 3,900 lenders participating. The Treasury is issuing guidance for how seasonal businesses can participate in the PPP.

7:04 PM: “We have to make sure that nursing homes have ‘sentinel surveillance,'” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force response coordinator, meaning that such facilities need to have constant testing and contact tracing.

7:08 PM: “In the sense of deaths, it’s been a bad week,”  said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. New York had 820+ deaths, its worst day yet.

But while the deaths are rising there has been a “dramatic decrease in the need for hospitalizations” — about 200 in New York vs as high as 1,400.

This is a developing story; check back for updates.