Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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6:01 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Disney Springs begins phased reopening on May 20

From CNN’s Natasha Chen

An empty street is viewed in front of the Disney Springs shopping and entertainment district, on Monday, April 6, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
An empty street is viewed in front of the Disney Springs shopping and entertainment district, on Monday, April 6, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

Following the announcement of Shanghai Disneyland's reopening on May 11, Disney announced today that Disney Springs, an outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment area in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, will begin a phased reopening on May 20. 

The statement said the reopening would include “increased cleaning procedures, the use of appropriate face coverings by both cast members and guests, limited-contact guest services and additional safety training for cast members.”

Theme parks and resort hotels will remain closed.

Florida began allowing restaurants to begin dine-in service on May 4, but restaurants at Disney Springs did not reopen on that date.

5:59 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Former CDC chief warns black and Latino communities will pay the price if economy reopens too early

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Local residents fill out paperwork at a mobile COVID-19 testing station in a public school parking area in Compton, California, on Tuesday, April 28. St. John's Well Child and Family Center is providing COVID-19 testing sites in African-American and Latino communities which have been neglected in terms of testing as compared to wealthier areas of Los Angeles County.
Local residents fill out paperwork at a mobile COVID-19 testing station in a public school parking area in Compton, California, on Tuesday, April 28. St. John's Well Child and Family Center is providing COVID-19 testing sites in African-American and Latino communities which have been neglected in terms of testing as compared to wealthier areas of Los Angeles County. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued a warning this afternoon on the White House's decision not to implement the latest CDC guidelines on when businesses could begin to safely reopen.

"If workplaces can decide for themselves what they're going to do, we're going to see the same burden put on the same populations, black Americans, Latinos, frontline workers who have just been getting slammed during this pandemic, he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "They are going to be at risk if these kind of standards aren't adhered too."

Besser's remarks came after reports the Trump administration had decided not to implement a 17-page draft recommendation from the CDC for reopening America, a document which provided more detailed suggestions beyond the reopening guidelines the administration had put forth last month, including specific suggestions for schools and churches. 

Besser went on to say that as states move to quickly reopen, they face the potential for further coronavirus outbreak.

“If you look at the trends around the nation, and you look at the number of states that are opening up their economy, it’s a really risky proposition,” Besser said. “I worry that we’re going to see very significant outbreaks in many of those places.”

5:49 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Kentucky governor says restaurants can open on May 22

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

A restaurant offering takeout only stands in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, April 25.
A restaurant offering takeout only stands in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, April 25. Stacie Scott/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Restaurants will be able to reopen with outdoor seating and 33% capacity on May 22, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

He said movie theaters and fitness centers will be allowed to reopen on June 1. Campgrounds will reopen on June 11.

The state’s goal is to allow childcare along with low-touch and outdoor youth sports by June 15, he said.

Beshear said phase three of the reopening plan will begin in July and plans include bars and groups of 50 people.

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.