Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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2:28 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Abbott testing system has a 15% false negative rate, NIH director says

From CNN's Amanda Watts 

A lab technician dips a sample into the Abbott Laboratories ID Now testing machine at the Detroit Health Center in Detroit, on April 10.
A lab technician dips a sample into the Abbott Laboratories ID Now testing machine at the Detroit Health Center in Detroit, on April 10. Carlos Osorio/AP/FILE

 

Dr. Francis Collins, director for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said the Abbott ID Now machine, which is used to perform rapid coronavirus tests, has “about a 15% false negative rate.”

Speaking to the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee, Collins said there are about 18,000 of the machines out there right now, performing tests, which have results in roughly 15 minutes. 

“If you're in a circumstance where you really really don't want to miss a diagnosis of somebody who's already carrying the virus, you'd like to have something that has a higher sensitivity than that. And I know they're working on how to make that happen,” Collins said.

“It's certainly one of the most exciting things we've got right now, but we think we could even do better,” he said.

“I would say if we have a new technology that would give a twofer where you could get both a virus test and an antibody test at the same time for a really good price -- that might be something we'd be pretty interested in,” Collins said.

As part of the 21st Century Cures Act, the All of Us Research Program is hoping to do antibody survey of a million people. “We're already up to over 300,000 that have signed up, and those individuals answer lots of questions, their electronic health records are available for researchers to look at. And after they'd been anonymized, they get blood samples, over the course of time," Collins said.

 

2:18 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Pennsylvania extends eviction protections until July 10

From CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Thursday an Executive Order that protects Pennsylvanians from foreclosures and evictions through July 10.

This action builds on the state’s Supreme Court order that closed court eviction proceedings until May 11, and ensures no renter or homeowner will be removed from their home for 60 more days.

2:55 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

How the White House became ground zero for the face mask culture war

From CNN's Kevin Liptak, Jim Acosta and Betsy Klein

President Donald Trump watches as US Surgeon General Jerome Adams holds up his face mask as he speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 22.
President Donald Trump watches as US Surgeon General Jerome Adams holds up his face mask as he speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 22. Alex Brandon/AP/FILE

The White House has emerged as ground zero in the cultural battle over whether to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

President Trump won't wear one in public, at least in front of cameras. His aides in the West Wing remove them before walking inside. Vice President Mike Pence violated a hospital's rules by visiting without one last week, only to say later he should have tied one on.

On Thursday, the White House confirmed one of the President's staffers — a US military member responsible for attending to his personal needs in the Oval Office — had tested positive for coronavirus. Like others inside the building, valets haven't been wearing masks at work as they go about their jobs serving the President and his family.

The development angered Trump and led to a renewed round of testing for him and Pence. But it did not appear likely to change the unwritten code inside the White House against wearing masks, despite recommendations from Trump's own administration on wearing face coverings where social distancing is difficult.

"He's a unique individual," one White House official said. "He can't be seen walking around wearing a mask."

Like other recommendations issued by the White House on social distancing and reopening states, the guidance from the federal government on wearing masks is not compulsory. And like those recommendations, Trump has shown passing interest in following them himself.

Administration aides have said the regular testing administered to Trump and those who come into close proximity to him negates the need to wear a mask at all times. They have also cited temperature checks provided to anyone entering the White House complex.

But temperature checks wouldn't screen out asymptomatic individuals. The rapid test used by the White House's medical officers isn't foolproof. And only those who interact directly with Trump or Pence is tested, excluding others who work at a further distance from the two men.

Privately, Trump has questioned whether he should ever be seen wearing a mask in public, concerned it might contradict his public message that the virus is waning and the country is ready to reopen. He has shown little interest in wearing one as an example to the country, even though many people are now required to wear masks to enter grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses.

Read more about this here.

See how a mask affects how a cough travels:

1:47 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Consumer spending collapses in April

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

 Customers shop at a shopping mall in Frisco, Texas, on Tuesday, May 5. The shopping mall reopened with shortened business hours on Tuesday.
 Customers shop at a shopping mall in Frisco, Texas, on Tuesday, May 5. The shopping mall reopened with shortened business hours on Tuesday. Dan Tian/Xinhua via Getty Images

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York's quarterly household spending survey found that people across the income spectrum reeled back their spending over the past several months.

The country-wide lockdown to prevent further coronavirus infections began in March and was in full force in April with many workers working remotely. On top of that, businesses closed and laid off employees

All of this explains a decrease in consumer spending, which is the backbone of the US economy.

A quarter of survey respondents said their spending had reduced by as much as 5% compared with a year ago.

Notably, the decline in spending growth was the steepest for high-income earners making more than $100,000 per year, as well as respondents below the age of 40.

Spending cuts on vacations and trips were by far the largest, with only 12.5% of respondents reporting any such spending over the past four months, the lowest point on record for that kind of spending.

Read more here on what economists are saying about how recovery might look.

1:29 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Economist says US unemployment levels won’t rebound until mid-decade

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi said there is a long road ahead for US unemployment, prior to tomorrow’s release of the federal government’s jobs report, which is expected to show unemployment rose to Great Depression-levels due to coronavirus.

Zandi expects the unemployment rate to hit “close to 20%,” and he notes that it could reach 25% for underemployed Americans, which are those on the “periphery of the labor market.” 

“It’s going to take several years to get those jobs back. Businesses will have to reform, because a lot of businesses are going to fail between now and then. And so it’s not really until mid-decade, with a little bit of luck, that we get back to the 3.5-4% unemployment we had before this,” Zandi said. 

“This is a process. This is not a V; this is a slog,” Zandi told CNN’s John King in an interview. 

Zandi said he expects an economic bounce close to Memorial Day, as job losses will abate a bit as state economies reopen. By Election Day, the unemployment rate could be 8-10%, he said. 

“At least half of the entire workforce have been affected in a negative way directly of what's going on here. That’s how broad and deep this is,” Zandi said. 

Watch more:

1:27 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

New Jersey reports at least 1,800 new cases of Covid-19

New Jersey reported 1,827 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 133,635.

The state continues to see the daily counts “leveling,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. The number of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 has dipped just below 5,000 – to 4,996. Murphy called the dip a “milestone” for the state.

There were 325 new hospitalizations on Wednesday and 460 patients discharged from hospitals. The number of new hospitalizations was higher in the central and southern portions of the state, and lower in the northern portion of the state, which had previously been a hotspot. 

There were 254 new deaths, Murphy said, bringing the statewide total to 8,801.

Murphy also announced Thursday that he has directed the New Jersey National Guard to deploy its members to long-term care facilities across the state to help back fill employees at these facilities. At least 120 soldiers will be in the first tranche of assistance, Murphy said, and it will begin this coming weekend “at the latest.”

1:21 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

NBA says facilities can open this Friday

From CNN's David Close

Exterior of the UCLA Health Training Center where the the Los Angeles Lakers practice seen on April 28, in El Segundo, California.
Exterior of the UCLA Health Training Center where the the Los Angeles Lakers practice seen on April 28, in El Segundo, California. Harry How/Getty Images

The NBA has informed all of its franchises that their facilities may open on Friday and be used on a voluntary basis by up to four individual players, as long as local or state guidelines are followed.

In a league-wide memo sent late Wednesday night, teams were told to designate up to six assistant coaches or player personnel who may supervise a player’s workout but that no more than four of those coaches or personnel may be in the facility at one time.

A source with knowledge of the memo shared some of its details. CNN has not seen the original memo. Team head coaches are not allowed to observe or take part in the workouts, according to the source. Team practices and scrimmages remain prohibited.

The Portland Trail Blazers have confirmed to CNN that their facility will be open on Friday for players to utilize.

1:06 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

It's Thursday in the US. Here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.

If you're just joining our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in the US, here are the key headlines today:

  • More than 73,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States: There are at least 1,231,992 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 73,573 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.
  • Another 3.2 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits: In total, more than 33.5 million people have filed first-time claims since mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic is forcing businesses to close and lay off workers. That represents 21% of the March labor force. 
  • One of Trump's personal valets tests positive for coronavirus: A member of the US Navy who serves as one of President Trump's personal valets has tested positive for coronavirus, CNN has learned Thursday, raising concerns about the President's possible exposure to the virus. Trump was upset when he was informed yesterday that the valet had tested positive, a source told CNN, and he was subsequently tested again by the White House physician.
  • What New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called "amazingly good news": Cuomo said 27,000 workers got antibody tests at 25 downstate health care facilities. The percent of health care workers in New York City and Westchester County who tested positive was actually about half of the general population, he said. In Long Island, the numbers were nearly the same. “That is amazingly good news,” Cuomo said. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced this morning that 140,000 New Yorkers will undergo antibody tests beginning next week.
3:02 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Texas governor modifies executive order after salon owner jailed for opening early

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that he has modified his Covid-19 executive order to "eliminate confinement as a punishment for violating the order" after a salon owner in Dallas was jailed for opening her business. 

“Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen,” Abbott said. 

Abbott said the modifications are retroactive to April 2, and supersede local orders. If “correctly applied” the order should free the salon owner, Abbott said. 

What this is about: Salon owner Shelley Luther was found in civil and criminal contempt of court Tuesday in Dallas for ignoring a temporary restraining order prohibiting her from operating her business, Salon A la Mode, according to a court document.

As a result, Dallas Civil District Judge Eric Moyé ordered Luther to seven days in jail and fined her $500 for every day the salon stayed open.

According to Abbott's orders, salons are allowed to open tomorrow, with restrictions: There can only be one customer per stylist and there must be six feet between stations. Masks are strongly recommended but aren't mandatory.

See Dallas salon owner's response for defying lockdown