Nearly all fifty U.S. states were at some stage of reopening today as authorities eased restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the new COVID-19 and stock markets opened higher on optimism about a potential vaccine trial.
Markets were also encouraged by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s remarks over the weekend on a gradual economic recovery, and his affirmation that more monetary stimulus was on the way if required.
The patchwork approach to restarting business activity and easing social distancing restrictions has been shaped by political divisions and demographics in the United States, where nearly 1.5 million people have been infected and nearly 90,000 have died.
Despite the widespread if gradual revival of businesses and social life, only 14 states have met the federal government’s for guidelines for lifting measures aimed at fighting the pandemic, according to a Reuters analysis.
The U.S. auto industry slowly returned to life on Monday, with some vehicle assembly plants reopening. Suppliers geared up to support a sector that employs nearly 1 million people.
On a chilly and damp morning, hundreds of workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s (FCA) truck plant in Warren, Michigan, began lining up before 4 a.m. to start the 5 a.m. shift. Signs overhead read: “Let’s restart.”
“I’m a little nervous,” said Larry Smith, 53, of New Baltimore, who works on wheel alignment away from the assembly line. “They made all the precautions (and) they’ve done everything they can to prepare us … I’m trusting in God.”
The reopening of car plants will be a closely watched test of whether workers across a range of U.S. industries can return to factories in large numbers without a resurgence of infections.
Some potential good news in the global race for a vaccine helped U.S. stocks rise nearly 3% in morning trading. Moderna Inc said on Monday its experimental vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, showed promise in early trials and it looks to advance the vaccine into late-stage trials in July.