Google relaxes ban on coronavirus ads


This is CNBC’s live blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. All times below are in Eastern time. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks. 

  • Global cases: More than 951,901
  • Global deaths: At least 48,284
  • US cases: At least 216,722
  • US deaths: At least 5,137

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

11:30 am: Google relaxes its broad ban on ads that mention coronavirus 

 Google is relaxing its policy on some ads related to COVID-19 after originally blocking all ads related to the pandemic. 

Under its “sensitive events policy,” Google said it started blocking ads related to coronavirus in January. That policy was designed to block ads attempting to capitalize on shorter-term events like natural disasters, but as the pandemic continues as a major issue, the company said it’s adjusting enforcement “to ensure that we are protecting users while prioritizing critical information.” 

The policy change comes as analysts believe Google is set to take a significant hit in ad revenue as the online advertising space slows down. Axios first reported the news Thursday. —Megan Graham 

11:26 am: Goldman CEO David Solomon says ‘no question’ that the initial US response to coronavirus was slow 

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said that while there is “no question” that the initial U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic was slow, progress is now being made and a “path forward” from the crisis will emerge in coming weeks.

“There’s no question, David, that we were late to this, we were slow to adapt,” Solomon said Thursday on CNBC in response to a question from anchor David Faber.

“But I really see now lots of focus” from the government and private companies, Solomon said. “With the resources we have, the ingenuity we have, the creativity, I’m very optimistic we’ll make progress and start to plot a path forward in the coming weeks.”

Solomon said that as testing and other measures ramp up, it will eventually give policymakers confidence in the trajectory of the virus. That understanding will “give us the opportunity to start to slowly open up parts of the economy,” he said. —Hugh Son 

11:18 am: This map shows which states are seeing the most job losses due to the coronavirus 

Another record-breaking spike in U.S. jobless claims hit Americans across the country, but varied in impact by state as each governor takes a different tact in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Claims for state unemployment benefits were most concentrated in Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington state and Massachusetts with claims of 73, 62, 50, 47 and 47 per 1,000 workers, respectively. The data is for jobless filings through the end of last week. —Thomas Franck, John W. Schoen 

11:10 am: DOJ and HHS partner to distribute medical supplies confiscated from price gougers

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services plan to distribute more than half a million of personal protective equipment, or PPE, including approximately 192,000 N95 respirator masks, to health care workers in New York and New Jersey fighting the coronavirus, HHS said in a press release.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation confiscated the supplies during an enforcement operation by the DOJ’s COVID-19 hoarding and price gouging task force on March 30. In addition to the N95 respirator masks, the supplies found included 598,000 medical grade gloves and 130,000 surgical masks, procedure masks, N100 masks, surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, bottles of hand sanitizer, and bottles of spray disinfectant, the release said.

HHS said it will pay the owner of the hoarded PPE pre-coronavirus fair market value for the supplies. —Noah Higgins-Dunn 

10:23 am: Volkswagen extends Tennessee plant shutdown

Volkswagen extended the temporary shutdown of its Chattanooga plant in Tennessee until 10 p.m. April 12 due to the coronavirus. The plant was expected to reopen earlier this week. It ended production on March 21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The health and safety of our team remains our highest priority,” the German automaker said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation and will take any and all additional steps as they become necessary, communicating updates as they are available.”

VW said it will continue to pay all Chattanooga employees in full. However, all employees will be required to take paid time off on April 10. Hourly and salary non-exempt employees will have the option to take “no pay-no penalty” for this day, and salary-exempt employees may use comp time, the company said.

The planned reopening is still prior to President Donald Trump’s extension of national social-distancing guidelines through April. —Michael Wayland 

10:15 am: Grubhub gives independent restaurants $250 to help drive delivery sales

Grubhub is giving independent restaurants and regional chain franchises $250 each to offer customers a promotion of $10 off any order of at least $30. Grubhub said that participating restaurants have seen sales spike 30%, compared with those who are not offering the promotion.The third-party delivery provider plans to spend almost $30 million through April on the program. Grubhub reported revenue of $1.3 billion in 2019. —Amelia Lucas

9:50 am: Amazon will start taking workers’ temperatures and provide face masks after public outcry 

Amazon fulfillment center warehouse.

Getty Images

Amazon is taking greater steps to protect warehouse workers following weeks of public outcry. 

In a blog post, Dave Clark, who runs Amazon’s retail operations, said the company will start taking employees’ temperatures when they report to work and supply them with face masks. 

Temperature checks began last Sunday at select sites in the U.S. and will now begin to roll out to Amazon’s entire operations network and footprint of Whole Foods Stores in the U.S. and Europe by early next week, Clark said. Anyone who registers a fever over 100.4 will be told to go home and will only be allowed to return after they’ve gone three days without a fever, he added. —Annie Palmer

9:41 am: Ex-FDA chief warns ‘parts of our lives’ will stay shut down without a coronavirus drug by fall 

The coronavirus will continue to disrupt daily life in the fall unless there is an effective drug to treat it, said former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb

“If we don’t have it, this virus is going to come back in the fall and it’s going to continue to shut down parts of our lives,” Gottlieb said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“This is going to circulate in the background. The consumer is not going to bounce back. People are going to be afraid to go out and we’re going to continue to see people succumb to this virus,” he added. 

Gottlieb said the sense of “urgency” being applied to the development of a COVID-19 vaccine needs to be applied to developing a therapeutic. —Kevin Stankiewicz

9:33 am: Stocks open flat after US jobless claims surge by a record 6.6 million 

Stocks opened flat as grim U.S. unemployment data offset a surge in oil prices and added to the fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak and its economic ramifications. Thursday’s moves come after the market suffered steep losses in the previous session. Stocks were pressured on Wednesday by comments from Trump, who said the U.S. should prepare for a “very, very painful two weeks.” White House officials are projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 virus deaths in the U.S. —Fred Imbert, Pippa Stevens

9:23 am: San Diego hospital prepares for ‘slow-moving tsunami’ of coronavirus cases

San Diego-based hospital system Scripps Health is preparing for coronavirus cases in the city to “spike” in what CEO Chris Van Gorder describes as a  “slow-moving tsunami” — even as it is already running out of surgical masks and doctors prepare to convert anesthesia machines into ventilators in a pinch.

“We know it’s coming,” he continued. “We can actually see it. We’ve got the early stages of it already coming ashore. You can see that with the positive patients we have in our hospital. But we don’t know how big that tsunami is actually going to be.”

Scripps Health operates five hospitals with 1,453 beds, 28 outpatient centers and treats roughly 600,000 patients each year. As of Monday, it had processed 4,822 coronavirus tests, identifying 217 COVID-19 patients, Van Gorder said. They had just nine coronavirus patients in the intensive care unit and five of them were using ventilators as of last week, he said. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr. 

9:20 am: Jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr., songwriter Adam Schlesinger die from coronavirus complications

On Wednesday, complications from COVID-19 claimed the lives of pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis Jr. and singer-songwriter Adam Schlesinger, the New York Time reported

Marsalis, who was 85 years old, contributed to a late-20th-century resurgence in jazz and influenced four musician sons on to prominent careers, including jazz artists Wynton and Branford.

Adam Schlesinger, 52, was a singer-songwriter for the bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy. He had an award-winning second career writing songs for film, theater and television. —Melodie Warner

8:31 am: US weekly jobless claims soar to 6.6 million

The torrent of Americans filing for unemployment insurance continued last week as 6.6 million new claims were filed, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones estimated 3.1 million, a week after nearly 3.3 million filings in the first wave of what has been a record-shattering swelling of the jobless ranks.

Before the coronavirus shut down major parts of the U.S. economy, the highest weekly claims was 695,000 in 1982. The Great Recession high was 665,000 in March 2009.

The sudden stop spurred by social distancing policies caused a cascade of joblessness unlike anything the nation has ever seen. —Jeff Cox

8:02 am: Restaurants tack on extras to takeout orders

Buy a meal, get a free roll of toilet paper. 

Restaurants are turning to bundling in-demand consumer products with food and drinks to reach out to their customers even as the future of their businesses is unclear. 

States have closed dining rooms, forcing eateries to pivot to takeout and delivery. Total restaurant transactions plunged 36% during the week ended March 22 from a year earlier, according to the NPD Group.

Several weeks ago, Dave Goodside, owner of Beach Cafe on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, asked his paper vendor for 10 cases of toilet paper, or about 800 rolls. The cafe offers one free toilet paper roll and two pairs of polyethylene gloves, typically used for food preparation, with every order. Goodside estimates that Beach Cafe is filling about 20 to 30 orders a night. Other restaurants around the country are taking similar measures.—Amelia Lucas

7:52 am: Switzerland cases top 18,000

Switzerland’s public health agency reported the total number of coronavirus infections nationwide had climbed to 18,267, up from 17,139.

The country, which has recorded the ninth-highest number of infections worldwide, has confirmed 505 deaths as a result of COVID-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. —Sam Meredith

7:27 am: Small Business Association challenged to make $349 billion worth of loans fast

7:12 am: Boeing offers voluntary layoffs to employees 

A worker applies sealer to a cargo door frame as the bottom section of a Boeing 737 fuselage is assembled at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Boeing is offering buyout and early retirement packages to employees, according to a memo from Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun. The memo says Boeing will offer a voluntary layoff plan that allows eligible employees who want to exit the company to do so with a pay and benefits package.

“This move aims to reduce the need for other workforce actions,” Calhoun wrote in the memo. —Will Feuer

7:05 am: US surgeon general asks CDC to see if face masks can prevent spread after all

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks during a press briefing about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, March 14, 2020.

JIM WATSON | AFP via Getty Images

America’s top doctor appears to have softened his stance over the effectiveness of face masks when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams had initially advised against the general public wearing face masks, saying they were “not effective” in preventing people from contracting COVID-19 and amplified the risk of health-care providers being unable to get them.

However, Adams told NBC’s “TODAY” on Wednesday that he has now asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate whether this recommendation should change. —Sam Meredith

6 am: Spain’s death toll crosses 10,000

Spain’s health ministry reported that a record 950 people died overnight as a result of the coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 10,003.

It becomes only the second country worldwide to surpass 10,000 coronavirus deaths. To date, Italy has reported that 13,155 people have lost their lives to COVID-19. —Sam Meredith

5:45 am: Spain reports nearly 900,000 people have lost their jobs since lockdown

A tourist wears a protective mask as she carries her suitcases past a closed Nike store at Las Ramblas on March 15, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain.

David Ramos | Getty Images

Almost 900,000 Spanish workers have lost their jobs since the country went into lockdown, social security data showed.

The euro zone’s fourth-largest economy reported that 898,822 people have lost their jobs since March 12, when the lockdown measures were first introduced. More than half of those who lost work were temporary employees. 

Spain has reported the third-highest number of cases of any country worldwide, with more than 104,000 infections. —Sam Meredith

4:50 am: Israel’s Netanyahu in self-isolation after health minister tests positive

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to go into self-quarantine for a second time after the government confirmed that Health Minister Yaakov Litzman tested positive for the coronavirus.

Several other senior government officials were also thought to be self-isolating after coming into contact with Litzman, Israeli media reported. More than 6,200 people have contracted the COVID-19 infection in Israel, with 30 deaths nationwide. —Sam Meredith

Read CNBC’s coverage from CNBC’s Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Spain deaths surpass 10,000; Russia reports record spike in cases



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