U.S. Coronavirus Blog: FDA Green Lights Drug; States Ease Rules

Megan VerHelst

This story on the new coronavirus is updated throughout the day with national news and developments from around our network of local Patches. Scroll down for links, helpful for day-to-day living and the most recent stories.

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FDA Allows Emergency Use Of Drug For Coronavirus

It's May 1, and as the United States watches April disappear in the rearview mirror, there's a little hope on the horizon. A drug that's helped those with the new coronavirus get better faster got the green light, and life for many Americans is finally returning to normal — well, somewhat. And that all depends on where you live.

U.S. regulators on Friday approved the emergency use of the experimental drug remdesivir, which has proved effective in fighting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The Food and Drug Administration gave the drug the go-ahead after preliminary results from a government-sponsored study showed that remdesivir, manufactured by California- based Gilead Sciences, shortened the time to recovery by 31 percent.

The study of 1,063 patients is the largest and most strict test of the drug and included a comparison group that received just usual care so remdesivir’s effects could be rigorously evaluated.

Remdesivir is designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material. (Gilead Sciences via AP)

See Which States Are Reopening and Which Are Still Shut Down: NYT

Most states, like many of us, are eager to find a shred of normalcy after weeks of social distancing meant to help mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus. Some states are more eager than others, though, as the first day of the new month marks the end of stay-at-home orders, business closures and other restrictions for some.

As the U.S. death total topped 60,000 Thursday, only time will tell if these states were a little too eager.

Governors in several states — including Alabama, Maine, Tennessee and Texas — allowed stay-at-home orders to expire Thursday night, paving the way for certain businesses to reopen. Iowa, North Dakota and Wyoming are also among states easing their rules.

Texas is expected to take one of the most expansive actions on Friday, allowing retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls to reopen and operate at 25 percent capacity.

In Alabama, the easing of restrictions comes under a new "safer-at-home" order that runs through May 15, replacing Gov. Kay Ivey's stay-at-home order that expired Thursday.

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People wait outside a WIN job center in Pearl, Mississippi. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

30 Million Have Sought Unemployment Aid

Thursday's unemployment report brings the total number of jobless to more than 30 million workers in the six weeks since the coronavirus began pummeling the U.S. economy and killing more than 61,000 people across the country.

More than one in six American workers have now filed for unemployment.

Economists have forecast that the unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20 percent. That would be the highest rate since it reached 25 percent during the Great Depression.

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The Surprising Popularity Of The Great Lockdown

Despite protests over stay-at-home orders, most Americans would rather stay put right now then venture out and risk exposure to coronavirus. While most aren't thrilled about having to stay home, most agree there's a need for it.

Several recent polls back this up, according to The Hill.

In a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 80 percent of respondents said stay-at-home orders are worth it. Only 17 percent of adults who responded to a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll think current guidelines are too restricting.

Finally, when asked by a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll whether it would be a good or bad idea to reopen businesses and schools, for example, only 19 percent of adults supported allowing restaurants to reopen. A meager 14 percent favored a return to school and just 8 percent were willing to endorse a return to large sporting events.

Beaches remain closed in Carlsbad, California. (Patch/Maggie Fusek)

Hundreds Of Protesters, Some Armed, Stream Into Michigan Capitol

Not everyone is so supportive of their state guidelines.

As Michigan lawmakers prepared to extend the state's stay-at-home order through May, hundreds of people — some of them armed and wearing bulletproof vests — brought their protests inside the state Capitol building Thursday.

Though guns are allowed in the Capitol, protesters were met by state police, who prohibited them from entering the chamber where lawmakers were deciding whether to extend Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency declaration.

According to reports, protesters chanted, "Let us in," while standing outside House chambers.

In a Friday morning tweet, President Donald Trump described the protesters who brought guns into the Michigan state capitol building as "very good people."

"The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire," Trump wrote. "These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal."

Protests aside, the Republican-led House rejected the measure to extend Michigan's emergency declaration by 28 days. As of Thursday, Michigan reported having more than 41,000 cases of the virus.

Protests outside the Michigan Capitol moved indoors Thursday. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Betsy DeVos Sued For Seizing Wages

A home health aid in New York is suing the U.S. Department of Education and department head, Betsy DeVos, for continuing to collect on her defaulted student loans during the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit comes a month after DeVos said she would halt collections, including wage garnishments and tax refund offsets on defaulted loans, a step to provide relief for those struggling during the outbreak.

Plaintiff Elizabeth Barber said her paycheck has been garnished several times over the past month, most recently on April 24, CNN Politics reported.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is being sued for collecting on defaulted student loans during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File

NYC Subway Closure Shows Grip Of Coronavirus

As May begins, 31 states are under some form of risky reopening. But for a glimpse of the hold the new coronavirus has taken, look to New York City.

New York City subways will stop running 24 hours a day, with the Metropolitan Transit Authority cutting a large chunk of late-night service, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.
This just doesn't happen in New York. But it's happening.

Subways won't run between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. starting Wednesday and continuing for the duration of the pandemic, the governor said. For a place such as New York, that's almost like banning cars in Detroit.

"This is going to be one of the most aggressive, creative, challenging endeavors the MTA has done," Cuomo said. "It's not that easy to stop train service. "

New York was one of two cities to offer 24-hour subway service — the other is Copenhagen — and one of few in the United States to provide continuous public transportation.

New York City subways will close for cleaning in the early hours. (Kathleen Culliton/Patch)

More Dreams Stolen: Little League World Series Canceled

This summer's Little League World Series, along with its 82 regional qualifying tournaments and numerous associated events, has been canceled due to the coronavirus crisis. It's the first time in its 74-year history that the event has been canceled.

All seven World Series events organized by the Little League — including the Little League Softball and intermediate, junior and senior league baseball and softball events — will not be held in 2020.

"This is a heartbreaking decision for everyone at Little League International, but more so for those millions of Little Leaguers who have dreamt of one day playing in one of our seven World Series events," Stephen D. Keener, Little League president and CEO, said in a statement Thursday.

All seven of the Little League International championship events have been canceled. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Fauci: Coronavirus Vaccine May Be Available By January

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, is optimistic that a coronavirus vaccine could be ready by the start of next year.

Asked by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie whether it is “in the realm of possibility” for hundreds of millions of vaccine doses to be ready by January — as the administration’s new Operation Warp Speed envisions — Fauci said, “I do.”

“We want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it's safe and it's effective,” he added. “I think that is doable if things fall in the right place."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walks to her office at the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Pelosi: Dems Want $1T For States In Next Aid Package

Democrats are likely to push for nearly $1 trillion for states and local governments in the next coronavirus relief package, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

The next package is also expected to include hundreds of billions of dollars more to help workers, businesses and families weather the crisis, The Hill reported, adding it's likely to approximate the massive size of the initial CARES Act passed in March.

"We're not going to be able to cover all of it, but to the extent that we can keep the states and localities sustainable, that's our goal," Pelosi told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this week said he is "open" to considering additional funds for state and local governments in a future coronavirus relief bill.

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From Across America

Illinois Gov. Doing His Best Donald Trump Impression

KONKOL COLUMN: Gov. J.B. Pritzker is starting to sound like President Donald Trump at those daily new coronavirus briefings that his social media fan club calls #SpritzersWithPritzker.

A Coronavirus Drug Seems To Work, So What's Next?

News that an experimental drug seems to be the first effective treatment for the new coronavirus has unleashed a flurry of interest from doctors and patients — and questions about how soon it might be available.

NASCAR To Resume Season In May

Seven races are planned in 10 days. Only essential personnel will be permitted to attend the events, and cloth face masks will be required.

Lawn Sign Project Honors Front-line Workers

Jennifer Leeper and Tory Mileti of Fairfield, Connecticut, teamed up in an effort to support essential workers and raise money for local nonprofits at the same time.

Maryland Boy Details School Struggle In Parody Song

Ilan Shterenberg 11, recorded a parody of "Hallelujah," in which he belts out lyrics about his struggles logging on to an online class.

New Jersey Teachers Sing To Stay Connected

Bridgewater-Raritan teachers, administrators sang for students and community during this time of distance learning due to the coronavirus.

Folks On Mission To Sew 100K Masks

The Mask Squad of Somerset County started with a Bridgewater mom and has since grown to unite neighbors sewing masks out of their homes.

Businessman And 'Hero Dad' Remembered

Douglas Burger, 55, was the owner of the popular Hammonasset Service Station. The beloved family man is remembered for his goodness.

Expecting Mama Bird Offers Coronavirus Respite

People from around the world are flocking to a Maryland man's YouTube channel to see a robin incubate her eggs.

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Patch Coronavirus Resources

Resources For Local Businesses Needing Help During CoronavirusCoronavirus Stimulus Ripoffs And Other ScamsThe Right Way To Wash Your HandsLatest Coronavirus Myths: Malaria Drug, Face Masks, Mail SafetyStay-At-Home Survival Guide In AmericaHere's How To Help People Impacted By CoronavirusHow Does The Coronavirus Test Work?How To Talk To Your Kids During Coronavirus12 Work-From-Home TipsCoronavirus Stimulus Tracker: See Where Your Payment Is

This article originally appeared on the Across America Patch