COVID-19 Daily Update: April 20, 2020

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Trump, Congress near deal on small business, hospital aid

The Trump administration and Congress are laboring toward an agreement on an aid package of more than $450 billion to boost a small-business loan program that has run out of money. 

The emerging deal would also add funds for hospitals and COVID-19 testing. The package is nearly double the $250 billion White House request of almost two weeks ago. 

President Donald Trump offered offering optimistic assessments Sunday that a deal could be reached Monday. But it’s not clear that will happen. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he is hopeful of a deal that could pass Congress quickly and get the small business payroll program back up by midweek.

NYC nixes June events, including 3 major parades

New York City won’t allow public events in June, including three of the city’s major annual celebrations: the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, the Celebrate Israel parade, and the Pride parade on its 50th anniversary. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that the events would be canceled or at least postponed. 

He says it’s a painful but necessary step as the city fights the coronavirus. Meanwhile, the mayor says hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers would need to be tested for the coronavirus daily before city officials could start to loosen restrictions. 

The need for more testing comes as the daily COVID-19 death toll in New York state appeared to have reached a plateau.

Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams cancel summer tour

In a statement posted on social media Monday afternoon, the band said “Due to the ongoing global pandemic, it is no longer feasible for Bon Jovi to tour this summer. Given these difficult times, we have made the decision to cancel the tour entirely.

This will enable ticketholders to get refunds to help pay their bills or buy groceries. These are trying times. You’ve always been there for us and we’ll always be there for you. 

We look forward to seeing everyone again on tour when we can all safely be together. We will continue to send out news and updates on Bon Jovi touring in the weeks and months to come.”

Facebook will take down some, but not all, posts promoting anti-stay-at-home protests

Facebook will remove some posts on anti-stay-at-home protests being organized in California, New Jersey and Nebraska after consulting with officials in those states, a company spokesperson told CNN Monday.

Andy Stone said Facebook would take down posts created through the Facebook Events feature that promote events in California, New Jersey and Nebraska. Other Facebook posts, including Facebook groups about the protests, might not be removed.

Wolf to ease restrictions on construction, vehicle sales

Pennsylvania will ease some restrictions on building construction and vehicle sales, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday as hundreds of protesters defied a ban on mass gatherings to stage an anti-shutdown rally at the Capitol.

Wolf announced a first, tentative step toward reopening the state’s economy after weeks of social distancing to combat the new virus, which has killed more than 1,200 Pennsylvania residents and sickened more than 33,000.

Wolf said he is signing online-notary legislation that will pave the way for online vehicle sales. And limited building construction work may resume on May 8, he said.

Reports suggest many have had coronavirus with no symptoms

A flood of new research suggests that far more people have had the coronavirus without any symptoms, fueling hope that it will turn out to be much less lethal than originally feared.

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 25% of infected people might not have symptoms. The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John Hyten, thinks it may be as high as 60% to 70% among military personnel.

None of these numbers can be fully trusted because they’re based on flawed and inadequate testing, said Dr. Michael Mina of Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Collectively, though, they suggest “we have just been off the mark by huge, huge numbers” for estimating total infections, he said.

Midwives are reporting that they’re receiving an increase in inquiries about home births during the coronavirus pandemic

For pregnant women considering a home birth, the American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its guidelines with everything that should be in place to ensure the safety and well-being of both mother and baby.

Midwives are reporting that, during the pandemic, they’re receiving an increase in inquiries from moms about home births.

While recent studies have found pregnant women don’t have a higher risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19, some may be concerned about coming in contact with sick people inside a hospital.

The AAP also recommends that the best home birth candidates are carrying only one fetus and are at least 37 weeks pregnant.

A Wisconsin creamery is providing free milk using a ‘kindness cooler’

A Wisconsin creamery is providing free milk to community members struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sassy Cow Creamery, owned by brothers James and Robert Baerwolf, in Columbus, Wisconsin is keeping a refrigerator outside of their store fully stocked with milk and other dairy products.

The refrigerator, called the “Kindness Cooler,” is available to anyone in need of milk and will be fully stocked until the end of the pandemic.

Dairy farmers across the US are dumping thousands of gallons of milk everyday due to a significant decrease in demand from schools, restaurants and other food service providers. Regulations make it illegal for these farmers to donate or sell raw milk before it is pasteurized.

Shake Shack returns $10 million emergency loan to the US government

Shake Shack (SHAK) is returning a $10 million loan it received from the US government under an emergency program that was touted as a way to help small businesses pay workers and keep their operations running during the coronavirus crisis.

The burger chain was awarded the loan as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The $349 billion stimulus package, overseen by the Small Business Administration (SBA), ran out of funding last week.

Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti and chairman Danny Meyer revealed their decision to give back the funding in an open letter Monday, saying that the NYSE-listed company no longer needs the money because they are “fortunate to now have access to capital that others do not.” The company said in a filing Friday that it expects to be able to raise up to $75 million from investors by selling shares.

The family that owns the Minnesota Vikings has increased its donations to COVID-19-related causes to more than $5 million

New York and New Jersey residents Zygi, Mark and Lenny Wilf announced Monday that the bulk of the money has been earmarked to support health care workers, the elderly, food banks, social service organizations and Jewish philanthropic causes in New York, New Jersey, Minnesota and Israel.

Among the organizations receiving help are United Way Worldwide, the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, RWJBarnabas Health, Jewish Federations of North America, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, Second Harvest Heartland, Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund for Coronavirus and

Trump to invoke federal act to order testing swabs 

President Donald Trump says he will use the Defense Production Act to increase manufacturing of swabs used to test for the coronavirus.

Many governors have for weeks urged the White House to further evoke federal powers to increase private industry’s production of medical supplies as health officials work to slow the spread of the virus. Trump has generally been reluctant to do so.

But the president said during a briefing Sunday evening that he would use the measure to increase production of swabs and that he would soon announce that production reaching 10 million per month.

Trump says he’s close to a deal with Congress on virus aid

President Donald Trump says his administration and Congress are getting close to a deal on an aid package of up to $450 billion. The money would boost a small-business loan program that has run out of money and add funds for hospitals and COVID-19 testing. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he is hopeful of a deal that could pass Congress quickly and get the program back up by midweek. The proposed deal would add roughly $300 billion for the government’s Paycheck Protection Program.

White House imposes new guidelines on reporting nursing home cases

The Trump administration has announced new guidelines requiring nursing homes nationwide to report to patients, their families and the federal government when they have cases of coronavirus.

Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said during a Sunday evening White House press briefing that the new rules will mandate that nursing homes report cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She said the moves are aimed at increasing transparency about the spread of the virus at facilities where populations can be especially vulnerable to its effects.

There have been 7,121 deaths at long-term care facilities nationwide, according to an Associated Press tally.

More positive signs the tide is turning in New York 

The coronavirus death toll in New York dropped again, a sign that Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday means the state is “on the other side of the plateau” and that ongoing social distancing practices are working to stem the spread of the virus.

Cuomo said 507 people died on Saturday, down 33 from the previous day. Hospitalizations and other medical indicators are trending downward.

But Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio maintained their warnings that people in New York City and the rest of the state need to stay vigilant.

North Korean defectors, experts question zero virus claim

North Korea says it has zero coronavirus infections, but experts doubt it and say it’s likely the virus has already spread in the country. A former North Korean doctor and other defectors tell The Associated Press health workers didn’t have test kits when they dealt with past outbreaks and weren’t even asked to confirm or submit cases to the central government. Experts say the North’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is likely similar.

Thousands of LA city workers must take furlough

Thousands of Los Angeles city workers must take 26 furlough days – the equivalent of a 10% pay cut – over the course of the next fiscal year as the nation’s second-largest city deals with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis. Mayor Eric Garcetti made the announcement Sunday in his emotional State of the City address as he warned of an economic blow far worse than the 2008 recession, when city leaders laid off hundreds of workers and eliminated thousands of jobs. “Our city is under attack. Our daily life is unrecognizable,” Garcetti said.

‘A stroke of luck’ to be on global cruise during pandemic

Several cruise ships have become coronavirus traps after outbreaks were discovered on board. But one Italian cruise ship has been a virus-free bubble since it set sail in January. On Monday the Deliziosa will make its first port-of-call in 35 days when it docks in Barcelona, Spain. Spaniard Carlos Payá says being on board the boat during the pandemic was “a stroke of good luck.” The ship will then head to its final destination, Genoa, Italy. French authorities had rebuffed a request to disembark several hundred passengers at Marseilles.

Actor Idris Elba discusses recovering from coronavirus

Idris Elba says he and his wife had their lives “turned around” after contracting the coronavirus. The actor says getting COVID-19 was “definitely scary and unsettling and nervous.” The British-born movie and TV star tells The Associated Press his diagnosis led to “a complete upheaval” of his life even though his symptoms were mild, as are most of the cases of the disease. Elba says the pandemic is a reminder that “the world doesn’t tick on your time.” Now that Elba and his wife are over the disease, they are working with the U.N. to lessen the effects of COVID-19 on farmers and food producers in rural areas.

Thanks to the virus, man recovers his lost wedding band

The coronavirus pandemic turned out to be a stroke of good fortune for a New York man who lost his wedding ring three years ago. The man and his wife were dining at Coconuts restaurant in Fort Lauderdale when the ring slipped off his finger and through the restaurant’s wooden floorboards, seemingly lost forever to the tide. The restaurant manager decided to replace the patio deck recently since the eatery is only doing take-out during the pandemic. As the work was being done, Ryan Krivoy found a gold coin, $100 bills – and a silver wedding ring with the inscription, “Mike & Lisa 08-21-15.” The restaurant posted the image of the ring online – and the man’s wife called to reclaim the ring.  The money, including the value of the gold coin, was split among restaurant workers.

 Sports leagues seek return to play but with no guarantees

Sports fans hoping for a fast return to the games they love might need to temper their expectations. Although sports leagues talk publicly about their desire to return to competition before summer, those are best-case scenarios.

Over the past week, The Associated Press interviewed more than 20 policymakers, coaches and players across the globe for their assessments of the situation. They all conceded that sports may not restart for months, if at all this year. Most agree that what’s needed is a drastic ramp-up in testing, a vaccine or some type of improved treatment to make players feel safe to compete.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has suggested that sports could conceivably return with no fans in arenas and constant testing for the players, who would likely need to be quarantined in hotels for weeks or months. Not all players are on board.

What You Can Do to Keep Yourself and Your Family Healthy

  • Take everyday preventive actions to stay healthy.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

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