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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11:10 a.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Texas will open 44 new drive-through testing sites across the state

From CNN's Chuck Johnston and Gregory Lemos

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks on May 18.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks on May 18. Lynda M. Gonzalez/Pool/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday that CVS Health will open 44 new drive-through Covid-19 testing sites across the state that will utilize self-swab tests. Results will be available within three days.  

"Texas continues to rapidly ramp up Covid-19 testing in our communities, and these new drive-thru testing sites provided by CVS Health will further expand access to these tests throughout the state," Abbott said in a press release today.   

Here are more details about the testing:

  • Residents who wish to be tested will be required to register online and stay in their cars for the duration of the process, the statement said
  • A CVS employee will provide a test kit through a drive-through window, give instructions, and "observe the self-swab process to ensure it is done properly"
  • Tests will be processed through an independent lab

You can find the full list of the new testing sites here.

Abbott said the state hopes to scale the number of CVS drive-through testing sites to 80 by the end of May.  


10:57 a.m. ET, May 21, 2020

“Never seen the system so stressed," home health group CEO tells Senate

From CNN's Amanda Watts


A CEO of a home health group told the Senate Aging Committee that he’s “never seen the system so stressed.”  

Dr. Steven Landers, president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group, outlined how the healthcare system has been hurting as a result of the pandemic.

"We've seen the stress that hospitals – in terms of bed capacity, emergency rooms, nursing facilities – the challenges that they've faced. And it's highlighted, you know, the need for a strong home care option.”  

Landers was speaking at the “Caring for Seniors Amid the Covid-19 Crisis” Senate hearing on Thursday.

R. Tamara Konetzka, a professor in the department of public health sciences at the University of Chicago also spoke at the hearing.

“Nursing home residents are ill-equipped to monitor their own care, to advocate for themselves, or to exert political influence," Konetzka said.

Konetzka said it’s estimated that at least one-third of all Covid-19 deaths are in nursing homes, adding that statistic is unsurprising.

“Nursing homes provide hours of hands-on care daily, to large numbers of people with underlying health conditions living in close quarters. Facilities are often understaffed, a situation that's been exacerbated by the pandemic," Konetzka said.
10:50 a.m. ET, May 21, 2020

New York City is making progress toward starting to reopen based on numbers, mayor says

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

Mayor de Blasio's Office
Mayor de Blasio's Office

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is making progress toward reopening based on the latest numbers of cases and hospitalizations.

People admitted to hospital for suspected coronavirus cases is down from 63 to 60, and patients in public hospital system’s ICUs are down from 483 to 477

However, the percentage of those who tested positive for coronavirus now stands at 9%, which is a slight uptick. It was eight percent. 

The numbers are data from Tuesday.

“We’ve had several days in single digits,” de Blasio said referring to the percentage of those who tested positive, add that last 10 days have all been below 15%.

“This is remarkable progress,” the mayor said.

In the coming days, the mayor said the city will be addressing how it will use this data for “small, smart steps” to reopen in June when the city expects to meet the seven state criteria required for reopening.

10:57 a.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Archdiocese of New York proposes plan that would allow 288 churches to reopen

From CNN’s Steve Forrest

Bill Tompkins/Getty Images
Bill Tompkins/Getty Images

The Archdiocese of New York – a community of 2.81 million Catholics across the city and several state counties – believes “public worship can continue to take place safely in an era of social distancing” and is expected to discuss preparations that are underway for the re-opening of the archdiocese’s 288 parishes upon the approval by health and state officials.

Here are some of the measures in the proposed reopening plan:

  • Attendance will be limited to no more than 25% of a church’s occupancy permit.
  • There will be designated seating arrangements in pews based on people by themselves, couples, families with one child and families with more than one child.
  • Frequently touched surfaces in the church will be cleaned and sanitized per CDC recommendations after every liturgy.
  • Hand sanitizer dispensaries will be available at all church entrances.
  • A live video display of services will be continued in order to alleviate any overflow in attendance.
  • Holy water and baptismal fonts will be emptied.
  • Collection baskets will not be passed from person-to-person, but baskets with long handles will be allowed.
  • No large choirs will be used.

CDC guidelines for faith-based organizations encourages limiting large gatherings, relying on virtual or outdoor services where possible, using a stationary collection box and promoting the use of face coverings at all gatherings.

10:36 a.m. ET, May 21, 2020

"Now is not the time to tempt fate and pull back completely" on physical separation, Fauci says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

ONE Campaign/YouTube
ONE Campaign/YouTube

As every state in the US is now in some phase of reopening, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said now is not the time to "pull back completely" on physical separation.  

"If you look at the curves in our country, it isn't like everything is dramatically going down," Fauci told actress Julia Roberts in a #PasstheMic interview released Thursday by the anti-poverty organization ONE. 

"New York got hit very badly, but they're starting to come down now. Now is not the time to tempt fate and pull back completely," he added.

Fauci also said developed countries have a "moral responsibility" to include people from the developing world in trials for a potential Covid-19 vaccine. 

"There is, what I consider the moral commitment to do this, but also, there's enlightened self interest. And the enlightened self interest is that if you don't control an outbreak in the developing world, is gonna come right around and bite you the next season. So unless you completely stop this, you're not gonna wall yourself off from the developing world," he said.

Fauci also spoke of what a return to normalcy will look like, saying we should think of it more as a "new normal." 

"People say 'do you think we'll be back to normal this summer?' and I say you know, I don't really think so because it may be a new normal but it's not the way we had it before," Fauci said. 

"If the normal is the being [aware] of our vulnerability to these type of things, that's looking at it in a positive, potentially constructive way," he added.

10:36 a.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Alabama mayor: “If you are from Montgomery and you need an ICU bed, you are in trouble” 

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos

Mickey Welsh/Advertiser/USA Today Network via Reuters
Mickey Welsh/Advertiser/USA Today Network via Reuters

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed sounded the alarm Wednesday on an apparent ICU bed shortage in his Alabama city and said sick residents are being diverted to Birmingham as a result.  

"Right now, if you are from Montgomery, and you need an ICU bed, you are in trouble. If you're from central Alabama, and you need an ICU bed, you may not be able to get one," Reed said during a press conference Wednesday. "Our health care system has been maxed out." 

The mayor gave a rundown of the current status of ICU beds in the region saying: Baptist East Hospital is short by 3 beds, Baptist South Hospital has zero, Baptist Health in Prattville has zero. and Jackson Hospital has one.   

Reed said many patients in Montgomery area hospitals are not from Montgomery, but rather, from rural areas where the health care systems cannot meet the needs of the community. The result has been an overwhelmed hospital system, the mayor said. 

"We don't want to lose anyone, any life, because we don't have the resources to treat them in this community," Reed said. "I want us to really think about the seriousness of that because none of us know who will need that ICU bed today, and who may need that this evening, tomorrow, or this extended Memorial Day weekend."  
10:28 a.m. ET, May 21, 2020

New wave of restrictions could happen later this year, CDC director says

From CNN's John Bonifield

Forty Second Street in New York City stands mostly empty on March 22.
Forty Second Street in New York City stands mostly empty on March 22. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said the coronavirus could “reground” itself in the northern hemisphere in later this year, and he does not rule out the possibility of new lockdown measures and restrictions.

“We’ve seen evidence that the concerns it would go south in the southern hemisphere like flu [are coming true], and you’re seeing what’s happening in Brazil now,” Redfield told the Financial Times in an exclusive interview.

“And then when the southern hemisphere is over I suspect it will reground itself in the north," he added.

Remember: Brazil just saw its biggest single-day increase in the number of cases, adding to the concern is that the flu virus also begins to spread in the fall.

Redfield said he could not guarantee that another lockdown in the United States would not be needed. If the country experiences a bad flu season and is also forced to contend with a resurgence of coronavirus, Redfield said that could put a lot of stress on the health system.

Redfield raised similar concerns about a fall resurgence of the virus in an interview with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta in February. 

Gupta said on CNN's New Day, “There was a concern. We didn't know for sure. Now we have more data, as you look at what's happened in the Southern Hemisphere. But I think that in some ways the CDC, the premiere public health organization, has been thinking, planning for this for some time."
10:16 a.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Here's how restaurants in New York are preparing to eventually reopen dine-in services

From CNN's Elise Hammond

A person walks past an empty restaurant in Manhattan on May 18.
A person walks past an empty restaurant in Manhattan on May 18. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Restaurant owners in New York are getting creative as they prepare to welcome customers back into their businesses for dine-in services.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz explained some of the things you might see when you go to eat at a restaurant:

  • Plexiglass dividers will be put in between tables to separate customers and make sure they are not sitting too close to each other.
  • Plates and cups with be covered with plastic wrap so that when people come in, they know it is clean and safe to use.
  • Restaurants will no longer use paper menus. There will be barcodes on the tables that customers can scan to get the menu on their phone.
  • Waiters will be required to wear face shields.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the state will be reopened in phases. While some regions have already entered phase one, phase two will use more of a business-by-business analysis and a matrix that determines each business's overall importance and risk in reopening.

Restaurant owners say they expect it to be about two months before they feel like they can reopen safely, Prokupecz reported.

9:49 a.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Macy's expects to lose as much as $1.1 billion in the first quarter

From CNN’s Nathaniel Meyersohn

People walk by a closed Macy's store in New York on March 24.
People walk by a closed Macy's store in New York on March 24. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Macy's released its preliminary earnings for the first quarter and said it expects it lost as much as $1.1 billion between February and May, blaming its losses on lockdown measures that governments imposed because of coronavirus.

The company was forced to close stores on March 18 because of the coronavirus outbreak, causing sales to plunge by as much as 45%, the company said Thursday.

Macy's began reopening stores on May 4 — just a couple days after its first fiscal quarter came to a close. As of this week, it has about 190 Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores open. The company hopes to have more than 500 stores open by mid-June. 

Macy's is limiting the number of customers allowed inside stores that are reopening and installing social distancing signs and markers. 

Customers will be required to use hand sanitizer before trying on jewelry or watches. And Macy's has suspended ear piercings, bra fittings and tailoring services.