Commercial May 7, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Trump Nixes Reopening Guidelines, Jobless Claims Keep Rising, Auto Industry Furloughs

CDC reopening guidelines have been shelved. (Getty Images)CDC reopening guidelines have been shelved. (Getty Images)

Trump Nixes Reopening Guidelines

The Trump administration shelved a 17-page set of guidelines the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created for schools, businesses, mass transit, religious facilities and child care programs, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

While they were interim, the guidelines ended up circulating widely last week as they went to the White House for approval; the White House was supposed to officially publish them Friday. The AP quotes an anonymous CDC source who said the agency was told that the guidelines “would never see the light of day.”

The guidelines went into great detail by category with the common thread of promoting healthy hygiene practices, maintaining distance and wearing face masks. They spanned the three recommended phases for reopening, with the final being as close to normal operations as possible while still maintaining distances and disinfecting.

Jobless Claims Keep Rising

Jobless claims rose again to deepen the economic plight wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

Another 3.1 million people filed for unemployment last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That pushes the total to 33.5 million in just seven weeks.

The report follows payroll company ADP’s report Wednesday that private payrolls dropped by 20 million people.

Washington, Georgia, New York, Oregon and Alabama had the largest increases in unemployment claims, according to the Labor Department. California, Florida, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania had the largest decreases in new jobless claims.

Washington Post-Ipsos poll found that 77% of those laid off or furloughed are expected to be rehired by their previous employer.

Slumping Auto Sales Prompt Furloughs

Atlanta-based Cox Automotive is furloughing roughly a third of its workforce, mostly in the United States, amid the continuing slump in auto sales.

Industry trade publication Auto Remarketing reported that the company will furlough 12,500 of its 34,000 employees starting May 17. Cox Automotive owns such companies as Kelley Blue Book, Autotrader and Manheim.

The executive leadership is taking a 25% pay cut and vice presidents are taking a 15% pay cut.

Auto sales have plummeted since March as cities and states issued stay-home orders and shut down their local economies to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Cox Automotive last week forecast that new light-vehicle sales would hit historic lows for April when it finishes the month near 620,000 units sold. That’s down 53% from April 2019 and a 37% drop from the previous month.

On Thursday, the company reported the wholesale prices for used vehicles fell 11.41%, knocking the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index down 9.2% from a year ago to the lowest level in three years.

Nearly 87% of those being furloughed in the United States are with Manheim’s auto auctions.

Stock Markets Rise

The major indices traded in the green Thursday morning, shrugging off bad jobs news. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite, in fact, turned positive for the year. Fortinet Inc., a cybersecurity firm, led gainers in the morning to hit a 52-week high. It reported first-quarter earnings that beat estimates.