Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Elise Hammond and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:35 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020
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6:50 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Texas mayor opens businesses ahead of governor's timeline

From CNN's Chris Boyette

The mayor of Colleyville, Texas, has issued a proclamation allowing residents to attend churches and other places of worship on Tuesday if social distancing rules are followed.

Mayor Richard Newton is allowing elective surgeries and gatherings of groups of 10 or less, even if the group isn’t family.

Starting Friday, residents can eat at restaurants with tables spaced apart and visit salons, gyms and massage therapists for one-on-one appointments.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott formed a coronavirus strike team to make recommendations about how to reopen the state safety. Newton's order was issued before Abbott announced his strategy forward. Abbott is expected to determine if businesses will open statewide on April 27. 

Asked about the mayor’s proclamation at a news conference Tuesday, Abbott said that he had read the proclamation and that "it seemed like he was writing his policies in a way that tried to parallel or be in agreement with what was in my executive order.”

Elsewhere, Dallas County commissioners approved an extension of the county's stay-at-home orders until May 15 but at the news conference, Abbott said that his order to reopen businesses would have authority over certain policies issued by local governments. 

6:41 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Trump calls Georgia governor a "very capable man"

From CNN's Betsy Klein 

 

President Trump said Tuesday he will be speaking with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

Trump was asked about concerns from top ally Sen. Lindsey Graham regarding Kemp’s lifting of some restrictions in Georgia and how it would impact neighboring South Carolina. 

He offered praise for Kemp, calling him a “very capable man” who “knows what he’s doing.”

Trump said he is “scheduled to speak to the governor of Georgia in a little while.”

6:24 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Trump details executive order on barring new immigration 

From CNN's Dana Bash and Kevin Liptak

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump says his executive order barring new immigration will apply only to people seeking green cards, will last 60 days and won’t affect workers entering the country on a temporary basis.

Spelling out details of the measure for the first time since tweeting late Monday he would “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States,” Trump announced something short of a full halt on immigration.

Instead, he said the provision would amount to a 60-day pause only on people seeking permanent resident status in the United States.

He said he would review the executive order at the end of that period and decide if it should be renewed. He did not say when he would sign it.

Trump emphasized the economic effects of the order, indicating it would "protect American workers."

An administration official with knowledge of the process tells CNN Trump's executive order only addresses green cards because the work visa portion is more complicated and needs more time to sort out, especially given the fact that many of those currently in the US on work visas are working on things related to the pandemic, from workers at food processing plants to health care workers.

This source said that although, in practical terms, routine operations dealing with green cards are shut down now anyway, eventually it will snap back to normal in the absence of a new policy.

The source said that the 60-day order includes an option to extend if needed.  

The first draft of the order went to lawyers for review last week. In addition to Stephen Miller, senior White House policy adviser, Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli has been a big internal proponent of doing this.

 

7:40 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Trump says he's requesting Harvard return coronavirus relief funds

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez 

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump said Tuesday that he would personally asking Harvard University to return millions it was granted as part of the previous coronavirus relief package.

The university, which has a multi-billion dollar endowment, received nearly $9 million from the CARES Act coronavirus relief package approved by Congress, through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, according to the Boston Herald.

“I’m going to request it,” Trump said during the White House press briefing. “Harvard’s going to pay back the money. They shouldn’t be taking it. … I’m not going to mention any other names, but when I saw Harvard, they have one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, in the world, I guess. And they’re going to pay back that money.”

CNN received a statement from Harvard this evening insisting the President has his facts wrong, writing, “Harvard did not apply for, nor has it received any funds through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses. Reports saying otherwise are inaccurate. President Trump is right that it would not have been appropriate for our institution to receive funds that were designated for struggling small businesses."

Harvard points out that the funds it applied for are going to help students, and is coming from the Department of Education — not the Small Business Administration.

"Like most colleges and universities, Harvard has been allocated funds as part of the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Harvard has committed that 100% of these emergency higher education funds will be used to provide direct assistance to students facing urgent financial needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the university wrote in a statement.

Harvard added: “This financial assistance will be on top of the support the University has already provided to students – including assistance with travel, providing direct aid for living expenses to those with need, and supporting students’ transition to online education."

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also asserted that there would be consequences for larger companies taking from the pot of Paycheck Protection Program funds meant for small businesses. Recently, Shake Shack announced it would be returning its $10 million PPP loan.

“Certain people under PPP may not have been clear in understanding the certification, so we’re going to give people the benefit of the doubt,” Mnuchin said. “If you pay back the loan right away, you won’t have liability to the SBA and to Treasury, but there are severe consequences who don’t attest properly to the certification.”

“We want to make sure this money is available to small businesses that need it, people who have invested their entire life savings, he added.

Watch:

This post has been updated with Harvard University's statement.

6:07 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

More than 820,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in the US

There are at least 820,104 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 44,228 people have died from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

As states begin to include “probable deaths” in their counts, so will JHU. In the upcoming days, these changes may show as surges of deaths in the United States. 

On Tuesday, Johns Hopkins reported 33,136 new cases and 1,920 reported deaths. 

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases. 

 

6:15 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Mississippi governor in talks with other southern states about reopening

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, left, listens as State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs speaks about the state's continued efforts in dealing with the coronavirus during his afternoon news conference in Jackson, Mississippi, Tuesday, April 21.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, left, listens as State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs speaks about the state's continued efforts in dealing with the coronavirus during his afternoon news conference in Jackson, Mississippi, Tuesday, April 21. Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said he’s had conversation with other southern governors on what reopening the economy might look like.

Reeves said at a news conference that he had a “great call over the weekend” with the governors of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, and said, “all of us are of similar minds."

"We each have different circumstances and different situation that are unique to each individual state," he said.

"We want to do it in a responsible safe way, but we also want to make sure that we get as many people back to work so that they're providing for themselves as best as they can. So, yes, we are working together. We are in conversations," Reeves added.

He said Mississippi is continuing to increase the number of staff to address the 14,000% increase in unemployment claims. They previously had 50 people answering unemployment phones and now they have more than 250 people and have processed about 50% more claims than they did last week.

Jackie Turner, executive director for Mississippi Department of Employment Security, said the state paid out $72 million in unemployment benefits last week.

By the numbers: There have been at least 4,716 coronavirus cases and at least 183 deaths in the state, according to Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas E. Dobbs III.

Dobbs said 90% of coronavirus deaths are people over the age of 60.

About 51.3% of positive cases and 64% of all coronavirus deaths in Mississippi are among black Americans. As of yesterday, 52,364 tests completed in the state.

“The reality is that we are still in the plateau, we are still in the eye of the storm, and the most important thing that every Mississippian can do is to use common sense. Stay at home, if at all possible. When you leave, go to work and go back home. If you need to stop and get groceries, wear a mask in the grocery store,” the governor said.
6:02 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Trump touts passage of Senate stimulus bill

From CNN's Betsy Klein 

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump touted Senate passage of the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act Tuesday.

The administration, he said, “worked aggressively with Congress” to pass the bill, which includes $382 billion for small businesses, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing.

Regarding hospital funding, Trump said he was “proud of that.”

He urged the House to pass the bill and said they will be voting “very soon” and “probably tomorrow.”

5:31 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

CDC director warns coronavirus outbreak could be "even more difficult" next winter

From CNN’s Mallory Simon

CDC Director Robert R. Redfield speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus at the White House on April 8, in Washington.
CDC Director Robert R. Redfield speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus at the White House on April 8, in Washington. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned a second wave of the coronavirus this year could be worse because it will coincide with flu season. 

“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. 

“And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”

Redfield told the Post that having two respiratory outbreaks would burden the health care system.

Redfield has warned previously that the United States will feel the impact of the virus in months and years ahead, saying during an interview with CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in February the virus “is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year.”

During a CNN coronavirus town hall in April, Redfield said next year “will be another challenging time,” adding “I want to be able to have it so that we respond to it next year with the fundamental of public health — early case identification, isolation, contact tracing,” in order to avoid serious mitigation steps.

Watch:

5:37 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Abbott's rapid tests can produce false negatives under certain conditions

 From CNN's Curt Devine and Drew Griffin

In this April 10, 2020, file frame grab from video, a lab technician dips a sample into the Abbott Laboratories ID Now testing machine at the Detroit Health Center in Detroit.
In this April 10, 2020, file frame grab from video, a lab technician dips a sample into the Abbott Laboratories ID Now testing machine at the Detroit Health Center in Detroit. Carlos Osorio/AP

Medical device company Abbott Laboratories has warned that its rapid coronavirus test can produce false negatives if the specimens tested are first stored in what are called viral transport media, which are special solutions used to move or store specimens.

Abbott instructed health care providers last week not to use such solutions for patient samples tested on the company’s rapid ID NOW device. False negative results suggest patients are not infected when in fact they are.

The guidance came more than two weeks after the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency authorization for the test and after President Trump touted the rapid Abbott system at a Rose Garden news conference. 

Clinical pathologists and lab scientists at the Cleveland Clinic found that the ID NOW test only detected coronavirus in 84.4% of specimens known to contain the virus, which was a lower rate than four other tests the researchers assessed, a spokesperson for the Ohio-based medical center said. NPR first reported that assessment Tuesday. 

The Cleveland Clinic spokesperson told CNN that a dilution effect can occur whenever a sample swab is placed into viral transport media, but she added that in the assessment, the tests were performed from the same viral transport media, so it was a true head-to-head comparison.

An issue of volume: Because Abbot’s ID NOW testing machine only processes one test at a time, labs might have used the transport media to store the test samples until they can be processed. 

The company now advises its customers to place swabs containing patient samples directly in the ID NOW system for testing.

“When the direct swab method is used, the test is performing as expected and we are confident in its performance,” the Abbott spokesperson said, adding that when the company learned about the issue it immediately notified its customers and communicated with the FDA.