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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7:52 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Illinois may be entering "downward trend" of Covid-19 deaths, public health director says

From CNN's Chris Boyette

Illinois may be entering a “downward trend” of Covid-19 deaths, Illinois Department of Public Health Director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, said at a news briefing on Tuesday.

Ezike said the state reported a total of 780 deaths during the week of May 16.

“While 780 deaths, of course, represents 780 individuals who lost their lives, and families and loved ones and communities who are mourning those deaths, it still signals the first week that there have been fewer deaths than the previous week,” she said.

“I am hopeful that this fact is the beginning of a downward trend. But of course, that also depends on all of us, and making sure that we're doing all that we can to decrease the transmission of this virus," Ezike added.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported at least 113,195 cases of Covid-19, including approximately 4,923 deaths, on Tuesday.

7:33 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Judge refuses to overturn ruling that Oregon's coronavirus restrictions were unconstitutional

From CNN’s Andy Rose

A judge in Baker County, Oregon, on Tuesday refused to overturn his ruling that the state’s coronavirus restrictions are unconstitutional, despite an order from the state Supreme Court to reconsider. 

“I have elected to stand by my original ruling,” Judge Matthew Shirtcliff wrote hours ahead of a deadline imposed by the state Supreme Court. “I will not be… taking other action.”

The high court told Shirtcliff over the weekend to revisit the case after delaying enforcement of his decision while an appeal is heard. 

Justice Thomas Balmer wrote for the court that Shirtcliff must either vacate his original order or provide a reason for not doing so. In his three-sentence letter today, Shirtcliff does not give a reason for adhering to his original ruling.

The Supreme Court has ordered both sides to file their arguments with the court no later than next Tuesday. The lawsuit was filed by a group of churches and businesspeople who argued that state law limits Gov. Kate Brown’s emergency authority to 28 days.

7:11 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

NBA considering "World Cup-style" playoff format

From CNN's Jabari Jackson

 Joe Robbins/Getty Images
 Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The National Basketball Association sent emails with proposal ideas to all 30 general managers, which included a “World Cup-style” playoff format in a plan to return to play.

It was first reported by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor.

In the league’s effort to restart their 2019-2020 season, 16 to 30 teams would congregate at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, to be divided into groups to ensure each team tipped-off against the same opposition. Based on the regular-season records, the teams would be split up into “tiers” ensuring an equal level of competition, according to O’Connor and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

CNN Sports reached out to the NBA for comment about the reports.

 

7:03 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Northwestern University plans "phased return" to campus

From CNN's Brad Parks

Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.
Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. Shutterstock.

Northwestern University announced its plan for a "phased return" to campus for fall 2020, including an outline of safety precautions.

The University's Return to Campus and Safety Work Group developed a set of "core responsibilities" that it said will help protect the health and well-being of the community, according to a letter sent Friday to Northwestern faculty, staff and students from Interim Provost Kathleen Hagerty and university leaders.

The measures include: social distancing, using face masks, consistent health monitoring, and protecting vulnerable members of the university community, which has more than 22,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

"It is important that you only come to campus when your school or unit permits," the letter said. "For many of you, that may mean continuing to work remotely in the months ahead."

The school said it is still in "step 1" of its phased reopen, which is essential faculty and staff only. "Step 2," a pilot phase to reactivate research laboratories, will take place when Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home order expires, which could happen as soon as June 1.

7:02 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Number of coronavirus cases in Mississippi not declining significantly, governor says

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

A nasal swab is held at ready by a Delta Health Center nurse as she waits to administer the free Covid-19 test at a drive-thru site at the center's Dr. H. Jack Geiger Medical Center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, on Thursday, April 16.
A nasal swab is held at ready by a Delta Health Center nurse as she waits to administer the free Covid-19 test at a drive-thru site at the center's Dr. H. Jack Geiger Medical Center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, on Thursday, April 16. Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Mississippi is still seeing a steady number of coronavirus cases, Gov. Tate Reeves said at a news briefing on Tuesday.

“That number is not declining significantly, and it certainly should serve as a warning to all of us that this disease is not disappearing. We have to stay vigilant," he said.

He added the number of cases "is primarily driven by finding asymptomatic or unserious cases, through our ramped up targeted testing." Active hospitalizations, patients in intensive care, patients on ventilators and deaths have stayed relatively flat, Reeves said.

Here are the latest numbers, according to officials:

  • At least 9,401 Mississippians have recovered from coronavirus.
  • The state still has approximately 3,678 active cases.
  • There are currently 134 patients in intensive care units, and 81 patients on ventilators.
  • Twenty-nine hospitals have received enough doses of remdesivir for 351 patients.
  • At least 154,624 tests have been done – 6,805 were serology tests or blood tests that look for antibodies.
  • About 69 inmates in prisons have been tested – 27 were positive, 41 negative and one test result is still pending.
  • There has been at least 273 new cases of coronavirus, 17 additional deaths and 121 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care settings.

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.”