National social distancing measures expire today; nursing home cases soar — 5 COVID-19 updates

The U.S. has reported 1,040,488 COVID-19 cases and 60,999 deaths, as of 8 a.m. CDT April 30. Globally, 3,209,984 cases and 228,057 deaths have been confirmed, while 985,957 patients have recovered. 

Five updates:

1. Federal social distancing guidelines are set to expire today and President Donald Trump has indicated that he doesn't plan to extend the measures, according to The New York Times. President Trump released guidelines April 16 urging states to meet certain criteria before reopening, but allowing governors to make the final decisions. On April 29, President Trump told reporters that social distancing guidelines will be "fading out" as governors determine when their respective states can resume normal activity, according to the NYT.  

2. The National Institutes of Health launched a $1.5 billion initiative April 29 to speed up the development of COVID-19 testing technologies. The agency will invite scientists and inventors developing COVID-19 tests nationwide to compete for a share of up to $500 million in development funds. NIH likened the national competition to the reality show "Shark Tank," according to STAT. NIH will identify the most promising entrants through a rigorous assessment process. Entrants who successfully complete clinical trials and gain regulatory approvals will then be partnered with manufacturers and business stakeholders to help quickly scale up production of their diagnostic tool. 

3. The number of nursing homes reporting COVID-19 cases doubled in one week, according to an analysis of state and federal data by The Washington Post. More than 2,700 Medicare-certified nursing homes have reported cases involving residents or staff members as of April 28, representing about 1 in 6 nursing homes nationwide. 

In part, the increase is due to newly released case count data from states like Michigan and Kentucky. Other states have not released information regarding which nursing homes have been affected.

4. All Los Angeles residents can now receive free COVID-19 testing, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced April 29, according to the Los Angeles Times. Previously, only symptomatic residents and essential or front-line workers could be tested. Now, testing is by appointment only at city-run sites, with priority testing conducted for people with symptoms or critical front-line workers. On April 29, Los Angeles County saw its largest known increase of new COVID-19 cases in a single day, with the total number of infections surpassing 22,400.

5. More than 3.8 million Americans applied for unemployment last week, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Labor. In total, about 26 million Americans have filed unemployment claims between mid-March and April 18, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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