Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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4:43 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Three more universities plan to end "face-to-face" instruction before Thanksgiving

From CNN's Yon Pomrenze

Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, on October 22, 2017.
Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, on October 22, 2017. Shutterstock

Three more universities – Purdue University, Rice University and Creighton University – plan to cancel fall breaks and end “face-to-face” instruction before Thanksgiving, in part due to health concerns tied to a mass exit and return of students during these breaks.

Here is how each school plans to conduct its fall semester:

Purdue University 

The university in West Lafayette, Indiana is planning to cancel its typical Labor Day holiday and October break, and finish face-to-face instruction (but not the semester) prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Here is Purdue’s planned Fall 2020 schedule:

  • Aug. 24 – Classes Begin
  • Nov. 24 – Face-to-face Instruction Ends
  • Nov. 25-28 – Thanksgiving Break
  • Dec. 5 – Classes End
  • Dec. 7-12 – Final Exams

Rice University 

The Houston, Texas school says it plans to shorten the number of weeks classes will take place during the fall semester.

Specifically, the school will cancel its two-day fall recess (originally scheduled for October 12-13), enabling them to end classes before Thanksgiving. 

The school says all requirements beyond that, such as exams and papers, will be able to be completed remotely.

Creighton University

The Omaha, Nebraska college is starting its fall semester early and will conclude (exams and all) before Thanksgiving, according to a statement.

On-campus fall semester classes will begin on August 17, the last day of classes will be Nov. 17; final semester exams will begin Nov. 19 and conclude at noon on Nov. 25. There will be one break in the semester, for Labor Day, on Sept. 7. 

According to its website, the school decided that ending the semester at Thanksgiving break would reduce the need for students to make multiple trips, should coronavirus cases increase with the start of the winter flu season.

5:18 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

New guidelines will allow most of California to further reopen

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

People ride and walk on a path along the beach amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 15 in Huntington Beach, California.
People ride and walk on a path along the beach amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 15 in Huntington Beach, California. Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced more developed guidelines that will allow most of California to further reopen.

“Roughly 53 of the state’s 58 counties would be eligible to move into this phase,” Newsom said.

Counties choosing to move forward will be required to meet specific data points, Health Secretary Mark Ghaly said.

  • Hospitalizations: There can be no more than 5% increase in hospitalizations, or for those counties with very few hospitalizations, no more than 20 Covid-19 patients total for seven days.
  • New cases: There can be no more than 25 new coronavirus cases per 10,000 residents or a test positivity rate of less than 8% within past 14 days.
  • Preparedness: Testing capacity needs to be at least 1.5 tests per 1,000 people per day and there should be 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents. There should be efforts in place that partner with and protect those living and working in skilled nursing facilities, protect essential workers and maintain hospital surge capacity.
  • Ability to retract: The county needs to have plans in place to reinstitute stronger stay-at-home orders if necessary.

As counties continue to reopen, the governor said he is concerned about particular hotspots, like a nursing home outbreak in Tulare County and a meat packing plant in Kings County.

Newsom added that he imagines Los Angeles County, the most populous area in the state, will be particularly cautious when it comes to moving forward.

“Bottom line is, people can go at their own pace and we are empowering our local health directors and county officials that understand their local communities and conditions,” Newsom said.

4:35 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Virginia Beach to reopen Friday with restrictions, governor says 

From CNN's Stephanie Gallman

Beachgoers enjoy the warm weather in Virginia Beach on Saturday, May 16.
Beachgoers enjoy the warm weather in Virginia Beach on Saturday, May 16. Kaitlin McKeown/The Daily Press/AP

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced in a news conference today that the state will reopen public beaches in Virginia Beach this Friday ahead of Memorial Day weekend. 

Sunbathing and swimming, as well as fishing and surfing, will be allowed as "defined by the city's ordinance."

 Here are the safety precautions and restrictions that will be implemented: 

  • Parking lots and garages will be capped at 50% capacity.
  • Group sports, alcohol, speakers, tents and groups of umbrellas will be prohibited.
  • There will be beach ambassadors monitoring compliance.

The governor warned that residents must comply with the safety measures. 

"Let me be clear. These rules must be followed,” Northam said. “If people swarm these beaches and ignore social distancing rules or the regulations the city has put into place, I will not hesitate to reinstate phase one restrictions, or even close the beach outright, if necessary.”
4:26 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

US stocks finish higher

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

US stocks rallied into the close on Monday, boosted by hopes for a potential Covid-19 vaccine, as well as further stimulus for the US economy.

The Dow and the S&P 500 recorded their best performances in six weeks.

Here's how the markets did on Monday:

  • The Dow finished 912 points, or 3.9%, higher, its best point and percentage gain since April 6.
  • The S&P 500 climbed 3.2%, its best day since April 8.
  • The Nasdaq Composite rose 2.4%, logging its best day since April 29.

Some more context: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in an interview Sunday that America’s economy might need more help from the Fed and the government to get through the coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, drug maker Moderna reported promising early results from a coronavirus vaccine trial on Monday morning. Moderna shares closed up nearly 20%.

4:25 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Here's where Texas stands on reopening businesses

From CNN's Chris Boyette

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more Texas businesses at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Monday, May 18.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more Texas businesses at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Monday, May 18. Lynda M. Gonzalez/The Dallas Morning News/AP

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced child care centers and office buildings are allowed to reopen now. Many more businesses, including bowling alleys, rodeos and professional sports, will reopen in coming days, he said at a news briefing on Monday.

Here's when businesses will be allowed to reopen:

May 22

  • Restaurants, which were allowed to reopen May 1 at 25% capacity, can increase to 50% capacity.
  • Bars, wine tasting rooms and craft breweries can open at a 25% capacity. The capacity limits do not apply to outdoor areas that maintain safe distances, according to Abbott.
  • Various businesses, such as bowling alleys, bingo halls and skating rinks as well as rodeos, zoos and aquariums, may all open at 25% capacity.

May 31

  • Some professional sports can apply to the Department of State Health Services for approval to hold events without spectators, including golf, outdoor racing, baseball, softball, tennis, football and basketball, the governor said.
  • Youth sports camps and programs, such as Little League, will be able to open. Parents will be allowed to watch as long as social distancing is followed, according to Abbott.
  • Summer camps and other daytime and overnight camps can open.

 June 1

  • School districts are allowed to open for summer school classes as long as distancing practices are followed, Abbott said.

Several counties with higher amounts of infections and cases or have low hospital capacity will have later reopening dates. Those counties are El Paso, Moore, Potter, Randall and Deaf Smith, the governor said.

Some background: Texas saw its highest single day increase in positive Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic on Saturday, according to numbers released by Texas Department of State Health Services. Abbott, speaking at a news conference Monday, attributed the spike to increased testing and that the percentage of positive tests has gone down.

The Health Department reported at least 47,784 cases of coronavirus in Texas with approximately 1,336 deaths as of Sunday.

5:18 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Connecticut expected to start reopening this week

From CNN's Sarah Jorgensen

Women cross Market Street on Thursday, May 7 in downtown Hartford, Connecticut.
Women cross Market Street on Thursday, May 7 in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. Mark Lennihan/AP

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont told reporters this afternoon that the state had hit all of its benchmarks to go ahead with its planned first phase of reopening on Wednesday.

Phase one includes the reopening of some restaurants, offices, retail stores, and outdoor museums, according to the government's website. It was originally also expected to include the reopening of hair salons, but the state announced today that would be pushed back to at least June 1.

In terms of benchmarks, the state has...

  • Reported a 14-day decline in hospitalizations
  • Has expanded its testing generally (more than 45,000 tests in the past 7 days) and enhanced its screening of high risk population
  • Has fewer than 20% of hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients
  • Has a 60-day supply of PPE (the state’s goal was 30 days)
  • Has staffed its contact tracing efforts through June and is in the process of rolling out contact tracing software to local health departments

Lamont and other officials encouraged residents to remain vigilant. Masks or cloth face coverings will still be required in public, and gatherings should be no more than five people, Deirdre Gifford, acting commissioner of public health and commissioner the department of social services said.

Lamont emphasized that if he feels residents are acting “more casual,” or if he sees a spike in infections, he would not hesitate in changing course.

“Let’s get it right,” he said.

Connecticut is one of the last states to begin reopening.

3:48 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Indiana reports 492 new cases of Covid-19 and 14 additional deaths

From CNN's Alec Snyder

Indiana reported 492 more cases of Covid-19 on Monday, up to 28,255 total, Dr. Kristina Box, the state’s health commissioner, said.

The state also reported 14 new deaths bringing the statewide total to 1,621 confirmed deaths and 144 probable deaths.

Nearly 184,000 Indiana residents have been tested. At least 40% of the state’s ICU beds and 81% of ventilators remain available.

During the news conference on Monday, one reporter asked about any link between Optum Health providing several testing capabilities for the state, with the company making a $50,000 donation to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s re-election campaign.

He deferred to Dr. Box and said that had nothing to do with Optum’s support, which Dr. Box confirmed, saying roughly seven groups made bids.

4:24 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

A Florida man has been stuck on a ship in Italy for 62 days after multiple positive Covid-19 tests

From CNN's Gregory Lemos 

Taylor Grimes.
Taylor Grimes. Courtesy Ann Grimes

A man from Winter Springs, Florida, said he has been stuck on a cruise ship and then hospital ship in an Italian port for 62 days after testing positive for Covid-19 in early April.   

"Some days are really bad and some days are okay," Taylor Grimes, 28, told CNN over video chat Monday.   

Taylor Grimes set sail mid-January from Genoa, Italy as an employee of MSC Cruises. Grimes worked in the jewelry store on their Mediterranean route and said this was his second cruise with the company.

On March 17, a friend of Grimes and fellow employee tested positive for Covid-19, Grimes said. After consulting with the ship doctor and captain, Grimes "voluntarily went into isolation." Fifteen days later, he said he also tested positive.

Grimes has since been tested seven more times and has received a mixture of positive and negative results, he told CNN. 

"We are very concerned about his mental health," Taylor's mother Ann Grimes told CNN. "Last Monday he was sobbing on the phone saying he wanted to go home. He had just tested positive," she added.

The American Embassy confirmed to the Grimes family it is Italian policy that cruise ship employees may not be released from a ship until they have tested negative in two subsequent tests, Ann Grimes said.

"We don't question that that's the standard," she said. "It's the fact the testing is so sketchy. How can you be in quarantine for 62 consecutive days and still be testing positive?"  

Grimes says he tested negative on Saturday, his seventh test to date. Grimes says he is currently awaiting the results of his eighth test and is hopeful it will be negative. Grimes says he can then fly back to the US via commercial airline.    

CNN has reached out to MSC Cruises and has not heard back.   

Watch full interview:

5:19 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

About half of California's counties are reopening further, governor says

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference in Sacramento, California, on May 18.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference in Sacramento, California, on May 18. Pool

Nearly half of the counties in California are moving further into "phase two" of the state’s four-pronged approach to reopening. Gov. Gavin Newsom said 24 of 58 counties have already begun to move forward.

These counties have reached criteria which include no more than 5% increase in hospitalizations over a week-long period and fewer than 25 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents.

What this means: Moving deeper into the governor’s second phase of reopening allows eateries to host in-restaurant dining and shopping malls to open.

Newsom acknowledged the need for counties to “go at their own pace,” saying a one-size-fits-all plan does not work where conditions vary by region.

Churches are expected to allow congregations to meet in the next few weeks, Newsom said, noting that he has been in touch with faith leaders on a regular basis.

“We are moving deliberatively on a phased approach,” Newsom said.

Watch here: