Warnings of the dangers of ingesting disinfectants follow Trump’s remarks.
In Maryland, so many callers flooded a health hotline with questions that the state’s Emergency Management Agency had to issue a warning that “under no circumstances” should any disinfectant be taken to treat the coronavirus. In Washington State, officials urged people not to consume laundry detergent capsules. Across the country on Friday, health professionals sounded the alarm.
Injecting bleach or highly concentrated rubbing alcohol “causes massive organ damage and the blood cells in the body to basically burst,” Dr. Diane P. Calello, the medical director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, said in an interview. “It can definitely be a fatal event.”
Even the makers of Clorox and Lysol pleaded with Americans not to inject or ingest their products.
The frantic reaction was prompted by President Trump’s suggestion on Thursday at a White House briefing that an “injection inside” the human body with a disinfectant like bleach or isopropyl alcohol could help combat the virus.
“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute,” Mr. Trump said after a presentation from William N. Bryan, an acting under secretary for science at the Department of Homeland Security, detailed the virus’s possible susceptibility to bleach and alcohol.
“One minute,” the president said. “And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that.”
Mr. Trump’s remarks caused an immediate uproar, and the White House spent much of Friday trying to walk them back. “Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines,” Kayleigh McEnany, the new White House press secretary, said in a statement criticizing the coverage of Thursday night’s briefing.
But the president later undermined her argument by insisting that his question to Mr. Bryan in fact had been an elaborate prank that he had engineered to trick reporters.
“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” Mr. Trump said on Friday to journalists gathered in the Oval Office.
Weeks after a deadly virus reordered daily life in America, shuttering most businesses and forcing most people indoors, three states on Friday took tentative steps toward something resembling normalcy. But across Georgia, Alaska and Oklahoma, it was anything but business as usual.
A barber giving a trim in Atlanta, with a face mask and latex gloves in place, was dressed more like a surgeon preparing for an appendectomy. Beauty salons asked customers to sign legal waivers before they had their hair colored or curled. And Georgia officials recommended that salon owners perform temperature checks at their entrances.
The relaxed rules varied. Alaska allowed limited in-store shopping at retail stores. Oklahoma reopened its state parks. South Carolina, which was in front of the rest of the country in its effort to draw residents out of their homes, once again allowed access to public beaches.
And Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa on Friday said she would allow farmers’ markets to reopen and let doctors perform nonessential surgeries beginning on Monday.
“Some people are scared to get out,” said Chris Edwards, a barber who welcomed his first customers in weeks. “I get it.”
Tests that detect antibodies to the new coronavirus are seen as vital to reopening the country and getting the economy moving again. But public health officials have raised urgent concerns over the tests’ quality.
A team of more than 50 scientists compared 14 such tests and posted their results online on Friday.
The news wasn’t good: Only one of the tests delivered no false positives — and just two others did well 99 percent of the time. And even those three tests fell short in detecting existing antibodies in infected people, finding them just 90 percent of the time, at best.
The false-positive metric is particularly crucial, because people may believe themselves immune to the virus when they are not and put themselves in danger.
“Those numbers are just unacceptable,” said Scott Hensley, a microbiologist at the University of Pennsylvania.
Four of the tests produced false-positive rates ranging from 11 to 16 percent, and many of the rest hovered around 5 percent. “If your kit has 14 percent false positive,” Dr. Hensley said, “it’s useless.”
Capt. Brett E. Crozier should be restored to command of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, the Navy’s top officials recommended on Friday.
But Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, who was briefed on the recommendations, has asked for more time to consider whether he will reinstate the captain of the nuclear-powered carrier.
Mr. Esper received the recommendation that Captain Crozier be reinstated from the chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael M. Gilday, and the acting Navy Secretary, James McPherson, on Friday.
Mr. Esper’s decision to hold up the investigation has surprised Navy officials, who believed that the defense secretary would leave the process in the hands of the military chain of command.
Federal health employees interacted with Americans quarantined for possible exposure to the coronavirus at a military installation in California without adequate protective gear or training, the top lawyer at the Department of Health and Human Services concluded on Friday.
The report validated the central claim of a government whistle-blower who raised concerns this year about the deployment of employees of the department, who were dispatched in late January to help care for Americans repatriated from Wuhan, China, amid the coronavirus outbreak there. The report found that proper procedures to protect the employees “temporarily broke down” amid a chaotic situation at March Air Reserve Base. But it rejected a second allegation of the same lapses at Travis Air Force Base, saying those procedures had been corrected.
“In this unprecedented, dynamic, and evolving situation, the mission command and control structure during the March deployment temporarily broke down,” the general counsel at the Department of Health and Human Services wrote, according to a summary of the report obtained by The New York Times.
The general counsel cited disarray that attended the repatriation as a key factor in the breakdown, including a last-minute change of plans for where to land a plane carrying evacuees. At March Air Reserve Base, the investigation found, there was a failure to establish clear instructions for the use of protective medical equipment, and federal officials were forced to use equipment from Riverside County because of a shortage.
And even though the employees had potentially been exposed to the virus, they subsequently traveled from March to Travis Air Force Base and other military installations on commercial airlines less than five days after first interacting with evacuees, the investigation found. The summary said none of the evacuees or employees tested positive for Covid-19.
Advisers urge Trump to skip daily briefings.
President Trump’s advisers are trying to get him to agree to a different structure for the daily coronavirus briefings that have become both a source of comfort to, and a source of self-destruction for, the president.
The conversations had been going on for some time, but came to a head after Thursday’s briefing, during which Mr. Trump mused aloud about whether scientists could explore the possibility of injecting people with disinfectant to ward off the virus’s effects. Doing so would be toxic and possibly deadly.
The hope is to either restrict the number of times Mr. Trump appears at the briefing, or to have him leave without taking questions, according to a person familiar with the discussions, which were first reported by Axios.
His most effective moment at one of the briefings came weeks ago when he warned of a “painful” two weeks as deaths attributed to the virus were expected to spike. But the news conferences have more commonly served as an opportunity for Mr. Trump to air grievances about the press and his critics.
California is taking additional steps to address the outbreak of the coronavirus in nursing homes, which have been hit particularly hard.
And across the state, members of the California National Guard, including military medics and nurses, were deployed at senior nursing facilities this week.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference on Friday that there had been at least one coronavirus patient in 522 nursing facilities across the state. The National Guard was deployed, he said, “to help support the efforts to isolate, conduct tests and to make sure that we’re sharing best practices and protocols within the system.”
The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that it expects the federal budget deficit to hit $3.7 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, which would be its largest size as a share of the economy since World War II.
The budget office said it expects a historic drop in economic activity to be recorded this spring, but that recovery will begin to set in as social distancing measures are relaxed but not eliminated at the end of June.
Still, it forecasts a slow climb back from the damage the virus caused the economy and the federal budget. It projects growth of 2.8 percent in 2021 — which would be nowhere close to the sharp rebound that some Trump administration officials have said they expect — and a budget deficit of more than $2.1 trillion for the 2021 fiscal year.
By the close of the 2020 fiscal year, which ends in September, the budget office now expects the size of the national debt to exceed the annual output of the economy.
The S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent by Friday afternoon, bucking a global decline. Shares in Europe and Asia had fallen earlier. Oil prices also rose on Friday adding to a sharp rebound earlier in the week. Still, they remain near historic lows amid concerns about oversupply.
The new projection from the budget office came as Mr. Trump signed the $484 billion relief bill into law on Friday, replenishing a fund for small businesses strapped by the lockdowns across the country and providing money for hospitals and increased testing.
He said the bipartisan legislation, which passed unanimously in the Senate and with just five negative votes in the House, would be “great for small businesses, great for the workers.”
Mr. Trump was joined in the Oval Office by a half-dozen Republican lawmakers. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader who steered the bill through Congress, was not present, nor were any Democrats.
In the past month, Congress has approved an astonishing $2.7 trillion in response to the pandemic. The latest measure contained no money for state governments, despite growing pleas from governors with state budgets stretched to the breaking point. Local governments have been overwhelmed with unemployment claims with more 26 million people losing their jobs in just five weeks.
Yet Republicans have resisted sending funds to the states, which Mr. McConnell has called “blue state bailouts.” Mr. McConnell alarmed and angered state officials this week when he suggested that states should consider filing for bankruptcy.
The federal government is kicking in an extra $600 per beneficiary, but states must pay the bulk of unemployment benefits using trust funds. At least three states — California, New York and Ohio — are expected to deplete their trust funds within two weeks, with Massachusetts, Texas and Kentucky close behind. Once those funds run out, the states can borrow money from the federal government.
The F.D.A. warns against using hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.
The drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause dangerous abnormalities in heart rhythm in coronavirus patients and has resulted in some deaths, and should be used only in clinical trials or hospitals where patients can be closely monitored for heart problems, the Food and Drug Administration warned on Friday.
“The F.D.A. is aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with Covid-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with azithromycin” and other drugs that can disrupt heart rhythm, the agency said. The statement also noted that many people were getting outpatient prescriptions for the drugs in the hopes of preventing the infection or treating it themselves.
There is no proof that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine help coronavirus patients. They are approved to treat malaria and the autoimmune diseases lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. But reports from France and China suggesting a benefit sparked interest in the drugs, even though the reports lacked the scientific controls needed to determine whether the drugs actually worked.
Mr. Trump has advocated their use repeatedly, sometimes in combination with azithromycin, an antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections, not viral diseases. His repeated promotion of the use of the anti-malaria drugs is at odds with many of his top public health officials.
With no proven treatments for the coronavirus, many hospitals have been using hydroxychloroquine, sometimes with azithromycin, in the hope that they might help.
Scientists have urged that the drugs be tested in controlled clinical trials to find out definitively whether they can fight the virus or quell overreactions by the immune system that can become life-threatening. Studies are underway.
But states are increasingly turning to nursing homes to relieve the burden on hospitals by accepting infected patients who are considered stable. Although there is no evidence so far that the practice has allowed infections to spread in nursing homes, many fear that it is only a matter of time. One lawsuit in New Jersey claims that a nursing home worker who died was likely to have been sickened by a patient readmitted from a hospital.
At the outbreak’s center, New York established a strict new rule last month: Nursing homes must readmit residents sent to hospitals with the virus and accept new patients deemed “medically stable.” On Thursday, the governor said nursing homes in New York would be investigated to ensure that they were following strict rules that were put in place during the outbreak. Those rules include notifying residents and family members within 24 hours if a resident tests positive or dies because of the virus and readmitting those infected only if homes can provide an adequate level of care.
Hawaii has tried to discourage visitors during the coronavirus pandemic by requiring them to quarantine for 14 days.
Now, it is offering them a free return ticket home.
With a $25,000 grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the nonprofit Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii has begun helping to return travelers who don’t have the means to follow the mandatory 14-day quarantine, which involves paying for lodging and food delivery.
Since starting the program on April 6, the organization has sent 20 visitors to their airports of origin, including travelers from Guam, Los Angeles, Denver and Birmingham, Ala.
“The majority of travelers we have sent back, in my opinion, have been irresponsible in traveling to Hawaii during the Covid-19 pandemic when they know we are trying to keep Hawaii safe from the spread of this disease,” said Jessica Lani Rich, the president and chief executive of the group. The organization typically provides visitor support, such as translation assistance.
Ms. Rich said some of the visitors being returned home told her they had been taking advantage of low airfares to travel.
Though visitor arrivals are down nearly 99 percent, some residents have reported seeing tourists on beaches despite quarantine restrictions and stay-at-home orders. All beaches in Hawaii are closed, though people may cross them to swim, paddle or surf while observing social distancing.
“I see maybe one or two tourists a day,” said Ryan Houser, a restaurant’s “fish sommelier” and Waikiki resident.
“It’s a little offensive,” he added. “I would love to go to the beach every single day if I could, but I want to minimize the Covid-19 spread and make sure the curve stays flat.”
Deaths from the virus continued their gradual descent, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday, with the state recording 422 more deaths, the smallest number since April 1. The official state death toll now stands at 16,162.
The three-day average of the number of virus patients in hospitals has fallen 11 days in a row. It has dropped by more than 3,000 since last Friday, and is down nearly 25 percent since its peak on April 13, according to statistics cited by the governor.
One area of concern remains the number of new hospital admissions. After dropping almost 35 percent from last Friday to Tuesday, it has fallen only another 5 percent since then.
“That’s basically a flat line, and that is troubling,” Mr. Cuomo said.
Hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the state to extend a moratorium on evictions and enact a rent freeze in New York City, Mr. Cuomo said the state was looking at those options.
And ahead of the June 23 primary, he directed the state Board of Elections to send every voter a postage-paid application for an absentee ballot. He said that polling places would remain open.
Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Kim Barker, Alan Blinder, William J. Broad, Emily Cochrane, Patricia Cohen, Helene Cooper, Michael Cooper, John Eligon, Richard Fausset, Ben Fenwich, Thomas Fuller, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, J. David Goodman, Denise Grady, Christine Hauser, Adam Liptak, Elaine Glusac, Maggie Haberman, Amy Harmon, Amy Julia Harris, Nicole Hong, Carl Hulse, Miriam Jordan, Dan Levin, Sarah Mervosh, Andy Newman, Alan Rappeport, Frances Robles, Rick Rojas, Simon Romero, Michael Rothfeld, Marc Santora, Eric Schmitt, Michael D. Shear, Eileen Sullivan and Jim Tankersley.