Here’s what you need to know about the impact of Covid-19 to navigate the markets today.
• U.S. stocks are set to begin the week up, as index futures rose Sunday night ahead of Monday trading. Dow Jones Industrial Average future are up 133 points, of 0.5%, with S&P 500 futures also gaining 0.5%. Nasdaq Composite futures have risen 0.6%. The coming week is certain to feature intense focus on President Trump’s health, while on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue to try to hash out a deal on another round of economic stimulus.
• President Donald Trump released a video on Sunday evening where he said, more than seven months into a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, that he has “learned a lot” about Covid-19 through his infection. “I get it,” he said, before getting into his motorcade to drive by supporters gathered outside the hospital. As his SUV drove by a crowd of people on the sidewalk, the president was seen inside, wearing a mask, while the Secret Service agents with him were wearing full personal protective equipment.
• President Donald Trump’s could leave the hospital as early as Monday and continue to receive care at the White House if his condition continues to improve, the White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said at a press conference at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center on Sunday. Dr. Conley said that the president’s oxygen levels dropped below 94 percent and that the president began taking the steroid dexamethasone due to “transient low oxygen levels” yesterday. When pressed for details about what scans of the president’s lungs showed or just how low his oxygen levels had dipped during the course of his Covid-19 infection, Dr. Conley was evasive and didn’t directly answer reporters’ questions.
Dexamethasone is the third medication that Trump’s medical team says he has taken since being diagnosed with coronavirus. He also received an experimental antibody cocktail and is on a 5-day course of the antiviral drug remdesivir. Dexamethasone is a cheap and commonly available steroid that studies have shown provides significant benefits for very ill Covid-19 patients, but has been shown in studies to possibly be harmful in milder cases of the disease. The National Institutes of Health guidelines recommend it only for hospitalized patients on ventilators or those who are receiving supplemental oxygen.
Explaining why he evaded reporters’ questions and provided a broadly positive picture of the president’s condition at his press conference on Saturday—only for White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to contradict his comments shortly after—Dr. Conley said he “was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude of the team” and that he “didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction.”
• The president’s personal assistant, Nicholas Luna, has reportedly tested positive for coronavirus. Luna is one of the president’s “body men,” charged with carrying out tasks like carrying documents, pens, and briefing books wherever the president goes, putting him in prolonged close contact with Trump. Luna is the latest in a string of positive coronavirus diagnoses among Trump’s senior advisors and political allies. First Lady Melania Trump, along with senior advisor Kellyanne Conway and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both of whom were assisting with debate preparations, have tested positive, as have Hope Hicks and Senators Mike Lee (R., Utah) and Tom Tillis (R., N.C.)
• New York City will close public and private schools and nonessential businesses in several neighborhoods where Covid-19 cases are rising, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday. The announcement marks the first time that any portion of the city’s cautious reopening has been reversed and applies to neighborhoods where the positivity rate of Covid-19 tests has been over 3% for the past week, a level that is approximately three times higher than the rate of the city as a whole. The mayor’s rollback must still be approved by the governor, who has pushed local officials to take stronger measures to contain outbreaks, and the most severe restrictions apply to 9 of the city’s 146 ZIP Codes, many of which have large Orthodox Jewish populations, in parts of Far Rockaway and Kew Gardens in Queens, and Borough Park, Midwood, Gravesend, Bensonhurst, and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. As part of the move, 11 additional ZIP Codes will be monitored and could face similar restrictions if infection rates don’t drop.
• Trump’s support fell after Tuesday’s debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found. Biden leads Trump 53% to 39% among registered voters in the poll, which was conducted after the debate but before it was reported that the president had tested positive for Covid-19. Biden’s 14-point advantage is his largest so far, after notching 8 and 11 point leads in the poll in August and July, respectively, and indicates that the live debate shifted voters toward Biden. A new development shifting voters’ preferences has been an extremely rare occurrence in the race until now, with even impeachment not clearly causing a shift in support for Trump.
• Facebook says that any U.S. government effort to split it up would be a “non-starter,” according to a document drawn up by the company’s lawyers that The Wall Street Journal reviewed. Specifically, the paper says that breaking the company up into separate entities, with
Instagram, and WhatsApp operating independently, would be operationally difficult, expensive, and pose a threat to user security.
Write to Ben Walsh at [email protected]