Here’s what you need to know:
- Warnings of the dangers of ingesting disinfectants follow Trump’s remarks.
- Three states move ahead with reopenings despite misgivings.
- The pandemic upends how Muslim Americans celebrate Ramadan.
- Scientists are concerned about false positives in virus tests.
- Navy leaders recommend reinstating Capt. Crozier.
- Federal workers sent to a quarantine site lacked proper gear or training.
- The California National Guard has been deployed at nursing homes.
Warnings of the dangers of ingesting disinfectants follow Trump’s remarks.
In Maryland, so many callers flooded a health hotline with questions that the state’s Emergency Management Agency had to issue a warning that “under no circumstances” should any disinfectant be taken to treat the coronavirus. In Washington State, officials urged people not to consume laundry detergent capsules. Across the country on Friday, health professionals sounded the alarm.
Injecting bleach or highly concentrated rubbing alcohol “causes massive organ damage and the blood cells in the body to basically burst,” Dr. Diane P. Calello, the medical director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, said in an interview. “It can definitely be a fatal event.”
Even the makers of Clorox and Lysol pleaded with Americans not to inject or ingest their products.
The frantic reaction was prompted by President Trump’s suggestion on Thursday at a White House briefing that an “injection inside” the human body with a disinfectant like bleach or isopropyl alcohol could help combat the virus.
“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute,” Mr. Trump said after a presentation from William N. Bryan, an acting under secretary for science at the Department of Homeland Security, detailed the virus’s possible susceptibility to bleach and alcohol.
“One minute,” the president said. “And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that.”
Mr. Trump’s remarks caused an immediate uproar, and the White House spent much of Friday trying to walk them back. “Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines,” Kayleigh McEnany, the new White House press secretary, said in a statement criticizing the coverage of Thursday night’s briefing.
But the president later undermined her argument by insisting that his question to Mr. Bryan in fact had been an elaborate prank that he had engineered to trick reporters.
“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” Mr. Trump said on Friday to journalists gathered in the Oval Office.
Three states move ahead with reopenings despite misgivings.
Weeks after a deadly virus reordered daily life in America, closing businesses and forcing most people indoors, three states on Friday took tentative steps toward something resembling normalcy. But across Georgia, Alaska and Oklahoma, it was anything but business as usual.
A barber giving a trim in Atlanta, with a face mask and latex gloves in place, was dressed more like a surgeon preparing for an appendectomy. Beauty salons asked customers to sign legal waivers before they had their hair colored or curled. And Georgia officials recommended that salon owners perform temperature checks at their entrances.
The relaxed rules varied. Alaska allowed limited in-store shopping at retail stores. Oklahoma reopened its state parks. South Carolina, which was in front of the rest of the country in its effort to draw residents out of their homes, once again allowed access to public beaches.
And Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa on Friday said she would allow farmers’ markets to reopen and let doctors perform nonessential surgeries beginning on Monday.
See Which States Are Reopening and Which Are Still Shut Down
Some states are starting to lift restrictions put in place to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
The openings have triggered passionate criticism, some of it coming from residents and business owners and some from much higher places. Gov. Brian Kemp’s order for Georgia was criticized as premature this week by President Trump, who has generally expressed eagerness to open the American economy. In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms went on national television on Friday morning to urge her constituents to stay home. Many listened.
“Some people are scared to get out,” said Chris Edwards, a barber who welcomed his first customers in weeks. “I get it.”
The pandemic upends how Muslim Americans celebrate Ramadan.
In normal times, Hussam Ghazzi would likely be celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan with friends in New York City. But this year, he is observing the holiday alone in his Manhattan apartment, where he has been holed up for the past five weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The isolation has taken an emotional toll on Mr. Ghazzi, 35, but he found some solace on Friday night when he logged on to a friend’s virtual Iftar, the breaking of the fast at sunset, not long after city residents clapped en masse to thank health care workers.
“Even though we were in different time zones, it gave us an opportunity to all be together,” he said.
Like so many other facets of everyday life, the coronavirus pandemic has upended the rituals and traditions of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. With mosques closed, imams reading the Quran online, and families practicing social distancing at home, the holiday, which began on Thursday night, is looking profoundly different across the globe.
In Saudi Arabia, Islam’s most sacred sites were largely deserted as the holy month started, but some Muslims in countries like Indonesia and Egypt were resisting in ways that could spread the coronavirus.
Across the United States, Ramadan has been met with innovation and generosity at a time when many are struggling with loneliness, economic hardship and the loss of loved ones. Some Muslim organizations and mosques are organizing drive-through fast-breaking meal delivery programs. Many members of the faith who work as front-line health care workers are fasting while tending to the sick and dying.
Even during outbreaks that have taken a steep toll on municipal life, cities with large Muslim populations are stepping up to help the faithful observe the holiday during lockdowns. The mayor of Minneapolis issued a noise permit to allow the call to prayer to be publicly broadcast five times a day during Ramadan, a historic first for an American city.
New York City, home to 22 percent of the American Muslim population, will distribute more than 500,000 halal meals during the holy month. “One of Ramadan’s most noble callings is to feed the hungry,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a news conference on Thursday. “It’s a crucial part of how the holiday is celebrated, to remember to be there for those in need, and that is now harder than ever.”
Scientists are concerned about false positives in virus tests.
Tests that detect antibodies to the new coronavirus are seen as vital to reopening the country and getting the economy moving again. But public health officials have raised urgent concerns over the tests’ quality.
A team of more than 50 scientists compared 14 such tests and posted their results online on Friday.
The news wasn’t good: Only one of the tests delivered no false positives — and just two others did well 99 percent of the time. And even those three tests fell short in detecting existing antibodies in infected people, finding them just 90 percent of the time, at best.
The false-positive metric is particularly crucial, because people may believe themselves immune to the virus when they are not and put themselves in danger.
“Those numbers are just unacceptable,” said Scott Hensley, a microbiologist at the University of Pennsylvania.
Four of the tests produced false-positive rates ranging from 11 to 16 percent, and many of the rest hovered around 5 percent. “If your kit has 14 percent false positive,” Dr. Hensley said, “it’s useless.”
Navy leaders recommend reinstating Capt. Crozier.
Capt. Brett E. Crozier should be restored to command of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, the Navy’s top officials recommended on Friday.
But Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, who was briefed on the recommendations, has asked for more time to consider whether he will reinstate the captain of the nuclear-powered carrier.
Mr. Esper received the recommendation that Captain Crozier be reinstated from the chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael M. Gilday, and the acting Navy Secretary, James McPherson, on Friday.
Mr. Esper’s decision to hold up the investigation has surprised Navy officials, who believed that the defense secretary would leave the process in the hands of the military chain of command.
A reinstatement of Captain Crozier would be a stunning turnaround in a story that has seized the attention of the Navy, the overall military and even a nation grappling with the coronavirus. From the moment that his letter pleading for help from Navy officials first became public, Captain Crozier has taken on the role of an unlikely hero, willing to risk his career for the sake of his sailors.
Federal workers sent to a quarantine site lacked proper gear or training.
The report validated the central claim of a government whistle-blower who raised concerns about the employees, who were dispatched in January to help care for Americans repatriated from Wuhan, China. The report found that procedures to protect the employees “temporarily broke down” at March Air Reserve Base, but it rejected a second allegation of the same lapses at Travis Air Force Base, saying those procedures had been corrected.
“In this unprecedented, dynamic, and evolving situation, the mission command and control structure during the March deployment temporarily broke down,” the general counsel at the Department of Health and Human Services wrote, according to a summary of the report obtained by The New York Times.
“Anecdotal evidence” of breaches of protective equipment protocol at Travis were “the result of individual mistakes,” the report said, not a failure on the part of the agencies handling the effort.
“As we said at the time a complaint was originally issued, H.H.S. takes such matters seriously, and upon learning concerns had been raised, the department immediately initiated an investigation led by our Office of the General Counsel,” said Caitlin B. Oakley, a deputy assistant secretary and a national spokeswoman for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. “The investigation concluded that during the early days of what was an unprecedented repatriation of U.S. citizens from Wuhan, China, a rapidly evolving response meant that uniform infection-control and infection-prevention measures were not initially in place at March Air Reserve Base when repatriated Americans arrived on January 29.”
Ms. Oakley noted, as did the investigation, that within 12 hours of the arrival, the department decided to dispatch a separate incident management team to the base; that team began providing guidance and prevention measures once they were in place after arriving January 31.
The general counsel cited disarray that attended the repatriation as a key factor in the breakdown, including a last-minute change of plans for where to land a plane carrying evacuees. At March Air Reserve Base, the investigation found, there was a failure to establish clear instructions for the use of protective medical equipment, and federal officials were forced to use equipment from Riverside County because of a shortage.
And even though the employees had potentially been exposed to the virus, they subsequently traveled from March to Travis Air Force Base and other military installations on commercial airlines less than five days after first interacting with evacuees, the investigation found. The summary said none of the evacuees or employees tested positive for Covid-19.
The California National Guard has been deployed at nursing homes.
California is taking additional steps to address the outbreak of the coronavirus in nursing homes, which have been hit particularly hard.
In Los Angeles County, the public health department issued an order on Friday calling for all congregate living facilities — which includes nursing homes — to restrict visitors, end communal dining and require staff to wear surgical masks. Residents must wear face coverings.
And across the state, members of the California National Guard, including military medics and nurses, were deployed at senior nursing facilities this week.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference on Friday that there had been at least one coronavirus patient in 522 nursing facilities across the state. The National Guard was deployed, he said, “to help support the efforts to isolate, conduct tests and to make sure that we’re sharing best practices and protocols within the system.”
According to The Los Angeles Times, 40 percent of the more than 800 deaths in Los Angeles County have been at such facilities. The governor said more than 2,700 patients and staff members statewide currently have the coronavirus.
Advisers urge Trump to skip daily briefings.
President Trump’s advisers are trying to get him to agree to a different structure for the daily coronavirus briefings that have become both a source of comfort to, and a source of self-destruction for, the president.
The conversations had been going on for some time, but came to a head after Thursday’s briefing, during which Mr. Trump mused aloud about whether scientists could explore the possibility of injecting people with disinfectant to ward off the virus’s effects. Doing so would be toxic and possibly deadly.
The hope is to either restrict the number of times Mr. Trump appears at the briefing, or to have him leave without taking questions, according to a person familiar with the discussions, which were first reported by Axios.
With a deficit projected to hit $3.7 trillion, Trump signs the aid package.
The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that it expects the federal budget deficit to hit $3.7 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, its largest size as a share of the economy since World War II.
In a new round of forecasts that officials cautioned were highly uncertain, the budget office said it expects the economy to shrink by 5.6 percent over the course of this year, ending 2020 with an unemployment rate of nearly 12 percent.
It forecasts a slow climb back from the damage the virus caused the economy and the federal budget. It projects growth of 2.8 percent in 2021 — nowhere close to the sharp rebound that some Trump administration officials have said they expect — and a budget deficit of more than $2.1 trillion for the 2021 fiscal year.
By the close of the 2020 fiscal year, which ends in September, the budget office now expects the size of the national debt to exceed the annual output of the economy.
The new projection from the budget office came as Mr. Trump signed the $484 billion relief bill into law on Friday, replenishing a fund for small businesses strapped by the lockdowns across the country and providing money for hospitals and increased testing.
In the past month, Congress has approved an astonishing $2.7 trillion in response to the pandemic. The latest measure contained no money for state governments, despite growing pleas from governors with state budgets stretched to the breaking point. Local governments have been overwhelmed with unemployment claims with more 26 million people losing their jobs in just five weeks.
The federal government is kicking in an extra $600 per beneficiary, but states must pay the bulk of unemployment benefits using trust funds. At least three states — California, New York and Ohio — are expected to deplete their trust funds within two weeks, with Massachusetts, Texas and Kentucky close behind. Once those funds run out, the states can borrow money from the federal government.
The F.D.A. warns against using hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.
The drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause dangerous abnormalities in heart rhythm in coronavirus patients and has resulted in some deaths, and should be used only in clinical trials or hospitals where patients can be closely monitored for heart problems, the Food and Drug Administration warned on Friday.
There is no proof that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine help coronavirus patients. They are approved to treat malaria and the autoimmune diseases lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. But reports from France and China suggesting a benefit sparked interest in the drugs, even though the reports lacked the scientific controls needed to determine whether the drugs actually worked.
Mr. Trump has advocated their use repeatedly, sometimes in combination with azithromycin, an antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections, not viral diseases. His repeated promotion of the use of the anti-malaria drugs is at odds with many of his top public health officials.
With no proven treatments for the coronavirus, many hospitals have been using hydroxychloroquine, sometimes with azithromycin, in the hope that they might help.
Scientists have urged that the drugs be tested in controlled clinical trials to find out definitively whether they can fight the virus or quell overreactions by the immune system that can become life-threatening. Studies are underway.
In some states, nursing homes are told to readmit the infected.
Covid-19 has killed more than 10,500 residents and staff members at nursing homes and long-term care facilities nationwide, nearly a quarter of deaths in the United States from the pandemic.
But states are increasingly turning to nursing homes to relieve the burden on hospitals by accepting infected patients who are considered stable. Although there is no evidence so far that the practice has allowed infections to spread in nursing homes, many fear that it is only a matter of time. One lawsuit in New Jersey claims that a nursing home worker who died was likely to have been sickened by a patient readmitted from a hospital.
At the outbreak’s center, New York established a strict new rule last month: Nursing homes must readmit residents sent to hospitals with the virus and accept new patients deemed “medically stable.” On Thursday, the governor said nursing homes in New York would be investigated to ensure that they were following strict rules that were put in place during the outbreak. Those rules include notifying residents and family members within 24 hours if a resident tests positive or dies because of the virus and readmitting those infected only if homes can provide an adequate level of care.
Hawaii is paying some tourists to go back home.
Hawaii has tried to discourage visitors during the coronavirus pandemic by requiring them to quarantine for 14 days.
Now, it is offering them a free return ticket home.
With a $25,000 grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the nonprofit Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii has begun helping to return travelers who don’t have the means to follow the mandatory 14-day quarantine, which involves paying for lodging and food delivery.
Since starting the program on April 6, the organization has sent 20 visitors to their airports of origin, including travelers from Guam, Los Angeles, Denver and Birmingham, Ala.
“The majority of travelers we have sent back, in my opinion, have been irresponsible in traveling to Hawaii during the Covid-19 pandemic when they know we are trying to keep Hawaii safe from the spread of this disease,” said Jessica Lani Rich, the president and chief executive of the group. The organization typically provides visitor support, such as translation assistance.
Ms. Rich said some of the visitors being returned home told her they had been taking advantage of low airfares to travel.
Though visitor arrivals are down nearly 99 percent, some residents have reported seeing tourists on beaches despite quarantine restrictions and stay-at-home orders. All beaches in Hawaii are closed, though people may cross them to swim, paddle or surf while observing social distancing.
“I see maybe one or two tourists a day,” said Ryan Houser, a restaurant’s “fish sommelier” and Waikiki resident.
“It’s a little offensive,” he added. “I would love to go to the beach every single day if I could, but I want to minimize the Covid-19 spread and make sure the curve stays flat.”
Deaths in N.Y. fell to 422, the lowest one-day figure since April 1.
Deaths from the virus continued their gradual descent, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday, with the state recording 422 more deaths, the smallest number since April 1. The official state death toll now stands at 16,162.
The three-day average of the number of virus patients in hospitals has fallen 11 days in a row. It has dropped by more than 3,000 since last Friday, and is down nearly 25 percent since its peak on April 13, according to statistics cited by the governor.
One area of concern remains the number of new hospital admissions. After dropping almost 35 percent from last Friday to Tuesday, it has fallen only another 5 percent since then.
“That’s basically a flat line, and that is troubling,” Mr. Cuomo said.
Hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the state to extend a moratorium on evictions and enact a rent freeze in New York City, Mr. Cuomo said the state was looking at those options.
And ahead of the June 23 primary, he directed the state Board of Elections to send every voter a postage-paid application for an absentee ballot. He said that polling places would remain open.
Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
A detailed county map shows the extent of the coronavirus outbreak, with tables of the number of cases by county.
A nation fights a pandemic: Take a look at some photos from the week.
Trump tells the Postal Service to raise prices if it wants a bailout.
Mr. Trump said on Friday that he would not authorize any financial assistance for the struggling United States Postal Service if it does not agree to enact dramatic price increases for shipping packages.
It is the latest threat in a long-running saga between Mr. Trump and the Postal Service that stems from his belief that Amazon and other online retailers have been profiting from low prices that have left it asking for a government bailout. The Postal Service has experienced a surge of demand with more Americans increasingly relying on delivery but is facing a $54 billion shortfall over the next decade, and projecting a $13 billion revenue shortfall this fiscal year because of the pandemic.
“The Postal Service is a joke because they’re handing out packages for Amazon and other internet companies, and every time they put out a package, they lose money on it,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
But later on Friday afternoon, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he “will never let our Post Office fail.” He said the Postal Service “has been mismanaged for years,” but said, “The people that work there are great, and we’re going to keep them happy, healthy, and well!”
The Postal Service had appealed to lawmakers this month for an $89 billion lifeline and warned that it could run out of money by the end of September without help.
New Mexico averts the worst of the virus for now despite challenges.
New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the country, has averted a soaring death toll despite heading into the crisis with a severe shortage of hospital beds, a rapidly aging population and high rates of underlying conditions like chronic liver disease.
Infectious disease specialists say New Mexico seems to have staved off disaster — for the moment, at least — with a death rate that is lower than neighboring states like Colorado and Oklahoma.
As state and local authorities grasp for strategies, New Mexico’s series of decisive moves early in the crisis reflect how even states with a dearth of resources can mount a dynamic response.
New Mexico’s measures included shutting down schools before most states, aggressively expanding social distancing, ramping up testing beyond levels achieved in richer states and using a pioneering telemedicine initiative to quickly train rural health workers for care.
“Hundreds of lives were saved because of what the state did early on, and that’s using conservative estimates,” said Helen Wearing, a mathematician specializing in disease ecology at the University of New Mexico.
Still, infectious disease specialists say it is far too early to declare victory. New Mexico is among states grappling with the outbreak on the Navajo Nation, which spreads over New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Epidemiologists also warn that the easing of distancing measures in neighboring states could provide a boost for the virus.
But after reporting a crucial slowing in the spread of the infection this week, New Mexico has some breathing space — something specialists couldn’t imagine even just a few weeks ago.
Remember when life felt normal? Readers share their pre-pandemic moments.
Our lives have been forever changed by the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have died. Millions in the United States alone have lost their jobs.
Though the outbreak was declared a pandemic just over a month ago, many of us are already feeling nostalgic for our lives before the virus went global. We asked you to send us photographs and videos that captured those moments of normalcy. We received nearly 700 submissions from all over the world — including from Milan; Mumbai, India; Paris; Wuhan, China; and places across the United States.
Nearly every submission expressed a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the time before the pandemic. Many also conveyed worry and a longing to feel a sense of safety and normalcy
Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Kim Barker, Alan Blinder, William J. Broad, Emily Cochrane, Patricia Cohen, Helene Cooper, Michael Cooper, John Eligon, Richard Fausset, Ben Fenwich, Jacey Fortin, Thomas Fuller, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, J. David Goodman, Denise Grady, Christine Hauser, Adam Liptak, Elaine Glusac, Maggie Haberman, Amy Harmon, Amy Julia Harris, Nicole Hong, Carl Hulse, Miriam Jordan, Dan Levin, Sarah Mervosh, Andy Newman, Alan Rappeport, Frances Robles, Rick Rojas, Simon Romero, Michael Rothfeld, Marc Santora, Eric Schmitt, Michael D. Shear, Eileen Sullivan and Jim Tankersley.