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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7:34 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Bars in Arkansas will open with restrictions next week

From CNN’s Janine Mack

Bars in Arkansas will be able to reopen starting on May 26, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at a news briefing on Monday. Bars inside restaurant facilities can reopen tomorrow, he said.

The guidelines for bars will be similar to restaurants, said Dr. Nate Smith with the Arkansas Department of Health.

“We're going to continue to have the guidance on physical distancing and these other things in our directives and guidance, but we're going to depend more and more on people picking individual action to protect themselves and protect those around them and their loved ones, and as well as public health interventions like testing and contact tracing and less on regulatory mandates,” Smith said.

Hutchinson added that he will visit President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the Oval Office on Wednesday to talk about the the food processing industry and how Arkansas has dealt with reopening of the economy.

There have been at least 4,813 positive cases of coronavirus in Arkansas and at least 100 people have died, Smith said.

7:02 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Kentucky governor announces new efforts to expand contact tracing

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, on Monday, May 11.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, on Monday, May 11. Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader/AP

Kentucky is taking steps to ramp up contact tracing efforts in the state.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced today the Kentucky Department for Public Health is working with Deloitte Consulting to launch the statewide effort to gather information about contacts from newly diagnosed patients. 

Health officials will notify those people of their potential exposure and advise them of precautions they can take to protect their health and the health of those around them, according to a statement from the governor.

“We are going to hire about 700 people and we will have to deploy these folks very effectively to help contain the infection,” Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said.

“Contact tracing is the way we get back to as much as possible what normal used to be like. Contact tracing is the way we act very quickly to localize infection to keep it from spreading and enable us to get back to interacting with each other as much as we can," Stack added.

7:08 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Illinois governor announces emergency rule requiring businesses to follow stay-at-home order

From CNN's Raja Razek

In this April 17 file photo, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a daily coronavirus news conference in Chicago on Friday, April 17.
In this April 17 file photo, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a daily coronavirus news conference in Chicago on Friday, April 17. Tyler LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times/AP

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced today an emergency rule requiring businesses to follow the existing stay-at-home order.

"Under the current Illinois Department of Public Health Act, when a business violates an IDPH rule and puts public health at risk, the business has committed a class A misdemeanor," Pritzker said in a news conference.

"This additional enforcement tool, this citation, causes less harm to a business than a total shutdown or loss of a license but gives local governments and law enforcement the ability to do their job," he said. 

This rule can only impact a business, not an individual, and is a response to only a select type of violation, according to the governor. 

Pritzker also announced today that the Illinois Contact Tracing Collaborative will "massively" scale up contact tracing. 

Latest numbers: Illinois has a total of 96,485 Covid-19 cases, with 4,234 deaths in the state. 

6:54 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

AP test organizers make changes after some students couldn't submit their exams

From CNN's David Williams and Alisha Ebrahimji

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

The College Board says it's taking steps to avoid a repeat of the problems that are forcing thousands of high school students to retake their Advanced Placement exams if they want to get college credit.

Students are taking the AP tests online this year because the coronavirus pandemic has closed schools and made it unsafe to gather at in-person testing sites.

Some students who took the tests last week reported not being able to upload their exams, a problem the College Board blamed on users' outdated browsers and other technical issues.

The organization set up an alternate email submission process for students who have browser problems, according to The College Board website. That system went into effect today.

If students get the message "We Did Not Receive Your Response," they will get instructions to email their submissions to a unique email address.

"AP students took nearly 2.2 million AP Exams last week, and we're so proud of every student who tested. We also share the deep disappointment of those who couldn't complete their AP Exams. We're providing a new safeguard for students moving forward," the College Board said in a tweet on Sunday. 

The organization said that less than 1% of students weren't able to submit their results in the early days of testing.

Read the tweet:

6:52 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Colorado governor says he wishes Trump would use platform to ask Americans to wear masks

Colorado Governor Jared Polis makes a point about the state's efforts to rein in the new coronavirus during a news conference outside the Stride Community Health Center on Monday, May 18, in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis makes a point about the state's efforts to rein in the new coronavirus during a news conference outside the Stride Community Health Center on Monday, May 18, in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. David Zalubowski/AP

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said he wished President Trump would ask Americans to wear face masks in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Asked his reaction on Trump saying he is taking hydroxychloroquine, a drug that treats and prevents malaria, Polis responded, “Well at least he won’t be getting malaria anytime soon."

Hydroxychloroquine is a drug Trump has long touted as a potential coronavirus cure even as medical experts and the US Food and Drug Administration question its efficacy and warn of potentially harmful side effects.

Polis continued: “When he says something like that it creates a run on the drug. He has a lot of people that listen to every word he says. I really wish he would use this platform to say, ‘Let’s all wear mask.'"

“I just hope he uses that soapbox he has to talk about the need for staying apart from others six feet and wearing masks when we’re in public,” he said.

6:47 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

University of Notre Dame plans to end fall semester before Thanksgiving

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

The University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana.
The University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana. Shutterstock

The University of Notre Dame announced in a statement today that students will return to campus for their fall semester during the week of August 10, two weeks earlier than originally scheduled.

The university also announced that it will forgo fall break in October and end the semester before Thanksgiving.

Notre Dame students were sent home in mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and completed their spring semester through remote learning.

“By far the most complex challenge before us is the return of our students to campus for the resumption of classes in the fall semester,” the university’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, said in the statement.

“Bringing our students back is in effect assembling a small city of people from many parts of the nation and the world, who may bring with them pathogens to which they have been exposed. We recognize the challenge, but we believe it is one we can meet," the statement said.

The university said its plan for the fall will include comprehensive Covid-19 testing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, social distancing and mask requirements, and enhanced cleaning of all campus spaces.

As part of its planning, the university has identified facilities to isolate students who test positive and quarantine students who have been in close contact. These protocols will continue throughout the semester and as long as necessary, the university said. 

Other schools: Purdue University, Rice University and Creighton University all announced plans to cancel fall breaks and end “face-to-face” instruction before Thanksgiving earlier today.

6:39 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Childhood vaccinations plunge in California during coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Alexandra Meeks

In California and across the United States, recent data shows many children are missing their vaccines during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The California Department of Public Health said the number of shots given to children up to 18 years old in California decreased by more than 40% in April 2020 in comparison to April 2019.

"This pandemic has disrupted so much, including how we're seeking preventative health care services," Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement Monday. "During and after the pandemic, unvaccinated infants and children will be more vulnerable to dangerous diseases like measles and whooping cough."

More on this: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report today on the decreasing number of childhood vaccinations nationwide since the pandemic began.

Using Michigan as a case study, the CDC found a 22% decrease in the the number of non-flu vaccine doses administered to children overall. The study also found that less than half of all five-month-olds were up to date on their vaccines this May. 

The CDC and the California Department of Public Health both emphasize parents should make sure their children are up-to-date on their immunizations so they can be protected against serious preventable diseases, especially while the Covid-19 emergency is ongoing.

6:23 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Joshua Tree National Park partially reopens to the public

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

In this January 4, 2019 photo, a Joshua tree stands at Joshua Tree National Park in California.
In this January 4, 2019 photo, a Joshua tree stands at Joshua Tree National Park in California. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Joshua Tree National Park, located near Palm Springs, California, has partially reopened to the public, according to the National Park Service.

The park, which closed to help control the spread of Covid-19, will reopen roads, parking lots, trails, most bathrooms and family campsites, the park’s website said.

Entrance stations will also be staffed, though fees will not be collected, the site added.

The visitor center and group campsites will remain closed. All programs and permits for special use activities through May 31 have been canceled.

5:55 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Catch up on the latest coronavirus headlines

People sit in circles meant to encourage social distancing in Domino Park along the East River on May 18 in the Williamsburg neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough in New York City.
People sit in circles meant to encourage social distancing in Domino Park along the East River on May 18 in the Williamsburg neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It's almost 6 p.m. in New York. Here are some of the top coronavirus headlines you may have missed.

  • President Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine: Trump said he is taking hydroxychloroquine after asking the White House doctor if he could take it — despite the fact that he's said he is negative for Covid-19 and several recent studies show the drug is ineffective against the coronavirus and may even be harmful.
  • As states relax more rules, US coronavirus death toll passes 90,000: All states except one, Connecticut, have loosened stay-at-home restrictions. But only 18 states showed a downward trend of new cases Monday, according to an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins. That's down from 28 states that showed general declines as of Friday.
  • Navajo Nation surpasses New York for highest Covid-19 infection rate: The Navajo Nation, which spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, reported a population of 173,667 on the 2010 census. As a result, with 4,002 cases, the Native American territory has 2,304.41 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people.
  • Vaccine trial shows positive early results: Study subjects who received Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine had positive early results, according to the biotech company, which partnered with the National Institutes of Health to develop the vaccine. If future studies go well, the company's vaccine could be available to the public as early as January, Dr. Tal Zaks, Moderna's chief medical officer, told CNN.