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Coronavirus pandemic in the US
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, said he wants to reopen the state in three phases beginning May 8.
The governor's office broke down the phases into three colors: red, yellow and green:
- The red phase, which currently applies to the whole state, has the sole purpose of minimizing the spread of Covid-19 through strict social distancing, non-life sustaining business and school closures, and building safety protocols.
- As regions or counties move into the yellow phase, some restrictions on work and social interaction will ease while others, such as closures of schools, gyms, and other indoor recreation centers, as well as limitations around large gatherings, remain in place. The purpose of this phase is to begin to power back up the economy while keeping a close eye on the public health data to ensure the spread of disease remains contained to the greatest extent possible.
- The green phase eases most restrictions by lifting the stay-at-home and business closure orders to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health. While this phase will facilitate a return to a “new normal,” it will be equally important to continue to monitor public health indicators and adjust orders and restrictions as necessary to ensure the spread of disease remains at a minimum.
By the numbers: Pennsylvania has a total of 35,684 Covid-19 cases and 1,622 deaths, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said during a news conference today.
The state will not allow people to completely go back to work until there are less than 50 cases per 100,000 people for 14 days, the governor said.
Seven additional big cats at New York's Bronx Zoo have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the non-profit organization that runs the zoo.
That makes a total of eight big cats who contracted coronavirus at the famed zoo in New York City.
Some context: Three tigers and three African lions exhibited symptoms in early April when the zoo announced a 4-year-old Malayan tiger, named Nadia, tested positive for the virus. Testing on these six cats now confirm they have Covid-19. One more tiger also tested positive despite showing no symptoms.
The zoo says all eight animals are behaving normally and eating well.
The cats were infected by a staff
Preventive measure are now in place for all staff who are caring for cats in the four zoos run by the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. They include the Bronx Zoo, the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn and the Queens Zoo.
The zoos have been closed since March 16.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp responded on Twitter to President Trump's comments that he disagreed “strongly” with the decision to reopen some businesses in the state.
"Just like the thousands of businesses currently operating throughout Georgia, I am confident that business owners who decide to reopen will adhere to Minimum Basic Operations, which prioritize the health and well-being of employees and customers," Kemp tweeted.
More on this: Trump, speaking at the coronavirus press briefing, said he thought it was "too soon" to reopen certain businesses in Georgia
"I told the governor of Georgia Brian Kemp that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities, which are in violation of the phase one guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia," Trump said during his coronavirus task force briefing this afternoon.
The largest union representing Las Vegas casino workers is condemning the mayor’s call for those businesses to reopen immediately.
“The mayor’s statements are outrageous considering essential frontline workers have been dealing with the consequences of this crisis firsthand," Geoconda Argüello-Kline, who is with the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, said in a written statement.
Some context: Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said on CNN today that businesses — including casinos — should reopen, but offered no guidance on how to do it safely.
“They better figure it out. That’s their job,” Goodman said. “That’s not the mayor’s job.”
The Culinary Union says it supports Gov. Steve Sisolak’s decision to keep casinos closed, adding, “The Culinary Union is majority women and people of color, and we are not expendable.”
Goodman does not have jurisdiction over the major casinos on The Strip, which are located outside of the Las Vegas city limits and are governed by Clark County.
Commissioner Michael Naft wrote on Twitter that “[Mayor Goodman’s] defiance of Gov. Sisolak’s stay-at-home order is reckless and dangerous.”
The Nevada Gaming Control Board says it is not yet safe for the state’s casinos to reopen.
“According to Governor Sisolak’s medical advisory team, the data related to the spread of COVID-19 does not support the reopening of gaming establishments in Nevada at this time,” the board says in a written statement.
President Trump said Wednesday that he would be tasking an existing White House council, led by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, with determining how to assist minority communities impacted by coronavirus.
“I’m directing the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council led by Sec. Ben Carson to focus its effort on supporting underserved communities impacted by the coronavirus,” Trump said during a press briefing at the White House.
The President also said he would be asking South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott to assist in the effort.
“The council will seek input from the private sector and community leaders on how we can best support minority and distressed communities," Trump said.
According to an executive order establishing the council, it was originally created “ to carry out my Administration’s plan to encourage public and private investment in urban and economically distressed areas, including qualified opportunity zones.”
Fourth of July celebrations will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this year, President Trump announced today at his coronavirus briefing.
“On July 4th, we’ll be doing what we had on the mall, as you know. We’re going to be doing it. Last year was a tremendous success,” he said.
Last year, Trump held a Fourth of July celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in what was called a “Salute to America.” The event included remarks from the President, military tank displays, music from military bands and military flyovers.
Trump said that attendance for the Washington event will likely be limited to “25% of what we had last year.”
“This year, most likely, we’ll be standing 6 feet apart,” he added.
The President also compared his Fourth of July celebration turnout at the Lincoln Memorial with Martin Luther King Jr.’s.
“I saw a magnificent picture of Dr. Martin Luther King and I saw a magnificent picture of our event last year and both of them were maxed out. It was beautiful to see. Beautiful — very similar,” Trump said.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci championed the mitigation efforts implemented across the US and considers them the "basis for our being able to say that we can now think seriously about reopening America."
Fauci's comments come after numerous states, including Georgia and Tennessee, have said they would reopen parts of their economies soon.
"So what has happened is that the mitigation that we put in with the first 15 days and then the 30-day mitigation program of physical distancing worked. So it got us to where we are today. It is a successful formula. It is the basis for our being able to say that we can now think seriously about reopening America," Fauci said at the White House's coronavirus task force briefing today.
Fauci concluded his remarks with a request for lawmakers around the country to be careful to avoid a "rebound" of coronavirus cases.
"I plead with the American public, with the governors, with the mayors for the people with the responsibility, although I know one has the lead to leapfrog over things, don't do that. Do it in a measured way. This is a successful formula. The problem is if we don't do that, there is a likelihood that we'll have a rebound. And the one way not to reopen the economy is to have a rebound that we can't take care of," he said.
See Dr. Fauci's message here:
CNN’s Anderson Cooper clashed with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman this afternoon in a must-see interview.
Watch it in full here: