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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4:02 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

Louisiana governor extends stay-at-home order until May 15

A stay-at-home order in Louisiana has been extended until May 15, Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a news conference Thursday.

He said he signed the executive order earlier today.

Edwards, who met with President Trump this week, said the President was "extremely supportive" of the efforts made by the state to combat coronavirus.

The governor said they discussed his plan to move forward with reopening efforts using the guidelines provided by the White House.

Federal officials were paying close attention to the steep increase and cases in the state weeks ago and were worried the state might not be able to handle the situation, Edwards said. 

3:57 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

Minnesota extends stay-at-home order until May 18

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced he is signing a new executive order that extends the state's stay-at-home order but also loosens some restrictions on businesses.

Walz said that the order is extended until May 18. The governor also "strongly" encouraged Minnesotans to wear masks outside the home.

Starting on Monday, retail businesses may begin to offer curbside pickup, Walz announced. Businesses are required to develop and post a plan on safe operation, use contactless payments, and follow social distanciung and minimize contact with customers, Walz explained.

Walz said that this loosening will put 30,000 Minnesotans back to work.

Steve Grove, Commissioner for the Department of Employment and Economic Development, noted that salons and barbershops cannot provide services, but may conduct retail sales. 

"Under no circumstances can customers enter a business when they're there to pick something up," Grove added.

3:57 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

388 poultry plant employees in Georgia test positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Jason Morris

At least 388 poultry plant employees have tested positive for Covid-19, and one poultry plant employee has died, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. 

There are an estimated 16,500 poultry industry workers across Georgia. 

The Georgia Department of Public Health said that these are “reasonable” estimates based on hospital data and information from the poultry plants.  

“It is important to note that many of those who were infected have recovered and returned to work,” Nancy Nydam, director of communications with the Georgia Department of Public Health told CNN. 

“The biggest challenge for these employees is the community widespread transmission in the areas where they live, the lack of education about Covid-19, and reluctance to change behaviors. Many employees live in multi-generational homes with large numbers of family members. They have no place to self-isolate if they are sick with Covid-19 and the whole family ends up getting sick," Nydam said.
3:53 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

More than 12,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in New York City

From CNN's Rob Frehse

New York City has had at least 12,571 confirmed coronavirus deaths and 5,295 probable coronavirus deaths, according to the city website.

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 as the cause of death “COVID-19” or an equivalent.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is 17,866.

There have been 162,212 coronavirus cases in the city and approximately 41,648 people have been hospitalized, according to the city.

3:35 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

Public health labs say they are still low on supplies

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Representatives for the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) said they continue to see supply chain issues with testing supplies. 

“We do our best to plan to have enough supplies to test for the next two weeks,” Megan Crumpler, laboratory director in California’s Orange County Public Health Laboratory, said at a press briefing Thursday.

“I have referred to it as a game of whack-a-mole, where you are constantly… trying to figure out which test kit or which extraction kit you're going to be able to get that week and moving forward with that," Crumpler said.

Scott Becker, the Chief Executive Officer at APHL said he has seen progress with regards to swabs, specifically. 

“My understanding is that FEMA is now delivering swabs to the state and the states are responsible for organizing; again according to whatever their plan is for testing to ensure that those swabs get where they need to go," he said.

Becker said going forward, the supply issue is “first and foremost our biggest concern.” 

“Whatever scheme is developed out of the White House Task Force has to absolutely ensure that Public Health Laboratories have the necessary support that they need. We've been working with them and with CDC, of course throughout this to share what are the instruments and what are the needs of the public health labs –– so supplies are first and foremost," Becker said.

3:33 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

NASCAR will start racing again in 2 weeks

From CNN's David Close

NASCAR has announced that it will begin holding races in mid-May starting with events at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.

Fans will not be allowed at the events.

Darlington will hold three separate events between May 17-20; two NASCAR Cup Series races and a NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

NASCAR will then host four events in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the Charlotte Motor Speedway from May 24-27.

NASCAR says it has implemented a comprehensive health and safety plan that includes mandated use of personal protective equipment throughout the events and health screenings for all individuals prior to entering the facility, while inside the facility and exiting the facility.

“NASCAR will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community. We thank local, state and federal officials and medical experts, as well as everyone in the industry, for the unprecedented support in our return to racing, and we look forward to joining our passionate fans in watching cars return to the track," Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said in a statement.
3:51 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

California governor orders closure of Orange County beaches

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg


California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today a temporary pause on state and local beaches in Orange County.

He said the beaches may open very quickly if the framework and guidelines allow. 

Newsom has consistently reiterated his disappointment and frustration with beachgoers, chiding them for crowding the coast. He noted that only about 5% of beaches in the state actually presented an issue with crowding.

The city council in Newport Beach, California, snubbed the governor’s reproach and voted Tuesday to step up enforcement of physical distancing and keep beaches open.

While the governor is cracking down on beaches, access is being granted for other outdoor spaces. The amended stay-home order loosens up restrictions on hiking, golfing, tennis and other outdoor activities.

“The only thing we don’t want you to do is linger, in ways where you’re mixing,” Newsom said.

Newsom addressed a law enforcement memo disseminated widely last night that indicated all California beaches would be closed. He said the memo never got to him.

The governor went on to say that he just wants "to focus on where there’s a problem.. in a smart, strategic way."

“We don’t want to be heavy-handed about these things,” he said.

5:05 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

Public health laboratories around US brace for the long haul as testing and surveillance ramp up

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Scott Becker, chief executive officer at the Association of Public Health Laboratories, said clinicians across the United States are bracing for the long haul as coronavirus testing, surveillance and contact tracings ramps up. 

“Early on I thought it was a marathon, I now think it's more of an ultra-marathon with a triathlon attached to it,” Becker said during a Thursday webinar. “Public health lab scientists across the country are really hometown heroes, and they are making a difference."

Megan Crumpler, laboratory director at California’s Orange County Public Health Laboratory, said looking forward, “we will do what we are doing now which is outbreak investigations and move into more of our surveillance troll, similar to what we do for influenza.”  

Becker added public health labs will play an important role in contact tracing.

“There's a huge effort in every state to develop contact tracing teams, and the public health laboratory will be one of the major players in terms of doing the testing for those outbreaks that they find," Becker said. "It's like our usual work but on steroids." 

3:23 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

Georgia Democrats call state reopening "reckless and irresponsible"

From CNN's Devon Sayers

Following reports that Brian Kemp will lift Georgia’s shelter-in-place order at midnight Thursday, Democratic Party of Georgia Chair Nikema Williams released a statement saying the decision is "reckless and irresponsible."

“Against the advice of public health experts, and against the will of the majority of Georgians, Brian Kemp is playing a dangerous game by ending Georgia’s shelter in place order before it is safe," the statement said.

"It is reckless and irresponsible for Kemp to use Georgians as the guinea pigs in a public health experiment that will go wrong. Today’s decision will have consequences — for our overworked health systems, for our struggling essential workers, and for our lives," the statement added.

Some background: Kemp was one of the last governors to enact shelter-in-place restrictions, only doing so after admitting he didn’t understand basic facts about the coronavirus.

Earlier this week, his administration admitted that Georgia has failed to meet federal guidelines for reopening the state, after reopening bowling alleys and hair salons well before the data suggests a lasting decline in coronavirus cases.

Covid-19 has ravaged communities across the state, particularly in southwest Georgia, which has had some of the highest coronavirus rates in the country. The virus is taking a disproportionate toll on black Georgians — a recent study shows that 80% of hospitalized coronavirus patients in Georgia were African American.