Coronavirus economic updates: Rail volumes at a 10-year low

By CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — The coronavirus pandemic has quickly evolved from a health care crisis to a financial one, shuttering businesses, upending industries and sending financial markets reeling.

Here’s how the day is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.

Delta reports net loss of $534 million in first quarter of 2020

Delta Airlines reported its first quarterly loss in eight years with passenger volumes for the airline dropping as much as 95%.

The airline posted a net loss of $534 million in the first three months of 2020.

The airline’s revenues plunged 18% in the first quarter to $8.6 billion and Delta expects the second quarter will be worse with revenues estimated to fall 90% compared to the same period in 2019.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees on Wednesday in an internal memo obtained by ABC News that moving forward Delta will be “a smaller airline” for some time and they should be prepared for a “choppy, sluggish recovery even after the virus is contained.”

“I estimate the recovery period could take two to three years,” Bastian added.

Between April and June, Delta is reducing its flight schedule by about 85%.

Rail volumes at a 10-year low

COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in rail volumes hitting a 10-year low as a result of the lack of overseas imports and more, according to FEMA’s National Business Emergency Operations Center.

The projected cost to railroads as a result of the pandemic is $9 billion in lost freight in the short term, the government agency estimates.

The transportation industry including rail, airlines and more have been clobbered by the pandemic.

Publix to buy surplus dairy, produce from farmers and donate it to food banks

Grocery store chain Publix announced a new initiative Wednesday to purchase surplus dairy and produce from local farmers and donate it to Feeding America.

“The initiative will support Florida produce farmers, southeastern dairy farmers and the growing number of families looking to Feeding America for fresh fruits, vegetables and milk during the coronavirus pandemic,” the company said in a statement.

In the first week of the initiative, Publix says more than 150,000 pounds of produce and 43,500 gallons of milk will be donated to Feeding America food banks.

“As a food retailer, we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the needs of families and farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “In this time of uncertainty, we are grateful to be able to help Florida’s produce farmers, southeastern dairies and families in our communities.”

Feeding America estimates some 17 million additional people will experience food insecurity due to the rising unemployment and school closures amid the pandemic.

The initiative also comes amid reports of farmers disposing of produce and milk that it can’t sell as restaurants and hotels remain shuttered due to COVID-19.

“In addition to providing much needed produce and milk to food banks, this initiative provides financial support to farmers during this challenging time,” Jones said. “We’re honored to be able to work with these groups and do good together for our communities.”

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