Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Elise Hammond, Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 9:16 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020
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7:21 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

Study finds that triple drug therapy helps coronavirus patients recover more quickly

From CNN's Maggie Fox 

Ritonavir
Ritonavir Shutterstock

A combination of three antiviral drugs plus an immune system boosting drug seemed to help patients recover more quickly from coronavirus infections, doctors in Hong Kong reported Friday.

They said the approach needs more testing but it could offer another treatment possibility for Covid-19 patients. Currently the only authorized treatment is the experimental drug remdesivir, which also shortens the duration of illness but which is in limited supply.

Kwok-Yung Yuen at Hong Kong University and colleagues tested the HIV drug combination of ritonavir and lopanivir along with the general antiviral drug ribavirin and a multiple sclerosis drug called beta interferon.

The patients all had mild to moderate symptoms. Some doctors think treating patients earlier in the course of the infection might be better. 

Yuen’s team gave some patients only the HIV drugs, often sold under the brand name Kaletra. Others were randomly assigned to receive the ritonavir/lopanivir combination plus the antiviral drug ribavirin and beta interferon. 

The patients who got the cocktail tested negative for coronavirus after seven days on average. Those who just got the HIV drugs were positive on average for 12 days, the team reported in the Lancet medical journal.

The patients given the cocktail also felt better quicker.

“Early triple antiviral therapy was safe and superior to lopinavir–ritonavir alone in alleviating symptoms and shortening the duration of viral shedding and hospital stay in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19,” the researchers wrote.

7:17 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

US surpasses 77,000 coronavirus deaths

A medical worker takes in a patient outside a special coronavirus area at Maimonides Medical Center on May 6, in New York City.
A medical worker takes in a patient outside a special coronavirus area at Maimonides Medical Center on May 6, in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

According to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the United States, at least 77,126 people have died from coronavirus. 

The first known US coronavirus-related fatality was Feb. 6, which was 92 days ago.

7:09 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

Kansas reports 152 coronavirus deaths

From CNN's Keith Allen

Dr. Lee Norman, head of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, answers questions about the coronavirus pandemic during a news conference, on May 8, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas.
Dr. Lee Norman, head of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, answers questions about the coronavirus pandemic during a news conference, on May 8, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas. John Hanna/AP

Kansas now has 6,501 positive coronavirus cases, which represents an increase of 357 from yesterday.

The state also has 152 coronavirus-related deaths, which includes five new deaths from Thursday, said Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Kansas is currently monitoring 76 clusters that account for nearly half of the total number of state's Covid-19 cases, Norman said Friday.

7:07 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

5 counties in Washington state allowed to open businesses early

From CNN's Andy Rose

 

Nurse Karen Hayes administers care to a patient in the acute care Covid-19 unit at Harborview Medical Center on May 7, in Seattle, Washington.
Nurse Karen Hayes administers care to a patient in the acute care Covid-19 unit at Harborview Medical Center on May 7, in Seattle, Washington.

Washington state is allowing five of its 39 counties to move on to the second phase of the reopening plan. 

Businesses in Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties will be allowed to offer in-store retail services. Restaurants will also be allowed to serve dine-in customers, but with less than half of their normal capacity. Salons and pet groomers can also operate.

“We recognize COVID-19 is impacting some parts of our state in different ways and some counties will be ready to move forward earlier than others,” Secretary of Health John Weisman said in a written statement.

Although Washington state had some of the first hotspots in the coronavirus outbreak in the US, the five counties have fewer than three confirmed coronavirus cases, and no recorded deaths. Gov. Jay Inslee said he is considering requests from three other counties.

6:53 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

Catch up: Here's the latest coronavirus news

It's almost 7 p.m. ET in the US. If you're just tuning in, here are some of the top stories today:

  • More than 77,000 people have died: At least 1,282,060 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the US and at least 77,126 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.
  • Yes, unemployment benefits will still be paid even if state funds run out: Though several state unemployment trust funds are running dry and states are facing big budget shortfalls, the cash crunch won't affect those applying for or receiving benefits — they'll get their weekly checks regardless of their state's financial situation with help from the federal government.
  • Pence's press secretary tests positive for coronavirus: President Trump confirmed today that Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the coronavirus. Miller is now the second White House staff member known to have tested positive for the coronavirus this week, after one of Trump's personal valets tested positive on Thursday.
  • House coronavirus oversight panel asks five companies to return loans meant for small businesses: The House Oversight Committee's new select coronavirus oversight panel sent letters to five different companies (MiMedx Group, EVO Transportation & Energy Services, Universal Stainless & Alloy Products, Quantum Corp. and Gulf Island Fabrication) asking them to return loans they received from the Paycheck Protection Program set up during the pandemic to aid struggling small businesses.
  • Tensions mount as US coronavirus reopenings reveal a new way of life: More than two-thirds of Americans — 68% — are concerned about their states being reopened too quickly, according to a new poll from Pew Research Center. More than 45 states by Sunday will have relaxed restrictions on some combination of businesses, services or parks, hoping to lift economies crushed by the pandemic.
  • States expand testing: South Carolina will begin universal coronavirus testing of all 40,000 residents and staff at 194 nursing homes across the state beginning May 11. In Kentucky, officials want to test residents and staff members at all 286 skilled nursing facilities across the state.
6:35 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

Mississippi governor extends safer-at-home order

From CNN's Janine Mack

Gov. Tate Reeves responds to a reporter's question during his daily update on the state's response to Covid-19, on May 4 in Jackson, Mississippi.
Gov. Tate Reeves responds to a reporter's question during his daily update on the state's response to Covid-19, on May 4 in Jackson, Mississippi. Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Mississippi's "safer-at-home" order has been extended two weeks until May 25, Gov. Tate Reeves said today. 

“We want this virus to be over, it is not," Reeves said.

The governor laid out strict social distancing guidelines and sanitation protocols for salons, barbershops and gyms to follow when they begin to reopen on Monday. 

“Let’s all be honest. We are not doing this because there is no risk associated with you going there. There is risk every single time you leave your home. There will be risk if you choose to go to any of these businesses that have reopened. I’m doing this because we cannot allow these small businesses to fold,” Reeves said. 

Mississippi has reported 9,020 positive cases of coronavirus and 409 deaths, state health officer Dr. Thomas Dodds said.

6:10 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

South Carolina to begin coronavirus testing all residents and staff at nearly 200 nursing homes

From CNN's Keith Allen

South Carolina will begin universal coronavirus testing of all 40,000 residents and staff at 194 nursing homes across the state beginning May 11, state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said Friday.

Bell described the process as “a phased approach to this expansion of testing,” with 74 of the 194 facilities starting their testing on Monday.

The majority of those 74 facilities have volunteered to take part of this first round of testing, Bell said.

6:15 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

Potential antibody treatment for Covid-19 patients advances in testing

From CNN's Jen Christensen

GlaxoSmithKline
GlaxoSmithKline Shutterstock

An antibody treatment being developed to treat rheumatoid arthritis will go into testing in patients with coronavirus later this month, developers said.

GlaxoSmithKline said the drug, called otilimab, might help calm down an immune system overreaction called a cytokine storm. Cytokine storms are blamed for some of the most severe symptoms of coronavirus infections and can lead to fatal organ damage.

The phase II trial will include 800 adults hospitalized with pneumonia from coronavirus, Glaxo said. 

Otilimab is a monoclonal antibody – a natural immune system molecule that is targeted to neutralize an inflammatory compound known as granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor or GM-CSF. In rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation can cause joint damage and pain and studies indicate it may be involved in cytokine storms in patients infected with viruses.

Another treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, anakinra, showed promise in helping patients with severe Covid-19, according to a small study published in the journal Lancet Rheumatology on Thursday.

“We believe that otilimab may be able to help to block the effects of one of the types of cytokine (known as GM-CSF),” Kathleen Quinn, a spokesperson for Glaxo, said in an email. “We plan to start a Phase II clinical trial by the end of May. 

The patients will all receive standard care for the novel coronavirus. Some patients will get a placebo and others will get the otilimab infusion to see if it improves their condition.

The trial is expected to run through December.

6:03 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

Kentucky to test 100% of residents and staff at all long-term care facilities

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a news conference at the state's Emergency Operations Center at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Kentucky, on May 3.
Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a news conference at the state's Emergency Operations Center at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Kentucky, on May 3. Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader/AP

Kentucky is aiming to test every resident and staff member at all 286 skilled nursing facilities in the state, Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander said Friday.

He said he expects it will take a couple of months to get through all facilities.

Here's a breakdown of cases and deaths at long-term facilities provided by Gov. Andy Beshear:

  • At least 862 long-term care residents and 356 staffers have tested positive for Covid-19.
  • At least 176 people have died.