Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:50 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020
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10:58 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

White House supports Georgia's decision to reopen, despite concerns from public health experts

From CNN's Kristen Holmes and Kaitlan Collins

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp listens to a question from the press during a tour of a temporary hospital at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on April 16.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp listens to a question from the press during a tour of a temporary hospital at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on April 16. Ron Harris/Pool/AP

Both Vice President Mike Pence and President Trump called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday night to express support for the governor’s decision to reopen his state, offering praise and complimenting him on the job he’s doing, according to a source familiar with the call.

Another person familiar with the call said it went well.

The governor, who made the announcement on reopening his state Monday, did not inform White House beforehand, according to a source familiar with the decision. The source added that Kemp made the decision at least a day before the announcement.

Kemp's decision has drawn criticism from public health experts who have repeatedly stressed the dangers of relaxing social distancing measures too early.

Georgia hit its projected peak for daily deaths on April 7, according to an influential model often cited by the White House. 

But that same model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, says that Georgia shouldn't start relaxing social distancing until after June 15 -- when the state can begin considering other measures to contain the virus, such as contact tracing and isolation. 

CNN's Nick Valencia reported that Candice Broce, Gov. Kemp’s communications and deputy executive counsel, defended the governor’s announcement, saying the state has satisfied all criteria required by the White House to reopen. 

She called any suggestion otherwise "inaccurate."

10:25 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

NYC mayor announces new initiative to test and trace Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Mark Morales

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled details on a new initiative called "test and trace," the steps and measures he says would get the city to a low-level transmission phase.

"This is how we ultimately defeat this disease," de Blasio said this morning.

The mayor gave what he called broad strokes to the approach to the plan, which is based on widespread testing for the disease. If a patient is found to be Covid-19 positive, determining who they have been in contact with and testing those people. 

"Plenty of sites and plenty of tests," de Blasio said. 

The goal is to make testing available in every community, provide immediate assessment isolation and support, rapidly trace contacts and have more testing available in May.

People who test positive will be immediately assessed, isolated, monitored and supported at home or in a hotel or hospital, the mayor said. 

De Blasio said he would like to identify widespread collection sites to minimize the burden on hospitals and the health care system. The city will also conduct interviews with positive patients to determine who they have been in close contact with. 

"If you were in close contact with your cousin, then we want to talk to your cousin," he said. "It’s going to take thousands and thousands of people to do this right and we’re putting those people together now."

10:39 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Houston mayor says reopening too soon could "undo sacrifices" that people have made

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Sylvester Turner, mayor of Houston, attends the US Conference of Mayors in Boston on June 8, 2018.
Sylvester Turner, mayor of Houston, attends the US Conference of Mayors in Boston on June 8, 2018. Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Monday that "there are more important things than living" during the coronavirus pandemic, pushing for a reopening opening of the state’s economy.

But Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner thinks that could upend progress that the state has made in fighting the virus.

"I don't think it's an either/or, and I don't think you have to provide those type of choices. I simply think you just have to listen to what the doctors are saying, take their advice. … You don't have to sacrifice one group in order to save another," Turner said. 

Turner said he agrees that some hospitals can start performing elective surgeries, but reopening shouldn’t go further than that. 

"We shut down early in this city. So the things that have been put in place are working. But you have to be very careful if you open up too soon. You will undo all the sacrifices people made."

Turner also stressed that this health crisis should not be made political.

"It has no respect of persons or parties or social or economic status," he said, adding that 70% of the deaths in the city have been people of color. Turner also reiterated that his city needs more widespread testing in order to gauge the reopening of the economy, referring to the response when Hurricane Harvey hit the area in 2017. 

"You can look on the radar and you knew where the storm was, when it was going to hit, when it was going to exit. For us with this particular challenge, the radar happens to be testing. And it needs to be widespread and it needs to be robust," he said.

9:42 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

US stocks rebound

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

US stocks opened higher today, rebounding after two days of losses brought on by the collapse of oil prices.

The oil market continues to be in distress, as global benchmark prices fall to their lowest level since 1999. US oil remains around $14.

But investors focused instead on the Senate's approval of a new tranche of fiscal stimulus, including more aid for the payroll protections plan. The House is expected to vote on the plan today.

Meanwhile, earnings season is roaring on and companies are fulling their guidance amid the coronavirus uncertainty.

Here's where things stand this morning:

  • The Dow opened 1.9%, or 440 points, higher.
  • The S&P 500 kicked off nearly 2% higher.
  • The Nasdaq Composite rose 2.1%.

You can follow live updates on the markets here.  

11:20 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Tyson suspends operations at Iowa plant after suspected coronavirus outbreak

From CNN’s Dianne Gallagher and Pamela Kirkland

A Tyson Fresh Meats plant is seen in Waterloo, Iowa, on an unknown date.
A Tyson Fresh Meats plant is seen in Waterloo, Iowa, on an unknown date. Jeff Reinitz/The Courier/AP

Tyson Fresh Meats has announced plans to indefinitely suspend operations at its Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant “mid-week until further notice."

The plant is one of the city's largest employers, with some 3,000 workers, many of them immigrants and people of color who don't have the best access to health care.

The announcement comes as local officials in Black Hawk County, Iowa, had urged the plant to close voluntarily after a suspected outbreak of Covid-19.

“Protecting our team members is our top priority and the reason we’ve implemented numerous safety measures during this challenging and unprecedented time,” Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats said in a statement. “Despite our continued efforts to keep our people safe while fulfilling our critical role of feeding American families, the combination of worker absenteeism, COVID-19 cases and community concerns has resulted in our decision to stop production.”   

The Black Hawk County health department announced Tuesday that 182 of the county's 374 cases are linked to the Tyson Waterloo plant. 

The Board of Health voted yesterday to pass a proclamation urging Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Tyson Foods to temporarily close the Waterloo plant for deep cleaning and to test employees.

Last week, two dozen local and state elected officials — including Waterloo's Mayor — sent a letter formally requesting Tyson shut down the plant due to the outbreak. Mayor Quentin Hart told CNN he was afraid if action wasn't taken soon, his city could be the "next hot spot."

10:33 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

US should focus on its own tests, not comparisons to other countries, Dr. Sanjay Gupta says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Sanjay Gupta said the US needs to focus on its lack of testing in the country — not on how we compare to other countries. 

While answering viewers' questions this morning, he was asked about the US's testing numbers.

“At the White House briefings, it’s often mentioned that the US has done more testing than any other country. Is that true? Wouldn't it be more accurate to compare testing numbers by the amount of tests administered per million people?” the viewer asked.

Here's how Gupta answered:

"The answer is yes … You want to basically get a large enough sample size for the data to be meaningful. And you know what? I don't care about other countries, frankly. We keep saying, but we're doing more than other countries. It doesn't matter. That doesn't matter. There are countries doing better than us and there are countries doing worse than us in terms of testing. What matters right now here is here. And what we know is we need to be doing way more testing than we're doing. Maybe a million or so tests a day; I think we're around 150, 160,000 a day. And the reason you want to do that much testing is you get a better idea of where the virus is, how it’s spreading and how to contain it."

Gupta said the US has the "strategies to be able to contain this virus."

"This is a solvable problem. I want to make this clear. We have the strategies to be able to contain this virus. It’s not going to be easy. But we know how to do it," he added.

Watch more:

9:22 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Is it safe to get a haircut right now?

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Sanjay Gupta answered viewers’ questions about coronavirus on CNN’s New Day. Here’s what he had to say about haircuts as Georgia Gov. Kemp announced that some businesses, including hair salons, can reopen in the state starting this week. 

On viewer asked: “Is it safe to go to a barber for a haircut? If unsafe, what precautions should the barber take and what precautions should I take?”

Here's how he responded:

“You can't keep a safe social distance when you’re getting your hair cut. … We may get to the point where people can get such rapid testing that we can know if people are infected or not, and that would help in terms of people being able to go out and do things like haircuts. But we're not at that point. We're not at that point here in Georgia or in any place in the country.”

Watch more:

8:54 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Coronavirus vaccine is still about a year away, expert says

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Experts still estimate that it could take about a year — or 12 to 18 months — to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said during an appearance on "CBS This Morning" today.

That means a vaccine would not be available until around March 2021.

"It's still the case that the estimate is March," Hahn told CBS' Tony Dokoupil.

"But we're really trying to accelerate the efforts," Hahn said. "And we will try for sooner."


8:47 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

It's morning on the East Coast. Here's where things stand on Covid across the US.

Coronavirus continues to spread in the US: As of this morning, there are more than 825,000 cases across the country, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

Lawmakers are working on financial relief for small businesses, health experts are warning of another outbreak wave, and the timeline of the spread of the virus in the US could be shifting.

Here's where things stand this morning:

  • The possible second wave: The CDC director warned there could be a second coronavirus outbreak this winter, and it could be "even more difficult" as it may run in conjunction with the flu season.
  • Was coronavirus spreading in the US earlier? New autopsy results show coronavirus killed two Californians in early and mid-February — up to three weeks before the previously known first US death from the virus. The development may change the understanding of how early the virus was spreading in the country, health experts said.
  • Another stimulus bill: The Senate passed $480 billion relief package yesterday, which includes hundreds of billions of dollars in new funding for small businesses. The bill now goes to the House for a vote.
  • About hydroxychloroquine: Coronavirus patients taking hydroxychloroquine, a treatment touted by President Trump, had higher deaths rates compared to those who did not take the drug, according to a study of hundreds of patients.
  • Tests give false negatives: Medical device company Abbott Laboratories has warned that its rapid coronavirus test can produce false negatives – where results suggest patients are not infected when in fact they are.
  • Trump on testing: President Trump, after a meeting with the New York governor, said that while states will control testing, the federal government will work along with the state on the national manufacturers and distributors. The President has previously said testing "is a local thing."
  • New York no longer needs hospital ship: Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he told President Trump the US Navy Ship Comfort —deployed to New York City to serve as a hospital during the pandemic — is no longer needed.