Coronavirus headlines: All states will be partially reopened by Wednesday despite at least 17 seeing coronavirus case rates rise

News

May 19, 2020

OHIO (WJW) — As of Tuesday, there are 4,819,959 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world. There have been 318,833 deaths worldwide.

In the United States, there have been 1,508,957 confirmed cases and 90,369 deaths.

As of Tuesday in Ohio, there have been 28,952 confirmed cases and 1,720 deaths.

**For more on the coronavirus in Ohio, watch the video above**

10 p.m. update:

    (CNN) — 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.

The last state to lift some restrictions will be Connecticut, which is set Wednesday to allow outdoor dining spaces, offices, retail stores and malls, museums and zoos to reopen with restrictions.

The state hadn’t shut down some services or businesses that other states did, such as parks or outdoor construction. But Gov. Ned Lamont acknowledged the financial costs of the restrictions the state did have.

“I’m afraid there could be a sea change,” he told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday, when asked whether he calculated how many small businesses might not be able to recover.

“We’ll see whether people feel comfortable going back to restaurants. Maybe there will be more takeout. The world will change.”

Pictures from some parts of the country are now reminiscent of pre-pandemic times, with Americans venturing out to parks to soak in the spring sunshine, visiting beaches and gathering — often unmasked — in open bars and restaurants.

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.

Only 16 states’ average new daily cases dropped more than 10%. Some public health experts say declining case rates should be one guide for figuring when states should relax social distancing restrictions.

So far, more than 1.52 million people in the United States have been infected and at least 91,730 have died, according to Johns Hopkins.

Just how loosened restrictions will impact coronavirus cases won’t be evident for a while.

Experts have said it may take weeks to begin seeing the effects of more people being out and about. And public health officials warned those effects may translate to thousands more deaths across the country and a second spike of cases.

Reopenings appear to have the momentum for now, including, slowly, for sports without a crowd in attendance. The Belmont Stakes will be held June 20, officials said Tuesday. That means horse racing’s Triple Crown will start with what traditionally is the third leg, because the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes were moved to later this year.

Steps that governments did take to shut parts of the economy to slow the virus led to soaring unemployment — more than 36 million people have filed for unemployment since the middle of March.

In a Senate committee hearing Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said a program to lend billions of dollars to small and medium-sized businesses should be ready to launch by the end of the month.

9 p.m. update:

MEXICO CITY (AP) — An anti-corruption watchdog group says a registry of death certificates in Mexico City indicates the coronavirus death toll in the capital is three times higher than the official number. It says there were 4,577 cases in which doctors mentioned coronavirus or COVID-19 — while the official toll is 1,332. The city’s mayor agreed Tuesday that deaths have been undercounted, though without giving any estimate of the real toll. Mexico performs relatively few tests, and federal officials have pledged that those who died without tests but in which death certificates mention coronavirus as a possible or probable cause of death will eventually be included in the official count. But they have suggested those “suspected” cases amounted to only about a tenth of test-confirmed deaths.

7:50 p.m. update:

TORONTO (AP)— The U.S., Canada and Mexico have extended their agreements to keep their shared borders closed to non-essential travel to June 21 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the border is a source of vulnerability, so the agreement will be extended by another 30 days. The Canada restrictions were announced on March 18 and were extended in April.

Trudeau said Canada’s provincial leaders clearly wanted to continue the measures.

“This will keep people in both of our countries safe.” Trudeau said.

U.S. President Donald Trump also confirmed the extension, but looked forward to its eventual end, saying, “everything we want to get back to normal.”

Mexico’s Foreign Affairs ministry said via Twitter that after reviewing the spread of COVID-19 in Mexico and the United States the governments had decided to leave the restrictions implemented March 21 unchanged.

6:30 p.m. update:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Barbers plan to offer free haircuts on the Michigan Capitol lawn in a defiant protest of the state’s stay-at-home orders. Hair salons have become a symbol for small business owners who are eager to reopen after the long lockdowns to fight the coronavirus. That’s despite the risks of their services, which require employees to be in close contact with customers. The virus has contributed to more than 5,000 confirmed deaths in Michigan, the fourth-highest toll in the country. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s closure of nonessential businesses is among the nation’s toughest and is in effect at least through May 28.

4:25 p.m. update:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — As large parts of the U.S. ease their lockdowns against the coronavirus, public health officials in some states are being accused of bungling infection statistics or even deliberately using a little sleight of hand to make things look better than they are.

The result is that politicians, business owners and ordinary Americans who are making decisions about reopenings and other day-to-day matters risk being left with the impression that the virus is under more control than it actually is.

In Virginia, Texas and Vermont, for example, officials said they have been combining the results of viral tests, which show an active infection, with antibody tests, which show a past infection. Public health experts say that can make for impressive-looking testing totals but does not give a true picture of how the virus is spreading.

In Florida, the data scientist who developed the state’s coronavirus dashboard, Rebekah Jones, said this week that she was fired for refusing to manipulate data “to drum up support for the plan to reopen.” Calls to health officials for comment were not immediately returned Tuesday.

In Georgia, one of the earliest states to ease up on lockdowns and assure the public it was safe to go out again, the Department of Public Health published a graph around May 11 that purportedly showed new COVID-19 cases declining over time in the most severely affected counties. The entries, however, were not arranged in chronological order but in descending order.

2:50 p.m. update

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump went to Capitol Hill for lunch Tuesday with Senate Republicans — in what was perhaps one of the largest social gatherings still happening in locked-down Washington — as officials consider next steps in the coronavirus response.

The administration launched a day of appearances with GOP allies as the White House and Congress consider another pandemic aid package.

Trump attended the GOP lunch “to thank senators for their work during this unprecedented crisis, discuss the progress safely opening up America again, and explore the path to economic prosperity for all Americans,” said Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere.

The U.S. Capitol building remains largely closed with the House away due to health risks, but the Senate is in session and the 53-senator GOP majority still hashes out policy behind closed doors over lunch on Tuesdays.

With new social distancing restrictions, the Senate gathering was held in a bigger room across the street from the Capitol rather than the regular one steps from the Senate chamber. Many senators were masked and seating was limited to three to a table.

It was among the few known gatherings still happening in the nation’s capital, which remains under stay-home orders through June 8 as the virus outbreak tallies new cases and fatalities. One GOP senator and dozens of Capitol Hill workers and staff have tested positive for the virus. Senate Democrats skip in-person meetings and convene weekly by conference call.

Trump set off alarms when he disclosed this week that he is taking a drug, hydroxycholorquine, despite grave warnings from health officials and the U.S. government that the anti-malaria drug is unproven against Covid-19, and carries severe health risks, including death.

The president’s lunch visits are often free-wheeling, free-flowing conversations and various topics were likely discussed.

Earlier Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence. and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin huddled with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy for a previously scheduled meeting.

They discussed the COVID-19 response and the economy, said a person unauthorized to describe the meeting and granted anonymity.

But it did not appear to change Republicans’ outlook that more funds are needed for the pandemic response.

“I don’t see the need right now,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol.

He said they discussed different items, “the economy, the number of states that are opening back up,” and the outlook for virus testing. “Getting a lot of updates.”

While House Democrats passed a new virus aid package last week, Senate Republicans say they’re not interested in providing more funds until they assess how the $2 trillion in already approved money to fight the virus and improve the economy is being spent.

McConnell has said there’s no urgency to act on the latest $3 trillion bill from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He has declared the package a “seasonal catalogue” of liberal programs.

Pelosi’s package includes $900 billion to states and cities to shore up their budgets during the crisis and prevent mass layoffs of state and local government workers. Regional tax revenues have plummeted during the shutdown. There’s also money for more virus testing, a fresh round of $1,200 rebate checks for cash-strapped Americans and other aid.

Republicans prefer to wait to see if efforts to open up the economy can provide a kick-start and lessen the need for more aid.

“Very helpful,” said Mnuchin as he exited the meeting on his way to testify before the Senate Banking Committee. “Good update.”

1:30 p.m. update

  • (CNN) — The final nail is being driven in Pier 1’s wicker casket: It’s on the verge of completely shutting down three months after it filed for bankruptcy. Pier 1 announced Tuesday that it’s asking the bankruptcy court to cease its retail operations “as soon as reasonably possible.” It blames temporary store closures caused by coronavirus and failing to find a buyer for the drastic decision.
  • TORONTO (AP) — Canada and the United States have extended their agreement to keep the border closed to non-essential travel to June 21 during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — The Ohio National Guard is now helping at the Belmont Correctional Institution near St. Clairsville. A press release states nine medical personnel are assisting during a prison staffing shortage due to COVID-19.

12 p.m. update

(CNN) — As predicted, carbon dioxide emissions have declined during the Covid-19 pandemic. But if past crises are any indication, the environmental gains may be short-lived.

An international study of global carbon emissions found that daily emissions declined 17% between January and early April, compared to average levels in 2019, and could decline anywhere between 4.4% to 8% by the year’s end. That figure would mark the largest annual decrease in carbon emissions since World War II, researchers said.

The findings appeared today in the journal Nature Climate Change.

11:30 a.m. update

  • COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Annie Glenn, the widow of astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn and a communication disorders advocate, died Tuesday of complications from COVID-19. She was 100.
  • OHIO (WJW) — Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered the flags of the United States and the state of Ohio be flown at half staff to honor Annie Glenn, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 100.
  • (CNN) — The World Health Organization (WHO) has agreed to hold an inquiry into the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, adopting a resolution at its annual summit that has been backed by China, where the virus was first recorded. WHO member states adopted the proposal with no objections during the World Health Assembly meeting on Tuesday, after the European Union and Australia led calls for an investigation.

8:40 a.m. update

(CNN) — President Donald Trump late Monday threatened to permanently pull US funding from the World Health Organization if it does not “commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days.”

In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump said, “It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world. The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.

“My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste.”

The threat comes at a remarkable time. The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 90,000 Americans and more than 318,000 people worldwide as of late Monday and, while there are promising signs from some vaccine trials, there is no cure for the virus.

The letter also underscores the extent to which blame aimed at the WHO and China has become a defining part of the President’s response to the outbreak. When many of his predecessors would rely on global institutions to help stem the tide of a pandemic, Trump’s ultimatum is just the latest sign of his distrust toward world entities.

CNN has reached out to the WHO for comment on the President’s threat.

6:30 a.m. update

(CNN) — By Memorial Day weekend, every US state will have begun lifting measures enacted weeks ago to curb the spread of coronavirus. Many governors have already pushed into a second phase of reopening their economies, with some states now allowing restaurants, retailers and personal service shops to reopen their doors.

By now, all states but Connecticut have in some way moved toward returning to a semblance of normalcy. On Monday, Massachusetts entered the first phase of their reopening plan, giving the green light to manufacturing facilities, construction sites and places of worship as long as they abide by certain restrictions.

And Connecticut will follow suit on Wednesday, when outdoor dining spaces, offices, retail stores and malls, museums and zoos will all be allowed to reopen with restrictions.

As of Tuesday, only 16 states have seen a downward trend of cases over the past seven days, according to an analysis based on data from Johns Hopkins University.

So far, more than 1,508,800 Americans have been infected and at least 90,369 have died, according to Johns Hopkins.

Pictures from some parts of the country are now reminiscent of pre-pandemic times, with Americans venturing out to parks to soak in the spring sunshine, visiting beaches on both coasts of the country and gathering — often unmasked — in open bars and restaurants.

But just how those loosened restrictions will impact coronavirus cases won’t be evident for a while.

When the first states began rolling out reopening plans last month, experts warned it may take weeks to begin seeing the effects of more people out and about. And public health officials warned those effects may translate to thousands more deaths across the country and a second spike of cases.

A leading model has now revised its death toll projections slightly downward, forecasting that 143,357 people will die by August 4. The experts behind the predictions say while they didn’t find a correlation between Americans’ mobility and deaths, the difference lies in how many people opt for masks and keep their distance from others.

**For more on the coronavirus pandemic, including in Ohio, click here**

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