An apparently coronavirus-free luxury cruise ship was ending its 15-week odyssey in a Spanish port Monday while at home the U.S. death toll rose by almost 2,000 and political leaders bickered over lockdowns, bailouts and protests.
In Washington, a deal appeared close to provide an additional $300 billion for small businesses crushed by the stay-at-home orders. The deal would also provide more funding for hospitals and for testing. In New York, public health officials planned to kick off the most extensive antibody testing campaign in the nation.
In Pennsylvania’s capital city of Harrisburg a protest was planned Monday by opponents of Gov. Tom Wolf’s restrictive stay-at-home order. Last week, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a bill that would reopen some businesses, but Wolf, a Democrat, has said he will veto it. Similar protests have been springing up across the nation in recent days as jobless numbers rise and patience thins.
The U.S. death toll surpassed 40,000 with more than 750,000 confirmed cases, according to John Hopkins University data. The number of worldwide cases was nearing 2.5 million with over 165,300 deaths.
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More of us may have had COVID-19 and didn’t know it
New research suggests that many people have had the coronavirus without symptoms, fueling hope that it will turn out to be much less lethal than feared. But without widespread antibody testing it would also make it difficult to know who around you may be contagious, complicating decisions about returning to work, school and normal life.
In the last week, reports of “silent infections” have come from a homeless shelter in Boston, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, pregnant women at a New York hospital, several European countries and California.
The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 25% of infected people might not have symptoms. Pentagon officials say it may be as high as 60% to 70% among military personnel.
New York state to begin mass antibody testing campaign
New York state will begin antibody testing thousands of residents this week to try and determine the breadth of the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday. Cuomo said a test was approved by the FDA and that testing will take place “in the most aggressive way in the nation.”
Antibody testing reflects how many people have been infected by the virus. Health experts hope the antibodies provide people with defenses against COVID-19. Cuomo said new cases, hospitalizations and intubations all appear to be receding in his state. The most recent daily death toll, 507, was down almost 10% from the previous day and represented the lowest total in more than two weeks.
“All indications are that we are on the descent,” he said of the outbreak. “That is in all the numbers.”
Deal near on money for small businesses, hospitals, testing
A deal with Democrats to replenish an emergency small-business loan program could be hammered out Monday and Congress could approve additional funding for the program this week, President Donald Trump said Sunday. The program designed to keep paychecks going out to workers amid the economic shutdown caused by coronavirus was paused Thursday after it burned through its initial $350 billion. Democrats have been holding out, demanding the bill include money for hospitals and testing.
“We have some very good negotiations going on right now,” Trump said Sunday.
– William Cummings
Ship wraps up 15-week cruise with no reported virus cases
Several horror stories have emerged in recent weeks from cruise ships struggling to find welcoming ports while battling sometimes deadly waves of coronavirus. Not so the Costa Deliziosa, whose passengers began disembarking in Barcelona on Monday after traveling the globe for 15 weeks while the new coronavirus spread on land. Owner Costa Crociere, an Italian company, says the ship has no cases of the COVID-19 virus on board. The boat sailed the last five weeks with virtually no human contact with the outside world. Hundreds of the boat’s 1,831 passengers, including 168 Spaniards, were expected to get off the boat in Spain and the rest were expected to do so in the next and last stop, in Genoa, Italy.
New York, Florida, Texas among states easing restrictions
Various social distancing orders across the United States have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus, but states are feeling increasing pressure from protesters and at times the White House to begin relaxing restrictions. Now, some are outlining their plans to do so. On Monday, Vermont contracting companies, garden-supply stores, small construction crews and small offices will be allowed to operate with certain restrictions.
“We’re not declaring victory because we’re not out of the woods yet,” Gov. Phil Scott said. “But we are seeing some daylight.”
This weekend, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey opened up their marinas, boatyards and boat launches for recreational use. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said all stores in the state will be able to operate retail-to-go beginning Friday. And Floridians began flocking to the ocean after Gov. Ron DeSantis gave the green light for reopening some beaches.
– Brent Hallenbeck, Burlington Free Press
When will a second wave hit, and what will it look like?
Before the first deadly phase of the COVID-19 pandemic has run its course, scientists are worried about the second wave of the disease.
COVID-19’s sweet spot could be the same as influenza, roughly October to May, with a peak between October and November, modeling suggests. If it does behave like influenza, it will move to the Southern hemisphere for winter there, then return to the Northern hemisphere for its cold months.
Until there’s a vaccine “it’s unfortunately not unlikely that we may see a second wave or even a third wave,” said Peter Marks, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, which oversees vaccines.
“I shudder to think of that, but I think we have to be realistic.”
– Elizabeth Weise
More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAY:
Walmart, Sam’s Club to require employees to wear face masks
Walmart and Sam’s Club will require employees to wear masks or other face coverings starting Monday to prevent the spread of the virus.
Shoppers also will be encouraged to wear face masks as part of the retailers’ updated COVID-19 response. The retail giant announced the changes in a letter sent to employees that was posted on Walmart.com late Friday.
Employees can bring their own masks if they meet certain guidelines or the retailers say they will provide them after employees pass the daily health screens and temperature checks, which were first announced March 31.
– Kelly Tyko
More coronavirus headlines for USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press