Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:07 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020
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1:33 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Trump says federal social distancing guidelines will be "fading out" 

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

A day before federal guidelines on slowing the spread of coronavirus are set to expire, Trump administration officials signaled that strong social distancing guidelines would be relaxed as states begin to reopen their economies. 

“We’ve issued the guidelines now, it was actually 45 days ago,” Vice President Mike Pence said, as he and other task force members met with President Trump and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in the Oval Office Wednesday.

“Frankly, every state in America has embraced those guidelines at a minimum, or even done more, and now our focus is working with states as governors, like Gov. John Bel Edwards, unveil plans to open up their states again,” Pence said. “The new guidance that we’ve issued is guidance for how they can do that safely and responsibly.”

The current guidelines, Pence added, are “very much incorporated in the new I think you could say, are very much incorporated in the guidance that we’re giving states to open up America again.” 

President Trump chimed in, adding that the current guidelines will be “fading out,” as states begin to reopen. 

“I am very much in favor of what they’re doing,” Trump said of governors who are opening businesses. “They’re getting it going.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, also in the meeting, said that the administration has been, “very encouraged to see how the federal guidelines have helped inform, or at least provide a framework for governors and moving forward.”

More context: Trump, who initially introduced the guidelines in mid-March, extended nationwide social distancing guidelines for another 30 days at the end of March, an abrupt back-down from his push at the time to reopen the country.

3:42 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Trump goes after WHO and China for coronavirus response

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump said Wednesday that his administration plans to issue recommendations toward the World Health Organization and China, though it wasn’t clear what he’s recommending.

Asked to clarify his recommendations, Trump said, “on (the) World Health (Organization) with China to follow.”

Asked what he hopes to learn about China and WHO through a recently launched intelligence investigation, the President said intelligence is “coming in … and we’re not happy about it.”

He said WHO “is literally a pipe organ for China.”

The President also repeated his complaints about the funding the US gives to WHO compared to funding from China. He also questioned why China continued to allow air travel out of the country.

1:54 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

New Jersey governor to sign an executive order to reopen parks and golf courses

From CNN’s Sheena Jones

An aerial view of a golf course in New Jersey.
An aerial view of a golf course in New Jersey. FotosForTheFuture/Shutterstock

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted today that he will sign an executive order reopening state parks this weekend.

All state parks, golf courses and county parks will reopen at sunrise on May 2, Murphy announced.

“Social distancing will continue to be mandated,” he tweeted.

Murphy, speaking at a news conference today, said Covid-19 numbers in the state are "headed in the right direction."

At least 6,770 people have died of coronavirus, and at least 116,264 people have tested positive for the virus, he said.

 

1:42 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Texas Tech University announces plans to reopen campus by fall 

From CNN's Gregory Lemo

Texas Tech University Seal in Lubbock, Texas on January 13, 2016.
Texas Tech University Seal in Lubbock, Texas on January 13, 2016. IrinaK/Shutterstock

Texas Tech University President Lawrence Schovanec announced Wednesday he intends to reopen campus by fall "using a phased return approach."  

In a letter to the community, Schovanec wrote the university will resume residential life and in-person teaching, although learning will be a mix of online and face-to-face. He said that while the first summer session of school will be online, he is considering opening the campus for in-person learning for the second session "to test the protocols and policies that will guide the re-opening of campus in the fall."  

"We need to recognize that campus life will be different when we return in the fall," Schovanec wrote, noting that social distancing, masks, testing and contact tracing will be a part of the new normal. "There will be inconveniences, but they will be necessary for us to get back to our campus, colleagues, and friends in a safe and responsible way." 

Schovanec said the university is working through plans to reduce density of people, a practice that will extend to sporting events and special events as well.  

1:21 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Fauci: Mortality rate trended "better" with possible coronavirus treatment remdesivir

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC on April 9.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC on April 9. Oliver Contreras/SIPA/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci said remdesivir coronavirus trial showed that the mortality rate trended "towards being better" with patients who took the drug.

Fauci, speaking at the White House alongside President Trump, added he was told that the data shows the drug has a "clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery."

About the trial: Pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences said today it is "aware of positive data emerging from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID) study of the investigational antiviral remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19."

Remember: The World Health Organization said it’s too early to comment on the remdesivir trial results released today.

1:13 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Iowa takes steps to reopen some businesses

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

A church member prays during a Good Friday service at a church in Des Moines, Iowa on April 10.
A church member prays during a Good Friday service at a church in Des Moines, Iowa on April 10. Charlie Neibergall/AP

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced some church services, elective surgeries and farmers markets will reopen Monday. 

There were 467 new Covid-19 cases reported on Wednesday, for a total of 6,843 positive cases in the state, Reynolds said at a briefing. 

1:01 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

WHO says it's too early to comment on possible Covid-19 treatment remdesivir

From CNN's Amanda Watts

 

Dr. Michael Ryan talks during a daily press briefing on COVID-19 at the WHO heardquaters in Geneva, Switzerland on March 11.
Dr. Michael Ryan talks during a daily press briefing on COVID-19 at the WHO heardquaters in Geneva, Switzerland on March 11. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization health emergencies program, said it’s too early to comment on the remdesivir trial results released earlier today. 

“It's always very important that we consider all publications related to them, it can sometimes take a number of publications to determine of the ultimate impact of a drug is,” Ryan said.

“I think a lot more data will come out, we're all hoping, and fervently hoping, that one or more of the treatments currently under observation and under trial will result in altering clinical outcomes and improving clinical outcomes,” he added. 

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for the coronavirus response with WHO, explained the agency generally pulls together all the evidence from several studies, will review it and critique it. 

Currently, WHO is conducting “living reviews” on about 30 topics right now, in peer-reviewed journals and publications.

“Typically, you don't have one study that will come out that will be a game changer,” Van Kerkove said.  

If one proves to be a game changer, WHO will adjust its guidance, Van Kerkhove said, “But there is a process for this to take place and we're really grateful for all of the scientists and experts that work with us to, to help us develop this guidance and understand all of this research that's coming out.”

What this is about: Pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences said today it is "aware of positive data emerging from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID) study of the investigational antiviral remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19."

12:54 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

New York's Empire State Building will glow blue tonight to honor MTA workforce

The Empire State Building illuminated in blue for Health Workers movement in New York City on April 09.
The Empire State Building illuminated in blue for Health Workers movement in New York City on April 09. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

The Empire State Building will be lit up with blue lights tonight to honor workers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It starts at 7:51 p.m. ET.

“Our employees are working tirelessly to keep the city moving and get essential employees to where they have to go during the COVID-19 pandemic,” MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye said in a statement. 

He added: “They are among the heroes of this moment in history. We honor them every day for their dedication and tonight everyone within view of the Empire State Building will know others are joining us in honoring and thanking our employees.”

The building's tower lights will display different colors each night to honor essential workers and first responders.

Blue is the official color of the MTA, according to an MTA statement.

12:38 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from Washington, DC

From CNN's Nicky Robertson and Alex Marquardt 

Washington, DC, officials held a news conference this morning to give updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the city.

Here's the latest from the nation's capitol:

  • The latest numbers: There have been 4,106 confirmed cases and 205 deaths in Washington DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser said.
  • Hiring contact tracers: The DC government is posting contact-tracing jobs today. They will be 13-month term positions, and there will be three types of jobs: Investigators, lead investigators and program managers. Last week, Bowser announced that the district will eventually need up to 900 contact-tracers.
  • Michelle Obama on the phone: Bowser said on CNN's New Day yesterday that former first lady Michelle Obama would record a robocall public service announcement for the city. DC Attorney General Karl Racine said he received it — and it was like a “good cup of coffee and a warm hug."