Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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4:26 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Trump tours Ford plant without mask after state attorney general's warnings

President Donald Trump tours the Ford Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on May 21.
President Donald Trump tours the Ford Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on May 21. Pool

President Trump was seen touring a Michigan Ford plant this afternoon without a mask.

The policy at the plant is for everyone to wear masks. While Ford told the White House about the policy earlier this week, a company spokesperson added, "The White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination."

A source familiar with the President's visit to a Ford plant said the President wore a mask out of sight of cameras during his visit. 

He was just asked why he was not wearing a mask while on the tour in front of cameras.

"I had one on before in this back area. But I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it," Trump said.

Earlier this morning, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said that if Trump "fails to wear a mask, he's going to be asked not to return to any unclosed facilities inside our state."

Watch:

4:18 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Major League Baseball team announces plans for furloughs and pay reductions

Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates will institute furloughs for some business operations employees as well as pay reductions for other baseball and business operations employees beginning on June 1, according to a news release from the team.

The Pirates organization's furloughed employees will continue to receive their medical benefits and the team will assist furloughed employees secure unemployment benefits.

“We care deeply about all of our employees and understand the impact this will have on them," said Pirates president Travis Williams. "These decisions are very difficult, but are necessary for us to endure this crisis and emerge as strong as possible when we are able to resume normal operations. We look forward to welcoming our employees back to work at that time.”

4:08 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

US stocks finish lower

US stocks ended down on Thursday, as the market lost momentum following the prior day’s rally.

Downbeat jobs data earlier in the day didn’t help matters: Another 2.4 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, the Department of Labor reported.

Here's where things closed:

  • The Dow finished 0.4%, or 102 points, lower.
  • The S&P 500 ended down 0.8%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite closed nearly 1% lower.
4:21 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Trump says he's discussed reopening churches with CDC

 

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departing on Marine One on May 21 in Washington.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departing on Marine One on May 21 in Washington. Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump said Thursday that he discussed the reopening of churches with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“You’re going to see some incredible numbers, starting in June/July, you’re going to see some incredible numbers because it’s coming back and it’s coming back fast,” Trump said during a listening session with African Americans at a Ford plant in Michigan. “I spoke to CDC today about churches. We’ve gotta get our churches open. We’ve gotta get our country open.”

Trump said it was Pastor Darrell Scott, who was at the listening session, who suggested he discuss reopening churches.

“A man called me and he said ‘You’ve gotta open the churches. You’ve gotta open them.’ And he’s somebody I respect a lot. … He’s a great pastor and he’s loved in his community,” Trump said while introducing Scott.

4:06 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Democratic senators ask White House to prepare for double threat of flu and coronavirus in fall

The White House should be getting the nation ready now for the double threat of influenza and coronavirus in the fall, a group of Democratic senators said Thursday.

“The combination of a Covid-19 resurgence with the annual flu outbreak is likely to strain the health care system even further, requiring even greater supplies, funding, and staff than our hospitals have needed thus far, while placing an unprecedented burden on our public health systems,” the senators, organized by Massachusetts Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, wrote in a letter addressed to Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

“The federal government must prepare now for this alarming scenario,” the senators wrote in their letter, released exclusively to CNN.

Several experts have warned that coronavirus could unleash a fresh onslaught in the fall, and combine with the regular appearance of seasonal influenza. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield told the Financial Times newspaper Thursday that Covid-19 could “reground” itself in the northern hemisphere in the autumn.

“President Trump has deemed these warnings as ‘fake news,’” the 15 senators wrote.

The letter continued: “His downplaying of the threat is irresponsible: the failure to prepare for this known risk could result in many unnecessary deaths. We urge you to begin planning for and activating the resources of the federal government now to increase capacity, supplies, and vaccinations to prevent public health and medical systems from being overwhelmed by simultaneous peaks of both of these deadly infectious diseases in the fall.”

Some background: Adding flu to the mix could not only increase the toll, but worsen the strain on hospitals.

The flu kills between 12,000 and 61,000 people a year, depending on the season, and puts as many as 800,000 people into the hospital. Already this year, coronavirus has infected more than 1.5 million Americans.

“Previous severe flu outbreaks by themselves have stretched the capacity of our health care system, leading to shortages of hospital beds and nurses,” the senators wrote.

The senators said the US needs to start a flu vaccination campaign to try to reduce the toll of this coming flu season, and the country needs to start stocking up on vaccines and other equipment such as personal protective equipment now.

4:04 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

FDA removes some antibody tests from list of those offered under emergency policy

A centrifuge and blood samples to test for COVID-19 antibodies sit on table at Abyssinian Baptist Church in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City on May 14.
A centrifuge and blood samples to test for COVID-19 antibodies sit on table at Abyssinian Baptist Church in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City on May 14. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration has posted a list of antibody tests that are being removed from the “notification list” of tests being offered under an emergency policy due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release.

Some of the tests have been removed voluntarily by the manufacturer, and others have been removed because they did not submit an Emergency Use Authorization request “within a reasonable period of time, or if significant problems are identified with such a test that cannot be or have not been addressed in a timely manner,” the FDA said in a statement. 

The FDA says it expects that the tests on the removal list will not be marketed or distributed. 

“Our action today is an important step the agency has taken to ensure that Americans have access to trustworthy tests,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn. “We have seen a high level of collaboration and engagement from developers who want to get this right, and we continue to be available to work extensively with industry to help them with developing accurate tests for the public.”

Remember: An antibody test can only be administered by gathering blood, either through a finger prick or from a vein. It's designed to detect antibodies, the Y-shaped proteins called immunoglobulins that circulate in our blood to help fight off infections in our bodies.

Even if you've never had any symptoms of Covid-19, the presence of antibodies in your blood would show your body has encountered the virus.

To be clear, antibody tests are not the "swab" tests that are meant to find out if you are currently carrying the virus. Called rt-PCR tests, or molecular diagnostic tests, those typically gather mucus from way up the nose or back of the throat. They take a few days to report results.

4:01 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Trump wears mask during his Ford plant visit

A source familiar with the President's visit to a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, said the President wore a mask out of sight of cameras during his visit. 

He is scheduled to deliver remarks to workers shortly, and is also scheduled to tour the facility. 

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also wore a mask — a requirement for all visitors to the plant. 

Trump did not wear a mask during remarks to a group of African American leaders before the tour. 

3:44 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Boston reports 3 more coronavirus-related deaths

Ambulances are lined up at the main entrance of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on April 30.
Ambulances are lined up at the main entrance of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on April 30. Elise Amendola/AP

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said that Boston has reported 93 additional Covid-19 cases, for a total of 12,143 in the city.

There were three more people who died due to Covid-19 in Boston, bringing the total number to 591, the mayor said at a news conference today.

Around the state: In Massachusetts, as a whole, there are 1,045 new Covid-19 cases for a total of 88,970, Walsh said.

There was also 128 additional deaths in the state, bringing the total number to 6,066. 

The state is launching a new online resource to help businesses and others access personal protective equipment (PPE) as Boston begins its phased reopening, Walsh said. There is guidance online at the government website that shows a list of vendors who sell PPE and cleaning supplies, Walsh said. He reminded businesses that it’s the responsibility of the employer to find supplies for workers. 

3:53 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Schools in Alabama will be allowed to reopen June 1, governor says

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey speaks during a press conference in Montgomery, Alabama, on May 21.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey speaks during a press conference in Montgomery, Alabama, on May 21. Pool

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced that she has amended the state's safer-at-home order to allow several new businesses to reopen June 1.

The new order will go into affect tomorrow at 5 p.m. and expire July 3 at 5 p.m.

Entertainment venues, athletic activities, child care and summer camps can reopen as long as social-distancing and sanitation rules are followed.

All schools, public and private — including elementary, secondary, postsecondary, technical, and specialty schools, and colleges and universities— will also be allowed to reopen.

Here are the guidelines they must follow:

  • Social distancing: Schools should take reasonable steps, where practicable, to maintain six feet of separation between persons of different households. 
  • Sanitation: Schools should take reasonable steps, where practicable, to regularly disinfect frequently used items and surfaces. 
  • Facial coverings: Employees should, to the greatest extent practicable, wear a mask or other facial covering that covers his or her nostrils and mouth at all times when in regular interaction within six feet of a person from a different household. 

In addition, educational institutions are strongly encouraged to adopt and implement additional measures to supplement these minimum rules, according to the new order.