Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 9:02 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020
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4:19 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

California governor says counties reopening are "making a big mistake"

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg


California counties reopening ahead of the state’s plans are “making a big mistake,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Three of the state’s more rural counties, Modoc, Yuba, and Sutter, have already begun reopening stores and restaurants in defiance of the stay-at-home orders.

“The overwhelming majority of Californians are playing by the rules doing the right thing, they put us in a position where we're making these announcements this week,” Newsom said.

Newsom warned that they are putting businesses at risk by reopening early. He encouraged them to "do the right thing.”

The governor stressed that he is committed to working with counties and urged leaders to seek the guidance of their health directors to accommodate local needs and regional variances.

4:12 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Pence: "We're having conversations" about winding down the coronavirus task force next month

 From CNN's Jeremy Diamond 


Vice President Mike Pence said the White House is considering disbanding the coronavirus task force as early as Memorial Day.

"We're having conversations about that and about what the proper time is for the task force to complete its work and for the ongoing efforts to take place on an agency-by-agency level," Pence said today.

He noted that the White House has begun to discuss a "transition plan with FEMA."

Pence said the discussions are a "reflection of the tremendous progress we've made as a country."

Pence said Dr. Deborah Birx would remain in her role "every bit as long as we need to."

About the possible wind down: On the timeline, Pence said the White House is "starting to look at the Memorial Day window, early June window as a time when we could begin to transition" away from the task force.

Pence's comments came during a pen and pad briefing today with reporters to which CNN was not invited. The Vice President's office provided CNN with a partial transcript after the fact.

4:08 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

More than 400 asymptomatic workers at Triumph Foods test positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Brad Parks

Triumph Foods in St. Joseph, Missouri
Triumph Foods in St. Joseph, Missouri KQTV

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) updated the number of employees and contract workers testing positive for Covid-19 at Triumph Foods in Buchanan County to 412. This is an increase of 39 more positive cases than were reported over the weekend.

All 412 individuals presented with no related Covid-19 symptoms.

This is out of 2,367 workers who were tested on site April 27- May 1 at Triumph Foods as part of Missouri’s “box in” testing strategy when an outbreak is present among people living or working closely together, according to the DHSS statement. 

Based on an assessment by DHSS and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Triumph Foods has informed its staff that return to work guidelines have been changed from seven days to 10 days.

3:39 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Minnesota will allow some elective surgeries to resume next week

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order today providing a roadmap for the state to safely resume elective surgeries starting on Monday.

Beginning next week, doctors, dentists and veterinarians who create a plan to keep patients and health care professionals safe may begin offering procedures to treat chronic conditions, prevent and cure disease and relieve chronic pain, a statement from the governor’s office read. 

The executive order allows hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and clinics — including veterinary, medical, or dental — to resume many currently delayed procedures.

4:03 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Man arrested after wiping his face on Dollar Tree employee's shirt, police say

From CNN's Alec Snyder and Rebekah Riess

Rex Howard Gomoll
Rex Howard Gomoll Oakland County Sheriff's office

Police in Holly, Michigan, have arrested a 68-year-old man on assault charges after he entered a Dollar Tree on Saturday and wiped his face on an employee's shirt.

Holly Police Chief Jerry Narsh said the man entered the store at around 1:30 p.m. Saturday without a mask, despite an executive order in the state requiring patrons in enclosed public spaces to wear one at all times.

Rex Howard Gomoll faces misdemeanor charges of assault and battery, Jessica Cooper, the Oakland County prosecutor, told CNN.

Security camera footage inside the store released by police shows a man wiping his face on an employee's shirt. According to police, the employee had told the man he needed to wear a face mask to remain in the store.

He responded by saying, "Here, I'll just use this as a mask," before wiping his nose and face on the shirt, leaving behind "bodily fluids," Narsh said.

The employee was the only person the man came in contact with while at the Dollar Tree, Narsh said, who also said the man made other comments and was loud and disruptive until leaving.

Saturday's incident was the second in as many days involving a store patron not wearing a required face mask in Michigan. On Friday, police in Flint say, a security guard was shot and killed at a Family Dollar in an incident that began when he approached the customer and instructed her to wear a face covering.

Watch here:

3:57 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Top US general says "we don't know" where the coronavirus materialized from Wuhan

From CNN's Jamie Crawford and Ryan Browne

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley WHO PAHO

The top US General in the United States said Tuesday that there is not conclusive evidence on where the virus originated in Wuhan, China, saying “we don’t know” whether it began in a Chinese lab or a wet market.   

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said, “Did it come out of the virology lab in Wuhan, did it occur in the wet market there in Wuhan or did it occur somewhere else? And the answer to that is we don’t know and as mentioned by many people various agencies both civilian and US government are looking at that.”

President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have repeatedly claimed there is evidence that Covid-19 originated in a Wuhan lab.

Milley said, “the weight of evidence is that it was natural and not manmade,” and also said while there was still not “conclusive evidence” on whether or not the virus was accidentally or deliberately released in Wuhan, China, “the weight of evidence is that it was probably not intentional.”

“It would help a great deal if the Chinese government would open up and allow inspectors and investigators to go there in full transparency so that the world can know the actual original source of this so that we can apply the lessons learned and prevent outbreaks in the future,” he said.

Milley made the comments during an on-camera press briefing Tuesday at the Pentagon alongside Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Watch here:

6:09 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

More than 1,100 Detroit residents have died due to coronavirus

From CNN's Anna Sturla

At least 1,111 Detroit residents have died due to complications related to Covid-19, Mayor Mike Duggan said today.

There are at least 9,449 cases of the virus in the city. 

Of the roughly 17,000 tests performed so far, Duggan said that 27% of Detroit residents, and 26% of residents in neighboring suburbs have tested positive for coronavirus. 

Duggan also said that budget cuts in the city, beginning at the upcoming end of the fiscal year, extending through June 30, 2021 will total $348 million. Most of that is dipping into Detroit’s reserves that it had developed after the recession, as well as cuts to its urban blight demolition program, Duggan said.

3:31 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Here's how US airlines are handling middle seats and social distancing

From CNN's Greg Wallace and Pete Muntean

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP/FILE
Lefteris Pitarakis/AP/FILE

Coronavirus has made it less likely that anyone still flying will be stuck in a middle seat as airlines attempt to help passengers maintain some level of social distance. 

Across the industry, flights are generally sparsely populated, giving the airlines and passengers opportunities to spread out. The average US domestic flight currently carries about 17 passengers, according to the latest numbers from air carrier group Airlines for America. 

Here's how US airlines are handling social distancing on flights:

  • Delta Air Lines on Tuesday said it would cap capacity at 50% in first class and 60% in other classes. That’s the furthest formal step of the largest US airlines. 
  • American Airlines is dialing back on the number of middle seats it makes available for customers to select. The airline has announced half of the middle seats are generally off-limits and it “will only use those middle seats when necessary.” It will also allow passengers to move to another seat in their class once all passengers are onboard.
  • United is also making some middle seats unavailable for customers to select. But the company is also not reducing capacity on flights, so a passenger could be given a middle or adjacent seat. When seats are in groups of two, the airline says it will place customers in alternating spots – for example, window in one row, aisle in the next row.  
  • Southwest Airlines, the only major carrier without assigned seats or different cabin classes, told CNN on Tuesday that as of this weekend, it is under-selling each flight by “roughly a third.” That allows each middle seat to potentially remain empty. But CEO Gary Kelly said the airline does not plan to mandate that all middle seats remain empty.
  • Frontier announced Tuesday it is taking a different approach. It will allow customers to buy out the middle seat in their row, guaranteeing some level of distancing. Prices start at $39 per flight.

6:09 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Almost half Arkansas' Covid-19 cases are in prisons and nursing homes

From CNN's Jamiel Lynch

Dr. Nate Smith, Director of the Arkansas Department of Health
Dr. Nate Smith, Director of the Arkansas Department of Health Arkansas Governor's office

More than 1,000 inmates in Arkansas prisons have tested positive for Covid-19, according to Dr. Nate Smith, Director of the Arkansas Department of Health.

Smith said that 876 inmates at the Cummins Correctional Facility have tested positive and another 264 inmates at the Federal Correctional Institute in Forrest City have also tested positive.

Additionally, a total of 261 nursing home residents and 148 staff members have tested positive for the virus. There have been 32 deaths connected to nursing homes in the state.

Dr. Smith said that the state is doing more test at the Cummins facility after previously negative inmates have now tested positive.

In total, at least 3,496 cases and 83 deaths have been reported in the state.