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Coronavirus update: Blood plasma treatment declared safe, McDonald’s lays out rules for reopening

New claims for unemployment benefits are still in the millions

Photo (c) Tutye - Getty Images
Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 1,395,265 (1,372,855)

Total U.S. deaths: 84,313 (82,548 )

Total global cases: 4,387,438 (4,298,269)

Total global deaths: 298,392 (293,514)

Scientists give blood plasma treatments a green light

Another potential treatment for the coronavirus (COVID-19) appears to be headed for the fast track. Researchers at Mayo Clinic, Michigan State University, and Johns Hopkins University are reporting that their study shows administering blood plasma from recovered patients to those with the disease is safe.

The research team looked at the cases of 5,000 hospitalized patients in the U.S. who underwent the convalescent plasma treatment. It found the blood transfusions caused few serious side effects, and there wasn’t an excessive mortality rate.

The antibody treatment has been used in the past to treat other forms of virus. The successful results should lead to a Phase 2 clinical trial which will determine how effective the treatment is against COVID-19.

McDonald’s sets rules for re-opening

In an exclusive report, The Wall Street Journal cites a 59-page memo from McDonald’s to its franchisees which sets guidelines for reopening dining areas that have been closed since mid-March.

The company is asking owners to commit to cleaning bathrooms every half-hour and cleaning ordering kiosks after each use. Besides the extra labor costs, McDonald’s is asking for infrastructure investments, including devices to open bathroom doors with feet instead of hands.

The fast-food chain also wants restaurants to spend $310 on automatic towel dispensers and $718 for touchless sinks, according to the report.

Millions more unemployment claims

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits went down in the last week but remains in the millions. The Labor Department reported today that 2,981,000 people filed for benefits in the week ending May 9.

The previous week's level was revised up by 7,000 from 3,169,000 to 3,176,000. The four-week moving average of claims is 3,616,500, a decrease of 564,000 from the previous week's revised average. 

Since the coronavirus caused the shutdown of wide areas of the U.S. economy, more than 36 million people have filed claims for unemployment benefits

Baseball in July?

Sports leagues have been sidelined by the coronavirus, but Major League Baseball is actively discussing how to salvage part of its season. In a proposal to the players’ union, the league has suggested an 82-game season that would kick off in July.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the proposal involves a number of safety steps, including frequent testing of all personnel for the virus. Even so, league officials acknowledge that someone is likely to test positive at some point during the shortened season.

For there to be a baseball season starting in July, it’s likely agreement between the league and its players must come soon. Spring training was interrupted in early March and would need to resume before the players take the field.

Permanent virus

Here’s a sobering through: the coronavirus might never go away. That possibility comes from Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) health emergencies program.

At a media briefing in Geneva today, Ryan said there may be treatments, and even a vaccine, but COVID-19 may become one of the viruses that kill people each year.

HIV hasn't gone away," Ryan said. "I'm not comparing the two diseases, but I think it is important that we're realistic. I don't think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear." 

Around the nation

  • Massachusetts: CVS Health said it is opening 10 new drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites across the state tomorrow as part of its efforts to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The additional sites will utilize self-swab tests and are part of the first rollout of new CVS testing sites across the country.

  • Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s feud with state residents protesting her orders shutting down the state continues. Asked about the daily protests at the Michigan capital, Whitmer told interviewers that the protests are making it more likely that she will extend the shutdown order beyond May 28.

  • Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis has put out the welcome mat for professional sports teams that want to play and practice in Florida. Fans, however, would not be allowed in the stands. DeSantis has already declared sports to be “essential services” and has allowed WWE and UFC events to be staged in the state without fans.

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