Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.
Trump leaves White House grounds for first time since March 28
U.S. President Donald Trump, cooped up in the White House for weeks due to the coronavirus lockdown, flew to Camp David, Maryland, on Friday for a weekend away at the presidential retreat. When his Marine One helicopter left the South Lawn, it was the first time Trump had left the White House grounds since March 28, when he visited Norfolk, Virginia, to see the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort set sail for New York harbor.
U.S. hospitals promise new safety measures to ease patient fears after coronavirus crush
U.S. hospitals, many past the peak coronavirus crush, are relying on plexiglass dividers, advance testing of patients and limited elevator traffic to convince people, especially those needing urgent care, that the facilities are safe. Hospitals put lucrative elective procedures and other nonessential operations on hold weeks ago as they geared up for the coronavirus onslaught.
U.S. court dismisses New York nurses’ plea for COVID-19 protection
A U.S. District Court on Friday dismissed a nurse association’s plea against New York state and two hospitals to provide safety equipment and adopt measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 among its members, asking the parties to reach an amicable agreement. Last month, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) sued the New York Department of Health, Montefiore Medical Center and the parent company of the Westchester Medical Center, saying the hospitals were ignoring requirements that healthcare workers each receive an N95 respirator mask daily, and that the health department was not enforcing it.
Americans begin to surface from isolation as states ease clamp-downs
Americans in about half of U.S. states, led by Texas and Georgia, began emerging on Friday from home confinement while California and New York held fast to business closures and other restrictions imposed in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Texas on Friday began a phased-in reopening of businesses shuttered more than a month ago, with restaurants, retail stores and malls allowed to open at 25% capacity. A second phase is planned for May 18 if infection rates continue to decline.
‘No $, no rent’ – protesters call for economic help at New York May Day demonstrations
Protesters in New York City staged a rolling demonstration from their cars to mark May Day on Friday, calling on the government to protect workers’ rights and provide aid to help people reeling economically from the effects of the coronavirus crisis. The caravan of cars rolled through a largely empty Times Square, honking their horns and displaying banners saying: ‘Cancel the Rent.’ New York has been the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.
California governor says coronavirus easing ‘days away’ as protesters throng beach
California is days away from announcing a meaningful loosening of its coronavirus-related restrictions, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday, as protesters sneaked on to closed beaches and crowded the lawn outside the state Capitol in Sacramento. Newsom hinted that restaurants would soon be allowed to re-open for table service with some restrictions, and promised additional relief as stay-at-home orders in place since March 19 wore on residents’ nerves and pocketbooks.
U.S. emergency approval broadens use of Gilead’s COVID-19 drug remdesivir
Gilead Science Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir was granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for COVID-19 on Friday, clearing the way for broader use of the drug in more hospitals around the United States. During a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House with President Donald Trump, Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O’Day called the move an important first step and said the company was donating 1.5 million vials of the drug to help patients.
Exclusive: U.S. coronavirus stimulus went to some healthcare providers facing criminal inquiries
Eager to bolster the healthcare system during the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. government last month sped $30 billion in stimulus payments to most healthcare providers that billed Medicare last year. That speed resulted in taxpayers’ money flowing to some companies and people facing civil or criminal fraud investigations, according to defense lawyers and others representing more than a dozen firms and people facing such inquiries.
U.S. House panel calls on Amazon’s Bezos to testify on third-party sellers
The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Friday called on Amazon.com < AMZN.O> founder Jeff Bezos to testify to the panel about allegations that the online retailer uses data from its own third-party sellers to create competing products. In a letter to Bezos signed by Democratic and Republican members of the panel, the lawmakers referred to an April 23 Wall Street Journal story about Amazon, saying, “If the reporting in the Wall Street Journal article is accurate, then statements Amazon made to the committee about the company’s business practices appear to be misleading, and possibly criminally false or perjurious.”
Trump now says he hopes U.S. coronavirus deaths less than 100,000
President Donald Trump on Friday seemingly increased his estimate of possible deaths in the United States from the coronavirus, telling a White House event he hopes for less than 100,000 fatalities, a higher upper limit than the 60,000 to 70,000 deaths he discussed on Monday. “Hopefully we’re going to come in below that 100,000 lives lost, which is a horrible number nevertheless,” Trump said.