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Coronavirus pandemic in the US

Pandemic experts issue sobering warning about future
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Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in the US has ended for the day. Follow the latest developments from around the globe here.

West Virginia governor on reopening: "If need be, I'll close it back down"

Gov. Jim Justice speaks during a rally in Huntington, West Virginia on August 3, 2017.

As West Virginia prepares to implement their safer-at-home order beginning May 4, Gov. Jim Justice said he is prepared to close the state back down if necessary. 

“I hope and pray we don’t have to go this far, but if need be, I’ll close it back down. That’s just all there is to it. Because if in fact this thing turns the wrong way, I’m going to react,” Justice said. 

The safer-at-home order strongly encourages all West Virginians to remain at home but no longer orders them to do so.

He said additional guidelines for 11 hotspot counties will be released over the weekend.  

As of today, West Virginia has finished testing in all 123 nursing home facilities in the state.

More than 1,000 officers will enforce social distancing in New York this weekend

An NYPD officer walks along a sparsely populated Wall Street in New York City, NY on May 1.

The New York Police Department will have more than 1,000 police officers on foot, bikes and in vehicles to enforce social distancing during the weekend.

The NYPD said the officers will also educate the public about proper social distancing procedures, “so we can all help stop the spread of the coronavirus and keep all New Yorkers safe and healthy.”

Temperatures could reach 72 degrees in New York City on Saturday and 78 degrees on Sunday.

Miami-Dade mayor: There will be zero tolerance for people who don't practice social distancing

Carlos Gimenez, mayor of Miami-Dade County, speaks during a news conference in Miami, Florida on April 27.

There will be zero tolerance for people who do not practice social distancing or for those who do not wear masks at our parks and golf courses, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said during a news conference on Friday. 

Parks, boating and waterways, and golf courses are open to the public for limited use by individuals and families as long as they follow current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Florida Department of Health, according to the Miami-Dade County’s website.

Gimenez said it will not be “business as usual.” He said gatherings of 10 or more people will be prohibited and face coverings will be required in most cases. Boats must remain 50 feet apart.

“There is light at the end of this Covid-19 tunnel, working differently and that’s why this is a new normal working groups are focused on,” Gimenez said. 

Some background: Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties are not participating in the first phase of Florida’s reopening, which begins Monday. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said certain businesses throughout much of the state will reopen.

He said restaurants and retail spaces could let customers inside, but only at 25% capacity, and people must adhere to social distancing guidelines from the CDC.

Denver issues order requiring people wear face masks

The city and county of Denver issued a public health order requiring people wear face coverings starting May 6, according to a statement released Friday.

They would be required to wear face coverings in certain public settings until further notice to reduce the spread of Covid-19, the statement said. 

“Residents and employees will be required to wear face coverings while inside of, or waiting in line to enter, certain businesses, facilities or locations — such as any retail or commercial business, at a bus stop or facilities offering health care services,” the statement said.

Thousands protest in Huntington Beach following governor’s order closing beaches

Thousands of people gather at the corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway to protest coronavirus (COVID-19) closures in Huntington Beach, California on May 1.

Thousands of demonstrators took part in a protest in Huntington Beach against California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order to close all beaches in Orange County, the city’s Police Chief Robert Handy said.

He said the crowd was peaceful for the most part and no arrests were made. 

Enforcement was light because officers did not have enough signage for a full beach closure when the governor’s order went into effect today, the police chief said.

Once all the signage is in place, police will proceed with enforcement, Handy said. They will issue misdemeanor citations and make arrests if necessary, he added.

DHS coronavirus study on heat and light undergoing peer review process 

William Bryan, head of science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security speaks during the daily briefing of the coronavirus task force at the White House in Washington, DC on April 23.

The Department of Homeland Security study on the effects of heat and sunlight on the coronavirus is undergoing the process for peer review and publication in scientific journals, according to the department. 

There is no written report as yet, although the results are being submitted for peer review and publication in scientific journals, a DHS spokesperson told CNN. 

DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate has been studying the impacts of environmental conditions on the coronavirus, particularly the impacts of temperature, humidity, and sunlight on the virus.

The study came under increased scrutiny after President Trump suggested last week during a press briefing that the virus could be treated with sunlight, as well as whether disinfectants could be used to treat the virus in humans. 

During last week’s briefing, William Bryan, acting DHS Science and Technology under secretary, discussed the experiments in which, he said, disinfectants like bleach and isopropyl alcohol quickly killed the virus. Trump then mused about whether disinfectants could be used to treat the virus in humans.

When asked why the department released the results before the final study, a spokesperson said, “We felt it important to share information on the emerging trends that are being identified in our tests,” saying that the results are still undergoing a “rigorous scientific review.”

Mississippi governor says he changed his mind on reopening after increase in coronavirus cases

Gov. Tate Reeves, speaks at a press conference at the Woolfolk Building in Jackson, Mississippi on March 3.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said today that he had planned to announce the reopening of certain businesses but decided against it after the state reported its largest increase new cases.

He said the number of cases increased after the state received new information on previous deaths and tests.

“This thing is not over, we are not out of the woods yet,” he said. “We have to stay flexible.”

Washington state governor to extend stay-at-home order to May 31

Gov. Jay Inslee at a press conference in Seattle, Washington on March 11.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said he will extend his stay-at-home order until May 31.

Inslee said the new executive order “will continue a ban on public gatherings.”

“Many businesses will have to remain closed and that is why I’m extending the order through May 31,” he said at his news conference.

Disaster experts urge governors not to reopen businesses yet

Dr. Irwin Redlener speaks during the Children's Health Fund Annual Benefit 2019 in New York City on June 05, 2019.

Governors who are easing restrictions on businesses and residents are risking the lives of citizens, disaster experts said Friday.

“You’re making a big mistake. It’s going to cost lives,” Dr. Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician and disaster preparedness specialist at Columbia University Medical Center, told CNN Friday.

Redlener and Joseph Fair, senior fellow in pandemic policy at Texas A&M University, warned in a report that no state or city should begin to reduce restrictions until coronavirus infections have been steadily decreasing for 10 days to two weeks, and not until enough tests are available to assess just how many people really are infected. So far, 31 states have announced plans or have started reducing restrictions imposed to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

Redlener said he sent the report on Friday to every governor, senator and member of Congress. 

“We clearly understand the need to reopen America’s businesses. People need the work and families desperately need the income and businesses need to survive. And people need to come out of isolation and resume the normal activities of social interactions, attending events and getting our children back to school,” Redlener wrote in a letter accompanying the report.

Testing is nowhere near where it should be, the report said.

“We do know that we are very far from doing enough diagnostic tests each week in the US,” Redlener and Fair write in the report. 

JBS USA and Tyson Foods agree to shut down plants in Kentucky temporarily for cleaning

Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky. on April 26.

JBS USA and Tyson Foods have agreed to do a temporary shutdown of its facilities in Kentucky for a thorough cleaning, Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday.

He said Purdue Farms has not been as “helpful and as responsive” on the issue.

“We can’t ask people to walk into a very dangerous situation, if we, and an employer aren’t doing everything they can to make it safe,” he said. “I continue to believe that if you have to shut down for three days, but it means that you can create a safer, healthier environment, that may keep you from having to shut down for multiple weeks or even a month.”

Trump says he's upset with Georgia governor's decision to open spas and tattoo parlors

Gov. Brian Kemp speaks to the media during a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on April 27.

President Trump said Friday he is generally supportive of Georgia’s reopening efforts, but said he is upset with Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to open spas and tattoo parlors before meeting federal guidelines on such businesses reopening.

“I think it’s wonderful. I want to see us open safely. But I didn’t like spas and tattoo parlors and I was not thrilled about that, but I said nothing about Georgia other than that,” Trump said.

Last week, Trump said, “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 has said that if he sees something “totally egregious” in terms of reopening states that he would step in but has not done so. 

Kemp’s decision has drawn criticism from public health experts who have repeatedly stressed the dangers of relaxing social distancing measures too early.

Georgia hit its projected peak for daily deaths on April 7, according to an influential model often cited by the White House. But that same model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, says that Georgia shouldn’t start relaxing social distancing until after June 15 — when the state should be able to begin considering other measures to contain the virus, such as contact tracing and isolation.

Orange County reports 22% increase in coronavirus cases amid protests to reopen beaches

The local health department in Orange County said there’s an increase in coronavirus cases amid protests from residents to reopen the beaches.

OC Health Care Agency said there were 163 new cases confirmed in Orange County Friday, which is 22% higher that the previously recorded high for one day – 133 cases announced Thursday.

The news comes after hundreds of demonstrators gathered Friday in Huntington Beach, California, where, despite recommendations from public health officials that people socially distance, large crowds were packed shoulder-to-shoulder near the popular Huntington Beach Pier.

Most were not wearing masks.  

White House blocking Fauci from testifying next week

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attends a Coronavirus Task Force news conference at the White House in Washington, DC on Friday, April 10.

House Appropriations Committee spokesman Evan Hollander tells CNN that the White House is blocking Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, from testifying on the Hill next week.

“The Appropriations Committee sought Dr. Anthony Fauci as a witness at next week’s Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee hearing on COVID-19 response. We have been informed by an administration official that the White House has blocked Dr. Fauci from testifying,” Hollander said in a statement.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere confirmed the decision.

“While the Trump Administration continues its whole-of-government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at Congressional hearings. We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time,” Deere said in a statement.

New Jersey governor signs executive order to allows virtual weddings

Gov. Phil Murphy speaking at a Coronavirus press briefing in Trenton, New Jersey on April 3.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order to allow couples to get married using video-conferencing technology.

The order amends the in-person requirements for couples to obtain a marriage license.

The order still requires that a marriage or civil union be solemnized in the physical presence of an officiant and two witnesses, but it can be satisfied through the use of live audio-visual technology, according to a statement.

The order will take effect Monday, May 4.

Trump says he's hoping the US will "come in below that 100,000 lives lost" projection

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he departs the White House in Washington DC, on May 1.

President Trump discussed the projected number of deaths from coronavirus saying that “hopefully we are going to come in below that 100,000 lives lost.”

Trump said Friday that thanks to the steps Americans have taken as part of the 30 days to slow the spread guidelines, “we have saved thousands of thousands of lives. I can even make that if you want, hundreds of thousands of lives.”

Trump said that the 100,000 number is a “horrible number nevertheless,” and added that coronavirus “should have been stopped at the source, but it wasn’t.”

The 100,000 predicted deaths is a higher number than Trump has used in recent weeks, he had been predicting a high of 50 to 60,000 or even 70,000 people dying from the virus.

NBA postpones 2020 Draft Lottery and Draft Combine

The National Basketball Association said this year’s Draft Lottery and Draft Combine has been postponed due to concerns associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Draft Lottery was scheduled for May 19, and May 21–24 for the combine. Both events were set to be held in Chicago. 

The 2020 NBA Draft is still set for June 25. The NBA season was suspended on Wednesday, March 11.

New Hampshire governor says partial reopening can begin this month

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said elective surgeries can start Monday as part of a “stay-at-home 2.0” order that will be in effect through May 31.

He said public campgrounds can be used and interior parks will open, but seacoast beaches will remain closed.

“You are healthier at home, we want you to stay at home,” he said Friday.

People can begin golfing again, and barbers and hair salons can open on May 11, he said. He added customers and employees must wear face masks.

Retail shops will also be allowed to open to customers on May 11, with limited occupancy. Employees must wear personal protective equipment. 

Restaurants can open on May 18, but only with outdoor seating options. Tables must be 6 feet apart and only six people will be allowed per table.

Houses of worship in Tennessee can reopen with limited capacity, governor says

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on April 30.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said houses of worships can reopen with limited capacity.

People were encouraged to wear face masks.

His guidance also suggested a phased approach to resuming worship gatherings among vulnerable populations, according to a statement from his office.

Services should be limited to 50% of maximum capacity with increased social distancing between families, the statement said.

People who may be symptomatic or in close contact with someone who is should stay home, according to the statement.

South Carolina governor to lift "work-or-home" order next week

Gov. Henry McMaster speaks with reporters after the first meeting of accelerateSC, his advisory group about reopening the state economy, in Columbia, South Carolina on April 23.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said the state’s “work-or-home” order that was set to expire May 14 will be lifted May 4, according to a statement from his office.

Outdoor dining service can resume May 4 as well, according to the statement.

McMaster also lifted the executive order that required people entering the state from coronavirus hotspots to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Miami Beach issues more than 1,500 warnings for violating reopening rules

A Miami Beach Fire Rescue vehicle drives onto the beach in South Pointe in Miami Beach, Florida on April 29.

More than 1,500 warnings have been issued to park visitors for violating reopening rules, according to the Miami Beach Police Department.

Miami Beach park rangers issued 899 verbal warnings to park visitors not wearing face coverings on Thursday, the police department said.

Park rangers also issued verbal warnings to 10 people for failing to social distance as well as 76 people being asked to leave the parks after closing time.

Miami Beach reopened parks on Wednesday with some restrictions, including face coverings and social distancing.

Park rangers issued 652 warnings on Wednesday to people not wearing masks and 23 warnings to people not social distancing.

Central Park field hospital will stop admitting new patients on May 4

A medical worker at the field hospital run by Samaritan's Purse and Mount Sinai Health System in Central Park on April 21 in New York City.

A field hospital in Central Park will stop admitting new coronavirus patients, Mount Sinai Health System announced Friday.

“As of May 4, Samaritan’s Purse and Mount Sinai Health System have agreed to stop admitting new patients to the Central Park field hospital,” Samaritan’s Purse spokesperson Melissa Nystrom told CNN.

Nystrom said she anticipates the medical team at the field hospital will continue to treat patients for approximately two weeks.

The hospital opened to treat overflow coronavirus parents coming from the Mount Sinai Health System in New York.

CDC official tells lawmakers about health concerns at food processing facilities

On a conference call with lawmakers this afternoon, Jennifer McQuiston, a top official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that there have been 115 meat and processing facilities reporting Covid-19 cases in 23 states.

Roughly 3% of the workforce has been diagnosed with Covid-19, or 4,900 workers, and there have been 20 deaths, sources on the call tell CNN. 

McQuiston said that food processing facilities, along with the homeless and long-term care facilities, remain lingering concerns as they try to control the spread of the disease.

She said overall there have been 30,144 cases in the last 24 hours in the United States — and that roughly 319 people out of 100,000 in the country have contracted the disease.

Also, on the call, federal officials said said they were working with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to implement President Trump’s executive order to get the food processing plants reopened. They are also working with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to make sure that employees are working in a safe environment so they can reopen as quickly as they can.

Tennessee governor orders mass testing in state prisons

Trousdale Turner Correctional Center is shown in Hartsville, Tennessee on May 24, 2016.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is ordering mass testing at all state prisons after 1,246 cases were reported at Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility.

Lee said of the 1,246 cases, 22 are staff and the rest are inmates.

Ninety percent of the Trousdale prison cases are asymptomatic, the governor added.