US coronavirus death toll tops 100,000

By Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 9:04 p.m. ET, May 27, 2020
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8:34 a.m. ET, May 27, 2020

Daily deaths in US now more than 10% higher than in previous years

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Refrigeration trucks that function as temporary morgues for coronavirus victims are seen at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in New York on May 25.
Refrigeration trucks that function as temporary morgues for coronavirus victims are seen at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in New York on May 25. Noam Galai/Getty Images

The number of people dying each day in the United States since early April has been consistently more than 10% higher than in previous years, according to a new report from the Health Care Cost Institute in Washington. 

The institute connects this rise in daily deaths to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Health Care Cost Institute, an independent nonprofit research organization, based its report on data from obituaries for all deaths due to any cause, not just Covid-19.

To better understand the number of daily deaths happening in the United States during the pandemic, researchers at the institute compared the daily count of deaths for each day this year with the average number of deaths on each day for the years 2014 through 2019. Those estimates for daily deaths are reported at the national and state level, and for New York City.

New York City, widely held as the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, experienced more than double the typical daily deaths every day since the end of March," the Health Care Cost Institute noted on its website.

"By mid-April, we begin to observe a decline in daily deaths in some areas such as New York and New Jersey; daily deaths continued to rise in other states such as Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland," the Health Care Cost Institute said. "We will continue to monitor these trends and many others as the data is updated each week."

The institute's new data, updated weekly, aggregates information on daily deaths in the United States using obituaries from online newspapers, funeral homes, online memorials, direct submissions and other sources through a health data system called Datavant.

US health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tend to rely on death certificate data to track daily deaths..

Despite using a different primary source of death data, the Health Care Cost Institute said it fonds similar results to CDC estimates of excess deaths.

"We hope that this analysis serves as a research resource to those seeking to better understand the effect of COVID-19 on all-cause mortality," the institute said.


7:36 a.m. ET, May 27, 2020

Federal agencies turn to untested suppliers for big PPE contracts

From CNN's Casey Tolan

N95 face masks are seen at a store in East Palo Alto, California, on January 26.
N95 face masks are seen at a store in East Palo Alto, California, on January 26. Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Facing a supply crunch for sorely needed medical equipment such as masks and gowns, the federal government has turned to a long list of untested suppliers -- some of which have failed to deliver.

Nearly one out of every five Covid-19-related federal contracts for $1million or more went to companies that had never won a contract with the federal government before the crisis began, according to a CNN analysis of procurement data.

While some of the first-time contractors have substantial experience in the Personal Protective Equipment industry, others are small firms with no record of producing or procuring medical equipment, CNN found.

The vendors who've won multi-million dollar deals range from a California firm whose previous products include a vodka bottle with an LED screen, to an Ohio tampon manufacturer that has shifted part of its production line from menstrual products to face masks, to a company registered by a former Trump administration deputy White House chief of staff less than two weeks before it was awarded its first contract.

Already, some have failed to deliver: Two of the seven largest contracts given to companies that were new to federal contracting have been canceled after the suppliers didn't deliver promised respirator masks.

And questions remain about the quality of equipment delivered by other vendors, including the company formed by former Trump administration aide Zachary Fuentes.

Read more here.

8:28 a.m. ET, May 27, 2020

Nevada governor announces state can move into Phase 2 of reopening from Friday

From CNN's Joe Sutton

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak speaks during a news conference in Las Vegas on March 17.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak speaks during a news conference in Las Vegas on March 17. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has announced that the state is ready to move into Phase 2 of reopening from Friday, May 29.

Under the Phase 2 guidelines up to 50 people can meet at private and public gatherings, while maintaining social distancing.

Gyms, fitness facilities and pools may also reopen and museums and art galleries may reopen but at no more than 50% capacity.

Some businesses will remain closed under Phase 2, including adult entertainment establishments, nightclubs and live performance venues with spectators.

Live sporting events are also not permitted.

Employees of business which are allowed to open must wear face coverings.

8:28 a.m. ET, May 27, 2020

More than 62,000 US health care professionals have had Covid-19, CDC says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Thousands of American doctors and nurses have gotten sick caring for Covid-19 patients, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

Of an estimated 62,344 health care professionals who have contracted the disease, at least 291 have died, said the CDC.

And these numbers are likely higher in reality, since the agency only has death status data for a little over half of cases it has information on. Many reports on cases also don't include whether the person worked in health care, meaning there are probably cases left out of this count.

The last time the CDC highlighted the number of cases among health care workers was on April 15. At that time, the number of infected health care workers was 9,282 -- a fraction of what it is now.

Health care workers around the country have also complained for months that they do not have enough access to protective equipment. 

7:21 a.m. ET, May 27, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic's path ahead could be shaped by masks

From CNN's Madeline Holcolmbe and Steve Almasy

A sign about wearing masks is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange on May 26. The New York Stock Exchange partially reopened its trading floor after a two-month closure.
A sign about wearing masks is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange on May 26. The New York Stock Exchange partially reopened its trading floor after a two-month closure. Wang Ying/Xinhua/Getty Images

Americans are at odds over whether it's necessary to continue taking coronavirus protective measures, but a leading researcher says the data is clear: the path ahead in the Covid-19 pandemic is being shaped by masks.

"We now have really clear evidence that wearing masks works -- it's probably a 50% protection against transmission," Dr. Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "And so, what happens in the next month or two is very much in the hands of how people respond."

At least 1,680,913 people have been infected with the virus nationally and 98,913 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The IHME, which produces a coronavirus model that has been cited by the White House and is one of more than a dozen highlighted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Tuesday said the model projects fewer people will die in the United States by August than it had projected last week.

The model revised its forecast to 132,000 deaths -- which is 11,000 fewer than it projected a week ago.

Behavioral changes like wearing masks could be responsible for the reduction, Murray said.

Read more here.

7:43 a.m. ET, May 27, 2020

There's conflicting information on how coronavirus spreads. Here's what we do know about Covid-19

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Dr. Megan Ranney
Dr. Megan Ranney CNN

Dr. Megan Ranney spent last week testifying about the coronavirus before Congress.

After Ranney took to Twitter on Sunday with a series of posts on the topic that many found extremely helpful and informative, CNN interviewed the emergency physician and Brown University associate professor of emergency medicine.

Here some points she shared with CNN about what we know about Covid-19. The following interview, conducted via Twitter, has been lightly edited. You can read more of the interview here.

Q: We know the genome of the virus. Why is that important?

A: Because it helps us to (a) identify if/when it mutates, (b) track its spread (c) identify treatments and vaccines (because we focus in on specific targets on the virus.)

Q: You mentioned in your Twitter thread that we know how to fight this. If we get more testing, do contact tracing better which isolates and identifies exposed and sick people, and get better PPE, we don't have to social distance as much. Why is that?

A: We have to social distance in order to prevent transmission. We currently try to social distance from *almost everyone* because we don't know who might be infectious. But if we know exactly who is sick, and if those people stay isolated from others, then the rest of us can go about our business without worrying.

Q: Do we know that people out in parks/at the beach are safe from getting the virus? People that aren't wearing masks at the beach but that may be social distancing, they are okay and not in a high risk situation?

A: Re: being at parks/at the beach -- there's a gradient of risk. Being outdoors is lower risk than being indoors, because the virus dissipates. It's *possible* to get infected if you're downwind from someone who's sick, but it's unlikely. (I'll go back to my analogy above about a strong smell. If you're on the beach, and someone sprays a perfume, you won't smell it at all, or might smell it for a very little period of time. If you're in a closed room, though, you'll smell it for a while).

Q: So if we know who is sick, and they aren't in the general population/interacting with others, we can relax social distancing ... close families/friend groups can gather, within reason?

A: Correct! BUT it's important to also have random testing of asymptomatic people -- because (a) people can be infectious before they have symptoms, and (b) current data suggests that 1/3 of people don't ever get symptoms (but may still be infectious)

Q: And we know what constitutes "high-risk" exposure.

A: High-risk exposure = inside, close together. The longer you're close to someone who's sick, the higher the chances of your getting infected. We can't yet say "2 feet" or "6 feet" or "12 feet" is adequate inside -- current recommendations are 6 feet but there's debate about that.

Q: But how do we prevent high-risk exposures from careless people? Or people that just don't know they have it?

A: Great question re. careless people. This is where consistent, high quality public health messaging is important. We need to (1) make it easy for people to stay home if they're sick (make sure they have food, make sure they have sick leave, etc), (2) create NORMS that they will stay home (e.g., people feel that they're *expected* by their friends and family to stay home.)

Some may also add (3) enforce isolation by checking on people daily, and maybe even having fines if they break isolation. This is more extreme but is sometimes needed.

8:29 a.m. ET, May 27, 2020

The US now has 1.68 million cases of Covid-19

The United States now has at least 1,681,418 cases of coronavirus and 98,929 related deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

New York remains the hardest hit state, with 363,836 cases and 29,302 deaths. New Jersey, Illinois, and California follow next.

Take a look at CNN's live tracker of US cases:

5:32 a.m. ET, May 27, 2020

Antibody tests might be wrong half of the time, CDC says in new guidance

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A person receives a Covid-19 antibody test in Bal Harbour, Florida, on May 13.
A person receives a Covid-19 antibody test in Bal Harbour, Florida, on May 13. David Santiago/Miami Herald/AP

Antibody tests used to determine if people have been infected in the past with Covid-19 might be wrong up to half the time, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns, in new guidance posted on its website. 

Antibody tests, often called serologic tests, look for evidence of an immune response to infection. "Antibodies in some persons can be detected within the first week of illness onset," the CDC said.

They are not accurate enough to use to make important policy decisions, the CDC said.

"Serologic test results should not be used to make decisions about grouping persons residing in or being admitted to congregate settings, such as schools, dormitories, or correctional facilities," the CDC said.

"Serologic test results should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace."

Why this matters: Health officials or health care providers who are using antibody tests need to use the most accurate test they can find, and might need to test people twice, the CDC said in the new guidance.

"In most of the country, including areas that have been heavily impacted, the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibody is expected to be low, ranging from less than 5% to 25%, so that testing at this point might result in relatively more false positive results and fewer false-negative results," the CDC said.

It's a point that has been made frequently in recent weeks by public health experts, but the CDC spells out the problem in the new advice on antibody testing.

A false positive will lead someone to believe they have been infected when in fact they have not been. There's little evidence now about whether having been infected gives people immunity to later infection, but doctors worry that people will behave as if they are immune if they get a positive antibody test.

"It cannot be assumed that individuals with truly positive antibody test results are protected from future infection," the CDC said in the updated guidelines. "Serologic testing should not be used to determine immune status in individuals until the presence, durability, and duration of immunity is established."

Read more here:

8:29 a.m. ET, May 27, 2020

The numbers of new Covid-19 cases are rising in 17 states

From CNN's Holly Yan and Christina Maxouris

People gather at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles on May 23.
People gather at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles on May 23. Mark J. Terrill/AP

Packing pool parties and other Memorial Day events, many Americans marked the unofficial start of summer just like they did before coronavirus.

But while the revelers shunned face masks and ignored social distancing guidelines, the virus keeps spreading unabated, killing both the elderly and the young.

In 17 states, the numbers of new cases are trending upward. Those states include Georgia, Arkansas, California and Alabama.

In 20 states, the numbers of new cases each day are generally going down. And in 13 states, the numbers appear to be holding steady.

Some Americans took warnings from health officials very seriously -- wearing masks while in public, keeping their distance from strangers or celebrating the holiday weekend at home.

Those precautions are especially important because new research shows an estimated 40% of coronavirus transmissions happen before symptoms even appear.

And now that states have loosened or eliminated stay-at-home orders, "it is up to every individual to protect themselves and their community," said Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration.

"Social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks protect us all."

Track the virus in your state and nationwide here.