Trump unveils new federal guidelines for states to re-open economy and society
The United States broke the record for highest number of novel coronavirus-related deaths with a whopping 4,591 deaths in a single day on Friday, April 17, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
The new record — which reflects deaths recorded on Thursday, April 16 — beats the prior record of 2,569 deaths in one day on the previous day, Wednesday, April 15.
That brings the total COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. to 34,180 with a total number of cases reaching 679,374 as of press time.
But despite the alarming increases in positive cases and deaths, the Trump administration has pressured states to consider lifting safer-at-home measures and reopening their economies.
The local, state and national emergencies that imposed strict social and economic barriers to prevent the spread of the virus have upended the lives of everyday Americans and businesses everywhere, as reported in the Asian Journal.
In turn, this has negatively affected non-essential businesses as well as non-essential workers who aren’t able to work from home. Though the rollout of the economic stimulus checks this week has provided Americans with financial aid to cover income lost during safer-at-home measures, the pandemic has effectively dented the American economy.
President Donald Trump earlier this week claimed that he had full authority to “reopen the country” at his discretion, even going as far as creating a White House committee for the effort that includes 200 CEOs and business leaders.
On Wednesday, Trump walked back his statements after several governors, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, rebuffed the claim by announcing their own guidelines and roadmaps to reopen their states’ economies and societies.
Trump then unveiled on Thursday night a set of federal guidelines for governors to use to decide when they feel it’s safe to phase out safer-at-home restrictions to mitigate further economic damage while minimizing the proliferation of the COVID-19 virus.
But medical and health care professionals have advised against prematurely lifting the emergency orders before understanding the scope of the pandemic in the U.S.
According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), only 1% of the U.S. population has been tested with about 120,000 tests performed every day.
Medical professionals say that millions of people will have to be tested every day to get a full picture of the pathogen’s impact in the U.S.
To that point, before beginning the first phase of the new federal guidelines, states or regions should have a “robust testing program in place for at-risk health care workers, including emerging antibody testing.”
“We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” Trump said on Thursday as an addendum to his previous call to governors to “call your own shots.”
Trump also acknowledged the massive protests across the country, mostly from supporters of the Trump base, and expressed sympathy for their concerns, saying “it’s been a tough process for people. You know, I told you this: There’s death and there’s problems in staying at home, too. It’s not just, ‘Isn’t it wonderful to stay at home?’ They’re suffering.”
LA County’s numbers soar as county expands free same-day testing
On Friday, April 17, 567 new positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, bringing the total number in Los Angeles County up to 11,391, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Public Health, announced during a press briefing on Friday.
This bumps the mortality rate in LA County to 4.3%. Among those who tested positively and had their races identified — 18% were of Asian descent.
The City of LA still has the most number of positive cases (5,093 to date), but other cities in the county now have positive cases in the triple digits: Glendale (310), Santa Clarita (188), Torrance (181), Inglewood (145), Carson (143), Palmdale (131), South Gate (123), Burbank (121), Downey (118), Santa Monica (107), West Hollywood (107) and Lancaster (102).
The LA County COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center announced on Friday, April 17 that the county would now provide free same-day testing for all county residents who show symptoms of the virus. (Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.)
Previously, only high-risk individuals — senior citizens and people with certain underlying health issues — who showed symptoms were allowed immediate testing, but the county has expanded that to include a wider scope of recipients.
Immigration status, insurance status, age and having any pre-existing health issue will not affect one’s eligibility for a COVID-19 test. (To schedule a test, visit the county’s COVID-19 testing resource.)
Priority testing will continue to be reserved for first responders, health care and medical personnel, grocery store employees and “critical government personnel.”