White House distances itself from Fauci slam

San Francisco school district to welcome students online

San Francisco Unified School District announced it’s joining the Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified School Districts by welcoming students back this fall strictly online, according to a letter from Superintendent Vincent Matthews.

In the letter, Matthews said the school district hopes to gradually adopt a hybrid approach that will allow students on campus for in-person learning “when science and data suggest it is safe to do so.” 

“We know our entire community needs to make plans since we are not opening for in-person instruction, so we wanted to share this news now, even as we are still finalizing more details,” Matthews said. 

San Francisco United is California’s sixth largest school district, enrolling more than 61,000 students for the last academic school year, according to the state’s department of education. President Donald Trump has criticized the Los Angeles Unified School District during an with CBS News for deciding to welcome students online only, saying “it’s a terrible decision.” — Noah Higgins-Dunn

Taiwan stands out for its effective response to Covid-19 — here’s why

An airport staff holds up information boards regarding passenger health declaration and home quarantine information, a mandatory form to fill in once passengers land in Taiwan at Songshan airport in Taipei, Taiwan July 2, 2020.

Ann Wang | Reuters

Taiwan has won worldwide praise for its quick and effective Covid-19 response, which included stringent quarantines, contact tracing and widespread distribution of masks, CNBC’s Christina Farr reports as part of a series on how the world is fighting the coronavirus.

Taiwan has a population of 23.7 million and is just 100 miles from China but has confirmed only 451 coronavirus cases and seven deaths. Experts gave the territory a 9.25/10 for its handling of the pandemic.

Taiwan’s government was prepared for Covid-19 because it learned from the SARS scare of 2003, experts said. Its digital health-care record system also enabled effective monitoring of potential high-risk patients based on travel history, and Taiwanese health officials also held regular briefings to inform the public.   

Today Taiwanese society is mostly reopened. People are traveling internally for vacation and returning to the office, and the only signs of Covid-19 are frequent temperature checks and mask-wearing on the subway.—Michelle Gao

 Alabama to require masks for two weeks

Then-Alabama Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey speaks to a crowd before U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s speaks to workers and followers, at Thompson Tractor in Birmingham, Alabama March 9, 2012.

Marvin Gentry | Reuters

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced a state-wide mask order beginning Thursday that will be in effect until July 31. The order will replace all local rulings on masks for the two weeks it is in effect.

Ivey’s order requires people to wear a face covering within six feet of anyone from another household in any indoor space open to the public, an outdoor space with 10 or more people or in any vehicle owned by a transportation service. There are exceptions for “practical necessities,” such as for children 6 or under, eating and drinking and people with certain medical conditions or disabilities, as well as some exceptions for exercising, religious worship, speaking to an audience and voting.

Ivey, a Republican, emphasized the importance of personal responsibility as the mandate will be hard to enforce. The order follows 40 deaths in Alabama on Tuesday, a record for the state. –Alex Harring

Tech deals plow ahead despite pandemic and antitrust scrutiny

The tech sector has continued to invest and consolidate during the pandemic despite economic uncertainty and antitrust scrutiny.

Tech deals have outpaced those of other sectors in the U.S. by deal value and number, making up about a quarter of all M&A in the U.S. so far this year, according to data from Dealogic, which relies on publicly available M&A announcements. Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook have continued to move ahead with M&A plans even as they prepare for a congressional antitrust hearing at the end of the month.

Still, deal value has dropped far more than the number of transactions in the U.S. tech sector, suggesting some companies may be holding off on the biggest of deals.

Though the value of tech transactions has dropped so far this year compared to last, the industry continues to announce deals more rapidly than other sectors. While overall deal value in the U.S. has dropped 67% across sectors as of July 9 this year, computer and electronics deals have dropped about 62%, according to Dealogic, whose data includes deals that have yet to close. But the number of tech deals has dropped only 13% from the same period last year, compared to 22% for all sectors.

University of Michigan professor Erik Gordon said tech deals continue to move forward because the industry has an incentive to quickly offer users the next big thing. The industry has fared better than others during the pandemic as lockdowns have shifted work and social life increasingly online, accelerating companies’ need to innovate. Tech has consistently used M&A as a growth tactic, far outpacing any other sector in the number of acquisitions per year in the U.S. since at least 2010, according to Dealogic. 

Small businesses rehire staff but cut pay and hours, survey finds

Worker headcount among small businesses is nearly back to pre-Covid-19 levels, according to exclusive data from human resource provider Gusto.

However, employees are now working reduced hours and with lower pay, Gusto also found.

At this point, many business owners have used the bulk of the loans they received from the federal Paycheck Protection Program and more will have exhausted that money in the next few weeks.

“It’s a little messier to see where things go from here,” said Daniel Sternberg, Gusto’s head of data science. — Jessica Dickler

Oklahoma governor tests positive for coronavirus

Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) speaks during a roundtable at the State Dining Room of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced he has tested positive for coronavirus and is isolating and working from home.

“I got tested yesterday for Covid-19 and the results came back positive,” Stitt said. “I feel fine; I felt a little bit achy yesterday.”

Late last month, Stitt said people in his state would “just have to learn how to live with” the deadly coronavirus, CNBC’s Christina Wilkie reports. —Chris Eudaily

Visual effects app for video calls was inspired by the work-from-home surge caused by pandemic

Mmhmm’s top feature for business users is the ability to present slideshows while simutaneously displaying your face.

Kif Leswing/CNBC

A new startup making it easy to add visual effects and presentations to video calls on services like Zoom or Google Hangouts is one of the first examples of a new Silicon Valley startup focusing on a consumer product inspired by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mmhmm was developed by former Evernote CEO Phil Libin and it’s raised $4.5 million from investors including Sequoia Capital. Videoconferencing software sees the app as a new “camera,” and the app takes the video from the actual camera, adds graphics and other improvements, then passes it on to the software used to make the call.  In the software’s early days Libin said he joked that it was “Twitch for olds,” referring to the Amazon-owned streaming platform

Libin told CNBC that the app was developed because he was spending so much time on video calls during the pandemic and wanted more control. “I don’t think we could have come up with this idea in the before-time,” Libin told CNBC. —Kif Leswing

Walmart will require customers to wear face masks

People wearing masks and gloves wait to checkout at Walmart on April 03, 2020 in Uniondale, New York.

Al Bello | Getty Images

Walmart said that all customers at Walmart and Sam’s Club will be required to wear face masks beginning July 20.

The majority, or 65%, of Walmart’s stores and clubs are located in areas where face masks are already required by the government in some way, CNBC’s Melissa Repko reports.

Other major retailers, including Best Buy, Costco and Apple, also require shoppers to wear masks in their stores. The policy has sometimes led to confrontations between employees and customers who do not want to wear a mask.

In its news release, Walmart said it will introduce the new employee role of health ambassador, who will enforce the face mask rule when customers walk inside stores and clubs. –Suzanne Blake

Moderna shares soar after releasing coronavirus vaccine trial data

Moderna‘s stock is surging after the biotech company released promising data on its potential coronavirus vaccine trial, saying it generated a “robust” immune response. 

The vaccine candidate produced neutralizing antibodies, which scientists believe is important for building immunity against the virus, in all 45 patients tested in the trial, Moderna scientists reported in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine. Additionally, the antibodies that were produced were higher than those seen in people who have recovered from Covid-19. The new data is boosting hopes that there could be a safe and effective vaccine to prevent Covid-19 by the end of the year or early 2021. 

While promising, scientists caution that the phase one study was small, with just 45 individuals who were all healthy, and the results may differ for other populations, like those with underlying health conditions. They also say questions remain about how the human body responds once it’s been infected with the virus. Scientists hope the antibodies provide some degree of protection against getting Covid-19, but they can’t say that definitively yet since the virus was first discovered just six months ago. —Berkeley Lovelace jr. 

White House tries to distance Trump from Navarro op-ed ripping Fauci

Director of the National Trade Council Peter Navarro looks on as President Donald Trump meets with supply chain distributors in reference to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in the Cabinet Room in the West Wing at the White House on Sunday, March 29, 2020.

Pete Marovich | Getty Images

The White House said that it didn’t approve a scathing op-ed from President Donald Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro, who wrote that Dr. Anthony Fauci “has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.”

The op-ed in USA Today “didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes,” White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said on Twitter. The piece is “the opinion of Peter alone,” she said.

The administration’s efforts to distance itself from Navarro’s article came days after the White House denied it is seeking to discredit Fauci, who has provided at-times dire warnings about the coronavirus that clash with Trump’s more optimistic rhetoric.

But other White House officials have taken shots at Fauci in recent days. A White House official gave NBC News a list resembling an opposition research-type document used in political campaigns, highlighting Fauci’s past comments about the virus.

Trump’s close aide Dan Scavino also reportedly shared a political cartoon mocking Fauci by portraying him as a faucet whose spout drips alarming messages about the pandemic – such as “Schools stay closed this fall!” and “Indefinite lockdown!” – that threaten to drown the economy. — Kevin Breuninger

Covid-19 is upending health insurance for 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused so much disruption to the economy and non-coronavirus medical care that it is upending the outlook for next year’s employer health coverage.  

Insurers can’t forecast how much elective surgical care will rebound in the second half of this year. With rising infection rates in southern and western states, that could spook patients to continue to postpone care until 2021.

Meantime, large employers are unsure about the economy and whether they’ll need to make more job cuts, are taking longer to lock in commitments for next year.

With 2021 open enrollment three months away for many of us, a lot remains in flux. —Bertha Coombs

U.S. factory output rose more than expected in June, but spike in new cases overshadows the recovery

U.S. manufacturing output rose in June for a second straight month, but the persistent surge in new coronavirus infections put the nascent recovery in the manufacturing sector in doubt, Reuters reported. 

Factory output was boosted by an improvement in manufacturing activity, as production picked up amid the reopening of businesses.

The Federal Reserve said manufacturing production jumped 7.2% last month, while the increase in May was unrevised at 3.8%. Economists polled by Reuters had expected output to climb 5.6% in June. Overall industrial production rose 5.4% in June after increasing 1.4% a month earlier. —Terri Cullen

Chipotle pledges to hire 10,000 new workers

Add Chipotle Mexican Grill to the list of restaurant chains looking to hire thousands of new workers as the hospitality industry attempts a comeback from virus-related shutdowns. The restaurant company plans to hire 10,000 employees over the next several months. 

Chipotle’s hiring announcement comes as the chain sees strong growth in its digital sales — and as millions of restaurant workers have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The U.S. unemployment rate is 11.1%, according to the Department of Labor.

While some fast-food chains have announced plans to hire thousands of new workers, the surge of new Covid-19 cases in some parts of the country and subsequent reclosures of restaurants could complicate those plans. —Amelia Lucas

Moderna executive says company has an ‘ethical obligation’

Biotech firm Moderna has an “ethical obligation” to develop a coronavirus vaccine as quickly as possible, while also doing so responsibly, Tal Zaks, the company’s chief medical officer, said in an interview with CNBC’s Meg Tirrell.

“I believe we have an ethical obligation to advance this vaccine as fast as possible given the unmet need on one hand and given what science enables us to do on the other,” he said on “Squawk Box.” “I think it is incumbent upon us to do this in a manner that’s responsible, judicious and accounts for the emerging understanding of the safety profile and I think we’re doing that by ensuring that our phase three is a large phase three.”

On Tuesday, Moderna said that its potential vaccine to prevent Covid-19 produced a “robust” immune response in all 45 patients in its early stage human trial, according to data published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine. Shares of Moderna were up more than 17% in premarket trading Wednesday. —Will Feuer

U.S. reports another record one-day spike in cases

The United States reported 67,417 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, setting a fresh record for new cases reported in a single day, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. 

The U.S. has reported an average of about 62,210 new cases per day over the past seven days, up more than 21% compared with the seven-day average a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of the data from Hopkins. The U.S. conducted 760,282 tests on Tuesday, the second-highest number of tests conducted in a single day, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project.

Texas, California and Florida accounted for 31,847 of the total new cases on Tuesday, nearly half of all new cases reported across the country. —Will Feuer

Read CNBC’s previous coronavirus live coverage here: Moderna says all patients produced neutralizing antibodies

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