Trump coronavirus travel ban on Brazil to take effect Tuesday

International travelers could pose coronavirus threat to NY, elsewhere

Retired Col. David Hunt provides insight into 13 U.S. airports designated to process passengers returning to America from restricted countries during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Trump administration's temporary travel ban on foreigners from Brazil goes into effect Tuesday in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus from the Latin American country, which has also been hard hit by the virus.

Trump had already banned certain travelers from China, Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland and, to a lesser extent, Iran. He has not moved to ban travel from Russia, which has the world's third-highest caseload.

TRUMP THREATENS TO PULL REPUBLICAN CONVENTION OUT OF NORTH CAROLINA

Trump had said last week that he was considering limiting travel from Brazil.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany cast the step announced Sunday as another "decisive action to protect our country" by Trump, whose management of the crisis has come under sharp scrutiny.

Emergency workers transfer a COVID-19 patient to a hospital in Manaus, Brazil, May 15, 2020. Per capita, Manaus is Brazil’s major city hardest hit by COVID-19. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

The U.S. leads the world with more than 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and a death toll that is expected to surpass 100,000 later this week, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil, now Latin America's hardest-hit country, is second, with more than 374,000 cases and more than 23,000 deaths.

"Today's action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country," McEnany said.

President Trump shakes hands with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro before attending a working dinner at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, March 7, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner 

Filipe Martins, who advises Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on international affairs, said the U.S. was treating Brazil as it had other populous countries and suggested the news media were overplaying Trump's ban.

"By temporarily banning the entry of Brazilians to the U.S., the American government is following previously established quantitative parameters that naturally reach a country as populous as ours," Martins tweeted. "There isn’t anything specifically against Brazil. Ignore the hysteria from the press."

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Bolsonaro has downplayed the coronavirus by repeatedly calling it a "little flu" and insisting that closing businesses and issuing stay-at-home recommendations will ultimately cause more hardship by wrecking the economy. Bolsonaro fired his first health minister for going against him and backing restrictions put in place by Brazil's governors. His second minister also resigned after openly breaking with Bolsonaro over widespread prescription of the antimalarial drug chloroquine for coronavirus treatment.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The Ohio Governor Listened to the Science on COVID-19, But Not on Climate. Why?

This article was originally published by Grist and is republished here as part of an ongoing collaboration.  

In his first State of the State address, a little over a year ago, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine took time out to recognize his “amazing” health and human services team, asking them to stand in the House Chamber of the Statehouse for applause.

“This strong, compassionate team will work together across agencies to save lives,” remarked DeWine, who had vowed to tackle major health problems afflicting Ohioans, including opioid addiction, infant mortality, and childhood exposure to lead paint. “They understand that kids have only one chance to grow up and that there is an urgency, therefore, in absolutely everything they will do.”

That team — led by Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health — has steered the Republican governor’s efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus and prevent fatalities. In mid-March, before Ohio even had its first confirmed case of COVID-19, DeWine closed K-12 schools ahead of any other governor in the country, limited mass gatherings, and postponed the state’s March 17th primary election. Today, Ohio has about 29,000 total coronavirus cases and over 1,700 related deaths, though Acton said Ohio “flattened the curve” of peak cases in early April.

“I’ve been very plain to the people of Ohio,” DeWine said during a May 12th audio panel hosted by The New York Times. “They’ve done a good job in keeping distance, by and large, but we have to continue to do that. The virus is still very much out there. It’s very tough, it’s very lethal, it spreads very, very well.”

DeWine, 73, has served in Ohio politics for over four decades, most recently as Ohio’s attorney general. A self-described “conservative Republican,” he took the governor’s office in January 2019. About 86 percent of adults in Ohio said they approve of how DeWine has handled the crisis, the highest rating for any governor, according to a recent Washington Post-Ipsos poll. Overall, DeWine’s response has won over 90 percent of Ohio’s Democrats and 84 percent of its Republican constituents.

Now, as Republican legislators and President Donald Trump pressure states to reopen their economies —and pockets of mask-less protestors urge the governor to lift restrictions while disparaging state health experts — DeWine has maintained a cautious approach. He has opened sectors slowly and requires facilities to meet safety protocols, even as the state shifts from stay-at-home orders to “strong recommendations,” as he put it.

Yet while DeWine has been willing to buck party politics and uphold scientific evidence on coronavirus, his performance on other health-related issues — namely, climate change and the environment — has been less consistent. Green groups have applauded him for his efforts to curb Lake Erie’s toxic algal blooms, which contaminate drinking water and harm human health. But they have derided him for signing a sweeping rollback of Ohio’s clean energy policies, a measure critics called the “worst” anti-renewables law to pass in any state.

Some environmentalists told Grist they’re cautiously optimistic that DeWine’s science-driven response to the outbreak will influence future decisions on climate policy — particularly given that Ohio’s warming summers, intensifying rainfall, and enduring air pollution threaten the health of adults and children. Other activists, like Addy Zenko, said they’re skeptical that lessons from coronavirus will carry over — or that the current governor would come to mirror his Republican predecessor, John Kasich, who has lately called for policies to address climate change.

Zenko, an ambassador for the nonpartisan climate group Defend Our Future, attributes DeWine’s mixed environmental record to “selective hearing” on science. “Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, he’s expressed the importance of science and listening to scientists,” said Zenko, who is an incoming sophomore at The Ohio State University in Columbus. “I hope that he can listen to the same facts about the climate.”

To Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council, DeWine’s science-led strategy on coronavirus didn’t come as a shock. She co-chaired a task force that works with the governor’s office to tackle water pollution — primarily by keeping farm fertilizer and manure from flowing into watersheds and feeding nasty blooms of toxic algae. Past attempts to limit agricultural runoff met strong opposition from the state’s farm interests or fell victim to political infighting. But last year, DeWine successfully secured $172 million from the Republican-controlled legislature to launch H2Ohio, a statewide initiative to improve water quality in western Lake Erie and beyond.

“My experience with that process was all-star; he brought in scientists and economists, people who were unassociated with the stakeholders,” recalled Taylor-Miesle, who endorsed DeWine’s Democratic challenger Richard Cordray in the 2018 election. “I sat in meetings in [the governor’s] dining room with some of these scientists, and he’d be like, ‘Welp, that’s what they say we gotta do!’ So I have not been surprised by that kind of leadership [during the outbreak].”

Even so, Taylor-Miesle said she “still has bruises” from the fight over House Bill 6. The measure repealed Ohio’s renewable and energy efficiency standards and enabled more than $1 billion subsidies for the owners of aging coal and nuclear power plants. DeWine signed the bill into law last July, after years of lobbying by large utility companies. Kasich had opposed similar measures, citing the higher costs for electricity customers.

Ohio ranks sixth among U.S. states in carbon dioxide emissions and is the third-largest consumer of coal, behind Texas and Indiana. Ohio Environmental Council and other opponents said the measure will hinder Ohio’s efforts to develop clean energy projects, reduce energy use, and shift away from fossil fuels.

The bill’s passage “is a fairly good indicator [DeWine] won’t come around to being a leader when it comes to climate change,” said Amanda Woodrum, a senior researcher at Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit progressive research institute. “I think Governor DeWine is politically ambitious, and this unfortunately has become more and more of a divisive issue in Ohio.”

Isabella Guinigundo, a leader in the grassroots Ohio Climate Strike movement, echoed Woodrum. “Politically, it’s okay to listen to the scientists on COVID-19, because that’s the current crisis we’re in,” said Guinigundo, a high school senior in Cincinnati. “For the climate crisis, it doesn’t get him any of those political points to listen to what climate scientists have to say.”

As Ohio’s attorney general, DeWine was openly opposed to federal climate regulations. In 2015, his office joined a 24-state legal challenge against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which aimed to curb carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants. DeWine called it a “power grab” that would harm Ohio’s coal industry. (Trump replaced the Clean Power Plan with a much weaker rule last year.) As governor, DeWine has said he’s committed to reducing carbon emissions and supports an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy — reasons he offered when signing the measure that subsidizes Ohio’s nuclear plants.

Over the past year, in an effort to appeal to DeWine’s broader interest in protecting public health, green groups have sought to frame climate and air quality issues as explicit threats to Ohioans’ wellbeing.

For instance, Ohio is experiencing more frequent and intense rainfall and heavier flooding, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Midwest climate assessment. Those conditions can damage crops, contaminate drinking water, and — when coupled with warming water temperatures — spur toxic algal blooms. Higher temperatures are enabling the spread of insects and invasive plants, which leads to more insect-borne diseases and lengthens allergy seasons. Hotter days also degrade air quality and exacerbate conditions like asthma and heart disease.

Ohio advocates told Grist that COVID-19 has given new urgency to their efforts to link climate action and public health. “As painful as it is, we’re really hoping that this is an opportunity for Governor DeWine and his administration to look at both health and the environment and see them together,” said Kristi Tabaj, an advisory board member for Ohio Clinicians for Climate Action, a statewide group of health professionals. “I am optimistic there will be shifts in our conversations.”

Alan Lockwood, a member of the group and a retired neuroscientist, said he hoped that, as Ohio recovers from coronavirus, the state will transition to energy sources like solar and wind, which don’t pollute the air and imperil residents’ health. “Out of every disaster there are opportunities, and this is an opportunity,” he said, “that we can’t afford not to grasp.”

As the virus rages on, it’s still unclear how Ohio and other states will manage to rebuild their battered economies. On May 5, DeWine announced shrinking tax revenue would mean budget cuts of $775 million for May and June. He also halted new grant applications for H2Ohio, which could stymie the rollout of his landmark water quality program. State officials told reporters that H2Ohio “will continue to be a priority” even as future funding remains uncertain.

Meanwhile, climate groups are thinking similarly to Lockwood and are laying out new visions for Ohio and the region.

Policy Matters Ohio is helping to draft a blueprint for building a “21st century Appalachia,” Woodrum said. Her group and a variety of other organizations in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are creating a regional investment plan that would put people to work by modernizing the electric grid, laying rail for passenger trains, building electric vehicle infrastructure, and boosting sustainable manufacturing.

Guinigundo of Ohio Climate Strike said her organization is part of a coalition developing a statewide Green New Deal. The policy will likely aim to repeal House Bill 6 and require Ohio to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. It could also call for improving public transportation, providing stronger legal protections for wetlands, and ensuring that people who will lose their jobs in fossil fuel sectors will be taken care of, including through programs like employee retraining.

“We’re not incredibly hopeful he would pass it,” Guinigundo said of DeWine. “But we’re going to keep pushing him.”

 

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​Coronavirus mortgage relief options you should consider if money's tight

Coronavirus has prompted loan servicers to extend relief to economically-challenged borrowers. (iStock)

Some Americans have had trouble paying their mortgages amid financial hardship due to COVID19. That's why the federal government passed the CARES Act to offer relief for homeowners in the form of mortgage forbearance. One side effect of allowing borrowers to defer mortgage payments, however, is the broader impact on the mortgage market.

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Loan servicers and providers still have a responsibility to pay their investors, even when mortgage payments stop coming. Whether this creates a more significant problem for the mortgage industry in the long-term remains to be seen. In the meantime, you should understand what options you have for managing your home loan during the pandemic.

Mortgage relief options for those impacted by coronavirus pandemic

There are a number of ways you can seek relief for mortgage loans during the coronavirus outbreak, including:

Federal mortgage forbearance. The federal CARES Act allows you to defer payments on federally-backed mortgages for up to 180 days, with the option to request a 180-day extension. Federally-backed loans include those owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as FHA loans.

MORTGAGE RATES NEAR RECORD LOW — HERE'S WHY IT'S A GOOD IDEA TO REFINANCE

Mortgage refinancing. Refinancing loans may allow you to get a new loan at a lower interest rate and potentially reduce your monthly payments. This may also be a good option if you'd like to go from an adjustable-rate to a fixed-rate loan. If you're interested in going the refinancing route, use Credible's free tool to compare rates from a variety of lenders to see what will save you the most money.

Lender-specific forbearance. If you don't have an eligible mortgage for federal forbearance under the CARES Act, you may be able to get mortgage relief from your lender.

CREDIT CARD FORBEARANCE PROGRAMS HELP WITH PILING BILLS — BUT SHOULD YOU USE THEM?

A number of mortgage lenders have introduced mortgage relief programs to help struggling borrowers affected by the coronavirus. Get your mortgage questions answered and see what lenders have to offer right now via Credible.

Reverse mortgage relief. If you have a home equity conversion mortgage, also known as a reverse mortgage, the FHA allows you to put payments on pause for 180 days, with a possible 180-day extension.

The CARES Act also includes a special provision protecting you if you're in foreclosure or are facing a foreclosure proceeding. Under the Act, mortgage lenders and loan servicers are blocked from initiating a foreclosure sale for at least a 60-day period that began on March 18, 2020.

How coronavirus has impacted mortgage rates

Mortgage rates began declining in early March as the Federal Reserve announced that it would cut the federal funds rate to near zero. Though mortgage rates don't follow the federal funds rate as a benchmark (instead, they're based on the 10-year Treasury yield), the Fed's decision has had something of a trickle-down effect.

HOW YOU CAN BENEFIT FROM THE FED'S EMERGENCY RATE CUTS

Currently, mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed-rate loan are hovering at 30-year lows. If you're in the market to buy a home or refinance an existing mortgage, that's good news, assuming you're able to qualify for a home loan.

The rate cuts, along with other quantitative easing measures taken by the Fed, could also give lenders and loan services a boost by encouraging liquidity in the mortgage market.

What to do if you need help with mortgage payments

If you're struggling with financial hardship related to the coronavirus, it's important to be proactive about managing mortgage payments. Here's a simple checklist to follow for what to do next.

Contact your loan servicer. Your lender can tell you whether your loan is eligible for mortgage forbearance and if not, what other mortgage relief options they might offer.

10-YEAR TREASURY YIELD HITS RECORD LOW: HERE'S HOW TO PROFIT

Check interest rates. Refinancing could make your mortgage more affordable but it pays to run the numbers first. Doing the math using a refinance calculator could help you gauge how much money you may be able to save by lowering your mortgage rate.

Talk to a financial or housing counselor. After contacting your lender and confirming you don't qualify for mortgage relief, consider talking to a financial or housing counselor to explore other possibilities. For example, you might be able to get a loan modification to restructure your loan terms so your payments don't lead to more financial hardship.

Get non-mortgage debt under control. If you have other debts, such as student loans or credit cards, look at ways you can reduce those payments as well so you can prioritize paying the mortgage. A credit card balance transfer, for example, could give you time to pay off credit card balances at a low-interest rate. You may also be able to put student loans in a temporary deferment or forbearance period and pause those payments.

HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CORONAVIRUS STUDENT LOAN INTEREST WAIVERS

You should also consider what you may need to do in a worst-case scenario. For example, that might mean selling the home, taking out a personal loan, agreeing to a short sale, or requesting a deed in lieu of foreclosure. Those solutions aren't ideal but they can help you get out of a mortgage when you have trouble paying.

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Monster Beverage Stock Holds Onto Gains Amid Analyst Confidence

Monster Beverage Corporation (MNST) shares were up 3% in the pre-market before moving modestly lower during the morning hours of Thursday's session. Bank of America resumed coverage of the energy drink maker with a Buy rating and a $70 price target. Analyst Peter Galbo believes that the company will continue to grow faster than its peers as it works with its strategic partner, The Coca-Cola Company (KO), to drive global growth in the category.

Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs resumed its coverage of the stock with a Buy rating and a $65 price target. Analyst Bonnie Herzog said that the energy drink category would likely be resilient in the current environment given strong customer loyalty and low household penetration.

In March, Monster Beverage also authorized a new $500 million share repurchase program, extending its existing share repurchase program that had $536.6 million remaining as of March 11, 2020. These repurchases could help support the stock price during any COVID-19-driven declines.

From a technical standpoint, the stock moved sharply higher during Tuesday's session before trending sideways over the past two sessions. The relative strength index (RSI) remains neutral with a reading of 54.62, but the moving average convergence divergence (MACD) remains in a bullish uptrend. These indicators suggest that the stock has more room to run.

Traders should watch for consolidation above the 50- and 200-day moving averages before Monster Beverage stock mounts another move higher to retest reaction highs of $68.00 and $70.00. If the stock breaks down, traders could see a move toward reaction highs of $58.00 or a retest of lows near $50.00, although that scenario appears less likely to occur given the bullish backdrop.

The author holds no position in the stock(s) mentioned except through passively managed index funds.

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OPEC+ reaches deal on record oil supply cut amid coronavirus pandemic

Trump: ‘There’s a glut of oil’ like never before

President Trump explains why OPEC is working hard to fight the overflow of oil in the world.

BAKU/DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – OPEC, Russia and other oil-producing nations agreed on Sunday to cut output by a record amount, representing around 10% of global supply, to support oil prices amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The group, known as OPEC+, agreed to reduce output by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) for May-June, after four days of marathon talks and following pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to arrest the price decline.

Two OPEC+ sources told Reuters the deal had been sealed in a video conference on Sunday, and the agreement was confirmed in a statement from by Kazakhstan's energy ministry.

In the biggest oil output cut ever, the countries will keep gradually decreasing curbs on production in place for two years until April 2022.

Measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus have destroyed demand for fuel and driven down oil prices, straining budgets of oil producers and hammering the U.S. shale industry, which is more vulnerable to low prices due to its higher costs.

Trump had threatened OPEC leader Saudi Arabia with oil tariffs and other measures if it did not fix the market's oversupply problem as low prices have put the U.S. oil industry, the world's largest, in severe distress.

OPEC+ has said it wanted producers outside the group, such as the United States, Canada, Brazil and Norway, to cut a further 5% or 5 million bpd.

Canada and Norway had signaled willingness to cut and the United States, where legislation makes it hard to act in tandem with cartels such as OPEC, said its output would fall steeply by itself this year due to low prices.

The signing of the OPEC+ deal had been delayed since Thursday, however, after Mexico balked at the production cuts it was asked to make.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday that U.S. President Donald Trump had offered to make extra U.S. cuts on his behalf, an unusual offer by a Trump who has long railed against OPEC.

Trump said Washington would help Mexico by picking up "some of the slack" and being reimbursed later. He did not say how this would work.

Global oil demand is estimated to have fallen by a third as more than 3 billion people are locked down in their homes due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A 15% cut in supply might not be enough to arrest the price decline, banks Goldman Sachs and UBS predicted last week, saying Brent prices would fall back to $20 per barrel from $32 at the moment and $70 at the start of the year.

(Reporting by Reuters OPEC Team, Alex Lawler in London, Lamine Chikhi in Algiers; Nailia Bagirova in BAKU, Katya Golubkova in MOSCOW and Tamara Vaal in NUR-SULTAN; Writing by Andrey Ostroukh and Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Jason Neely, Alison Williams and Alex Richardson)

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Mark Cuban slams 3M for lack of transparency during coronavirus response

3M CEO: Narratives on coronavirus supply manufacturing are ‘just not true’

3M CEO Mike Roman, in a wide-ranging interview, on manufacturing medical supplies, price gouging and exporting to foreign countries.

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Billionaire investor and owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban slammed 3M chairman and CEO Mike Roman on Saturday for failing to be transparent after Roman called allegations of price gouging protective equipment for the coronavirus "absurd" during a wide-ranging interview on FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo's Wall Street on Friday.

Cuban and Roman. (Getty Images)

"As I have said to 3M directly, 3M should be telling us how their order allocation system works. It's most obvious to 3M that demand is outstripping supply but 3M had gone silent when they could improve the marketplace by communicating their understanding of all the elements of the supply chain to all of us", Cuban said in a LinkedIn comment thread.

"Mike didn't communicate what role distributors were playing globally, why customers had to place non-cancelable orders with no info on availability, why it took the government calling them out to do a 500k direct delivery to my and Seattle hospitals and a single 10m mask reroute to the feds, why he thought factories were popping up around the world to see product and whether they could help identify real versus fake (they know who their real competitors are) and help bring order to a calamitous market," he continued. "A real leader would have helped the healthcare workers who are terrified when they go to work understand exactly what was going on in the industry."

Cuban pointed out that true crisis communication is more than saying "we are making as many as we can and doing our best."

"A good job would have been to recognize their role as the biggest in the world for this product and explain what is going on in the marketplace. Black markets with price gouging are created as much from lack of information as from an imbalance of supply and demand," Cuban said. "Transparency, honesty and communications won't eliminate the inefficiencies in the marketplace but they will reduce them, reduce stress and help bring back order. 3M has ghosted us when they more than anyone knew that transparency would help."

3M CEO ON TRUMP CORONAVIRUS PRODUCTION CLAIMS: 'FALSE, NOTHING CAN BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH' 

The comments come just days after President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act on 3M, ordering the company to prioritize orders of N95 masks for the federal government's national stockpile.

"We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their masks. "P Act" all the way," Trump tweeted on Thursday. "Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing- will have a big price to pay!"

MARK CUBAN SAYS CORONAVIRUS CHANGES 'EVERYTHING' IN US — SO LEADERS SHOULD 'STEP UP'

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MMM 3M COMPANY 133.79 -4.12 -2.99%

3M responded to the president's request in a statement on Friday, saying that they have been working with the administration to ramp up production of protective equipment.

"We appreciate the authorities in the DPA that provide a framework for us to expand even further the work we are doing in response to the global pandemic crisis," the company said in a statement. "We look forward to working with FEMA to implement yesterday's order."

But the company pushed back on stopping the shipment of protective equipment to Canada and Latin America, citing a humanitarian obligation.

"There are, however, significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to healthcare workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators," the company said. "In addition, ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done. If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease. That is the opposite of what we and the Administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek."

Roman told Bartiromo on Friday that less than 10 percent of 3M's respirators in the United States are exported to Canada and Latin America to support their health care workers.

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Cuban previously told Fox News that more leaders need to "step up" to combat the virus.

"I don't care what the media says. I don't care what the politicians say. I care about what I can do to help. I care about others that can help," Cuban said. "And whether it's [MyPillow CEO] Mike Lindell, myself, whoever, this is a time when leaders need to step up and do what's right to help their employees try to turn this thing around."

In March, Cuban teamed up with the Dallas Mavericks Foundation to donate $500,000 to support childcare for health care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. He also tweeted that he would reimburse anyone who supports local small businesses struggling during the pandemic.

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According to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 312,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States and over 8,500 deaths.

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