The White House released a "blueprint" Monday (April 27th) for states to scale up their coronavirus testing in the coming week. The goal is for states to have enough tests for at least 2.6 percent of their populations each month, a threshold many states have already met, while areas that have been hit harder by the virus would be able to test at double that rate or higher. The administration has had problems with testing from the start, but officials said yesterday the issue is now getting samples from people who've been tested, either because guidelines on who can get tested are too strict, or there aren't enough health care workers to take the nasal swabs. Addressing the first issue, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded who's prioritized to get tested to include asymptomatic people in high-risk settings, such as nursing homes. The guidelines also include surveillance testing and programs to isolate those who test positive and identify people with whom they had contact.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Monday that he'll allow the state's stay-at-home order to expire on Thursday, the latest governor to starting easing restrictions. It will allow businesses like retail stores, malls, restaurants and theaters to reopen Friday, but with an occupancy limit of 25 percent. Libraries and museums will also be allowed to reopen, and Abbott said he expects barbershops, salons, gyms and bars to be able to open no later than mid-May. Meanwhile, in California, a frustrated Governor Gavin Newsom spoke out after photos came out over the weekend of people crowded onto the beaches in Ventura and Orange Counties. He said, "This virus doesn't take the weekends off."
Attorney General William Barryesterday ordered federal prosecutors across the country to look out for restrictions put in place by state and local governments because of the coronavirus that could be, quote, "violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens." He said if any are found, the Department of Justice may oppose them in federal court. Barr has said there's sufficient reason for stay-at-home guidelines, but warned there may be concern if they continue too long.
In other developments:
Antibody Tests Show Nearly 25 Percent Exposed in NYC: Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that random antibody tests in New York have expanded to 7,500 of them done, giving a better picture than the results out last week from a sample of 3,000 in showing who may have had the virus. It showed 14.9 percent testing positive for antibodies statewide, up from 13.9 from the previous sample, and in the epicenter of New York City, nearly one in four people, 24.7 percent, were positive for antibodies, up from 21 percent in the earlier testing.
Promising News on Potential Vaccine:Oxford University researchers have gotten promising news about a potential coronavirus vaccine they're working on. The New York Times reports that six rhesus macaque monkeys were exposed to a large amount of the virus before getting a single dose of the vaccine, and all are still healthy more than four weeks later. The same amount of the virus had previously sickened other monkeys in the lab. That doesn't prove that it will work the same way in humans, however.
NYC ER Doctor Commits Suicide:A doctor who headed the emergency department of a New York City hospital has committed suicide, after having worked amid the onslaught of coronavirus cases that flooded hospitals in the city. Dr. Lorna Breen, the 49-year-old medical director of the New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital in Manhattan, had contracted the virus herself, and then returned to work after recovering. Still, the hospital sent her home again, and her family brought her home to Virginia, which is where she took her life. Her father, Dr. Philip Breen, told the New York Times, "She tried to do her job, and it killed her."