U.S. Coronavirus: Small Business Help 'Close'; Deaths Pass 40K

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With thousands of small business owners across the country waiting for relief from the federal government, President Donald Trump said a deal could be announced Monday to add hundreds of billions of dollars to the Paycheck Protection Program.

“I would like to begin by saying we are continuing to negotiate with the Democrats to get our workers and small businesses all over the country taken care of,” Trump said during Sunday’s coronavirus task force briefing. “I think we are getting close to a deal.”

Sunday, the United States passed 40,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said Sunday he thinks a deal can be reached soon to add $300 billion for the small business rescue program.

The additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses became necessary after the Small Business Administration reached the $349 billion lending limit approved in the last stimulus package.

Nearly 1.7 million loans have already been approved, and thousands of small business owners whose loans have not yet been processed must now wait for Congress to approve the additional funding.

Mnuchin wasn’t the only Trump administration member making news Sunday. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told CBS that health experts still aren’t sure if being infected by the illness will protect those who recover.

“That’s why these studies are going on with plasma and giving plasma to sick patients to really see if that antibody confers protective immunity and help to the individual who is sick, as well as really doing studies with vaccines and looking, seeing whether the antibodies that are produced are effective,” Birx told CBS.

Birx emphasized that health experts weren’t sure if getting the virus meant immunity for a month, six months, or many years.

A few hours after Birx’s comments, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in his daily briefings that the state will start testing residents for the antibodies that show they have been infected by the coronavirus and recovered from COVID-19.

“We’re going to do that in the most aggressive way in the nation,” he said in the briefing. “The FDA has approved the state’s antibody test. We’re going to be rolling it out to do the largest survey of any state population that has been done.”

NY To Start Antibody Testing For Earned Immunity To Coronavirus

Cuomo’s announcement also comes right after the federal government loosened controls on testing, allowing states’ public labs to do their own instead of relying on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday that coronavirus social distancing violators could face a fine up to $1,000.

“We don’t want to give fines,” de Blasio said in a news briefing. “But this is serious and it’s going to get harder with the fine weather.”

New York City has nearly 130,000 coronavirus cases and 33,079 hospitalizations linked to the disease, Health Department records show.

In other news to come out of the president’s news briefing on Sunday, Trump announced he is planning to use the Defense Production Act again to help with the production of swabs needed to conduct coronavirus tests.

“We also are going to be using and preparing to use the Defense Production Act to increase swab production in one U.S. facility by over 20 million additional swabs per month. We’ve had a little difficulty with one so we’ll call in — as we have in the past, as you know — we are calling in the Defense Production Act and we’ll be getting swabs very easily,” Trump said.

Trump did not specify which company he would compel to make the swabs, but two people familiar with the decision told CNN that the company is Puritan Medical Products, which is based in Maine.

Numbers: Latest U.S. Confirmed Cases And Death

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