National coronavirus updates: President Trump announces additional steps to protect seniors

The latest:There have been more than 1 million coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.The U.S. death toll has surpassed 63,000 people, according to Hopkins. President Trump on Thursday announced additional steps to protect seniors from the coronavirus.U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the new coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified.”Sobering numbers from the Labor Department show 30 million Americans have filed jobless claims in the last 6 weeks. The FDA plans to announce an emergency-use authorization for a coronavirus treatment, remdesivir, the New York Times reported.The Pentagon announced it will invest $75.5 million in Defense Production Act Title 3 funding to increase swab production by 20 million per month starting in May. President Donald Trump on Thursday outlined additional steps the administration will take to protect seniors from coronavirus.Speaking from the East Room of the White House, the president said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will send supplemental shipments of personal protective equipment to all 15,400 Medicaid and Medicare certified nursing homes in America.Trump also said that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will provide states with $81 million from the CARES Act to increase inspections of nursing homes.Trump announced that a new rule will be finalized this week requiring information about coronavirus cases in nursing homes to be reported directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and testing data to be posted online. The new rule will also require nursing homes to report cases to residents and their family members. The president also announced the formation of the “Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes.”Trump said the commission will be made up of leading industry experts, doctors and scientists, resident and patient advocates and others. The commission will convene in May and issue recommendations for additional steps to protect seniors, he added.Fauci says states have ‘wiggle room’ on reopening but notes each should be cautiousDr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Thursday evening it’s important to give governors “wiggle room” on reopening their states, but cautioned they shouldn’t “wiggle too much.” “The discretion is given to the governors. They know their states, the mayors know their cities, so you want to give them a little wiggle room. But my recommendation is, you know, don’t wiggle too much. Try as best as you can to abide by the guidelines that were very well thought out, and very well delineated,” Fauci said during CNN’s coronavirus global town hall.”Some of them are doing that, but others are taking a bit of a chance,” he continued. “I hope they can actually handle any rebound that they see.”His comments come as more states plan phased reopenings of businesses and other gathering places. Over the next few days, at least 31 states will reopen and Americans will see a patchwork of approaches as the country attempts to move past the crisis phase of the pandemic.Virus was ‘not manmade or genetically modified,’ intel community saysU.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the novel coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified” but say they are still examining whether the origins of the pandemic trace to contact with infected animals or an accident at a Chinese lab.The statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the clearinghouse for the web of U.S. spy agencies, comes as Trump and his allies have touted the as-yet-unproven theory that an infectious disease lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak, was the source of the global pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 people worldwide.In recent days the Trump administration has sharpened its rhetoric on China, accusing the geopolitical foe and vital trading partner of failing to act swiftly enough to sound the alarm to the world about the outbreak or to stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.The new statement says, “The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”Sobering jobless numbers releasedMillions more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, as the coronavirus crisis continued to weigh on the U.S. economy.First-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 3.8 million in the week ending April 25, after factoring in seasonal adjustments, the U.S. Department of Labor said.Without those adjustments — which economists use to account for seasonal hiring fluctuations — the raw number was 3.5 million.That brings the total number of first-time claims to 30.3 million over the past six weeks — representing roughly 18.6% of the U.S. labor force — as businesses have laid off and furloughed workers during stay-at-home orders across the country.After peaking at 6.9 million in the last week of March, claims have fallen each of the last four weeks — an encouraging sign that at least things aren’t getting worse.More than half of US states will begin reopening by end of the weekMore than half of the United States will be partially reopened by the end of the week when many states’ stay-at-home orders are set to expire.Governors across the country have been announcing whether they will begin phased reopenings of their states when many of their orders expire this week or wait a few weeks more. At least 31 states will have loosened coronavirus restrictions by Friday. Florida is among the states that will soon reopen. Its restaurants and retail shops can let customers inside, at reduced capacity, starting Monday. The change in restrictions will not apply to Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, home to about 6 million people.”These counties have seen the lion share of the pandemic, but they are trending in a positive direction,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “We are working with them and I do believe they will be able to move to phase one very soon.”West Virginia will allow dentists to go back to work Thursday. Restaurants, churches and professional services, like salons, can open on Monday, with restrictions, said Gov. Jim Justice.But other states are waiting longer.Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced in a news conference that he has extended the stay-at-home order for the state until May 15. And while California has a plan for a phased reopening, the state has no set end date for its stay-at-home order and Gov. Gavin Newsom said that reopening schools and businesses is still “weeks away.” Optimistic outlook on potential coronavirus treatment The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to announce an emergency-use authorization for an investigational coronavirus treatment, remdesivir, the New York Times reported, citing a senior administration official.The FDA said in a statement to CNN Wednesday it is in discussions with Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, about making the drug available to patients. Gilead’s current supply of the drug could cover at least 140,000 treatment courses for coronavirus patients, CEO Daniel O’Day said Wednesday.Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, announced optimistic results of a remdesivir trial that began Feb. 21.”The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” he said in the Oval Office during a meeting with Trump and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.But the researcher behind that trial told CNN that remdesivir is “not the end of the story” when it comes to treating the virus.”We have work to do. We are looking for other therapies, this trial is going to continue,” said Dr. Andre Kalil, the principal investigator for the clinical trial, which was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. “In medicine, it’s never ending. We can always do better. And we want to do better.” The World Health Organization says 102 potential COVID-19 vaccines are in development around the world, according to documents posted on the organization’s website. Eight of the potential vaccines are approved for clinical trials. That is up from seven vaccines four days ago. The additional group is from China, but it is unclear if they have started trials on human study subjects. The other seven have.Of the groups approved for clinical trials on humans, four are from China, one is from England, one is American and another is a combined American and European group.The American National Institutes of Health trial was the first to start testing in human trial subjects on March 16. Los Angeles offers free testing for residentsHealth experts have said states should ramp up testing for coronavirus in order to safely reopen.Washington Gov. Jay Inslee referenced testing Wednesday when announcing that the state’s stay-at-home order would remain in effect past May 4. Inslee said the state cannot reach its full potential of 22,000 tests per day.”Unfortunately, because we don’t have additional swabs in the viral transfer media … we can only do about 4,600,” he said.The state’s outbreak is disproportionately affecting the Hispanic community, which makes up 13% of the population, but represents 30% of coronavirus cases, Inslee said.Meantime, Los Angeles began offering free coronavirus tests Wednesday night to all residents, Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a news conference. Los Angeles is now the first major U.S. city to make that offer to its residents.There is no limit to the number of times an individual can request a test, and while symptomatic individuals are top priority, people can get tests without symptoms.Garcetti initially said at the news conference that the testing would be open to city residents only, but according to a news release and the city’s website, all Los Angeles County residents can sign up for a free test.”We have the capacity, so don’t wait, don’t wander and don’t risk infecting others,” Garcetti said. “If you feel you need a test, get one. If you want to be safe, get one.”There are 34 testing sites across the city and county of Los Angeles, with a capacity to test 18,000 people per day. More than 140,000 people have been tested throughout those testing sites, according to Garcetti. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The latest:

  • There have been more than 1 million coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
  • The U.S. death toll has surpassed 63,000 people, according to Hopkins.
  • President Trump on Thursday announced additional steps to protect seniors from the coronavirus.
  • U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the new coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified.”
  • Sobering numbers from the Labor Department show 30 million Americans have filed jobless claims in the last 6 weeks.
  • The FDA plans to announce an emergency-use authorization for a coronavirus treatment, remdesivir, the New York Times reported.
  • The Pentagon announced it will invest $75.5 million in Defense Production Act Title 3 funding to increase swab production by 20 million per month starting in May.

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President Donald Trump on Thursday outlined additional steps the administration will take to protect seniors from coronavirus.

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, the president said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will send supplemental shipments of personal protective equipment to all 15,400 Medicaid and Medicare certified nursing homes in America.

Trump also said that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will provide states with $81 million from the CARES Act to increase inspections of nursing homes.

Trump announced that a new rule will be finalized this week requiring information about coronavirus cases in nursing homes to be reported directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and testing data to be posted online. The new rule will also require nursing homes to report cases to residents and their family members.

The president also announced the formation of the “Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes.”

Trump said the commission will be made up of leading industry experts, doctors and scientists, resident and patient advocates and others. The commission will convene in May and issue recommendations for additional steps to protect seniors, he added.

Fauci says states have ‘wiggle room’ on reopening but notes each should be cautious

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Thursday evening it’s important to give governors “wiggle room” on reopening their states, but cautioned they shouldn’t “wiggle too much.”

“The discretion is given to the governors. They know their states, the mayors know their cities, so you want to give them a little wiggle room. But my recommendation is, you know, don’t wiggle too much. Try as best as you can to abide by the guidelines that were very well thought out, and very well delineated,” Fauci said during CNN’s coronavirus global town hall.

“Some of them are doing that, but others are taking a bit of a chance,” he continued. “I hope they can actually handle any rebound that they see.”

His comments come as more states plan phased reopenings of businesses and other gathering places. Over the next few days, at least 31 states will reopen and Americans will see a patchwork of approaches as the country attempts to move past the crisis phase of the pandemic.

Virus was ‘not manmade or genetically modified,’ intel community says

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the novel coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified” but say they are still examining whether the origins of the pandemic trace to contact with infected animals or an accident at a Chinese lab.

The statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the clearinghouse for the web of U.S. spy agencies, comes as Trump and his allies have touted the as-yet-unproven theory that an infectious disease lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak, was the source of the global pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 people worldwide.

In recent days the Trump administration has sharpened its rhetoric on China, accusing the geopolitical foe and vital trading partner of failing to act swiftly enough to sound the alarm to the world about the outbreak or to stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The new statement says, “The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”

Sobering jobless numbers released

Millions more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, as the coronavirus crisis continued to weigh on the U.S. economy.

First-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 3.8 million in the week ending April 25, after factoring in seasonal adjustments, the U.S. Department of Labor said.

Without those adjustments — which economists use to account for seasonal hiring fluctuations — the raw number was 3.5 million.

That brings the total number of first-time claims to 30.3 million over the past six weeks — representing roughly 18.6% of the U.S. labor force — as businesses have laid off and furloughed workers during stay-at-home orders across the country.

After peaking at 6.9 million in the last week of March, claims have fallen each of the last four weeks — an encouraging sign that at least things aren’t getting worse.

More than half of US states will begin reopening by end of the week

More than half of the United States will be partially reopened by the end of the week when many states’ stay-at-home orders are set to expire.

Governors across the country have been announcing whether they will begin phased reopenings of their states when many of their orders expire this week or wait a few weeks more. At least 31 states will have loosened coronavirus restrictions by Friday.

Florida is among the states that will soon reopen. Its restaurants and retail shops can let customers inside, at reduced capacity, starting Monday. The change in restrictions will not apply to Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, home to about 6 million people.

“These counties have seen the lion share of the pandemic, but they are trending in a positive direction,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “We are working with them and I do believe they will be able to move to phase one very soon.”

West Virginia will allow dentists to go back to work Thursday. Restaurants, churches and professional services, like salons, can open on Monday, with restrictions, said Gov. Jim Justice.

But other states are waiting longer.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced in a news conference that he has extended the stay-at-home order for the state until May 15. And while California has a plan for a phased reopening, the state has no set end date for its stay-at-home order and Gov. Gavin Newsom said that reopening schools and businesses is still “weeks away.”

Optimistic outlook on potential coronavirus treatment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to announce an emergency-use authorization for an investigational coronavirus treatment, remdesivir, the New York Times reported, citing a senior administration official.

The FDA said in a statement to CNN Wednesday it is in discussions with Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, about making the drug available to patients. Gilead’s current supply of the drug could cover at least 140,000 treatment courses for coronavirus patients, CEO Daniel O’Day said Wednesday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, announced optimistic results of a remdesivir trial that began Feb. 21.

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” he said in the Oval Office during a meeting with Trump and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

But the researcher behind that trial told CNN that remdesivir is “not the end of the story” when it comes to treating the virus.

“We have work to do. We are looking for other therapies, this trial is going to continue,” said Dr. Andre Kalil, the principal investigator for the clinical trial, which was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. “In medicine, it’s never ending. We can always do better. And we want to do better.”

The World Health Organization says 102 potential COVID-19 vaccines are in development around the world, according to documents posted on the organization’s website.

Eight of the potential vaccines are approved for clinical trials. That is up from seven vaccines four days ago. The additional group is from China, but it is unclear if they have started trials on human study subjects. The other seven have.

Of the groups approved for clinical trials on humans, four are from China, one is from England, one is American and another is a combined American and European group.

The American National Institutes of Health trial was the first to start testing in human trial subjects on March 16.

Los Angeles offers free testing for residents

Health experts have said states should ramp up testing for coronavirus in order to safely reopen.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee referenced testing Wednesday when announcing that the state’s stay-at-home order would remain in effect past May 4. Inslee said the state cannot reach its full potential of 22,000 tests per day.

“Unfortunately, because we don’t have additional swabs in the viral transfer media … we can only do about 4,600,” he said.

The state’s outbreak is disproportionately affecting the Hispanic community, which makes up 13% of the population, but represents 30% of coronavirus cases, Inslee said.

Meantime, Los Angeles began offering free coronavirus tests Wednesday night to all residents, Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a news conference. Los Angeles is now the first major U.S. city to make that offer to its residents.

There is no limit to the number of times an individual can request a test, and while symptomatic individuals are top priority, people can get tests without symptoms.

Garcetti initially said at the news conference that the testing would be open to city residents only, but according to a news release and the city’s website, all Los Angeles County residents can sign up for a free test.

“We have the capacity, so don’t wait, don’t wander and don’t risk infecting others,” Garcetti said. “If you feel you need a test, get one. If you want to be safe, get one.”

There are 34 testing sites across the city and county of Los Angeles, with a capacity to test 18,000 people per day. More than 140,000 people have been tested throughout those testing sites, according to Garcetti.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.