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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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.” 

 

2:36 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Local Georgia leader recommends additional precautions ahead of state's reopening

From CNN's Allison Flexner

Dekalb County CEO Michael Thurmond issued an executive order Thursday that urges residents and businesses to take additional steps beyond Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s mandates as the state reopens.

Dekalb County is Georgia’s fourth most populous county.

The executive order...

  • Recommends all citizens wear face masks in public
  • Advises businesses to follow a list of precautions that includes implementing front-line pay and expanding leave policies
  • Encourages houses of worship to continue providing remote services

Thurmond acknowledged that Kemp’s statewide executive order preempted local leaders’ ability to mandate stronger restrictions and conceded “there is no debating that.”

But Thurmond said he “urges, advises, encourages, and implores” residents and business to heed his recommendations.

Thurmond’s order also requests that Kemp support an investigation of the Covid-19 outbreak in black communities and other communities of color.

Dekalb County has the state’s second largest black population.

2:15 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Zoom makes privacy and security fixes as millions flock to video-conferencing service

From CNN’s Brian Fung

Indranil Aditya/NurPhoto/Getty Images
Indranil Aditya/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Zoom will begin rolling out a long-awaited security update this weekend to deal with widespread complaints of video-conferencing interruptions and other potential meeting vulnerabilities, the company said Wednesday. 

As more people have come to rely on Zoom for work and socializing in recent weeks, there has also been more scrutiny of the company's privacy and security shortcomings.

The issue of "Zoombombing," in particular, even prompted the FBI to warn the public about video-conferencing calls getting interrupted by "pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language."

The update, known as Zoom 5.0, will allow meeting hosts to report misbehaving users to Zoom for review. It also includes support for a more sophisticated encryption standard, which the company said will help protect sensitive data as it moves from point A to point B. All users will be switched to the new encryption standard by May 30, the company said.

Some context: Eric Yuan, Zoom's founder and CEO, apologized earlier this month for the company having "fallen short" of its users' expectations on these fronts and promised to spend the next 90 days focusing solely on addressing privacy issues. The latest announcement is part of that effort. 

Even with the criticisms, Zoom's usage continues to spike. The company now hosts 300 million meeting participants a day, Yuan said on Wednesday. Zoom previously said it crossed 200 million daily meeting participants in March.

Zoom's announcement did not address support for full, end-to-end encryption, the technology that would prevent even Zoom from being able to decipher the content of meetings.

The company has said it's working to deliver that capability in the future. But by upgrading the level of its existing encryption now, Zoom hopes to resolve some criticisms about its security, including from researchers at the University of Toronto who said its old setup contained "significant weaknesses." 

Those concerns, along with the "Zoombombing," have also attracted the attention of policymakers and government officials.

2:00 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Tyson meat processing plant in Washington state will temporarily stop production

From CNN’s Pamela Kirkland and Dianne Gallagher

Tyson Fresh Meats announced the company will temporarily stop production at a beef processing facility in Washington state.

The plant has been linked to 91 cases of Covid-19, according to the Walla Walla county health department.

“Health officials in Walla Walla, Benton, and Franklin Counties will work with the company to test its more than 1,400 team members for Covid-19 as soon as possible,” Tyson said in a statement. 

According to Tyson Fresh Meats, the facility produces enough beef in one day to feed four million people.

The beef plant, located in Pasco, Washington, had their first case of the disease on April 1, Walla Walla county health officials said in a statement. Tyson began to put mitigation efforts in place five days later on April 6, the statement added.

The cases are now spread out over the two county Benton-Franklin Health District and Walla Walla county, officials for both areas say.

2:29 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Massachusetts officials worried people are not reporting to the ER for other medical issues

From CNN's Sarah Jorgensen 

Pool
Pool

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and hospital officials from around the state expressed concern that reduced emergency room visits for non-coronavirus issues could lead to a “second toll” caused by the pandemic.

“We know these medical problems didn’t stop when Covid-19 picked up,” Baker said of issues like heart attacks, strokes, dialysis treatments, and other health conditions highlighted by officials.

Gregg S. Meyer, interim CEO of the Newton-Wellesley hospital system, said that they saw a 48% drop in emergency department volume since January.

Nancy Shendell-Falik of Baystate Medical Center said they had seen an 80% drop in stroke patients.

All of the executives said that they believe that while there has been a drop in some kinds of injuries – for example, there are fewer motor vehicle accidents due to social distancing – they believe people are not reporting to the emergency room because of fears surrounding Covid-19.

They also described patients who waited too long to report to the emergency room and now have lasting damage as a result.

Massachusetts currently has had nearly 43,000 coronavirus cases, Baker said. The state has 1,745 new cases, and 3,977 people are hospitalized.

1:54 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Rhode Island schools will be closed for the rest of the academic year

From CNN’s Ganesh Setty

Gov. Gina Raimondo
Gov. Gina Raimondo Pool

Rhode Island schools will extend distance learning for the rest of the school year, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced. She said she made the decision in accordance to the data and with the consultation of state public health officials.  

Students’ participation rates have been “truly remarkable,” Raimondo said during a press conference this afternoon. There has been a more than 90% participation rate across the state since schools switched to distance learning, she said.

The state is still working to close the gap in terms of access to internet and technology to ensure students are able to attend class, she said.

1:46 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

New Jersey will test everyone at state developmental centers next week, governor says

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Gov. Phil Murphy
Gov. Phil Murphy Pool

New Jersey will test all residents and staff at each of the five state developmental centers for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities next week, Gov. Phil Murphy said at a press conference today,

The state will use a saliva-based test created by Rutgers University, Murphy said.

New Jersey has had a total of 99,989 coronavirus cases, Murphy says –– and he expects that number to surpass 100,000 tomorrow. At least 5,368 people have died from the virus in the state, he said.