Today’s coronavirus update: ‘Comfort’ arrives, FDA OKs antimalarial drugs

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The USNS Comfort hospital ship arrived at the New York harbor Monday, as cases in the state hit more than 66,000 with 1,218 dead.

The mammoth floating infirmary, last seen in the Big Apple during the aftermath of Sept. 11, brings 1,000 beds, 1,200 personnel and sorely needed relief for local hospitals inundated with COVID-19 patients. It also drew an ill-advised crowd to Manhattan’s west side.

Meanwhile, President Trump said Monday he has told federal officials to send ventilators directly to hospitals — claiming New York isn’t using ones the feds had already sent to a warehouse in New Jersey.

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Here’s what else we learned today:

Group outbreaks:

Seventeen members of a UK family reportedly contracted the coronavirus after attending the funeral of a relative who died from the virus. A Washington state choir rehearsal is being blamed for spreading COVID-19 after 45 attendees fell ill and two died.

Treatments in the works

The Food and Drug Administration issued a limited, emergency-use authorization for two antimalarial drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, to be used on patients. Johnson & Johnson said it had selected a lead test subject for a potential vaccine and will start testing by September — with an eye on having it ready for emergency use in early 2021.

Young deaths

A 25-year-old Western Michigan University student with no known health issues died after spending a week on a ventilator. A 14-year-old Portuguese boy is believed to be Europe’s youngest coronavirus victim.

Sewing hope

Brooks Brothers has converted two of its factories to produce sorely-needed personal protective equipment for hospital workers and pledged to make 150,000 masks a day.

For the kids

TV education superstars from “Sesame Street,” including Elmo and the Cookie Monster, are featured in new public service campaigns teaching young fans to take care while washing their hands and sneezing.

Stocks rise, oil falls

U.S. stocks jumped after President Trump extended social-distancing guidelines to April 30, as oil prices fell due to low demand and a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Meanwhile

In an attempt to invent an alarm to prevent people from touching their face, an Australian astrophysicist got four magnets stuck up his nose. The King of Thailand, and the country’s resident playboy, is isolating from the coronavirus in a luxury German hotel — and brought a harem of 20 women to keep him company. The president of Belarus insisted vodka and saunas will cure the virus and the nations who’ve gone into lockdown are in the throes of “psychosis.”

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