New York to begin nation's most aggressive antibody testing; more cash soon for small businesses
New York state will begin the nation's most aggressive antibody testing campaign this week and some states are beginning to loosen restrictions as the nationwide effort to restore the economy began to take shape Sunday.
Negotiators were also close to a deal that could provide $300 billion in additional funding to struggling small businesses.
Overwhelmingly, restrictions remained in force. In Oklahoma City, a virtual ceremony was held to mark the 25th anniversary of the bombing that killed 168 people.
“What breaks our hearts the most is ... we know we can’t assemble the large crowds that normally come to this remembrance ceremony," organizers said in a statement. The tribute included 168 seconds of silence, and the names of 168 people killed in the bombing will be read aloud.
COVID-19 claimed the lives of almost 1,900 Americans Saturday, raising the U.S. death toll above 39,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University's data dashboard.
As unemployment soars and economic fallout increases, the White House has announced guidelines for states to start opening their economies. A handful of states are starting the process of relaxing restrictions as protests crop up across the country.
There are over 737,000 coronavirus cases in the U.S. and over 2.3 million worldwide.
Our live blog is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news, and get updates in your inbox with The Daily Briefing. More headlines:
• Coronavirus Guide: Everything you need to know about COVID-19
• Students tire of virtual learning: Colleges can't say if they'll open in fall 2020
• Her father was dying: She could not be with him
• African Americans hit hard: Will they trust vaccine?
• Lockdowns, bans, guidelines: What states are doing
New York state to begin mass antibody testing campaign
New York state will begin antibody testing thousands of residents this week to try and determine the breadth of the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday. Cuomo said a test was approved by the FDA and that testing will take place "in the most aggressive way in the nation."
Antibody testing reflects how many people have been infected by the virus. Health experts hope the antibodies provide people with defenses against COVID-19. Cuomo said new cases, hospitalizations and intubations all appear to be receding in his state. The most recent daily death toll, 507, was down almost 10% from the previous day and represented the lowest total in more than two weeks.
"All indications are that we are on the descent," he said of the outbreak. "That is in all the numbers."
New York, Florida, Texas among states easing restrictions
Various social distancing orders across the United States have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus, but states are feeling increasing pressure from protesters and at times the White House to begin relaxing restrictions. Now, some are outlining their plans to do so. On Monday, Vermont contracting companies, garden-supply stores, small construction crews and small offices will be allowed to operate with certain restrictions.
“We’re not declaring victory because we’re not out of the woods yet,” Gov. Phil Scott said. “But we are seeing some daylight.”
This weekend, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey opened up their marinas, boatyards and boat launches for recreational use. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said all stores the state will be able to operate retail-to-go beginning Friday. And Floridians began flocking to the ocean after Gov. Ron DeSantis gave the green light for reopening some beaches.
– Brent Hallenbeck, Burlington Free Press
NJ Gov. Murphy rejects call to reopen state without restrictions
A county official in New Jersey has called on Gov. Phil Murphy to immediately reopen the state without restrictions and trust in "American freedom, ingenuity and the U.S. Constitution." Jim Curcio, Atlantic County surrogate, posted a message on his Facebook page calling for Murphy to "untie the hands of the Private Sector so it can rescue NJ from this nightmare."
Murphy dismissed the idea as irresponsible, noting that 19 people from Atlantic County have died from the coronavirus: "We untie the system right now, there will be blood on our hands."
California, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio and Utah are among other states where tight restrictions have drawn protests.
Deal close on more cash for ailing small businesses
The White House and Congress could reach an agreement as soon as Sunday on $300 billion more for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. He said the deal could be approved by the Senate on Monday and the House could vote on it by Wednesday. Mnuchin, appearing on CNN's State of the Union, said Mnuchin said the new bill would include $75 billion to help overwhelmed hospitals and another $25 billion to increase the capacity to test for the virus.
– Will Cummings
CEO says Amazon hopes to test all employees
Amazon is creating its own lab to increase testing for COVID-19 and hopes to test all employees, CEO Jeff Bezos says. Bezos, in his annual letter to shareholders, says the U.S. needs much more coronavirus testing before the economy can restart. Bezos said "vastly more testing capacity" is needed. "If every person could be tested regularly, it would make a huge difference in how we fight this virus," he said. "Those who test positive could be quarantined and cared for, and everyone who tests negative could re-enter the economy with confidence."
– Mike Snider
White House: U.S. per-capita death rate lower than other countries
The per-capita U.S. death rate for COVID-19 is lower than many countries in Europe – according to data cited by the White House – thanks in part to the nation's social distancing efforts, restrictions some states are in the process of reevaluating.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx presented data Saturday showing the U.S. is reporting 11.24 deaths per 100,000 people, a lower rate than Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, the UK and the Netherlands. She credited social distancing measures with keeping that rate low.
African Americans hard hit but may balk when vaccine arrives
African Americans, who are being infected and killed by COVID-19 at a much higher rate than whites, may be reluctant to get the coronavirus vaccine when one is released, experts say. Black Americans are 40% less likely to get flu shots, a study out last year showed. A historical distrust of the health care system, which has far fewer physicians of color and a record of discrimination and mistreatment, gets much of the blame.
David Graham, 41, is an African-American nurse practitioner who treats coronavirus patients. He said he remembers learning about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment that began in 1932. Men who were mostly poor and illiterate sharecroppers were enrolled in a study – and hundreds were not given penicillin when it was found to be a cure. Dozens of men died and countless others were infected.
"For African Americans of a certain age group, Tuskegee always looms in our minds," Graham said.
– Jayne O'Donnell
Colleges, students await fate of fall semester
Some college students say they'll revolt if universities put another semester of classes online to avoid spreading the coronavirus – but that's increasingly what campus leaders are considering doing. Terry Hartle, a senior vice president for the American Council for Education, a national trade group of universities, says no one knows right now what the fall semester will look like. Ryan Sessoms, a marketing student at the University of North Florida, says paying the same amount of tuition for another semester of lackluster classes is a non-starter.
“Fall is my last semester,” said Sessoms, 24. “If it’s going to be online at the same tuition price, then I’ll just wait for the spring semester.”
– Chris Quintana
'One World: Together at Home' draws stars
"One World: Together at Home" leaned on scores of A-list celebrities to help spread some cheer to a locked-down world. Saturday's broadcast began with a six-hour livestream on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, then headed to prime time on ABC, CBS and NBC for two hours. Stars who appeared on the broadcast TV portion of the event included Billie Eilish, Jennifer Lopez, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder.
"I just wanted to say a sincere 'thank you' to all the people risking their lives to get people through this," Kacey Musgraves said before singing her hit "Rainbow." "It means so much to me."
– Gary Dinges
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Broadway's Nick Cordero has his leg amputated
Nick Cordero's wife said the Broadway actor made it through surgery to have his right leg amputated because of complications from the coronavirus. Amanda Kloots shared Saturday night in an Instagram Story that she had just gotten "a call from the surgeon" following the procedure.
"He made it through the surgery, which is really big," Kloots said. "They're taking him back to the room to recover and rest for the rest."
Canadian-born Cordero had been admitted to the hospital for what was initially thought to be pneumonia, Kloots wrote on Instagram on April 1. An initial coronavirus test came up negative. She wrote at the time that Cordero had been placed in a medically induced coma to aid his breathing. Cordero's acting credits include Bullets Over Broadway the Musical, for which he drew a Tony nomination.
– Rasha Ali
Somber celebration marks Eastern Orthodox Easter
Eastern Orthodox priests held Mass for the Christian holiday of Easter on Sunday in an empty Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem because of social distancing restrictions. Eastern Christian rites celebrate Easter on the day Christians believe Jesus was resurrected after his crucifixion, a week after the Catholic calendar.
Ordinarily, the church would be filled with faithful and tourists, but travel restrictions imposed by Israel prevented the arrival of pilgrims to Jerusalem for the springtime holiday and limited the gathering of worshippers at the church. Israel has recorded over 13,000 COVID-19 cases and over 170 deaths.
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The death of Donald Adair
Thousands of families around the world have suffered through the tragedy of a relative's death. Abby Adair Reinhard chronicled one of them on Facebook, the stunning death of her father. Three weeks ago Donald Adair, 76, fell at home, and a few days later hospital staffers were helping him fight a minor infection. Then he developed a fever and a cough. Coronavirus.
"He was very strong, physically. 'I'm sure he'll be fine,' is what I told myself," she said. Two weeks ago the hospital called. Adair's lungs, destroyed by the infection, would likely never recover. She spent most of the next 36 hours on the phone with him. listening to his gasps. Then he was gone, but she still hears him gasping.
"I hear myself gasping as well," she wrote. "He, no longer in his body. And I, not quite in mine."
– Trevor Hughes
California's COVID-19 death rate alarmingly high for African Americans
California is seeing a disproportionately high number of coronavirus deaths among African Americans, according to data released by the California Department of Public Health on Saturday. African Americans make up just 6% of the state's population of nearly 40 million but account for 12% of the 1,072 coronavirus-related deaths. Latinos, who make up 39% of the state’s populace, account for 39% and 31% of deaths, officials said.
In addition to high death figures among African Americans, the department said that Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders are another group "of heightened concern," although the death count for the population is small and "therefore limits statistical comparison." Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders make up 0.3% of the population but have accounted for 2% of the state's total cases and 1% of the state's total deaths.
Whites, who account for 37% of the population, have had 30% of the cases and 36% of the deaths. Asians, who are 15% of the population, have had 13% of total cases but 16% of deaths.
– Julie Makinen, Desert Sun
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus live updates: New York to begin aggressive antibody tests
April 19, 2020