Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 9:19 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020
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1:55 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

New Jersey reports 162 new deaths from Covid-19

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

Two people walk on the beach as the state begins to reopen beaches and boardwalks amid the novel coronavirus pandemic on May 16, 2020 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. 
Two people walk on the beach as the state begins to reopen beaches and boardwalks amid the novel coronavirus pandemic on May 16, 2020 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.  Yana Paskova/Getty Images

New Jersey reported 162 new deaths from Covid-19, bringing the statewide total to 10,586 lab confirmed fatalities in the state, Gov. Phil Murphy said today at a press conference.

The state also reported 1,055 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total to 149,013 cases.

While the numbers in the state remain very high, the governor noted there are several positive indicators:

  • The daily positivity rate in the state remains at 12% — a continued downward trend.
  • Hospitalizations are also down in the state, and the number of individuals in the ICU dropped below 1,000 — to 977 — for the first time in “a long time,” Murphy said.
  • Ventilator use is also down in the state.

More about these figures: At least 28,312 of the total Covid-19 cases in the state have been in long-term care facilities, Murphy said, and there have been a total of 4,295 lab confirmed deaths at long term care facilities across the state. 

Murphy announced that starting today, the state is sharing only the numbers of lab confirmed Covid-19 deaths for long-term care facilities —  a change from how the state was previously reporting the numbers from these facilities.

Additionally, the governor said that he was issuing an administrative order today to allow for in-person sales at car and motorcycle dealerships and bike shops effective at 6 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

1:49 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Researchers are examining the effects of coronavirus on pregnant women and newborns

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

A new study examining the effects of the coronavirus on pregnant women and newborns is underway, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers with the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network will look at the health records of as many as 21,000 women to determine if changes that were made in hospital and health protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic impacted the rate of pregnancy complications or cesarean births, the NIH said in a statement.

The research will also follow 1,500 pregnant women with confirmed cases of Covid-19 before childbirth and for six weeks after to try and determine the risk of transmitting the virus to the fetus, the agency said.

The network is funded by the agency’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and consists of 12 US clinical centers, which cover more than 160,000 deliveries annually. The NIH said the network’s “racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity allows researchers to generalize their study findings to the U.S. population.” 

There is currently no data showing that pregnant women are more susceptible to coronavirus than others, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but pregnant women are at greater risk of serious disease from other respiratory viruses. 

“Sometimes this causes adverse outcomes for the mother or child,” the agency warns on its coronavirus guidance page for pregnant women, and urges them to take all precautions to remain safe, including social distancing measures, frequent hand-washing and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces often.

1:28 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Trump arrives to Senate GOP lunch not wearing a mask

From CNN's Manu Raju

US President Donald Trump arrives for the weekly Senate policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on May 19, 2020.
US President Donald Trump arrives for the weekly Senate policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on May 19, 2020. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump did not stop for questions and walked into the lunch with Senate Republicans. Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, and the President's chief of staff Mark Meadows also arrived.

None of the three were wearing masks. 

1:48 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Key moments from Mnuchin, Powell’s fiery Senate hearing on coronavirus relief measures

From CNN’s David Goldman and Katie Lobosco

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were grilled by lawmakers via video conference today about how they're implementing the $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue package.

Both leaders defended the administration's efforts to revive the economy, with Mnuchin saying, "The country will emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever."

Here’s what you missed from the Senate hearing: 

Country’s economic recovery still uncertain: While the unprecedented steps taken by the government to shut down parts of the economy has led to soaring unemployment over the past two months, Mnuchin told senators that he expects economic conditions will improve in the third and fourth quarters of this year. Mnuchin did warn that as shutdowns continue, "There is risk of permanent damage."

Powell also noted possible obstacles to recovery, saying that state and local governments have laid off about 1 million workers because of the coronavirus crisis, which will likely weigh on the nation's economy.

Powell reiterated that the Federal Reserve will take more action if the economy isn't rebounding as well as it would like.

Issues surrounding company loans continue: Both Powell and Mnuchin said that they are working on issues on how some companies that need loans are falling through the cracks. "If there are companies that slipped through, [Powell] and I will work together to make sure they have funding," Mnuchin said.

Powell noted that some of the lending facilities have only just come online, so the amount that has gone out to support some businesses is "pretty limited."

Main Street loan program likely to be ready by end of month: Powell said that the program meant to lend billions of dollars to small- and mid-sized businesses should be ready to launch by the end of the month, amid complaints the money has been too slow to reach the public. 

Testy exchange about reopening: In an exchange between Sen. Sherrod Brown, a ranking member on the committee, and Mnuchin, Brown asked why the Trump administration is so eager to send employees back to work during uncertain times.

"How many workers should give their lives to increase the GDP or the Dow by 1,000 points?" Brown, a Democrat, asked.
"No workers should give their lives to do that, Senator, and I think your characterization is unfair," Mnuchin said.

See the moment:

2:10 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Texas church cancels mass following death of a possibly Covid-19 positive priest 

From CNN's Gregory Lemos 

The Holy Ghost Church stands in Houston, Texas, on May 19.
The Holy Ghost Church stands in Houston, Texas, on May 19. KTRK

A church in Houston has canceled mass indefinitely after the death of one of its priests, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. 

The Holy Ghost Church reopened May 2, according to a statement on its website.   

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston confirmed the death of Donnell Kirchner, a 79-year-old priest who worked at Holy Ghost. Kirchner had recently been treated for pneumonia and sent home, where he lived with seven other priests.

Jo Ann Zuniga, spokesperson for the archdiocese, said in the statement while "it was not clear" if Kirchner had been tested for Covid-19 during his visit to an urgent care center and then hospital, Holy Ghost church officials decided to have all members of the religious order tested and close the church indefinitely.  

Zuniga confirmed five positive cases of Covid-19. She said two of the five priests who were Covid-19 positive had "been active in celebrating public Masses at Holy Ghost since May 2nd." 

Both the parish and archdiocese have encouraged members who have attended mass since the May 2 reopening to monitor their health symptoms and be tested for Covid-19.  

Although Gov. Greg Abbott asked Texans to stay home in late March, churches were designated "essential services" and allowed to stay open, according to various executive orders on the governor's website.  

Zuniga said both the parish and the archdiocese have alerted the Houston Health Department.  


2:52 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

New York governor says he's "aggressive" on encouraging sports to resume without fans

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a coronavirus briefing in Manhasset, New York, on May 19.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a coronavirus briefing in Manhasset, New York, on May 19. State of New York

As New York state reopens further, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is “very aggressive on encouraging sports teams to start to operate without fans” as much as they can.

“To the extent they can start, I encourage them to start,” he said. “New York will be a full partner. Anything we can do to make it happen and make it happen safely, we will.”

He acknowledged that this applies to all sports teams differently and some will find it easier to work under these circumstances than the others.

“Some sports franchises can make this work easier than others. It depends the economics of that sports and how much is determined by selling seats in the arena or the stadium, etc," he said.

However, Cuomo said the state will encourage people to stay at home and watch the sports broadcasts.

“That gives people at home entertainment value, something to participate in. Another reason, frankly, to stay home as opposed to go out. And staying home is good right now,” he added.


12:30 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Trump confirms US-Canada border closure extended 

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada on May 7 in Blaine, Washington.
Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada on May 7 in Blaine, Washington. Elaine Thompson/AP

President Trump on Tuesday confirmed that the US-Canada border will remain closed to nonessential traffic.

Asked during a White House event if the US would extend the ban currently in place, Trump said, “for now, yes, but we’re talking to Canada.”

“As things clean up in terms of the plague,” Trump added, both the US and Canada will want to return to normal traffic levels between their border.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier today that the border between the two countries will remain closed to nonessential traffic until June 21. 

More details: The agreement as it stands, forbids any nonessential travel, although commercial traffic and travel by essential workers, including those working in US hospitals, continue.

2:09 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

New York to allow Memorial Day ceremonies with up to 10 people

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will allow ceremonies on Memorial Day with up to 10 people or less. Vehicle parades in honor veterans will also be allowed across the state. 

The governor said local governments can decide if they want these ceremonies to occur. 

“Memorial day is coming up. That is an important American tradition. We want to honor our veterans and we want to make sure that no matter what happens, we are still honoring our veterans,” Cuomo said. 

Cuomo added that he hopes those ceremonies are broadcast and televised in their areas so that people can be part of “honoring that tradition.” 

Hear the governor's announcement:

12:13 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Elective surgeries can resume in New York's Nassau County

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Nassau County on Long Island is now eligible to resume elective surgeries and ambulatory care.

"There is no reason not to go to the hospital," he said announcing the reopening.

The state is also considering a pilot program to bring visitors back to hospitals, Cuomo said.

"It is terrible to have someone in the hospital and then that is isolated," he said, adding that certain safety protocols would be implemented as visitors return.