Aug. 23 (UPI) — President Donald Trump plans to announce a “major therapeutic breakthrough” related to the COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday night.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted Saturday night that Trump would hold a press conference at 6 p.m. Sunday to discuss therapeutics related to the coronavirus that has sickened 5.7 million Americans and killed 176,489 as of Sunday afternoon, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
The announcement came after Trump tweeted earlier Saturday that the Food and Drug Administration was “making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told ABC News’ This Week that Trump’s tweet and the press conference are about “cutting red tape” as the president seeks to pressure the FDA.
“I think you’re going to hear an announcement later today which really — he had to make sure they felt the heat. If they don’t see the light, they need to feel the heat because the American people are suffering.”
Several clinical trials are being conducted of blood plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 as a treatment for the disease.
Last week, officials at the National Institutes of Health stopped the FDA from issuing what is known as an “emergency use authorization” for blood plasma to treat COVID-19. More data from randomized controlled trials, were needed, officials told The New York Times.
McEnany’s tweet stated FDA Administrator Dr. Stephen Hahn and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar would attend Sunday evening’s news conference.
Also Sunday, the Florida Department of Health reported that the state had confirmed 2,974 new COVID-19 cases, its lowest single-day count since June, and 51 deaths among residents. The state has the second-highest case total in the nation at 600,571 and a resident death toll of 10,325.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced that COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped to 472, the lowest number in the state, which was once the epicenter for the virus in the United States, since March 16.
Cuomo also announced that the state reported 572 new confirmed cases for a total of 429,737 — fourth most in the nation — and five more deaths, adding to the nation’s highest death toll at 25,288.
North Carolina reported 1,472 new cases on Sunday for a total of 155,113 and 10 new deaths, bringing its death toll to 2,531.
Eastern Carolina University announced Sunday that all undergraduate students would move to online instruction for the remainder of the fall semester beginning Wednesday, citing “a rapid acceleration of COVID-19 cases, including multiple clusters” following the first two weeks of in-person classes.
As of Saturday, California leads the nation in cases with 656,892 and a death toll of 11,988, followed by Texas in third place with 573,139 cases and 11,266 deaths, while Georgia is in fifth place with 252,222 cases and 5,092 deaths.