States across the US are either holding fast to stay-at-home orders or beginning to phase out the restrictions, with several orders already expiring.
In California, people showed up in droves to protest restrictions put in place to combat coronavirus, which has killed 66,385 people in the country and infected more than 1,100,000.
More than 1,000 people, many seen not wearing masks, demonstrated with signs and American flags Friday at the California state capitol building to protest Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay at home order, according to a statement from the California Highway Patrol. More than 30 were arrested for “disobeying a lawful order, demonstrating without a permit and resisting or delaying a police officer,” the statement said.
Further south, between 2,500 and 3,000 people gathered Friday at California’s Huntington Beach to protest Newsom’s closure of the state’s beaches, according to Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy. There were neither arrests nor injuries.
Elsewhere, residents of New York City and Washington DC, many of whom appeared to be observing social distancing rules, enjoyed warmer weather in parks and open spaces Saturday. And those in states including Pennsylvania and New Jersey were able to take advantage of some state parks, forest facilities and golf courses for the first time this spring.
New York and White House at odds over stimulus funding
New York City, which has been hit hard by the virus, will need stimulus funding to recover, said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Saturday.
“If we do not get stimulus funding, that makes us whole … we cannot be a part of this recovery because we will be laying people off just when you want to be hiring more and more people,” de Blasio said, adding that his city has a $7.4 billion deficit for just next year.
That morning, White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett said that another stimulus package for states and localities might not be necessary.
“I think right now because there’s been good news really that the opening up is starting to happen faster than we expected, appears to be doing so safely, then there is a chance that we won’t really need a phase four,” Hassett said on Fox News Saturday morning.
De Blasio called the comments “outrageous” and said “it really disgusts me.”
He said that Washington, not the states, is responsible for not providing testing early enough to prevent coronavirus take hold in the US.
Experts’ grave warnings as governments loosen restrictions
More than 30 states have begun easing some social distancing restrictions — ranging from simply opening state parks to allowing certain businesses to restart.
Some of those states have let stay-at-home orders expire, with caveats restricting what businesses can open and how. One such state, Georgia, still requires the elderly to stay home until June 12. Other states and counties will ease restrictions starting Monday.
Gyms and fitness centers will reopen in Arkansas on May 4, while hair salons will follow May 6. In Northern California’s Yuba and Sutter counties, restaurants, tattoo parlors and shopping malls will be allowed to open Monday, which will also be the first workday for many offices in Colorado, with operations limited to 50% capacity.
But the relief of life inching back to normal comes with warnings from experts that it could make the effects of the pandemic worse.
This week a model often cited by the White House upped its predictions for the US death toll by August, partially because of measures lifted prematurely.
And how deadly an “inevitable” second round of the virus will be depends on how prepared the United States is, the nation’s leading infectious disease doctor Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week.
Fauci has also warned that lifting measures prematurely could lead to a rebound of the virus that could put the US in the “same boat that we were a few weeks ago.”
Experimental drug approved
But there is hope the nation will be armed with a new tool for the predicted second wave.
The US Food and Drug Administration approved the experimental drug remdesivir as treatment for hospitalized patients with severe coronavirus, the agency said Friday.
This is the first authorized therapy for the virus in the country, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said.
“This is an important clinical advance that showed a statistically significant reduction in time to recovery for patients with Covid-19 and is the first authorized therapy for Covid-19.” Hahn said.
The drug was approved just days after researchers said it might help patients recover more quickly from the infection.
In an emergency-use authorization Friday, the agency said the benefits of using the drug outweighed the risks.