US governor calls for plasma donors as coronavirus rages
Florida's governor Ron DeSantis.
Miami, United States - The situation in the Sunshine State is dire, with more than 9,500 coronavirus patients hospitalised and just 18 per cent of intensive care beds available.
Florida's governor Ron DeSantis pleaded Monday for Covid-19 survivors to donate blood plasma to help save lives, as hospitals rapidly fill up and supplies of antiviral drugs run short.
The situation in the Sunshine State is dire, with more than 9,500 coronavirus patients hospitalised and just 18 per cent of intensive care beds available.
Lines of people hoping to get a test can stretch for almost a mile and the results take seven to 10 days to come back, during which time contagious people can easily infect others.
On Monday, Florida reported 10,347 new cases and 90 deaths, bringing the total death toll to 5,072 in the new US epicentre of the outbreak.
The governor, who has come under fire for his handling of the public health response and his opposition to ordering people to wear face masks, was interrupted by protesters chanting "you're lying" as he made the appeal at the OneBlood donor centre in Orlando.
Raising his voice over activists banging at the door, DeSantis called on Floridians to take tests for antibodies and to donate plasma if they test positive.
"There are people that had this with no symptoms a month or two ago that will have antibodies that can be used for this," the Republican governor said.
So-called "convalescent plasma" can be used to help infected people develop antibodies that stay in their own blood.
Plasma transfers have shown encouraging results in hospital patients.
"The demand is currently unprecedented, it's a revolving door," said OneBlood president George Scholl.
"As quickly as the plasma comes in, it goes back out because that is the importance of the need," he said.
Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom said the number of cases, hospitalisations and intensive care unit admissions were all still rising in the nation's most populous state but not nearly as much or as fast as in recent weeks.
"We are seeing a reduction in the rate of growth but a rate of growth nonetheless," Newsom, a Democrat, said at a briefing in Sacramento.
"Hospitalisations and ICU (admissions) continue to be cause of concern in this state. That's why we want everybody to double down on what we've been doing," the governor said.
The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, has threatened to impose a new "stay-at-home" order in America's second-largest city if trends are not reversed. California's high school sports authority postponed athletic competitions, including football, altering a rite of passage for many Americans.
New York, which has recorded far more deaths than any other U.S. state, recorded only eight fatalities on Sunday. The total number of people hospitalised in New York for the disease fell to 716, the fewest since March 18, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. Restrictions eased slightly with zoos and the Statue of Liberty reopening as well as professional sports without fans.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced new restrictions due to take effect on Friday, including a ban on indoor service at bars and shutdown of personal services such as shaves and facials that require the removal of masks.
"While we aren't near the peak of the pandemic from earlier this year, none of us wants to go back there," Lightfoot said in a statement.
TEACHERS SUE IN FLORIDA
Metrics nationwide show a continued surge in the pandemic, with 32 states reporting record increases in Covid-19 cases in July and 15 states reporting record increases in deaths.
The illness has killed 140,000 people in the United States and infected some 3.7 million, both figures leading the world.
With school due to resume in August or September, many districts across the country are offering only remote learning or limited in-class instruction. Florida is allowing local school districts to establish their own rules on reopening.
The Republican president, who had pushed back on mask requirements by state and local officials, posted a black and white photo of himself wearing one on Twitter.
"We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can't socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!", Trump said in a tweet.
The president said in a Fox News interview on Sunday that he opposes a national mask mandate.
Trump, whose handling of the pandemic has been criticised by Democrats and some health experts, also said he would resume holding regular Covid-19 news briefings on Tuesday after a lengthy hiatus.