Global Crisis Rolls On: Nearly 1 In 4 Americans Locked Down, Italy Shuts Production, Bezos Says Amazon ‘Critical’

The number of Americans living under an effective shelter-in-place order rose to roughly 1 in 4 over the weekend, as states and localities adopt what are, by now, a familiar set of rules to help stop the spread of coronavirus in the US. Bars, nightclubs and other venues not offering food are closed. Restaurants are increasingly confined to delivery and takeout service. Public gatherings are banned. Some public beaches have been shut. And on and on.

America’s infection total looks set to hit 30,000 by the time the new week dawns. More than 300 Americans have died from the virus so far.

In Europe, the situation is dire. Spain’s case total hit 28,000. In Italy, nearly 5,000 people are dead – almost 800 perished on Saturday alone. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte shuttered all Italian industries other than those necessary to maintain the supply chain. “[This] is the most difficult crisis in our post-war period”, he said, in a video message on Facebook. “Only production activities deemed vital for national production will be allowed”.

Reports now suggest Boris Johnson’s decision to shutter pubs and restaurants across the country was at least partially compelled by Emmanuel Macron, who told Johnson Friday that France would seal its border if Johnson didn’t start taking the situation more seriously. That’s according to French newspaper Liberation.

India halted passenger train service until the end of the month effective immediately, organizers in Japan are discussing plans to delay the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Turkey witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of confirmed cases.

Trump offered to help North Korea combat the spread of the deadly malady, according to Kim Jong-Un’s sister. Singapore and Vietnam banned entry to short-term and non-diplomatic visitors and Australia is beginning to close down non-essential services.

In short: The entire world is sheltering in place. The global economy is shutting down.

Amazon is lifting pay for warehouse workers amid huge E-commerce demand. “My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role”, Jeff Bezos said Saturday. Bezos has hiked pay twice in a week. Congress wants to see time-and-a-half hazard pay for Amazon’s warehouse staff. With apologies to the free-market Republicans among you, it is just a matter of time before lawmakers stop “asking” and start “telling”.

Bezos posted the following letter to employees on Instagram:

Replies ranged from the scathing (“Why do we not hear your name on the news for helping out Americans?”) to the grateful (“Thank you Jeff for allowing my husband to be one of those you hired while his barber shop is closed.”) to the humorous (“Give me a million dollars!”).

In markets, Mideast shares generally fell on Sunday even as Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Dubai’s ruler) “asked” banks to take steps to provide relief to businesses and borrowers.

Saudi shares are on the verge of falling to the lowest since 2009.


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6 thoughts on “Global Crisis Rolls On: Nearly 1 In 4 Americans Locked Down, Italy Shuts Production, Bezos Says Amazon ‘Critical’

  1. What blows my mind is the time it’s taking Congress to tinker with how to get a one-time $1200 check to people. It’s criminal and absurd to not be planning for 3 to 4 months of payments. Do they really think a one-time small check will stop a run on banks in late May. I see Texas, of all states ss pondering delaying property taxes. But why isn’t that a national goal ASAP? As America explodes with actual virus impacts, a one-time unthought out solution is nothing less than fing stupidity!

  2. Just read that Mr Treasury guy said that Trump thinks that in 10 weeks, their $1000 check isn’t enough, they’ll go back to Congress, but the obvious problem with that, is that 10 weeks from now there will very few things working and lots of dead people. I guess it was a little hopefully week ago in regards to the government doing whatever it takes to create stability, but now I see that we are all on our own, and will be living with a dysfunctional system. This is criminal and inconceivable!

    1. Rep. Tlaib has the right idea. Debit card preloaded with $2,000 for every adult in the country (no means testing; we’re all in this together). Reloaded at same level every month for six months. Cost: $2.4 trillion. Expensive, but this is the most serious economic emergency this country has faced since the Great Depression. Policymakers need to face up to that fact and do whatever is needed to prevent a rerun.

  3. According to WaPo’s J. Stein, this is where the Senate ended up on checks:

    — $1,200 for all individuals earning up to $75K/yr (or $150K for couples);

    — $500 per child;

    — $0 for those above $99K

    — Based on 2019 return OR 2018 return;

    — NOT recurring (onetime check)

    — Phase-in eliminated


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