National coronavirus updates: Some states begin to reopen as US nears 1 million coronavirus cases

The latest:There have been more than 965,000 coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.The U.S. death toll has surpassed 54,000 people, according to Hopkins.Globally, there have been more than 2.9 million cases with more than 206,000 deaths.In a speech on Saturday evening, Spain Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced he will present his plan for the “de-escalation phase” in his country next Tuesday.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized three new coronavirus antibody tests, bringing the total number of FDA-authorized tests to seven.A lingering heat wave lured people to Southern California beaches, rivers and trails again Sunday, prompting warnings from officials that defiance of stay-at-home orders could reverse progress and bring the coronavirus surging back.Tens of thousands of people packed the sand at Newport Beach in Orange County, where residents compared weekend crowds to the Fourth of July and lifeguards reminded people to stay apart if they were in groups of six or more.Neighboring Huntington Beach also saw big gatherings, despite the closure of parking lots and metered parking restricted along Pacific Coast Highway. Temperatures were close to 90 degrees.Robin Ford surveyed the crush of visitors with concern. “Unless all these people are in one household, it does look like they are not social distancing,” Ford told the Orange County Register. “They could be spread out more.”NY hospitals study heartburn drug as treatment for coronavirusA major New York hospital network has given high doses of an over-the-counter heartburn drug to patients with COVID-19 to see if it works against the coronavirus.The study of famotidine — the active ingredient in Pepcid — started April 7, and preliminary results could come in a few weeks, said Dr. Kevin Tracey, president of Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health, which runs 23 hospitals in the New York City area. The patients are receiving the drug intravenously at doses about nine times higher than what people take orally for heartburn. So far, 187 patients have been enrolled in the clinical trial, and Northwell eventually hopes to enroll 1,200, Tracey said.Tracey and his colleagues got the idea to study famotidine after it was observed that some patients in China taking the drug fared better than patients not taking the drug.Schumer calls on FDA to crack down on fake coronavirus testsSenate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to crack down on companies who are selling fake at-home coronavirus test kits online.Schumer said at a press conference on Sunday that he is sending a letter to the FDA to increase policing of online tests, make public which tests have been approved by the FDA and issue cease and desist orders to every company found to be selling false tests.Schumer warned that the spread of non-FDA approved at-home tests would make the recovery from coronavirus much longer, if people falsely believe that they do not have the virus, or that they have already had it.Schools will be necessary for businesses to reopen, NY governor saysNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said schools are necessary for a large scale business reopening, adding “you couldn’t really get to a maximum phase two without opening schools.”At a news conference Sunday, Cuomo outlined a phased reopening plan that described “phase two” as the opening of certain essential businesses.Questions remain about whether the state can reopen for the rest of the school year, adding that many local districts are talking about summer school to make up for some lost time.“Remote learning is great in concept, we had to jump into it with both feet, and we didn’t really have a chance to scale up for it,” Cuomo said.“I’m not really comfortable getting too far ahead of ourselves,” he said, adding that he did not want to try to predict anything farther than two weeks away.Several states reopening from shutdownsSeveral states are reopening from coronavirus shutdowns this week, even as the number of people infected in the U.S. gets closer to 1 million.Colorado, Minnesota and Montana plan to ease social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions. And starting Monday, Iowa will reopen elective surgeries and farmers markets while Tennessee restaurants can welcome customers at 50% capacity. Retail stores may reopen on the same guidelines Wednesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said.Decisions to reopen go against a University of Washington model suggesting that no state should open their economies before May 1 — and many should wait much longer.But many have already started. Hawaii has relaxed beach restrictions, opening them up for visitors to fish and exercise but maintaining restrictions on loitering, Gov. David Ige said Saturday.Texas allowed retail stores to begin making curbside sales Friday, as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allowed businesses like landscapers, plant nurseries and bike repair shops to reopen provided they follow social distancing.Friday was also the day Alaska allowed many salons and restaurants to open, though they can’t exceed 25% capacity.Georgia allowed some businesses to reopen with some guidelines Friday, including places where clients and workers get close: barber shops and hair salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and bowling alleys.In Oklahoma, salons, barbershops, spas and pet groomers took appointments Friday, and some state parks and outdoor recreation areas also reopened. Mayors call for more cautionBut some mayors are not ready to transition out of coronavirus measures.”If you’re getting your nails done right now, please share these noon numbers with your manicurist #StayHomeGeorgia,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tweeted Saturday, along with a graphic with the case and death counts at the time.Nearby in the city of Brookhaven, Mayor John Ernst said he would rather nonessential businesses wait until Georgia reaches a milestone like a 14-day downward trend in cases.”Even the (business owners) who open up say, ‘I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing,” Ernst said Saturday. “(Reopening) needs to be an orderly process.”While surrounding beaches opened for the weekend, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the county would not follow suit and urged residents to stay inside.”We can’t let one weekend reverse a month of work that you have invested in,” he said.Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced he is letting stay at home orders for the state expire this week, but urged residents to stay home “as much as possible.” While the state is transitioning to looser restrictions, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told CNN’s Jake Tapper that nothing is changing yet for the city.”Stay in place and know that none of the locations that were closed during the order will open up,” Hancock said.Fauci says testing should doubleThe U.S. should double its diagnostic testing for coronavirus over the next several weeks, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said Saturday.It’s a goal he thinks the nation can reach, Fauci said.There is more to curbing the virus than testing, he added, citing the need for identification, isolation and contact tracing.But the nation needs to “have enough tests to respond to the outbreaks that will inevitably occur as you try and ease your way back into the different phases.””We’re getting better and better at it, as the weeks go by, but we are not in a situation where we say we’re exactly where we want to be with regard to testing,” he said Thursday. “I think we’re going to get there, but we’re not there yet.”WHO warns recovery may not protect against 2nd infectionThe U.S. coronavirus case count may be high, but the World Health Organization warned that it is too early to tell if people who have had the virus would be immune from a second infection.The health agency said it is reviewing evidence on antibody responses to the novel coronavirus. A Friday scientific brief says “most” studies show that people who have “recovered from infection have antibodies to the virus.”But as of Friday, no study has “evaluated whether the presence of antibodies to (the virus) confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus in humans,” the WHO brief says.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has now authorized three new coronavirus antibody tests, bringing the total number of FDA-authorized tests to seven.The tests were approved under emergency-use authorizations, a lower regulatory standard used when the FDA believes a test’s benefits could outweigh any risks.On Saturday, the CEO of a group helping lead the vaccine effort said it might be necessary to start manufacturing coronavirus vaccines even before they have been fully tested to see if they can protect people from infection.

The latest:

  • There have been more than 965,000 coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
  • The U.S. death toll has surpassed 54,000 people, according to Hopkins.
  • Globally, there have been more than 2.9 million cases with more than 206,000 deaths.
  • In a speech on Saturday evening, Spain Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced he will present his plan for the “de-escalation phase” in his country next Tuesday.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized three new coronavirus antibody tests, bringing the total number of FDA-authorized tests to seven.

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A lingering heat wave lured people to Southern California beaches, rivers and trails again Sunday, prompting warnings from officials that defiance of stay-at-home orders could reverse progress and bring the coronavirus surging back.

Tens of thousands of people packed the sand at Newport Beach in Orange County, where residents compared weekend crowds to the Fourth of July and lifeguards reminded people to stay apart if they were in groups of six or more.

Neighboring Huntington Beach also saw big gatherings, despite the closure of parking lots and metered parking restricted along Pacific Coast Highway. Temperatures were close to 90 degrees.

Robin Ford surveyed the crush of visitors with concern.

“Unless all these people are in one household, it does look like they are not social distancing,” Ford told the Orange County Register. “They could be spread out more.”

NY hospitals study heartburn drug as treatment for coronavirus

A major New York hospital network has given high doses of an over-the-counter heartburn drug to patients with COVID-19 to see if it works against the coronavirus.

The study of famotidine — the active ingredient in Pepcid — started April 7, and preliminary results could come in a few weeks, said Dr. Kevin Tracey, president of Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health, which runs 23 hospitals in the New York City area.

The patients are receiving the drug intravenously at doses about nine times higher than what people take orally for heartburn.

So far, 187 patients have been enrolled in the clinical trial, and Northwell eventually hopes to enroll 1,200, Tracey said.

Tracey and his colleagues got the idea to study famotidine after it was observed that some patients in China taking the drug fared better than patients not taking the drug.

Schumer calls on FDA to crack down on fake coronavirus tests

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to crack down on companies who are selling fake at-home coronavirus test kits online.

Schumer said at a press conference on Sunday that he is sending a letter to the FDA to increase policing of online tests, make public which tests have been approved by the FDA and issue cease and desist orders to every company found to be selling false tests.

Schumer warned that the spread of non-FDA approved at-home tests would make the recovery from coronavirus much longer, if people falsely believe that they do not have the virus, or that they have already had it.

Schools will be necessary for businesses to reopen, NY governor says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said schools are necessary for a large scale business reopening, adding “you couldn’t really get to a maximum phase two without opening schools.”

At a news conference Sunday, Cuomo outlined a phased reopening plan that described “phase two” as the opening of certain essential businesses.

Questions remain about whether the state can reopen for the rest of the school year, adding that many local districts are talking about summer school to make up for some lost time.

“Remote learning is great in concept, we had to jump into it with both feet, and we didn’t really have a chance to scale up for it,” Cuomo said.

“I’m not really comfortable getting too far ahead of ourselves,” he said, adding that he did not want to try to predict anything farther than two weeks away.

Several states reopening from shutdowns

Several states are reopening from coronavirus shutdowns this week, even as the number of people infected in the U.S. gets closer to 1 million.

Colorado, Minnesota and Montana plan to ease social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions. And starting Monday, Iowa will reopen elective surgeries and farmers markets while Tennessee restaurants can welcome customers at 50% capacity. Retail stores may reopen on the same guidelines Wednesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said.

Decisions to reopen go against a University of Washington model suggesting that no state should open their economies before May 1 — and many should wait much longer.

But many have already started.

Hawaii has relaxed beach restrictions, opening them up for visitors to fish and exercise but maintaining restrictions on loitering, Gov. David Ige said Saturday.

Texas allowed retail stores to begin making curbside sales Friday, as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allowed businesses like landscapers, plant nurseries and bike repair shops to reopen provided they follow social distancing.

Friday was also the day Alaska allowed many salons and restaurants to open, though they can’t exceed 25% capacity.

People relax on the Beach amid the Coronavirus pandemic in Tybee Island, Georgia on April 25, 2020.

CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

People relax on the Beach amid the Coronavirus pandemic in Tybee Island, Georgia on April 25, 2020.

Georgia allowed some businesses to reopen with some guidelines Friday, including places where clients and workers get close: barber shops and hair salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and bowling alleys.

In Oklahoma, salons, barbershops, spas and pet groomers took appointments Friday, and some state parks and outdoor recreation areas also reopened.

Mayors call for more caution

But some mayors are not ready to transition out of coronavirus measures.

“If you’re getting your nails done right now, please share these noon numbers with your manicurist #StayHomeGeorgia,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tweeted Saturday, along with a graphic with the case and death counts at the time.

Nearby in the city of Brookhaven, Mayor John Ernst said he would rather nonessential businesses wait until Georgia reaches a milestone like a 14-day downward trend in cases.

“Even the (business owners) who open up say, ‘I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing,” Ernst said Saturday. “(Reopening) needs to be an orderly process.”

While surrounding beaches opened for the weekend, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the county would not follow suit and urged residents to stay inside.

“We can’t let one weekend reverse a month of work that you have invested in,” he said.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced he is letting stay at home orders for the state expire this week, but urged residents to stay home “as much as possible.” While the state is transitioning to looser restrictions, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told CNN’s Jake Tapper that nothing is changing yet for the city.

“Stay in place and know that none of the locations that were closed during the order will open up,” Hancock said.

Fauci says testing should double

The U.S. should double its diagnostic testing for coronavirus over the next several weeks, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said Saturday.

It’s a goal he thinks the nation can reach, Fauci said.

There is more to curbing the virus than testing, he added, citing the need for identification, isolation and contact tracing.

But the nation needs to “have enough tests to respond to the outbreaks that will inevitably occur as you try and ease your way back into the different phases.”

“We’re getting better and better at it, as the weeks go by, but we are not in a situation where we say we’re exactly where we want to be with regard to testing,” he said Thursday. “I think we’re going to get there, but we’re not there yet.”

WHO warns recovery may not protect against 2nd infection

The U.S. coronavirus case count may be high, but the World Health Organization warned that it is too early to tell if people who have had the virus would be immune from a second infection.

The health agency said it is reviewing evidence on antibody responses to the novel coronavirus. A Friday scientific brief says “most” studies show that people who have “recovered from infection have antibodies to the virus.”

But as of Friday, no study has “evaluated whether the presence of antibodies to (the virus) confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus in humans,” the WHO brief says.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has now authorized three new coronavirus antibody tests, bringing the total number of FDA-authorized tests to seven.

The tests were approved under emergency-use authorizations, a lower regulatory standard used when the FDA believes a test’s benefits could outweigh any risks.

On Saturday, the CEO of a group helping lead the vaccine effort said it might be necessary to start manufacturing coronavirus vaccines even before they have been fully tested to see if they can protect people from infection.