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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3:44 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

At least 27 states are investigating cases of childhood illness linked to Covid-19

From CNN’s Michael Nedelman and Amanda Watts

At least 27 states are now investigating cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a condition doctors believe could be linked to Covid-19. 

The Florida Department of Health told CNN on Tuesday it has “received information regarding seven confirmed cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) in Florida and is working to investigate, confirm and ensure the appropriate care for any other potential cases.”

Florida joins 26 other states and Washington, DC known to have potential and confirmed cases, totaling more than 350 children, according to a CNN survey of health departments across the country.

This represents just a small fraction of more than 1.6 million cases of Covid-19 currently being reported across the United States.

“As the number of cases of any particular disease grows to a very large number, you start to potentially notice much rarer syndromes,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, said during a briefing on May 15.

“You may not notice the disease emerge in a small group of 10 or 20,000 cases. But if you get to 90 or 100, or a million cases, that one is a very rare, potential side effect, or consequence of the infection can become apparent," Ryan added.

4:10 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Here's how Maine plans to increase contact tracing efforts

From CNN’s Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio

 Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew
 Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew Maine Public

Maine is significantly increasing their contact tracing capacity by hiring more skilled staff and volunteers, adding innovative technology, and securing social services, Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said. 

Right now the state has a contact tracing and case investigation team of about 30 people, but is looking to more than quadruple the team.

Here's what Lambrew said the state is planning to do:

  • Increase personnel by enlisting the help of 50 trained volunteers, who will assist for at least two months and will start training the week of June 1.
  • Hire up to 125 contracted staff over time for up to 12 months.
  • Deploy a new tool called a "Sara Alert" system that was developed to help track contacts, and will allow people who have been diagnosed or potentially exposed to Covid-19 to report daily symptoms through web, text, email or calls.

The expansion of the contract tracing program will be paid for with federal dollars, Lambrew said, and it is estimated it will cost about $7.5 million.

The latest numbers: Maine is reporting 35 new cases of Covid-19, for a total of at least 2,109 probable cases statewide, Dr. Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The state also announced one additional death related to Covid-19, bringing the total of deaths related to the virus in Maine to 79. 

3:39 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Hair salons and barbershops can reopen in some parts of California, governor says

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

A pedestrian wears a mask as he walks past the closed Echo Barber Shop in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, Friday, May 8. 
A pedestrian wears a mask as he walks past the closed Echo Barber Shop in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, Friday, May 8.  Damian Dovarganes/AP

Starting today, hair salons and barbershops can begin to reopen in California, but only in counties that have been approved to move forward in the state’s four-phased reopening plan, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced.

Of California’s 58 counties, 47 are moving forward with reopening, now including hair salons. These areas of regional variance have attested to stabilization in infection rates and proven that hospitals are ready with space, staff and personal protection equipment. Those areas include San Diego and Sacramento. The state’s two largest metro areas – Los Angeles and San Francisco – are still in the beginning phase of reopening.

Health guidelines for reopening barbershops and hair salons include having both workers and clients wear masks. Scissors, shears and smocks must be cleaned and disinfected between each client, as should chairs, headrests, combs and brushes.

Contactless payment services are encouraged, as are the removal of magazines in waiting areas.

These measures are accompanied by physical distancing and hand washing protocols.

8:14 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

University of Colorado Boulder will reopen in fall but assign students into smaller groups

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

The University of Colorado at Boulder plans to restart in-person learning for students for the fall 2020 semester.

The school chancellor said new changes will be implemented, including classes being divided into multiple sessions, and a unique plan to keep first-year students in small groups.

“Students living in the same residence hall, the same dormitories, will take classes together as a cohort group and they may take three to four classes each. And so, that reduces the amount of individuals that they would be in contact with,” Chancellor Phillip P. DiStefano told CNN’s Brianna Keilar.

The cohort groups will be kept small. “We believe by reducing that population density will certainly help to mitigate some of the problems with the virus,” DiStefano said.

He added that while the school cannot control students from socializing with people outside of their cohort the campus will be “Covid ready by requiring our students to wear masks during the day while they are on campus.”

At the very least, the school can mitigate virus-related problems while students are on campus, DiStefano said.

More details on the school's plan: For academic instruction of the university's 35,000 students, the school plans to split single classes into multiple sessions and use larger spaces to reduce the number of students in classrooms.

It also plans to extend the class schedule to Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., to decrease student density on campus.

Approximately 7,000 first year students will have a slightly different experience. Their housing assignments and class enrollment will be done by dividing students into "small cohort groups." Those groups will live together and have all their classes together. The plan did not specify how the university will enforce these groups not co-mingling.

The university said in order to be a "Covid-19-ready campus" it will have testing capability and rapid response teams for tracking and isolation on infected individuals to meet public health guidelines.

Watch full interview here:

This post has been updated with new details about the cohort groups.

3:11 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Here's what the CDC says about when you can be around others after having coronavirus

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Edward R. Roybal campus sits in Atlanta on April 23.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Edward R. Roybal campus sits in Atlanta on April 23. Tami Chappell/AFP/Getty Images

If you have had coronavirus, or know someone who has tested positive, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new guidance contains information about how long you should stay away from others.

According to the guidelines, posted over the weekend, people who have been sick with coronavirus infections should stay away from other people until...

  • They’ve gone at least three days with no fever
  • Have seen symptoms improve
  • And until it’s been 10 days since they first noticed symptoms

“Depending on your healthcare provider’s advice and availability of testing, you might get tested to see if you still have Covid-19. If you will be tested, you can be around others when you have no fever, symptoms have improved, and you receive two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart,” the CDC said in the new guidance.

People who tested positive but had no symptoms can still infect others, and the CDC says people should wait for 10 days after a positive test before mixing with other people again.

“People with conditions that weaken their immune system might need to stay home longer than 10 days,” the CDC said.

And people who are exposed to someone with coronavirus need to stay at home for at least 14 days, the CDC said, since it can take that long for symptoms to develop.

3:13 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

People in Virginia will be required to wear masks in public, governor says

From CNN's Shawn Nottingham

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam speaks during a press conference in Richmond, Virginia, on May 26.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam speaks during a press conference in Richmond, Virginia, on May 26. Pool

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced today that people 10 years old and older will be required to wear masks within a public indoor spaces in the state starting Friday.

People who are eating and drinking will be exempt.

Here's where masks will be required:

  • Inside all brick-and-mortar retail establishments
  • Inside all personal care and grooming establishments
  • Inside places where people congregate
  • Inside food and beverage establishments, except when eating
  • On public transportation
  • When accessing state and local government services

Northam apologized for an incident over the weekend where he was photographed while not wearing a mask.

Northam said he was approached by a group of people who wanted to take a picture with him.

“I was not prepared because my mask was in the car. I take full responsibility for that. People held me accountable and I appreciate that. In the future when I am out in the public I will be better prepared," Northam said.

3:05 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Los Angeles to appoint Inspector General to oversee nursing homes during the pandemic

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

A person in protective gear stands inside the Brier Oak on Sunset nursing home in Los Angeles on April 18.
A person in protective gear stands inside the Brier Oak on Sunset nursing home in Los Angeles on April 18. Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Los Angeles County, California, will appoint an independent Inspector General to oversee nursing homes throughout the coronavirus outbreak. 

More than half of Covid-19 fatalities in Los Angeles County, accounting for more than 1,000 deaths, have stemmed from outbreaks at nursing homes.

County Supervisor Janice Hahn described it as “a pandemic within a pandemic in our skilled nursing facilities.” 

The inspector general will likely be in place by July and will be responsible for overseeing the health and safety of residents and staff. 

Auditing more than 300 facilities within the county, this person will ensure compliance with testing, training, staff levels, and mitigation plans, as well as oversee investigations of outbreaks.

“It is absolutely clear that more must be done and it must be done immediately.. to prevent more unnecessary deaths,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the measure.

On nursing home staff and administrations, Health Director Barbara Ferrer said, “This is in no way to a reflection on the fact that they’ve failed or have done something wrong. They’ve worked their hardest and done their best, but it hasn’t been enough.”

The measure also calls for development and implementation of a digital dashboard in which to collect and display the data.

2:34 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Ohio governor announces expanded Covid-19 testing at nursing homes

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during a press conference in Columbus, Ohio, on May 26.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during a press conference in Columbus, Ohio, on May 26. Pool

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced today that beginning this week, newly organized "Congregate Care Unified Response Teams," which will include medically trained members of the Ohio National Guard, will begin testing all staff and certain residents within Ohio’s 960 nursing homes. 

According to DeWine, all staff will be tested to help nursing home administrators understand the status of the virus in their facilities, while testing of residents will be based on assessment.

The testing will start in facilities where residents or workers have or have had cases of Covid-19, which includes approximately 200 of the states’ facilities, the governor said.

Starting this week, Ohio will also start testing all residents and staff at the state's developmental centers. The Ohio National Guard will be doing the testing there and testing should be completed this week, according to DeWine.

3:01 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

White House: Trump "wants to see society reopened" but we must do so safely

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks to the press on May 26 in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks to the press on May 26 in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany urged Americans to follow social distancing guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while also maintaining that President Trump "wants to see society reopened."

McEnany was asked about the large crowds seen gathering during Memorial Day weekend, many of whom did not appear to be following social distancing guidelines.

"The President, as he's noted, he wants to see society reopened, wants to see the economy reopened. But we do want to do so safely," she said. McEnany noted that she attended a church service over the weekend, and people were socially distanced.

"Everyone, while you go out, let's keep cognizant the recommendations of the CDC," she said.

Watch here: