The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. hit a new plateau, New York state will begin the nation’s most aggressive antibody testing campaign this week and some states are beginning to loosen restrictions as the nationwide effort to restore the economy began to take shape Sunday.

Negotiators were also close to a deal that could provide $300 billion in additional funding to struggling small businesses.

Overwhelmingly, restrictions remained in force. In Oklahoma City, a virtual ceremony was held to mark the 25th anniversary of the bombing that killed 168 people.

“What breaks our hearts the most is … we know we can’t assemble the large crowds that normally come to this remembrance ceremony,” organizers said in a statement. The tribute included 168 seconds of silence, and the names of 168 people killed in the bombing will be read aloud.

COVID-19 claimed the lives of almost 1,900 Americans Saturday, and the toll death in the U.S. surpassed 41,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s data dashboard.

As unemployment soars and economic fallout increases, the White House has announced guidelines for states to start opening their economies. A handful of states are starting the process of relaxing restrictions as protests crop up across the country. 

There are over 746,000 coronavirus cases in the U.S. and over 2.3 million worldwide.

Our live blog is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news, and get updates in your inbox with The Daily Briefing. More headlines:

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Lockdowns, bans, guidelines: What states are doing

Governors slam Trump’s call to ‘liberate’ states

Democratic and Republican governors pushed back Sunday on President Donald Trump’s tweets to “liberate” some states where people protested social distancing measures enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

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“I don’t know any other way to characterize it,” Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash. said on ABC News, expressing disbelief at seeing the “president of the United States basically encourage insubordination” against laws that are “designed to protect people’s health.” 

“It is dangerous because it can inspire people to ignore things that actually can save their lives,” Inslee said. 

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland told CNN he did not think it was “helpful” for Trump “to encourage demonstrations and encourage people to go against the president’s own policy.” 

The president issued guidelines Thursday for opening the economy 

– William Cummings

Trump: People protesting social distancing mandates ‘want their life back’

President Donald Trump dismissed reports that some protesters have threatened governors during a news conference Sunday. Trump said the people who are protesting are “great people” who have “cabin fever.”

“They want their life back,” Trump said during Sunday’s coronavirus task for briefing. “Their life was taken away from them.”

Trump said he had “never seen so many American flags” at the protests. When asked about reports of Nazi flags appearing, Trump said he hadn’t seen those.

“I totally would say, no way,” Trump said. “I’m sure the news plays that up. I’ve seen American flags, all over the place.”

– David Jackson and John Fritze

Deal close on more cash for ailing small businesses

The White House and Congress could reach an agreement as soon on $300 billion more for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. He said the deal could be approved by the Senate on Monday and the House could vote on it by Wednesday. Mnuchin, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, said Mnuchin said the new bill would include $75 billion to help overwhelmed hospitals and another $25 billion to increase the capacity to test for the virus. 

President Trump echoed Mnuchin later Sunday at the White House coronavirus task force press conference, indicating a deal may be close.. 

“We have some very good negotiations going on right now. And I think you could have a nice answer tomorrow but we’ll see,” he said.

– Will Cummings

When will a second wave of the coronavirus hit, and what will it look like?

Before the first deadly phase of the COVID-19 pandemic has run its course, scientists are worried about the second wave of the disease.

COVID-19’s sweet spot could be the same as influenza, roughly October to May, with a peak between October and November, modeling suggests. If it does behave like influenza, it will move to the Southern hemisphere for winter there, then return to the Northern hemisphere for its cold months.

Until there’s a vaccine “it’s unfortunately not unlikely that we may see a second wave or even a third wave,” said Peter Marks, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, which oversees vaccines.

“I shudder to think of that, but I think we have to be realistic.”

– Elizabeth Weise

New York state to begin mass antibody testing campaign 

New York state will begin antibody testing thousands of residents this week to try and determine the breadth of the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday. Cuomo said a test was approved by the FDA and that testing will take place “in the most aggressive  way in the nation.”

Antibody testing reflects how many people have been infected by the virus. Health experts hope the antibodies provide people with defenses against COVID-19. Cuomo said new cases, hospitalizations and intubations all appear to be receding in his state. The most recent daily death toll, 507, was down almost 10% from the previous day and represented the lowest total in more than two weeks.

“All indications are that we are on the descent,” he said of the outbreak. “That is in all the numbers.”

New York, Florida, Texas among states easing restrictions

Various social distancing orders across the United States have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus, but states are feeling increasing pressure from protesters and at times the White House to begin relaxing restrictions. Now, some are outlining their plans to do so. On Monday, Vermont contracting companies, garden-supply stores, small construction crews and small offices will be allowed to operate with certain restrictions. 

“We’re not declaring victory because we’re not out of the woods yet,” Gov. Phil Scott said. “But we are seeing some daylight.”

This weekend, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey opened up their marinas, boatyards and boat launches for recreational use. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said all stores in the state will be able to operate retail-to-go beginning Friday. And Floridians began flocking to the ocean after Gov. Ron DeSantis gave the green light for reopening some beaches. 

– Brent Hallenbeck, Burlington Free Press

NJ Gov. Murphy rejects call to reopen state without restrictions

A county official in New Jersey has called on Gov. Phil Murphy to immediately reopen the state without restrictions and trust in “American freedom, ingenuity and the U.S. Constitution.” Jim Curcio, Atlantic County surrogate, posted a message on his Facebook page calling for Murphy to “untie the hands of the Private Sector so it can rescue NJ from this nightmare.”

Murphy dismissed the idea as irresponsible, noting that 19 people from Atlantic County have died from the coronavirus: “We untie the system right now, there will be blood on our hands.”

California, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio and Utah are among other states where tight restrictions have drawn protests.

CEO says Amazon hopes to test all employees

Amazon is creating its own lab to increase testing for COVID-19 and hopes to test all employees, CEO Jeff Bezos says. Bezos, in his annual letter to shareholders, says the U.S. needs much more coronavirus testing before the economy can restart. Bezos said “vastly more testing capacity” is needed. “If every person could be tested regularly, it would make a huge difference in how we fight this virus,” he said. “Those who test positive could be quarantined and cared for, and everyone who tests negative could re-enter the economy with confidence.”

– Mike Snider

White House: U.S. per-capita death rate lower than other countries

The per-capita U.S. death rate for COVID-19 is lower than many countries in Europe – according to data cited by the White House – thanks in part to the nation’s social distancing efforts, restrictions some states are in the process of reevaluating.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx presented data Saturday showing the U.S. is reporting 11.24 deaths per 100,000 people, a lower rate than Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, the UK and the Netherlands. She credited social distancing measures with keeping that rate low.

African Americans hard hit but may balk when vaccine arrives

African Americans, who are being infected and killed by COVID-19 at a much higher rate than whites, may be reluctant to get the coronavirus vaccine when one is released, experts say. Black Americans are 40% less likely to get flu shots, a study out last year showed. A historical distrust of the health care system, which has far fewer physicians of color and a record of discrimination and mistreatment, gets much of the blame.

David Graham, 41, is an African-American nurse practitioner who treats coronavirus patients. He said he remembers learning about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment that began in 1932. Men who were mostly poor and illiterate sharecroppers were enrolled in a study – and hundreds were not given penicillin when it was found to be a cure. Dozens of men died and countless others were infected.

“For African Americans of a certain age group, Tuskegee always looms in our minds,” Graham said.

– Jayne O’Donnell

Colleges, students await fate of fall semester

Some college students say they’ll revolt if universities put another semester of classes online to avoid spreading the coronavirus – but that’s increasingly what campus leaders are considering doing. Terry Hartle, a senior vice president for the American Council for Education, a national trade group of universities, says no one knows right now what the fall semester will look like. Ryan Sessoms, a marketing student at the University of North Florida, says paying the same amount of tuition for another semester of lackluster classes is a non-starter.

“Fall is my last semester,” said Sessoms, 24. “If it’s going to be online at the same tuition price, then I’ll just wait for the spring semester.”

– Chris Quintana

‘One World: Together at Home’ draws stars

“One World: Together at Home” leaned on scores of A-list celebrities to help spread some cheer to a locked-down world. Saturday’s broadcast began with a six-hour livestream on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, then headed to prime time on ABC, CBS and NBC for two hours. Stars who appeared on the broadcast TV portion of the event included Billie Eilish, Jennifer Lopez, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder. 

“I just wanted to say a sincere ‘thank you’ to all the people risking their lives to get people through this,” Kacey Musgraves said before singing her hit “Rainbow.” “It means so much to me.”

– Gary Dinges

AIDS crisis may be roadmap for coronavirus: Survivors speak out.

Lupus patients are struggling to get hydroxychloroquine diverted for COVID-19. It’s medication they ‘can’t live without’.

• Bidding wars, parking lot deals: How states are getting coronavirus supplies.

Broadway’s Nick Cordero has his leg amputated

Nick Cordero’s wife said the Broadway actor made it through surgery to have his right leg amputated because of complications from the coronavirus. Amanda Kloots shared Saturday night in an Instagram Story that she had just gotten “a call from the surgeon” following the procedure. 

“He made it through the surgery, which is really big,” Kloots said. “They’re taking him back to the room to recover and rest for the rest.”

Canadian-born Cordero had been admitted to the hospital for what was initially thought to be pneumonia, Kloots wrote on Instagram on April 1. An initial coronavirus test came up negative. She wrote at the time that Cordero had been placed in a medically induced coma to aid his breathing. Cordero’s acting credits include Bullets Over Broadway the Musical, for which he drew a Tony nomination.

– Rasha Ali

Somber celebration marks Eastern Orthodox Easter

Eastern Orthodox priests held Mass for the Christian holiday of Easter on Sunday in an empty Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem because of social distancing restrictions. Eastern Christian rites celebrate Easter on the day Christians believe Jesus was resurrected after his crucifixion, a week after the Catholic calendar.

Ordinarily, the church would be filled with faithful and tourists, but travel restrictions imposed by Israel prevented the arrival of pilgrims to Jerusalem for the springtime holiday and limited the gathering of worshippers at the church. Israel has recorded over 13,000 COVID-19 cases and over 170 deaths.

More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAY:

• Tracking the outbreak: See how it’s evolved, day by day.

• Made in a lab? Trump, White House embraces far-right theory.

Latinos are disproportionately dying and losing jobs because of coronavirus. Here’s why.

 Staying Apart, Together. Sign up for our newsletter on coping with a world changed by coronavirus.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus live updates: U.S. death toll; New York antibody tests



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