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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1:39 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

New Jersey will have a "primarily vote-by-mail election," governor says

From CNN's Julian Cummings

Chris Pedota/The Record via AP
Chris Pedota/The Record via AP

Most New Jersey residents will cast their ballots by mail during the state's primary election on July 7.

All Democratic and Republican voters will automatically receive a paid vote by mail ballot, Gov. Phil Murphy announced at a press conference today.

All non-affiliated and inactive voters will receive a vote by mail application.

“This will be primarily a vote-by-mail election," Murphy said.

In-person voting will be reduced to 50% capacity in each county, and at least one in-person voting facility must be open in each municipality.

Social distancing rules will be in effect at in-person voting facilities, and any touchscreen voting machines will be sanitized between voters, Murphy said.

The latest numbers: New Jersey reported at least 1,297 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases in the state to at least 143,905, Murphy said.

About 201 new deaths were reported on Friday.

“With that we have crossed 10,000 fatalities, 10,138 to be precise. Think about that for a moment that is a staggering number," Murphy said.

1:32 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Trump administration prepares to wind down US effort to bring medical supplies in from overseas

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

Ground crew workers unload a FEMA Project Airbridge delivery of PPE from Taipei, Taiwan, at Los Angeles International Airport on May 7.
Ground crew workers unload a FEMA Project Airbridge delivery of PPE from Taipei, Taiwan, at Los Angeles International Airport on May 7. Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Trump administration is winding down its effort to expedite critical medical supplies from overseas, known as “Project Airbridge,” in the coming weeks, US Navy Rear Admiral John Polowczyk told reporters today.

President Trump repeatedly heralded the initiative, calling it an “amazing success.” But over time, the effort became a point of contention between the Trump administration and states desperate for supplies because of limited visibility into where supplies were ultimately going.

Its success, therefore, has been difficult to measure. 

“We are looking at a process to ramp down the Airbridge as we go through May into June. We believe we’ve gotten the volume that we’ve needed to effectively, what I call, prime the pump to get more supplies here to beat the ocean-going method,” Polowczyk said, adding that there may be items needed in the future that they’ll consider flying in on an individual basis.  

The volume of supplies, cited by Polowczyk, includes all the ways personal protective equipment has been procured by the federal government and the private sector, combined, FEMA explained. 

Some context: In late March, the Federal Emergency Management Agency partnered with six major medical distributors to shore up supplies in the US by helping the companies bring in supplies abroad at a faster pace on chartered flights, and then directing a portion of those supplies. 

But while the supplies are flown in by FEMA, the allocation of supplies is split between the administration's designated hotspots and the distributors' customers, some of whom might also be in those critical areas. 

 FEMA has not provided details on allocation or prioritized hotspots, though, in recent weeks, states began receiving breakdowns of where supplies were delivered. 

1:30 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

More than 86,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

There have been at least 1,426,716 cases of coronavirus in the US, according to the Johns Hopkins University's tally. 

At least 86,228 people have died in the country from the pandemic. 

Johns Hopkins on Friday reported 8,942 new cases and 330 deaths.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.

1:25 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Trump says US will have access to vaccine even if it's developed by China

From CNN's Melissa Mahtani

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15 in Washington.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15 in Washington. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump said he believed the US would have access to a possible coronavirus vaccine even if China was the first country to develop one.

During a news conference, a reporter asked: "What happens if China is the country that develops the vaccine? Will the U.S. Still have access to that vaccine?" 

Trump responded:

"I would say the answer to that would be yes."

Seeking to reassure the public on the progress of a vaccine, he said many countries would work together to develop one.

"We're working together with many different countries, and again, we have no ego, we have no ego. Whoever gets it, great. We'll work with them and they'll work with us."

Remember: Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic, claiming Beijing could have prevented it.

3:57 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Trump: "Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back"

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump underscored Friday that the United States will rebound regardless of whether or not a coronavirus vaccine is developed.

Announcing new leadership for a “Warp Speed” initiative to develop a vaccine, Trump said, “I just want to make something clear. It’s very important. Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back. And we’re starting a process.”

"In many cases they don’t have vaccines and a virus or a flu comes and you fight through it,” he continued during a ceremony in the Rose Garden.

“People sometimes, I guess, we don’t know exactly yet, but it looks like they become immune — at least for a short while. It may be for life. But you fight through it,” he added.

However, the President added that he’s hopeful a vaccine can be developed by the end of the year.

Watch:

2:22 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Trump claims truck horns heard over speech are "sign of love"

President Trump said the truck horns that could be heard during his Rose Garden remarks on vaccine efforts were not a protest, but a “sign of love” to support his presidency.

“You hear that outside, that beautiful sound. Those are truckers that are with us all the way. They're protesting in favor of President Trump as opposed to against. There's hundreds of trucks out there. That's the sign of love, not the sign of your typical protests. I want to thank our great truckers. They like me and I like them,” Trump said. 

Trump added that his administration and the truckers are “working on something together.”

The horns could be heard as other officials took the podium to speak.

More on this: Despite Trump’s assertions that the truckers were honking to support him, a letter from the Independent Drivers Association, obtained by CNN, says that the truckers were actually lobbying Congress to change federal regulations on transparency by brokers, "to help truckers know they are being compensated fairly." 

This was the second time the President had suggested truck drivers were in town to support him. "They’re not protesters, they’re supporters of me because we’re getting things for the truckers… they’re really very thankful that I’m President,” he said during an interview with Maria Bartiromo that aired Fox Business Thursday.

Earlier Friday, CNN caught up with a group of truck drivers in Washington to protest.

“He lied on national television,” one trucker said, in response to the President’s remarks. “Let’s make a big sign – ‘yes we are a protest,’” another exclaimed, with another trucker chiding, “And remind him that this is an election year.”

Watch:

1:14 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Head of US vaccine effort: Early data suggests doses will be available by the end of 2020

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Chief Adviser "Warp Speed" vaccine effort Monecef Slaoui (R), with US President Donald Trump, speaks on vaccine development on May 15 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington.
Chief Adviser "Warp Speed" vaccine effort Monecef Slaoui (R), with US President Donald Trump, speaks on vaccine development on May 15 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Moncef Slaoui — the ex-head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division who was appointed by President Trump to lead the US's coronavirus vaccine effort — said he is confident a vaccine will be developed by the end of 2020.

"I have very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine and this data made me feel even more confident that we'll be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020 and we will do the best we can," he said at a news conference with Trump on Friday.

In addition to a vaccine, he said operation "warp speed" will also focus on the development of medicines for those who are already infected as well as improving and "optimizing" diagnostic tests.

"It is a great honor to serve our country and the world in this remarkable endeavor," Slaoui said.

Watch:

1:02 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Trump: We’re working under "the assumption we'll have, in the relatively new future, a vaccine"

From CNN's Melissa Mahtani

Speaking from the White House Rose Garden, President Trump said his administration and its "Warp Speed" initiative to develop a coronavirus vaccine are working under the assumption of having one "in the relatively near future" adding that he hoped it would be before the end of the year.

“It’s risky. It’s expensive, but we’ll be saving massive amounts of time. We’ll be saving years if we do this properly,” he said.

Trump continued: "Typically pharmaceutical companies wait to manufacture a vaccine until it has received all the regulatory approvals necessary, and this can delay the vaccine's availability to the public as much as a year, even more than that. Our task is so urgent that under Operation Warp Speed the federal government will invest in manufacturing all the top vaccine candidates before they're approved so we're knowing exactly what we're doing before they're approved." 

Watch:

12:56 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Trump announces leaders of "warp speed" vaccine effort

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15 in Washington.
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15 in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump announced the two leaders of "Operation Warp Speed," the effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

They are Moncef Slaoui, the ex-head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines division, and four-star Army General Gustave Perna.

Previously, CNN reported that Slaoui, who has been a venture capitalist since leaving the pharmaceutical giant in 2017, will act as the chief adviser to the vaccine effort. Perna will serve as the chief operating officer overseeing logistics, White House officials said. Trump said this week he would "rapidly" mobilize the military to distribute a vaccine when it is ready.