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
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1:31 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

New Jersey reports over 1,300 new cases of Covid-19

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

New Jersey reported 1,304 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy said in his daily press conference, bringing the statewide total to 151,472. 

The numbers:

  • Of the total cases, 28,876 have been in long term care facilities. 
  • The state reported 98 new deaths, bringing the statewide total to 10,843. 
  • Of the total deaths, 4,502 have been in long term care facilities

Gov. Murphy also announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs would be extending their assistance to the state’s long-term care facilities through the end of June and sending an additional 40 clinical staff members to help out at facilities across the state. 

Murphy noted that the trend lines for coronavirus in the state continued to move in the right direction - hospitalizations, patients in the ICU and ventilator use were all down in the state. The governor said, however, that the state still leads in some indicators that “we would rather not,” including new cases and new deaths.

1:29 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

What it's like inside a restaurant that is planning for dining in the age of Covid

From CNN's Eric Weisbrod

The Brooklyn Chop House in New York City is preparing for “the new normal” for whenever they are able to reopen.

They are planning for temperature checks at the front door, plexiglass dividers between tables, plates and cups in saran wrap, QR codes to read menus on your phones and face shields for all servers and kitchen workers.

Restaurant co-founder Stratis Morfogen said that the goal is to “lower that anxiety,” and “create an environment that’s safer.”

“I think that this will be the norm, even post-vaccine,” he said on a live episode of Go There on Facebook Watch. “People aren’t going to say, let’s go for steak and Italian tonight, they’re going to say, where do I feel safest? And that’s really important.”

Take a look inside:

1:35 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

West Virginia to deploy National Guard to part of state where cases continue to rise, governor says

From CNN's Carma Hassan

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced today he is deploying the National Guard to the eastern panhandle of the state where an “issue was brewing” as coronavirus cases continue to rise in Jefferson and Berkeley counties. 

“Those numbers are not good, that’s all there is to it,” Justice said, adding that there were 20 new cases in Berkeley County and 15 new cases in Jefferson County yesterday.

“We know with the exposure to Virginia, with the exposure to DC, right there at these counties, we have a gigantic population of people that can absolutely infect those people in those counties and cause a big time problem there,” the governor said.

He said he has directed the National Guard to report back to him with all of their findings. 

Justice urged West Virginians to wear face masks, saying he would not rule out the possibility of making them mandatory.

The governor also announced plans for swimming pools, spa and massage businesses, and indoor amusement places like pool halls and roller rinks to reopen Saturday, May 30.

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.