Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Elise Hammond and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 8:03 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020
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2:57 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Keith Urban on future of live concerts: "The idea of playing to people in vehicles is a bit of a no brainer"

From CNN's Melissa Mahtani

Keith Urban, performing for first responders at the Stardust Drive In Theatre in Watertown, Tennessee on Thursday, May 14. The private show was set up exclusively for more than 200 doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians and staff from Vanderbilt Health, part of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Keith Urban, performing for first responders at the Stardust Drive In Theatre in Watertown, Tennessee on Thursday, May 14. The private show was set up exclusively for more than 200 doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians and staff from Vanderbilt Health, part of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Andy Snyder/Guitar Monkey Entertainment/AP

Country music star Keith Urban held a private concert for more than 200 first responders at a drive-in theater outside Nashville last night.

He told CNN's Brianna Keilar that although there wasn't the same crowd energy from a regular concert, "there was just various car horns and headlights and cheers...we had such a great time."

"The idea of playing to people in vehicles is a bit of a no brainer," the grammy winner said, adding that figuring out how to scale up in a safe, socially distanced way, is the challenge.

Urban and his team spent a month planning the concert to play with a minimal crew.

"I didn't really have a live band on stage. I had two players, but they were 8 or 10 feet away from me. And some ways, it was like glorified karaoke. There was a guy playing tracks and then keyboard, sort of his laptops of tracks and I'm singing live and playing but it meant that we had very limited crew. All the crew had masks on," he said.

"It was a way to see what this could look like and it's definitely a potential," Urban added.

2:50 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Restaurants, retail stores and salons can reopen Monday in Fort Lauderdale

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

Restaurants, retail stores and salons can reopen Monday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Mayor Dean Trantalis said in a statement on Friday.

Restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to reopen at up to half their normal capacity, the statement said.

Barbers, hair salons and nail salons can open, as well as museums and drive-in theaters.

Condo associates were earlier allowed to reopen pools and can now reopen gyms, community rooms and other amenities, according to the statement.

Employees and customers must wear face coverings and hand sanitizer must be available throughout workplaces.

Regular and intense cleaning will be required, particularly in high-traffic areas and bathrooms. Social distancing will continue to be mandatory.

However, beaches will not be open yet.

"We made a collective decision that we did not want to risk reopening the beaches here at the same time as reopening restaurants and retail. Too much is at stake. We must get this right," the statement said.

"Our expectation is to allow passive recreation on the beach within the next couple weeks," the statement added.

2:47 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Houston school district considers year-round classes via distance learning

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) is considering year-round classes via distance learning as an option for students due to the interruptions tied to the coronavirus pandemic, interim superintendent Grenita Lathan said Friday.

Any change to the district’s academic calendar needs to be approved by the HISD Board of Trustees.

"We are prepared to continue the HISD at-home platform if required for the 2020-21 school year, or if future school interruptions occur," Lathan also told reporters in Houston.

The district estimated that 35% of homes do not have internet access and HISD has issued internet hotspots and laptops to further support students, according to Lathan.

The district purchased 25,00 devices and 14,000 devices provided to students since mid-March, Lathan said.

2:34 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

New York City reports more than 15,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths

From CNN's Rob Frehse

New York City has at least 15,422 confirmed coronavirus deaths and 5,054 probable coronavirus deaths as of May 15, according to the most recent data on the city website.

The New York City Health Department defines probable deaths as people who did not have a positive Covid-19 laboratory test, but their death certificate lists as the cause of death “COVID-19” or an equivalent.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is at least 20,476.

There have been approximately 187,848 coronavirus cases in the city and at least 49,580 people have been hospitalized, according to the city.

3:15 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Palm Beach to reopen beaches on Monday to all visitors regardless of residence

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt

Palm Beach in Florida will reopen beaches to everyone, not just residents.

Palm Beach County Commissioners voted today to reopen public, municipal and private beaches, including beach parks, in the county with restrictions starting Monday.

A week ago, the commissioners voted to reopen beaches to residents only. That stipulation was removed today, therefore no residency restrictions will apply to the reopening of beaches.

The following conditions and restrictions will apply, per county government:

  • Beaches will open between sunrise and sunset only.
  • Parties accessing the beaches shall follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by limiting gatherings to no more than 10 persons and distancing themselves from other parties by six feet.
  • Beach operations at the county-owned South Inlet Park will follow restrictions for Boca Raton municipal beaches.
3:56 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Coronavirus vaccine will be delivered by the end of the year, defense secretary says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, with US President Donald Trump, speaks on vaccine development  in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on May 15,.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, with US President Donald Trump, speaks on vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on May 15,. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

While President Trump appeared to hedge on the year timeline for a vaccine, Defense Secretary Mark Esper made a few more declarative comments.

“Winning matters, and we will deliver by the end of this year a vaccine at scale to treat the American people and our partners abroad. You know, the Department of Defense has been in this fight since day one, going back to January,” he said.

He later added, “We look forward to this next greatest phase of this fight against the coronavirus. We were all in then, we are all in now, and we will be all in in the future. And we will deliver on time.”

“We will deliver, we will win this fight… We will get the job done.”

Earlier today: Moncef Slaoui — the ex-head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division who was appointed by Trump to lead the US's coronavirus vaccine effort – said that based on early clinical trial data, he was confident they could deliver "a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020."

1:55 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Trump dismisses concerns about coronavirus test used in the White House

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump suggested Friday that he doesn’t have concerns about the coronavirus tests being administered in the White House, following a recent study showing the test may frequently miss Covid-19 cases.

The White House has frequently highlighted their use of the 13-minute test from Abbott Labs. But this week, CNN reported that a new study from researchers at NYU Langone Health in New York indicated that the test was so inaccurate that it was “unacceptable” for use with their patients.

“No, Abbott’s a great test. It’s a very quick test and it can also be very rapidly double checked. If you’re testing positive or negative, it can always be double checked,” Trump said during a Rose Garden event to announce leadership for the administration’s initiative to develop a coronavirus vaccine in record time.

He also called the test “very portable” and “very quick.”

Watch:

1:46 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

It's Friday afternoon in the US. Here's what you should know. 

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

If you're just tuning in, read up on the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic: 

  • Trump announces leaders of "warp speed" vaccine effort: Moncef Slaoui, the ex-head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines division, and four-star Army General Gustave Perna, will head the White House's effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Slaoui said he is confident a vaccine will be developed by the end of 2020.
  • The House is voting on a historic rules change today: House lawmakers are set to vote today on a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package and a historic rules change to allow lawmakers to vote remotely during the pandemic. For some members, the Friday vote could be the last in-person vote they will attend for some time.
  • Beaches in New York and neighboring states will open for Memorial Day: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today his state — along with New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware — will all be opening beaches for Memorial Day weekend beginning Friday next week. This announcement comes as five regions in New York began reopening today after meeting the state’s seven specific criteria.
  • Stocks open lower following collapse of retail sales: The economic repercussions of the pandemic continue to be felt. US stocks opened lower Friday after terrible retail sales numbers, giving up Thursday gains. America’s retail sales collapsed 16.4% in April, the lowest level since the data series began in 1992, according to the Census Bureau. 
1:40 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Most students completed their online AP exams, despite glitches, College Board says

From CNN's Annie Grayer 

The College Board responded Friday to technical issues that prevented some students from successfully completing their Advanced Placement (AP) exams, taken remotely nationwide starting this week.

During the first four days of the two-week testing period, the College Board said AP students took 1.64 million exams, and an additional 289,000 exams today, according to a statement.

"After the first few days of testing, our data show the vast majority of students successfully completed their exams, with less than 1 percent unable to submit their responses," the statement said.

The College Board said it is working to understand the technical issues or other reasons why some students were unable to complete their exams in advance of the June makeup exams, and said any student who encountered an issue will be able to re-test.