States reopen in US as coronavirus pandemic persists

Updated 9:57 p.m. ET, May 4, 2020
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10:50 a.m. ET, May 4, 2020

Shops and restaurants in most of Florida allowed to reopen today

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, on May 3.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, on May 3. John Raoux/AP

Florida is allowing businesses to open throughout much of the state today, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis said restaurants and retail spaces could let customers inside, but only at 25% capacity, and people must adhere to social distancing guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bars, fitness centers and places that offer personal services, likes hair styling, also will open later.

Note: These reopening measures don't apply in three of the counties hit hardest by coronavirus. They are Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, which account for about 6.2 million of Florida's residents, according to US Census data.

DeSantis he took a victory lap that began at the White House last week — touting his "tailored" and "surgical" approach to stay-at-home orders as the central reason Florida has so far defied the dire predictions that it would become "way worse than Italy."

10:18 a.m. ET, May 4, 2020

New York City is handing out 7.5 million face coverings for free

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio visits a food shelf in Brooklyn, New York, on April 14, organized by The Campaign Against Hunger.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio visits a food shelf in Brooklyn, New York, on April 14, organized by The Campaign Against Hunger. Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City will immediately begin handing out free face coverings to residents.

The mayor said the city intends to give out 7.5 million face masks and cloth face coverings.

"Wherever you turn, you're going to be offered a face covering," de Blasio said.

In terms of where they'll be handed out, the mayor said parks "will be one focal point," as well as public housing and food distribution centers. He added that New York Police Department officers will be carrying a supply of face coverings to hand out as well.

9:59 a.m. ET, May 4, 2020

NYC mayor says that the city has enough medical supplies for "the week ahead"

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said this morning, "For the first time since March, we actually start a week with enough of all of the PPEs we need" in New York City.

De Blasio said that every hospital and nursing home in the city will get the medical supplies including N95 masks and gowns "for the week ahead."

"We have a little breathing room," the mayor added.

9:59 a.m. ET, May 4, 2020

US stocks open lower

From CNN's Anneken Tappe

US stocks kicked the new week off lower as tensions between the United States and China are rising.

What's this about: President Trump last week threatened China could face new tariffs over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said over the weekend there is "enormous evidence" that the virus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan.

Here's how the markets opened the week:

  • The Dow opened 0.9%, or 210 points, lower. 
  • The S&P 500 kicked off 0.7% lower. 
  • The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.5%.

More context: US airline stocks opened lower after Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett dumped his entire stake in the four airline stocks that company had owned.

American, United, Delta and Southwest Airlines all fell after Buffet disclosed he sold his shares because he believes it will take years for air travel to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

10:13 a.m. ET, May 4, 2020

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises reach agreement with health officials to get crews off ships

From CNN's Javi Morgado 

The Celebrity Infinity Cruise ship, a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises, returns to PortMiami in Florida from a cruise in the Caribbean on March 14.
The Celebrity Infinity Cruise ship, a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises, returns to PortMiami in Florida from a cruise in the Caribbean on March 14. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

After spending more than a month in quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic, crew members onboard Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Line ships are one step closer to disembarking.

In a letter to employees, Celebrity Cruises says they will agree to strict guidelines set forth from the US Centers for Disease Control in order to disembark crew members safely.

"The CDC has asked me and other cruise line leaders to sign a letter limiting our options for getting you home and taking responsibility for your actions in order to secure their approval to disembark you. In the spirit of doing everything we possibly can to get you home, I have decided to sign this letter," Celebrity Cruises President and Chief Executive Officer Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said. 

Under the agreed upon guidelines, cruise lines will begin transferring certain crew members by nationality onto different ships around the world. American crew on ships close to the United States will be repatriated with private transportation beginning as soon as possible, presumably in the next week, the letter stated. American crew members in Asia will be flown home from the Philippines as soon as the Manila airport reopens.

Crew members who do not wish to evacuate the ship will continue to receive room and board accommodations, the letter stated. 

Celebrity Cruises said so far, nearly 3,300 crew members have safely disembarked including 122 Americans who arrived home via commercial flights and private transportation.

9:59 a.m. ET, May 4, 2020

"Too hard to tell" whether international travel resumes this year, US Treasury secretary says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks at the White House during a briefing about the novel coronavirus on April 21.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks at the White House during a briefing about the novel coronavirus on April 21. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said it is “too hard to tell” whether international travel will resume this year.

During an appearance on Fox business this morning, he said, "Too hard to tell at this point, Maria. I hope down the road, it is."

"Our priority is opening up the domestic economy. Obviously, for business people that do need to travel, there will be travel on a limited basis. But this is a great time for people to explore America,” he added.

Mnuchin also repeated an update the Administration made Sunday on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, saying that $175 billion of the $310 billion has been used. In this round of funding, 2.2 million loans have been processed, the average size $79,000.

“We really see this is going directly to small businesses,” he said – after criticism during the last round that the loans went to some larger businesses. He noted that the last round of funding processed 1.7 million loans.

“There were some hiccups with the systems,” he conceded, but “now the systems are up and running,” predicting 60 million people will be impacted by this round.

Mnuchin was pressed on whether there might be flexibility for businesses regarding PPP loans. He said it was “not designed as a loan, it was really designed as a grant” and pointed small businesses toward other loan programs available to help with overhead costs. 

He was pressed again on this with the examples of restaurants, most of which will not be able to reopen under statewide guidelines at full capacity to generate the revenue to rehire their staffs and forgive their loans within the time frame specified by the PPP legislation.

“This is the way the program was designed by Congress… I don’t have the flexibility to change that,” he said.

President Trump, Mnuchin said, is “sympathetic to the restaurant industry.”

9:59 a.m. ET, May 4, 2020

Here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic in the US

A body is moved outside the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home in Brooklyn, New York, on April 30. The New York State Department of Health has suspended the license of the Brooklyn funeral home where dozens of bodies were discovered in trucks on April 29, according to a statement by the state health commissioner.
A body is moved outside the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home in Brooklyn, New York, on April 30. The New York State Department of Health has suspended the license of the Brooklyn funeral home where dozens of bodies were discovered in trucks on April 29, according to a statement by the state health commissioner. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It's Monday morning in the US. Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic to start your week:

8:20 a.m. ET, May 4, 2020

The Supreme Court is live on the air

From Ariane de Vogue

The Supreme Court is pictured at dusk on May 3 in Washington.
The Supreme Court is pictured at dusk on May 3 in Washington. Patrick Semansky/AP

It took a global pandemic for the Supreme Court, an institution rooted in tradition and precedent, to change how it conducts its business. 

In lieu of the pomp and circumstance associated with the highest court in the land, where lawyers are still presented with quill pens, television cameras are not allowed and only those lucky enough to get inside the building can hear the proceedings live, on Monday morning the justices will conduct their business over a simple fiber optic cable. 

To some, teleconferences are the new normal as the world grapples with social distancing, but for the justices and arguing counsel, the change will impact how the court digests its cases and how the lawyers prepare.

"I never thought the day would come when high on my list of pre-argument worries was how to keep my dog from interrupting," veteran lawyer Lisa Blatt, who will argue the first case, told CNN. 

On top of that, the justices will also break another tradition: They will let the public listen in real time. Numerous outlets, including CNN.com, will broadcast the proceedings live.

The experiment will begin Monday morning at 10:00 a.m., and play out for six argument sessions over two weeks. The court will work out the kinks in a couple of under-the-radar cases to start, but will build toward some of the biggest cases of the term -- including the duel over President Donald Trump's financial and tax records.

7:29 a.m. ET, May 4, 2020

How a travel photographer in lockdown "escaped" her apartment

From CNN's Amy Wray

Los Angeles-based photographer Erin Sullivan has found an unconventional way to satiate her penchant for exploration while under a stay-at-home order because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sullivan let her creativity go wild in her latest photo series, "Our Great Indoors." In it, she constructs fantastical landscapes from common household objects found in her apartment, such as pancakes, pillow cases and raincoats. 

Sullivan's career as a travel photographer has brought her to some of the most beautiful places around the world. These excursions helped her prepare for more than 40 days in self-quarantine.

"I was asking myself how I can stay creative and how I can stay connected to the outdoors and travel -- to these things that have been so important to my growth and the growth of my community," Sullivan told CNN. 

So far, she's made an ice cave out of sheets and pillows, a paper bag canyon, a broccoli forest and a jello lake.

Read more about Sullivan's projects.