Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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

Updated 2326 GMT (0726 HKT) May 22, 2020
8 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
8:46 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Covid-19 cases in Alabama have potential "to get out of control," infectious disease expert says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Medical personnel prepare to test a patient for Covid-19 in Decatur, Alabama, on April 15.
Medical personnel prepare to test a patient for Covid-19 in Decatur, Alabama, on April 15. Dan Busey/The Decatur Daily/AP

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, the director of the division of infectious disease at University of Alabama at Birmingham, warned of the spike of Covid-19 cases in Alabama as Memorial Day weekend approaches, saying it has "the potential to get out of control." 

Marrazzo's remarks come after the mayor of Montgomery sounded the alarm over the shortage of intensive care unit beds in the city's hospitals. 

"It's very worrisome," Marrazzo said Friday on CNN. "We were really sadly set up for this. We're seeing the result of this pandemic getting into parts of the state that we knew were incredibly vulnerable all along."

Marrazzo added that she's worried that with the arrival of the holiday weekend and the loosening of restrictions in the state, the spread of coronavirus "is going to go like prairie fire." 

"It's been smoldering, we've had a lid on it," Marrazzo told CNN. "But it is now really having the potential to get out of control."

8:18 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

It's just past 8 a.m. in New York and 5 a.m. in San Francisco. Here's the latest on the pandemic

A Covid-19 testing tent is seen on the Navajo reservation in Tuba City, Arizona, on April 20.
A Covid-19 testing tent is seen on the Navajo reservation in Tuba City, Arizona, on April 20. Carolyn Kaster/AP

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 5.1 million people and killed at least 333,000 worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the pandemic:

  • US invests $1 billion with AstraZeneca: The pharmaceutical giant has received government funding to manufacture the University of Oxford’s potential coronavirus vaccine.
  • Death toll rises: At least 94,729 people have died from coronavirus in the US, which now has 1,577,758 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • Navajo Nation to impose weekend lockdown: Another curfew has been imposed across the Nation, beginning on Friday evening and ending early Monday morning.
  • Millions file for unemployment: Another 2.4 million Americans filed for first-time benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Department of Labor.
8:28 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

A majority of Americans are OK with cautious reopening

Analysis from CNN's Harry Enten

A person walks by shuttered businesses in Brooklyn, New York, on May 12.
A person walks by shuttered businesses in Brooklyn, New York, on May 12. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Watching the coronavirus political fight play out might leave you with the belief that there are essentially two camps: the first that wants the economy to open up at almost any cost, and the second that wants nonessential businesses to stay shut down.

Those who are who are pouring into state capitols, demanding reopenings, are not speaking for anything close to a majority. However, a closer look at the data reveals, however, that there's a large middle ground consisting of Americans willing to open up some businesses.

Take a look at the most recent Quinnipiac University poll, for example. At first glance, the data seems a lot like most of what we're accustomed to. The vast majority (75%) of voters are for a slower reopening of the economy, if reopening quickly means making the spread of coronavirus worse. This echoes other polling that generally finds that shutdowns are pretty popular and that more folks are worried about reopening too quickly than they are about reopening slowly.

And indeed, there are a number of activities that a clear majority of voters don't think are safe or that they simply will not do. A large 74% think it's unsafe to get on an airplane in the Quinnipiac poll. In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 81% of Americans say it's unlikely they'd attend a sports event in the next three months. A sizable 68% think it's unlikely they'll stay at a hotel or vacation rental.

Yet a number of these same people aren't as opposed to other nonessential activities.

Read more here.

6:41 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Navajo Nation to start 57-hour lockdown from tonight

From CNN's Joe Sutton

Signs seen on May 20 near Prewitt, New Mexico, alert the Navajo Nation community to a weekend curfew.
Signs seen on May 20 near Prewitt, New Mexico, alert the Navajo Nation community to a weekend curfew. Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

The Navajo Nation has announced another weekend lockdown, which will begin on Friday evening and end early Monday morning.

“The weekend lockdown will begin on Friday at 8 p.m. until Monday at 5 a.m. The Navajo Nation’s stay-at-home order remains in effect requiring residents to remain home except for essential workers, cases of emergencies, and if there is a need to get food or other essential items,” the territory's president and vice president said in a statement.

The Navajo Nation spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah and reported a population of 173,667 on the 2010 census.

At least 4,434 coronavirus cases have been recorded among its people, with 147 total deaths, meaning the nation has surpassed New York and New Jersey as having the highest per-capita infection rate in the US.

The Nation has one of the strictest stay-at-home orders in the country. For the last few months it has imposed weekend lockdowns to prevent members from being outside and risking infection but case numbers have continued to rise.

“As we approach another 57-hour weekend lockdown, we ask our Diné citizens to prepare ahead of time to avoid the rush into border towns and stores. If you need essential household items or need to finish errands, please plan," vice president Myron Lizer said on Friday.
6:29 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

US invests $1 billion with AstraZeneca for coronavirus vaccine

From CNN's Amanda Watts

The AstraZeneca building in Luton, England, is pictured on May 18.
The AstraZeneca building in Luton, England, is pictured on May 18. Tim Ireland/Xinhua/Sipa

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has received more than a billion dollars in US government funding to manufacture the University of Oxford’s potential coronavirus vaccine.

The company received over “$1billion from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for the development, production and delivery of the vaccine, starting in the fall,” according to a statement.

The pharmaceutical giant added that it was collaborating with a number of countries and organizations to make “at least 400 million doses and has secured total manufacturing capacity for one billion doses so far.” 

“AstraZeneca recognises that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical program with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk,” the statement says.

The potential coronavirus vaccine is still being developed. On Friday Oxford University said its vaccine clinical trial would progress to the second and third phase of human trials, after the first phase saw more than 1,000 immunizations.

AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot said the US government's $1 billion investment is a gamble, but worth the risk.

Soriot said the move showed the US government is “leading for the American people but also the world" in an interview with CNN’s Julia Chatterley on Thursday.

“We’re trailblazing here because we are not following the standard process, we are partnering with regulators both in the UK and the US," he said.
"We’re working hand in hand with the FDA [US Food and Drink Administration,] we are sharing data on a day-to-day basis and they have committed themselves to help look at our data as they come so by the time we finish the first [trial] program in August they can rapidly approve the vaccine."

The Oxford trial is one of eight human trials currently underway. There are an additional 110 in pre-clinical trials. 

5:38 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Death toll rises to 94,729

From CNN's Joe Sutton

At least 94,729 people have died from coronavirus in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

There are at least 1,577,758 cases of the disease across the country. The US currently has the highest number of confirmed cases globally.

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

CNN is tracking Covid-19's spread across the country here.

6:08 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Another 2.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

From CNN's Anneken Tappe and Tami Luhby

Signs hang from an apartment building in Washington on May 18.
Signs hang from an apartment building in Washington on May 18. Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

For the ninth week in a row, millions of Americans filed for initial unemployment benefits. Even as the economy is beginning to reopen in parts of the country, layoffs and furloughs have taken hold of the US labor market.

Another 2.4 million Americans filed for first-time benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday. In total, 38.6 million people have filed for initial unemployment aid since mid-March, when lockdowns began in full force across the country. That corresponds to 23.7% of the March US labor force.

Some context: Stripping out the seasonal adjustments, which had accounted for a slight increase from the previous week, the number of claims stood at 2.2 million last week.

In normal times, the seasonal adjustments help smooth out the data and provide a clearer picture. But in a crisis such as this one, adjustments can distort what's really going on, said Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute.

In a rare quirk, claims for the week before, which ended May 9, were revised down sharply — from nearly 3 million to 2.7 million. That's welcome news, but it was expected because it was the result of a reporting error from Connecticut's Labor Department, which substantially overreported the number of that state's claims from the week prior.

5:30 a.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Military leaders warn coronavirus threat is "not going away" as they prepare for a second wave

From CNN's Barbara Starr

Admiral Michael Gilday, center left, and General David Berger, center right, arrive for a hearing on Capitol Hill on December 3, 2019.
Admiral Michael Gilday, center left, and General David Berger, center right, arrive for a hearing on Capitol Hill on December 3, 2019. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Two of the US military's most senior leaders issued a stark warning Thursday that the threat from the coronavirus is still high and stressed they are preparing for a possible second wave.

"That threat is not going away any time soon," Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, told a small group of reporters. "Nobody has a crystal ball."

That was underscored by General David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps. "Clearly we have learned a hell of a lot from the last three, four months that we are going to apply should that happen," Berger said. "We will be prepared for it."

Neither officer mentioned President Donald Trump. But their comments came as the President has been pushing states to reopen and on Wednesday said the government had done "amazingly well," despite the fact the US has the highest death toll in the world with more than 93,000 people losing their lives to the virus as of Thursday afternoon.

The military has already been impacted by the pandemic, with two major ships — the USS Roosevelt and USS Kidd — sidelined after outbreaks on board and major exercises canceled. But Gilday and Berger emphasized the Pentagon is adapting and implementing measures to mitigate any impact on military readiness.

They spoke two days after the military's most senior leadership, the Joint Chiefs, met with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, key members of the White House coronavirus task force. Berger said the possibility of a second wave was discussed and emphasized "there are too many unknowns from their perspective to accurately forecast." They were also told it's still not clear whether those who get the virus become immune to it after recovery.