Coronavirus live updates: Parts of Georgia reopen Friday; US nears 50K deaths; Trump touts study on sunlight and humidity

Coronavirus live updates: Parts of Georgia reopen Friday; US nears 50K deaths; Trump touts study on sunlight and humidity

Some businesses in Georgia will reopen Friday, a day after the House approved the $484 billion coronavirus stimulus for small businesses and hospitals. Plans to reopen received backlash from the state's mayors, and President Donald Trump who said he disagreed with Gov. Brian Kemp's plans because the state's number of cases don't meet the threshold needed to reopen under the White House's guidelines.

Trump's comments late Thursday wondering about possibly treating COVID-19 with disinfectants, perhaps by injection, or by treating patients with "light inside the body" drew strong reaction.

Ramadan, Islam's holiest month, also begins Friday, but some are worried that social distancing may affect its traditions such as daytime fasting, overnight festivity and communal prayer.

A milestone will likely be reached Friday as the U.S. is expected to pass 50,000 deaths from the virus. The virus has killed more than 190,000 people globally, according to Johns Hopkins University data. More than 2.7 million confirmed cases have been reported, including over 869,000 in the U.S.

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House approves $484 billion stimulus redux

A popular small business loan program that ran out of money is getting a cash infusion. The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation that will pump $320 billion into the Paycheck Protection Program, which is designed to keep small businesses from shuttering and their workers from going on unemployment. The bill also provides about $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for testing and $60 billion for emergency disaster loans and grants. The Senate approved the bill Tuesday and President Donald Trump has said he will sign it.

– Michael Collins and Christal Hayes

Almost 14% of 3,000 New Yorkers test positive

Random testing of 3,000 New Yorkers revealed that 13.9% were infected with the coronavirus and developed an antibody, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday. Cuomo, who said the data was preliminary, said it’s thus likely that 2.7 million people in the state have been infected, with a death rate of 0.5%. The data was collected over two days in 19 counties and 40 localities across the state. Men tested positive at a higher rate than women, New York City residents at a higher rate, about 21%, than the rest of the state.

"These were people out and about," Cuomo said. "They were infected, they had the antibody and are now recovered."

– Joseph Spector

Ivy League schools turning down stimulus money

The nation’s most selective and richest universities are turning down millions in federal money meant to aid students whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus. They include Ivy League schools Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton in addition to Stanford.

The institutions were eligible to apply for aid after Congress earmarked about $13 billion to higher education with the goal of addressing the costs of online learning and for institutions to provide emergency aid to their students. However, President Donald Trump and others were critical of schools with billions in endowments seeking money when it could have been distributed to universities and students with greater need.

– Chris Quintana

Trump touts sunlight study's impact on coronavirus, but official urges caution

A federal study that indicates sunlight and humidity can weaken the coronavirus prompted President Donald Trump to float the idea of treating patients with "light inside the body."

The Department of Homeland Security study, which the the agency described as "emerging," found the lifespan of the virus on a surface or in the air could be significantly reduced by exposure to sunlight and humidity. But a top official with the department warned against Americans changing their behavior based on the preliminary findings.

"Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both on surfaces and in the air," said Bill Bryan, an undersecretary of science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security.

Bryan stressed that the findings were not so conclusive that Americans should abandon social distancing guidelines promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and enforced by state orders across the country.

Reaction:Twitter names Trump the 'Tide Pods' president after he suggests disinfectant injections

– John Fritze and David Jackson

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Unemployment claims continue to smash records

More than 26 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits over the past five weeks, a record-breaking number revealing the devastating toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the economy. About 4.4 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That would have been a record less than two months ago. Economists had estimated 4.5 million claims, lower than the roughly 5.2 million filed the week before, and down from the all-time high of 6.86 million applications filed in late March.

"Claims have declined over the past two weeks but remain at an extraordinarily high level,'' analysts for the research consultancy High Frequency Economics wrote.

– Charisse Jones

USDA inspector latest virus victim in meatpacking industry

A Chicago-based U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector tasked with ensuring food safety at meatpacking plants died Thursday after testing positive for COVID-19, a person who was on a call during which the federal agency confirmed the death told USA TODAY. It is the latest in a growing wave of coronavirus cases and deaths stemming from the meatpacking industry.

As of Thursday, there are more than 2,700 reported cases tied to meatpacking facilities at 60 plants in 23 states, and at least 17 reported worker deaths at eight plants in eight states, according to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, which is partnering with USA TODAY to cover agribusiness.

The identity of the employee has not been publicly released.

– Kyle Bagenstose, Grace Hauck and Sky Chadde

Contributing: The Associated Press


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