Monday morning news – April 13, 2020

Trump admin hopes country can reopen soon » President Trump delivered an Easter Sunday message yesterday as the coronavirus pandemic kept church doors closed. He said it’s important to maintain social distance right now, and he acknowledged it’s difficult to remain separated on a day of celebration…

TRUMP: But we’re winning the battle. We’re winning the war. We’ll be back together in churches right next to each other. Celebrate, bring the family together like no other. We have a lot to be thankful for. Happy Easter, everybody. 

The president said he is considering forming another task force to begin planning for the lifting of recommended restrictions and reopening the country. But he insisted he will continue listening to health experts and will not move too quickly. 

And one of those experts is top U.S. infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN he does see evidence that the crisis is beginning to plateau in the United States. 

FAUCI: You don’t want to get out there prematurely and then wind up, you’re right back in the same situation. So obviously we’re looking for the kinds of things to indicate that we can move forward in a gradual way to essentially reopen the country to a more normal way. 

But he said the virus will dictate when that can happen. 

The United States over the weekend surpassed Italy for the highest official coronavirus death toll in the world—more than 21,000. About 20,000 people have died in Italy. However, many still doubt China’s official numbers.  

U.K. passes grim milestone as prime minister leaves hospital » Meantime, the U.K. has passed a grim milestone of its own. 

Matt Hancock is the U.K. Secretary of state of Health and Social Care. He told reporters on Sunday that another 737 people had died…

HANCOCK: Today marks a somber day in the impact of this disease, as we join the list of countries that have seen more than 10,000 deaths related to coronavirus. 

But the British government did have some good news to report. The pace of new confirmed cases and hospitalizations there appears to be slowing.

And doctors have released British Prime Minister Boris Johnson from a London hospital. The 55-year-old was the first world leader confirmed to have the virus and eventually landed in the intensive care unit.

Johnson thanked the hospital staff and singled out two nurses who stood by his bedside for 48 hours. He said—quote—“things could have gone either way.”

JOHNSON: The reason in the end my body did start to get enough oxygen was because for every second of the night, they were watching, and they were thinking and they were caring and making the interventions I needed. 

After his release, Johnson made his way to Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat northwest of London. His medical team advised him not to return to work immediately. 

Scientists race to find treatment for COVID-19 » Meantime, scientists continue searching for an effective treatment for COVID-19. 

Researchers in Australia say a drug designed to kill head lice is showing early promise. According to a report in the Antiviral Research journal, the drug Ivermectin killed the coronavirus within 48 hours in lab tests.

The journal said it stopped replication of the virus that causes COVID-19. But more tests are needed to ensure it’s safe for patients and to determine if the drug has the same effect on the virus in humans.  

Meantime, a different drug is also showing signs of effectiveness. The New England Journal of Medicine tracked 53 people with serious respiratory problems from the coronavirus who received the drug remdesivir. 

About two-thirds of the patients improved over the course of 18 days. And more than half were able to come off of ventilators. But again, health experts warn it’s too soon to draw definitive conclusions about the treatment. 

President Trump said the federal government has just deployed two major shipments of the anti-malaria drug Hydroxychloroquine from the national stockpile.

TRUMP: It’s going to various cities. And we are also disposing and getting, as quickly as we can, portions of it to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. 

A study in France showed a 91 percent success rate for the drug when tested on over a thousand patients. But some health officials, including members of the White House coronavirus task force are not yet sold on using the drug. The government is making the drug available for doctors to prescribe at their discretion but is not advising its use. 

Texas abortion groups ask high court to allow abortions » Abortion facilities in Texas have asked the Supreme Court to step in to allow abortions to continue during the coronavirus pandemic.

Abortion groups filed an emergency motion asking the justices to overturn a lower-court order and allow abortions using medication.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order last month barring non-essential medical procedures amid the pandemic. And the state said providing abortions other than for an immediate medical emergency  would violate that order.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday allowed abortions to proceed in cases where a woman would be beyond 22 weeks pregnant, but the appeals court put that order on hold for now. 

Similar legal fights over abortions are ongoing in Alabama, Ohio and Oklahoma.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump prays during an Easter blessing event with Bishop Harry Jackson, in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, April 10, 2020, in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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