President Trump on Thursday (April 16th) gave governors three-phase, non-mandatory guidelines to reopening the economy amid the coronavirus crisis in places that have strong testing and are seeing a decrease in cases, saying, "This is a gradual process." The guidelines acknowledge the same approach won't work everywhere, with tougher restrictions needing to remain in areas that have been harder hit. They also largely track plans governors have already been working on. In the first phase, it recommends strict social distancing for everyone in public, with gatherings of larger than 10 people avoided and nonessential travel discouraged. In the second phase, maximizing social distancing is encouraged and gatherings limited to 50 people, with travel resuming. The third phase would be a return to normalcy, with a focus on identifying and isolating new infections. Checkpoints for new cases, testing and surveillance over 14 days are recommended before moving from one phase to the next. After initially saying earlier this week that he has ultimate authority to decide when the country can reopen, Trump reversed his stance, telling the governors on a conference call yesterday, "You’re going to call your own shots. We’re going to be standing alongside of you."
Coronavirus patients with severe illness being treated with the antiviral drug remdesivir in a Chicago hospital are seeing rapid recovery from fever and respiratory symptoms, with nearly all of them discharged in less than a week,STAT News reported yesterday. Other trials of the drug are being run at other institutions, and if it's found to be safe and effective, remdesivir could become the first approved treatment against the disease.
Daily deaths in New York, the epicenter fo the U.S. outbreak, fell to 606 on Wednesday, the lowest in more than a week, but Governor Andrew Cuomo said, "That is still continuing at a really, really tragic rate." Cuomo also said the number of people hospitalized is at its lowest since April 6th, and intensive care admissions and intubations were also down. In the U.S. overall, the death toll is around 31,000 with 650,000 confirmed infections, and worldwide, 140,000 have been killed and 2.1 million infected, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
In other developments:
Seven Midwestern governors from both parties announced they will coordinate on reopening their economies, following similar pacts being announced earlier in the week among governors in the Northeast and on the West Coast. The Midwestern states are: Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.