A day after Los Angeles became the nation's first major city to offer free coronavirus testing for all residents, including those with no symptoms, the state of California appears poised to follow with another bold move.
Rankled by the tens of thousands of people who disobeyed stay-at-home orders last weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom will close all beaches and state parks, according to a memo sent to police chiefs across the state on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said the federal government will not extend guidelines set to expire on Thursday as he hopes to "reopen" the country. And as the U.S. economy suffered its worst decline in a decade, economists estimate the Labor Department will report Thursday that 3.5 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week.
Roughly 61,000 Americans have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Worldwide, there are over 3.2 million confirmed cases – with more than 1 million in the U.S. – and more than 227,000 deaths.
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Memo: California Gov. Gavin Newsom set to close all beaches, state parks
California Gov. Gavin Newsom will order all beaches and state parks closed Friday after tens of thousands of people flocked to the seashore last weekend during a heat wave despite his stay-at-home order, according to a memo sent Wednesday evening to police chiefs around the state.
Eric Nuñez, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, said it was sent to give chiefs time to plan ahead of Newsom’s expected announcement Thursday.
A message to the governor’s office seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned on Wednesday night.
Newsom this week targeted beachgoers in Orange and Ventura counties, calling them an example of “what not to do” if the state wants to continue its progress fighting the coronavirus.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announces free testing for all residents
Hours after Los Angeles County reported its greatest surge in new coronavirus cases, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced free testing would be available for all residents in the city and county.
"While priority will still be given to those with symptoms, individuals without symptoms can also be tested," Garcetti said on Twitter, directing people to sign up at https://Coronavirus.LACity.org/Testing. He touted Los Angeles as the "first major city in America" to open free COVID-19 testing to all residents.
There were 1,541 new confirmed cases on Wednesday in Los Angeles County, nearly 1,000 more than on Tuesday, the county's public health department announced. Los Angeles' death toll of 1,056 as of Wednesday night is the highest of any city in the western United States.
– Steve Kiggins
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to talk COVID-19 response with Donald Trump
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy plans to meet with Donald Trump on Thursday to discuss the response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to officials and the White House.
The discussion between the Democratic governor and Republican president is likely to focus on federal funding for states as they deal with widespread job losses and how to deal with the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19, a senior Murphy official said.
Murphy, like other governors, has been vocal about what he views as the federal government's responsibility to aid states dealing with the virus.
– Dustin Racioppi, Bergen Record
Remdesivir sees positive trial results as possible coronavirus treatment
The first possible scientifically proven treatment for COVID-19 emerged Wednesday with early data from a global study finding patients given the experimental drug remdesivir recovered faster and may be less likely to die.
Early results released from the global study conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases found patients who received remdesivir had a 31% faster recovery time than those who received a placebo.
While not a "knock out," NIAID director Anthony Fauci said at an Oval Office meeting Wednesday, the study results were "a very important proof of concept."
Earlier Wednesday, pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences said remdesivir produced "similar improvement" in patients over a 10-day treatment plan compared with a five-day treatment plan.
– Elizabeth Weise and Nathan Bomey
Jared Kushner: Government's response to coronavirus 'great success story'
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner called the federal government's response to the coronavirus outbreak "a great success story” on Wednesday as cases topped 1 million and the death toll passed 60,000 in the United States.
Kushner, the president's son-in-law who has been serving on the White House coronavirus task force, doesn't often make public appearances. During an interview on Fox News on Wednesday, Kushner said, "I think that we've achieved all the different milestones that are needed. So the government, federal government, rose to the challenge and this is a great success story. I think that's really what needs to be told." He also claimed that by June "a lot of the country should be back to normal," and that by July, "the country's really rocking again."
Researchers at Harvard University recently concluded the U.S. would need to conduct 500,000 to 700,000 coronavirus tests a day to begin reopening safely. Last week the country averaged 210,000 daily tests, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
– Savannah Behrmann
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Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida will gradually begin to reopen May 4
Gov. Ron DeSantis outlined the first phase of his plan to reopen segments of Florida’s economy, saying Wednesday the first obstacle was to overcome “fear of the unknown, fear of the doom-and-gloom hysteria.”
Schools will remain in distance learning, elective surgeries can resume, restaurants can offer outdoor seating with six feet of social distance and indoor seating must be at 25% of normal capacity. Indoor retail businesses can operate at 25% indoor capacity. Visits to senior living facilities will remain prohibited and bars, gyms and personal service providers such as hair salons will remain closed.
The first phase will go into effect May 4, DeSantis said, but will exclude Miami-Dade, Broward and West Palm Beach counties. He urged everyone to continue observing social distancing, avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people and wearing face masks in situations when physical distance is difficult to achieve.
– Lorenzo Reyes
NYC docs see strokes in young people who had mild coronavirus symptoms
New York City doctors say the coronavirus is triggering a surge in strokes in younger patients, causing alarm among medical experts. Over a two-week period, Mount Sinai doctors reported five patients under the age of 50 who suffered large vessel strokes, according to a letter they published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
All five patients tested positive for COVID-19 but had very mild to no symptoms. Dr. J Mocco, director of the Cerebrovascular Center at Mount Sinai and one of the letter’s authors, said these stroke patients in New York were 15 years younger than the normal stroke population, had no risk factors and were statistically more likely to be male.
“That creates a big alarm,” Mocco said. “Our spider sense goes up to say that there’s something not right here.”
– Adrianna Rodriguez
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Contributing: The Associated Press