Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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8:56 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Task force members had to convince Trump to change his view on Georgia reopening, source says

From CNN's Jim Acosta

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listen during a coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 9.
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listen during a coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 9. Andrew Harnik/AP

Members of the coronavirus task force had to convince President Trump to change his view on Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen businesses in his state later this week, a source close to the task force told CNN.

At a meeting just prior to yesterday's coronavirus task force briefing, task force members were discussing the likelihood that some of the doctors on the panel would be asked by reporters about Kemp’s controversial move to open up many businesses in Georgia, like nail salons and bowling alleys, the source added.

During the meeting, Dr. Anthony Fauci and others on the task force noted there would be a glaring inconsistency if the scientists were not in agreement with Trump on the Georgia issue during the press conference.  

“I cannot defend this publicly,” Fauci said to others at the meeting, according to the source. Members of the group agreed it was necessary to attempt to change Trump’s mind on the subject.

Members of the task force then asked Dr. Deborah Birx, the panel’s coordinator, to try to convince Trump during a more private meeting she had with the President just prior to the news conference.

To the relief of other members of the task force, Trump went on to say he disagreed with Kemp’s decision.

The scientists on the task force, however, were not in agreement with Trump on CDC Director Robert Redfield’s interview in the Washington Post, in which he warned of the difficulties of a second wave of the coronavirus during the cold and flu season. That could not be avoided, the source said.

8:49 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

House will vote on $480 billion coronavirus relief package today

From CNN's Clare Foran and Haley Byrd

The US Capitol in Washington is seen from Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on April 22.
The US Capitol in Washington is seen from Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on April 22. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House of Representatives will vote on a roughly $480 billion coronavirus relief package later today.

The bill will deliver aid to small businesses and hospitals and expand Covid-19 testing.

The measure passed the Senate on Tuesday and will go to President Trump for his signature after it is approved by the House. Trump has expressed support for the legislation and indicated that he will sign it. 

What's in the bill: The total price tag of the bill is approximately $484 billion. It will add to the already historic levels of spending to deal with the pandemic by authorizing an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which was set up to help small businesses struggling from the economic deep freeze triggered by coronavirus.

In addition, the legislation provides $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers to address coronavirus expenses and lost revenue and $25 billion to facilitate and expand Covid-19 testing.

The House is expected to hold a recorded roll call vote on the package, forcing many lawmakers to return to Washington from their home states and districts during the pandemic. 

8:40 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

4.4 million filed for initial unemployment last week

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

A worker at a WIN job center in Pearl, Mississippi, holds an unemployment benefits application form as she waits for a client on April 21.
A worker at a WIN job center in Pearl, Mississippi, holds an unemployment benefits application form as she waits for a client on April 21. Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Another 4.4 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ended April 18.

In total, 26.5 million people have filed first-time claims since mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic is forcing businesses to close and lay off workers.

8:31 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

It's morning on the East Coast. Here are the latest coronavirus updates.

It's Thursday morning in the US. Here's what you need to know about what's going on across the country:

  • US stops some immigration: President Trump signed an executive order temporarily halting immigration for green card seekers.
  • Director of key federal vaccine agency is out: The director of the office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine was abruptly dismissed from his post. He said the dismissal was in part because he resisted efforts to widen the availability of a coronavirus treatment pushed by President Trump.
  • The latest model on reopening: A coronavirus model routinely cited by the White House now warns that no state should be opening before May 1. About half the states in the country should remain closed until May 25 or later.
  • Tomorrow in Georgia: Some Georgia businesses are set to reopen tomorrow. Trump called the state's governor on Tuesday and expressed support for the plan, a source familiar with the call said. The President later said the opposite — that he told Kemp he disagreed "strongly" with the decision.
8:37 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

At least 10% of US pork production is offline

From CNN's Dianne Gallagher and Pamela Kirkland

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

Concerns about the vulnerability of the US food supply chain — and the safety of the workers who keep it going — continue to grow.  

At least 10% of the country’s pork production is offline right now. That number could rise this week with additional outbreaks. And while federal officials have said the food supply overall is fine, these shutdowns could cause lags or interruptions in the food chain.

We have seen six closed plants re-open this week, and expect to likely see more. Meanwhile, two small cities won their battles to convince Tyson to shut down plants in their communities. 

Workers and unions continue to raise concerns about conditions in the plants — staffed largely by minority and immigrant workers — with people working shoulder-to-shoulder for long hours, raising concerns these numbers are likely to increase. 

7:09 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Director of federal vaccine agency says his dismissal was in retaliation

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Jeremy Diamond and Betsy Klein

The director of the office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine says he was abruptly dismissed from his post in part because he resisted efforts to widen the availability of a coronavirus treatment pushed by President Trump.

Dr. Rick Bright had led BARDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, since 2016 until Tuesday, when was reassigned to a narrower position. He also announced he will file a whistleblower complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) inspector general.

"I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit," Bright said in a lengthy statement issued Wednesday. "I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way."

He cited "clashes with political leadership" as a reason for his sidelining, as well as his resistance to "efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections."

7:08 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Trump signs executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the US

President Donald Trump speaks during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 22.
President Donald Trump speaks during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 22. Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump said Wednesday that he has signed an executive order halting immigration. 

“I’ve just signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the United States. This order will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens,” Trump said Wednesday afternoon. “Crucially, we’ll also preserve our healthcare resources for American patients. We have to take care of our patients, we have to take care of our great American workers. And that’s what we’re doing.”

Trump said he signed the order “just before” the briefing Wednesday evening. 

The executive order will apply for the next 60 days. 

“As to amending it or extending it, that we can do at the appropriate time,” he said.

7:06 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Las Vegas mayor declines to give businesses social distancing guidelines for reopening

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman speaks at Las Vegas City Hall in Nevada on October 7, 2017.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman speaks at Las Vegas City Hall in Nevada on October 7, 2017. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman on Wednesday repeatedly called for the city's businesses to reopen while refusing to provide any social distancing guidelines on how to do so safely.

"I am not a private owner. That's the competition in this country. The free enterprise and to be able to make sure that what you offer the public meets the needs of the public," Goodman, an independent, told CNN. "Right now, we're in a crisis health-wise, and so for a restaurant to be open or a small boutique to be open, they better figure it out. That's their job. That's not the mayor's job."

Goodman, an independent, does not have the power to order Las Vegas' casinos to reopen and the state's Gaming Control Board will ultimately sign off on a plan to have the iconic Sin City businesses open their doors again.

Democratic Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said on Tuesday that casino owners are working together on coming up with a plan on how to protect their customers when they eventually do open.

Some context: The state plans to follow the federal government's guidelines on reopening the economy from stay-at-home orders, a crucial part of which is declining reports of new cases for 14 consecutive days. Sisolak described the state as being in "phase zero" on Tuesday and he did not give a date on when to expect reopenings to begin.