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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12:08 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Beaches in New York and neighboring states will open for Memorial Day, governor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

A person walks on the beach on May 13 in the Coney Island neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough in New York City.
A person walks on the beach on May 13 in the Coney Island neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough in New York City. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state — along with New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware — will all be opening beaches for Memorial Day weekend beginning Friday next week.

The states will have different, specific rules but “they’re all basically in the same ball park,” Cuomo said.

Here are the restrictions in New York:

  • No more than 50% capacity, or group contact activities
  • Picnic areas and playgrounds will be closed
  • Social distancing will be enforced for employees and visitors
  • Masks must be worn by employees
  • Visitors must have masks and wear them when they cannot social distance

With regards to municipal town and county beaches, local government can choose to open or stay closed. If they open, they must adopt the state requirements at a minimum. They are also allowed to impose additional requirements above and beyond, and must report their status by May 20 so the state can plan accordingly.

11:57 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

New York governor: Deaths are down, "but still painful"

From CNN's Sheena Jones

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 132 people died across the state yesterday, adding the number of deaths is down “but still painful.”

The number of deaths has dropped to levels recorded late March, Cuomo said.

Cuomo said total number of hospitalizations and intubations are down, which is the “way we like to see it."

He said the number of new cases is up, but only "a tick.” Cuomo noted that the new cases are mostly coming from people who “are at home.”

“So we're talking about home spread,” Cuomo said. And that’s “the hardest place to control the spread.”

Watch:

11:51 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

New York governor: "We expect to see an increase" in coronavirus numbers as state starts to reopen

As five regions in New York begin reopening today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that there will be an increase in coronavirus numbers — and officials must be ready to roll back some reopenings if the rate gets too high.

"We're starting to turn the activity valve," he said. "Watch what happens to the infection rate, testing rate, hospitalization rate. If those numbers start to move, slow down on the activity level."

He added: "You will see an increase. We expect to see an increase. But that increase has to monitored and has to be controlled."

Some background: Cuomo announced yesterday that five regions in his state – Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley – can begin “phase one” of reopening today.  

The regions met the state’s seven specific criteria for reopening, including 14-day declines in hospitalizations and deaths, hospital bed availability, testing capacity and contact tracing. 

Here are the industries that will resume operations in those regions: 

  • Construction
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
  • Retail (Limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off)
  • Manufacturing
  • Wholesale trade

Watch:

11:37 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Ford wrote 70-page safety handbook for workers as it plans to reopen plants Monday

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

The Ford Motor Co. Michigan Assembly plant stands idle in Wayne, Michigan, on March 23.
The Ford Motor Co. Michigan Assembly plant stands idle in Wayne, Michigan, on March 23. Anthony Lanzilote/Bloomberg/Getty Images

With Ford set to reopen it plants across the country on Monday after nearly two months, about 71,000 workers will go back to work and there haven't been any furloughs or layoffs, according to CEO Jim Hackett.

“I'm trying to keep everyone here. It doesn't make any sense to put them on the social systems and put them out of work,” he said.

To reopen on Monday, Ford wrote a 70-page handbook on safety measures for its workers, he added.

“The idea is that we design the experience from the worker back,” he said. “We actually did role plays with people in terms of the kinds of questions they have as they come back to work, a day in the life of someone leaving their kids without any supervision because there's no school, and they need to show up at work. We worked that whole thing end to end so that we could find what we needed to do to make this really work for everyone and that's what made it 70 pages.”

Some of the safety measures at these plants will include social distancing, testing and the requirement to wear masks. Before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, two workers would be inside the vehicle as it went down the assembly line. That will no longer happen, according to Hackett.

The automaker had kept some assembly lines open to produce personal protective equipment and ventilators, which will continue to be produced at the plant.

11:33 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

New York City will have 1,000 contact tracers by the end of the month, mayor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a coronavirus briefing on May 15 in New York City.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a coronavirus briefing on May 15 in New York City. NYC Media

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said hundreds of people have been trained to begin contact tracing, and they are set to begin their work soon.

Responding to a question from CNN’s Mark Morales, de Blasio said that the city will have 1,000 contact tracers by the end of the month.

The city plans to have up to 2,500 trained contact tracers by the end of June. He said the goal is to train as many as 5,000 to 10,000 people total.

He said the pandemic has presented a “bigger, more complex and a much greater operational challenge than anything we’ve seen in the history of contact tracing in this city."

The effort is being led by NYC Health and Hospitals because they “are a huge operational entity – with all the operations to go with being a huge operational entity – but also an independent agency which allows them to do a lot of things, contracts and other things, much faster than a mayoral agency,” de Blasio said. 

Experts from the Department of Health are being brought in for “maximum impact,” he added.

11:26 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

The House is voting on a historic rules change today. Here's how it would work.

From CNN's Clare Foran, Haley Byrd and Manu Raju

Members of The House of Representatives meet on May 15 in Washington.
Members of The House of Representatives meet on May 15 in Washington. House TV

The House of Representatives is 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.

House Democrats' move to allow remote voting comes after weeks of talks over the possibility of changing House rules to allow committees to conduct business virtually and members to vote while away from Washington during the pandemic.

It will stand as one of the most significant rules changes the House has implemented in recent history. Here's what it would change:

  • Remote voting: The rules change would authorize temporary implementation of remote voting by proxy in the event of a public health emergency due to the coronavirus. It also allows for remote committee proceedings during the pandemic. Once enacted, the authorization for remote voting and remote committee work would remain in place for a 45-day period, after which it could be extended if the public health emergency persists.
  • Proxies: Also under the rules change, lawmakers who cannot or do not want to travel during the pandemic would be allowed to designate proxies by sending letters to the House clerk. Proxies will be required to "receive exact written instruction" from the members who are using them as proxies, according to the House Rules Committee. Any given member can serve as a proxy only for up to 10 other lawmakers. Republicans had raised concerns with the initial proposal about the possibility of members casting an unlimited number of proxy votes for their colleagues.
  • Technology to vote: The resolution also greenlights higher-tech options for remote voting in the future after a system is developed and certified, directing the chair of the House Administration Committee to study the feasibility of using technology to vote remotely in the House. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, has suggested members could one day utilize technologies like FaceTime to call House clerks to cast their votes.
11:07 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Here's how New York City will enforce social distancing this weekend

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New Yorkers congregate in Prospect Park on May 2 in New York City.
New Yorkers congregate in Prospect Park on May 2 in New York City. Yana Paskova/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out how the city will maintain proper social distancing particularly in light of the warm weekend coming up.

He said in the parks “we have definitely seen some places where overcrowding started to happen.”

The New York Police Department is limiting access to Sheep Meadow in Central Park and Hudson River Park, and Piers 45 and 46 and monitoring Domino Park in Williasmburg.

“We are going to create a monitoring approach,” he said, adding NYPD and "social ambassadors" will be there earlier.

De Blasio said 2,260 social distancing ambassadors and supervisors have been deployed.

At beaches, which are not open, the city will see enhanced patrols particularly in the Rockaways, Coney Island and Orchard Beach.

There is a dedicated car in each NYPD precinct to respond to 311 social distancing complaints.

On enforcement: De Blasio said he and New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea have been talking about how to apply a neighborhood policing approach –– the “strategy that has been working,” in the middle of a pandemic.

“Where we see the greatest danger to lives in terms of the coronavirus and the area where we can enforce is around gatherings particularly large gatherings, so that’s where we are going to focus,” he said.

He added: “If we never need to take any additional enforcement action other than the NYPD showing up and people leaving, that’s the ideal by far. Summonses are an available tool and will be given if people do not disperse."

11:08 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

New York City's most recent report "not everything we want it to be," mayor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a coronavirus briefing on May 15 in New York City.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a coronavirus briefing on May 15 in New York City. NYC Media

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking about the city’s indicators to address the virus, said there has been “tremendous progress overall,” but the most recent “report not everything we want it to be."

He said the city has been “consistently below” 100 hospital admissions for suspected Covid-19 cases for a “meaningful amount of time.” 

“That’s the good news, the less good news is today’s update,” he added saying that the admissions have gone up to 78 on Wednesday from 59 on Tuesday.

On top of that:

  • The admission of ICU patients is down to 506 on Wednesday from 517 as of Tuesday.
  • The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is up to 12% as of Wednesday up from 11% as of Tuesday.
11:02 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

A Covid-19 vaccine by January is "credible goal," head of US effort says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Moncef Slaoui, the ex-head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines division, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 6, 2007.
Moncef Slaoui, the ex-head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines division, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 6, 2007. Susan Walsh/AP

Finding a Covid-19 vaccine by January is a "credible goal," Moncef Slaoui, the ex-head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines division who has been tapped to lead the Trump administration's "warp speed" effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine, told The New York Times on Friday.

Slaoui told the newspaper that developing and mass-producing a successful vaccine by January 2021 is a “credible objective,” but acknowledged it would be difficult.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has previously said that a coronavirus vaccine could take 12 to 18 months to develop, and finding a vaccine by January was possible.

The United States currently has the timeline of developing its vaccine by the end of the year.

"Frankly, 12-18 months is already a very aggressive timeline," Slaoui told The New York Times. “I don’t think Dr. Fauci was wrong."

But Slaoui said he was undaunted by the President’s goal.

"I would not have committed unless I thought it was achievable," Slaoui said, adding that he told the President that when he met with him for the first time on Wednesday at the White House and Trump asked if the goal was realistic.

Soon: President Trump is scheduled to speak from the White House Rose Garden at noon ET today and make an announcement about coronavirus vaccine development.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said that while the government has, "already been dealing with the private sector," President Trump will also discuss military partnerships at the event.