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White House shifts focus to economy as second round of PPP sputters

"Testing isn't going to be a problem at all," President Donald Trump said as he laid out a new "blueprint" for testing as states weigh reopening.
Image: Mannequin heads wear masks in the window of a small boutique advertising availability of masks, gloves, and other pandemic necessities amid the Coronavirus outbreak in Arlington
Mannequin heads wear masks in the window of a small boutique advertising availability of masks, gloves, and other pandemic necessities amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday.Olivier Douliery / AFP - Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The White House announced a plan for ramping up testing capacity so more states could begin to reopen even as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic rose to more than 56,000.

Here's what we're watching this Tuesday morning.

Ready or not, White House shifts focus to economy

President Donald Trump announced a new federal coronavirus testing "blueprint" Monday to aid governors in ramping up capacity as a handful of states begin lifting stay-at-home restrictions.

The announcement comes as the White House tries to shift the focus of the crisis to the economy and reopening the country.

At least 10 states, including Georgia, Colorado, Mississippi and Tennessee, have already begun to allow businesses to reopen. While others, like Texas, are poised to lift their stay-at-home orders by the end of the week.

Trump’s pivot to the economy comes as the death toll in the U.S. from COVID-19 has surpassed 56,000, according to NBC News' count. And it’s aimed at making Americans feel optimistic about the near future even as the pandemic persists, administration officials said.

The president also paused (very) briefly to mourn the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans as a result of the pandemic, NBC News' Jonathan Allen writes in a news analysis.

Here are some other developments:

'Extremely disappointing' and 'entirely predictable' — slowdowns and lockouts plague second round of PPP

The latest round of funding from the Paycheck Protection Program opened up on Monday morning with a new set of rules for distribution of the additional $310 billion in funds — but a familiar-sounding set of problems.

Lockouts, login issues and sluggish systems marred the Small Business Administration's loan approval process, with each bank unable to submit more than a few hundred applications.

One bank was locked out of the system after submitting just 60 loans.

Meantime, some are asking why nonprofits were left out of the program, when organizations like the L.A. Lakers received $4.6 million from the initial round of federal aid which was meant to provide relief to small businesses. (The Lakers, one of the most profitable franchises in the NBA, returned the funds).

Image: A pedestrian walks past closed storefronts in Central Islip, N.Y., on March 25, 2020.
All $310 billion could be gone within "48 hours,"estimated Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association, a trade group representing large banks. Steve Pfost / Newsday via Getty Images file

Groceries could see meat shortages by end of week. But there’s no need to panic.

Beef, chicken and pork could soon be as scarce as toilet paper because so many meat processing plants have temporarily shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, but industry experts warn that there’s no need to panic just yet.

One analyst said that by Friday, there could be shortages at retail meat counters. Another said, however, that supply is not an issue.

"There is a lot of frozen pork and beef sitting in freezers, so people shouldn’t panic," he said.

We apologize, this video has expired.

Antibody tests can't say who's immune to COVID-19. They can say who's at risk.

As antibody tests for the coronavirus become more widespread, a major question still remains: Does a positive test for antibodies mean that a person has developed immunity to the virus?

It may be months before the answer is clear, but that doesn't mean the tests can't yield valuable public health information in the meantime.

By showing how many people haven’t been infected, the tests provide a picture of who remains vulnerable to the coronavirus.

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THINK about it

Michael Cohen's early release highlights the chaos of Barr's Justice Department, writes Glenn Kirschner, former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and an NBC/MSNBC legal analyst, in an opinion piece.


Looking for a printer now that you can’t rely on the one at the office? Here are some tips for finding the best printer for you.

Quote of the day

"Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was. She’s a casualty just as much as anybody else who has died."

Dr. Phillip Breen said about his daughter, Dr. Lorna Breen. She was a New York City emergency room doctor on the "front lines" of the fight against the coronavirus who died by suicide.

One fun thing

A steady stream of surfers and swimmers jumped back in the water at Sydney's Bondi Beach on Tuesday after coronavirus restrictions were eased.

Police closed the beach five weeks ago because crowds were gathering there in defiance of social distancing regulations.

But on Tuesday, with the surf up, people were back on the beach.

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Be safe and stay healthy, Petra Cahill