Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Elise Hammond and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 10:54 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020
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2:02 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

This California county plans to defy the state's stay-at-home order

From CNN's Dan Simon

In defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order, a small rural county on the northeastern edge of California plans to reopen businesses, schools and churches starting Friday, according to the county's Facebook page.  

Bordering Oregon, Modoc County is the first in the state to openly reject Newsom's continued restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Modoc County is one of the least populated counties in the state with less than 9,000 residents. It’s Board of Supervisors approved the reopening plan earlier in the week.  

The plan posted on the county’s Facebook page says “restaurants and bars may open inside dining but may only be at half capacity.” 

The plan says residents must also adhere to social distancing guidelines and there can be “no large gatherings where proper social distancing cannot be maintained.”

Local officials say they feel comfortable with the reopening since there have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the county.

“We submitted plans and letters to the governor six days ago and we have not heard a word from him,” said Ned Coe, vice chair of Modoc County Board of Supervisors.

“Businesses will be proceeding to open tomorrow," Coe said.

Newsom hasn’t publicly commented on Modoc’s move and it’s unclear if the county’s reopening will cause any friction between state and local authorities.

Rural communities like Modoc are increasingly at odds with Newsom’s order. On Tuesday, business operators representing other rural parts of the state were joined by local politicians to publicly ask the Newsom to begin lifting restrictions.

2:02 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

San Diego mayor: Beach closures "send the wrong message"

From CNN’s Paul Vercammen

San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer is criticizing Gov. Gavin Newsom's potential decision to close California beaches and parks.

Newsom has made no secret of his disdain for crowds of beachgoers amid the pandemic and is expected to announce the statewide closure later today.

Meanwhile, Falconer said a statewide closure of beaches “sends the wrong message.”

“San Diegans have been following the rules set by our public health officials and lifeguards since beaches reopened this week. A sudden state ban on every single beach – regardless of the facts – sends the wrong message to regions where people are acting responsibly,” Falconer tweeted.

San Diego is one of the areas Newsom has praised for adhering to physical distancing guidelines.

Read Falconer's tweet:

1:47 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

West Virginia is compiling data on how coronavirus impacts African American community

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

The West Virginia Department of Health and Humane Resources is compiling data on how the coronavirus has impacted the African American community, DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said at a news conference Thursday

The information should be available to the public by Monday, Crouch said.

The data will include the location of individuals, numbers of positive cases and number of deaths in the community, he said.

1:47 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

There are now 102 potential Covid-19 vaccines in the works worldwide

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen and Devon M. Sayers 

An engineer, right, takes samples of monkey kidney cells as he makes a test on an experimental vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus inside the Cells Culture Room laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing.
An engineer, right, takes samples of monkey kidney cells as he makes a test on an experimental vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus inside the Cells Culture Room laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing. Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) says 102 potential Covid-19 vaccines are in development around the world, according to documents posted on the organization’s website. 

Eight of the potential vaccines are approved for clinical trials. That is up from seven vaccines four days ago. The additional group is from China, but it is unclear if they have started trials on human study subjects – the other seven have.

Of the groups approved for clinical trials on humans, four are from China, one is from England, one is American and another is a combined American and European group.

The American National Institutes of Health (NIH) trial was the first to start testing in human trial subjects on March 16.

1:19 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

Here are four things Bill Gates recommends for life to "get back to normal"

From CNN's Melissa Mahtani

Mike Cohen/Getty Images/FILE
Mike Cohen/Getty Images/FILE

Bill Gates has warned of the threat from a global pandemic for years. He has now become a leading voice on how to fight it.

Gates, the Microsoft founder whose foundation has studied pandemics for years, will join Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta tonight at 8 p.m. ET for a CNN town hall.

They'll take a look at what lies ahead as some states begin to ease restrictions.

But first, here's a look at four things Gates recommends to "get back to normal": 

  1. Testing: Gates suggests various strategies to advance current testing methods including at-home test kits and consistent standards about who can get tested.
  2. Contact Tracing: Gates suggests following Germany’s model. Interview everyone who tests positive and use a database to make sure someone follows up with all their contacts. However, this relies on the infected person reporting their contacts accurately and requires a lot of staff to follow up with everyone in person. Gates suggest technology may be more adept at this, such as apps that help you remember where you’ve been or using cell phones.
  3. Effective Treatment: Right now, there is no treatment for Covid-19. On Wednesday, Fauci expressed optimism about an experimental drug called remdesevir, which is still in the trial phase. Other drugs like hydroxychloroquine have received a lot of attention but are still being studied. Treatments such as convalescent plasma – drawing blood from patients who have recovered from Covid-19, making sure it is free of the coronavirus and other infections, and giving the plasma and the antibodies it contains to sick people – look promising. But there is no magic drug experts can fully support yet.
  4. A Vaccine: Many countries and companies around the world are working at break-neck speed to develop a vaccine faster — and there are promising signs. Gates is particularly excited about pursuing a new approach called an “RNA vaccine.” He said: “Unlike a flu shot, which contains fragments of the influenza virus so your immune system can learn to attack them, an RNA vaccine gives your body the genetic code needed to produce viral fragments on its own,” So, once your body senses traces of the infection, it attacks it. 

You can read Gates' full memo on what needs to be done for us to safely lift coronavirus restrictions and get life back to normal here.

1:25 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

Iowans could lose their job and unemployment benefits if they don't return to work

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development
Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development Iowa Public Broadcating

Employees in Iowa must return to work or risk losing their jobs and Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits (PUC), state officials said at a briefing Thursday. 

"We want to remind all individuals that if you are recalled to work, and choose not to return, you may lose eligibility for unemployment benefits. In addition to losing your job," said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development.

Iowans will still qualify for benefits if a person is diagnosed with the virus, is taking care of a family member with the virus, or lack necessary childcare, Townsend said.  

Employers "are trying to do whatever they can to be accommodating" to employees who might have vulnerable family members in their households, Gov. Kim Reynolds said. 

Since April 4, more than $327 million in PUC payments has been distributed to Iowans, Townsend said. 

Reynolds lifted limits on nonessential surgeries, farmers' markets and other nonessential business this week in a "phased" approach.

1:13 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

The USNS Comfort has left New York City

From CNN’s Sheena Jones

John Minchillo/AP
John Minchillo/AP

The USNS Comfort, a hospital ship brought to the New York City harbor to assist with the coronavirus pandemic, has departed.

"We are not done and we will continue to be here," Air Force General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, commander, U.S. Northern Command, said this morning before the ship left.

O’Shaughnessy thanked the sailors on the ship saying in part, "they had to adapt to the Covid-19 situation," in New York.

At one point during the Comfort’s month-long stay in the city, 75% of the patients on the floating hospital had Covid-19, O’Shaughnessy said. 

“Even as the Comfort sails away representing the encouragement that the situation has changed, but we are not done and we will continue to be here, we will be here in New York City as long as New York City needs us,” O’Shaughnessy said.

At least 682 U.S. military doctors and nurses are working across hospitals in the city, the general said. He added this is because the hospitals have the capacity, but not the personnel.

The general also recalled one night where a local hospital had oxygen issues and several patients had to be brought to the Comfort for help.

The ship has now departed New York City and is on its way to its home base in Norfolk, VA

1:06 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

Utah will allow bars and restaurants to reopen

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has issued an Executive Order that will place the state under a lower, “moderate risk” protocol beginning on midnight tomorrow, according to a statement on the governor’s website.

The lower risk category allows restaurants and bars to open for dine-in services, but with “strict requirements,” a Utah Department of Health document said.

The requirements include limiting tables to groups of 10, enforcing social distancing and face coverings for staff, the document said.

1:16 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

Washington, DC, reports largest one-day increase in Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Austen Bundy 

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser Pool

Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Thursday morning that there have been 19 new coronavirus deaths in the District – the largest one-day increase in Washington. This brings the total deaths in the District to 224.

In the past, the number of daily deaths have been 15 or fewer. Bowser noted 80% of DC deaths have been African-American residents.

There were 217 new positive Covid-19 cases in Washington, DC, bringing the total to 4,323.

District officials continue to talk with the White House task force to ensure they know how much testing supplies they'll need to combat Covid-19 in the coming months.

Bowser reaffirmed that the DC economy will not reopen until the District meets the White House's requirement of 14 days of sustained decreases in cases.