Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Updated 10:35 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020
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2:46 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

New Jersey health officials say they've heard reports about inflammatory disease in children in their state

Dr. Edward Lifshitz, the medical director for the New Jersey Department of Health
Dr. Edward Lifshitz, the medical director for the New Jersey Department of Health Pool

New Jersey health officials say they have heard reports in their state about rare inflammatory disease in children that could be linked to coronavirus that’s been seen in New York.

Responding to a question from a reporter, Dr. Edward Lifshitz, the medical director for the New Jersey Department of Health, said that the state has begun to hear reports about these cases as well and are reaching out to local commissions and to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional guidance. Lifschitz said they did not know yet how often this association occurs, but said “certainly it’s rare.”

Lifschitz noted that only about 2% of the confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the state are in the “pediatric population."

What's this about: The New York State Department of Health (DOH) issued an advisory on Wednesday to healthcare providers about “Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Associated with COVID-19,” describing it as a serious inflammatory disease affecting children, including as many as 64 potential cases. 

Some of the children had symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease, the advisory said.

2:35 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Rhode Island will begin reopening this weekend, governor says

From CNN’s Will Brown

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo confirmed Thursday that her statewide stay-at-home order will expire Friday and the state will begin phase one of its reopening.

Raimondo mentioned several industries that can reopen Saturday if they comply with additional rules like cleaning frequently, reducing capacity, and screening employees.

The rules and industries include:

  • Retail shops may reopen
  • Elective medical procedures and other healthcare needs like immunizations and specialty care can resume
  • State parks will reopen with limited parking available
  • Places of worship may hold services for five people or fewer. Drive-in or broadcasted services are recommended.
  • Employees of office-based businesses who need to go to the office may do so on a very limited basis, but work from home is encouraged

Restaurants are still limited to delivery and takeout while outdoor dining might be permitted eventually in phase one. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities remain closed to visitors and entertainment venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys, museums, gyms, salons and barber shops will remain closed.

The governor said that her priority in phase one is people returning to work, and that socializing should wait and be limited to groups of five or fewer people.

“This is not the time for social gatherings,” Raimondo warned. “The economic devastation in this state and every state around this country is untenable. So I am focused like a laser on work, getting people enabled to work.”
2:46 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Whether or not states reopen is up to them, Kellyanne Conway says

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

 Conway speaks with reporters outside the White House in on Tuesday, May 5.
 Conway speaks with reporters outside the White House in on Tuesday, May 5. Patrick Semansky/AP

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway stressed that states choosing to reopen across the country are making their own decisions.

“The President isn't 'reopening' each state up. The governors in those states are making those decisions. And we’re having ongoing conversations with those governors. They are welcome, and many have, to submit a plan for reopening,” the she said

Conway said that when Trump wanted to get more involved, the administration got “tremendous blowback,” she said while speaking on Fox News on Thursday.

Conway said that the administration has spoken to certain states when the White House views something a state is doing as troubling.

Following her Fox appearance, Conway discussed the administration not implementing the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on reopening the country, saying that the governors want to be in charge of opening their states. She said “there’s not a one size fits all strategy for the whole country and it doesn’t sound like there’s a one size fits all policy even for some of those states.”

2:28 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Abbott testing system has a 15% false negative rate, NIH director says

From CNN's Amanda Watts 

A lab technician dips a sample into the Abbott Laboratories ID Now testing machine at the Detroit Health Center in Detroit, on April 10.
A lab technician dips a sample into the Abbott Laboratories ID Now testing machine at the Detroit Health Center in Detroit, on April 10. Carlos Osorio/AP/FILE

 

Dr. Francis Collins, director for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said the Abbott ID Now machine, which is used to perform rapid coronavirus tests, has “about a 15% false negative rate.”

Speaking to the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee, Collins said there are about 18,000 of the machines out there right now, performing tests, which have results in roughly 15 minutes. 

“If you're in a circumstance where you really really don't want to miss a diagnosis of somebody who's already carrying the virus, you'd like to have something that has a higher sensitivity than that. And I know they're working on how to make that happen,” Collins said.

“It's certainly one of the most exciting things we've got right now, but we think we could even do better,” he said.

“I would say if we have a new technology that would give a twofer where you could get both a virus test and an antibody test at the same time for a really good price -- that might be something we'd be pretty interested in,” Collins said.

As part of the 21st Century Cures Act, the All of Us Research Program is hoping to do antibody survey of a million people. “We're already up to over 300,000 that have signed up, and those individuals answer lots of questions, their electronic health records are available for researchers to look at. And after they'd been anonymized, they get blood samples, over the course of time," Collins said.

 

2:18 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Pennsylvania extends eviction protections until July 10

From CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Thursday an Executive Order that protects Pennsylvanians from foreclosures and evictions through July 10.

This action builds on the state’s Supreme Court order that closed court eviction proceedings until May 11, and ensures no renter or homeowner will be removed from their home for 60 more days.

2:55 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

How the White House became ground zero for the face mask culture war

From CNN's Kevin Liptak, Jim Acosta and Betsy Klein

President Donald Trump watches as US Surgeon General Jerome Adams holds up his face mask as he speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 22.
President Donald Trump watches as US Surgeon General Jerome Adams holds up his face mask as he speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 22. Alex Brandon/AP/FILE

The White House has emerged as ground zero in the cultural battle over whether to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

President Trump won't wear one in public, at least in front of cameras. His aides in the West Wing remove them before walking inside. Vice President Mike Pence violated a hospital's rules by visiting without one last week, only to say later he should have tied one on.

On Thursday, the White House confirmed one of the President's staffers — a US military member responsible for attending to his personal needs in the Oval Office — had tested positive for coronavirus. Like others inside the building, valets haven't been wearing masks at work as they go about their jobs serving the President and his family.

The development angered Trump and led to a renewed round of testing for him and Pence. But it did not appear likely to change the unwritten code inside the White House against wearing masks, despite recommendations from Trump's own administration on wearing face coverings where social distancing is difficult.

"He's a unique individual," one White House official said. "He can't be seen walking around wearing a mask."

Like other recommendations issued by the White House on social distancing and reopening states, the guidance from the federal government on wearing masks is not compulsory. And like those recommendations, Trump has shown passing interest in following them himself.

Administration aides have said the regular testing administered to Trump and those who come into close proximity to him negates the need to wear a mask at all times. They have also cited temperature checks provided to anyone entering the White House complex.

But temperature checks wouldn't screen out asymptomatic individuals. The rapid test used by the White House's medical officers isn't foolproof. And only those who interact directly with Trump or Pence is tested, excluding others who work at a further distance from the two men.

Privately, Trump has questioned whether he should ever be seen wearing a mask in public, concerned it might contradict his public message that the virus is waning and the country is ready to reopen. He has shown little interest in wearing one as an example to the country, even though many people are now required to wear masks to enter grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses.

Read more about this here.

See how a mask affects how a cough travels:

1:47 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Consumer spending collapses in April

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

 Customers shop at a shopping mall in Frisco, Texas, on Tuesday, May 5. The shopping mall reopened with shortened business hours on Tuesday.
 Customers shop at a shopping mall in Frisco, Texas, on Tuesday, May 5. The shopping mall reopened with shortened business hours on Tuesday. Dan Tian/Xinhua via Getty Images

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York's quarterly household spending survey found that people across the income spectrum reeled back their spending over the past several months.

The country-wide lockdown to prevent further coronavirus infections began in March and was in full force in April with many workers working remotely. On top of that, businesses closed and laid off employees

All of this explains a decrease in consumer spending, which is the backbone of the US economy.

A quarter of survey respondents said their spending had reduced by as much as 5% compared with a year ago.

Notably, the decline in spending growth was the steepest for high-income earners making more than $100,000 per year, as well as respondents below the age of 40.

Spending cuts on vacations and trips were by far the largest, with only 12.5% of respondents reporting any such spending over the past four months, the lowest point on record for that kind of spending.

Read more here on what economists are saying about how recovery might look.

1:29 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Economist says US unemployment levels won’t rebound until mid-decade

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi said there is a long road ahead for US unemployment, prior to tomorrow’s release of the federal government’s jobs report, which is expected to show unemployment rose to Great Depression-levels due to coronavirus.

Zandi expects the unemployment rate to hit “close to 20%,” and he notes that it could reach 25% for underemployed Americans, which are those on the “periphery of the labor market.” 

“It’s going to take several years to get those jobs back. Businesses will have to reform, because a lot of businesses are going to fail between now and then. And so it’s not really until mid-decade, with a little bit of luck, that we get back to the 3.5-4% unemployment we had before this,” Zandi said. 

“This is a process. This is not a V; this is a slog,” Zandi told CNN’s John King in an interview. 

Zandi said he expects an economic bounce close to Memorial Day, as job losses will abate a bit as state economies reopen. By Election Day, the unemployment rate could be 8-10%, he said. 

“At least half of the entire workforce have been affected in a negative way directly of what's going on here. That’s how broad and deep this is,” Zandi said. 

Watch more:

1:27 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

New Jersey reports at least 1,800 new cases of Covid-19

New Jersey reported 1,827 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 133,635.

The state continues to see the daily counts “leveling,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. The number of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 has dipped just below 5,000 – to 4,996. Murphy called the dip a “milestone” for the state.

There were 325 new hospitalizations on Wednesday and 460 patients discharged from hospitals. The number of new hospitalizations was higher in the central and southern portions of the state, and lower in the northern portion of the state, which had previously been a hotspot. 

There were 254 new deaths, Murphy said, bringing the statewide total to 8,801.

Murphy also announced Thursday that he has directed the New Jersey National Guard to deploy its members to long-term care facilities across the state to help back fill employees at these facilities. At least 120 soldiers will be in the first tranche of assistance, Murphy said, and it will begin this coming weekend “at the latest.”