Donald Trump has promoted the idea that both sunlight and “something like” an injection of disinfectant could help to tackle the Covid-19 coronavirus – prompting pushback from his own medical advisers and uproar from independent professionals as the national death toll surpasses 50,000.

Speaking at his daily briefing on Thursday night, the president told reporters that a vaccine is “very close” – despite assurances from America’s top infectious disease official, Anthony Fauci, who said such a treatment will take 18 months to develop.

His comments come ahead of the signing of a bill to release $500bn of funding for coronavirus relief across the country as unemployment is expected to continue to rise in the face of economic struggles and lockdown measures.

Follow all the latest updates below

Trump claims Biden too scared to debate him – after VP challenges him

Donald Trump claimed Joe Biden “doesn’t want to debate” him because of the coronavirus pandemic during a press conference on Thursday — just hours after the former vice president suggested he’s eager for the shot.

The president referred to the presumptive Democratic nominee as a “sleepy guy in the basement of a house” while seemingly mocking his at-home interviews conducted amid lockdown orders in states across the country. 

“I watched a couple of interviews and I say, ‘Oh, I look forward to this,’ but they’re keeping him sheltered because of coronavirus,” Mr Trump continued. “He’s not moving around. He’s not moving too much.” 

Mr Trump’s comments came shortly after Mr Biden held a virtual town hall, in which he told supporters he was looking forward to debating the Republican incumbent. 

“Are you kidding?” the former vice president said about debating Mr Trump, adding that he would take that opportunity whether it were held on “Zoom or Skype, or hangout or in person, anytime, anywhere.” 

Story to come…

Death toll hits 50,000

Breaking news

Hillary Clinton responds to disinfectant suggestion

Stunned reaction of White House adviser as Trump suggests injecting disinfectant to treat coronavirus

Donald Trump’s coronavirus coordinator Dr Deborah Birx appeared stunned as she watched the US president describe how coronavirus could be treated using ultraviolet light and disinfectant during a daily White House news briefing.

His comments have been criticised by medical experts overnight, as ultraviolet light exposure can damage the skin and eyes, whilst disinfectants are hazardous substances that should not be consumed.

Here’s Gino Spocchia with the write up:

Puerto Rico police confirm death of officer

Authorities say a 28-year veteran with Puerto Rico’s police department has become the first officer to die of Covid-19.

A spokesman said 56-year-old Miguel Martinez Ortiz died early Friday after being hospitalised nearly three weeks ago. Martinez was part of a federal task force with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Hundreds of officers remain in a two-week quarantine for symptoms and possible exposure to the coronavirus.

Puerto Rico has reported at least 77 deaths and more than 1,270 confirmed cases. Only some 12,680 people have been tested on an island of 3.2 million.

Amazon worker who was fired after raising safety concerns is starting a revolution from the outside

Christian Smalls was fired after organising a walkout at the Amazon warehouse where he worked over safety concerns due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Now, he tells Richard Hall, he’s continuing his fight from the outside. 

More below:

How does the coronavirus death rate compare across different parts of the US?

The coronavirus has spread to all 50 states, hitting the northeast especially hard. Regional patterns reveal the challenges faced by different states as they work to combat the virus.

Here’s how death rates compare across different parts of the country:

US boycotts launch of global vaccine initiative led by WHO

The United States will not take part in the launching of a global initiative on Friday to speed the development, production and distribution of drugs and vaccines against Covid-19, a spokesman for the US mission in Geneva told Reuters.

“There will be no US official participation”, he said in an email reply to a query. “We look forward to learning more about this initiative in support of international cooperation to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 as soon as possible.”

U.S. President Donald Trump has announced a suspension of funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), where it is the largest donor. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will help launch the global initiative later today.

No 10 says Trump suggestion disinfectant can treat coronavirus ‘not being looked at here’

The UK prime minister’s has dismissed Donald Trump’s suggestion that injections of disinfectant could treat coronavirus, saying “it’s not something that’s being looked at here”.

Pressed on whether it was responsible for Mr Trump to make such comments, the spokesperson said: “We can only speak for the UK’s response”.

More below:

One in four Americans say someone in their household has lost their job – poll

One out of every four American adults say someone in their household has lost a job to the coronavirus pandemic, but the vast majority expect those former jobs will return once the crisis passes, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The economic devastation writ by Covid-19 is clear: 26.4 million people have lost their job in the past five weeks, millions of homeowners are delaying mortgage payments and food banks are seeing lines of cars that stretch for miles. Forty-six percent of all Americans say their household has experienced some form of income loss from layoffs, reduced hours, unpaid leave or salary reductions.

And yet, the survey finds a majority of Americans still feel positive about their personal finances. One possible reason: Among those whose households have experienced a layoff, 78% believe those former jobs will definitely or probably return. Another positive sign: The percentage of workers who say their household has lost a source of income is not significantly different from a few weeks ago.

Seventy-one per cent of Americans now describe the national economy as poor, up from 60 per cent three weeks ago and 33 per cent in January. At the same time, 64% call their personal financial situation good — a number that remains largely unchanged since before the virus outbreak began.

EPA advises against disinfectant use on humans

The Environmental Protection Agency is reminding people to only use disinfectant on surfaces following the president’s comments.

In a statement the EPA said, “Never apply the product to yourself or others. Do not ingest disinfectant products.”

William Bryan of the Department of Homeland Security said at a White House briefing on Thursday “emerging results” from new research suggest solar light has a powerful effect in killing the virus on surfaces and in the air.

But he said there was no consideration of internal use of disinfectants.

Biden – Trump will attempt to postpone election

The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, has said he believes Donald Trump will postpone November’s election amid the coronavirus pandemic to boost his chances of re-election.

“Mark my words, I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” said Mr Biden during an online campaign event, according to a pool report.

“That’s the only way he thinks he can possibly win.”

More below:

Trump’s coronavirus response to be probed by new House watchdog panel

Yesterday the House voted to create a Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, setting up what is certain to be a contentious new forum for partisan battles over the Trump administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The panel will be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, a longtime ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

More below:

Biden’s popularity with older voters could help him beat Trump, polls show

A string of recent polls show troubling signs for Donald Trump with older voters, a group central to his reelection effort that appears to be drifting away from him amid a pandemic that has been especially deadly for the elderly.

Former vice president Joe Biden, whose support from older voters helped him lead the primaries, appears to be carrying over some of that appeal into the general election.

With Mr Trump seeing sagging approval ratings over his handling of the coronavirus crisis, Mr Biden’s campaign is attempting to capitalise with a group that has traditionally leaned towards the Republican party.

More below:

Dettol tells people not to inject disinfectant after Trump suggests it could fight coronavirus

Two top household brands in the UK and US, Dettol and Lysol, have issued a statement cautioning against the use of their cleaning products to treat coronavirus ‘in no circumstances’ after Donald Trump claimed that disinfectant could be used to weaken the disease.

The US president has been condemned after he suggested it would be “interesting to check” whether a disinfectant injection could help combat coronavirus.

More below:

Coming up later – Trump to sign off on an additional $500bn of relief

Donald Trump will be holding a signing ceremony later today for a bill providing a nearly $500 billion infusion of coronavirus spending, rushing new relief to employers and hospitals buckling under the strain of a pandemic that has claimed almost 50,000 American lives and one in six US jobs.

The measure passed Congress almost unanimously yesterday, but the lopsided tally belies a potentially bumpier path ahead as battle lines are being formed for much more ambitious future legislation that may prove far more difficult to maneuver through Congress.

Lawmakers’ face masks and bandannas added a somber tone to their effort to aid a nation staggered by the health crisis and devastating economic costs of the pandemic

Trump claims CNN made up report that Kim Jong-un is ill in angry outburst at female reporter

Last night Donald Trump said he believes reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is gravely ill were made up by CNN, as he launched an angry attack on one of the network’s reporters at a White House briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked if he heard any more about the condition of the dictator, whom he has previously said he “loves”, the president said: “I think the report was incorrect, let me just put it that way.”

More below:

Democrat and Republican truce begins to fracture over state and city aid

The cracks are beginning to show in a seven week congressional truce that has led Republicans and Democrats together to spend $3trillion on coronavirus relief – with aid for cities and states sticking as the dividing line.

Spurred on by governors and local officials, Democrats have put out the word that they want to provide a sizeable rescue package as part of a broader bill – one that could total at least $2 trillion in coming weeks.

Their agenda has some Republicans seething, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling conservative talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that he “would certainly be in favor” of letting states enter bankruptcy rather than send them cash.

The leading US Democrat, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, shot back on Thursday, saying: “Oh really? What made you think that was a good idea?”

Some governors called it a recipe for collapsing the US economy if congress allowed states such as Michigan and Illinois to declare bankruptcy.

Dettol owners warn off Trump’s disinfectant claim

Reckitt Benckiser, the company behind the disinfectant Dettol, has urged that no one apply their products to the human body. 

“Due to recent speculation and social media activity, RB (the makers of Lysol and Dettol) has been asked whether internal administration of disinfectants may be appropriate for investigation or use as a treatment for coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)”, the firm said in a statement.

“As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).  

“As with all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines. Please read the label and safety information.”

More backlash from medical professionals on Trump’s ‘disinfectant’ claims

FDA commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn, who himself sits on the government’s coronavirus told CNN that he “certainly wouldn’t recommend the internal ingestion of a disinfectant”; on the same discussion panel, Baltimore health commissioner warned viewers: “Do not try these things at home, and follow your doctor’s advice and follow good public health guidance.”

Dr Eugene Gu, a politically active physician with a large social media following, tweeted bluntly that “Injecting disinfectant into your body will kill you.

“While it feels completely unnecessary to even say this, people drank fish tank cleaner containing chloroquine because of what they heard from rumors about the substance. We must fight deadly misinformation no matter how stupid.”

Read more below: