Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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9:13 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here.

8:35 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Colorado will no longer be ordered to stay home starting next week

Gov. Jared Polis speaks at a news conference on April 20, in Denver, Colorado.
Gov. Jared Polis speaks at a news conference on April 20, in Denver, Colorado. David Zalubowski/AP

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said the state will not need to extend the stay-at-home order that is set to expire at the end of the week, but long-term social distancing measures will still be necessary. 

According to the governor’s office, modeling shows social interactions have been reduced by 75-80% since the stay-at-home order went into effect.

The new “safer at home” phase will start April 27 and includes reduced social interactions, the governor said.

“During this phase Coloradans will no longer be ordered to stay home, but are still strongly encouraged to do so,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “Vulnerable populations and seniors must continue staying home except when absolutely necessary and K-12 school districts and postsecondary institutions will continue to suspend normal in-person instruction until the end of the school year.”  

Here's what Polis said in the statement:

“Coloradans in every corner of our state have stepped up and taken responsible steps to help bend the curve of this pandemic and we are grateful for these shared efforts that helped save lives and slow the spread. The deadly virus will continue to be with us, and we must wear masks and socialize less to avoid its rapid growth. For seniors and those with pre-existing conditions, it’s important to stay home whenever possible through May. Though we are moving into a sustainable way of living during this pandemic, there are tough days ahead."
8:21 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Oregon governor says her state cannot rely on the federal government to help with testing

CNN
CNN

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told CNN's Erin Burnett tonight that her state "cannot rely on the federal government to help” with testing.

She went on to say that the state only received about 25% of the personal protective equipment they requested. 

Brown said her state is “making decisions based on science and data and relying on public health experts and epidemiologists.” 

8:10 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Top health experts caution against reopening society before coronavirus testing capacity expands

 

As several states make plans for reopening their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, a group of top public health experts cautioned Tuesday against reopening society before testing capacity expands significantly.

Different parts of the country are in different stages of the epidemic with New York well into the first wave and other places just beginning to see the impact of the disease. This matters, said Dr. Caroline Buckee, Harvard associate professor of epidemiology and the associate director of the university’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. 

Knowing the location of the virus is key to relaxing social distancing and returning to normalcy, Buckee told a symposium sponsored by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the New England Journal of Medicine.

The lack of testing capacity is a big problem because the disease has “a very broad clinical spread,” Buckee said. So even when people show up at the hospital and get tested there are many more cases in the community, including mild and asymptomatic cases. “And those are the people that are spreading the disease,” she said.

It’s important to learn whether people who have recovered can still spread the disease, noted NEJM editor Dr. Eric Rubin.

“What we really need is some epidemiological data to tell us, 'Are people who have left the hospital going on to transmit the disease?'” Rubin said. “That’s kind of the shoe leather epidemiology, contact tracing, following what happens to the context of those patients, which takes some manpower. 

Buckee added that without knowing the answers, the nation could reopen too soon and risk a deadly second pandemic wave.

“Right now, we don’t have good estimates for where we are on the epidemic curve in different places. So, discussions of relaxation of physical distance, which do seem to be having an effect, curbing some of the worst impacts of the outbreak, need to be based on the capacity to test people so we know where we are,” she said.

8:07 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Trump agreed to help testing manufacturers get supplies for kits, Cuomo says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that President Trump agreed to take ownership of the national supply chain to get coronavirus testing kit manufacturers the supplies they need to produce kits

The problem with bringing testing up to scale is the national manufacturers who make the testing kits and send them to state labs, Cuomo said. Those companies say they have a problem with the supply chain getting swabs, vials and chemicals to produce the testing kits, Cuomo added.

The governor said his meeting at the White House was “very productive, positive, got a lot done."

Some of the meeting focused on the importance of dividing the responsibilities between states and federal government to scale up testing, he said.

The state will be responsible for managing diagnostic and antibody testing, who to test, where to test and tracing cases, Cuomo said.

The goal is to double New York State’s testing from 20,000 diagnostic tests to 40,000 diagnostic and antibody tests, he said.

“It will take several weeks at best, this is an enormous undertaking,” Cuomo added.

7:58 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Georgia governor's office says state meets White House criteria to reopen

Empty streets are seen in downtown Atlanta on April 4.
Empty streets are seen in downtown Atlanta on April 4. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Candice Broce, communications and deputy executive counsel for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, defended his announcement saying that the state has satisfied all criteria required by the White House to reopen. 

Broce said Kemp consulted with multiple public health professionals before making his decision.

She went on to say that the governor “clearly” laid out his rationale for reopening the state during Monday’s announcement. 

Some background: Mayors from around the state voiced concern about Kemp's decision to open some businesses, saying Kemp did not consult with local officials.

"I have searched my head and my heart on this and I am at a loss as to what the governor is basing this decision on," Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN.

Some businesses and churches said they would not follow Kemp's guidance and would keep their doors closed.

7:14 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

The USNS Comfort in New York City is no longer accepting new patients

The USNS Comfort is docked at Pier 90 on April 3 in New York City.
The USNS Comfort is docked at Pier 90 on April 3 in New York City. Kena Betancur/Getty Images

The USNS Comfort is no longer accepting new patients, Northwell Health spokesperson Terry Lynam told CNN, noting the number of patients on the ship have been going down daily.

Earlier today, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he told President Trump that he was happy to have the USNS Comfort in his state, but that it was no longer needed.

“We don’t really need the Comfort anymore… So if they need to deploy that somewhere else, they should take it,” Cuomo said in an interview.

The USNS Comfort has treated a total of 178 patients since it arrived in the New York harbor on March 30. Fifty-six patients remain on the ship, according to Lynam.

The patients still on the Comfort are a mix of both intensive care and "med-surge" patients, Lynam said, and are both Covid-related and non-Covid related.

The intensive care patients are more severely ill, but in terms of the others, "Those who are medically ready to be discharged and can recuperate safely at home, that will be done when appropriate," Lynam said.

7:06 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Doctors should take VA study on hydroxycholorquine into consideration, FDA commissioner says

FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn speaks during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House in Washington, on April 21.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn speaks during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House in Washington, on April 21. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said Tuesday that results from a recent Veterans Affairs study about the use of hydroxychloroquine for individuals with coronavirus should be taken into consideration by doctors on an individual basis when they are consulting with patients.

“This study is a small, retrospective study at the VA and … this is something that a doctor would need to consider as part of a decision in writing a prescription for hydroxychloroquine,” Hahn said at Tuesday's White House briefing. 

CNN reported earlier today that coronavirus patients taking hydroxychloroquine, a treatment touted by President Trump, were no less likely to need mechanical ventilation and had higher death rates compared to those who did not take the drug, according to a study of hundreds of patients at United States Veterans Health Administration medical centers.

“What [the] FDA is going to require is data from clinical trials, randomized clinical trials … to actually make a definitive decision around safety and efficacy,” Hahn said during the news conference.

“But the preliminary data are helpful to providers. And doctors, I want to ask them to incorporate the data as we have it come forward. And it’s not definitive data. It doesn’t help us make a decision from a regulatory point of view, but doctors should incorporate that in the decision-making they make on a one-on-one basis,” he added.

Speaking about the VA study, Trump said, “I don’t know the report. Obviously there have been some good reports. Perhaps this one’s not a good report. But we’ll be looking at it.” 

The President did not have anything to say about a recent National Institutes of Health panel advising against the use of hydroxychloroquine in combination with Zithromax, an antibiotic more commonly referred to as a z-pak, only saying he’s “always willing to take a look.”

7:03 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Birx on second coronavirus wave: "I don’t know if it will be worse, I think this has been pretty bad"

Dr. Deborah Bi
Dr. Deborah Bi Alex Brandon/AP

Dr. Deborah Birx was asked about the possibility that a second wave of coronavirus, paired with seasonal flu, could be worse than the first and how that figures in with plans to reopen the country.

Here's what she said:

"We were very clear in the guidelines that we believe we can monitor, again, monitor communities at the community level by using the influenza-like illness. And this syndromic, respiratory, and gastrointestinal component of this particular virus."

Birx added that they are working to build testing capacity and it's important to "have testing in place."

Pressed again on whether she thinks a second wave could be worse, Birx said, "I don’t know if it will be worse, I think this has been pretty bad."

She continued: "When you see what happened in New York, that was very bad. I believe that we'll have early warning signals both from our surveillance that we've been talking about in these vulnerable populations. We’re going to continue that surveillance from now all the way through to be able to give us that early warning signal."

More on this: Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told The Washington Post in an interview, that a second coronavirus outbreak could emerge this winter in conjunction with the flu season to make for an even more dire health crisis.