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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4:56 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Michigan governor signs order lifting some restrictions in parts of the state

From CNN's Kay Jones and Elizabeth Joseph

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an order lifting restrictions in the Upper Peninsula and the Traverse City area starting Friday at 12:01 a.m. 

The new order allows for the reopening of retail businesses, office work that cannot be done remotely, and restaurants and bars with limited seating.

The order also states that businesses must adopt the safety measures outlined in executive order the governor signed earlier on Monday requiring them to provide training to their employees. Capacity at restaurants and bars will be limited to 50% of their normal seating and they are required to keep groups at least six feet from one another. All servers must wear face coverings, and restaurants must follow rigorous disinfection protocols. 

"The data shows that it's safer than indoor seating to be outside," Whitmer said in a press conference on today. "We should take full advantage of the springtime weather, and that's what we're hoping to do here." 

She went on to say that these regions are showing lower new cases than the statewide average. But Whitmer cautioned that residents in these areas should still continue to take precautions when going out, including wearing masks, staying six feet apart and washing hands.

Watch here:

3:13 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Michigan governor signs executive order protecting workers 

From CNN's Kay Jones and Elizabeth Joseph

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, right, speaks during a press conference in Lansing, Michigan, on May 18.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, right, speaks during a press conference in Lansing, Michigan, on May 18. Pool/WLNS

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order today to further protect workers as they begin to re-engage in sectors of the economy.

"Nobody in Michigan should feel unsafe when they go back to work," Whitmer said. "Nobody should be worried about their family member or loved one.”

The new order requires businesses to develop a Covid-19 preparedness and response plan and submit it by June 1. It will require "all businesses to adhere to strict safety guidelines to protect their workers, their patrons, and their communities from infection," according to a statement from the governor's office. 

Additionally, businesses must also provide training to employees covering such things as workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of personal protective equipment, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of Covid-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions.  

To help ensure compliance, a new director of Covid-19 Workplace Safety will be appointed to work within the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Watch here:

2:02 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

There needs to be an abundance of testing before sports can return, NHL commissioner says

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

National Hockey League (NHL) commissioner Gary Bettman discussed efforts to safely continue the season at an online sports forum on Monday.

Bettman said there has to be an abundance of testing for the NHL to return. So far, the league has only tested the players who have been sick.

"Medical needs must take priority and there must be enough test to satisfy what the medical community thinks its needs are and sports desire to come back. We cannot jump the line in front of medical needs," Bettman said on the forum.

The commissioner said the NHL is looking at eight or nine different places "in NHL buildings" that can host about a dozen teams in one location, playing multiple games in one day. 

He added that players and fans want to complete the season and that the league will be ready to do so – even if it means playing in the summer and delaying the start of the 2020-2021 season.

The league is exploring whether to complete, shorten or forego the regular season and head straight to the playoffs.

2:00 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Here are the latest reopening plans from West Virginia

From CNN’s Mirna Alsharif

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice speaks at a news conference in Charleston, West Virginia, on May 18.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice speaks at a news conference in Charleston, West Virginia, on May 18. Youtube

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday additional reopening plans, which will start May 26.

Here's what the plans include:

  • State park cabins and lodges will reopen to in-state residents only.
  • Indoor and outdoor bars will open with 50% capacity.
  • Museums, visitor centers and zoos will also reopen.
  • Spas and massage businesses will reopen on May 30, along with limited video lottery retailers.
  • Casinos will open on June 5 with strict guidance to keep players safe.

Justice said all reopening measures will be subject to strict guidelines to keep people safe. He added that plans are subject to change.

Dr. Clay Marsh, the state's Covid-19 czar, encouraged residents to wear masks as the state continues to reopen.

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.