Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 10:26 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020
51 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
1:22 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Montgomery mayor considering issuing a shelter-in-place order due to ICU bed shortage

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos


Montgomery, Alabama Mayor Steven Reed told CNN today he is considering tightening restrictions in his city and may issue a shelter-in-place order, even as his state continues to open up.  

"I would do it and I would ask for regional cooperation," Reed told CNN in a phone interview today. "I would certainly do it in the city if need be." 

At a news briefing Wednesday, Reed sounded alarms over an ICU bed shortage in Montgomery saying the health care system is "maxed" and if you need a bed, "you are in trouble." 

Reed told CNN his hope in using such stark terms was to get the attention of the public.  

"This is a serious matter and we have to maintain our practices even as many people are relaxing restrictions and the economy is opening back up,” Reed told CNN. "We need to take more individual responsibility in how we go about our daily lives. In this community we are not in a safe place given the numbers we are seeing." 

Reed said he was certain the shortage of ICU beds was directly related to the state loosening restrictions. 

"That's definitely apart of opening up to soon and not adhering to CDC guidelines," Reed said.  

He said when he looked at the numbers he saw a "consistent uptick." To change that trend, he said, people have to change their behaviors.  

"What's okay for some may not be okay for all," Reed told CNN. " I understand people want to get back to normal but if we aren't patient, we are going to prolong this and it is going to cost us lives. "  

1:26 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

More than two-thirds of California set to reopen further

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images
Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

More than two-thirds of the counties in California are moving ahead with reopening further, including San Diego, Sacramento, and Santa Barbara counties.

More than five million people live in those three counties combined. 

Solano County, which saw one of the state’s first known cases of coronavirus, has also been granted permission to lift restrictions beyond the state’s current stay at home order.

Each of these counties filed attestation forms declaring the stability of infection rates and hospitalizations within their regions, ability to respond to a spike in cases, and increased testing capacity.

Here's what is reopening: The 40 counties that have been approved will move further into "expanded phase two" of reopening, which allows dining in restaurants and shopping in stores. There are 58 counties in California.

Restrictions will remain here: Among those areas maintaining current restrictions are Southern California’s highly populated counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino. Densely populated Bay Area counties like San Francisco, Alameda, and Santa Clara are also remaining as is.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that Los Angeles specifically "is likely weeks behind" the rest of the state when it comes to reopening.

1:13 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

There have been more than 1.5 million coronavirus cases in the US

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

There have been at least 1,556,749 cases of coronavirus in the US, and approximately 93,606 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Johns Hopkins has reported 4,896 new cases and 167 reported deaths on Thursday.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as repatriated cases.

1:07 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Victoria's Secret to close a quarter of its stores

From CNN's Kate Trafecante

Nina Westervelt/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Nina Westervelt/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Victoria's Secret will permanently close 251 of its stores in North America, parent company L Brands announced Wednesday. 

Victoria's Secret currently has just over 1,000 locations in the US and Canada. L Brands said it also plans to close 51 of its Bath & Body Works stores.

L Brands announced the closures, which will take place over the next several months, during an earnings call on Wednesday.  

L Brands CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer called the closures a "very significant decision, but an appropriate decision and one that we think will strengthen the business."

Almost all of the L Brands stores, including Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, have been closed since March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Total company sales fell 37% in the quarter that ended May 2.  

1:16 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

University of California campuses must decide on fall plans by mid-June

From CNN's Stella Chan


Jeff Chiu/AP
Jeff Chiu/AP

The University of California’s 10 campuses — which are considering mixed approaches for fall classes — will make final decisions on their plans by mid-June, according to spokesperson Claire Doan.

The plans for what fall will look like for students are developing as administrators are consulting state and local officials and bearing in mind everyone’s health.  

“These plans will continue to evolve and modify as conditions change. UC is carefully working through the various questions and unknowns of in-person fall instruction months from now. The University’s biggest priority is protecting the health, well-being and safety of students, staff, faculty, and larger the UC community,” Doan said. 

Summer sessions for all UC campuses are online only.

Some background: Earlier this month, a University of California spokesperson said it was unlikely any of the campuses would fully re-open in fall. The spokesperson noted the campuses were "considering a mixed approach for classes, with some student instruction potentially to be delivered in classrooms and labs while other instruction may remain remote."

12:45 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Connecticut parks will be open for Memorial Day, but these are the rules

From CNN's Shawn Nottingham

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont encouraged people to visit his state’s parks over the Memorial Day weekend but wants people to do so safely.  

Katie Dykes, with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said that if people choose to go to beaches, they should maintain a 15-foot diameter around their beach blankets.

Public restrooms and concessions will remain closed in Connecticut state parks, but portable toilets will be available in some state parks. There will not be lifeguards at the state’s shoreline parks, according to Dykes. 

In some instances parks will cap parking at 25% capacity in an effort to control crowds according to Commissioner Dykes. Parks will be closed when they reach capacity. Anyone who parks outside a closed park and attempts to walk in can be fined. 

12:33 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Vaccine doctor says seniors must be included in studies 

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Dr. Mark Mulligan speaks via video conference to before the Senate Aging Committee on May 21.
Dr. Mark Mulligan speaks via video conference to before the Senate Aging Committee on May 21. Pool

Seniors must be included in therapeutic and vaccine studies, because they have a weaker immune system and respond differently to medicines, Dr. Mark Mulligan, director of Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the Langone Vaccine Center, told senators today.

Speaking before Senate Aging Committee hearing on “Caring for Seniors Amid the Covid-19 Crisis,” Mulligan said the participation of older adults in studies is already common practice in things like the flu vaccine. 

“Having a stronger vaccine, one with an adjuvant, one with a higher dose may be necessary for Covid-19 and seniors as well,” Mulligan

Adjuvants are ingredients added to vaccines to help them work better, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   

“We also want to be sure that treatments are tolerated well and are safe in seniors; their system is different. So we need to be sure to include seniors in our treatments, as well as our vaccine studies,” Mulligan said.  
12:28 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

This North Carolina university will provide private rooms to all students this fall

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart

Pat Barker Hall at Campbell University
Pat Barker Hall at Campbell University courtesy Campbell University

Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, will provide private room accommodations to all residential students for the 2020-21 academic year.

The school, which has nearly 6,500 undergrad and graduate students, said it will waive its usual $800 private room fee, according to a statement.

Vice President for Student Life Dennis Bazemore said the health and safety of students is the university's top priority.

"We believe providing private rooms for all residential students is one of the major steps to achieve that goal," Bazemore said in the statement.

The statement said the decision was made after a review of the university's housing facilities as a way to spread students out. The university said it will continue to follow US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting, and that eligible students still have the choice to request living off-campus.

12:26 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Iowa testing program expands to all people who feel they should be tested, governor says

From CNN's Hollie Silverman 

Medical workers test a local resident at a drive-thru Covid-19 testing site in Waterloo, Iowa on May 1.
Medical workers test a local resident at a drive-thru Covid-19 testing site in Waterloo, Iowa on May 1. Charlie Neibergall/AP

The Test Iowa program will expand to include all people who feel they should be tested, Gov. Kim Reynolds said during a Thursday press conference.

The change should take effect by the end of the day, according to Reynolds.

Reynolds said the goal is to continue to test as many Iowans as possible so that people will feel more confident and comfortable returning to work. 

Some background: Testing was previously prioritized for those experiencing symptoms, those who had interacted with another person who had already tested positive, or anyone that had visited a place where the virus is more widespread, according to the Test Iowa website.