Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 9:21 p.m. ET, May 20, 2020
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11:40 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

Food workers' union says 68 grocery store workers have died from Covid-19

 From CNN’s Dianne Gallagher and Pamela Kirkland

A worker disinfects a shopping cart outside a supermarket in Duluth, Georgia, on March 26.
A worker disinfects a shopping cart outside a supermarket in Duluth, Georgia, on March 26. Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said Wednesday that at least 68 grocery store workers at companies it represents have died as a result of the Covid-19 virus. 

The UFCW also said 10,000 grocery store employees have been sickened or exposed to Covid-19. The union said that is a 200% increase over the past 5 weeks, according to internal estimates. 

The union also noted that they have not received internal estimates on the number of their workers that have died or become sick from the grocers their union workers are employed by.

“The challenges that [these grocery workers] have has not diminished,” said UFCW President Marc Perrone. “Any given day, these workers must interact with thousands of customers coming in and out of these supermarkets.”

As of last Friday, at least 65 grocery workers have died and 9,810 workers have tested positive for or been exposed to Covid-19, according to the UFCW, citing internal data. 

The union has also been vocally opposed to grocery stores that have phased out their “hero pay” programs.

CNN has previously reported that Kroger, the country’s largest supermarket chain, is ended its "hero pay" bonuses over the weekend. 

The "Hero bonus" is a "a $2 premium" above an employee's standard base rate of pay implemented on March 31, according to the company.

Kroger also announced last week the company would pay a one-time "Thank You Pay" that will be $400 for full-time associates and $200 for part-time associates. 

Final appreciation pay will be given to Kroger employees by May 23. 

10:51 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

New York City mayor: Latest coronavirus numbers show "a good day," but we want great days

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a coronavirus briefing in New York City on May 20.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a coronavirus briefing in New York City on May 20. NYC Media

Two out of the three indicators the city measures have dropped as of Monday, said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio who added, “It’s a good day, we want to have great days though.”

Here's where things stand:

  • The daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected Covid-19 went up to 63 from 57.
  • The daily number of people in ICU within the city’s public hospitals is down to 483 from 492.
  • The percentage of people tested positive in the city is down to 8% from 9%.

The city is doing more testing, according to the mayor, noting they're still doing 20,000 tests a day and growing rapidly.

“The percentages are coming back better,” de Blasio said. 

The data is current as of Monday.

10:21 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

NYC child vaccine rates has plunged during Covid-19 crisis, mayor says

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

Vaccination rates in New York City have been falling during this crisis, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

“Getting your child vaccinated is essential work, getting your child vaccinated is a reason to leave your home,” de Blasio said.

CNN has previously reported a nationwide drop in vaccinations.

Here's what the drop in New York City looks like:

  • The number of administered doses of vaccines are down 63% overall.
  • For children younger than 2, it's down 42%
  • For children older than 2, it's down 91%

The mayor noted vaccines are critical to protect children and communities.

“Let’s protect our kids and protect each other by making sure all our children are vaccinated” de Blasio said.

10:58 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

New York City has enough PPE for the rest of the month, mayor says

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

A registered nurse draws blood to test for COVID-19 antibodies at Abyssinian Baptist Church in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City on May 14.
A registered nurse draws blood to test for COVID-19 antibodies at Abyssinian Baptist Church in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City on May 14. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

New York City now has enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for the rest of the month of May, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference Wednesday.  

Once the city has enough PPE to reserve a 14-day supply, the city will shift to building a 90-day supply which will include a reserve of 4,000 ventilators.

10:14 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

New York City unveils plan to address seniors and nursing homes during the pandemic

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a coronavirus briefing in New York City on May 20.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a coronavirus briefing in New York City on May 20. NYC Media

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a four-part plan Wednesday to address the needs of seniors, especially those in nursing homes. There are 169 nursing homes in the city, many of which are for-profit enterprises.

Here are the four parts that the mayor laid out...

Part one:

  • New York City will offer free, on-site testing to all nursing homes starting next week. ”As many test kits as the nursing home needs, we will provide,” the mayor said.
  • The mayor says the anticipated need is to run 3,000 tests a day through a city contracted lab. There will be a two-week “blitz” followed by regular weekly testing.

Part two:

  • The city will provide more staff and mandatory staff testing which has already begun. The mayor said the staff is among the “unsung heroes” fighting the virus.
  • Staff who test positive are required to stay out of work for 14 days which will cause shortages, said de Blasio. The city has already provided 250 additional personnel, but the city is asking all facilities to submit requests.
  • “We will continue to fulfill the request for every nursing home,” de Blasio said. He also pledged all staffing requests will be filled.

Part three:

  • Outbreak response teams consisting of a minimum of three people will be deployed to nursing homes and congregate living facilities like other senior centers.
  • The mayor said 10 teams are ready and all will have an epidemiologist, mental health or social work experts – whichever is needed.
  • The teams will address infection control, PPE management, resident and staff re-testing

Part four:

  • The city is planning long-term to maximize home-based care for the future.
  • This is “part of our recovering planning,” de Blasio said.
10:16 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

Trump expected to finish hydroxychloroquine soon, sources say

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable in the State Dining Room of the White House on May 18 in Washington.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable in the State Dining Room of the White House on May 18 in Washington. Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images

President Trump is expected to finish taking hydroxychloroquine in the coming days, two sources familiar with the matter tell CNN. He hinted yesterday that he won't take it on a regular basis. 

"At some point, you know, I won’t take it," Trump said Tuesday. "Might be soon, might be in a little bit."

Trump on Monday claimed he is taking daily doses of the drug, which he's long touted as a potential coronavirus cure even as medical experts and the US Food and Drug Administration question its efficacy and warn of potentially harmful side effects.

CNN's Jamie Gangel contributed reporting

10:12 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

"It's going to be a whole new world" for restaurants while reopening, chef Thomas Keller says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Thomas Keller, chef and owner of Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, speaks during a meeting with restaurant industry executives about the coronavirus response, in the State Dining Room of the White House on May 18 in Washington.
Thomas Keller, chef and owner of Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, speaks during a meeting with restaurant industry executives about the coronavirus response, in the State Dining Room of the White House on May 18 in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP

Chef and restauranteur Thomas Keller said he spoke to President Trump yesterday at the White House about the fallout of the restaurant industry during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Keller called the meeting “very positive,” but underscored the severity of how the pandemic has impacted restaurants. 

“It’s going to be a whole new world for us. And in many ways, it’s going to be a much more expensive world for us and how we operate our restaurants, how to bring our staff back,” Keller said in an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow, citing increased PPE costs and fewer customers.

Keller said that he and other restauranteurs are looking for an extension to the amount of time they could spend loans granted through the Paycheck Protection Program, from eight weeks to 24 weeks.

Under the current rule, restaurants need to rehire all employees within eight weeks for the loans to be forgiven.

“We're very concerned about getting our restaurants reopened, what our revenue will be with the guidance and the restrictions, and then how long that ramp-up will be,” Keller said.  “The PPP loan will give us a bridge to what we hope to get, which is a restaurant stabilization fund, that will help make sure that the restaurants are able to continue to stay in business for the next six, eight, 12 months.” 

The numbers: More than three decades of jobs in the restaurant industry have been lost in two months, according to a May 8 statement by the National Restaurant Association, and nearly 6 million restaurant jobs had been lost as of the payroll period that included April 12.

Keller further explained how his restaurant closures affect the chain of people who depend on his restaurants. He brought up an example of a farmer named Diane, who only has eight cows and relies on one of his restaurant for about 90% of her revenue.

“And that goes on and on ... all the farmers, the fishermen, the gardeners, the grape growers, the wineries, the distilleries, the airlines, the commercial real estate. The impact that a restaurant has in a community is enormous,” Keller said.

Watch more:

9:52 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

New Orleans' Café Du Monde set to reopen Friday

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

Cafe Du Monde remains empty in the French Quarter amid the coronavirus pandemic on March 27 in New Orleans.
Cafe Du Monde remains empty in the French Quarter amid the coronavirus pandemic on March 27 in New Orleans. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

New Orleans' world famous coffee stand will reopen on Friday, Café Du Monde manager Kenny Swafford tells CNN.  

The French coffee stand has served beignets and coffee since 1862 and before Covid-19 only closed on Christmas Day and when the "occasional hurricane passes too close to New Orleans," according to its website.  

"We're ready to come back," Swafford says.  

But Café Du Monde won't go back to its 24-hour operating schedule immediately. The French Quarter location will open at 10 a.m. on Friday. After Friday, the plan is for the café to open for takeout from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. seven days a week. There will be a limited number of tables available which will be 10-15 feet apart, Swafford said.  

The New Orleans' staple closed when local stay-at-home orders were put in place and has finished renovations to its floor during that time, Swafford said. 

"The French Quarter is eerily reminiscent of the days after Hurricane Katrina. However we do not have the flood or property damage. This time will pass and things will get back to normal," Café Du Monde posted on its Facebook Page in March.  
9:38 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

US stocks rebound

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

The New York Stock Exchange stands in lower Manhattan on May 18 in New York City.
The New York Stock Exchange stands in lower Manhattan on May 18 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

US stocks opened higher on Wednesday, rebounding from the prior day’s session when all three major indexes broke their three-day winning streaks.

High hopes for the reopening of the economy continue to help the market.

Here's how things opened on Wednesday: 

  • The Dow opened 1.3%, or 322 points, higher.
  • The S&P 500 kicked off 1.3% higher.
  • The Nasdaq Composite opened up 1.4%.