Results released Thursday from random testing of New Yorkers showed the many more residents have contracted the coronavirus across the state. Meanwhile, the House passed legislation aimed at providing assistance to small businesses suffering from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and President Trump touted the potential of a new study indicating sunlight could slow the spread of COVID-19.
Starting Sunday, New York health officials randomly tested people at various stores and other locations across the state. The goal: Help understand who has built up immunity to the virus and where it is most prevalent. Extrapolated across the state’s population of almost 20 million people, the 13.9% rate of infection researchers found comes out to “about 2.7 million who have been infected,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
The $484 billion stimulus package approved Thursday drew overwhelming support from the House. More than 4.4 million Americans filed new unemployment claims last week alone, another in a string of weeks with huge new jobless numbers, the Labor Department reported.
The study results revealed at the White House task force pres conference indicates sunlight and humidity can weaken the coronavirus. Officials cautioned the findings were not so conclusive that Americans should abandon social distancing guidelines
Coronavirus has killed more than 190,000 people globally. More than 2.7 million confirmed cases have been reported, including over 867,000 in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University data. There are almost 50,000 deaths reported in the U.S.
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Almost 14% of 3,000 New Yorkers in sampling test positive
Random testing of 3,000 New Yorkers revealed that 13.9% were infected with the coronavirus and developed an antibody, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday. Cuomo, who said the data was preliminary, said it’s thus likely that 2.7 million people in the state have been infected, with a death rate of 0.5%. The data was collected over two days in 19 counties and 40 localities across the state. Men tested positive at a higher rate than women, New York City residents at a higher rate, about 21%, than the rest of the state.
“These were people out and about,” Cuomo said. “They were infected, they had the antibody and are now recovered.”
– Joseph Spector
House approves $484 billion stimulus redux
A popular small business loan program that ran out of money is getting a cash infusion. The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation that will pump $320 billion into the Paycheck Protection Program, which is designed to keep small businesses from shuttering and their workers from going on unemployment. The bill also provides about $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for testing and $60 billion for emergency disaster loans and grants. The Senate approved the bill Tuesday and President Donald Trump has said he will sign it.
– Michael Collins and Christal Hayes
Trump touts sunlight study’s impact on coronavirus, but official urges caution
A federal study that indicates sunlight and humidtiy can weaken the coronavirus prompted President Donald Trump to float the idea of treating patients with “light inside the body.”
The Department of Homeland Security study, which the the agency described as “emerging,” found the lifespan of the virus on a surface or in the air could be significantly reduced by exposure to sunlight and humidity. But a top official with the department warned against Americans changing their behavior based on the preliminary findings.
“Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both on surfaces and in the air,” said Bill Bryan, an undersecretary of science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security.
Bryan stressed that the findings were not so conclusive that Americans should abandon social distancing guidelines promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and enforced by state orders across the country.
– John Fritze and David Jackson
NFL draft puts sports back in spotlight
Remember when sports was a thing? Well, the pros take center stage for the first time in more than a month Thursday night as the National Football League kicked off its collegiate draft. Virtually, but still. Absent from the first round of the league’s annual “player selection meeting” will be the thousands of fans normally drawn to the site for the first round. The second and third rounds are set for Friday, and the final four rounds will be completed Saturday. The Cincinnati Bengals, as expected, took LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick.
Ivy League schools turning down stimulus money
The nation’s most selective and richest universities are turning down millions in federal money meant to aid students whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus. They include Ivy League schools Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton in addition to Stanford.
The institutions were eligible to apply for aid after Congress earmarked about $13 billion to higher education with the goal of addressing the costs of online learning and for institutions to provide emergency aid to their students. However, President Donald Trump and others were critical of schools with billions in endowments seeking money when it could have been distributed to universities and students with greater need.
– Chris Quintana
USDA inspector latest virus victim in meatpacking industry
A Chicago-based U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector tasked with ensuring food safety at meatpacking plants died Thursday after testing positive for COVID-19, a person who was on a call during which the federal agency confirmed the death told USA TODAY. It is the latest in a growing wave of coronavirus cases and deaths stemming from the meatpacking industry.
As of Thursday, there are more than 2,700 reported cases tied to meatpacking facilities at 60 plants in 23 states, and at least 17 reported worker deaths at eight plants in eight states, according to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, which is partnering with USA TODAY to cover agribusiness.
The identity of the employee has not been publicly released.
— Kyle Bagenstose, Grace Hauk and Sky Chadde
Stock market dips after early gains
Wall Street’s early Thursday rally faded as the jittery stock market continued to be buffeted by news related to the coronavirus pandemic. After initially shaking off reports of more than 4 million new unemployment claims, the S&P 500 flipped between gains and losses through the afternoon and ended the day down 1.51 points at 2,797.80.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 39.44 points, or 0.2%, to 23,515.26 after losing almost all of a 409-point gain. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.63 points to 8,494.75.
Many Georgia churches decline to reopen
Despite Gov. Brian Kemp’s announcement Monday that churches could reopen for services as long as social distancing guidelines are kept, many are opting to remain shuttered.
The Catholic Dioceses in Georgia said in a statement Thursday it is “not authorizing the return to congregating at churches or making our churches available for devotions” through May, citing the risk to priests.
The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church said it was advising churches not to gather through May 13, “as we do our best to do no harm.”
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Presiding Prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, issued a directive to more than 520 churches prohibiting gatherings for services Sunday, calling Kemp’s decision “unacceptable.”
— Lorenzo Reyes, Grace Hauck and Nicquel Terry Ellis
Brother of Elizabeth Warren dies from coronavirus
Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her oldest brother, Donald Reed Herring, has died after being infected with the coronavirus. Warren, D-Mass., tweeted that Herring, 86, a Vietnam veteran who joined the Air Force at 19, “was charming and funny, a natural leader.” The Boston Globe reported that Herring tested positive for the coronavirus about three weeks ago. He was taken to Norman Regional Hospital in Norman, Oklahoma, on April 15. He died six days later. Warren expressed gratitude to the nurses and other medical professionals who treated her brother.
“But it’s hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say ‘I love you’ one more time – and no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close,” she said. “I’ll miss you dearly my brother.”
– William Cummings
Cuomo shreds McConnell over ‘bankruptcy route’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comment suggesting the federal government decline to bail out states facing bankruptcy was “one of the really dumb ideas of all time,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. McConnell was referencing pleas from state and local governments to secure federal funding for their coronavirus responses.
“You want to see that market fall through the cellar?” Cuomo continued. “Let New York State declare bankruptcy. … You will see a collapse of this national economy, just dumb.”
Cuomo also dismissed as “ugly” McConnell’s description of the proposed federal funding as “Blue State bailouts” because many of the hardest-hit states are Democratic. Cuomo said New York contributed $116 billion more to the federal budget than it took out, compared to Kentucky, the state McConnell represents taking out $148 billion more than it contributed.
– Lorenzo Reyes
Illinois extends, modifies distancing order
Gov. J.B Pritzker on Thursday announced that a modified version of Illinois’ stay-at-home order will go into effect May 1 and continue through the month, saying deaths in the state are expected to plateau between late April and early May. The original order was set to expire next Thursday.
The modified order allows state parks to begin a phased re-opening; allows greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries to re-open as essential businesses; requires individuals to wear a face-covering or a mask when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance and more. Pritzker already canceled in-person classes for the rest of the school year.
For a list of the states rolling back social distancing restrictions, click here.
– Grace Hauck
North Carolina order extended through May 8
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday the state’s stay-at-home order will extend through May 8. The state would need to improve on a list of benchmarks in COVID-19 trends that Cooper has set to consider a phased reopening on May 9.
“It’s clear we are flattening the curve,” Cooper said, “but our state is not loosening restrictions yet.”
While most Republican legislators have supported Cooper’s decision to extend aggressive social distancing measures, the governor has faced mounting pressure to ease some restrictions on business, including protests.
— Elizabeth Anne Brown, Asheville Citizen Times
Unemployment claims continue to smash records
More than 26 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits over the past five weeks, a record-breaking number revealing the devastating toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the economy. About 4.4 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That would have been a record less than two months ago. Economists had estimated 4.5 million claims, lower than the roughly 5.2 million filed the week before, and down from the all-time high of 6.86 million applications filed in late March.
“Claims have declined over the past two weeks but remain at an extraordinarily high level,” analysts for the research consultancy High Frequency Economics wrote.
– Charisse Jones
Protesters say issue is economic, not political
Many protesters challenging restrictions in their states fiercely resist a growing narrative that they are aligned with or funded by national groups, gun rights organizations or entities supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection. The protests, focused on rolling back stay-at-home orders, snarled traffic in Michigan, blocking a hospital entrance. Thousands of cheering, flag-waving drivers cruised around Pennsylvania. Some demonstrations feature Trump campaign flags, but homemade signs – one in Tennessee encouraged Americans to “fear your government,” not the coronavirus – are more prevalent.
“I was listening to all these concerns, and I was sick of not doing anything about it,” said Madison Elmer, who organized a Wisconsin protest. “There are people suffering on both sides of this.”
– John Fritze, Joey Garrison and David Jackson
Ramadan traditions challenged by virus
Islam’s holiest month begins Friday, but social distancing concerns could alter Ramadan traditions for the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims. The month normally features daytime fasting, overnight festivity and communal prayer. Keeping the faithful healthy during the month poses a whole new challenge these days. The virus has already disrupted Christianity’s Holy Week, Passover, the Muslim hajj pilgrimage and other major religious events.
“Ramadan is coming, and people have nothing to eat,” said Afghan daily laborer Hamayoon, who goes by only one name. “The government must have some mercy on us and allow people to work at least half a day to be able to feed themselves.”
More scorn on Las Vegas mayor
Criticism continues to rain down on Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, and this time it’s coming from a powerful source. Goodman has been widely scorned for her desire to reopen casinos, hotels and restaurants amid the pandemic without a plan to stop spread of the virus.
Nevada’s most influential labor union Thursday condemned Goodman after she offered on national TV to have Las Vegas reopen as a “control group” to test how COVID-19 behaves when the shutdown ends.
“The Mayor of Las Vegas’ statements are outrageous considering essential frontline workers have been dealing with the consequences of this crisis firsthand,” Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline said in a statement.
— Ed Komenda, Reno Gazette Journal
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Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus updates: New York 14% positive; House OKs $484B stimulus