As a growing number of countries have begun to slowly reopen after their coronavirus shutdowns, as well as many U.S. states, a top world health official is warning against doing so without a robust system of testing and tracing of infected people's contacts, with the goal of detecting and stopping virus clusters before they get out of control. World Health Organization emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan said some reopening around the world is taking place without such a system, comparing is to, quote, "shutting your eyes and trying to drive through this blind." Some states in the U.S. have begun to hire and train contact tracers. As states are moving to reopen, the U.S. death toll had passed 80,000 as of last night, according to the Johns Hopkins University count.
President Trump declared in a Rose Garden press conference Monday (May 11th) that his administration has, quote, "met the moment" and "prevailed" on coronavirus testing, even as governors continue to ask the federal government to do more to increase the supply of tests. Trump said, as he has before, that everyone who wants a test can get one. AP cited officials as clarifying later that, quote, "everybody who needs a test can get a test." Meanwhile, a directive yesterday ordered both staff and visitors to the West Wing of the White House to wear masks, after two aides tested positive last week.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that parts of the state, which was hit hardest in the U.S. by the coronavirus, are ready to begin to reopen when his stay-at-home order expires on Friday, saying, "We are . . . on the other side of the mountain." The state has been broken down into 10 regions, and in order for a region to reopen, it will have to meet seven thresholds related to infection rate and hospital capacity. Three upstate regions already have met them. Under a phased reopening, they can begin limited construction, manufacturing and curbside retail. For New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak in the state,Mayor Bill de Blasio said restrictions likely won't ease until June, if progress on similar indicators continues.
In other developments:
Nursing Home Testing Advised: Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx recommended to governors yesterday that every nursing home resident and staffer be tested for the coronavirus in the next two weeks. Nursing homes have been affected particularly hard by the virus, with approximately one-third of U.S. deaths among nursing homes residents or workers.
CDC: NYC Deaths May Be Undercounted:A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention out yesterday said the number of New York City fatalities could be undercounted. It said that between March 11th and May 2nd, about 24,000 more people died in the city than would ordinarily be expected, about 5,300 more deaths blamed on the virus in the official count. That could be due to coronavirus deaths not being counted because they took place at home or without it known the person was infected. Also possibly contributing is people who didn't go to hospitals for unrelated serious conditions because of fear of getting the virus and because the facilities were so overwhelmed.
Russia Now Has Third-Most Cases:A surge in reported coronavirus cases on Monday has put Russia into third place in the world for most cases, behind the U.S., which has the most, and Spain. Russia yesterday reported 11,656 new cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing its total up to more than 221,000.
Musk Defies Shutdown Order:Tesla CEO Elon Musk defied local government shutdown orders Monday and restarted his factory in Fremont, California, which employs 10,000 workers. The Alameda County Public Health Department said it warned the company was in violation of the public health order and hoped Tesla would, quote, "comply without further enforcement measures" until a required site-specific plan is approved. The restart came two days after Tesla sued the county health department seeking to overturn its order.