Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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7:30 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Trump tasks council to assist minority communities affected by coronavirus

From CNN's Betsy Klein 

President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on Covid-19, at the White House on April 22.
President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on Covid-19, at the White House on April 22. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump said Wednesday that he would be tasking an existing White House council, led by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, with determining how to assist minority communities impacted by coronavirus.

“I’m directing the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council led by Sec. Ben Carson to focus its effort on supporting underserved communities impacted by the coronavirus,” Trump said during a press briefing at the White House.

The President also said he would be asking South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott to assist in the effort.

“The council will seek input from the private sector and community leaders on how we can best support minority and distressed communities," Trump said.

According to an executive order establishing the council, it was originally created “ to carry out my Administration’s plan to encourage public and private investment in urban and economically distressed areas, including qualified opportunity zones.”

  

7:36 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Trump says July 4th celebrations on the National Mall will still take place

From CNN's Maegan Vasquez

Fourth of July celebrations will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this year, President Trump announced today at his coronavirus briefing.

“On July 4th, we’ll be doing what we had on the mall, as you know. We’re going to be doing it. Last year was a tremendous success,” he said.

Last year, Trump held a Fourth of July celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in what was called a “Salute to America.” The event included remarks from the President, military tank displays, music from military bands and military flyovers.

Trump said that attendance for the Washington event will likely be limited to “25% of what we had last year.” 

“This year, most likely, we’ll be standing 6 feet apart,” he added. 

The President also compared his Fourth of July celebration turnout at the Lincoln Memorial with Martin Luther King Jr.’s. 

“I saw a magnificent picture of Dr. Martin Luther King and I saw a magnificent picture of our event last year and both of them were maxed out. It was beautiful to see. Beautiful — very similar,” Trump said. 

7:22 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Fauci says the US must "carefully consider how we get back to normal"

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus at the White House, on April 17.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus at the White House, on April 17. Alex Brandon/AP

Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci championed the mitigation efforts implemented across the US and considers them the "basis for our being able to say that we can now think seriously about reopening America."

Fauci's comments come after numerous states, including Georgia and Tennessee, have said they would reopen parts of their economies soon.

"So what has happened is that the mitigation that we put in with the first 15 days and then the 30-day mitigation program of physical distancing worked. So it got us to where we are today. It is a successful formula. It is the basis for our being able to say that we can now think seriously about reopening America," Fauci said at the White House's coronavirus task force briefing today.

Fauci concluded his remarks with a request for lawmakers around the country to be careful to avoid a "rebound" of coronavirus cases.

"I plead with the American public, with the governors, with the mayors for the people with the responsibility, although I know one has the lead to leapfrog over things, don't do that. Do it in a measured way. This is a successful formula. The problem is if we don't do that, there is a likelihood that we'll have a rebound. And the one way not to reopen the economy is to have a rebound that we can't take care of," he said.

See Dr. Fauci's message here: 

7:12 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Watch Anderson Cooper's full interview with the mayor of Las Vegas

CNN’s Anderson Cooper clashed with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman this afternoon in a must-see interview.

Watch it in full here:

7:05 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Oklahoma governor says "personal care businesses" can open on Friday

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks following a State Board of Equalization meeting April 20, in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks following a State Board of Equalization meeting April 20, in Oklahoma City. Sue Ogrocki/AP

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said today businesses in his state can start reopening this week.

His plan involves three phases and "will not move to the next phase until the data tells us that it's safe to do so," Stitt said.

Starting on Friday, Stitt said "personal care businesses" can reopen for appointments "only if they adhere to strict sanitation protocols" and are in communities that do not have more restrictions in place. Those businesses include hair and nail salons, barbershops, spas, and pet groomers. 

Stitt said restaurants, dining rooms, movie theaters, sporting venues and gyms can open on May 1 if they maintain "strict social distancing and sanitation protocols." 

He also said that places of worship can reopen for in-person meetings or worship on May 1 but noted that staff and volunteers will need to wear masks when interacting with the public. 

Bars, however, will remain closed

He stressed "even as things begin to open, it is so important that we continue to practice social distancing." 

"This is a careful and measured approach designed to protect our most vulnerable will safely easing Oklahomans back to work," he said.

8:00 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Trump says he signed immigration executive order before briefing

President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on Covid-19, in the White House on April 22.
President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on Covid-19, in the White House on April 22. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump said he signed his immigration executive order before the coronavirus press briefing.

The order is expected to temporarily halt the issuance of new green cards and work visas — steps that had already effectively been in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"In order to protect our great American workers, I've just signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the United States. This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens. Crucially, it will also preserve our health care resources for American patients," he said. 

Trump continued: "We have to take care of our patients, we have to take care of our great American workers and that's what we're doing. So I just signed it just before coming into the room, and very important."

Watch Trump's announcement here:

6:47 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Arkansas governor says elective surgeries will be allowed starting April 27

From CNN's Allison Flexner

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson pictured at the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson pictured at the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced an incremental plan to open specific businesses over the next few weeks. 

If the openings go well, he said, the state will open up even more businesses on May 4. 

On April 27, elective surgeries will be allowed in clinics and hospitals, but they have to be simple procedures that don’t require an overnight stay. The patient has to have been tested for exposure to COVID-19 before the procedure and must not have any underlying health conditions.

Here's a timeline of the reopenings:

  • Restaurants will open on April 29
  • Gyms and workout facilities on April 30
  • Beauty salons and barbers on May 1
  • Places of worship and larger venues on May 4

Hutchinson said he is very comfortable with these target dates and that they must continue to operate in a sequential fashion so that they can measure results.

7:11 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Trump says it is "too soon" for Georgia to reopen its economy

President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on Covid-19, in the White House on April 22.
President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on Covid-19, in the White House on April 22. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump said he disagreed "strongly" with Gov. Brian Kemp's decision to open up parts of Georgia's economy while the coronavirus pandemic continues to threaten the state.

"I told the governor of Georgia Brian Kemp that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities, which are in violation of the phase one guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia," Trump said during his coronavirus task force briefing this afternoon. "But at the same time, he must do what he thinks is right. I want him to do what he thinks is right, but I disagree with him on what he's doing, but I want to let the governors do — now, if I see something totally egregious, totally out of line, I'll do [something]. But I think spas and beauty salons and tattoo parlors and barber shops in phase one, we're going to have phase two very soon. It's just too soon. I think it's too soon."

Some context: Kemp, a Republican and staunch ally of Trump, on Monday announced Georgia would allow nail salons, massage therapists, bowling alleys and gyms to open Friday.

In-person church services can resume. And restaurants and movie theaters can open Monday. His order also bars cities from imposing their own restrictions on businesses.

It's the most aggressive move yet to reopen a state's economy as Trump optimistically pushes for a May 1 end to some statewide lockdowns. It also came as a surprise to mayors and some members of Kemp's own coronavirus task force.

Watch the moment here:

6:45 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Trump defends reopening states: Coronavirus "won't be coming back in the form that it was"

President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on Covid-19, in the White House on April 22.
President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on Covid-19, in the White House on April 22. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump defended the decision to reopen states amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying the virus will not "be coming back" in as many cases as the US saw earlier this year.

"And if it comes back, though, it won't be coming back in the form that it was. It will be coming back in smaller doses that we can contain. What (CDC Director Robert Redfield) was saying and I spoke to him at great length, he was saying if it should come back together, now you have the flu and you have the embers of corona," Trump said.

He continued: "But in my opinion, from everything I've seen, it can never be like anything we've witnessed right now. What we've just gone through, we will not go through. You could have some embers of corona, and you could have a big flu system ... We will not go through what we went through for the last two months."

Reporter to Trump: How can you say the virus will not come back at the same level?