Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 9:10 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020
65 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
5:14 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Walt Disney World and Sea World will present reopening plans tomorrow

From CNN's Natasha Chen

Walt Disney World and Sea World in Florida will present reopening plans to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force Wednesday, according to statement by the county.

Disney confirmed it would be making the proposal in a tweet saying it would be a "phased reopening of the resort's theme parks." 

The task force is meeting virtually at 10 a.m. tomorrow to discuss the plans as well as the reopening of smaller attraction.

Universal Orlando announced its reopening to the public on June 5 after presenting to the group last week. 

5:11 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

More than 98,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

There are at least 1,675,532 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 98,717 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

Johns Hopkins reported 13,230 new cases and 497 deaths on Tuesday. 

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

5:12 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Mass gatherings at Lake of the Ozarks were "poor decisions," Missouri governor says

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks during a press conference in Jefferson City, Missouri, on May 26.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks during a press conference in Jefferson City, Missouri, on May 26. Missouri Governor's Office

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he is troubled by viral video showing people at the Lake of the Ozarks gathering in large groups over Memorial Day weekend.

“Unfortunately there were some poor decisions that were made, and social distancing was not followed,” Parson said at a news conference Tuesday.

Although the governor said he believes most Missourians acted responsibly during the holiday, he added, “This is potentially dangerous for everyone, especially our most at-risk individuals.”

Dr. Randall Williams, the state's director of health and senior services, said they would normally attempt contact tracing after a risky gathering, but the fact that so many people involved were probably out-of-town vacationers makes it harder.

“Many of those people, we think, traveled there, and now they're traveling back,” Williams said.

Parson said the state government will not attempt to punish any local businesses or organizers, saying that is up to local health officials.

5:05 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Schools in South Dakota are preparing for at-home learning in the fall

From CNN’s Julie Gallagher 

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said that school districts in the state are planning to reopen this fall, but are also making “contingency plans” for at-home learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"I think they are being wise in preparing for any situation that could come along this fall," she said at a news briefing Tuesday.

Noem said decisions on whether schools will have in-person or online instruction in the fall will take place at the local level. 

“I think every school district is approaching it differently. I think they are planning to have students in their buildings but yet putting in contingency plans should they need to make an adjustment at the local level and have kids learn from home as well," she said.

5:09 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Google to reopen offices beginning July 6

From CNN’s Brian Fung

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the Google I/O keynote session at Shoreline Ampitheatre in Mountain View, California, on May 7, 2019.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the Google I/O keynote session at Shoreline Ampitheatre in Mountain View, California, on May 7, 2019. Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees that some will be able to return to the office beginning on July 6, though it will be limited to 10% building capacity.

In a blog post Tuesday, Pichai said the plan to reopen gradually will follow guidelines from public health authorities. 

"We’ll have rigorous health and safety measures in place to ensure social distancing and sanitization guidelines are followed,” he wrote, "so the office will look and feel different than when you left. Our goal is to be fair in the way we allocate time in the office, while limiting the number of people who come in, consistent with safety protocols."

Some context: The decision to start reopening Google’s offices marks a contrast with Twitter and Facebook, both of which have announced plans to support remote work on a permanent basis going forward. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last week that by 2030, he believes as many as half of Facebook employees could be working remotely. 

Google had previously said that those working from home due to the pandemic could continue to do so through the end of the year if they chose. 

By September, Google hopes to allow up to 30% of building capacity to be filled — “which would mean most people who want to come in could do so on a limited basis, while still prioritizing those who need to come in,” Pichai wrote.

Finally, Pichai said Google will be granting each employee a $1,000 allowance so that they may expense “equipment and office furniture” necessary for working from home for the remainder of the year.

4:46 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

National Hockey League to restart season with first-of-its-kind playoff tournament

From CNN's David Close

The National Hockey League has revealed a plan to resume the current season that entails forgoing the remaining regular season games and heading straight into a first-of-its-kind 24-team Stanley Cup playoff tournament.

Seven teams will not resume their 2019-2020 season. 

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league’s "return to play plan" on Tuesday stating that two cities will serve as hubs for teams and games. Neither city was revealed but Bettman did disclose that 10 cities are under consideration.

Bettman did not give a specific start date for the unique, postseason tournament to start. 

4:49 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

North Carolina governor says pandemic response cannot be political

From CNN's Raja Razek

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a press conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, on May 26.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a press conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, on May 26. Governor's Office

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper answered questions from the media about President Trump's tweets threatening to pull the Republican National Convention from the state, saying the pandemic response cannot be political.

"I am not surprised by anything that I see on Twitter," Cooper said at a news conference. "It is okay for political conventions to be political, but pandemic response cannot be."

He said the convention is still about three months away, "so we have to have options regarding how this convention is going to be run, depending on where we are with the virus in August," he said.

"And I hope that we can find some kind of reasonable accommodations, but we're not going to sacrifice the health and safety of North Carolinians, and that that's the bottom line," he added. 

Moving forward: The state has asked for a plan to be presented "on paper," laying out the options already discussed orally. They will then review those plans, and health officials would provide their feedback, according to the governor. 

"We hope to continue the discussions and look forward to those discussions with the RNC later on this weekend and into next week," he concluded.

4:41 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Michigan governor signs executive order to expand coronavirus testing sites 

From CNN's Rob Frehse

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a press conference in Lansing, Michigan, on May 26.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a press conference in Lansing, Michigan, on May 26. Pool/WLNS

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced an executive order today that expands coronavirus testing sites and the types of medical personnel that can order a test.

“We need to keep working to expand testing, which is why it is crucial that Michiganders who have Covid-19 symptoms, even mild ones, or have been in contact with someone who has the virus can get tested,” Whitmer said.

The governor said the executive order will pave the way for more community testing sites to open as the state works towards a goal of 15,000 tests administered daily.

"We owe it to the real heroes of this crisis — medical workers, first responders and other essential workers — to do what we can to stop the spread of the virus," Whitmer added.

The measure also creates a new category of community testing sites that offer testing to anyone with reason to be tested without a doctor's order in advance.

Michiganders eligible for testing include people who:  

  • Exhibit any symptom of Covid-19, including mild symptoms 
  • Have been exposed to a person with Covid-19
  • Have been working outside their home for at least 10 days 
  • Reside in any congregate setting, such as a long-term care facility, prison or jail, homeless shelter, or migrant camp 

Whitmer also announced a new online dashboard that will assist public health officials as they make state, regional and county-level decisions related to Covid-19.

The dashboard will also give the general public insight into the indicators that impact those decisions, Whitmer added.

Latest figures: Michigan has 55,104 coronavirus cases and 5,266 coronavirus-related deaths, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, announced Tuesday.


4:35 p.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Federal immigration agency to furlough employees unless Congress provides funding

From CNN's Geneva Sands and Phil Mattingly 

US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency responsible for visa and asylum processing, is expected to furlough part of its workforce this summer if Congress doesn't provide emergency funding to sustain operations during the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Unfortunately, as of now, without congressional intervention, the agency will need to administratively furlough a portion of our employees on approximately July 20," USCIS Deputy Director Joseph Edlow for Policy wrote in a letter sent to the workforce on Tuesday.

Some background: Earlier this month, the agency — which has 19,000 government employees and contractors working at more than 200 offices across the world — requested $1.2 billion from Congress due to its budget shortfall. 

Since then, the agency, a component of the Department of Homeland Security, has been working with members of Congress and their staffs to educate the Hill on the agency's finances and operations. 

Communications from the agency to Capitol Hill have grown more urgent as the threat of potential rolling furloughs in “the thousands” looms, according to one source familiar with the discussions.

The goal would be to attach the needed funds onto the next coronavirus relief bill, which lawmakers plan to negotiate next. Still, with both parties far apart on any resolution, there is currently no clear pathway for lawmakers to fulfill the emergency request.

The immigration agency is primarily fee-funded and typically continues most operations during lapses in funding, such as last year's government shutdown. However, during the pandemic the agency suspended its in-person services, including all interviews and naturalization ceremonies.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, USCIS has seen a dramatic decrease in revenue and is seeking a one-time emergency request for funding to ensure we can carry out our mission of administering our nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity, and protecting the American people," a USCIS spokesperson said. 

The agency proposed a 10% surcharge on USCIS application fees to reimburse taxpayers at a later time. USCIS previously estimated that application and petition receipts will drop by approximately 61% through the end of Fiscal Year 2020, exhausting funding this summer, according to the agency. 

The furlough announcement comes as the agency is preparing to resume in-office operations and open its offices to the public.

"While it may seem somewhat at odds to do so given the possible suspensions in operations, we must be ready in the event of funding from Congress," Edlow wrote. 

USCIS notified the agency's union of the potential furloughs Tuesday.