The number of U.S. deaths from the coronavirus passed 40,000 on Sunday (April 19th) amid more than 755,000 cases, according to the count being kept by Johns Hopkins University. That milestone was reached as Harvard researchers warned that nationwide testing must increase to at least 500,000 people per day from the current 150,000 per day in order for the economy to reopen and be able to stay that way without spikes in cases forcing quarantine orders again. The U.S. currently doesn't have that testing capacity needed for reopening, as governors have repeatedly called on the federal government for more tests and for help with getting supplies, like swabs, to carry them out.President Trump said Sunday he'll use the Defense Production Act to compel an unnamed company to produce 20 million more testing swabs every month
Trump said Sunday that the administration and Congress are near an agreement on another aid package that will provide more funding for the Payment Protection Program loan program for small businesses that already ran out of its initial $250 million as it was swamped by applications. The new package would provide up to $300 billion for the program, and also providing funding for hospitals dealing with the pandemic and for coronavirus testing. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier in the day he believed a deal could be reached by late Sunday or early Monday.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that more than a dozen U.S. experts were working at the World Health Organization and giving the Trump administration information in December as the coronavirus spread in China. Trump last week said he was suspending U.S. funding for the WHO amid the pandemic, accusing it of mismanaging the response to the virus, covering up information to shield China, and failing to, quote, "share information in a timely and transparent fashion." But the Post said Trump administration officials helped guide WHO policy and worked to make sure the U.S. was informed of developments as soon as the international health organization learned about them. The WHO has faced wider questions and criticism over whether it waited too long to declare a global emergency and offered too much praise for China’s response.
In other developments:
Nearly 20 Percent of Deaths Associated with Nursing Homes:At least 7,000 people, or nearly 20 percent, of U.S. deaths from the coronavirus were associated with nursing homes, according to the New York Times, and experts believe the likely total is higher. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that at least 400 of the long-term care facilities across the U.S. have coronavirus infections, but NBC reports estimate it's almost 2,500 of them in 36 states, while the Times says it's at least 4,100. The coronavirus is more deadly in older people, especially those with underlying health conditions, and it's able to spread quickly in places like nursing homes because staffers go from room to room to help residents.
N.Y. to Begin 'Aggressive' Antibody Testing:Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday that "aggressive" coronavirus antibody testing will begin in New York this week after the Food and Drug Administration approved a test developed in the state. Antibody tests are meant to show if somebody was infected with the virus and developed antibodies to it. Cuomo said, "[W]e’re going to be rolling it out to do the largest survey of any state populated." Cuomo has repeatedly emphasized the importance of testing as a step toward reopening. The governor also said the daily number of deaths and hospitalizations continue to go down, and the state that's been the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic is, quote, "on the other side of the plateau," but he emphasized they can't ease off on containment measures yet, saying it could quickly go back up again.