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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5:39 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

New Mexico governor says retailers and houses of worship can operate at 25% capacity

From CNN's Hollie Silverman 

All retailers in New Mexico — with the exception of those in three counties — can operate at 25% of their fire code capacity starting Saturday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday.

Cibola, McKinley and San Juan counties are not included in the new guidance because case counts are still too high in that region, Lujan Grisham said.

Retailers are considered any business that sells good directly to the consumer. Entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, concert halls and amusement parks, are not considered retail businesses, Lujan Grisham said.

Houses of worship are also allowed to operate at 25% capacity, she said.

Other nonessential businesses, such as office spaces and call centers, can also operate with 25% of pre-crisis staffing levels, according to the new guidance.

5:36 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Coronavirus cases are still "too high" in New Mexico, governor warns

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

In this April 15 file photo, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham puts on her face mask during an update on the Covid-19 outbreak in the state in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In this April 15 file photo, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham puts on her face mask during an update on the Covid-19 outbreak in the state in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal/AP

Cases of coronavirus are still "too high" in New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said during a Friday news conference.

Lujan Grisham said that she will "do whatever it takes" to protect vulnerable communities from increased spread. 

She warned that another shutdown could be possible if people don't work to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. 

"On my way here...I saw far too much non-social distancing by far too many New Mexicans," the governor said.

There are 223 people who are hospitalized with coronavirus and 49 of them are on ventilators, Lujan Grisham said.

So far, 253 people have died in New Mexico from coronavirus, Lujan Grisham added.

5:28 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Health expert explains why Covid-19 is worse than flu

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

The coronavirus is nothing like the flu, and continued comparisons are misleading, a senior American Heart Association official said Friday.

Covid-19 is new, people have no immunity to it, there’s no vaccine to prevent it and no good treatment for infection, Dr. Eduardo Sanchez said in a commentary on the American Heart Association website.

Plus, the new coronavirus is more dangerous in several ways, Sanchez said.

“Covid-19 seems to be more contagious,” he wrote.

“Both diseases spread from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when a sick person coughs or sneezes,” he added. “Available information suggests that SARS-CoV-2 is spreading more efficiently than influenza. It spreads easily and sustainably, meaning that it goes from person to person without stopping.”

And despite constant references to how many people are killed by seasonal influenza every year, Covid-19 has killed more people, faster, said Sanchez, who is chief of the American Heart Association’s Center for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

“(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that 24,000 to 62,000 flu deaths occurred during the 2019-2020 flu season (October 1, 2019 through April 4, 2020). This is a wide range because flu is not a reportable disease in most areas of the country, and the estimate is derived from a mathematical model based on flu-associated hospitalizations,” he wrote.

Covid-19 deaths are counted one by one, Sanchez noted. More than 86,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University, and they have died in the span of just three months.

“Our understanding of the virus is rapidly evolving, but so far, COVID-19 appears to pose a greater risk to the public’s health than the flu,” Sanchez said.

4:53 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Nurse tells Trump the reason she hasn't caught coronavirus is because of protective equipment

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

Nurse Amy Ford answers a question from President Donald Trump during a presidential recognition ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, on Friday, May 15, in Washington.
Nurse Amy Ford answers a question from President Donald Trump during a presidential recognition ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, on Friday, May 15, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

At a ceremony honoring "the hard work, heroism, and hope that Americans from all walks of life have exemplified during the Covid-19 pandemic" this afternoon, President Trump asked a nurse how she was able to avoid catching coronavirus.

The nurse, Amy Ford, thought it was because of personal protective equipment.

Ford is a nurse from West Virginia who is working in New York City during the pandemic. She described holding a phone up to her patients so they could hear from family they weren't able to see in person.

She called it one of the "most emotionally challenging things" she'd ever been through. 

4:51 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Kroger to give employees one-time "thank you pay" bonus

From CNN's Pamela Kirkland and Dianne Gallagher

Desiderio Reynoso Morales disinfects shopping carts before they are used by patrons at Kroger on Tuesday, April 7, in Newport, Kentucky.
Desiderio Reynoso Morales disinfects shopping carts before they are used by patrons at Kroger on Tuesday, April 7, in Newport, Kentucky. Albert Cesare/The Cincinnati Enquirer/USA Today Network

As Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the country, prepares to end it’s “hero pay” for employees, the company announced on Friday it would provide a “thank you pay” bonus to its frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy, and call center associates. 

The one-time bonus will be $400 for full-time associates and $200 for part-time associates.

Kroger is set to end its “hero pay” program on Sunday. The $2 per hour bonus went into effect on March 31. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union has urged Kroger to extend the program.

Final appreciation pay will be given to employees by May 23. 

4:48 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Mississippi is implementing a plan to test all nursing home residents and staff

From CNN's Jamiel Lynch and Andie Garcia

Mississippi is implementing a two-week plan to test all nursing home residents and staff for Covid-19, Gov. Tate Reeves announced in a news conference.

Reeves said that over the past two weeks, most deaths in the state have occurred with patients from nursing home facilities.

The state has reported 10,801 coronavirus cases and 493 deaths.

 

4:45 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

New Jersey Transit to receive $1.4 billion in federal funding

From CNN's Lauren del Valle

A NJ Transit bus driver wears a mask on April 27 in Jersey City, New Jersey.
A NJ Transit bus driver wears a mask on April 27 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

The New Jersey Transit has been awarded $1.4 billion in funding from the CARES Act, according to a statement provided to CNN from President and CEO Kevin Corbett.

But that still might not be enough.

In his statement, Corbett said NJ Transit is requesting an additional $1.2 billion on top of the $1.4 billion that was just awarded to “help plug looming the gap in its operational budget due to staggering losses in revenue.” 

"While NJ TRANSIT is grateful for the initial round of funding, the COVID-19 crisis has significantly worsened and so has its financial impact on the agency," Corbett said in the statement.

"This much needed federal relief package is an investment in the future of public transportation in the Garden State. This funding allows NJ TRANSIT to continue providing service to essential workers who are on the front lines of the coronavirus response and rely on public transit to get to work," the statement continued.

Earlier today, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said, “That was welcome news as you could imagine,” when discussing the federal funding relief package. 

4:34 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

New White House coronavirus task force members announced

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing on April 17 in Washington.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing on April 17 in Washington. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Office of the Vice President has announced five new members of the coronavirus task force.

The new members are:

  • Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
  • Labor Secretary Gene Scalia
  • Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health
  • Dr. Peter Marks, Food and Drug Administration director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research
  • Thomas Engels, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration

4:30 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

New Hampshire announces $595 million in additional relief fund distributions

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced today $595 million in additional relief fund distributions towards care facilities, non-profits, small businesses, childcare, frontline workers and higher education.

The state is doubling the amount allocated to health care organizations by increasing the Emergency Fund by $50 million, bringing the total to $100 million.

Sununu said the funding will help facilities “keep their lights on and provide critical services to those in need.”

New Hampshire is also putting forward $60 million to help its non-profits in mitigating the critical public health and economic impacts of the pandemic on residents who rely on them.

The state is also committing $25 million in emergency funding for the Early Childhood Care and Education System to support urgent childcare and family support needs.

Sununu said the Main Street Relief Fund is the state’s most substantial investment to date, with an initial round of $400 million designated for small businesses to get through the economic disruption caused by Covid-19.

"We have heard loud and clear from mayors and local officials worried about the tax base in their cities and towns. This funding will empower small business owners to make decisions for themselves. They can pay off their property taxes, pay off a loan, or recoup their losses," the governor said.

New Hampshire will also be providing $15 million in support of farm and food industries, with $4.5 million for the state’s dairy farmers and an additional $1.5 million towards farmers in other industries.

An additional $4 million will go towards emergency grants to ensure stability in the food supply chain, Sununu said.