Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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

Updated 2326 GMT (0726 HKT) May 22, 2020
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3:24 p.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Universal Orlando will reopen to public on June 5

From CNN’s Natasha Chen

Guests enjoy themselves at Universal CityWalk on May 14 in Orlando, Florida.
Guests enjoy themselves at Universal CityWalk on May 14 in Orlando, Florida. Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP

Universal Orlando Resort said the park will be opening to the public on June 5 with the support of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In a statement released Friday, Universal Orlando said:

“This carefully managed reopening comes with stringent new health, safety and hygiene procedures in place. So, as we enjoy our parks together again, everyone will need to follow (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's) guidelines and the recommendations of health officials, and Universal Orlando’s policies. Note that any public location where people are present provides an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 and we cannot guarantee that you will not be exposed during your visit.”
3:07 p.m. ET, May 22, 2020

New York reverend: "Churches are essential, but our congregants aren't expendable"

Pastor Daren Jaime of The People's AME Zion Church in Syracuse, New York, challenged President Trump's decision declaring places of worship essential and thus requiring them to open during the pandemic.

"Churches are essential, but our congregants aren't expendable. We have to make sure the people coming to our houses of worship are given the best possible protection. To open the doors and say, 'the churches are open' does not answer the questions in full. How are we going to do this, what are the practices going to be?" Jaime said on CNN this afternoon.

His remarks come shortly after Trump said regardless what state governors think, "houses of worships and churches and synagogues and mosques as essential places that provide essential services" and must "open right now."

Jaime went on to praise New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who has helped develop a "faith-based, interfaith council talking about developing policies and strategies that we can get there. We believe in progression but progression must be made with caution."


3:23 p.m. ET, May 22, 2020

New York City reports more than 16,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Rob Frehse

New York City has 16,333 confirmed coronavirus deaths and 4,753 probable coronavirus deaths as of May 22, according to the most recent data on the city website.

The New York City Health Department defines probable deaths as people who did not have a positive Covid-19 laboratory test, but their death certificate lists as the cause of death “Covid-19” or an equivalent.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is 21,086.

There have been 193,951 coronavirus cases in the city and 50,863 people have been hospitalized, according to the city.

2:45 p.m. ET, May 22, 2020

West Virginia governor says state's economic outlook is improving

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Friday said that the state’s economy is doing better.

They had originally forecast a $500 million deficit, but the governor said that figure keeps going down.

“We shut down the things that we had to shut down in West Virginia, but we really, for all practical purposes, never really shut the entire engine off in West Virginia. From the standpoint of manufacturing, our roads, and mining, and on and on and on, we continued to work. We let people work at home,” Justice said. “And the numbers keep coming in better and better and better.“

He said their budget gap is now estimated to be close to $350 million, but he believes as they continue to open up, the numbers will continue to improve. 

“You did it! I mean, you did it. You continued to work enough that our economic numbers are not all that bad. And you continued in West Virginia to put out health numbers that blew the world away. Just keep doing it, West Virginia. Really proud of you,” Justice said.

2:42 p.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Travel restrictions will be "largely lifted" in Rhode Island, governor says

From CNN’s Ganesh Setty

Travel restrictions in Rhode Island will be “largely lifted” starting on June 1, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Friday. 

The state’s 14-day mandated quarantine will only be in effect for those who come back to the state from a place that still has a stay-at-home order in effect, she said.

For restaurants, Raimondo also announced that on June 1, the state will allow indoor seating up to 50% capacity.

“Going out to eat is going to feel different, no doubt about it,” Raimondo said.

Some of those changes include usage of masks, no lines at the hostess station or bathrooms, a lot more cleaning, and no shared menus, the governor noted.

3:01 p.m. ET, May 22, 2020

White House press secretary won't say how Trump would override state governors

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany didn’t answer when asked how President Trump would override governors, and under what authority, if they chose to keep churches closed in their states. 

“You’re posing a hypothetical,” she said in a White House news conference. “We’ll leave it to faith communities to reopen and I think we can all hope that this Sunday, people are allowed to pray to their gods across this country.”

McEnany was pressed on this several times, but never directly answered or cited any evidence that the President can actually override state governor’s authority in such a way. 

She added later that the President will “strongly encourage” states to allow churches to open. She also said that it’s safe to reopen churches, “if you do so in accordance with the guidelines.”

More on this: Trump threatened to “override governors” as he announced today that houses of worship will be classified as essential across the country, but it’s not clear the President has the power to make that decision.

The President made the announcement in a hastily-announced press briefing this afternoon, after teasing a decision on churches earlier in the week.

McEnany to reporter: You're posing a hypothetical question 

2:45 p.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Birx gives religious leaders advice ahead of reopening places of worship

Following President Trump's call for the reopening of churches and places of worship, Dr. Deborah Birx, a White House coronavirus task force official, offered advice to religious leaders.

"I think each one of the leaders in the faith community should be in touch with their local health departments so that they can communicate to their congregants," Birx said. "Certainly, people that have significant co-morbidities, we want them protected. I know those houses of worship want to protect them."

Birx added that religious leaders that find a high number of Covid-19 cases in their communities, may want to "wait another week" before reopening.

She urged congregants to continue to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on social distancing.

"What we're trying to say with the CDC guidance is there's a way for us to work together to have social distancing and safety for people so that we decrease the amount of exposure that anyone would have to an asymptomatic — and I say it that way because I know all of you and all of Americans, if they didn't feel well, they wouldn't go to church that day."


3:00 p.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Melania Trump hosting graduating students at the White House today

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal and Kate Bennett

First lady Melania Trump announced today that she will be hosting the class of 2020 at the White House.

“Despite #COVID19 preventing graduation ceremonies across our nation, I would like to take a moment to congratulate & support the incredible achievements of students of all education levels,” the first lady tweeted.

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's chief of staff, confirmed to CNN that the event is a predominantly ceremonial celebration for all 2020 graduates across the country, but Grisham said there will be a few students in the audience.

2:18 p.m. ET, May 22, 2020

Pence says negotiations for phase four stimulus "actively underway"

From CNN's Nicky Robertson


Vice President Mike Pence told reporters at a cafe in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday that negotiations for a phase four stimulus package are “actively underway.”

Pence said that the focus of another bill should be “on the American people, and on speeding additional support as needed to American families.”

“We also want to continue to make sure to support the Paycheck Protection Program,” he added.

Pence also noted that they will need to look at liability protection for businesses, and said the administration is talking to Congress about President Trump’s proposed payroll tax cut.

He said that although the second quarter will continue to be “very difficult” for the economy, the economy will enter into a “transition to greatness” afterwards.

Pence ended by saying that positive cases of coronavirus are going down across America.