Wednesday morning news – April 29, 2020

Treasury secretary expects summer bounce back for economy » Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Tuesday that he expects the economy to begin rebounding over the summer. 

MNUCHIN: The states are going to open up slowly, so you’re going to see June and July pickup, but I think by August and September, you’re going to see a big bounce back from what has been a very rocky period. 

He said the coronavirus aid packages and other measures by the Federal Reserve are injecting “unprecedented liquidity into the economy.” He said we are now in a deep hole, but he noted that the fundamentals of the economy were sound and did not cause the downturn. And largely for that reason, he believes the economy will ultimately prove to be resilient. 

Meantime, at the White House Tuesday, President Trump delivered remarks on the recently replenished Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses. 

TRUMP: Today we’re really celebrating American workers and small businesses. And we’ve done a job for you and we’re going to make it so where as we open up the country, you’re going to be in good shape as opposed to, you know, losing your business or how do we get some people to work here, especially since your employees were so good.

He said demand for the forgivable small business loans is very high. He also said the loan amounts in this round of funding are smaller. He said that’s a positive thing, as it indicates more smaller businesses are tapping into more than $300 billion of additional funds. 

Trump orders meat processing plants to remain open » While the virus is hitting the economy hard, it also threatens the nation’s meat supply. Numerous large meat processing plants have temporarily shut down, largely at the urging of state and local officials, amid virus outbreaks within the plants.

But President Trump Tuesday said he would sign an executive order under the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open. 

Republican South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds was among those pressing Trump to sign that order. He warned that otherwise, a meat shortage could hit consumers quickly. 

ROUNDS: We do have some in storage, but once the fear gets out into the community and people start to do the same thing to the meat supplies that they did with toilet paper, you’re going to see the shelves bare fairly quickly. 

The president said ranchers are providing plenty of beef, pork, poultry, and other meats—it’s just a matter of getting it processed and distributed.

But his executive order could set up a showdown between meat processing companies and labor unions concerned about health risks to employees. 

Ohio’s largely mail-in election viewed as a case study » The first major test of an almost completely vote-by-mail election during a pandemic unfolded Tuesday in Ohio. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: This week’s vote offers lessons to other states trying to avoid in-person gatherings at polling stations amid the pandemic. 

The process hasn’t been smooth as state officials have navigated election laws and the need to protect citizens and poll workers from the coronavirus. Ohio’s in-person primary was delayed just hours before polls were supposed to open last month, prompting legal challenges and confusion.

The results are not in doubt, with Joe Biden already the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. But Ohio’s vote is being closely watched as a case study for how to proceed with elections if the pandemic doesn’t ease before November. 

States have taken drastically different approaches, with Wisconsin proceeding with in-person voting earlier this month and New York saying Monday it would cancel its presidential primary, which was scheduled for June.

Some governors have suggested a possible shift to an all-mail-in voting system for the general election, something President Trump has strongly opposed. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

House not returning to Capitol next week amid virus concerns » Members of the House of Representatives will not return to Washington next week as planned. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced the reversal on Tuesday. Just 24 hours earlier, Democratic leaders said they’d be back on Capitol Hill next week. 

Coronavirus infections in Washington, D.C., are still on the rise, and Hoyer said the House physician recommended against members returning on Monday. 

But he added—quote—“we will come back very soon to pass the CARES 2 piece of legislation, and at that time we will be asking members to return to the Congress.” CARES 2 is another round of coronavirus relief. 

Hospitals, morgues in Brazil near breaking point amid COVID-19 crisis » Hospitals and morgues in Brazil are reaching their breaking point as the coronavirus ravages the country. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Medical officials in Rio de Janeiro and at least four other cities warned they are already overwhelmed or on the verge of collapsing. That as confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 68,000 with nearly 5,000 deaths.

But those numbers likely understate the problem due to a low testing rate. 

Scientists from two universities in Brazil estimate the actual number of infected people in the country is between 600,000 and 1.1 million.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has maintained COVID-19 is a—quote—“little flu” and social distancing and other measures are not needed. Earlier this month, he fired a health minister who called for a tough response to the pandemic and replaced him with someone who supports keeping the economy open.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks with reporters about economic impacts of the coronavirus outside the White House, Sunday, March 29, 2020, in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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