Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 9:10 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020
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6:40 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

New Mexico begins “soft reopening” of restaurants tomorrow

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Most New Mexico restaurants will be able to have outdoor dining services starting on Wednesday, according to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office.

Eateries will be allowed to serve customers outdoors as long as they are seated and practice social distancing.

Inside dining will continue to be prohibited and bars will stay closed. 

Additionally, three counties in the northwestern part of the state will be excluded from the relaxed rules because of their higher rates of coronavirus infection.

“We continue to see sustained, consistent progress in our fight against this virus,” Grisham said in a written statement.

6:45 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Legal action to be taken against speedway owner who held races with spectators, New Hampshire governor says

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office will be taking actions against a race track owner who held races with large gatherings over the weekend, Gov. Chris Sununu said.

According to Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati, the Groveton speedway owner had been informed that there would be consequences for his defiance of the governor’s emergency orders.

In addition, Agati said the state took the proactive measure to notify potential spectators of the public health risks associated with large gatherings by posting multiple, large message boards on the roads leading to the speedway that read: "COVID-19 race track warning/no public spectators allowed."

Northumberland Police Chief Peter Pelletier issued the owner a written warning, which he ignored by allowing spectators into the Riverside Speedway, the Attorney General’s Office said. 

Sununu said things like this will be handled on a case-by-case basis saying, “We always want to work with individuals as opposed to saying there's a blanket template here.” 

“There are still aspects of our economy that are going to be challenging to fully open without, you know, the potential for repercussions of what I keep calling the ‘super cluster events,’ where one individual can infect a whole bunch of people in a very short time period,” Sununu said.

He said most of the people who went to the racetrack were probably from around the area. This is dangerous because an outbreak could overwhelm small, community hospital systems, he added.

“So one supercluster event can affect an area that has a good health care system, but doesn't have all the capacity in the world in terms of beds like you might find in other parts of the state or whatnot, so you know, you're putting a lot of folks at risk when you do that and so we just need everyone to be disciplined,” the governor said.

6:36 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Chicago requesting $56 million for coronavirus contact tracing 

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

Chicago is requesting $56 million to hire at least 600 contact tracers, according to a statement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The funding – which will come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health – will be used to train and certify contact tracers to fight Covid-19 in areas hardest hit by the pandemic, Lightfoot said.

Chicago officials hope to expand contact tracing at the community level and will focus their efforts “in areas of high economic hardship," according to a statement by the city.

Lightfoot said in the statement that the proposal "represents a win-win for our city by both stemming the spread of COVID-19 among our most-impacted communities, as well as addressing the underlying health inequities these same communities have faced for generations."

“Thanks to our close community partnerships, our work to expand our contact tracing workforce will also empower these same individuals to apply their new skills towards long-term career opportunities in our healthcare economy, and strengthen ability to become the inclusive, equitable city we all know we can be," she continued.

Contact tracers hired through this initiative will also be able to pursue higher education through an “Earn-and-Learn program,” which the city said will give them “the ability to pursue stable, middle-income jobs that can support their livelihoods beyond the height of the pandemic.”

Contact tracers will be paid $20 an hour, with supervisors earning $24 an hour, the city said. The positions will also have health care benefits.

6:16 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Trump's message to Memorial Day weekend crowds: "Always be safe"

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez 

President Donald Trump participates in an event on protecting seniors with diabetes, in the Rose Garden at the White House on May 26 in Washington
President Donald Trump participates in an event on protecting seniors with diabetes, in the Rose Garden at the White House on May 26 in Washington Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump had a simple message for Americans photographed and videotaped in crowds during Memorial Day weekend — be safe.

“I’m sure you saw the images from over the weekend of people out on Memorial Day weekend. They were crowding pools, crowding boardwalks. Do you have any message for those people?��� a reporter asked Trump on Tuesday in the White House Rose Garden.

Trump responded, “Yeah, always be safe. You want to be safe. We’re opening up but you want to be safe.”

6:04 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Trump insists he can "override" governors if they don't comply with reopening places of worship

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez 

President Donald Trump delivers remarks during an event on protecting seniors with diabetes, in the Rose Garden at the White House on May 26 in Washington.
President Donald Trump delivers remarks during an event on protecting seniors with diabetes, in the Rose Garden at the White House on May 26 in Washington. Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump said he could “override” governors who decline to reopen houses of worship in their states in “many different ways,” but did not cite what authority he had to so. 

“I can absolutely do it if I want to and I don’t think I’m going to have to because it’s starting to open up,” Trump said Tuesday during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden.

“We need people that are going to be leading us in faith. And we’re opening ‘em up, and if I have to, I will override any governor that wants to play games. If they want to play games, that’s okay, but we will win, and we have many different ways where I can override them,” he continued.

The President also added that "there may be some areas where the pastor or whoever may feel that it’s not quite ready and that’s okay, but let that be the choice of the congregation and the pastor.”

Last week, Trump announced new federal, voluntary guidance for places of worship to open their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic. He also said then he had the authority to override governors who did not allow their states to comply with the guidance.

5:54 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Kansas governor says she will veto state Covid-19 response bill

From CNN’s Janine Mack

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announces the state plan to reopen during a speech broadcast from Topeka, on Thursday, April 30, during the coronavirus outbreak.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announces the state plan to reopen during a speech broadcast from Topeka, on Thursday, April 30, during the coronavirus outbreak. Orlin Wagner/AP

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said she will veto a bill passed by the state legislature that would have shifted control of the state’s Covid-19 response away from the governor and to legislative leaders.

“House Bill 2054 is a sweeping piece of legislation that would have long standing consequences for the people of Kansas,” Kelly said at a news briefing Tuesday.

The bill would have also changed how counties set coronavirus rules and would have protected businesses and health care providers from coronavirus-related lawsuits. 

Kelly said that "creates more problems than it solves."  

The Kansas Legislature is out of session until January 2021, but Kelly said she may bring the legislature back for a special session.

Statewide: Kansas is reporting at least 9,218 positive coronavirus tests and 188 deaths, according to the state's Department of Health and Environment website. 

5:43 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Covid-19 patients suffer confusion and strokes, studies show

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

A significant percentage of patients treated in hospitals for coronavirus have neurological symptoms, including strokes and confusion, two teams of doctors reported Tuesday.

One study, done at the height of the Covid-19 epidemic in Italy, found nearly a third of patients with evidence of neurological problems turned out to have suffered a stroke, and close to 60% were very confused or disoriented. Twelve patients ages 16 to 62 had suffered strokes, Dr. Abdelkader Mahammedi, a radiologist at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and colleagues reported in the journal Radiology. 

Mahammedi and colleagues looked at data from 108 patients treated in Italy, but said he is starting to see similar patterns among US patients. “We had pretty young patients who had strokes, and by young, I mean under 50,” Mahammedi told CNN. “That’s concerning.” 

A second team found 26 out of 40 patients treated in France suffered confusion, and a third of them were still mentally impaired when they were discharged from the hospital. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of 13 of the patients showed that at least three suffered strokes that would not have been detected without the MRI, at team at the University of Strasbourg wrote in a letter published in The New England Journal of medicine on Tuesday.

Both teams said it was not clear what caused the strokes or the confusion, but said it’s important for doctors treating coronavirus patients to be on the lookout for neurological symptoms. Other teams of doctors have reported that coronavirus infections can cause unusual blood clotting that can lead to strokes and other blockages of blood vessels.


6:06 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Joe Biden on why he wears a mask: "I think you're supposed to lead by example"

Joe Biden called President Donald Trump an "absolute fool" for sharing a tweet that mocked him for wearing a mask at a Memorial Day service yesterday.

"He's a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way," Biden told CNN.

The comment comes as Trump has sought to politicize the wearing of masks during the coronavirus crisis. Trump himself has not worn a mask during factory tours in recent weeks, even as public health experts have recommended wearing them.

Biden said wearing a mask projects leadership and "the truth of the matter is, I think you're supposed to lead by example."

"Presidents are supposed to lead, not engage in folly and be falsely masculine," Biden said. "It's costing people's lives," he added.

Watch here:

6:04 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Biden slams Trump's coronavirus response: The President "doesn't seem to me to be prepared"

Source: CNN
Source: CNN

Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden criticized President Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic and outlined what he would do differently if he were president during a CNN interview.

"So first of all, I would listen to the scientists. I would tell the truth. Tell the truth. There are ways to reopen certain areas, and rationally, with distancing, wearing masks, making sure you don't congregate with too many people in one spot, making sure you're in a situation where you don't spread, you in fact inhibit the process of spreading of the disease," Biden said

Biden said the President "doesn't seem to me to be prepared" and called on more testing and tracing before the country is "fully open."

"We should be in a position where we can make sure people have all the protective gear that are needed, the first responders, they still don't have all that. We should be in a position where we're able to make sure that people are — if he cares about people reopening, start lending the money to small businesses, not one more penny to a major corporation, " Biden continued.

Watch here: