New York City is in Phase 3 of reopening now, which includes nail salons, tattoo parlors, and massage facilities as well as recreation like tennis and basketball courts; dog runs are also reopening. A look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.
Here's the latest:
The United States now has 3,712,445 documented COVID-19 cases and 140,120 confirmed deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University—and the White House is reportedly trying to eliminate funding for states' test-and-trace programs in an upcoming relief bill.
The Washington Post reported, "The Trump administration is trying to block billions of dollars for states to conduct testing and contact tracing in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill, people involved in the talks said Saturday. The administration is also trying to block billions of dollars that GOP senators want to allocate for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and billions more for the Pentagon and State Department to address the pandemic at home and abroad, the people said."
Democrats and Republicans are working on another coronavirus relief bill, with Democrats pushing "for a more expansive aid bill, and Republicans...hop[ing] to unveil a narrower opening offer for virus relief as early as this week," the NY Times reports.
"One person involved in the talks said Senate Republicans were seeking to allocate $25 billion for states to conduct testing and contact tracing, but that certain administration officials want to zero out the testing and tracing money entirely. Some White House officials believe they have already approved billions of dollars in assistance for testing and that some of that money remains unspent," according to the Washington Post.
Testing and tracing is critical to controlling the spread of COVID-19; testing lets public health officials know where outbreaks are and, through contact tracing, how to identify who may have been in contact with infected people.
COVID cases in the U.S. have increased by 36% in the past weeks, with surging cases in numerous states, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Some states are already challenged with hours-long lines for tests, as well as long waits for results.
In a damning NY Times feature about the Trump administration's failure to act decisively during the pandemic, the head of North Carolina's health department, Dr. Mandy Cohen, "contacted the Trump administration after a surge in June, asking the government to quickly open 100 new testing sites in her state, in addition to the 13 it was then operating. 'We will keep those 13 open for another month — you are welcome,' Dr. Cohen said, mocking the response she received."
The White House prepared a document recommending stricter measures, including lockdowns/rolling back reopenings and mask mandates, for 18 states, but has not published it. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told the Center for Public Integrity, which published the report, "The fact that it’s not public makes no sense to me. Why are we hiding this information from the American people? This should be published and updated every day."