COVID-19 Daily Update: April 23, 2020

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Governor: Antibody survey shows wide exposure to virus in NY

More evidence is emerging that far more New Yorkers have had the coronavirus than the number confirmed by lab tests. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that a state survey of around 3,000 people found that 13.9% had antibodies suggesting they had been exposed to the virus. 

Cuomo cautioned that the data was preliminary. The sample of people tested was small and people were recruited for the study at shopping centers and grocery stores, which meant they were healthy enough to be out in public. But Cuomo said knowing how many people have antibodies could potentially help set policy on when to reopen parts of the state. More than 263,000 people in the state have tested positive for the virus.

Lawmakers, many in masks, debate mammoth new aid package

A nearly $500 billion measure helping businesses and hospitals cope with the coronavirus’ devastation is edging toward House passage. Many lawmakers were wearing face masks and scarfs as they met to consider the measure on Thursday. The package is headed toward certain, overwhelming approval later in the day. 

That would send the measure to President Donald Trump for his signature. The Senate approved the legislation Tuesday. But partisan divides remain over the legislation. Republicans complained Democrats had delayed the original version of bill, which included only money for small businesses. Democrats ended up winning more money for small businesses and hospitals.

Elizabeth Warren’s oldest brother dies from coronavirus

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said her oldest brother, Don Reed, died from coronavirus on Tuesday.

She said her brother was an Air Force veteran who spent five and half years off and on in combat in Vietnam.

“He was charming and funny, a natural leader,” she wrote on Twitter.

She said she is grateful for the nurses and hospital staff who took care of him.

DC’s high school ‘makers’ fire up 3D printers to create PPE

 A private school student in the nation’s capital wanted to find a way to pitch in and help address the suffering created by the coronavirus pandemic. So Georgetown Day School senior Jonah Docter-Loeb decided to tap into the online community of 3D printer enthusiasts. 

There, he found an open-source design for a welder’s mask-style face shield that he could print at home and provide to area hospitals whose supplies of protective equipment was running short. In less than a month, the project mushroomed into Print to Protect, a network of about 100 3D printers, mostly in individual homes. The project has printed 3,000 face shields and hopes to complete 10,000 in April.

A scuba diving group is making face masks out of recycled ocean plastic

In a win-win for sea animals and humans, a scuba diving group is turning plastic water bottles that once polluted oceans into face masks for people to protect themselves against the coronavirus.

The face masks are made by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), in partnership with Rash’R, a company that sells eco-friendly active wear. Each reusable mask costs $20.40 and comes with five replacement filters. The price reflects the cost it takes to make each mask, PADI says on its website.

The masks, currently available for pre-order, come in five different designs based on sea animals such as whale sharks, manta rays and great white sharks. There is even one made to fit children ages 4-10.

Rolling Stones release a song that ‘resonates’ these days

The Rolling Stones have unveiled a new song the band thinks is perfect for these coronavirus times. The legendary band released the four-minute slow-burning bluesy and harmonica-driven “Living in Ghost Town” on Thursday. 

The band explained that the song was one they were working on before the global lockdown and they decided to revisit it in isolation, thinking it “would resonate through the times that we’re living in right now.” The Stones’ recently joined forces remotely to perform “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” for the “One World: Together At Home,” concert.

New home sales plunge 15.4% in March as virus hits

U.S. new home sales plunged 15.4% in March as a winding down in the middle of the month due to the coronavirus began to rattle the housing market.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that sales of new single-family homes dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 627,000 last month after sales had fallen 4.6% in February.

The median price for a new home sold in March was $321,400, down 2.6% from a median price of $330,100 in February.

The Gap is running out of money and stopped paying rent

Gap Inc said its future is uncertain if it doesn’t get the help it needs to keep its business operational.

The company issued a dire warning in a regulatory filing Thursday that $1 billion in cash has evaporated from its accounts since February. Gap said it might have as little as $750 million in the bank as early as next week.

It’s taking action to preserve cash, including implementing furloughs of roughly 80,000 store employees, cutting executive pay and not paying April rent for its temporarily closed stores. The latter move is saving the Gap in $115 million in monthly expenses in North America.

Woods, Mickelson to stage TV match with Brady, Manning

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are ready for a made-for-TV rematch at a time when fans are craving live action.

And this time, they’ll have company.

Turner Sports says quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will join them for a two-on-two match sometime in May. Missing from the announcement were such details as when and where the match would be played, except that tournament organizers would work with government and health officials to meet safety and health standards.

Turner said all donations and fundraising from “The Match: Champions for Charity” would benefit relief efforts for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event will be televised on TNT, with social and digital content leading up and during the event available through Bleacher Report and House of Highlights.

Brussels love bus gives loud shoutout during pandemic times

Since last week, Brussels’ public bus company STIB-MIVB has been calling on people to send in voice messages — and an address. Then, the special bus goes out in the early evening in a big loop to spread all the messages and leave a trail of happiness.

The bus company has been inundated with requests, about 750 messages from the blowing of kisses to a request by a child for someone to become her godmother, spokeswoman An Van hamme said.

Public buses are continuing to run in Brussels, with passengers required to board and exit by the back door and adhere to social distancing while inside.

President, health experts differ on coronavirus’ Fall return chances

President Donald Trump on Wednesday played down the possibility that the coronavirus could be worse this winter despite medical experts’ warnings that COVID-19 could combine with the flu to make a more complicated return to the United States.

Trump, who has been pushing for states to begin reopening their economies, batted down notions that COVID-19 could return in large waves, as has happened in previous pandemics. 

“It’s not going to be what we’ve gone through, in any way, shape or form,” Trump said flatly.

He continued: “If it comes back, though, will be coming back in smaller doses that we can contain. … You could have some embers of corona … (but) we will not go through what we went through for the last two months.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said later in the same briefing: “We will have coronavirus in the fall. I am convinced of that.”

“Whether or not it’s going to be big or small is going to depend on our response,” Fauci said.

Trump: I ‘disagreed strongly’ with Georgia’s reopening plan

President Trump says he told Georgia’s governor that he “disagreed strongly” with his decision to reopen some nonessential businesses that had been shuttered to contain the coronavirus. Speaking at a White House briefing Wednesday evening, Trump said he told Gov. Brian Kemp that he had misgivings over the governor’s plan, but would not stand in his way. Trump says the Republican governor is doing “what he thinks is right.” Kemp’s decision has been questioned because the state has yet to show continuing progress with tracking and testing for the virus.

House expected to send 4th coronavirus aid bill to Trump

The House is reassembling to send President Trump a fourth bipartisan bill to help businesses crippled by the coronavirus. Anchoring the nearly $500 billion measure is a request by the administration to replenish a fund to help small- and medium-size businesses with payroll, rent and other expenses. Supporters are already warning that more money will be needed almost immediately for the business-backed Paycheck Protection Program. But battle lines are forming over the next measure amid growing demands to help out state and local governments, the Postal Service and first responders.

Banks: New $310B for small businesses likely already used up

Banking industry groups say the more than $300 billion set aside to replenish the emergency loan program for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic is likely already all spoken for.

The Senate has approved an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, but banking groups say the volume of applications already sent to the Small Business Administration makes it likely that much, if not all, the money allotted will go to those already in the queue.

Any new applicants would likely miss out on this funding round.

Tyson Foods idles largest pork plant as virus slams industry

Tyson Foods is suspending operations indefinitely at a large Iowa pork processing plant that was blamed for fueling a coronavirus outbreak in the community. The company warned Wednesday that its closing of the plant in Waterloo would be a blow to hog farmers and potentially disrupt the nation’s pork supply. Tyson kept the plant open in recent days over the objections of the mayor and other local officials. The plant employs 2,800 workers and can process about 19,500 hogs per day, almost 4% of the nation’s pork processing capacity. Several other meatpacking plants have temporarily closed due to coronavirus outbreaks.

VA medical facilities struggle to cope with coronavirus

The Department of Veterans Affairs is struggling with shortages of workers at its health care facilities as it cares for veterans infected with the novel coronavirus. The agency responsible for the health care of 9 million veterans is also facing shortages of the equipment necessary to protect employees from contracting the virus. That’s according to VA staff and internal documents obtained by The Associated Press. The documents show about 1,900 VA health care workers have become sick with the coronavirus, and 20 have died. Another 3,600 health care workers are quarantined and unable to work because they have been exposed.

California takes small step toward reopening amid outbreak

Gov. Gavin Newsom says California hospitals will resume scheduled surgeries. He called it the first significant change to the state’s stay-at-home order that has been in place for more than a month. The change covers surgeries that are not emergencies. Newsom said examples include procedures for tumors, heart valves and chronic disease. The change does not include purely cosmetic surgeries. He said state officials will be monitoring hospitals closely to make sure they are not overwhelmed. If there is a surge of coronavirus cases, the scheduled surgery ban could be put back in place.

Federal judge knocks down in-person California church services

A federal judge on Wednesday said he will deny a bid by three Southern California churches to hold in-person church services during the pandemic, saying that government’s emergency powers trump what in normal times would be fundamental constitutional rights.

U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal in Los Angeles said he will reject the temporary restraining order the churches sought against Gov. Gavin Newsom and other officials. They argued that the state’s stay-at-home orders violate the First Amendment right to freedom of religion and assembly.

Many churches have been holding online services. California officials on Friday said religious organizations can have drive-in services so long as congregants don’t have personal contact.

POLL:  Most Americans support stay-at-home orders

Americans remain overwhelmingly in favor of stay-at-home orders and other efforts to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, a new survey finds.

The Associated Press poll also finds that a majority of Americans say it won’t be safe to lift social distancing guidelines anytime soon.

Only 12% of Americans say the measures where they live go too far. About twice as many people, 26%, believe the limits don’t go far enough. The majority of Americans – 61% – feel the steps taken by government officials to prevent infections of COVID-19 in their area are about right.

About 8 in 10 Americans say they support measures that include requiring Americans to stay in their homes and limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer – numbers that have largely held steady over the past few weeks.

2 cats in NY become first US pets to test positive for virus

Two pet cats in New York state have tested positive for the coronavirus, marking the first confirmed cases in companion animals in the United States.  Two federal  agencies say the cats had mild respiratory illnesses, are expected to recover and are thought to have contracted the virus from people in their households or neighborhoods. Officials say that while it appears some animals can get the virus from people, there’s no indication the animals are transmitting it to human beings.

Home brewed beer on the rise due to COVID 19 

Something’s definitely brewing. In the wake of the new coronavirus outbreak, many Americans are engaging in an old-school craft to keep their spirits up: making their own beer. With many states implementing stay-at-home orders and many breweries shuttered, homebrewing has spiked. The head of a company that distributes beer and wine making supplies says the suds-making surge will continue as COVID-19 keeps battering the U.S. economy. David Stuart of LD Carlson says with fewer people working, home budgets tighter and folks having more time on their hands, he expects the brew-it-yourself industry will do well.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo’s son now has COVID 19

A third member of Chris Cuomo’s family has come down with the coronavirus. Three weeks ago, the CNN anchor announced he had the virus and last week, his wife Cristina got it. Now, their teenage son Mario is ill. Cristina Cuomo announced the news on Instagram; her husband spoke about it on the air. Both mom and dad say the son has relatively mild symptoms and they expect him to be OK. Most who get the coronavirus have relatively mild symptoms. But COVID-19 has also caused serious breathing problems – and has killed.

Bookmakers starved for action take bets on the NFL draft    

This year’s NFL draft would usually draw lots of attention from pigskin fans. But it will get more attention than usual from punters – and in this case, we don’t mean the players who boot the ball to the other team on fourth down. Because most sports have been idled because of COVID-19, the draft is expected to draw an unusual number of bettors – looking for any sports action they can find in these lean times. American sportsbooks say they expect this year’s draft to be the most bet on-ever, with one saying the industry will rake in $5 million in bets on what players get picked when – and by which teams. The draft runs from today until Saturday.   

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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