WASHINGTON — President Trump told reporters Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for about a week and a half and that the White House physician knows he is taking the antimalaria drug despite the fact that he continues to test negative for the novel coronavirus.
Clinical trials, academic research, and scientific analysis indicate that the danger of the drug is a significantly increased risk of death for certain patients, particularly those with heart problems. Trump dismissed those concerns, saying he has heard about the drug’s benefits from doctors and others he has spoken with.
‘‘I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories. And if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right. I’m not going to get hurt by it,’’ he told reporters at the White House. ‘‘It’s been around for 40 years — for malaria, for lupus, for other things. I take it. Front-line workers take it. A lot of doctors take it.’’
Evidence showing the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has been scant, and the Food and Drug Administration last month warned against its use outside of a hospital setting, weeks after it approved an emergency use authorization for the drug.
Trump has frequently pitched the drug as a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19, asking would-be patients, ‘‘What the hell do you have to lose?’’
He repeated that thought Monday, telling reporters that he’s ‘‘had so many letters’’ from people who support the use of the drug.
‘‘I want the people of this nation to feel good,’’ Trump said. ‘‘I don’t want them being sick. And there’s a very good chance that this has an impact, especially early on.’’
NAACP moves Boston convention online
The NAACP National Convention, scheduled to be held in Boston in July, has been recast as a virtual event, Tanisha M. Sullivan, president of the Boston branch of the organization, said Monday.
The annual meeting of the nation’s largest civil rights organization has been planned as a showcase that Boston could be an attractive and welcoming destination for thousands of Black activists. But those plans unraveled in the face of a pandemic that has disrupted travel and turned the city’s major convention center into a health care facility.
While the event was postponed several weeks ago, local NAACP leaders had held out hope that the planned convention would be held in Boston eventually.
But for this year’s gathering, the NAACP will hold its sessions online. Sullivan stressed that her chapter will still have a major role to play. The group is completing a report on the state of Black Boston, and it plans to continue with some events planned for the week of the convention — if they are permitted under public health guidelines.
“While the national convention will be virtual to allow for participation across the country, locally we are working on a plan that will allow for a hybrid, if the CDC, state, and city public health data allows,” Sullivan said. “ This would include service days and forums. We will continue to work with the national office, the city, and state and do what’s best for our members and partners.”
Sullivan said the estimated economic impact of the convention has been $11 million. That’s not counting dollars the group had hoped to push for in the form of increased contracting by the city and state with minority-owned businesses, among other initiatives.
But Sullivan stressed that the convention has been reconceived, not canceled. She said the national NAACP has been conducting regular issues forums online, drawing as many as 20,000 participants.
“The reality is that we are still having a convention — it’s just going to be virtual,” Sullivan said. “And we are likely to have more people participating in the virtual convention than we would have had at the physical convention.”
Regardless of format, Sullivan said the local chapter and the NAACP as a whole will continue to push city and state leaders to address issues of racial inequity that she said have been amplified by the coronavirus crisis.
“The convention is still happening,” she said. “The work still goes on.”
Newsom relaxes reopening criteria for Calif. counties
SACRAMENTO — California Governor Gavin Newsom relaxed county reopening criteria on Monday, a move he said will allow most of the state’s 58 counties to begin allowing dining in restaurants and other services.
“Bottom line is: People can go at their own pace, and we are empowering our local health directors and county officials that understand their local communities and conditions,” Newsom said.
The new criteria he outlined applies to counties that want to reopen faster than the state. While retail may open for curbside pickup statewide, restrictions on dining in at restaurants and other services are still in place statewide. Counties can move faster if they win state approval.
Twenty-four counties in mostly rural Northern California already won approval under old guidance. The new criteria eliminates rules that a county have zero deaths and no more than one case per 10,000 residents over a two-week period. Instead, counties must have no more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents or no higher than an 8 percent positive rate among people testing for the coronavirus. They also must have no higher than a 5 percent increase in hospitalizations over a 7-day period or fewer than 20 hospitalizations total over 14 days.
Newsom also said counties will soon be able to allow shopping in stores and hair salons to reopen. He also suggested professional sports could begin in June without spectators. He said the reopening of churches could begin within weeks.
Dallas mayor pegs jump in virus cases to easing of rules
The mayor of Dallas cited policy changes that eased restrictions on businesses in early May as a likely reason the state saw a jump in coronavirus cases — just as Governor Greg Abbott was to announce further reopening measures.
Over the weekend, the state reported 1,801 new cases of the novel coronavirus, the highest single-day total since the outbreak began. Mayor Eric Johnson of Dallas on Sunday said the rise in cases is “more than likely” related to the reopening of businesses such as movie theaters and restaurants, which are operating at reduced capacity to enable physical distancing.
“These things sort of lag,” Johnson said during an appearance on CNN. “The decision is made, and then you don’t see the results in the cases until a couple of weeks later.”
Johnson acknowledged that the eased restrictions are one of several factors for the rise in new cases. The Texas Department of State Health Services on Sunday said in a statement that 734 of the 1,801 new cases were reported in two counties that had been targeted for testing because of an outbreak at meatpacking plants in the area.
Abbott has justified reopening some firms on May 1 by citing the state’s relatively low death toll of 1,336 fatalities. At the same time, Thursday to Saturday marked the deadliest three-day span for the state, with a combined 147 deaths.
New Jersey gym opens in defiance of shutdown orders
BELLMAWR, N.J. — A gym in New Jersey reopened for business early Monday, defying a state order that shut down nonessential businesses to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.
People began gathering outside the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr several hours before it reopened at 8 a.m.
The owners have said the decision to resume operations at the members-only facility was not about financial gain, but rather a question of constitutional rights.
“We truly believe that if we don’t do this, in the end, we will have zero rights and no say in what happens,” co-owner Frank Trumbetti said in a video posted on the gym’s Facebook page. Trumbetti has said he recently lost a loved one to the coronavirus.
Dozens of people came out to show their support for the gym, with many holding signs critical of Democratic Governor Phil Murphy and others waving American flags.
Only some were wearing face coverings and most people were tightly clustered together on the sidewalk and in the parking area in front of the gym. Around 10:30 a.m., police approached the business and spoke with the gym owners. The officers informed the pair and the crowd that they were formally in violation of the shutdown order, adding that police were present “only for everybody’s safety.” The officers then wished everyone well and told them “have a nice day” before walking away from the gym as the crowd erupted in cheers.