Trump aims to stockpile 300 million N95 masks

1:20 pm: Office real estate market could survive, despite the work-from-home trend

As companies consider the possibility of having employees work from home long-term, doubt has been cast on the future viability of the office real estate market. However, the market could survive with new trends, CNBC’s Diana Olick reports.

Companies may be looking for more office space in order to encourage social distancing and considering moving from cities to suburban areas to be closer to where employees live. —Hannah Miller

1:05 pm: Vaccine won’t be ready in 18 months, ousted vaccine official testifies

There will likely be unforeseen obstacles to developing a coronavirus vaccine that means one won’t be ready for distribution in 18 months, federal whistleblower Rick Bright testified.

“A lot of optimism is swirling around a 12-to-18 month timeframe if everything goes perfectly. We’ve never seen everything go perfectly,” Bright told members of the House health subcommittee. “I still think 12 to 18 months is an aggressive schedule and I think it’s going to take longer than that to do so.”

President Donald Trump has said he believes a vaccine will be ready by the end of the year and other White House officials have said it will likely take 12 to 18 months. Trump is expected to appoint a former pharmaceutical executive to lead “Operation Warp Speed,” Trump’s plan to accelerate the development of a vaccine. —Will Feuer

12:58 pm: Coronavirus whistleblower complaint shows likelihood of ‘wrongdoing,’ watchdog says

Rick Bright prepares to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on May 14, 2019, in Washington, DC.

Shawn Thew | AFP | Getty Images

A government watchdog determined that the removal of Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, posed a “substantial likelihood of wrongdoing,” according to documents released by his lawyers.

Bright last month was ousted from his role after expressing resistance to increasing the availability of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug touted by President Donald Trump as a possible treatment for the coronavirus.

After his removal, Bright was transferred to another office at the Department of Health and Human Services, where he was given less responsibility.

The watchdog report, which came from the Office of the Special Counsel, was made public just before Bright took the stand before House members to testify about his transfer. —Yelena Dzhanova

12:52 pm: Trump administration replenishing strategic supply  stockpile ahead of possible resurgence

President Donald Trump tours a Honeywell International Inc. factory producing N95 masks during his first trip since widespread COVID-19 related lockdowns went into effect May 5, 2020, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

The Trump administration will replenish the nation’s strategic stockpile of critical supplies like N95 masks as the nation braces for a resurgence of the coronavirus in the fall.

A senior administration official, who declined to be named, said that the number of N95 masks in the nation’s stockpile will jump from approximately 13 million to 300 million by the fall.

We’re making sure that as we go into the fall we’re in a position where America never has to shut down again,” the official added. —Amanda Macias

12:39 pm: California university official plans for mostly virtual fall semester

Timothy White, chancellor of California State University, told CNBC that fear of a second wave of coronavirus cases is why the school system announced plans for a mostly virtual fall semester.

“This has been very hard to do, and I hope I’m wrong, to be honest,” he  said in an interview that aired on “Worldwide Exchange.” “But we needed to be prepared to go in this direction.”

White said the early announcement gives time for students and their families to plan ahead, while also allowing faculty and staff to adjust their curriculum.

“By the time we get to August, it may very well be the case that we’re able to open more than we think we will be now,” White said.  – Kevin Stankiewicz

12:33 pm: South Carolina restaurant owner gets ready to reopen

Chef Mike Lata, co-owner of Charleston’s The Ordinary and FIG, plans to reopen the restaurants’ dining rooms with limited capacity on Memorial Day — weeks after the state’s governor gave the go-ahead.

Lata, like many restaurant owners across the U.S., is considering how to make his dining rooms safe for customers and employees, while conscious that he needs to spend funding the Paycheck Protection Program before his eight weeks are up.

“Maybe in a perfect world, without this economic pressure that we’ve been given, this eight-week timeline to use this money to keep our restaurants afloat, we probably wouldn’t be opening this soon, but we feel like anyone that would be at risk won’t be here,” Lata said. —Amelia Lucas

12:12 pm: Six Flags to open drive-thru safari at New Jersey’s Great Adventure park

Six Flags will reopen the safari area of its Great Adventure park in Jackson, New Jersey to allow visitors to drive through the park and see its more than1,200 exotic animals.

A new executive order from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has permitted companies to operate drive-thru events so long as they continue to implement proper social distancing guidelines. 

Six Flags has not announced a specific opening date, but once it does, guests will be required to purchase tickets for the safari online before arriving at the park. The company is looking to prevent overcrowding and will not sell tickets at the gate.

The Great Adventure water park and the theme park will remain closed. —Sarah Whitten

11:56 am: New cases in Europe continue to trend lower, while US cases appear to be stabilizing

10:59 am: Amazon rivals thrive during the pandemic as shipping delays level the playing field

As Amazon has been forced to loosen its two-day shipping promises in the face of unprecedented demand, smaller e-commerce businesses are taking on some of the overflow.

From grocery delivery services to retail, online merchants are seeing an explosion of growth they hope will translate into new loyal customers. Retailers like Best Buy and Target have reported domestic online sales growth well over 200% during stay-at-home orders across the country. With more workers setting up home offices, Overstock.com said it experienced 100% growth in its office furniture sales.

Bookshop.org, an online marketplace created to help independent booksellers set up internet storefronts, has blossomed to 175,000 customers already after launching in beta at the end of January. CEO Andy Hunter said prior to the launch, prospective investors often told him the business was doomed to be crushed by Amazon, but the pandemic has helped drive more business to the site than he’d expected by Christmas.

But the level playing field may not last for long as there are already some signs that Amazon is gaining the capacity to ramp up its services again. The company already had a huge lead on its e-commerce peers, with eMarketer estimating it will hold 38.7% of domestic e-commerce retail sales this year with Walmart, the runner-up, owning 5.3% of the market. —Lauren Feiner

10:52 am: Coronavirus whistleblower Rick Bright testifies as Trump criticizes him

Dr. Richard Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on May 14, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Shawn Thew | POOL | AFP | Getty Images

Rick Bright, who has filed a whistleblower complaint, is testifying before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health about the circumstances of his unwilling transfer. 

Bright claimed he was removed as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority after resisting efforts to increase access to an anti-malarial drug promoted by President Donald Trump as a treatment for Covid-19. —Terri Cullen

10:45 am: New York City reports 100 cases of coronavirus inflammatory syndrome

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that health officials have confirmed 100 cases of the pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (PMIS), up from 82 cases reported. PMIS is a potentially fatal illness mostly seen in children and young adults that doctors suspect is being caused by Covid-19 infections.

Of the 100 cases, 55 have tested positive for Covid-19 or have the antibodies against the disease, suggesting they previously had the coronavirus and recovered, de Blasio said. The city has reported one fatality from PMIS.

City health officials don’t know what makes kids more susceptible to the disease, how long it takes to manifest or their likelihood of developing it, the mayor added. The disease is treatable, however, if diagnosed early. “This is a deep concern and we’re going to throw everything we got at it,” de Blasio said. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

10:26 am: Private jet company founded by Trump donor gets $27 million

A private jet company that serves wealthy executives and celebrities received a $27 million bailout from the federal government’s relief package aimed at keeping people employed, according to government filings. 

Clay Lacy Aviation, based in California, was founded by Clay Lacy who donated $2,700 to the Trump campaign in 2016 and gave $47,000 to the Republican National Committee after Trump became the party’s nominee. 

The company received the largest grant of any private jet company on the list. Most of the other 96 recipients of government funding or loans were the major commercial airlines, regional carriers or support companies. —Spencer Kimball, Robert Frank

10:23 am: Carnival says fewer than 38% of guests on canceled cruises requested refunds

An image of Carnival Splendor cruise ship at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay on March 22, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

Izhar Kahn | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Carnival announced the “encouraging” news that fewer than 38% of customers who were supposed to be cruises that have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic have requested refunds. Customers whose trips were canceled had the option to request a refund or receive a 125% credit toward a future cruise. Industry analysts are closely watching the number of how many customers request a refund as it could indicate the resiliency of consumer demand as the industry is forced to idle ships for months on end.

Carnival, the largest cruise company in the world, managed to dole out more future cruise credits than rival Norwegian Cruise Line, which reported Thursday that “slightly over half” of guests who had trips canceled have requested cash refunds. Refunding thousands of customers is another cash drain on cruise companies, which are already scrambling for cash.

“Our booking trends for the first half of 2021, which remain within historical ranges, demonstrate the resilience of our brands and the strength of our loyal recurring customer base, of which 66% are repeat cruisers,” Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said in a statement.

Carnival also announced company-wide layoffs, furloughs, reduced workweeks and salary reductions to strengthen its cash position. —Will Feuer

10:07 am: Dow falls for fourth day after latest jobless claims

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped about 400 point and headed to a fourth consecutive day of losses after jobless claims came in worse than expected as the coronavirus continues to hammer the economy.

That pushed the Dow’s weekly loss to more than 6%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite traded around 1.7% lower, putting them on track for a third negative session in the row. 

Another 2.9 million Americans filed for unemployment, bringing the total since the crisis started to 36.5 million. —Spencer Kimball, Fred Imbert

9:36 am: ‘We should at least make an attempt to open the schools,’ Gottlieb says

Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC that schools should try to hold in-person classes in the fall, as long as local cases of the coronavirus are under control. 

“I do think we’re going to have to contend with Covid going into the fall, but it might not be in September. It might occur later into the fall, and we should at least make an attempt to open the schools if this isn’t spreading widely,” Gottlieb said on “Squawk Box.” 

Gottlieb, a CNBC contributor who sits on the boards of Pfizer and Illumina, said it is not a “national-level decision” right now on whether in-person classes should be held in the fall. It will be made at the local level, he said. 

“But I think it’s too early to say whether or not we are going to be able to open the schools in the fall. We will have to see what happens in July and August,” he said. —Kevin Stankiewicz

8:49 am: CVS will start offering Covid-19 testing at some of its pharmacy drive-thrus

A CVS offers drive-thru coronavirus self testing.

Source: CVS

CVS Health will start offering Covid-19 testing on Friday at some of its pharmacy drive-thru windows.

The company said it will open more than 50 additional test sites at the pharmacies. The testing sites are in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. CVS said it plans to open hundreds of similar test sites within two weeks.

To get a test, people must make an appointment at CVS’ website and meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria. Those who qualify will stay in their cars and receive a self-swab test. Test results will be available in about three days, after being sent to a third-party lab.

CVS is one of five retailers that have opened multiple drive-thru testing sites across the country. In late April, the company said it would have up to 1,000 test sites by the end of May, but that was “subject to the availability of supplies and lab capacity.” The company has already opened drive-thru sites in large parking lots, such as on Georgia Tech’s campus in Atlanta. —Melissa Repko 

8:33 am: Another 2.9 million Americans filed for unemployment

The number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance rose by 2.981 million, bringing the total over the course of the coronavirus pandemic to 36.5 million.

The jobless numbers have declined since the peak on March 28, but tens of millions of Americans who lost jobs still have not returned to work even as some state governments reopen the economy. Continuing jobless claims increased by 456,000 to 22.83 million. 

The unemployment rate stood at 14.7% in April, according to the Labor Department. That’s the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. since World War II. —Spencer Kimball, Jeff Cox

7:50 am: Amazon is building face shields for front-line workers

7:10 am: Trump says he will mobilize the military to deliver vaccine when there is one

A Paratrooper assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, prepares for a Airborne Operation at Fort Bragg, N.C., on May 7.

Spc. Hubert Delany III | US Army

The U.S. military will distribute doses of the Covid-19 vaccine when there is one, President Donald Trump said, according to Reuters. 

“You know it’s a massive job to give this vaccine,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network. “Our military is now being mobilized, so at the end of the year, we’re going to be able to give it to a lot of people very, very rapidly.”

He added that he expects to have a vaccine by the end of the year, Reuters reported. However, scientists have not expressed the same confidence. Members of the White House task force have repeatedly said a vaccine will take 12 to 18 months to develop, but even that would be a record time frame for the development of a safe and effective vaccine. —Will Feuer

7:05 am: WHO warns it could take 5 years before outbreak is under control

The World Health Organization’s chief scientist has warned the staying power of the coronavirus pandemic means it may not be under control until 2025.

The bleak forecast comes at a time when the global coronavirus death toll nears the grim milestone of 300,000.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan told the Financial Times’ Global Boardroom webinar on Wednesday: “I would say in a four to five-year time frame, we could be looking at controlling this.” —Sam Meredith

7 am: Unemployed Americans can now get Headspace for free

Mental wellness app Headspace is offering free, one-year premium subscriptions to all unemployed workers in the United States in an effort to support those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Those eligible can register for a subscription here starting Thursday.

“As a company dedicated to improving the health and happiness of the world, we take our responsibility to help support people’s mental health very seriously. It’s our promise today and for whatever tomorrow brings,” CEO Rich Pierson said. —Jessica Bursztynsky

6:49 am: France to invest $1.4 billion in tourism sector

A woman wearing a protective mask rides her bicycle next to the Eiffel Tower on April 23, 2020 in Paris, France.

Chesnot | Getty Images

France plans to invest $1.4 billion in the country’s struggling tourism sector to help businesses tied to the sector weather the coronavirus shutdown, Reuters reported. Almost 90 million people visited France in 2018, according to government data, which makes it the most visited country in the world that year. 

“What is good for the tourism industry, is often good for the whole of France,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.

Tourism accounts for roughly 7% of France’s GDP, according to Reuters. —Will Feuer

Read CNBC’s coverage from CNBC’s Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Russia’s cases pass 250,000; EU says vaccine could take a year

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