Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:50 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020
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11:20 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Tyson suspends operations at Iowa plant after suspected coronavirus outbreak

From CNN’s Dianne Gallagher and Pamela Kirkland

A Tyson Fresh Meats plant is seen in Waterloo, Iowa, on an unknown date.
A Tyson Fresh Meats plant is seen in Waterloo, Iowa, on an unknown date. Jeff Reinitz/The Courier/AP

Tyson Fresh Meats has announced plans to indefinitely suspend operations at its Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant “mid-week until further notice."

The plant is one of the city's largest employers, with some 3,000 workers, many of them immigrants and people of color who don't have the best access to health care.

The announcement comes as local officials in Black Hawk County, Iowa, had urged the plant to close voluntarily after a suspected outbreak of Covid-19.

“Protecting our team members is our top priority and the reason we’ve implemented numerous safety measures during this challenging and unprecedented time,” Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats said in a statement. “Despite our continued efforts to keep our people safe while fulfilling our critical role of feeding American families, the combination of worker absenteeism, COVID-19 cases and community concerns has resulted in our decision to stop production.”   

The Black Hawk County health department announced Tuesday that 182 of the county's 374 cases are linked to the Tyson Waterloo plant. 

The Board of Health voted yesterday to pass a proclamation urging Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Tyson Foods to temporarily close the Waterloo plant for deep cleaning and to test employees.

Last week, two dozen local and state elected officials — including Waterloo's Mayor — sent a letter formally requesting Tyson shut down the plant due to the outbreak. Mayor Quentin Hart told CNN he was afraid if action wasn't taken soon, his city could be the "next hot spot."

10:33 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

US should focus on its own tests, not comparisons to other countries, Dr. Sanjay Gupta says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Sanjay Gupta said the US needs to focus on its lack of testing in the country — not on how we compare to other countries. 

While answering viewers' questions this morning, he was asked about the US's testing numbers.

“At the White House briefings, it’s often mentioned that the US has done more testing than any other country. Is that true? Wouldn't it be more accurate to compare testing numbers by the amount of tests administered per million people?” the viewer asked.

Here's how Gupta answered:

"The answer is yes … You want to basically get a large enough sample size for the data to be meaningful. And you know what? I don't care about other countries, frankly. We keep saying, but we're doing more than other countries. It doesn't matter. That doesn't matter. There are countries doing better than us and there are countries doing worse than us in terms of testing. What matters right now here is here. And what we know is we need to be doing way more testing than we're doing. Maybe a million or so tests a day; I think we're around 150, 160,000 a day. And the reason you want to do that much testing is you get a better idea of where the virus is, how it’s spreading and how to contain it."

Gupta said the US has the "strategies to be able to contain this virus."

"This is a solvable problem. I want to make this clear. We have the strategies to be able to contain this virus. It’s not going to be easy. But we know how to do it," he added.

Watch more:

9:22 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Is it safe to get a haircut right now?

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Sanjay Gupta answered viewers’ questions about coronavirus on CNN’s New Day. Here’s what he had to say about haircuts as Georgia Gov. Kemp announced that some businesses, including hair salons, can reopen in the state starting this week. 

On viewer asked: “Is it safe to go to a barber for a haircut? If unsafe, what precautions should the barber take and what precautions should I take?”

Here's how he responded:

“You can't keep a safe social distance when you’re getting your hair cut. … We may get to the point where people can get such rapid testing that we can know if people are infected or not, and that would help in terms of people being able to go out and do things like haircuts. But we're not at that point. We're not at that point here in Georgia or in any place in the country.”

Watch more:

8:54 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Coronavirus vaccine is still about a year away, expert says

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Experts still estimate that it could take about a year — or 12 to 18 months — to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said during an appearance on "CBS This Morning" today.

That means a vaccine would not be available until around March 2021.

"It's still the case that the estimate is March," Hahn told CBS' Tony Dokoupil.

"But we're really trying to accelerate the efforts," Hahn said. "And we will try for sooner."

 

8:47 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

It's morning on the East Coast. Here's where things stand on Covid across the US.

Coronavirus continues to spread in the US: As of this morning, there are more than 825,000 cases across the country, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

Lawmakers are working on financial relief for small businesses, health experts are warning of another outbreak wave, and the timeline of the spread of the virus in the US could be shifting.

Here's where things stand this morning:

  • The possible second wave: The CDC director warned there could be a second coronavirus outbreak this winter, and it could be "even more difficult" as it may run in conjunction with the flu season.
  • Was coronavirus spreading in the US earlier? New autopsy results show coronavirus killed two Californians in early and mid-February — up to three weeks before the previously known first US death from the virus. The development may change the understanding of how early the virus was spreading in the country, health experts said.
  • Another stimulus bill: The Senate passed $480 billion relief package yesterday, which includes hundreds of billions of dollars in new funding for small businesses. The bill now goes to the House for a vote.
  • About hydroxychloroquine: Coronavirus patients taking hydroxychloroquine, a treatment touted by President Trump, had higher deaths rates compared to those who did not take the drug, according to a study of hundreds of patients.
  • Tests give false negatives: Medical device company Abbott Laboratories has warned that its rapid coronavirus test can produce false negatives – where results suggest patients are not infected when in fact they are.
  • Trump on testing: President Trump, after a meeting with the New York governor, said that while states will control testing, the federal government will work along with the state on the national manufacturers and distributors. The President has previously said testing "is a local thing."
  • New York no longer needs hospital ship: Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he told President Trump the US Navy Ship Comfort —deployed to New York City to serve as a hospital during the pandemic — is no longer needed.
8:47 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

This model uses cell phone data to forecast coronavirus spread 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Data suggests that people have dramatically reduced their time in public places and are largely staying at home — but easing social distancing restrictions could change the forecast, according to researchers. 

Lauren Ancel Meyers, who is leading researchers at the University of Texas-Austin, explained her team’s model with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. 

“We are using data from cell phones...of tens of millions of people that tell us actually on a daily basis how much time are people staying at home, how often are they ending up in grocery stores or in pharmacies or in other places where they could have contact that leads to disease transmission,” she said. 

Ancel Meyers said that Americans are largely staying at home and away from common places, which is why deaths are not continuing to skyrocket.

“That is the secret to success. That is why we have seen a trailing off of mortality in this country. And that is why it's going to be important going forward that we continue to take measures to prevent transmission by just keeping out of contact with each other or reducing the likelihood of transmission when we do have to come in contact with each other,” she said. 

Ancel Meyers said her team’s model builds on the one from IHME, which is frequently cited by the White House.

Both models predict near-future coronavirus cases based on the current strict social distancing guidelines, but cases and deaths could increase again as state economies start reopening, she said.

“One of the things we can't predict at this point is how behavior is going to change in the next week or two or month or two. To the extent that changes, the forecasts may look very different,” she said. 

9:28 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Trump's tweeting about reopening states this morning

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

President Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the novel coronavirus at the White House on April 21.
President Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the novel coronavirus at the White House on April 21. Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump tweeted that states are “safely coming back,” this morning, days before Georgia’s aggressive reopening plan begins and as his own health experts warn of a possible second wave of coronavirus infections. 

Some background: The President has been pressuring governors to reopen their states, including sending tweets that seemed to encourage protests in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, as Jeff Zeleny and Kaitlan Collins reported last week.

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

"There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through," CDC Director Robert Redfield said. "And when I've said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don't understand what I mean."

Moments ago, Dr. Stephen Hahn, the US Food and Drug Administration commissioner, responded to Redfield's comments, saying, "It's certainly a possibility" there will be a second wave of coronavirus next winter. 

9:17 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

FDA head: Second wave of coronavirus "certainly a possibility"

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Dr. Stephen Hahn, the US Food and Drug Administration's commissioner, speaks as President Donald Trump listens during a briefing on the novel coronavirus at the White House on April 21.
Dr. Stephen Hahn, the US Food and Drug Administration's commissioner, speaks as President Donald Trump listens during a briefing on the novel coronavirus at the White House on April 21. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Stephen Hahn, the US Food and Drug Administration's commissioner, said "it's certainly a possibility" there will be a second wave of coronavirus next winter. 

Appearing this morning on "CBS This Morning," Hahn responded to remarks made by Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said the there could be a second, possibly worse coronavirus outbreak this winter.

"The whole task force set of doctors is concerned about the second wave," Hahn told CBS. "That's why we have built into the plan the surveillance mechanisms to look for the respiratory illnesses and then to do the appropriate testing at that time." 

Hahn added surveillance and testing will be "a critical part of the reopening plan to allow us to move forward." 

8:11 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

How the relief bill deals with Covid-19 testing

From CNN's Manu Raju and Clare Foran

A woman's blood is collected for testing of coronavirus antibodies at a drive-thru testing site in Hempstead, New York, on April 14.
A woman's blood is collected for testing of coronavirus antibodies at a drive-thru testing site in Hempstead, New York, on April 14. Seth Wenig/AP

A section-by-section analysis of the relief package says that the $25 billion amount for testing will go toward "necessary expenses to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests."

Of the total amount dedicated to testing, there will be $11 billion given to states and localities "to develop, purchase, administer, process and analyze COVID-19 tests." The rest of the money will be given to other entities, including federal agencies, to invest in promising new technologies and to distribute to labs.

According to the analysis, the bill "requires (a) strategic plan to related to providing assistance to states for testing and increasing testing capacity" and it requires a plan for states and localities on how the money will be used for testing.

This language had been a big sticking point in negotiations over a deal as President Trump has pushed for states to be responsible for expanding testing capacity while as Democrats had pushed for the federal government to take on a larger role in it.