U.S. Coronavirus: No Small Business Help — Yet; Deaths Pass 40K

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Gus Saltonstall
·11 min read
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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 to day-to-day living and the most recent stories.

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With thousands of small-business owners across the country waiting for relief from the federal government, negotiations continue to drag on for a deal to add hundreds of billions of dollars to the Paycheck Protection Program. Some aren't willing to wait for assistance; Georgia's governor said Monday that businesses in his state can start reopening Friday and the following Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has amended the Senate schedule to add a meeting on the measure on Tuesday.

Senate Adds Tuesday Session In Effort To Pass Aid Package

"So, this is urgent, I have asked that the Senate meet again tomorrow in a new session that was not previously scheduled, and the Democratic leader has agreed to my request," McConnell said on the Senate floor Monday. "Colleagues, it is past time, past time, to get this done for the country."

As those talks continue, so do complaints by states about testing supplies, along with more protests popping up in a number of states over their stay-at-home orders.

Also continuing was the increase in coronavirus deaths in the United States, which passed 41,500 as of late Monday afternoon.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday he thought a deal could be reached soon to add $300 billion for the small-business rescue program. The new stimulus package also reportedly includes $50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing.

The additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses became necessary after the Small Business Administration reached the $349 billion lending limit approved in the last stimulus package.

The Federal Reserve lifted its lending restrictions on Wells Fargo to allow it to make more loans that fall under the Paycheck Protection Program.
The Federal Reserve lifted its restrictions on Wells Fargo over loans related to the Paycheck Protection Program. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes/File)

Nearly 1.7 million loans have already been approved, and thousands of small-business owners whose loans have not yet been processed are waiting for Congress to approve additional funding.

Mnuchin wasn't the only member of President Donald Trump's administration making news Sunday. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told CBS that health experts still aren't sure if being infected by the illness will protect those who recover.

"That's why these studies are going on with plasma and giving plasma to sick patients to really see if that antibody confers protective immunity and help to the individual who is sick, as well as really doing studies with vaccines and looking, seeing whether the antibodies that are produced are effective," Birx told CBS.

Birx emphasized that health experts weren't sure if getting the virus means immunity for a month, six months or many years.

A few hours after Birx's comments, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in his daily briefings that the state will start testing residents for the antibodies that show they have been infected by the coronavirus.

"We're going to do that in the most aggressive way in the nation," he said in the briefing. "The FDA has approved the state's antibody test. We're going to be rolling it out to do the largest survey of any state population that has been done."

NY To Start Antibody Testing For Earned Immunity To Coronavirus

Cuomo's announcement comes after the federal government loosened controls on testing, allowing states' public labs to do their own instead of relying on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus led to the deaths of 478 more New Yorkers on Sunday, Cuomo said during his Monday news briefing, noting that the number appears to be falling after peaking in the high 700s last week.

NY Coronavirus: Massive Cuts Possible For Schools, Hospitals

The number of new, daily coronavirus hospitalizations also fell to about 1,380 on Sunday — down from 1,915 on Friday and a high of over 3,400 earlier in April.

While confirmed cases continue to decrease in New York, the nation's leading health experts have identified Massachusetts as an area of concern.

The Bay State has the third-highest number of cases in the country, with the count standing at 38,077 on Sunday.

"We're still very much focused on Boston and across Massachusetts where the epidemic continues to spread," Birx said in her interview with CBS on Sunday.

MA Is Now A Coronavirus 'Hot Spot': Here's What That Means

This weekend was among the deadliest of the outbreak in Massachusetts, and there have now been more than 1,700 deaths across the state. The Boston Globe published 16 pages of death notices Sunday, painting a grim picture of the virus's impact in Massachusetts.

Harvard researchers told CNN on Monday that the country needs to conduct at least 500,000 coronavirus tests a day before it can successfully reopen the economy. The United States is currently doing about 150,000 daily.

Concerning tests, Trump said Sunday he planned to use the Defense Production Act again to help with the production of swabs needed to conduct the coronavirus tests.

White House To Hold Call With Governors On Testing Supplies

MD Gov, VA Gov Slam Trump For False Tests Tweets

"We also are going to be using and preparing to use the Defense Production Act to increase swab production in one U.S. facility by over 20 million additional swabs per month. We've had a little difficulty with one so, we'll call in — as we have in the past, as you know — we are calling in the Defense Production Act and we'll be getting swabs very easily," Trump said.

President Donald Trump holds a swab that could be used in coronavirus testing as he speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House.
President Donald Trump holds a swab that could be used in coronavirus testing. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Trump did not specify which company he would compel to make the swabs, but two people familiar with the decision told CNN that the company is Puritan Medical Products, which is based in Maine.

The president also took to Twitter on Monday to comment on the federal government's role in providing testing. Trump wrote it was "States, not the federal government, should be doing the testing — But we will work with the Governors and get it done."

Trump criticized Democrats in the tweet for calling for more testing.

Trump's tweet about testing comes the same day that Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland helped procure the state 500,000 COVID-19 testing kits from a South Korean company.

MD Buys 500K Coronavirus Tests From South Korea: Hogan

Meanwhile, protests over the ongoing shutdowns to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus continued Monday. Thousands of people gathered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to rally against the state's stay-at-home order.

Similar protests have taken place in recent days in Michigan, Maryland and Texas.

Among the protesters were numerous state senators and representatives, according to Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who was at the event. "Social distancing is encouraged, but not mandated," the event's description reads.

Protesters demonstrate at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, demanding that Gov. Tom Wolf reopen Pennsylvania's economy.
Protesters demonstrate at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, demanding that Gov. Tom Wolf reopen the state. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

As protesters gathered Monday in Pennsylvania, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top official on infectious diseases, warned that protests against governors' stay-at-home orders will only further delay the reopening of the economy.

"Clearly, this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics and the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus, but unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen," Fauci said on "Good Morning America."

Fauci's comments on the protests come three days after Trump signaled his support through a series of tweets for protesters holding demonstrations against their state's stay-at-home orders.

"As far as protesters, you know. I see protesters for all sorts of thing," Trump told reporters Sunday. "And I'm with everybody. I'm with everybody."

Despite Fauci urging against reopening the nation too soon, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that beginning Friday gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians and massage therapists can reopen statewide, following social distancing guidelines.

The establishments will be subject to specific restrictions to aid in social distancing and sanitation.

When Hair Salons, Dining Theaters, Churches Will Reopen

Kemp also said theaters, private social clubs and dine-in service at restaurants will be allowed to reopen on Monday, April 27.

The governor made the announcement on the reopenings despite the state still being under a shelter-in-place order until April 30.

Numbers: Latest U.S. Confirmed Cases And Death

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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