Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 10:39 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020
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3:43 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

South Carolina governor says he's approaching reopening with "lighter touch"

From CNN’s Sara Rudolph

SCETV
SCETV

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said that when it comes to reopening, “we want to go as quickly as we can, as safely as we can to restore our economic vigor while also restoring our economic health.”

At the first meeting of accelerateSC — the advisory team created to revitalize South Carolina’s economy — McMaster said “the last thing any of us want is to have a relapse…it’s probably going to happen some places, but we do not want that to happen here.”

The governor said his state has approached reopening “a little bit differently” from other states, with a “lighter touch.”

While other states designated businesses as essential or nonessential, South Carolina looked at what activities posed the greatest risk and focused on minimizing those activities.

Some background: McMaster announced earlier this week that South Carolina would reopen some beaches and retail stores.

McMaster said he spoke to President Trump yesterday and that the President said, “we were doing an excellent job in South Carolina.”

3:37 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Yesterday was the deadliest day in California during the pandemic

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Gov. Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom Pool

Yesterday marked the deadliest day for coronavirus in California with at least 115 deaths, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in his daily update on the status of Covid-19 in the state.

“This disease killed more people in the state of California in the last 24 hours than in any previous 24 hours,” Newsom said.

The governor noted some small glimmers of hope, with the numbers of hospitalized people and intensive care unit patients showing slight decreases.

“We are seeing some stabilization of that curve,” the governor said, but he cautioned that “we aren’t out of the woods yet.” 

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in California has climbed to more than 37,000.

3:33 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

More than 10,000 people have died from coronavirus in New York City

Medical personnel wearing personal protective equipment remove bodies from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center Thursday, April 2, 2020 in Brooklyn.
Medical personnel wearing personal protective equipment remove bodies from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center Thursday, April 2, 2020 in Brooklyn. Mary Altaffer/AP/FILE

New York City has 10,290 confirmed coronavirus deaths and 5,121 probable coronavirus deaths, according to the city website.

About those numbers: 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 “COVID-19” or an equivalent as the cause of death

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is at least 15,411.

There have been at least 141,754 coronavirus cases in the city and approximately 36,723 people have been hospitalized, according to the city.

3:26 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

US Navy hospital ship could leave New York City this month

From CNN's Ryan Browne

Gary Hershorn/Getty Images
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

The US Naval hospital ship that has been docked off the coast of New York City will depart the area as early as the end of the month, according to a US Navy official. 

There are currently 39 patients still aboard USNS Comfort, and officials are working to ensure that they are safely transferred or discharged prior to the ship’s departure.

The current plan is for the Navy hospital ship to return to its home port in Norfolk, Virginia.

About the ship: Earlier this week New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the hospital ship was no longer needed, just about two weeks after requesting that the ship treat Covid-19 patients. 

On April 6, President Trump granted New York state’s request that the ship begin treating Covid-19 patients. The ship’s original task was to treat only non-coronavirus patients to relieve the burden from local hospitals.

3:25 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

South Dakota governor says coronavirus relief money comes with too many conditions

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said she is anticipating "substantial decreases" to state sales tax revenue and says the federal relief funds that have been allocated to her state come with too many conditions to be of use.

"Congress did send South Dakota $1.25 billion to us, but they tied our hands on how we can spend it," Noem said today at a news conference. 

But, she explained that "the only way I can spend this money is on Covid relief."

Noem wants to able to use the money "to replace revenue loss." 

The governor asserted that Congress wants her to "go out and create a bunch of new government programs" with the relief fund.

"I don't want to blow more than a billion dollars growing government creating massive new programs that aren't really necessary," she said.

"You listen to members of Congress and the White House — they say they don't want to bail out States that have been irresponsible. I understand that," Noem added.

However, Noem, whose state constitution requires it maintain a balanced budget, contends that her state has been responsible.

"It is not conservative to force a governor to spend money in areas that's not necessary and not allow me just to conduct business in a responsible manner that South Dakota always has," she explained.

She added: "I need Congress to allow states like South Dakota that have made good decisions, wise decisions that have balanced our budgets to make sure that we have the flexibility to do what's responsible."

3:04 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

US is in a "very critical time right now" as states begin to reopen, Fauci says

From CNN's Amanda Watts 

TIME
TIME

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the country is in a "very critical time right now" as it pulls back from coronavirus mitigation.

"When we do start to see cases come back and I'll guarantee you they will — as we pull back from mitigation, we'll be seeing cases. If we have in place the capability to identify by testing, isolate, contact trace, get people out of circulation who are infected, that's called containment. If we are capable of doing that, effectively, then we should feel some good confidence that we can slowly move on," Fauci said during a Time 100 Talk today.

Fauci said the country is dealing with different stages of the disease, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

"We have to realize that we're a large country that has outbreaks in different regions, different states, different cities, that have different dynamics, and different phases in which they are in. And that was the reason why when we put together the guidelines for, as we say the opening America, it was very, very careful and very conservative in making sure that you pass certain gateway points, checkpoints, before you go to the next phase," he said.

Fauci added: "I think sometimes and understandably, people might think that when you get back to normal, it's like a light switch that you turn on or off. It isn't really that at all."

2:59 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

California will stop issuing permits for protests at state facilities

California is pulling back on issuing permits for events and activities, including protests, at all state facilities, California Highway Patrol Officer John Ortega told CNN. 

California Highway Patrol manages security at state sites and requires organizers to obtain a free permit for a protest to be staged.

Some background: On Monday, protesters gathered at the state capitol in Sacramento to demonstrate against California’s continuing stay-at-home order.

Protest organizers received a permit for the assembly and initially stated that they intended to practice physical distancing, saying they would simply drive around the state capitol in their cars, honking their horns.

However, aerial video from CNN affiliate KCRA showed dozens of protesters outside of their vehicles, standing close to one another, with only some wearing face coverings.

California Highway Patrol provided a statement regarding protests during the coronavirus pandemic:

“In the interest of public safety and the health of all Californians, during the COVID-19 pandemic, effective immediately the California Highway Patrol will deny any permit requests for events or activities at all state facilities to include the state capitol until public health officials have determined it is safe to gather again,” the statement reads.
2:59 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

California congresswoman says her sister is dying of coronavirus

From CNN's Allison Gordon

Rep. Maxine Waters
Rep. Maxine Waters House TV

Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat and chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, said Thursday that her sister is dying of coronavirus in a hospital in St Louis, Missouri.

"I'm going to take a moment to dedicate this legislation to my dear sister who is dying in a hospital in St. Louis, Missouri right now, infected by the coronavirus," Waters said on the House floor ahead of a vote on a relief package.

While speaking, Waters lowered her face mask to be heard, one of multiple lawmakers seen wearing face masks today.

About the bill: Waters was speaking in support of the already passed Paycheck Protection Program and the pending Health Care Enhancement Act, which is expected to pass a House vote on Thursday.

President Trump has publicly supported the bill, indicating he will sign it when it reaches the Oval Office. This legislation would provide $370 billion in funding for small business loans and $100 billion for hospitals and additional coronavirus testing.

Waters is not the only member of Congress who has personally experienced the pain of the virus. This morning, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts shared that her brother passed away after testing positive for coronavirus.

2:54 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Fauci says he's "not overly confident right now" with testing

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Time
Time

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert said, he is “not overly confident right now at all," when it comes to coronavirus testing.

"We're getting better and better at it, as the weeks go by, but we are not in a situation where we say we're exactly where we want to be with regard to testing," he said.

Speaking during a Time 100 Talk today, Fauci said, “We absolutely need to significantly ramp up, not only the number of tests, but the capacity to actually perform them, so that you don't have a situation where you have a test, but it can't be done because there's not a swab, or not an extraction media or not the right vial, all of those things got to be in place.”

Fauci added: “I think anybody that has any realistic evaluation of what's going on in the trenches will tell you again we're doing better. And I think we're going to get there, but we're not there yet.”