Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Melissa Macaya, Fernando Alfonso III and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 2326 GMT (0726 HKT) May 22, 2020
20 Posts
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10:41 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Air travel on the rise heading into Memorial Day weekend

From CNN's Pete Muntean and Gregory Wallace

Passengers check in for their flights at San Diego International Airport on May 20 in San Diego.
Passengers check in for their flights at San Diego International Airport on May 20 in San Diego. Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

More than 300,000 people passed through airport security checkpoints on Thursday, the first time that has happened since March.

This is also the first time in eight weeks that daily traffic at checkpoints was more than 10% of the number of people screened last year, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration. 

TSA said it screened 318,449 people on Thursday, and 2.7 million on the same Thursday in 2019. 

10:30 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

WH economic adviser says it's "likely there will be a fourth phase of stimulus"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt and Jason Hoffman

White House Economic Advisor Kevin Hassett said “it’s pretty likely that there will be a fourth phase of stimulus” and said we could see it “sooner rather than later.”

Hassett also said that there are some technical things that need to be fixed from the previous stimulus packages.

When asked by CNN’s Poppy Harlow if the need for another stimulus bill is due to economic numbers being worse than initially anticipated, Hassett said no, “but there is still a lot of pain out there.” He added that almost 70% of businesses are opening up and “we are getting back to normal.”

On unemployment, Hassett said a “technical glitch” in the form of a surveying error led to a higher percentage of unemployed Americans in the April report.

He said unemployment could be between 18-22% for the May report depending on whether the surveying error gets fixed.

Hassett also said he expects June’s report could be even worse, but that June could also be a “turning point” and the employment number could “head in the right direction.”

“I think that June will be a little bit higher; we can already tell because of like when the survey happened and what is happening with claims. So I would expect that the turning point will be June,” he said. “We’ll see a very bad number for May, and then I think that in June, it will start to head in the right direction, given the number of businesses open.” 

Watch more:

10:28 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

New York City will open 13 more miles of streets to help with social distancing

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Pedestrians walk past a closed off street during the coronavirus pandemic on May 17 in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Pedestrians walk past a closed off street during the coronavirus pandemic on May 17 in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Justin Heiman/Getty Images

New York City will open an additional 13 miles of open streets to help with social distancing around the city ahead of Memorial Day, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday morning.

The additional 13-miles will open across the city Saturday, de Blasio said.

New York City will now have a total of 45 miles open to help people social distance, he said.

The mayor also reminded residents to not hang out around restaurants and bars this holiday season and instead, “take out.. don’t hang out,” he said.

 

9:54 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

US stocks fall after China moves to crack down on Hong Kong

From CNN’s David Goldman

Rising tensions with China sent US stocks down at the open. Not as much as other stock markets around the world, mind you: Global stocks got hammered today. The Hang Seng Index had its worst day since 2015.

Still, the Dow was down 100 points at the open, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both fell about 0.3%.

China announced Friday it would move to pass a hugely controversial national security law for Hong Kong, the financial hub of Asia.

The country also declined to give a GDP target for the year, which, you know, isn’t exactly a welcome sign.

Meanwhile, India, the world’s other enormous economic growth engine, said it wouldn’t grow at all this year.

That’s not going to be great news for investors either, even in the United States. Remember, despite the Trump administration’s “America First” campaign, the global financial markets remain intimately connected.

9:58 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

McConnell says next coronavirus aid package must fall under $1 trillion mark

From CNN's Lauren Fox

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 19.
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 19. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

During a meeting at the White House earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stressed that the next coronavirus aide package needs to be under $1 trillion, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

This is in stark contrast to the $3 trillion bill recently passed by the House. 

Axios first reported the figure on Friday. 

Some context: CNN has reported that McConnell acknowledged on a private call with House Republicans on Wednesday that Congress may have to pass further legislation to boost the economy devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, but insisted it would be far different than the multi-trillion dollar House bill.

"If we do another bill it won't look anything like the House Democrats' bill," McConnell said.

9:43 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Alabama football coach releases PSA on wearing masks

Famed University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban has released a public service announcement encouraging people to wear masks and abide by social distancing guidelines.

In it, Saban can be seen scolding the Alabama mascot Big Al for not wearing a mask.

"All of us want to make sure we play football this fall, and to make that happen, we must be sure we stay at home if we have symptoms, wash your hands often, follow social distancing guidelines and please wear a mask any time you're around other people," Saban said in his PSA.

Some context: Masks took on greater significance Thursday after President Trump brought a navy blue mask stamped with the presidential seal to a Ford plant in Michigan but refused to wear it in front of cameras.

"I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it," Trump said before showing off his fabric face covering, which he said he'd briefly strapped on backstage before removing for a tour of the factory. "It was very nice. It looked very nice. They said not necessary."

It was another example of Trump shrugging off the rules in place for others that are meant to guard against the coronavirus. As he walked through the facility -- where Ford rules say everyone must wear a mask -- he was surrounded by company executives whose faces were covered.

Watch the PSA below:

9:53 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Yo-Yo Ma to hold free concert in honor of coronavirus victims

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed on CNN this morning on the eve of a free concert he is holding to honor coronavirus victims this weekend.

Ma's performance Sunday at 3 p.m. ET will be streamed on YouTube and public radio and TV stations. 

He likens music to giving people a hug, when many cannot receive physical touch during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Music can caress. So it can hug. … The air moves and you feel you are touched, literally touched by the air that moves around you, and so I think it is something that gives comfort,” Ma said this morning. 

Ma chose a composition from Bach to play on Sunday, as he did this morning. 

“I think the music of Bach is especially appropriate because I think it is music that can soothe, can console and can also bolster,” he said. “And I think it does encompass the full range of human emotion, and of what humans relationships are with nature and the universe.”  

Watch Ma's performance:

9:28 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Sales of hydroxychloroquine have been soaring

From CNN's Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken

Hydroxychloroquine sits on a shelf at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20.
Hydroxychloroquine sits on a shelf at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20. George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

Retail sales of the anti-malarial drug President Trump has promoted as a potential coronavirus cure — and claims to be taking himself — have been soaring.

The drug, hydroxychloroquine, has been around for decades but was thrust into the spotlight this spring when Trump began mentioning its name dozens of times during coronavirus briefings.

While it had not been approved for this use, and still hasn't, he urged Americans to "try it."

Amid the growing public attention on the medication, its sales doubled from March 2019 to more than $50 million in March of this year, according to market research firm IQVIA, which tracks prescriptions dispensed by retail pharmacies including large chains and mail-order companies.

While the FDA recently cautioned against the use of the drug to treat coronavirus patients outside of hospitals, that warning came after more than 830,000 prescriptions for the drug were filled for the generic and name-brand version of the drug, Plaquenil, in March — up from roughly 460,000 prescriptions written during the same time last year.

The IQVIA data did not yet include April figures and did not capture prescriptions administered to patients in nursing homes through long-term care pharmacies or at hospitals. Data from Premier Inc, a health care purchasing company for more than 4,000 hospitals, shows that hospitals saw a 260% surge in hydroxychloroquine orders in March compared to typical demand.

Some context: As sales have increased, so has scrutiny over the medication's safety and efficacy in treating Covid-19.

Currently, the drug is only FDA-approved to treat or prevent malaria or to treat autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. While so-called off label prescribing of the drug to treat other conditions is legal, it has not been found by the federal government to be safe or effective for any other uses.

The FDA's warning said the agency was aware of reports of "serious heart-related adverse events and death in patients with COVID-19" who were taking hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, a more toxic variation, either on their own or in conjunction with other medications that affect the heart such as azithromycin.

The agency said in April that the drug should only be used for Covid-19 patients when they can be monitored in the hospital or are enrolled in clinical trials. In a statement this week, the FDA Commissioner said "the decision to take any drug is ultimately a decision between a patient and their doctor."

Do you have information about hydroxychloroquine? Email us at watchdog@cnn.com

9:18 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Trump administration expected to issue guidance on houses of worship as soon as today

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

The Trump Administration is expected to release guidance on reopening places of worship today or tomorrow, a senior administration official tells CNN.

The guidance was initially delayed because some officials believed the proposals were too detailed and would be impossible for churches and others to achieve. 

There was talk of putting out no guidance at all, but President Trump had conversations with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials and urged them to issue something.  

"I said, 'You better put it out,'" Trump told a round table in Michigan Thursday. 

The coronavirus task force went over the guidance and took the last steps in finalizing it at yesterday's task force meeting, an official says. It's not clear what the final draft will look like.