Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 9:32 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020
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1:57 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

New Jersey governor outlines 3 stages of reopening

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

A person on a bike rides past the Seaside Heights boardwalk on May 16 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
A person on a bike rides past the Seaside Heights boardwalk on May 16 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Yana Paskova/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy outlined how the state's economy will continue to reopen in three phases, saying "not everything will happen at once."

  • Stage 1: This is where the state is now, the governor said. Low-risk and outdoor activities are reopening – including parks, beaches, curbside retail, drive-in activities and elective surgeries.
  • Stage 2: The governor said this stage will be a broader restart of the economy. Restaurants will be allowed to reopen outdoor dining and potentially limited indoor dining. Some personal care businesses, libraries, and museums will also be allowed to reopen, and the state will begin putting in motion plans for what it will look like when students return to schools “hopefully” in the fall – though Murphy emphasized the word hopefully. 
  • Stage 3: Murphy said more restrictions on indoor activities will be lifted, including expanded dining, limited entertainment and bars with limited capacity and social distancing remaining in place.

Murphy did not offer specific dates for these next stages, saying they will be dictated by public health data.

Health indicators, such as sufficient health care capacity, increases in testing and tracing and widespread workplace safeguarding, will be monitored to determine when to start the next phase, he said.

“If we see a backslide, we will not hesitate to take action,” Murphy said.

1:43 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

More than 26,000 people have recovered from Covid-19 in Louisiana

From CNN’s Kay Jones

More than 26,000 people have recovered from Covid-19, according to the Louisiana Department of Health on Monday.

The state is reporting 277 new cases, for a 34,709 total ,and 2,440 total deaths, up 15 from Sunday. There were zero deaths reported in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes on Monday. Orleans has seen fewer than 40 new cases per day for the past 17 days. 

The number of patients hospitalized as well as those on ventilators rose slightly to 1,031 in the hospital and 118 on ventilators.

1:37 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Minnesota reports lowest number of new coronavirus deaths in two weeks

Minnesota reported nine new deaths from Covid-19 today, the lowest number in two weeks, according to state health department data.

The state’s stay-at-home order expired Monday, replaced with the "Stay Safe Minnesota" order, which allows some stores to reopen at 50% capacity. Gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned.

Gov. Tim Walz announced at a news conference last week that he has directed his cabinet to issue guidance on how to safely reopen bars, restaurants, barber shops and salons beginning on June 1.

The health department also reported 705 new Covid-19 cases today, bringing the state total to 16,372.

1:51 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Stay distanced and wear masks this Memorial Day, Massachusetts governor says

From CNN’s Carma Hassan


Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said it’s important for people to “continue to use their heads” when participating in activities around Memorial Day.

“Recognize and understand that we are still in the middle of this virus, that it’s not gone away, that we still have positive tests every single day in Massachusetts," Baker said in a news conference.

He added that local communities will work to make accommodations for events.

“There are many communities that have events for Memorial Day that are typically held at cemeteries and other sort of sacred ground and I know communities are going to work hard to make sure that if they do events like that, that they - people are appropriately distanced and they wear masks and they do all of the things they’re supposed to do,” Baker said.

The governor urged people to “be smart and vigilant” and avoid getting or spreading the virus.

1:31 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

More evidence US childhood vaccinations are dropping during coronavirus pandemic

From CNN’s Arman Azad

George Frey/Getty Images
George Frey/Getty Images

The number of childhood vaccines administered in Michigan has dropped by as much as 22% amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report uses Michigan as a case study, but that doesn’t necessarily suggest the state is worse off than others when it comes to vaccines. The findings, for example, come less than two weeks after another report from the CDC showed childhood vaccinations plunged in across the United States since the pandemic began.

In that earlier report, the CDC reported a “notable decrease” in the number of vaccines ordered through a federal program that immunizes half of all kids in the US. Unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children will be at risk of other infectious diseases besides coronavirus, the CDC cautioned at the time.

The new report looked at Michigan’s vaccine information system earlier this month, and found that the number of non-flu vaccine doses administered to children overall decreased 22%. Vaccine doses in children under two years old decreased 16%.

Fewer than half of five-month-olds were up to date on their vaccines this May, according to the study. Typically, about two-thirds of them are.

Children enrolled in Medicaid, a program for low-income Americans, also had lower rates of vaccination. Among seven-month-olds, for example, only 35% of Medicaid-enrolled children were up-to-date on their vaccines. That’s compared to 55% of children not enrolled in the program.

“The observed declines in vaccination coverage might leave young children and communities vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles,” wrote Cristi Bramer and colleagues at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Immunization Action Coalition in Minnesota and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

They noted that measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus may make it more difficult to access health care services. Some services can be replaced by telemedicine, they said, but vaccines require in-person visits.

“Strategies to maintain immunization services include dedicating specific clinics, rooms, or buildings for sick visits and well visits; reducing the number of patients on-site at any one time; closing waiting rooms or registration areas, and having patients check in by phone and receive vaccinations from their vehicles in the parking lot,” the researchers wrote.


1:17 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

More outdoor businesses in New Jersey will be allowed to open on Friday, governor says

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that he was signing an executive order that will allow some additional outdoor businesses to restart their operations in the state – including batting cages, horseback riding, shooting ranges, private tennis clubs and community gardens, among other things.

The order will take effect at 6 a.m. Friday.

Murphy said the state is moving forward with its reopening steps because the data has signaled that “it is becoming safer for us to dip our toes back into the water.”

New hospitalizations are down, as are the number of patients in hospitals, intensive care units and on ventilators.  

1:39 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Catch up: Here are the latest coronavirus updates

Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

If you're just reading in, here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Death toll nears 90,000: At least 89,636 people have died in the US from coronavirus, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
  • What the data shows: Only 18 states showed a downward trend of new cases today, according to an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins. That's down from 28 states that showed general declines as of Friday.
  • Massachusetts unveils reopening plans: Starting next week, the state will allow office spaces to reopen at 25% of capacity — except in Boston — and retail establishments can offer curbside service. Massachusetts is one of two states that have not yet begin relaxing some restrictions (Connecticut is the other).
  • NYC's reopening: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is on track to start reopening in the first half of June. So far, five regions in New York state have started reopening, and a sixth, Western New York, is expected to begin reopening tomorrow.
  • What's on Trump's schedule: The President is expected to meet with members of the restaurant industry today at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the impact of coronavirus.
1:12 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

JCPenney plans to close nearly 200 stores this year

From CNN’s Chris Isidore

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

JCPenney plans to close nearly 200 stores this year and another 50 next year, according to a bankruptcy filing.

The iconic retailer has yet to identify which of the 846 stores it operated before the Covid-19 pandemic will be permanently closed. The company will also not say how many of its 85,000 employees would lose their jobs as a result of the store closings.

While the retailer began reopening some of the stores last week before its Friday evening bankruptcy filing, more than 95% of its stores are still closed to shoppers due to health concerns.

The company had announced plans in February to close six of its stores in April. But before those closings could be complete, it was forced to close all of its stores due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The retailer expects to have a little more than 600 stores by the end of 2021, according to the filing.

Some context: JCPenney is the fourth national retailer to file for bankruptcy just this month. On May 4, clothing retailer J.Crew filed for bankruptcy, followed by a filing at Neiman Marcus on May 7. On May 10, Stage Stores filed for bankruptcy.

12:43 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

This immigration agency says it will run out of money without a $1.2 billion bailout

From CNN’s Geneva Sands

US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency responsible for processing visa and asylum requests, has asked for $1.2 billion from Congress due to lost revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.

USCIS, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, notified Congress of its projected budget shortfall on Friday, an agency spokesperson said.

Additionally, the agency is proposing a 10% surcharge on application fees to reimburse taxpayers.

"Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, USCIS has seen a dramatic decrease in revenue and is seeking a one-time emergency request for funding," the agency's spokesperson said in part. 

How they got here: The immigration agency is primarily fee-funded and typically continues most operations during lapses in funding, such as last year's government shutdown. 

However, during the pandemic the agency suspended its in-person services, including all interviews and naturalization ceremonies.

USCIS estimates that application and petition receipts will drop by approximately 61% through the end of the fiscal year, exhausting funding this summer.

The agency's depleted funds are the inevitable result of the administration's policies that decreased the number of petitions — and thus fees — received by USCIS, said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst for the US Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute.

Between the end of fiscal years 2017 and 2019, USCIS received nearly 900,000 fewer petitions, according to Pierce, who added that the decrease was largely driven by the administration's own decisions, such as ending Temporary Protected Status for nationals of several countries or drastically decreasing the number of refugees admitted to the United States.