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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12:26 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Long-term disaster morgue set up in Brooklyn to help NYC's overwhelmed funeral system

From CNN's Brian Vitagliano

A long-term disaster morgue at Brooklyn’s 39th Street Pier is now operating, according to the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). 

The disaster morgue, where human remains are frozen inside trucks, was established to ease the stress that overwhelmed funeral directors in New York City are experiencing from the unprecedented amount of deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

On Monday, funeral home directors, faith leaders, morgue operators, cemeteries joined OCME on a conference call, according to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“Even a public health crisis of this magnitude should not get in the way of treating decedents with basic dignity,” he said in a press release Monday.

OCME outlined three recent policy changes to help the “death care system” operate in a smoother fashion:

  • A location to store bodies is set up at Pier 39 to ease the burden on funeral homes and extend the window during which bodies can be retrieved.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be distributed to cemetery workers and funeral home workers.
  • Pier 39 will remain open until to 10:30 p.m. every day

Michael Lanotte, executive director of the New York State Funeral Directors Association, told CNN the Brooklyn morgue would reduce the pressure on the city's overloaded funeral industry.

“The additional morgue operating hours will also help funeral directors by providing them with evening hours for transfers since they spend the vast majority of the daytime hours conducting funerals, making arrangements and answering calls from families seeking their services,” said Lanotte. 

12:18 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Cuomo reiterates call for federal funding for states 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo again called for more federal funding for states during the coronavirus pandemic.

"What the government does will literally determine how many people live or die,” Cuomo said. 

Cuomo responded to President Trump’s comments to the New York Post that blue-state bailouts are unfair to Republican states. 

“If you starve the states, how do you expect the states to be able to fund this entire reopening plan?” Cuomo said. 

According to the governor, New York state has a $13 billion deficit due to the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the economy. Cuomo said that New York has contributed more money to the federal government than the government has given back. 

“It’s not a blue-state issue. Every state has coronavirus cases. This is not any mismanagement by the states,. If anything, the mismanagement has been on behalf of the federal government, and that's where the mismanagement have gone back decades,” he said. 

WATCH:

12:00 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

New York governor: The faster we reopen, "the higher the human cost"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a media briefing on May 5, in Albany, New York.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a media briefing on May 5, in Albany, New York. State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the decision to reopen is about the balance between the economic cost between staying closed and the human life cost of reopening.

The governor said the faster his state — or any state —reopens, "the higher the human cost."

He noted that an influential coronavirus model often cited by the White House is now forecasting that 134,000 people will die of Covid-19 in the United States — nearly double its previous prediction. That sharp increase is tied to relaxed social distancing and increased mobility in the US.

"The fundamental question, which we're not articulating, is how much is a human life worth?" Cuomo said at his daily news confernece.

He added: "A human life is priceless. Period."

11:51 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Cuomo: "Tonight we're going to shut down the subway for the first time in history"

A person enters a train in Main St., Flushing, New York, on May 4.
A person enters a train in Main St., Flushing, New York, on May 4. John Nacion/NurPhoto/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted during his daily coronavirus press conference today that tonight New York City will begin to shut down the entire subway system for several hours overnight to disinfect trains.

"Tonight we're going to shut down the subway for the first time in history," Cuomo said.

More context: Last week, Gov. Cuomo announced that the city would shut down its entire subway system from 1 to 5 a.m. each night to clean the trains. The plan goes into effect on May 6.

WATCH:

12:10 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Coronavirus deaths up slightly in New York, governor says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a media briefing on May 5, in Albany, New York.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a media briefing on May 5, in Albany, New York. State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the number of deaths across the state was up slightly yesterday, with 230 new deaths reported.

On Sunday, 226 people died from coronavirus in the state.

"This is always the worst number when we're going through the facts of the day. And it is not good news," Cuomo said, calling the deaths "painful, painful" news.

12:03 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Phoenix mayor urges residents to put "public health first" as Arizona begins to reopen

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Arizona is setting up plans to to ease its restrictions, allowing some retail stores to soon reopen for in-person business under social distancing guidelines. But Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego is urging residents to “practice common sense safety.”

“You, very shortly, will be able to get your nails done here in Arizona. That’s not something I would do or advise my family to do."

While reiterating the safety precautions for the citizens of a key swing state in the election, Gallego encouraged people to “still stay home” if they can.

“We do know that as we reenter the economy, we will see more cases,” she said. 

Responding to the news that President Trump will travel today to tour a Honeywell plant making N95 masks in Phoenix, she said, “I’m not sure that I would be traveling, but I do think it is important to celebrate the workers who are powering this economy.”

States may be reopening due to economic pressures but as residents receive conflicting messages from governments on going out versus staying in, the mayor said every individual knows best about their respective situation.

“I hope that people will err on the side of putting public health first but I understand that there’s enormous pressure on Americans right now.”

11:26 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Barack and Michelle Obama will speak at these events for the class of 2020

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle close the Obama Foundation Summit together on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology on October 29, in Chicago.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle close the Obama Foundation Summit together on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology on October 29, in Chicago. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama will do various online speeches over the next month or so for graduating seniors.

There had been an online push for former President Obama to do an online commencement.

"Over the past month, President and Mrs. Obama have received dozens of requests from around the globe to address graduating classes whose in-person commencement events have been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," a statement from their office read. "Today, the Obamas are pleased to announce that they will participate in multiple virtual commencement celebrations for students, families and educators."

The Obama's office said they will each speak at YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” event on June 6.

Former President Obama will give an address at the “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020” event on May 16, which is XQ Institute, The LeBron James Family Foundation and The Entertainment Industry Foundation.

He'll also share a message at “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition" on May 16, a virtual commencement for historically black colleges and universities.

11:20 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

More than 69,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

Workers are seen next to refrigerated tractor trailers that are being used to store bodies of deceased people at a temporary morgue in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, on May 4.
Workers are seen next to refrigerated tractor trailers that are being used to store bodies of deceased people at a temporary morgue in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, on May 4. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

There are at least 1,181,885 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 69,079 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the United States.

The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.

11:06 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Trump explains why he's allowing Dr. Fauci to testify before the Senate — and not the House

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on May 5.
President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on May 5. Patrick Semansky/AP

President Trump said he was allowing Dr. Anthony Fauci to testify before the Republican-led Senate but not the Democrat-led House, calling the lower chamber a “set up.”

“The House is a bunch of Trump-haters,” Trump said as he was departing the White House for Arizona for a tour of a Honeywell plant.

What's this about: The White House issued a memo Monday seeking to limit task force members' hearing appearances after recently blocking Fauci from testifying before a House subcommittee. Fauci is still expected to appear before a Republican-led Senate committee later this month.

Trump admitted the difference in treatment for the House versus the Senate was who controls each chamber. He said the House is rooting for him to fail in combatting coronavirus.

“They frankly want our situation to be unsuccessful, which means death,” he said. “They should be ashamed of themselves.”

He ascribed the difference to political motives.

“They want us to fail so they can win an election, which they’re not going to win,” he said.