There is currently no White House press briefing scheduled for today, although that’s been the case on previous weekends so we could still hear from the president. Mike Pence is expected to attend a task force meeting at 4pm ET though.
New York will begin conducting antibody testing starting today for healthcare workers at four hospitals in NYC: Montefiore, Elmhurst, SUNY Downstate and Bellevue. Other essential workers including MTA employees, NYPD and state police will receive testing next week.
Cuomo ends today’s briefing by saying he’s going to go hiking with a mask later today.
“By the way I have a whole colledction of really beautiful masks that have been sent to me from people all across the country, I’m going to show you,” he says. “Mask art is a new boutique specialization that has developed. Mask art.”
“It’s been 56 long days,” Cuomo says. “Generations are called upon to deal with high levels of difficulty. We are called upon to deal with this crisis. Day 56. The 1918 pandemic went on for two years. We’re in day 56. World War I went on for four years. The Great Depression went on for four years. You want to talk about economic anxiety? You want to talk about people losing homes, not being able to feed themselves, people living in camps, people living in cars. World War II, six years. Vietnam War – that intensity, every night, every night to have to hear about the tragedies – went on for eight years.
“I get 56 days is a long time, and I get it’s the worst thing that we have experienced in modern history. I get that. But just a little perspective – not that it makes our situation any better, but it gives you a sense of perspective: Yes, in life, things happen. On an individual level and on a societal level. Things happen and you have to deal with it and it’s hard. But on the other hand it makes us who we are, you get shaped by your experiences. This is a terrible experience to go through. But we will manage it, we will handle it and will be the better for it.
“Fifty-six days, all this inconvenience. Think of it this way: what you’re doing is actually saving lives. That’s not rhetorical, that’s not overly dramatic. You are saving lives. What we have done has saved lives. Every expert, every expert – CDC, White House task force, Cornell University, Columbia University, McKinsey, that group that Bill Gates funded – every one of them projected that there would be at least 100,000 more serious infections in state of New York. One hundred thousand more serious infections, more hospitalizations. What happened? We did what we had to do, which was hard and is hard. Well, what did we accomplish? One hundred thousand fewer serious infections. That’s what’s 56 days of our relative living through hell has accomplished. And that is a hell of an accomplishment. So yes, it’s not for naught: 100,000 fewer infections.
“Life is better than death, even if it is not your own.”
Cuomo, stressing the need for more testing and federal assistance, says he is signing an executive order that will allow independent pharmacists to conduct diagnostic coronavirus tests. There are about 5,000 pharmacies in New York, Cuomo says.
He adds that he is expanding the scope of eligibility to get a coronavirus test in New York state.
“Hopefully we’ll get to the point where anyone who wants a test they can get a test,” he says. “That was the dream.”
“All evidence says we’re on the decline,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo says, noting that total hospitalizations are down again to around 1,100 – a level where they were three weeks ago.
However, the death toll increased slightly to 437 people in the last 24 hours – 418 in hospitals and 19 in nursing homes – bringing the overall total to 16,599 in the state to date.
“This is just terrible, terrible, horrific news,” he says.
WHO: ‘No evidence’ that those with Covid-19 antibodies are immune to second infection
In a move warning countries against issuing “immunity passports” or “risk-free certificates” to people who have been infected with Covid-19, the World Health Organization said that there is “no evidence” that those who have the illness’ antibodies cannot be infected again.
“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” WHO said this morning in a statement.
Authorities in countries such as Italy and Chile have made moves to identify people who have antibodies against the illness to potentially bring them back to the workforce and restart the economy.
WHO’s statement said research has shown that most people who have had Covid-19 develop antibodies to the virus, though it is unclear whether those antibodies translate to immunity from a second infection.
Trump leads Biden in Texas poll
Donald Trump has a slight edge over Joe Biden in Texas, according to a poll released last night. If the election was held today, Trump would beat Biden 49% to 44%, with 7% of voters saying they are undecided.
While Texas is not one of the key swing states and usually goes red in presidential elections, the state has the second highest number of voters in the electoral college behind California.
Though recent polls show Biden slightly leading Trump in key swing states Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton had a stronger lead over Trump in those states at the same point in the election in 2016.
Donald Trump retweeted this morning an advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from yesterday that says household cleaners “can cause problems when not used properly”.
It hasn’t even been 48 hours since Trump said during a press briefing that researchers should look into injecting disinfectant into the bodies of infected Covid-19 patients.
“I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute… Is there a way we can do something, by an injection inside or almost a cleaning? … So, that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me.”
Of course medical experts and even the manufacturers of disinfectants said in no circumstances should they consume or inject disinfectant into a human body.
Trump later backtracked on the comments, blaming the media for not seeing that he was being sarcastic.
“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” Trump told reporters at his press briefing yesterday.
It’s not entirely clear whether viewers of the press briefings took Trump’s comments as sarcasm. New York City’s Poison Control Center reported a doubling of calls regarding possible exposure to disinfectants Thursday night to Friday afternoon.
Happy Saturday, and welcome to our live coverage of Covid-19 developments.
Reports are out this morning that Donald Trump’s advisers are telling the president to pare back his appearance at the White House’s daily press briefings. His advisers are saying that his daily appearances are actually hurting him in the polls, where he is trailing Joe Biden ever so slightly.
“I told him it’s not helping him … Seniors are scared. And the spectacle of him fighting with the press isn’t what people want to see,” one adviser to the president told Axios.
Advisers are recommending that Trump leave the technical, day-to-day updates to members of the special taskforce and make appearances only when there are special announcements.
But it’s unclear whether Trump will heed this advice given his roots as a reality television personality who loves the cameras. Axios says that Trump reportedly defended his frequent appearances, saying that it gets good ratings.
“He’s going to want to get media attention and control his message,” Sam Nunberg, who briefly served on Trump’s campaign in 2016, told Politico. “He is the only one who thinks he can do this message best, and that’s just the reality. That’s how he works.”