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Coronavirus update: California closing beaches, health officials test an antibody treatment

States are getting swamped by unemployment claims

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 1,043,595 (1,015,289)

Total U.S. deaths: 61,187 (58,529)

Total global cases: 3,224,079 (3,143,555)

Total global deaths: 228,908 (218,727)

California reportedly closing its beaches

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is said to be preparing an executive order that will close the state’s beaches to the public starting tomorrow. CNN reports that it has obtained a memo showing the governor’s office is reacting to the large crowds that hit the beach last weekend in defiance of social distancing guidelines.

"We wanted to give all of our members a heads up about this in order to provide time for you to plan for any situations you might expect as a result, knowing each community has its own dynamics," the memo to law enforcement says.

Antibody therapy getting a clinical trial in New York

While a clinical trial of the Gilead Science drug remdesivir has shown promising results and may lead to emergency approval by the government, there is no let-up in the search for other effective treatments for the coronavirus.

Montefiore Health System, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and NYU Langone have launched a new clinical trial to study the effectiveness of antibodies from recovered patients in treating those who are still sick.

Researchers say antibodies can fight infection and perhaps prevent reinfection in people. More importantly, they say it might help people who have the virus get well. The therapy, known as convalescent plasma therapy, has been deployed in viral outbreaks over the past century, and it has shown promise in reducing the severity of illness and improving survival rates.

Unemployment claims top 30 million

Since the economic shutdown in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) began in late March, more than 30 million Americans have filed claims for unemployment benefits. Another 3.8 million people filed first-time claims over the last week -- still a huge number but significantly less than a couple of weeks ago.

The avalanche of claims in recent weeks has swamped state unemployment offices. Some states have reported system crashes because of the number of people thrown out of work by the coronavirus.

Johns Hopkins launches testing initiative

Johns Hopkins University, which maintains the COVID-19 case map that has become the official tracker of international cases, is now offering a new resource. The COVID-19 Testing Insights Initiative is described as a  one-stop resource hub that fills the void of publicly available information about COVID-19 testing data and offers critical insights, resources, and expert analysis about COVID-19 testing around the nation.

"Through the COVID-19 Testing Insights Initiative, Johns Hopkins will provide the comprehensive view of the testing landscape needed to guide effective policy decisions and shape our collective path to recovery," said Ron Daniels, the university’s president. "We are deeply grateful to our partners in academia and government who have helped launch this effort in record time.

Dairy farmers are dumping milk they can’t sell

There have been some meat shortages as pork and chicken processing plants have been forced to close because of outbreaks of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, dairy producers are drowning in milk they can’t sell.

Officials at Dykeman and Sons dairy farm in Fultonville, N.Y. told The Wall Street Journal that workers there dumped more than two-dozen truckloads of milk after a major cheese plant  supplying restaurants scaled down operations.

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), says the $125,000 cap on federal disaster assistance for dairy farmers needs to be raised. NMPF estimates a 58 percent decline in net 2020 profit for milk producers.

BP donates jet fuel to move critical supplies

BP has announced that it is donating three million gallons of jet fuel to FedEx Express charter flights and Alaska Airlines to support those carriers in their efforts to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) to COVID-19 hot spots in the U.S.

"Frontline medical providers depend on PPE to treat patients suffering from COVID-19 and to save lives,” said Susan Dio, chairman and president of BP America. "COVID-19 is a human crisis. People are suffering, and BP wants to help. We're pulling together our global resources to ensure first responders, health care workers and patients know that they're not alone."

BP is also providing a 50 cents a gallon discount on fuel purchased by first responders, doctors, nurses, and hospitals.

Around the nation

  • Pennsylvania: The Wistar Institute has announced that it is testing a coronavirus vaccine on human volunteers at Penn Medicine, the second coronavirus vaccine to enter a phase one clinical study in the U.S. The phase one trial aims to test the safety and initial immunogenicity of the vaccine.

  • Kansas: Gov. Laura Kelly plans to address her state this evening to announce her plan for lifting the stay-at-home order that has been in place since the end of March. The plan is expected to place limits on mass gatherings and provide detailed guidance to Kansas counties.

  • Texas: The state is preparing to reopen businesses, but Haliburton, the Houston-based oil services giant, is closing two more facilities. It says low oil prices have reduced demand for its services.

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