Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Angela Dewan, CNN

Updated 9:05 p.m. ET, May 6, 2020
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3:25 p.m. ET, May 6, 2020

Trump says he wants to see schools open

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

 

President Donald Trump speaks during an event to sign a proclamation in honor of World Nurses Day, in the Oval Office, on Wednesday, May 6.
President Donald Trump speaks during an event to sign a proclamation in honor of World Nurses Day, in the Oval Office, on Wednesday, May 6. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump said he would like to see schools open in “most of the country," suggesting that children may have stronger immune systems than adults. But he didn’t address concerns that opening schools could lead to a widespread increase of the disease if children bring the virus home.

“The schools should open,” the President said, responding to a question about if schools should reopen in August. “The one thing you should be careful of is when instructors are over 60.”

He then asked Dr. Deborah Birx to respond as well, who was more measured in her answer. She said it is, “a county by county, state by state decision,” whether or not to reopen. 

“I would like to see schools open, wherever possible, which is I think in much of the country. Most of the country,” the President said after Birx’s comments. 

“I would say that till everything is perfect, I think the teachers that are a certain age, perhaps you say over 60, especially if they have a problem with heart, or diabetes or any one of a number of things, I think they should not be teaching school for a while, and everyone would understand that fully,” he continued.

But Trump added that children are faring relatively well with Covid-19. 

“We realize how strong children are, right? Their immune system is just a little bit different. Maybe it’s just a little bit stronger, or maybe it’s a lot stronger, right? It could be a lot stronger,” he said.

3:01 p.m. ET, May 6, 2020

Michigan-based Ford facilities producing ventilators and protective equipment

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Ford Motor Co. assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, in 2017.
Ford Motor Co. assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, in 2017. Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Michigan-based Ford plant will continue to produce personal protective equipment and ventilators “as long as the need is there,” said Jim Baumbick, vice president of Ford Enterprise Product Line Management.

Baumbick said a facility that was previously used to assemble batteries is now producing ventilators.

“[When] we’ve met that demand, then we can we can determine when we would actually dial it down,” he told CNN’s John King.

Factory workers are practicing social distancing and safety protocols are in place, including trying new technologies to help enforce safety standard, Baumbick said.

“It’s not just social distancing, but watches that actually determine whether or not you’ve come in close proximity to try and determine what a typical and appropriate level social distancing is,” he added.

WATCH:

2:57 p.m. ET, May 6, 2020

Trump says he did wear a mask in Arizona — you just didn't see him

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

President Donald Trump participates in a tour of the Honeywell International plant that manufactures personal protective equipment in Phoenix, Arizona, on May 5.
President Donald Trump participates in a tour of the Honeywell International plant that manufactures personal protective equipment in Phoenix, Arizona, on May 5. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump said he wore a mask during a tour of a Honeywell factory in Arizona on Tuesday. Trump, speaking to reporters today, said he can’t help it if you didn’t see him.

Speaking in front of nurses in the Oval Office – who were wearing scrubs and gowns, but no masks – Trump was asked why he wasn’t wearing a mask at the facility the day prior.

“I actually did have one, no,” he responded, “I put a mask on—yeah. I had a mask on for a period of time.”

When a reporter said that none of the press saw him wearing a mask, Trump shot back: “I can’t help it if you didn’t see me.”

“I mean I had a mask on but I didn’t need it, and I asked specifically the head of Honeywell, ‘should I wear a mask?’ And he said, ‘well you don’t need one in this territory,’ and as you knew, we were far away from people — from the people making the masks. They were making the masks,” he said.

“But I did put a mask on and it was a Honeywell mask, actually. And I also had a 3M mask, and I had about four other masks, but I did have it on. I don’t know if you saw it, but I did have it on,” he said.

Pressed on how long he wore the mask, the President paused slightly, and responded that it wasn’t “too long.”  

“Not too long,” he said, “but I had it on. I had it on back — backstage. But they said you didn’t need it, so, I didn’t need it. And by the way if you noticed nobody else had it on that was in the group.” 

Video from the facility shows workers wearing masks, which the President admitted. 

“The workers had them on yeah, the workers were there. Because they’re working next to each other,” he said.

When another reporter asked how it looks for him to be in public not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing, the President seemed to have had enough. “I’m trying to be nice,” he said. “I’m signing a bill, and you criticize us. Look here’s the story: there’s nothing I can do to satisfy the media, the Democrats, who are the fake news. And I understand that.”

2:50 p.m. ET, May 6, 2020

Trump says he "didn't realize" how popular coronavirus task force was 

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump on Wednesday said he didn’t realize how popular the coronavirus task force is, and that’s why he has backed off a plan to get rid of the group in its current form.

“It’s had great success, and Mike Pence has done a fantastic job,” the President said during a meeting with nurses in the Oval Office Wednesday. “I thought we could wind it down sooner, but I had no idea how popular the task force is.”

Trump said that when he started talking about phasing out the task force, he got “calls from very respected people saying, ‘I think it would be better to keep it going.’”

“I learned yesterday that the task force is, something you knew, very respected. People said we should keep it going,” he told reporters 

“It is appreciated by the public,” he said, “When you look at the job we’ve done on everything.”

“We’ll be leaving the task force indefinitely, we’ll see at a certain point that will end like things end,” Trump said. The White House will be adding “two or three” people to the task force, Trump announced. 

“We’ll be adding some people to the task force and they’ll be more in the neighborhood of opening our country,” he said, adding that some members who were more involved with producing ventilators may be leaving, but “if they want to stay they can.” There is a “whole list” of people who want to be on the task force, Trump said, and the new members will be announced on Monday.

“I guess if you think we’re always winding it down,” he said, “but it’s a question of what the end point is.”

More on this: Earlier Wednesday, CNN reported Trump declared his coronavirus task force would continue "indefinitely" a day after he and Vice President Mike Pence said they were phasing out the health-focused panel in favor of a group focused on reopening the economy.

According to Pence's public schedule, the task force was slated to meet at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Some health experts had sounded alarm at the apparent disbanding of the task force since cases continue to arise. After touting achievements on testing and supplies, Trump said during a visit to a mask production facility in Arizona on Tuesday he was "looking at a little bit of a different form" for the task force "and that form is safety and opening."

Pence told reporters during a discussion in his office that administration officials were "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 the discussions are a "reflection of the tremendous progress we've made as a country."

But a day later, Trump wrote on Twitter the task force would "continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN."

"We may add or subtract people to it, as appropriate," he wrote. "The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics. Thank you!"

2:20 p.m. ET, May 6, 2020

Nearly 500 New Jersey law enforcement members have tested positive for Covid-19

As of Wednesday morning, 495 members of New Jersey law enforcement were positive for Covid-19 across the state, New Jersey State Police Col. Pat Callahan told reporters. 

The number represents a decrease of just over 4% in the last day, he said. At least 396 officers are currently out quarantined, Callahan added. 

3:42 p.m. ET, May 6, 2020

Blood thinners may help patients with severe Covid-19 infections, study finds

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Medical workers roll a patient into Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on May 3.
Medical workers roll a patient into Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on May 3. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Blood thinning drugs may help save some patients worst affected by the new coronavirus, doctors reported Wednesday.

Their findings could point a way to help the virus-related issue of blood clots throughout the body. The team at Mount Sinai Hospital says it is now running experiments to see which anticoagulants may work best, and at which doses. 

“Our findings suggest that systemic anticoagulants may be associated with improved outcomes among patients hospitalized with Covid-19,” they wrote in their report, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Valentin Fuster, director of Mount Sinai Heart and physician-in-chief of the Mount Sinai Hospital, and colleagues looked at more than 2,700 patients treated at Mount Sinai in New York City, which has been hit hard by coronavirus. Starting in March, some patients were given anti-clotting drugs based on bedside decisions made by doctors.

The team started taking a systematic look at whether the drugs made a difference. They did, especially for patients who were put on ventilators to help them breathe.

They found 29% of patients on ventilators who were given blood thinners died, compared to 63% of patients on ventilators who were not given blood thinners.

“The patients who received anticoagulants did better than those who didn’t,” Fuster told CNN. 

The findings are not clear-cut enough yet to make solid recommendations. The team noted that patients who were already severely ill were more likely to be given the blood thinners.

The researchers did not find that the patients who got blood thinners were significantly more likely to have bleeding problems – one of the risks of the drugs.

 Watch here:

1:57 p.m. ET, May 6, 2020

At least 4,893 inmates have contracted Covid-19 in the US, CDC says

From CNN's Arman Azad

The Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution in San Pedro, California, has 443 inmates infected with the coronavirus as of Wednesday, April 29.
The Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution in San Pedro, California, has 443 inmates infected with the coronavirus as of Wednesday, April 29. Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram/Getty Images

At least 4,893 incarcerated or detained people have contracted Covid-19, and at least 88 have died, according to a report released Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The numbers are almost certainly an undercount, but they underscore just how vulnerable the nation’s jails and prisons are to coronavirus outbreaks. At least 2,778 staff members have tested positive, too, resulting in 15 deaths, according to the report.

The findings are based on data from 37 state and territorial health departments. The CDC reached out to 54 jurisdictions, but about 30% did not provide requested information on jails and prisons.

Still, the CDC found that 420 correctional or detention facilities across the United States have reported infections – resulting in at least 491 coronavirus-related hospitalizations among inmates and 79 hospitalizations among staff. Researchers looked at cases reported through April 21. 

“Approximately one half of facilities with COVID-19 cases reported them among staff members but not among incarcerated persons,” the report said. “Because staff members move between correctional facilities and their communities daily, they might be an important source of virus introduction into facilities.”

The report called for regular screening of staff members and those who enter jails and prisons. But researchers noted that infected people can show no symptoms, suggesting “symptom screening alone is inadequate to promptly identify and isolate infected persons in congregate settings such as correctional and detention facilities.”

Physical distancing, movement restrictions, face coverings and increased cleaning are all recommended, the report said. It also noted that some jurisdictions have implemented “decompression strategies” to reduce crowding in jails and prisons – reducing or eliminating bail, for example, and releasing people to home confinement or community supervision.

The researchers behind the report emphasized that they could be underestimating infections. Only 69% of jurisdictions reported data, they said, so “these results are not representative of the entire United States.”

Many facilities also don’t test staff members, so they rely on workers self-reporting their diagnoses, the report said. And some health departments only received data from state prisons – missing information from local jails and federal or privately operated facilities.

Differences in testing between states also could have influenced the number of reported cases, researchers said.

 

1:38 p.m. ET, May 6, 2020

New Jersey extends public health emergency for another 30 days

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy updates the state on the coronavirus pandemic during a press conference in Trenton, New Jersey on April 24.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy updates the state on the coronavirus pandemic during a press conference in Trenton, New Jersey on April 24. Chris Pedota/The Record/Pool/AP

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is signing an executive order to extend the state's public health emergency for another 30 days.

“To be clear: this does not mean we’re seeing anything in the data which would pause our path forward. These declarations, unless extended, expire after 30 days. We’re still in a public health emergency,” Murphy tweeted. 

“If it signals one thing — it is this, we can’t give up one bit on the one thing we know that is working in this fight: social distancing,” Murphy said Wednesday.

By the numbers: New Jersey reported 1,513 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 131,890.

The governor cautioned to keep in mind that this is a cumulative total — and that more than 90,000 New Jersey residents have “exited the two-week window” and recovered.

The state also reported 308 new deaths, bringing the total to 8,549.

1:30 p.m. ET, May 6, 2020

Pentagon signs $126 million contract to produce 26 million N95 masks per month

From CNN's Ryan Browne

3M N95 particulate filtering face mask for sale on January 26 at a store in East Palo Alto, California.
3M N95 particulate filtering face mask for sale on January 26 at a store in East Palo Alto, California. Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The Pentagon announced Wednesday that it has signed a contract with manufacturer 3M to boost N95 medical masks to 26 million per month, starting in October.

“The Department of Defense, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services, has signed a $126 million contract award with 3M for the increased production of 26 million N95 medical-grade masks per month, starting in October 2020," Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said in a statement.

"This increased production/industrial capacity will continue to ensure a sustainable supply chain of N95 respirators and resupply the Strategic National Stockpile in response to the increased national demand caused by the COVID 19 pandemic," the statement added.

The Pentagon said that in order to meet the increased production capacity targets 3M "will expand its facility in Aberdeen, S.D., and also perform initial production in Wisconsin."