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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7:23 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

China calls on US to "stop the blame game" over letter to WHO

From Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian speaks at a media briefing in Beijing on April 8.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian speaks at a media briefing in Beijing on April 8. Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

China urged "a few US politicians to stop the blame game" when asked about the letter US President Donald Trump sent to the World Health Organization on Monday.

"The US letter is full of vagueness, it tries to mislead the public to smear China and shift the blame away from its own incompetent response, currently Covid-19 is still spreading in the US, the most pressing task is solidarity and cooperation to save lives. We urge a few US politicians to stop the blame game and together defeat the virus," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters Tuesday.

When it came to payments to the global health body, Zhao said "paying assessed contribution in full and on time is the obligation of every member state of the WHO."

"Supporting the WHO is upholding multilateralism and supporting international cooperation. To save lives, China abides by the WHO rules and pays its assessed contribution in full," he added.

What happened? US President Donald Trump late Monday threatened to permanently pull US funding from the WHO if it does not "commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days."

In a letter to WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump said, "It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world. The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China."

"My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste." 

Read more here

6:06 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Trump threatens to permanently pull funding from WHO and "reconsider" US membership

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting at the White House on May 18.
President Donald Trump listens during a meeting at the White House on May 18. Evan Vucci/AP

President Donald Trump late Monday threatened to permanently pull US funding from the World Health Organization if it does not "commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days."

In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump said, "It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world. The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.

"My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste."

The threat comes at a remarkable time. The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 90,000 Americans and more than 318,000 people worldwide as of late Monday and, while there are promising signs from some vaccine trials, there is no cure for the virus.

The letter also underscores the extent to which blame aimed at the WHO and China has become a defining part of the President's response to the outbreak.

When many of his predecessors would rely on global institutions to help stem the tide of a pandemic, Trump's ultimatum is just the latest sign of his distrust toward world entities.

Read the full story here:

7:17 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Why America is running out of thermometers

From CNN's Chauncey Alcorn

Kyle Pearson has his temperature checked by Laura Miner at the start of his shift at Vibram Corporation in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, on April 28.
Kyle Pearson has his temperature checked by Laura Miner at the start of his shift at Vibram Corporation in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, on April 28. Barry Chin/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Add thermometers to the list of medical instruments that are in short supply because of the coronavirus.

Thermometer manufacturers and distributors say the devices were already in high demand earlier this year when healthcare providers started ordering more to scan for the emerging wave of Covid-19 patients. Average consumers were also panic-buying thermometers, along with toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

More recently, massive employers — including state governments and major corporations — have been ordering thermometers for daily wellness checks on their employees.

Thermometer makers say demand has outstripped supply, as stores and offices across the nation begin to reopen.

"You cannot make enough [thermometers] right now," Howard Karesh, vice president of corporate communications for Hillrom, a major medical supply company, told CNN Business Friday.

Keep reading.

7:10 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Navajo Nation reports 69 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Leslie Perrot 

A Team Rubicon volunteer holds a Covid-19 test at the Navajo reservation's Kayenta Health Center in Kayenta, Arizona, on April 23.
A Team Rubicon volunteer holds a Covid-19 test at the Navajo reservation's Kayenta Health Center in Kayenta, Arizona, on April 23. Carolyn Kaster/AP

The Navajo Nation reported 69 new coronavirus cases and two additional deaths on Monday, according to a news release from the Navajo Nation president and vice president.  

That brings the total number of positive coronavirus cases for the Navajo Nation to 4,071, including 142 deaths.

The background: The Navajo Nation has surpassed New York and New Jersey for the highest per-capita coronavirus infection rate in the United States -- another sign of Covid-19's disproportionate impact on minority communities.

The nation has one of the strictest stay-at-home orders in the country, mandating that residents not leave their homes unless there is an emergency or they are essential workers.

Read more:

5:44 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Here's what's happening today in Washington, DC

The Capitol building in Washington is seen on April 21.
The Capitol building in Washington is seen on April 21. Liu Jie/Xinhua/Getty Images

As states continue to ease social distancing measures across the country, here are some key events to watch today related to the Trump administration's coronavirus response and push to reopen the nation:

Mnuchin, Powell testify before Senate on coronavirus response: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Banking committee in a hearing entitled “The Quarterly CARES Act Report to Congress.” The hearing comes as the country is going through an unprecedented recession. Mass layoffs forced 36.5 million Americans to file first-time claims for jobless benefits since mid-March. 

Ivanka Trump meets with industry leaders: Ivanka Trump and members of the Trump administration’s "American Workforce Policy Advisory Board", including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Lockheed Martin CEO Marilyn Hewson and IBM executive Ginni Rometty will meet via Zoom at noon for a “Future of Work” presentation. 

8:08 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Catch up: Here are the latest coronavirus updates

State Street and State House Square in Hartford, Connecticut, are quiet on May 7.
State Street and State House Square in Hartford, Connecticut, are quiet on May 7. Mark Lennihan/AP

It's Tuesday morning, and a lot happened yesterday across the US. If you're just tuning in, here's quick recap of the latest headlines from across the country:

  • Trump's ultimatum: President Donald Trump threatened to permanently pull US funding from the World Health Organization if it does not "commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days." Trump also castigated the global health watchdog's stance toward China during the pandemic in a letter to the WHO director-general.
  • Professional sports in California: Professional sports may return to California in the first week of June, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a news conference. Events would be held without spectators and be subject to modifications and prescriptive conditions, Newsom said.
  • What the data shows: 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.
  • Trump taking hydroxychloroquine: The US President said he is taking daily doses of the drug that he's long touted as a potential coronavirus cure. Medical experts and the FDA question its efficacy and warn of potentially harmful side effects.
  • 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 Tuesday.
  • Coronavirus in the Navajo Nation: With a case count of at least 4,002 Covid-19 infections, the Navajo Nation has surpassed New York and New Jersey as having the highest per capita 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 of the disease among its people, the Native American territory has 2,304.41 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people.
  • Connecticut to allow some businesses to reopen: Gov. Ned Lamont said the state had hit all of its benchmarks to go ahead with the planned first phase of reopening on Wednesday. Phase One includes the reopening of some restaurants, offices, retail stores, and outdoor museums, according to the government's website.
  • JCPenney to close stores: JCPenney plans to close nearly 200 stores this year and an additional 50 stores next year as it seeks to use bankruptcy to turn around its business.The iconic retailer has yet to identify which of its 846 stores will be permanently closed.