Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Elise Hammond and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 9:15 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020
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7:32 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Governors can "decide for themselves" on reopening states, Birx says

From CNN's Allie Malloy 

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Monday, April 20, in Washington.
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Monday, April 20, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said that while governors have been asked to follow the federal guidelines around reopening state economies, each governor is able to “decide for themselves." 

“We have asked every governor to follow the guidelines,” Birx said, responding to a question from CNN's Kaitlan Collins about what she thought of South Carolina beginning to reopen without reaching federal guidelines.

Birx then added though that “each of the governors can decide for themselves whether they’ve reached specific guidelines.”

She noted that states need to publicly make available their data on coronavirus cases and specifically applauded Florida for their website.

Birx also noted that Jacksonville, Florida, opened before the rest of the state and said that it makes sense because the city has had less than 20 cases a day — far less than southern parts of the state.

“When you inform the public and give them the information that they need, then they can make decisions along with the local officials and government,” Birx said.

States starting to reopen: In addition to South Carolina loosening restrictions, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that certain businesses in the state would be able to reopen this week in “a small step forward” out of the social distancing measures. 

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee also made a similar announcement today, saying the economy would start to reopen by May 1.

Democratic governors of Illinois and Louisiana also signaled Monday that different parts of their states could reopen in the near future.

7:13 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Detroit mayor: "Science does not support" Georgia's plan for partial reopening

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Detroit’s Democratic Mayor Mike Duggan reacted to Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp’s announcement that certain businesses in the state could reopen later in the week, saying it may be premature according to the science.

“The science does not support that, at least certainly not in Michigan,” said Duggan, when asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer of Kemp’s plan to prioritize the opening of businesses including gyms and hair salons. “...In the city of Detroit ... we have knocked down the rate of this dramatically ... by making a commitment as a city to care for each other.

Duggan was commended over the weekend by Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, for his effort to get coronavirus testing for everyone in the city, which has been among the hardest hit in the US by the pandemic.

7:09 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Coronavirus cases will likely increase with reopening, Georgia governor says

From CNN's Kevin Conlon

Source: WSB
Source: WSB

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said he felt that the state “was in a good spot to move forward” with the reopening of certain businesses, but acknowledged that with more people are out, cases will likely go up.

“Now, I will say that, you know, we have more people moving around, we're probably going to have to see our cases continue to go up, but we're a lot better prepared for that now than we were over a month ago. We have the hospital bed capacity. We have the community knowledge. We have a lot of things in place now," he said.

Kemp continued: "I believe we'll be able to stay on top of it. If we have an instance where a community starts becoming a hot spot, then, you know, I will take further action. But right now feel like we're in a good spot to move forward. “

When asked about the political implications of his decision today, Kemp said bluntly, “I don’t give a damn about politics right now.”  

Earlier today: Kemp announced some businesses in the state can reopen as early as Friday.

This would include places like gyms and fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, hair salons and estheticians. Theaters and restaurants can open on April 27.

All businesses that reopen must follow social distancing guidelines and screen employees for illness, the governor said.


6:20 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Indiana governor extends stay-at-home order through May 1

In this March 24 file photo, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb answers questions at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.
In this March 24 file photo, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb answers questions at the Statehouse in Indianapolis. Michael Conroy/AP


Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 1 to contain the spread of Covid-19.

However, some businesses, such as nurseries, garden centers, and pet grooming, will be allowed to reopen.

At least 11,686 people in Indiana have tested positive for coronavirus and at least 569 people have died, according to the statement.

8:34 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Trump takes swipe at Maryland and Illinois governors

From CNN's Matthew Hoye


Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump took a swipe at two governors at today's coronavirus press briefing.

Trump said Vice President Mike Pence outlined testing capacity during his call with governors earlier in the day, providing each state’s governor with a list of names, addresses, and phone numbers of labs with additional testing capacity.

He claimed Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, “didn’t understand” the list.

“Some of the governors, like, as an example, the governor from Maryland, didn’t really understand the list. He didn’t understand too much about what was going on,” Trump said.

He then criticized Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat.

“Pritzker from Illinois did not understand his capacity (to test), not simply ask the federal government to provide unlimited support,” he said.

Trump also praised comments from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo regarding his state’s testing capacity, noting that Cuomo will be traveling to Washington tomorrow and will meet with him in the Oval Office “with some of his people.”

Cuomo's spokesperson Dani Lever confirmed the meeting will take place tomorrow afternoon, but had no further details about the visit or attendees. 

The President said during the briefing that Vice President Mike Pence explained existing coronavirus testing capabilities to governors on a call earlier Monday. 

“Through the public-private partnerships and deregulation, the federal government has already made immense testing capabilities available, but some states need to take action fully utilize it,” Trump said. 

“We’ll be doubling our number of daily tests if the governors bring their states fully online through the capability that they have. They have tremendous capability already out there, existing and we explained that to the governor(s) today,” Trump told reporters. “Mike and all the people explained it very strongly to the governors. They really get it now, I think.” 


5:55 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Trump and Pelosi hint deal is close on bailout legislation 

From CNN's Betsy Klein and Manu Raju 

Source: CNN
Source: CNN

President Trump suggested today that there could be a Senate vote on a supplemental small business package Tuesday. 

“Hopefully, tomorrow the Senate’s going to be able to vote. A lot of progress has been made on that, tremendous progress, great plan,” Trump said.

“We hope to have a vote, maybe tomorrow, in the Senate,” he reiterated. 

Trump said his administration is pushing for an additional $75 billion for hospitals and other health care providers in the deal.

The Senate will try to pass a deal as soon as tomorrow afternoon, according to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Sources tell CNN House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democrats that a deal could be reached as soon as tonight and said if there's a deal tonight, the vote in the House will be Wednesday. If the deal comes together Tuesday, she said, the House vote will be Thursday. 

6:01 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Iowa beef plant reopens one day after coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Dianne Gallagher

Iowa Premium National Beef Plant in Tama has resumed operations today, just one day after state health officials said at least 177 of its employees had tested positive for Covid-19 and the governor reported the plant as a "new outbreak" location at today's news conference.

An employee who answered the phone at the plant Monday afternoon told CNN that "we are back online as of today, we did a kill today." 

The plant originally closed on April 10.  

CNN has reached out to National Beef for comment but has not heard back.

The bigger picture: Several major meat processors across the US are starting to shut down plants as employees are getting infected by coronavirus.

Consumers are unlikely to see any shortages because of production disturbances. But the closures are devastating for some meat producers, which have remained open during the pandemic. Food suppliers are essential businesses.

The United States has a large enough meat inventory to prevent shortages for consumers, explained Christine McCracken, senior analyst of animal protein for Rabobank. Processors that were previously servicing restaurants or cafes have started to sell to retailers. And some restaurants are selling groceries, including meat, directly to customers.

6:05 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Protesters rally at California state capitol against stay-at-home order

From CNN’s Augie Martin and Dan Simon

Source: KCRA
Source: KCRA

Protesters marched through the streets of downtown Sacramento today, voicing their displeasure with California’s stay-at-home order instituted by health officials and the governor to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

While the protesters had obtained a permit to stage the demonstration, organizers had said initially that they intended to practice the social distancing guidelines being promoted, and simply drive around the state capitol in their cars, honking their horns.

However, aerial video from CNN affiliate KCRA showed dozens of protesters gathering and walking along the sidewalk, outside of their vehicles.

A California Highway Patrol spokesperson for the Capitol Protection Division said it is too early to tell how the protest will evolve since it is still underway.

The Sacramento protest, permitted for 500 people, mirrors protests in other American cities in recent days.

Some background: The event was promoted on social media from an organization called Freedom Angels, which called it a “family friendly event.”

“You have a choice to either participate in the gridlock by remaining in your vehicle or join us by foot as we assemble on the West Steps of the Capitol," the group said on Facebook.

5:48 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Michigan governor announces she is taking a pay cut and asks senior staff to do the same

From CNN's Pamela Wessmann


Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced she will be taking a 10% pay cut to her salary during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a news conference, she said she asked her senior executive staff to also take a 5% cut.

Whitmer went on to say the state is facing a tough budget.

Michigan has at least 32,000 cases of Covid-19, the fifth-highest number in the nation, according to Johns Hopkins University.