Mnuchin to end some loan programs
WASHINGTON— Treasury Secretary StevenMnuchin said Thursday he will not extend several emergency loan programs set up with the Federal Reserve to support the economy in themidst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision drew a terse rebuke from the Fed. The central bank said it “would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continue to serve their important role as a backstop for our still-strained and vulnerable economy.”
But in a letter to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, Mnuchin said that the Fed’s corporate credit, municipal lending and Main Street Lending programs would not be renewed when they expire on Dec. 31.
Under law, the loan facilities required the support of the Treasury Department, which serves as a backstop for the initial losses the programs might incur.
Mnuchin said that he is requesting that the Fed return to Treasury the unused funds appropriated by Congress for operation of the programs. He said this would allow Congress to re-appropriate $455 billion to other coronavirus programs.
Europe’spainful second coronavirus wave may be starting to ease, a top WorldHealth Organization official said Thursday, though someone on the continent died of COVID-19 every 17 seconds this past week.
The cautious assessment came after new diagnoses of the novel coronavirus slowed across Europe to 1.8 million cases, compared with 2 million the week before. But hospitals remain packed, and deaths across the WHO’s 51-nation European region have been rising.
Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, described the drop in new diagnoses as “a small signal, but it’s a signal nevertheless.”
TysonFoods suspended top officials at its largest pork plant on Thursday and launched an investigation into allegations that they bet on how many workers would get infected during a widespread coronavirus outbreak.
The company’s president and CEO, Dean Banks, said he was “extremely upset” about the allegations against managers at its plant in Waterloo, Iowa, saying they do not represent the company’s values. Banks said the accused have been suspended without pay. A spokesman for the Arkansas-based company said it would not release their names during the investigation.
Tyson has faced a backlash over recently amended wrongful death lawsuits in which plaintiffs’ lawyers allege that Waterloo plant manager Tom Hart “organized a cash buyin, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager on how many employees would test positive for COVID-19.” The virus ultimately infected more than 1,000 of its 2,800 workers, killing at least six and sending many others to the hospital before tearing through the broader Waterloo community.
Africa has surpassed 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases as the continent’s top public health official, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director John Nkengasong, warned Thursday that “we are inevitably edging toward a second wave” of infections.
The Africa CDC said the 54-nation continent has seen more than 48,000 deaths from COVID-19. Its infections and deaths make up less than 4% of the global total.