Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Updated 10:35 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020
66 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
5:56 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Southern California’s Orange County will reopen beaches today

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Lifeguards patrol an empty beach in front of the Huntington Beach Pier on Sunday, May 3, in Huntington Beach, California.
Lifeguards patrol an empty beach in front of the Huntington Beach Pier on Sunday, May 3, in Huntington Beach, California. Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Beaches in Southern California’s Orange County will reopen starting today for active recreational use, county officials announced Thursday.

The announcement comes just a week after California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all beaches in Orange County to close when large crowds gathered one weekend. 

Newsom gave the county permission to reopen and announced in an earlier press conference on Thursday that an agreement was made for a “very thoughtful reopening.”

The state reviewed and approved the county’s phased beach reopening plan this morning, director of Orange County Community Resources Dylan Wright said.

It is consistent with the governor’s order, Wright added. 

Orange County supervisor Michelle Steel said she’s still confused as to the governor’s motives on singling out their county.

“I want to reiterate that the governor’s actions on this front were clearly arbitrary and capricious and completely unnecessary,” Steel said.

 

5:43 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Arkansas governor says casinos to resume limited operations on May 18 

From CNN's Janine Mack

The start of the 10th race at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort on Derby Day during the Covid-19 pandemic on Saturday, May 2, in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
The start of the 10th race at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort on Derby Day during the Covid-19 pandemic on Saturday, May 2, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Arkansas will allow the state's three casinos to resume limited operations May 18, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday.

Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs and Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff have been closed since mid-March.

"On May 18, we will be working to provide new guidance for the three gaming casinos in Arkansas so that they can renew limited operations," he said. "They will be opening on May 18 at one-third capacity, one-third capacity with social, with stringent, social distancing requirements in place."

Hutchinson said this is part of his phase one plan to reopen the state during the coronavirus pandemic.

5:41 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Georgia creates Spanish-language task force to share coronavirus safety measures

From CNN’s Kevin Conlon

Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King announced the creation of a task force to communicate and educate critical information and important coronavirus measures in Spanish.  

“Priority one is to find ways to communicate effectively and safety measures, including practicing social distancing, wearing masks in public and avoiding large social gatherings,” King said. “This work will involve coordinating with local businesses, radio stations, churches and other organizations to stop the spread of this disease using the Hispanic community, which has been especially hit hard.”

King said he wants the workers at the town’s poultry plants to practice the same precautions at home as they are required to at work.

“I've toured local poultry plants firsthand to see the safety measures that have been put in place to protect workers while maintaining the supply. Now the next step is to ensure workers continue maintaining these same practices while at home in their communities," King said.

 

5:35 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Johns Hopkins launches trial to see if plasma protects health care workers

From CNN's Maggie Fox

View of medical objects at the blood test site at Transforme Md Medical Center on Wednesday, April 29, in White Plains, New York.
View of medical objects at the blood test site at Transforme Md Medical Center on Wednesday, April 29, in White Plains, New York. Pablo Monsalve/VIEWpress/Getty Images

A team at Johns Hopkins school of public health is starting a trial to see if so-called convalescent plasma, or plasma from Covid-19 survivors, can help prevent infections in frontline health care workers.

A second team at the school will test plasma in people who are not sick enough to be hospitalized to see if the plasma might help keep them out of the hospital.

The idea of using blood plasma from people who have recovered from an infectious disease isn’t new, Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chair of molecular microbiology and immunology at the school, said during a briefing. Blood plasma contains antibodies that people have developed over time to fight off an infection, and they can be used to kickstart someone else’s response.

But it’s rare for anyone to conduct a controlled clinical trial to prove it actually helps people recover, or acts to prevent disease. An informal network of researchers is working to coordinate donations from coronavirus survivors across the US and study what happens to people who receive it.

“As of this morning, 7,200 people have been treated with plasma in the United States,” Casadevall told the briefing. “What is missing is knowledge of how, when and if to use plasma.”

Several teams have been testing donated plasma in extremely ill patients. The two Johns Hopkins trials will seek to show whether it helps at earlier stages. The teams will recruit 150 people for the trial to see if plasma protects frontline workers, and 1,000 patients for the trial aimed at showing whether plasma helps prevent serious illness from developing.

“You are really looking for that proportion of individuals who get sick and then progress,” Casadevall said. That is a minority of patients, so at least 1,000 will be needed to randomize them and treat half with convalescent plasma and half with blood plasma not taken from Covid-19 survivors, he said.

5:31 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Illinois governor says mail-in ballots this November will be "essential"

From CNN’s Will Brown

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a press briefing regarding the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, May 3, in Chicago.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a press briefing regarding the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, May 3, in Chicago. Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/TNS/Getty Images

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said mail-in ballots for everyone in the state will be “essential” for November’s general election.

Pritzker suggested such a law would be a priority for the state legislature later this year

He added that in-person voting will take place with input from the Illinois Department of Health.

5:29 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Rhode Island governor wants people off unemployment and back to work

From CNN’s Will Brown

James Dunn stands outside the Statehouse with a handmade sign in favor of reopening the state economy as Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo delivers her daily briefing inside, on Friday, May 1, in Providence.
James Dunn stands outside the Statehouse with a handmade sign in favor of reopening the state economy as Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo delivers her daily briefing inside, on Friday, May 1, in Providence. David Goldman/AP

People choosing to stay on unemployment instead of returning to work “is a real issue,” Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said Thursday.

Raimondo stressed that she is grateful to Congress for expanding unemployment benefits and called it “the right thing to do,” but also said the program has had unintended consequences.

“It does frustrate me that this was an initiative intended to help people get back on their feet,” Raimondo said. “It was not an initiative for folks to make more staying home and then that hurts their business. In the long run, you’re going to want your job to be there. So if your employer is reopening, I’d encourage you to work with your employer to get your job back.”

Rhode Island begins its phase one reopening this weekend.

5:26 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

One of New York's largest hospital systems no longer recommending hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus

From CNN's Sonia Moghe

A mural on a Northwell Healthcare building features first responders and healthcare workers who are on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, May 5, in New Hyde Park, New York.
A mural on a Northwell Healthcare building features first responders and healthcare workers who are on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, May 5, in New Hyde Park, New York. Al Bello/Getty Images

One of New York’s largest hospital systems stopped recommending doctors use hydroxychloroquine, a medication for malaria, as a standard of care for patients admitted with Covid-19 in April, one of its top doctors told CNN.

Dr. Thomas McGinn, deputy physician-in-chief and senior vice president for Northwell Health, said the hospital system began recommending hydroxychloroquine as a standard of care toward the end of March for patients who had low levels of blood oxygen saturation and didn’t have heart or liver problems.

“We were all very cautious about it to begin with. We did not feel it had a strong evidence base,” McGinn said. “We were doing it with some hesitation but knowing the FDA, the politicians, the family demands and lack of harm, we were doing it cautiously.”

McGinn said his colleagues have experience prescribing hydroxychloroquine with other conditions and that, of at least 500 Covid-19 patients who were administered hydroxychloroquine in the Northwell Health System, his colleagues “saw no side effects.” Patients were closely monitored for possible side effects impacting the heart with electrocardiograms.

But after a study of the drug involving hundreds of patients at US Veterans Health Administration health centers showed that patients were no less likely to need mechanical ventilation and had higher death rates compared to those who did not take the drug, McGinn said his team of doctors and administrators decided to stop recommending the drug as a standard of care.

“When the VA trial came out and showed no benefit, we felt that undermined doing this at all. We quickly pivoted on that and decided to pull that recommendation,” McGinn said. “We prefer not to give a drug if there’s no benefit."

Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, operating 23 hospitals and nearly 800 outpatient facilities across the state, according to their website.

5:21 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Supply chain for critical coronavirus testing material improving for public health labs

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

A nurse prepares to administer a COVID-19 test at a drive-through testing center at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on Thursday, May 7.
A nurse prepares to administer a COVID-19 test at a drive-through testing center at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on Thursday, May 7. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

It is now easier to get critical supplies for coronavirus testing than it was last month, the Association of Public Health Laboratories said Thursday.

“The reality is that the supply chain does remain constrained, but is getting better every week,” APHL’s chief operating officer Scott Becker said during a media briefing Thursday.

This week, the federal government began regular shipments of swabs and viral transport media, which is the critical component necessary for collecting virus samples for testing, Becker said. Shortages of these supplies had been a “big challenge across the country.”

“People might want to be tested but they can't be tested if there aren't enough collection materials available, so I think that goes hand in hand. So we do expect that this will get better, week after week,” Becker said.

“There's also some high throughput tests that are being shipped out later this week by a company called Hologic and that tool will be very helpful to clinical and public health labs across the country, in terms of expanding the testing,” he added.

In a media briefing two weeks ago, APHL said public health labs were still reporting critical shortfalls in testing material, including swabs and the chemical reagents needed to perform Covid-19 tests.

There are 97 public health laboratories in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the US Virgin Islands, and hundreds of private labs across the country.

5:05 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Read up on the latest coronavirus developments from around the US

If you're just joining our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in the US, here are the latest headlines:

  • Deaths continue to rise: According to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the United States, more than 75,000 people have died from coronavirus. 
  • Trump to get tested regularly: President Trump says he'll be tested daily for coronavirus after one of his valets tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Validity of antibody tests questioned: Antibody tests which tell people if they have been infected with coronavirus are not very reliable and should only be used with caution, the Association of Public Health Laboratories and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists said Thursday.
  • Stay-at-home order extended in Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that she signed an executive order to extend Michigan’s Covid-19 stay-at-home order through May 28.
  • Gun shops to reopen in Massachusetts: A federal judge in Massachusetts issued an order Thursday allowing licensed gun shops in the state to reopen starting at noon on Saturday. 
  • Hydroxychloroquine's effectiveness questioned: A new study finds no evidence the drug hydroxychloroquine helps very ill Covid-19 patients survive better or escape the need for a ventilator to help them breathe.
  • Blood plasma treatment under exploration: Dr. Corita Grudzen, vice chair for Research and Emergency Medicine at NYU Langone Health, is running a new drug trial that explores the benefits of using blood plasma from patients who have recovered from coronavirus on new patients who are experiencing moderate symptoms.