Overnight Health Care: Trump calls decision on reopening US biggest of his life | Trump to convene council to advise | Health officials push back on May opening | States see virus cases rise | Global death toll passes 100KApril 10, 2020
BY PETER SULLIVAN AND JESSIE HELLMANN
Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care.
There are over 1.6 million cases of COVID-19 globally, including 486,500 in the U.S. The global death toll has passed 100,000 and is nearing 20,000 in the U.S.
President Trump plans to convene a council focused on reopening the economy, but health experts caution that May 1 is too soon for that to happen.
Trump calls decision on reopening US the biggest of his life
President Trump on Friday described the decision on when and how to reopen the country as the most difficult one he's had to make in his life, underscoring the careful line he is walking between concerns about the economy and public health during the coronavirus outbreak.
From Trump: "I don't know that I've had a bigger decision. But I'm going to surround myself with the greatest minds. Not only the greatest minds, but the greatest minds in numerous different businesses, including the business of politics and reason," he said.
"And we're going to make a decision, and hopefully it's going to be the right decision," he continued. "I will say this. I want to get it open as soon as we can."
What we don't know: Trump did not detail what metrics he would use to make that decision.
Trump will convene a council focused on reopening the country to help guide him
Trump teased the new group at a White House news briefing, saying he would dub it the "Opening Our Country Council." The members would be announced Tuesday, he said.
"We're also setting up a council of very, very great doctors and businesspeople," he said, saying the group's focus would be "beyond economic."
Trump suggested the group would be bipartisan and be diverse in terms of geography because of the way the coronavirus has impacted certain parts of the country differently.
Who's on it? The formation of the group was expected, with reported members including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, as well as private-sector figures.
A warning: "This is not the time to feel that since we have made such important advances in the sense of success of the mitigation that we need to be pulling back at all," said Dr. Anthony Fauci.
But... the surgeon general suggested that Trump's May target may be too soon
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Friday that most places in the United States would not be able to open up by May 1 amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Asked whether May 1 is a realistic timetable for reopening on Fox News, Adams said that "some places," where there is strong surveillance in place, would be able to consider reopening at the beginning of May but acknowledged that most of the country would not be in that category.
"There are places around the country that have seen consistently low levels and as we ramp up testing and can feel more confident that these places actually can do surveillance and can do public health follow-up, some places will be able to think about opening on May 1," Adams said.
"Most of the country will not, to be honest with you, but some will. That's how we'll reopen the country: place by place, bit by bit, based on the data," the surgeon general continued.
Adams isn't the only one expressing caution... Public health officials push back on May opening
Public health officials warn that opening too quickly risks a new surge of cases and deaths, which could be even worse for the nation's economic health.
Officials with the administration have also noted that the nation hasn't even hit the pandemic's peak, and that for some states, the worst is yet to come.
"As encouraging as [the data] are, we have not reached the peak," Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House's coronavirus response, said Friday.
Both Birx and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, the top two health officials on the White House coronavirus task force, have said it's unlikely the country will be able to reopen all at once given disparities in the number of cases across state lines.
One step that could get Americans out sooner... Fauci says administration discussing immunity cards for Americans
Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said it's possible that in the future Americans may carry documents to prove they are immune or not infected with the coronavirus.
"It's one of those things that we talk about when we want to make sure who the vulnerable people are and not," Fauci added. "This is something that's being discussed, I think it might actually have some merit."
Another grim milestone: Global coronavirus death toll passes 100,000
The confirmed global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 100,000 people, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The actual toll, however, could be much higher because of a lack of transparency about the data from China and other countries.
In the U.S. alone:
- More than 475,000 cases of coronavirus
- Nearly 18,000 people have died (but the actual death toll may be significantly higher due to testing shortages and the difficulty in confirming cause of death outside of hospitals.)
In the states...
States across country see rise in coronavirus cases
Roughly a dozen states faced their highest number of new daily cases of the coronavirus to date on Thursday, as the spread of COVID-19 amps up across the country.
The data, based on numbers from local health departments, shows an increase in cases in states in several regions of the country, from Massachusetts to Minnesota and from Mississippi to New Mexico.
One of those states, New Jersey, added almost 10,000 cases in just three days
New Jersey has reported close to 10,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in just three days, according to health data compiled on the state's website.
The state reported 3,326 new cases on April 7, 3,021 new cases on April 8, and 3,590 cases on April 9. As of Friday afternoon, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) reported there are more than 54,000 total cases of coronavirus in the state.
Florida governor mulls reopening schools
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Thursday signaled that there was still a possibility that Florida schools could reopen in May after being closed since March due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"We're going to look at the evidence and make a decision," DeSantis said of the possibility of children returning to schools in the state, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
"If it's safe, we want kids to be in school. ... Even if it's for a couple of weeks, we think there would be value in that," he continued.
CNN reported that DeSantis added that he didn't think anyone under 25 had died of the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four people between the ages of 15 and 24 and one person younger than 5 has died from the virus.
Cuomo calls on Trump to use DPA to ramp up coronavirus testing
At one point the focus in New York was mainly on ventilators. Now, as there are signs the curve is flattening there, the new emphasis is on getting enough testing to be able to start reopening the economy safely.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Friday called on President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to dramatically ramp up the production of testing kits and supplies that health experts say will be critical to reopening the economy.
Cuomo, during his daily press conference, said Trump should use the law to force manufacturers to make those items because private labs can't do it on their own.
"We need an unprecedented mobilization where the government can produce these tests in the millions," Cuomo said, adding that New York can only run several thousand tests a week.
Remember the DPA? There has been pressure on Trump to use that Korean War-era law for weeks, on items from ventilators to masks. He eventually did use it for those items, but tests could be the next major focus for efforts to get Trump to act.