The federal government is asked to help with testing.
The United States was pulled in different directions in dealing with the coronavirus this weekend as the governors of New York and New Jersey called on the Trump administration to help them ramp up testing, President Trump pushed people in some states to rebel against lockdowns and governors considered easing social distancing restrictions.
“I’m not asking the federal government to do more than they need to,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Saturday. “But we do need their coordination. We need their partnership.”
Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey has said he would be “the happiest guy” if he were able to start reopening the state on June 1. But he told ABC News’s “Powerhouse Politics” podcast last week that he and other governors in the region needed the federal government’s assistance to carry out broad testing and to trace the contact that infected people have had with others.
New estimates by researchers at Harvard University suggest that the United States as a whole cannot safely reopen unless over the next month it conducts more than three times the number of coronavirus tests it is currently administering.
Data from New York and New Jersey appeared encouraging on Saturday. In both states, the curve of new infections appeared to be flattening or dropping. In New Jersey, the number of new cases and hospitalizations was leveling off, and New York reported its lowest daily death toll in more than two weeks, at 540.
But Mr. Cuomo emphasized the need for federal help to carry the widespread coronavirus testing that officials say is necessary to reopen New York’s economy. He and Mr. Trump have clashed over the level of federal aid given to the state, and the president has suggested that certain governors have not been demonstrably grateful for the aid. Mr. Trump has also encouraged protests of social distancing restrictions in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, states with democratic governors.
Mr. Cuomo noted that 36 of New York’s newly reported deaths were at nursing homes, which he described as “the single biggest fear in all of this.” New Jersey’s health commissioner said 40 percent of the state’s 4,070 coronavirus-related deaths had occurred at long-term care facilities, which have been overwhelmed by the virus.
Governor Murphy called the federal government an “indispensable partner” in stopping the pandemic. “So we’ve got to find common ground,” he said.
An average of 146,000 people per day have been tested for the coronavirus in the United States this month, according to the Covid Tracking Project. To reopen the country by mid-May, the Harvard estimates suggest that the number of daily tests performed between now and then should be 500,000 to 700,000.
That level of testing would be required in order to identify most people who are infected and isolate them from people who are healthy, the researchers say.
Separately on Saturday, federal officials acknowledged that sloppy laboratory practices at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had caused contamination that rendered the nation’s first coronavirus tests ineffective.
Two of the three C.D.C. laboratories in Atlanta that created the coronavirus test kits violated their own manufacturing standards, which meant that the agency sent tests that did not work properly to nearly all of the 100 state and local public health labs, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
After the coronavirus shut down America’s education system, districts fortified their school meals programs to ensure that their most needy students would stay fed. One month in, school leaders realize that the federal programs set up to subsidize meals for tens of millions of students cannot meet the demands of an emergency that has turned their cafeterias into food banks and community kitchens.
Several districts are now feeding adults and sending days’ worth of food home for entire families. And they are doing so at a cost that under federal rules they will not recoup.
The nation’s 12 largest school districts will spend $12 million to $19 million through the end of June to meet the demands of their pandemic meals operations, estimated Katie Wilson, the executive director of the Urban School Food Alliance, whose members include large urban districts in Los Angeles, Baltimore, New York and Chicago.
The organization, which is pleading for relief from Congress, the Agriculture Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has also set up a donation page to help districts cover costs.
“Every one of these schools that has their doors open are literally heroes on the front line,” Ms. Wilson said. “Food workers are now first responders.”
The coronavirus pandemic has hit African-Americans and Hispanics especially hard, including in New York, where the virus is twice as deadly for those populations. So in the midst of a national quarantine, civil rights activists are organizing campaigns at home from their laptops and cellphones.