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As states reopen, Trump says he’s taking hydroxychloroquine

More states are lifting restrictions put in place to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Meanwhile, President Trump announced Monday he is taking hydroxychloroquine, a drug unproven as a treatment for COVID-19. The disease's national death toll is nearing 90,000, and the World Health Organization is facing global scrutiny about its initial response to the pandemic. John Yang reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Major new developments tonight in the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The United States reaches 90,000 deaths out of 1.5 million cases, as more of the country loosens restrictions. There is potentially promising news about a possible vaccine. And President Trump drops his own medical bombshell.

    John Yang begins our coverage.

  • John Yang:

    While meeting with food industry executives at the White House today, President Trump made a startling disclosure. He's been taking the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventive against COVID-19.

  • President Donald Trump:

    So I'm taking it too, the zinc and the hydroxy. And all can I tell you is, so far, I seem to be OK.

  • John Yang:

    The president's use of the drug outside a hospital setting goes against the Food and Drug Administration's warning about the risk of heart problems.

    Mr. Trump has long touted the anti-malaria medication's potential, even though its effectiveness is unproven. He made the disclosure amid possible signs of progress on a vaccine. Drugmaker Moderna reported that limited data from early human testing suggests its experimental product is safe and triggers an immune response.

    This all comes as the nation takes tentative steps toward reopening. Before dawn in Michigan today, Fiat Chrysler autoworkers returned to work for the first time since this plant closed in mid-March due to COVID-19.

  • Jodi Tinson:

    Everybody is going to have to take their temperature daily and fill out that screening. And they will have to go through the same screening process every morning when they come to work.

  • John Yang:

    Michigan recorded 11 new deaths Sunday, the lowest since March 24. Governor Gretchen Whitmer said that, in coming days, some counties could lift restrictions.

  • Governor Gretchen Whitmer:

    So, I want to encourage everyone I want to encourage everyone to stay smart and to stay safe.

  • John Yang:

    States like Florida and Massachusetts are issuing their own guidance on a gradual reopening.

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced gyms and fitness centers can resume operations and restaurants can open at 50 percent capacity. San Francisco took a small step today, allowing retailers to reopen with curbside pickup.

    But in the epicenter of the country's outbreak, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that lifting safety measures too quickly will lead to more infections.

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio:

    We cannot have a boomerang. We cannot have something where we have to shut down again.

  • John Yang:

    But, across the country, some are defying measures meant to stop the spread of coronavirus. Several protesters stood outside a New Jersey strip mall this morning in support of a gym that opened in defiance of state guidance.

    Gym co-owner Ian Smith insisted it's safe and that proper safety precautions were in place:

  • Ian Smith:

    The gym has been sanitized top to bottom by a professional cleaning crew. Everything in the gym is six feet apart. Everything is clearly marked. There will be masks.

  • John Yang:

    COVID-19 is taking center stage at the annual assembly, held by videoconference this year, of the 194-member World Health Organization. China's President Xi Jinping today pledged $2 billion over two years to support recovery worldwide efforts.

    In Washington, the White House dismissed that as a token to distract from China's failure to warn the world of what was coming. And the WHO is facing questions about how it handled the pandemic. The European Union, along with countries like the United Kingdom and New Zealand, are pushing for a probe into the response. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:

  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:

    Because this is one that does not seek to lay blame. It seeks to learn from an experience that I think every citizen around the world would know we would need to learn from.

  • John Yang:

    Across hard-hit Italy, signs of new normalcy, as churches, shops and even Venice's gondolas reopened today. A nun and a priest, both wearing masks, entered St. Peter's Basilica today, open to the public for the first time in nearly three months.

    And in Denmark, for this first time in months, some enjoyed a cup of coffee brewed outside their kitchens, as cafes and restaurants resumed service. The country was the first in Europe to enter a lockdown in March, and was the first to being easing those rules last month.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Reports of positive results from an experimental vaccine boosted Wall Street today. So did oil prices, closing above $30 a barrel for the first time in two months.

    The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 900 points, nearly 4 percent, to close near 24600. The Nasdaq rose 220 points, and the S&P 500 added 90.

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