Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 9:02 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020
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6:02 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Here's what Trump said about the coronavirus task force winding down

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

President Trump sidestepped a question from CNN today on whether it was the right time to wind down the coronavirus task force.

Trump said that the country was looking towards “other phases” and that the country is starting to open up.

“I think we’re looking at phase two and we’re looking at other phases. The country is starting to open up, the task force has done a phenomenal job,” Trump said. 

When pressed if Trump needed to continue to meet with the task force in order to get scientific expertise, Trump said that he thinks that there will be “a different group” that is working towards “safety and opening.”

“I think as far as the task force, Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job, but we’re now looking at a little bit of a different form and that form is safety and opening and we’ll have a different group probably set up for that,” Trump said. 

Trump said that Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx and “other experts in the field” will still be involved even after the task force ends. 

Watch here:

5:21 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Amazon warehouse worker dies of Covid-19

From CNN’s Sara Ashley O’Brien, Brian Fung and Richard Davis

A warehouse worker at Amazon’s Staten Island fulfillment center has died of coronavirus, according to Amazon spokesperson Kristen Kish.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of an associate at our site in Staten Island, NY. His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues,” Kish said.

According to the e-commerce giant, the employee was last on site on April 5 and was diagnosed with Covid-19 on April 11.

The company believes that each Covid-19 case at the Staten Island fulfillment center are individual cases and not linked.

The employee was not contact traced to other employees, the company said.

In March, Amazon terminated an employee based in the company's Staten Island, New York, warehouse after he participated in a worker walkout protesting the company's response to the novel coronavirus. Amazon said the employee, Chris Smalls, was terminated for violating a quarantine.

The company has previously confirmed two other Covid-19 related deaths of workers employed at its US warehouses to CNN Business; this is the first confirmed Covid-19 related death at the Staten Island facility.

5:26 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Northern California mayor pushes back on criticism for reopening salons and restaurants

From CNN’s Dan Simon

Mayor Shon Harris
Mayor Shon Harris CNN

Yuba City, California, Mayor Shon Harris is pushing back against criticism from Gov. Gavin Newsom that a reopening of salons and dine-in restaurants is putting the community at risk.

"If you take proper precautions, you’re not putting anyone at risk,” said Harris who cited his community’s low number of cases as a rationale for the reopening.

Yuba and Sutter counties have had a total of 50 Covid-19 cases.

With a population of 66,000, Yuba City is the largest city in the three counties that have begun to lift restrictions.

Newsom has repeatedly stressed that reopening communities will be done based on data.  

“Well, that’s what we’re doing,” said Harris, a fellow Democrat.

Yuba-Sutter issued an order last week that allowed for many businesses to reopen beginning Monday, including restaurants, salons, spas, tattoo parlors, shopping malls and gyms.

“Higher risk” businesses including bars and theaters will remain closed.

Harris said the reopening is going “extremely well and that I’ve gotten a lot of positive comments.” 

5:16 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Hy-Vee to limit meat purchases at all 265 stores across the Midwest

From CNN's Dianne Gallagher

Hy-Vee is the latest grocery store to announce a limit on meat purchases at all of its locations.

Effective today, shoppers who visit the Midwestern grocery chain will be limited to four packages or a combination of fresh beef, ground beef, pork and chicken.  

"We have product available at our stores but due to worker shortages at plants as well as an increase in meat sales, customers may not find the specific items they are looking for. Because of this, we are going to put a limit on customer purchases in the meat department," the grocery store said in a statement.

Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 265 retail stores across eight Midwestern states.

5:14 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Federal judge dismisses workers case against Smithfield Foods plant in Missouri

From CNN’s Dan Shepherd

The US District Court in the Western District of Missouri dismissed the Rural Community Workers Alliance case against Smithfield Foods and their pork plant in Milan, Missouri.

District Judge Gregory Kays said that the RCWA and worker “Jane Doe” did not present enough evidence to make their case of an unsafe working environment.  

The court also said that it put much more weight on Smithfield’s claims of maintaining a safe work environment by following guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and making multiple changes to the plant and the worker's work spaces, while also providing evidentiary proof and witness testimony directly related to those changes.

Some of those changes included: Thermal temperature screening, paid leave for symptomatic employees, on-site nurses and health/safety officers, 6-feet spacing on the production line, a slowed production line and providing masks for the workers, among many other changes. 

The judge found that “Smithfield policies and procedures are reasonable under the circumstances.”

5:11 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Montana taking applications for coronavirus emergency grants

From CNN's Andy Rose

Montana Public Affairs Network
Montana Public Affairs Network

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced today that the state will soon accept applications for emergency grants for people affected by the coronavirus economic shutdown. 

That includes businesses, people out of work and those with health needs. 

The application will open on May 7 and the money will come from funding provided by the federal CARES Act. 

Montana is getting the minimum amount for a state – $1.25 billion – although its small population means that it is receiving more federal funding per capita than many states.

5:05 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Ex-Rep. Duncan Hunter's sentence likely delayed

From CNN's Dan Berman

Hunter walks into Federal Courthouse on December 3, 2019 in San Diego, California.
Hunter walks into Federal Courthouse on December 3, 2019 in San Diego, California. Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images/FILE

The Justice Department and attorneys for former Rep. Duncan Hunter have agreed to postpone the California Republican’s federal prison sentence until early next year due to effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a court filing Tuesday, both sides ask a federal judge to agree to the delay until January 4, 2021. Hunter was set to begin his sentence later this month.

Some background: Hunter pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds and was sentenced to 11 months in prison and three years of parole for corruption charges stemming from his misuse of more than $200,000 in campaign funds for a slew of personal expenses.

“The parties submit this extension is appropriate due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the unknown impacts the disease will have in the coming months,” the filing states.

5:03 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Ocean City to reopen its beach and boardwalk this weekend

From CNN’s Dave Alsup and Rebekah Riess

The Ocean City parking lot and beaches sit eerily quiet on Tuesday, May 5, in Ocean City, Maryland.
The Ocean City parking lot and beaches sit eerily quiet on Tuesday, May 5, in Ocean City, Maryland. John Middlebrook/CSM/Sipa USA

Ocean City, Maryland, Mayor Rick Meehan announced yesterday the city's beach and boardwalk will be allowed to reopen on May 9.

According to the city, this measure is a way to give people more opportunities to “get outside, exercise and enjoy fresh air, while still adhering to physical distancing guidelines and gathering limits.”

The mayor’s action will not supersede any executive order made by Gov. Larry Hogan, including the closure of nonessential businesses, the city said.

Maryland’s stay-at-home order still remains in effect, with no end date issued.

4:57 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Louisiana businesses cited for not complying with local government orders

From CNN's Kay Jones

Two businesses in Louisiana were cited after not complying with government safety orders.

The Lafayette Consolidated Government reported on Tuesday that the businesses were not compliant with the parish's safe shop guidelines and the governor's orders on business operations, according to a spokesperson.

A nail salon was investigated on April 28 for being open and was determined to be in violation. A cease and desist order was issued to the salon. 

A separate complaint against Hobby Lobby on May 1 said the store was not enforcing the social distancing order of six feet for the check out line, according to the spokesperson.

After an investigation confirmed that the store was not in compliance, the manager agreed to limit the capacity of the store and place markers on the floor to indicate the social distancing measures.

About the policy: Lafayette's Mayor-President Joshua Gillory's safe shop policy gives guidance to businesses "not deemed essential or prohibited by the Governor's existing orders".

Some of the guidelines include all employees must wear a mask, customers must maintain a minimum of six feet of distance when shopping or standing in line and no loitering or congregating in groups in or near businesses is allowed. 

The policy from Gov. John Bel Edwards was issued on March 22 and closed all personal care and grooming businesses, including nail salons. The state remains under a stay home order through May 15, although the governor did relax some business restrictions starting May 1.