White House considers scaling back daily briefings after disinfectant comments

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Image: Georgia
Jessica King sits under a dryer at Three-13 Salon, Spa and Boutique, during the phased reopening of businesses and restaurants from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in the state, in Marietta, Ga., on April 24, 2020.Bita Honarvar / Reuters

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The White House is considering scaling back President Donald Trump's daily briefings on the coronavirus pandemic as his aides and allies increasingly worry that his lengthy appearances may backfire politically.

Those concerns reached an inflection point when the president suggested on Thursday evening that people might be able to inject household cleaning items or disinfectants to deter the coronavirus, sparking immediate and universal backlash from the medical community.

The evaluation of Trump's briefings comes as the worldwide death toll for the coronavirus surpassed 200,000 on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Over 20,000 of those fatalities have been in the United Kingdom, the country's health minister said Saturday, making it the fifth nation to reach that grim milestone.In China, where the pandemic began, the government reported no new deaths for a 10th straight day.Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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This live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 26 for coronavirus news.

Coronavirus spreads in a New York nursing home forced to take recovering patients

The coronavirus patients began arriving the last week of March, transferred to the Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center under a New York state mandate requiring nursing homes to accept those recovering from COVID-19, even if they still might be contagious.

At the time, the Long Island nursing home had only one known resident who had contracted the virus, according to the facility’s president and CEO, Stuart Almer.

A month later, Gurwin is battling an outbreak that’s killed 24 residents — only three of whom were hospital transfers — and one staff member, who worked in housekeeping, Almer said. And the nursing home is still mandated to take in recovering hospital patients known to have the virus, potentially increasing its spread in the facility.

Three states hit hard by the pandemic — New York, New Jersey and California — have ordered nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to accept coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals. The policy, intended to help clear in-demand hospital beds for sicker patients, has prompted sharp criticism from the nursing home industry, staff members and concerned families, as well as some leading public health experts.

Read the full story here.

Elective surgeries set to resume, with complications and concerns

Austin Wall left work with severe pain and knew something was not right.

Wall, 42, a Caterpillar dealership parts coordinator in Irving, Texas, went to an urgent care clinic nearly a month ago and was quickly sent to the Medical City Hospital in Arlington -- his kidney stones were causing problems in his digestive system and his right kidney was functioning at a loss.

While his doctors were able to put a stent into his left kidney, they were unable to perform laser surgery to break up the large stone in his right one because of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 22 executive order postponing all surgeries that were not “immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient.”

As COVID-19 has spread across the country in recent months, hospitals have postponed elective surgeries, nonemergency procedures such as Wall's that are scheduled in advance. Cosmetic surgery, hernia repair and cancer operations are among the wide range of elective surgeries that come with varying degrees of complexity and urgency.

Read the full story here.

Hospital ship discharges few remaining patients before NY exit

The USNS hospital ship Comfort docked at Pier 90 on Manhattan's West Side in New York on April 3.Mike Segar / Reuters file

The Navy hospital ship sent to relieve stress on New York City hospitals at the height of the pandemic is discharging or transferring its last 12 patients this weekend as it nears the end of its mission, according to Northwell Health, which provides operational assistance to the vessel.

The USNS Comfort, docked at a Manhattan pier since March 30, will soon leave for its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, where it will restock and be readied for another possible assignment, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. He did not provide a date for the ship’s departure.

As of Saturday, the 1,000-bed hospital ship had treated just 182 patients.

Originally deployed to care for patients without coronavirus, the Comfort switched gears and started accepting them as the city’s hospitals became overrun with people suffering from the disease.

Los Angeles shows some love for health care workers, first responders

Miami Beach mayor: 'We are not a city built for social distance'

Dan Gelber, the mayor of Miami Beach, Florida, is defending his decision not to reopen the tourist hot spot's beaches until at least June.

"Listen, everybody in the world knows how beautiful our beaches are, but unfortunately the eight miles of our beaches cannot be opened -- they'll just attract too many people," he told MSNBC's Alicia Menendez on Saturday. "We are not a city built for social distance, so we have to be extra careful given the millions, millions of people that would flock to our beaches."

Some of the state's beaches have reopened in recent weeks, with some restrictions, drawing crowds of beachgoers.

Gelber says he wants to see widespread use of COVID-19 countermeasures, like contact testing, before he decides to restart the city's tourism industry. And the Democrat says he wants the federal government to do more.

"You know, unfortunately, the federal government hasn't been particularly kind to cities about a lot of things," he said. "Frankly, this is just one of them. We're going to get by. But it would be nice if somebody up there would notice that it's not just my residents, we're a small city, it's the fact that we are the tip of the economic iceberg for the arrow-- for the entire state,"

Connecticut dad, 32, writes heart-wrenching note to wife, kids before dying of coronavirus

A Connecticut father who was battling the coronavirus wrote a letter to his wife and young children telling them how much he loved them and how lucky he was to have them in his life.

Jonathan Coelho, 32, wrote the note the day before doctors at a hospital in Danbury intubated him and weeks before his April 22 death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

His wife, Katie Coelho, stumbled upon the letter when she opened up her husband's phone shortly after he died.

"I love you guys with all my heart and you’ve given me the best life I could have ever asked for," Jonathan wrote to his family, according to a Facebook post Katie shared.

Read the full story here.

Savannah mayor says it's 'absolutely premature' to reopen despite governor's order

Savannah, Georgia Mayor Van Johnson is asking businesses to remain closed after Gov. Brian Kemp allowed businesses such as bowling alleys, hair salons and gyms to reopen Friday as the state continues to see a rise in coronavirus cases.

"It's absolutely premature" to reopen, Johnson said told MSNBC's Alex Witt, adding that his city is not doing widespread coronavirus testing and has not seen infections plateau for more than 14 days.

However, he's encouraging business owners who decide to open to implement a "pay it forward" system where customers can pay for services now that they can redeem weeks or months later when the threat of coronavirus has diminished.

"Pay for it now and do the appointment later. Lets' make sure we're able to continue payroll and income for these folks and just do the appointment later," said Johnson. "Some businesses have to open and again, we're not mad, we understand it's economics."

Businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters are expected to start opening on Monday. Johnson said Gov. Kemp hasn't contacted him to discuss reopening the city amid the coronavirus outbreak.

White House considering scaling back Trump's daily coronavirus briefings in coming weeks

WASHINGTON — After nearly 50 coronavirus press briefings in March and April, President Donald Trump’s aides and allies are increasingly worried that his lengthy appearances may backfire politically and White House officials say they are evaluating whether to reduce his participation in news conferences in the weeks to come.

Concerns that the pressers were hurting the president reached an inflection point Thursday evening when Trump suggested that people might be able to inject household cleaning items or disinfectants to deter the coronavirus, sparking immediate and universal backlash from the medical community.

“The president has taken questions for 49 briefings since the end of February. This president's the most accessible in modern history, the most transparent,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Saturday when asked by reporters why Trump cut the Friday briefing short, adding that he had taken “many, many” questions from reporters earlier in the day during a bill signing ceremony. It was there he told reporters his injection remarks were "sarcastic."

When asked if Trump would stop holding the briefings, McEnany said “I leave that to the president. That is entirely his decision.”

There was no briefing on the president’s schedule for Saturday, but his schedule is always subject to change.

Click here for the full story.

Florida Gov. DeSantis: No fans at sporting events through May: 'That's for TV, so people have some content'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said his plans to bring sporting events to the state are for TV viewers at home -- and at least through May, there will be no fans in attendance.

"We're not doing in-person sports yet, no matter what. That's just not going to happen in May," he said. While Floridians won't be able to enjoy sports in person, the state plans to host WWE and UFC matches as well as a golfing fundraiser with icons Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. 

"That's for TV, so people have some content," DeSantis said. He said he would like for bigger events to come to the state "but that's going to be far in the future." 

DeSantis previously declared sports an essential service, which allowed the WWE to continue to broadcast live shows from a facility outside Orlando.

He wrote in a tweet Friday that the state would be hosting a match in May with Woods, Mickelson and NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He said the event will raise millions of dollars for coronavirus relief to give "sports fans something to look forward to during this difficult time." 

Texas mayor apologizes after violating stay-at-home order to go to nail salon

beaumonttexas.gov

The mayor of a southern Texas city apologized for violating her own stay-at-home order after a photo surfaced on social media of her at a nail salon.

The trip Tuesday by Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames to the closed salon has sparked an investigation by the district attorney.

In the image, the mayor is seen wearing a face mask as she's seated at a table with her hands in a bowl of water. According to NBC affiliate KBMT in Beaumont, the photo was taken at The Nail Bar.

Read the full story here. 

49 residents at Massachusetts nursing home have died from the coronavirus

A Massachusetts nursing home where 30 residents had died from the coronavirus said that there have been more than a dozen additional deaths.

Belmont Manor administrator Stewart Karger wrote in a letter released Friday that 49 residents have died and 116 tested positive for COVID-19. Some tests have not yet come back. 

"The loss this represents is nothing short of devastating. Our collective hearts are broken for the families of these residents, each of whom was the center of someone’s world. Rest assured that our staff did their very best to provide them both care and comfort," the letter read. 

Many of the residents are asymptomatic and Karger said they have seen "encouraging signs of recovery" among those who are showing symptoms. He said the facility is working hard to get residents healthy again. 

More than 70 staff members, many of whom are asymptomatic, have also tested positive. The ones who did not have symptoms have passed a 10-day period since testing and have returned to work, the facility said. "We remain extraordinarily appreciative of the efforts of our staff. Their professionalism, compassion and commitment has been inspiring to me personally in this challenging time," Karger wrote.