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Coronavirus pandemic in the US

Trump continues to defend use of unproven drug
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Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in the US has ended for the day. Get the latest updates from around the globe here.

Nebraska governor says health care system "remains in very good shape"

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks at a news conference in Lincoln, Nebraska, on May 1.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said the state’s health care system “remains in very good shape.” 

He said 48% of the hospital beds in the state are available, 41% of the beds in intensive care units are available and 76% of the ventilators are currently available.

“So what are we doing something now obviously we want to loosen those restrictions to the point where we’re managing a way that preserves a hospital capacity and allows much of a normal return to life as possible,” he said.

At two NYC hospitals, nearly 40% of critically ill Covid-19 patients died early on in pandemic

Coronavirus killed nearly 40% of critically ill patients treated at two New York City hospitals in the early days of the pandemic, doctors reported Tuesday.

An in-depth look at more than 1,100 patients treated at two Columbia University hospitals showed a high rate of severe illness and death in March, when New York was suffering the worst outbreak in the US.

“As of 28 April 2020, almost 40% of the critically ill patients had died and more than one third remained in hospital. Less than one quarter had been discharged alive,” Dr. Natalie Yip of Columbia University Irving Medical Center and colleagues wrote in the Lancet medical journal.

Yip and colleagues examined the cases of 1,150 adults admitted to Columbia’s two hospitals in northern Manhattan in March. Of them, 257 or 22% were critically ill.

“The majority of critically ill patients were men (67%),” they wrote. While most critically ill patients were on average 62, 1 in 5 were under 50.

“More than 80% of critically ill patients had at least one chronic illness,” they added. More than 60% had high blood pressure and 36% had diabetes. Close to half were obese. These have all been noted in other studies to raise the risk of severe disease.

Most of the critically ill patients, 79%, needed ventilators to breathe and they stayed on those ventilators for an average of 18 days, the team reported. And 31% needed dialysis because of kidney damage.

“This has important implications for resource allocation in hospitals, where access to equipment and specialized staff needed to deliver this level of care is limited,” Dr. Max O’Donnell of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, who led the study team, said in a statement.

While 81% of the patients got either hydroxychloroquine or remdesivir, the study could not show whether either drug helped.

Many of the patients belonged to ethnic minorities. “Specifically, our cohort included a high proportion of Hispanic or Latino and black or African American patients who are known to have higher prevalence of cardiometabolic comorbidities and socioeconomic vulnerabilities that may make social distancing and access to care more difficult,” the team wrote.

Evidence grows that inflammation is culprit in severe Covid-19 cases, doctors say

Medical workers transport a patient outside a special COVID-19 illness area at Maimonides Medical Center  in Brooklyn, New York on May 17.

Doctors described growing evidence Tuesday that inflammation is causing the severe effects of Covid-19 disease in patients, and said reducing those effects may be key to helping people get better.

Teams across the country are testing a variety of immune-modulating drugs that are often already prescribed to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, Dr. Vincent Marconi of the Emory University School of Medicine told a briefing organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Marconi described more than a dozen drugs, most of them monoclonal antibodies, that are being tried out in severely ill Covid-19 patients. Various drugs attack inflammation from different angles and might tamp down the so-called cytokine storm that appears to be causing the worst damage in advanced patients, Marconi said. They include sarilumab, sold under the brand name Kevzara, to treat rheumatoid arthritis; adalimumab, or Humira, also a rheumatoid arthritis drug; siltuximab, or Sylvant, used to treat cancer; and others.

He said a three-stage process takes patients from mild disease to extreme symptoms that affect the whole body, and said inflammation underlies the most serious stage.

Many people infected with Covid-19 may not have any symptoms at all, and most have mild symptoms. Marconi said the mild stage has common symptoms, including a dry cough, fever and a headache. “The vast majority of individuals will recover at this point and will not progress to the pulmonary phase,” he said. That second phase is marked by lung inflammation and trouble breathing.

After that, patients can get worse quickly.

“At this point, patients tend to progress very rapidly to a hyperinflammatory stage,” Marconi said.

That’s when doctors see symptoms of shock, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and the “terrible” clotting problems that cause organ damage, blockages and strokes. 

Government watchdog to investigate multiple Homeland Security agencies for coronavirus response

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement El Paso Processing Center is seen in El Paso, Texas, on April 16.

The Department of Homeland Security inspector general is undertaking two new investigations into the department’s response to the coronavirus outbreak due to concerns that federal agencies mismanaged the pandemic.  

The government watchdog is examining management of the Covid-19 response at Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities, related to detainees in their custody and to the staff, according to the inspector general.

This coronavirus-related investigation — as well as one into the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a component of DHS — are listed as “new” on the inspector general’s list of ongoing investigations. 

Some background: In April, a group of 26 senators called for the inspector general to immediately review concerns over conditions in ICE detention facilities, asking for site visits to determine whether the facilities were sufficiently addressing the threat of Covid-19 to migrants and staff.

“Not only are detainees at higher risk because they are in such close proximity to others, people in detention and incarceration are more likely to have other preexisting health conditions, which places them at even higher risk for mortality from the virus,” the senators wrote in a letter to the inspector general. 

DHS and CBP did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment. 

At the time of the letter, 360 detainees, 35 ICE employees at detention facilities and 89 ICE employees not assigned to detention facilities, tested positive for Covid-19, according to the senators, who wrote that some contract employees also died of the virus.

As of this month, more than 1,000 immigrants in ICE custody have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the agency’s latest statistics, and the number of cases in custody has gradually climbed in recent weeks. ICE has said that it’s working to release detainees it deems are vulnerable to the virus.

Along the border, customs officials and the US Border Patrol have turned away asylum seekers and denied entry to migrants who illegally cross the border, citing a risk of coronavirus spread in its detention facilities. 

Missouri governor says Covid-19 testing is "critical" to state's economic recovery

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson talks to the media outside Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, on May 15.

Testing for Covid-19 is a “critical” part of Missouri’s economic recovery, Gov. Mike Parson said Tuesday.

“As we move forward, testing will be critical to Missouri’s full economic recovery and giving Missourians more confidence. We have the testing capacity, and now we must find ways to use that capacity to test as many people as we can,” Parson said. “Once our testing numbers are up, we can really start to ramp up our focus on the economy.”

The state has tested 158,296 people for Covid-19 since March 7. According to a statement from the state, approximately 90% of these tests have been negative.

Parson said an increase in tests likely means an increase in the number of positive cases in the state.

“By increasing testing, we can continue to slow the spread by identifying positive patients and isolating them as quickly as possible,” he said.

Montana will move to next reopening phase on June 1

Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, and then 2020 presidential candidate, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, on November 19, 2019.

Montana will increase the number of people allowed in restaurants and gyms on June 1, as the state begins its next reopening phase. 

“The first gradual phase of our reopening gave us the time that we needed,” Gov. Steve Bullock said in a press conference Tuesday.

Starting next month:

  • Dine-in restaurants and bars will be able to accommodate up to 75% of their normal capacity. 
  • Gyms and pools also can operate at 75% capacity.
  • Bowling alleys, and other places of assembly, may operate with reduced capacity, and if they adhere to strict physical distancing guidelines.
  • People are discouraged from having gatherings larger than 50 people unless they coordinate their plans with their local health department.

The governor is also canceling the 14-day quarantine that is currently required of people traveling to Montana from out-of-state as of June 1. 

Arkansas plans to test every nursing home staff and resident starting on June 1

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday that the state plans to test every nursing home resident and staff starting next month.

“Beginning June 1, our goal is to test every nursing home resident and staff person in a nursing home facility in Arkansas,” Hutchinson said in a news conference. “This will result in approximately 40,000 to 50,000 new tests.”

Arkansas Executive Director of Health Rachel Bunch said private labs and the Health Department are also working together on the appropriate plan for statewide testing. 

“Our state has taken a proactive approach to testing and long-term care that is different than many other states. Anytime we have a positive worker or resident, we test the entire building, not waiting for other people to become symptomatic,” Bunch said. “This approach has allowed us to identify positive asymptomatic workers and patients early so that we can move patients to areas that are unaffected and send those workers home until they get well.” 

Here are the cultural and educational activities that will resume in Kentucky next month 

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Frankfort, on May 11.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced today that certain educational and cultural activities will be allowed to resume starting June 8.

These include:

  • Museums
  • Outdoor attractions
  • Aquariums
  • Libraries
  • Distilleries

Beshear said the state is still working on the specific guidance for these reopenings, but noted that there will be capacity limitations everywhere.

In places like distilleries, there will also be sub-limitations like there are in restaurants.

Right now, restaurants have overall capacity limitations, as well as limitations to the size of each party, being 10 persons and under. Beshear said tours, for instance, will follow the same guidelines.

Nearly 100 groups send letter urging labor secretary to protect meatpacking workers 

Eugene Scalia, U.S. secretary of labor, speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House in Washington, on April 9.

Nearly 100 workers, environmental and food and agriculture groups sent a letter to Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia and members of Congress calling on them to protect meatpacking and production workers, as well as guarantee them hazard pay.

Here’s what the letter said:

  • The letter cited President Trump’s executive action meant to keep meatpacking plants open through the duration of the pandemic.
  • The letter also calls for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard to protect food workers and all essential workers from Covid-19, as well as for Congress provide OSHA with funding to implement the standard. 
  • It also urged Congress to pass legislation that would force employers to provide “premium pay” at a minimum of time and half to all essential, frontline workers during the pandemic. 

“Sending meatpacking workers back to work without protections and mandatory standards is sending workers to die or to get sick,” wrote Axel Fuentes of the Rural Community Workers Alliance (RCWA), one of the groups that signed the letter. 

University of California estimates losses of $1.2 billion from mid-March through April

Aerial view of the University of California campus in Los Angeles.

The University of California estimates the financial losses for the school system from mid-March through April to total nearly $1.2 billion, as a result of closures to UC hospitals, health centers and campuses because of Covid-19.

University President Janet Napolitano wrote about the significant financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on UC, and the ongoing budgetary uncertainties ahead in a letter sent to the UC community on Monday.

“This significant loss of revenue is having an enormous negative effect on our budgets,” Napolitano wrote. “Additionally, (California Gov. Gavin Newsom) last week announced a revised State budget for 2020-21 that includes a 10 percent funding reduction for UC of $372 million.”

Napolitano announced that she and 10 university Chancellors will take a voluntary pay cut of 10% for the upcoming year.

There will be a systemwide freeze on salaries for staff employees, and other cuts to non-essential travel and renegotiating service agreements to further reduce expenses.

Los Angeles County wants to reopen businesses by July 4

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer addresses attendees at a press conference in Los Angeles on March 4.

Los Angeles County Supervisors are hoping to reopen businesses in the nation’s most populous county by July 4.

The county’s economic task force urged reopening in all facets of the economy from film production to education to sporting events.

Entertainment executive Casey Wasserman pressed supervisors to bring back events without fans, saying opportunities will be lost to other cities if Los Angeles doesn’t act fast.

“We’re not quite there yet,” Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a daily briefing. “I think as a county we can prepare ourselves for that possibility. These are complicated issues on reopening.”

“We can’t stay locked down forever, we have to learn to live with it,” County Supervisor Janice Hahn said.

Catch up on the latest coronavirus headlines

A sign saying "Stay Safe, Re-Opening Soon!" is displayed outside a diner in Amsterdam, New York, on May 15.

It’s almost 6 p.m. in New York. Here are some of the top coronavirus headlines you may have missed.

  • All states will soon be partially reopened: By Wednesday, every US state will have begun lifting measures enacted weeks ago to curb the spread of coronavirus — though daily case rates still are rising in parts of the country. Yet as of Tuesday, at least 17 states have recorded a clear upward trend of average new daily cases — a rise of at least 10% — over the past seven days, according to an analysis based on data from Johns Hopkins University.
  • Influential model lowers coronavirus death prediction: A key coronavirus model has revised its death projection for the United States slightly downward, now forecasting that 143,360 people will die by August 4. That’s about 3,700 fewer deaths than the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) model foresaw when last updated about a week ago
  • Uneven economic relief of Covid response aid under scrutiny: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell were front-and-center Tuesday at the first Senate hearing on how the $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue package is being implemented.
  • A 12-year-old girl survived cardiac arrest: She was suffering from multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MISC — a condition that experts say might be linked with the novel coronavirus.

Trump defends his use of hydroxychloroquine

President Donald Trump speaks his cabinet in the East Room of the White House in Washington, on May 19.

President Trump defended Tuesday his use of hydroxychloroquine, the drug that is unproven to prevent coronavirus, and called a study warning of its risks a “phony study.”

Trump particularly bashed a study, where patients from the Veterans Affairs received the drug. He said those patients were too sick and old. 

“There was a false study done — they gave to sick people,” Trump said, adding it was given to people who “were ready to die.”

“The study came out, the people were ready to die. Everybody was old, had bad problems with hearts… so immediately when it came out they gave a lot of false information,” Trump said of the study.

Trump claimed that the study was conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was in fact funded by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia but conducted in VA hospitals. 

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie did make the distinction in the cabinet meeting, however, he also promoted the drug and said it’s been used by the VA in large quantities for many health issues.

“I want to clear up something… that was not a VA study,” Wilkie told reporters. “Researchers took VA numbers and they did not clinically review them, they were not peer reviewed. They did not even look at what the president just mentioned the various comorbidities.”

What other studies say: The study Trump was alluding to is not the only study of its kind warning of the risks of hydroxychloroquine.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a new study last week, the largest of its kind, that shows that hydroxychloroquine does not work against Covid-19 and could cause heart problems. That follows another study in the New England Journal of Medicine showing similar results. 

“It’s gotten a bad reputation only because I’m promoting it,” Trump told reporters, adding, “If anyone else was promoting it, they’d say this is the greatest thing ever.”

On his own use of the drug, Trump claimed to reporter that it “doesn’t seem to have any impact” on him. He added that “it seems to be an extra line of defense and it is has gotten tremendous reviews.” 

See Trump’s remarks here:

Trump administration formally extends border and travel restrictions related to coronavirus

Acting Homeland Security Security Chad Wolf, speaks during a press conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC on March 5.

The Trump administration is extending a public health order that allows for the swift removal of migrants apprehended at US borders, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday.

It was first implemented in March.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf called it “one of the most critical tools” to stem the spread of coronavirus in a statement.

Health experts, however, have slammed the use of the public health law to bar migrants from entering the US, arguing the order appears to be intended to halt immigration, not serve a public health purpose.

CNN previously reported that this extension was expected.

Major League Soccer cancels 2020 All-Star Game

Leandro Gonzalez Pirez of MLS All-Stars and Angel Correa of Atletico de Madrid battle for the ball during the 2019 MLS All-Star Game between MLS All Stars and Atletico de Madrid at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida on July 31, 2019.

Major League Soccer announced Tuesday that the 2020 MLS All-Star Game between the best of MLS and a team of LIGA MX all-stars has been canceled.

The game was scheduled for July 29 in Los Angeles at the Banc of California Stadium.

While tickets to the All-Star Game had not gone on sale yet, fans who purchased tickets to the All-Star Skills Challenge via Ticketmaster will be automatically refunded, a statement said.

The 2021 MLS All-Star Game and festivities are expected to take place in Los Angeles at the same venue, the league said.

Illinois governor says state is conducting most Covid-19 tests per capita

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during the daily press briefing regarding the coronavirus pandemic at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago on Sunday, May 3.

Illinois has now overtaken New York to become the number one state in the nation for testing per capita over the past seven days, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday. 

As of Tuesday, a total of 621,684 tests were performed and about 18,443 were completed in the last 24 hours, according to Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

Pritzker said there is more work to do to advance testing and make it even more widely available.

Mississippi reports first case of child with inflammatory syndrome

A Mississippi state official reported Tuesday the first case of a child with multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

The child is from central Mississippi and had tested positive for Covid-19. The child has recovered and been discharged from the hospital, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children – abbreviated as MIS-C – is a syndrome believed to be associated with Covid-19.

Children with suspected Covid-related syndrome need immediate attention, doctors say

Young people who may have multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a troubling complication of Covid-19 infection, need immediate attention and will probably need to be hospitalized, doctors said Tuesday.

Symptoms do not look like the classic symptoms of coronavirus and may mostly include stomach pain and vomiting, along with fever and perhaps a rash, the experts told other doctors on a briefing organized by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s becoming clear that many of the children with the new syndrome have damage to their hearts and need immediate treatment, the experts told the briefing. And they believe it’s increasingly clear that Covid-19 is involved, even though many of the children test negative for the virus and never seemed to have had symptoms of infection.

The syndrome appears to develop two to six weeks after infection with Covid-19 and affects children who were perfectly healthy beforehand. The CDC issued a health alert last week warning pediatricians to be on the lookout, and at least 18 states plus Washington, DC have reported they are investigating possible cases.

“A striking finding here – alarming – is that in this group, about half the children already had coronary artery abnormalities,” Dr. James Schneider, who heads pediatric critical care at Northwell Health in New York, told the briefing. Because the children were previously healthy, he thinks the abnormalities were caused by MIS-C, possibly as a result of a delayed immune response to the coronavirus.

“Any child at home who has fever, abdominal pain or symptoms such as rash and (conjunctivitis) should be seen by a pediatrician right away,” he advised. “I think we need to have a low threshold for evaluation.”

14-year-old describes his bout with inflammatory syndrome linked to coronavirus:

Farmers and ranchers affected by Covid-19 can apply for federal funds starting next week

A rancher in Paradise Valley, Montana feeds his Red Angus cows and calves on April 21.

Farmers and ranchers who have experienced losses due to the coronavirus pandemic will be able to start applying for long-awaited federal funds on May 26.

The US Department of Agriculture announced additional details about the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) on Tuesday, which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers affected by Covid-19.

Here are some details on the program:

  • Farmers and ranchers, who have suffered a 5% or greater price loss and are facing significant marketing costs due to the pandemic, will be able to apply for the CFAP funds through their local Farm Service Agency from May 26 through August 28.
  • Payments will be limited to $250,000 per person or entity, according to the USDA.
  • Producers also must meet the adjusted gross income limitation of $900,000, unless at least 75% of their income is derived from ranching, farming or forestry-related activity. 
  • Applicants will get 80% of their maximum total payment once their application is approved, the remaining 20% will be paid at a later date if funds remain available. 
  • Eligible crops include corn, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat and eligible livestock include cattle, lambs, yearlings and hogs.

The funding was allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability Act and the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act.

The National Pork Producers Council reacted to the program in a statement:

“We appreciate that the USDA’s CFAP program announced today appears that it will reach more producers than the USDA’s relief program for hog farmers who suffered losses due to trade retaliation. We are assessing the CFAP program and the extent of its impact on pork producers. The financial and emotional crisis facing U.S. pork producers is overwhelming. They will lose more than $5 billion collectively for hogs processed into the food supply this year.”

Virginia reports first case of childhood illness linked to Covid-19

The Virginia Department of Health is reporting the state’s first confirmed case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with Covid-19. 

According to the Department of Health, the child was hospitalized on May 5 and has since been discharged. The child is now recovering at home.

Most children with MIS-C have fever lasting several days and may show symptoms of irritability or decreased activity, abdominal pain without another explanation, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, conjunctivitis, lack of appetite, red or cracked lips, red or bumpy tongue, or swollen hands and feet, the health department said.

“I urge all health care providers in Virginia to immediately report any patient who meets these criteria to the local health department by the most rapid means,” Virginia’s Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said. “All Virginians should take steps to avoid exposure to COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing cloth face coverings if appropriate.” 

The state is not recommending cloth face coverings for children under two years old.

Trump calls high US Covid-19 numbers "badge of honor" because it means more testing

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with his cabinet in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on May 19.

President Trump said today that he is considering a travel ban on Latin America and called the high number of US Covid-19 cases a “badge of honor” because it means the US is testing more people.

“We are considering it,” the President said when asked if he was considering a travel ban on Latin America, and Brazil in particular, which now has the third highest number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in the world.

“We hope that we’re not going to have a problem. The governor of Florida is doing very, very well testing – in particular Florida, because a big majority come in to Florida. Brazil has gone more or less herd, and they’re having problems,” Trump added.

“I worry about everything, I don’t want people coming in here and infecting our people,” Trump said, “I don’t want people over there sick either.”

“By the way,” the President interjected, “when you say that we lead in cases, that’s because we have more testing than anybody else.”

“Actually the number of cases, and we’re also a much bigger country than most, so when we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing, I look at that as, in a certain respect, as a good thing, because it means our testing is better,” he said.

“I view it as a badge of honor. Really, it’s a badge of honor,” Trump said. “It’s a great tribute to the testing and all of the work that a lot of professionals have done.”

  Watch:

Here's how NYU plans to resume some in-person classes for the fall semester

An NYU building in New York, NY as seen on July 16, 2017.

New York University is planning to resume some in-person classes in combination with distance learning for the fall semester, the university announced Tuesday in an email sent by Provost Katherine Fleming.

“We’re planning to convene in person, with great care, in the fall (subject to government health directives), both in New York and our global sites,” Fleming wrote. “I can’t pretend that 2020-21 will be a typical academic year.”

NYU is looking into ways to make the academic calendar more flexible, and to make classes accessible despite any restrictions the school might face, the email said.

Some plans they are developing include:

  • Offering classes in a mixed mode to enable students to participate in-person or remotely, with the understanding that some courses or parts of courses may be offered only remotely.
  • Possibly spread classes over two or three semesters - fall, spring and summer - with an enhanced set of course offerings without additional tuition costs.
  • They are also looking into providing those who live close to an operating campus or site in NYU’s global network, with the option of studying there for the fall - known as the “Go Local” option.

This would give, for example, a student with Italian citizenship who was unable to come to NYC because of ongoing travel restrictions, the option to study at NYU’s site in Florence, Italy, or elsewhere in the European Union, the email said.

Other school safety plans: NYU, which has more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students in New York and worldwide, said it plans to make masks available for all members of the NYU community and requiring their use, reduce density in student housing, and conduct virus and antibody testing, and contact tracing.

In-person graduation ceremonies to begin as early as next Friday in South Carolina

South Carolina Education Superintendent Molly Spearman addresses the audience at an accelerateSC gathering in Columbia, South Carolina on April 23.

In-person graduation ceremonies with gatherings of large groups of people could begin as early as next Friday, South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said.

Spearman, speaking at a reopening task force meeting, said that she and Gov. Henry McMaster felt that “it is a special ceremony; they can be held.” 

“It is left up to the individual district,” she said. “They can do that virtually or in person. And many high schools across the state are having in-person graduation ceremonies limiting the guests to two per senior or sometimes four, depending on the size of the high school graduating class.”

Spearman went on to say that they are working with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to assist school districts with the graduations.

“I think one or two high schools have already held a virtual ceremony where the family comes in singly and gets a diploma, but as far as the actual gathering of large groups of people, it should begin next Friday,” Spearman said. 

"Timing is right" for phased reopening tomorrow, Connecticut governor says