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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4:18 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Mayor of one Georgia community: "We don’t feel safe"

From CNN's Keith Allen

Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz.
Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz. CNN via Cisco Webex

Kelly Girtz, who serves as the mayor of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, said that despite Gov. Brian Kemp's decision to open certain businesses on Friday, many business owners in the community are saying they don't feel safe and they won't return to work.

“These are all high contact environments and places where there are many hands and individuals who come in contact with the same surfaces, and we know it is important to restrain individuals who come into contact with places like this," Girtz continued.

The Democratic mayor said that he understands peoples’ frustrations and wants to support small businesses, but the safety of his constituents comes first.

“There’s nothing that makes me happier than a good morning at the gym, but I’m subsisting here at the house, and I recommend those across the state and across the nation take the same posture right now," Girtz said.

Girtz also said he had no advance notice of Kemp’s order to reopen certain Georgia businesses, nor has he had any contact with the governor’s office about changes set to take place next week.

“Right now I’m going directly to the public, and so I’m speaking to residents of Athens-Clark County, I’m speaking to business owners, and many are saying, just as I feel, we��re not going to frequent businesses right now because we don’t feel safe, we’re not going to return to work," he said.

Watch:

3:55 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

33% of new Covid-19 cases linked to meat processing facilities, Iowa governor says

From CNN's Gregory Lemos 

Tyson Waterloo Plant in Black Hawk county, Iowa.
Tyson Waterloo Plant in Black Hawk county, Iowa. Source: WHO

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said 33% of Iowa's 482 new Covid-19 cases have been linked to meat processing facilities.  

Asked why she has resisted calls to close down these plants, particularly the Tyson plant in Blackhawk that is currently experiencing an outbreak, Reynolds urged those workers to coordinate with the Department of Public Health to get tested and said most people were going to get Covid-19 eventually.  

"Fifty to 70% of the nation’s population are projected to get this. So people are going to get it. It is very contagious, especially in large gatherings," she said. "We are working with the facilities to make sure they are taking all of the precautions to protect their workforce."    

CNN has previously reported that Iowa has seen outbreaks in several meat processing facilities including Premium National Beef and multiple Tyson plants. Two workers at the Tyson plant in Columbus Junction died.  

3:28 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Nearly 8,000 people applying for small business loans involved in data breach

From CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich

Nearly 8,000 people were involved in a data breach while applying for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, the Small Business Administration said in a statement Tuesday.

The breach happened on March 25 according to a letter from the SBA obtained by CNN. The letter, dated April 13, was sent to an individual whose information may have been breached.

“The website may have led to the inadvertent disclosure of personally identifiable information to other applicants,” the letter stated.

“Personal identifiable information of a limited number of Economic Injury Disaster Loan applicants was potentially exposed to other applicants on SBA’s loan application site. We immediately disabled the impacted portion of the website, addressed the issue, and relaunched the application portal,” the Small Business Administration said.

Several personal pieces of information that could have been shared as part of the breach include social security numbers, addresses, citizenship status, income and financial information, according to the letter.

The SBA said it notified those who were impacted and offered them one year of free credit monitoring. The SBA said in the letter there is no evidence to suggest their personal information has been misused.

3:24 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

New York has more than 14,000 coronavirus and probable coronavirus deaths

New York City has reported at least 9,562 coronavirus deaths and at least 4,865 probable coronavirus deaths, according to the city website.

What this means: The New York City Health Department defines probable deaths as people who did not have a positive Covid-19 laboratory test but their death certificate lists as the cause of death “Covid-19” or an equivalent.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is 14,427.

The data is from the New York City Health Department and was updated on today at 1 p.m. ET, according to the website.

3:22 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

North Carolina expands access to testing in black communities

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

Secretary of the North Carolina Department Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen speaks during a briefing on the states coronavirus pandemic response at the North Carolina Emergency Operations Center on Friday, April 17, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Secretary of the North Carolina Department Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen speaks during a briefing on the states coronavirus pandemic response at the North Carolina Emergency Operations Center on Friday, April 17, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP

The state of North Carolina is expanding outreach and testing in black communities, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said at a press conference.

Dr. Cohen said that African Americans make up 21% of the population in the state, yet account for 39% of Covid-19 cases and 37% of deaths.

The state has dedicated teams to identify ways to reverse the trend, not just when it comes to coronavirus, but overall health care in black communities.

“Health disparities and health inequalities did not begin with this pandemic. What this pandemic has done is shine a bright light on the long standing structural biases and inequities that impact our health outcomes,” Dr. Cohen said. 

The state is ramping up outreach and access to testing in these communities.

“We know that as we are expanding testing capacity at these sites, it needs to be in places that are trusted and easily accessed by our communities of color,” she said.

3:17 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

These gyms and churches in Georgia will not reopen Friday, despite governor's announcement

From CNN’s Cristina Alesci

While Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced yesterday that part of the economy can reopen as early as Friday, some businesses say they are staying closed.

SoulCycle studios in Georgia will not open on Friday even though they're allowed to, said Harvey Spevak in an exclusive interview with CNN.

Spevak is the executive Chairman of Equinox Group, which owns SoulCycle and Pure Yoga in addition to its Equinox-brand health clubs.

The company’s reopening plans “will vary by state and locality, based on direction and guidance from government, as well as how ready we are to deliver” on enhanced procedures to protect employees and customers, said Spevak. 

He noted the company is working with outside infectious disease experts who will help the company make decisions on reopening.

More than 520 African Methodist Episcopal Churches could also stay closed: Bishop Reginald T. Jackson issued a statement today urging AME churches in Georgia to not reopen.

"I have issued a directive to the more that 520 AME churches in the Sixth Episcopal District, which comprises the State of Georgia, that none of our churches are to gather for services on this coming Sunday morning," Jackson said in the statement.

"This decision by the governor puts economic interest above the safety and well-being of the citizens of Georgia. There is no data which justifies or gives credibility to the governor’s decision," he added.
3:43 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Here's what's in the new funding agreement

From CNN's Manu Raju with Phil Mattingly 

A deal has been reached on a bill that includes $450 billion in new funding for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus outbreak, three sources familiar tell CNN.

According to the section-by-section analysis, the bill requires a "strategic plan related to providing assistance to states for testing and increasing testing capacity." The bill also requires states and localities to have a plan on how the money will be used for testing, specifically.

This language is important because President Trump has pushed for the focus to be on states when it comes to testing — while Democrats called for the federal government to take a larger role.

Here's how some of the $450 billion breaks down:

  • $75 billion will go to hospitals and health care providers to support coronavirus-related expenses and lost revenue.
  • $25 billion for research to develop, validate, manufacture, purchase and administer Covid-19 tests.
  • $6 million to cover Health and Human Services Inspector General oversight.
  • $310 billion is the authorized increase for the Payment Protection Program. Combined with the $349 billion from the first emergency relief bill, a total of $659 billion has been authorized for the PPP.
  • $60 billion of that will be set aside for smaller lending facilities, including minority depository institutions, certified development companies and credit unions.
  • $10 billion will go towards grants under the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
  • $50 billion will be allocated for disaster recovery loans.
  • $2.1 billion for additional salaries and expenses for the Small Business Administration.

Earlier today, Trump tweeted that he supported the new funding and that "discussions on the next Legislative Initiative with fiscal relief to State/Local Governments" would be coming after this bill was passed.

Several of the nation's governors have said their states have huge budget deficits and that they need federal financial support to pay for basic operations.

Watch:

8:35 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

CNN and Sesame Street will host a special coronavirus town hall for kids and parents

CNN is partnering with Sesame Street for a special town hall Saturday at 9 a.m. ET about coronavirus, focused on kids and parents. 

"The ABC’s of Covid 19: A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall for Kids and Parents" will tackle issues including education, anxiety, screen time and playdates.

The 90-minute town hall will feature experts and Sesame Street characters – including Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Rosita and Grover – answering questions submitted by families.

Big Bird will join CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN anchor and national correspondent Erica Hill to moderate the event.

How to watch: The town hall will air on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español. It will stream live for subscribers on CNN.com’s homepage and across mobile devices via CNN’s apps. You can also watch on on CNNgo, and subscribers to cable/satellite systems can watch it on-demand.

Parents can send in their questions below, along with their full names and phone numbers.

2:43 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

North Carolina has not met threshold to reopen, governor says

From CNN's Jamiel Lynch

North Carolina has not yet meet the threshold to begin reopening the state, Gov. Roy Cooper said at a news conference. 

“Right now, staying at home is saving lives," he said.

Cooper said a task force will lay out guidelines this week on the state’s goals to reopen. The state, he said, has not seen a 14-day decline in cases, as recommended in the White House’s guidance for reopening.

The state also has not meet the threshold in contract tracing and testing, Cooper said.

North Carolina's stay-at-home order is set to expire on April 29. Cooper said there will be an announcement later this week regarding the order.