The number of COVID cases continues to rise. There are 2.3 million confirmed cases around the world, with more than 160,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
U.S. President Donald Trump said several U.S. states will begin opening some businesses this week while observing coronavirus-related precautions.
Texas and Vermont will allow certain businesses to reopen Monday, with Montana beginning on Friday, Trump said during a coronavirus briefing Saturday at the White House.
“We continue to see a number of positive signs that the virus has passed its peak,” he said, adding, “our testing is getting better and better,” but offered no concrete evidence.
Hundreds of people in several cities around the U.S. have protested against the lockdown measures put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The protesters are angry at the economic cost of the confinement orders.
Some governors, however, have warned they will not act prematurely to reopen their economies until there is more testing so as not to increase coronavirus infections.
“This has been the number one stumbling block in America, the lack of availability of testing,” Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland told NBC last week. “You really can’t get to any point where you can reopen the country until, not just in my state, but across the country, until we can do much, much larger-scale testing.”
Harvard University researchers have warned that the U.S. cannot reopen the economy without endangering lives unless it triples the number of tests it is currently conducting. The researchers estimate the number of tests performed each day until mid-May should be between 500,000 and 700,000, far greater than the current average daily of 146,000.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says there is “no evidence” that people who have endured COVID-19 are immune to it, dashing hopes of the creation of an antibody COVID tests.
Senior WHO epidemiologists say there is no proof that people who have endured COVID cannot be re-infected. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 163 people who had the coronavirus have been re-infected.
A report Saturday on CNN said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus test was contaminated in manufacturing, causing widespread delays. A Food and Drug Administration spokesperson told the news organization that the test was made in one of the CDC’s laboratories instead of a manufacturing facility. “CDC did not manufacture its test consistent with its own protocol.”
Washington and Beijing have repeatedly clashed over the virus. While Trump praised the Chinese response to the virus at first, he and other high-level U.S. officials have since become more critical, sometimes calling the pathogen the “Chinese virus.” They also have shot back at Chinese efforts to link the U.S. military to the virus’ origin.
The president’s critics in the U.S. say that although China still must be more forthcoming about how it has fared against the new coronavirus, Trump is now trying to use Beijing to distract from missteps his own administration has made.
On Sunday, Australia also urged China to be more transparent about the virus and called for an international investigation into the development of the virus and how it spread around the world.
In line with Chinese government and Communist Party officials, the director of Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory has aggressively dismissed claims that it could be the source of the coronavirus outbreak, calling it “impossible” and labeling the claims as “conspiracy theory.”
In an interview Saturday with the English-language state broadcaster CGTN, Yuan Zhiming said “there’s no way” the virus spread from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, specifically its P4 laboratory, which handles dangerous viruses.
Wuhan is where the virus first emerged.
A report in The Washington Post said in January and February of this year that Washington encouraged U.S. companies to send masks and personal protective gear, or PPE, to China to help in the COVID battle. The newspaper account said the White House failed to recognize the impending threat the virus posed to the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, a group of 13 countries has called for global cooperation to reduce the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, as infections and fatalities continue to climb worldwide.
The countries, which include Britain, Indonesia, Germany, Singapore, Turkey and Canada, said in a joint statement released Saturday that “It is vital that we work together to save lives and livelihoods.”
The collective, which also includes Italy, Brazil, France, Mexico, South Korea, Morocco and Peru, vowed to “work with all countries to coordinate on public health, travel, trade, (and) economic and financial measures in order to minimize disruptions and recover stronger.”
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa said the pandemic could claim 300,000 lives in Africa this year. But the World Health Organization estimates there are fewer than 2,000 ventilators available for the hundreds of millions of people in 41 African countries, fueling concerns that chronic shortages of ventilators and other essential supplies could be catastrophic.
The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder were among the celebrities and entertainers who participated in a worldwide television broadcast Saturday to honor health care workers who are battling the contagion, often at great risk to their lives.
Global Citizen, a nonprofit organization, planned the event with the WHO.