Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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1:34 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

Rhode Island set to be first northeastern state to lift stay-at-home order, governor says

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, holding her mask in her left hand, speaks during a press conference in Providence, Rhode Island on April 14.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, holding her mask in her left hand, speaks during a press conference in Providence, Rhode Island on April 14. Barry Chin/The Boston Globe/Getty Imgaes

Rhode Island is set to become the first state in the northeastern United States to lift the stay-at-home order starting Saturday, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Friday.

“We will be the first in the northeast to lift the stay-at-home order ahead of Massachusetts and Connecticut… We are in a better position, so we can lift our restrictions a little sooner,” the governor told reporters in Providence.

Social gatherings will be limited to up to five people and retail stores can start opening again Saturday, Raimondo said, adding that she is planning executive order later Friday that will lay out the rules around phase one opening.

There were 249 new Covid-19 cases as well as 11 new deaths, according to the governor.

 

1:16 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

Palm Beach plans to reopen beaches to residents only on May 18

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt

Lake Worth Beach lifeguard captain Michael Tricarico, left and FWC officer Ryan Ames clear the beach on March 20 in Lake Worth, Florida.
Lake Worth Beach lifeguard captain Michael Tricarico, left and FWC officer Ryan Ames clear the beach on March 20 in Lake Worth, Florida. Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post/USA Today

Palm Beach County commissioners voted to reopen beaches to county residents only starting May 18.

The decision passed with a 4 to 3 vote during a special meeting Friday.

Until Friday, the counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach had been working on a coordinated effort to reopen beaches. This represents the first time one of those counties decided to reopen beaches on their own.

The meeting included a public comment period and a question and answer session with Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees.

Rivkees advised that Duval County reopened beaches about three weeks ago and did not see an increase in the number of cases.

He also recommended social distancing, only gatherings of 10 people or less, and that seniors refrain from going out in public.

1:08 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

Coronavirus antibody therapy could start clinical trials later this year, medical groups say

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

Mount Sinai Health System and Sorrento Therapeutics said Friday they are working together to develop an antibody cocktail they hope will protect people from Covid-19, and they expect to begin human trials in the third quarter of 2020.

The team of scientists has screened about 15,000 people who may have recovered from Covid-19 infections and will look for the most potent antibodies in the plasma of these recovered patients, which can then be cloned to make more.

How it works: Antibodies are proteins the body makes to naturally fight off an infection. Antibody cocktails can be given to a patient to fight an infection or to protect from an infection.

Sorrento said in a statement that each dose of this therapy will likely deliver a cocktail of three antibodies that would recognize three unique regions of the spike protein, the part of the coronavirus that can infect cells.

The goal would be to use this treatment to protect health care workers from infection and in patients who are considered vulnerable to more severe forms of the disease, and in people who have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, according to Sorrento.

Unlike with a vaccine or when the body creates antibodies naturally, these monoclonal antibodies only provide protection for a short time, so a treatment may need to be given more than once.

2:35 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

White House confirms Pence staffer has coronavirus

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed Friday that a member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This individual, there is a member of the vice president’s team who is positive for coronavirus,” McEnany said during Friday’s press briefing.

Asked how regular Americans can be expected to go back to work when even the White House, which has coronavirus detection equipment, isn’t safe, McEnany added, “We have put in place the guidelines that our experts have put forward to keep this building safe, which means contact tracing, all of the recommended guidelines we have for businesses who have essential workers we are now putting into place at the White House.”

Doctor reacts to White House staffers testing positive: 

1:15 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

White House on Trump's event with veterans in their 90s: "It was their choice to come"

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet veterans during a ceremony at the World War II Memorial to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, on May 8, in Washington.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet veterans during a ceremony at the World War II Memorial to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, on May 8, in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump this morning attended a World War II event with veterans in their 90s. He did not wear a mask.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was just asked if the President considered wearing a mask at the event, considering one of his personal valets tested positive for coronavirus recently.

McEnany said Trump is being tested for coronavirus frequently, and said the veterans attended the event by choice.

"I can tell you those veterans are protected," she said. "It was their choice to come here."

White House asked if Trump considered wearing a mask to VE Day commemoration: 

12:47 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

Alabama governor allows more businesses to reopen

From CNN's Kay Jones

Customers wait in line to place orders at a fast food restaurant in Dauphin Island, Alabama, on May 1.
Customers wait in line to place orders at a fast food restaurant in Dauphin Island, Alabama, on May 1. Maranie Staab/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced today that she is extending the current safer-at-home order and expanding the list of what businesses can reopen in the state. 

The safer-at-home order was set to expire on May 15, but is being amended to continue through May 22. 

"Today's order can hopefully begin to provide another round of hope for all of us," Ivey said. 

Ivey said that social distancing will still be required and she encouraged residents to continue to take all precautions as the state returns to "whatever normal will look like in the near future."

Reopening guidelines: Some of the new guidelines that take effect on Monday will allow for gatherings of all non-related, non-families of any size, if they maintain a consistent 6 feet of distancing. This will allow churches and other houses of worship to begin to hold services as well as funerals and weddings to take place. 

Restaurants will be allowed to reopen at a 50% occupancy rate, with 6 foot of spacing between tables and other guidelines in place. Gyms, athletic facilities and athletic classes will be allowed to open, but must adhere to the strict guidance that includes intense cleaning methods and social distancing.

Barbershops, hair salons, nail salons and other similar types of businesses will be able to reopen with restrictions in place that were developed by the state board of cosmetology. 

Ivey plans to announced Alabama's next phase for reopening next week. 

12:43 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

New task force launched in Texas to ensure internet access across the state

From CNN's Hollie Silverman 

Gillian Barbour, a senior education student at Texas State University, works on her distance learning classes at home in El Paso, Texas, on March 30.
Gillian Barbour, a senior education student at Texas State University, works on her distance learning classes at home in El Paso, Texas, on March 30. Mark Lambie /El Paso Times/USA Today

Gov. Greg Abbott, along with the Texas Education Agency and the Dallas Independent School District, launched Operation Connectivity Friday in an effort to deliver internet to students across the state as schools remain closed due to coronavirus, according to a statement from the governor's office.

A task force has been put together for Operation Connectivity to gather information on where internet is and isn't available, identify best practices for at-home student learning, and "secure technology solutions for broadband and devices," the statement said.

"With students learning remotely for the time being, it’s more important than ever for all our students to be able to access academic content at home. In order for that to happen, all students in Texas need access to computers and/or tablets, and internet outside of the classroom," Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath said in the statement.

The task force will meet each month to review progress and address issues that arise.

12:24 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

Federal government to begin "phased transition" back to work, new notice says

From CNN's Kristen Holmes and Alex Marquardt

As various states begin to reopen, the federal government has taken a small, but significant step in that direction with the agency that serves a human resources function for the rest of the agencies issuing a new notice on its website about a “phased transition.”

The Office of Personnel Management has updated its operating status for federal agencies on transitioning to normal working operations for government employees.

OPM replaced language about teleworking on Thursday night, now saying the federal government would “begin a phased transition to normal operations in line with the national guidelines to open up American again.” 

The guidance went on to say that agencies would “make operating decisions based on state or locality of duty stations and other factors” and told employees to contact their supervisors with questions. 

Washington, DC calling for extended telework: Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has not yet made a decision on reopening the city, said her administration has been in touch with OPM during the crisis but did not appear aware of the new notice. 

Bowser said that the District’s position is still that “the majority stay on telework as long as possible.”

In an April letter, she told the agency, “we know that a continued federal telework policy will help save lives by allowing more of our region’s 360,000 federal employees to work from home.”

1:02 p.m. ET, May 8, 2020

New York governor: "We're finally ahead of this virus"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said for the first time he feels the state is ahead of the virus, not behind it.

"The good news, on the overall, is we're finally ahead of this virus. For so long we were playing catch up," Cuomo said. "We were behind it."

"Now I feel for the first time we're actually ahead of it. We have showed that we can control the beast," he said, citing declining hospitalization, intubation and death rates.

"We haven't killed the beast, but we are — we're ahead of it," he added.

However, Cuomo warned New Yorkers must continue to follow social distancing restrictions and other safety measures in order to stay ahead.

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