May 3 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Jenni Marsh, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 9:01 p.m. ET, May 3, 2020
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4:33 p.m. ET, May 3, 2020

Entire terminal to close at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport due to reduced activity

From CNN's Liz Turrell

A person walks through a nearly empty terminal at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on March 30.
A person walks through a nearly empty terminal at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on March 30. Ting Shen/Xinhua/Getty Images

Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington has announced that American Airlines will only use the center concourse at the airport, or gates 23-34, beginning Monday. As result, due to reduced activity, the airport will temporarily suspend flight operations from Terminal C, Gates 35-45.

This closure will include gate 35X, American’s commuter gate that required passengers to be bused to and from their planes.

4:12 p.m. ET, May 3, 2020

Schumer calls for federal crackdown on predatory loan lenders

From CNN's Laura Dolan

Schumer speaks during a press conference in Washington on April 21.
Schumer speaks during a press conference in Washington on April 21. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for the federal government to stop predatory lenders from preying on people who are in desperate need of emergency funds as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause economic hardship for millions of Americans, in a press release issued Sunday.

“The coronavirus crisis is creating a desperate situation for countless Americans and New Yorkers, but it is also creating nefarious opportunity for greedy loan sharks who smell proverbial blood in the consumer waters,” Schumer said.

He said that "loan sharks" will stop at nothing to drown everyday consumers and small businesses “in a cascade of debt that could far outlast the coronavirus itself."

“Interest rate loans that can hover around 800% aren’t just eye-popping –– they’re downright shameful,” the release said. 

Schumer wants the nation’s federal regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to act and stop rolling back regulations that enable predatory lenders to prey on people.

3:53 p.m. ET, May 3, 2020

Illinois records its highest number of coronavirus tests performed in single day

From CNN's Hollie Silverman 

There were 19,417 new coronavirus tests conducted in Illinois within 24 hours, which is the highest number ever performed in a single day, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during a Sunday afternoon news conference.

Pritzker said that 2,994 new coronavirus cases were reported Sunday for a total of 61,499.

An additional 63 deaths were reported for a total of 2,618 coronavirus deaths, Pritzker added.

Scams on the rise: Officials in Illinois have heard of several coronavirus-related scams including door to door sales of testing kits and fake products to treat the virus, Pritzker said.

There have been instances of people soliciting donations for fake charities and fraudulent efforts to obtain stimulus checks, according to Pritzker.

The state Attorney General will use the power of his office to hold people accountable for their actions during the coronavirus pandemic including attempts to scam people, Pritzker added.

3:42 p.m. ET, May 3, 2020

This Texas teenager delivered 10,000 masks to medical workers

From CNN's David Blank

Most ninth-grade girls worry about schoolwork, friends and crushes. Lately, however, Valerie Xu has focused on face masks.

The 15-year-old from Addison, Texas, says she wanted to do something about the lack of protective gear for medical workers during the coronavirus pandemic. She also wanted to combat stories stigmatizing Asian Americans during the outbreak.

Armed with resourcefulness and a teenager's urge to fit in, Xu raised donations and delivered 10,000 protective masks to a Dallas medical center.

Some background: The donation drive started with a conversation Xu had with a family friend, a Florida emergency room doctor who was forced to wear the same protective mask for several days.

"This really amazed me in America," Xu told CNN. "We're supposed to be considered the richest country in the world, yet doctors and nurses fighting on the front line cannot get proper protection."

Since Xu wanted to make a local impact, she launched a GoFundMe to purchase masks for the UT Southwestern Medical Center, the largest facility near her home.

So far, it has raised more than $3,800. Xu researched vendors in China and picked two suppliers, donating $1,200 of her own money to the cause.

She said her campaign so far has collected a total of 11,200 masks –– 10,000 surgical and 1,200 FFP2 masks, which are equivalent to N95 masks in the US.

Read more about Xu's impact.

3:15 p.m. ET, May 3, 2020

Some businesses in Spain will reopen on Monday

From CNN's Abel Alvarado and Ingrid Formanek

People exercise in Granada, Spain, on May 2, during the hours allowed by the government to exercise for the first time since the beginning of a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
People exercise in Granada, Spain, on May 2, during the hours allowed by the government to exercise for the first time since the beginning of a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Jorge Guerroro/AFP/Getty Images

Some businesses will start to reopen in Spain on Monday as the country starts "Phase Zero" of loosening coronavirus restrictions.

Following eight weeks of strict confinement since a country-wide state of emergency was declared on March 14, the process of transition in Spain will be gradual. 

The four phases will be determined by a “series of indicators, such as the strategic capacities available in the healthcare system," officials say.

Some of these indicators include being able to test and identify sources of contagion and the ability to isolate and control those sources.

Some other context: Spain's Ministry of Health said another key to reopening the economy is the availability of hospital beds.

For every 10,000 residents, hospitals have to be able to add between 1.5 to 2 intensive care unit beds, and between 37 to 40 beds for severely ill patients, as outlined by the Ministry.

Across Spain, masks will be mandatory on public transport as of Monday.

Here are some of the reopening guidelines for businesses:

  • Hotel and restaurant terraces will be able to operate at 50% of capacity, but will have to clean and disinfect tables, chairs, and other surfaces, between clients.
  • Small retail and commercial businesses will be open to the public at 30% capacity, and will offer priority service to people over 65.
  • Clothing stores will be required to disinfect fitting areas, and “hygiene any garment before other clients have access to it."
  • Businesses are responsible for providing personal protective equipment to their employees.
3:05 p.m. ET, May 3, 2020

Ashford Inc. returns small business loan

From CNN’s Richard Davis

Asset management company and hotel group Ashford Inc. announced on Saturday that it will return all funds provided by the Small Business Administration due to the agency's recently changed rules, according to a press release. 

Calling the federal guidance “inconsistent,” the company defended itself and said that Congress designed the Paycheck Protection Program to allow companies that own multiple hotel properties to obtain separate loans for each property. 

Ashford said that they could not have known that appropriations would be insufficient to cover other businesses.  

“Ashford management had no intention of crowding out any business from gaining equal access to the PPP funds,” the company said.

Asset management company Ashford (AHT) and its related luxury hotel REITs received more than 56 loans totaling nearly $59 million, SEC filings show.

The Wall Street Journal and the Dallas Morning News first reported the news on Ashford.

2:10 p.m. ET, May 3, 2020

Connecticut closed some state parks Saturday after social distancing limits were reached

From CNN's Anna Sturla

Connecticut closed 11 state parks Saturday as limits were reached for proper social distancing, according to the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Sleeping Giant and Southford Falls state parks, both near New Haven, were among those closed early. All these parks were reopened Sunday morning.

"There’s plenty of room for everybody, we just encourage people to spread out as best they can," said DEEP spokesperson Will Healey. "We encourage people to peruse our entire list of state parks."

DEEP has only closed two state parks indefinitely, both because geographic features made it difficult to maintain a safe distance.

If the crowds at parks continue, there may be indefinite closures, Healey said.

"That’s an option that’s on the table," Healey said. "We want to keep them open during this public health crisis, but we want to do it as safe as possible."


2:27 p.m. ET, May 3, 2020

Afghanistan releases nearly 100 Taliban prisoners due to coronavirus containment measures

From CNN’s Ehsan Popalzai

Afghanistan released 98 Taliban prisoners from Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul on Saturday evening as part of the government’s efforts to contain coronavirus, according to a statement from the National Directorate of Security.

The release is in line with a decree Afghan President Ashraf Ghani signed on March 11 to release Taliban prisoners as the peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban began.

The prisoners were released based on their health conditions, age and length of remaining sentence.

So far, 650 Taliban prisoners have been released since March 10, and the government will release 850 more, the statement added.

“The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan remains open continuing joint technical work with the Taliban in order to advance the peace process,” the statement read.

1:57 p.m. ET, May 3, 2020

Airline CEO discusses the risk of catching coronavirus on an airplane

From CNN’s Nicky Robertson

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly speaks at the annual Aviation Summit in Washington, DC, on March 5.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly speaks at the annual Aviation Summit in Washington, DC, on March 5. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Gary Kelly, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, said the risk of catching coronavirus from an airplane is not “any greater than the risk anywhere else.”

In an interview on CBS, Kelly emphasized the safety precautions they have put in place, and said that they are “doing everything possible to encourage people to come back and fly.”

Southwest Airlines is one of the major US airlines that has announced it will require all passengers to wear masks, starting on May 11.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an FAQ on traveling:

“Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily. Although the risk of infection on an airplane is low, try to avoid contact with sick passengers, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.”

Some business context: Kelly said that Southwest Airlines has applied for another government loan, but that he did not know if they would take it.

Although the number of flights has drastically reduced due to the coronavirus, Kelly believes that “we have seen the bottom here” and noted that “each week after the first week of April has gotten successfully better.”

Kelly is “anxious to see how the travel demand develops in the summer."