Cuomo on New York reopening; Jersey Shore; Ivanka

Cuomo on New York reopening; Jersey Shore; Ivanka

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued long-awaited guidance on how businesses, schools and other establishments should go about reopening safely to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as states lift stay-at-home orders.

The six one-page documents, though, are much shorter and less detailed than others that the CDC developed and Trump administration shelved, media reports say. 

Meanwhile, Friday will see parts of New York, the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., allowed to reopen but Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned residents to remain cautious. “Phased reopening does not mean the problem has gone away,” Cuomo said. “Follow the data, follow the science, follow the facts, follow the metrics.”

The U.S. has the largest coronavirus outbreak in the world by far. There are almost 86,000 deaths and 1.4 million confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, the virus has killed more than 302,000 people and has infected more than 4.4 million.

Our live blog is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news, and get updates in your inbox with The Daily Briefing. Scroll down for more details.

Here are some of the most significant recent developments:

  • The British medical journal The Lancet published an editorial calling for a president to take office in 2021 who “will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.”
  • The House is set to vote on a historic $3 trillion stimulus proposal that includes more $1,200 checks, but the bill is likely to get a cool reception from the Senate.
  • Ivanka Trump, daughter and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, says she wears a mask at the White House — which is one reason the president does not.
  • Wisconsinites are trying to understand what daily life is supposed to look like now that the state Supreme Court has eliminated the governor’s stay-at-home order. It looks like the rules will be set by city and county officials.

What we’re talking about Friday: Online school is hard. But what if you’re still learning to speak English?

Some good news: Sylvia Goldsholl is 108 and she lived through Spanish flu. She may be the nation’s oldest COVID-19 survivor, too.

From our editor-in-chief: Don’t sugarcoat news. Tell the truth. Don’t over-reassure. Lessons for those leading during the coronavirus.


Where does the U.S. stimulus money come from? Here’s how the Federal Reserve is saving the economy from the COVID-19 crisis.


Retails sales tumble by record 16% in April

Retail sales in the United States plunged by a record 16.4% from March to April as business shutdowns caused by the coronavirus kept shoppers away, threatened stores across the country and weighed down a sinking economy.

The Commerce Department’s report Friday on retail purchases showed a sector that has collapsed so quickly that sales over the past 12 months are down a crippling 21.6%. The sharpest drops from March to April were at clothiers, electronics stores, furniture stores and restaurants. However, online purchases ticked up as that segment posted a 8.4% monthly gain.

The plunge in retail spending is a key reason why the U.S. economy is contracting.

Mitch McConnell: I was ‘wrong’ to say Obama left no pandemic plan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has issued a rare mea culpa, saying he mistakenly accused the Obama administration of not leaving a plan for President Donald Trump on how to deal with a pandemic.

“I was wrong,” McConnell told Fox News on Thursday. “They did leave behind a plan. So, I clearly made a mistake in that regard.”

McConnell was referring to remarks he made Monday to Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, during a reelection campaign livestream. Referring to the coronavirus crisis, he told Lara Trump that the Obama administration “did not leave any kind of game plan for something like this.”

– Ledyard King

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to reopen partially Saturday

President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club will reopen Saturday almost two months after it closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But there will be some changes: It’s BYOT – Bring Your Own Towel –as there will be no towel service. Germ-y noodles, floats and any other pool toys will be banned. Also, the main house, tennis courts, spa, gym, and locker rooms will remain closed.

More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAY

– Shannon Donnelly

Social distancing has dropped significantly in the US, poll finds

More Americans are leaving their homes than at any point in weeks.

The number of Americans who say they are social distancing amid the nation’s coronavirus pandemic – although still a majority – has dropped by 17 percentage points since late March as several states have ended stay-at-home orders, according to a new Gallup poll released Friday.

But the drop isn’t just from individuals who live in states where they can now dine in restaurants, get haircuts at barbershops or visit parks. More people in states that still have stay-at-home restrictions are also no longer social distancing. 

Fifty-eight percent of Americans said they are either completely (17%) or mostly (41%) isolating themselves, the poll found, down from a high of 75% who said they were between March 30 and April 4 and 68% who said they were April 20-26.

However, an ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday found that almost 70% of Americans that have children under 18 who typically go to school are currently not willing to send them back. The poll also found nearly 3 in 4 Americans believe there is a shortage of coronavirus tests available in the U.S.

– Joey Garrison

CDC releases ‘decision tools’ to guide reopenings

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday six one-page documents to help guide schools, restaurants, mass transit and other businesses to reopen safely while protecting against the spread of the virus.

The six pages include details for how schools, child care programs, camps, restaurants and bars, mas transit and workplaces should reopen.

All of the documents require the establishments to comply with local health officials’ orders and to be able to protect higher risk employees. Schools, child care and camps require screening of children and employees for symptoms and exposure history.

The Associated Press reported that the six documents are much shorter than more extensive reopening guidelines that the CDC had prepared but that the Trump administration delayed. Those documents give businesses and other establishments more detailed instructions, the AP reported.

Lancet editorial blasts Trump, calls for president not guided by ‘partisan politics’

The British medical journal The Lancet published an editorial blasting President Donald Trump and his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic while also calling for a president to take office in 2021 who “will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.”

The prestigious medical journal wrote in the editorial the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made mistakes in the early days of the virus spread in the U.S., but that years of funding cuts and consistent undermining of the agency’s health experts by the Trump administration has further weakened the CDC’s response.

“There is no doubt that the CDC has made mistakes … But punishing the agency by marginalising and hobbling it is not the solution,” the journal wrote.

Ivanka Trump wears a mask inside the White House and ‘everyone is instructed to do so as well’

Ivanka Trump, daughter and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, says she wears a mask at the White House, and that’s one reason the president doesn’t have to. “There are different procedures as it relates to interacting with the president,” Ivanka Trump told USA TODAY on Thursday when asked about criticism her father has received for declining to wear a mask in public.

The president “is tested on a daily basis – all those who come into contact with him are tested on a daily basis,” she said in an interview. “No one is in close proximity to him that isn’t wearing a mask. I always wear a mask when I am with the president, and everyone is instructed to do so as well.”

Last week, the White House implemented new safety measures after two aides tested positive for the coronavirus and three members of the coronavirus task force entered quarantine after attending meetings with one of the staff members diagnosed with the virus. 

– David Jackson and Courtney Subramanian

Epicenter of US COVID-19 outbreak, New York state, to begin reopening

Parts of New York state, which has been the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, will begin reopening Friday — including a wide range of businesses, from construction and manufacturing to tennis courts and drive-in theaters.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the The Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley and North Country regions of western and Upstate New York have met seven crucial criteria, including declining hospitalizations and ramped-up testing capacity. Yet, New York City is not among areas ready to reopen. The state’s stay-at-home order will remain in effect at least through June 13 as regions work to meet the reopening criteria.

“It’s been a crisis and a painful one, but we are coming out the other side,” Cuomo said. “This is the next big step in this historic journey.” 

Congressman: Airlines should leave seats empty on planes to promote social distancing

The chairman of the House Transportation Committee called on airlines Thursday to dramatically cut back the number of seats they offer on aircraft to promote social distancing.

Rep. Peter DeFazio said he was acting after seeing a tweeted photo from a physician on a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, that showed passengers in every seat. Dr. Ethan Weiss’ tweets said passengers, including a group of 25 fellow health workers like himself who had been caring for coronavirus patients in New York, were “shocked” and “scared” at the sight of a full Boeing 737.

“I would be, too, if I were about to spend the next five hours sealed in a tube with up to 184 passengers, all seated inches from one another, and any number of whom could be a carrier of COVID-19,” wrote DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, in letters to two industry groups, Airlines for America and the National Air Carrier Association.

Many airlines say they have been voluntarily leaving middle seats empty on flights in order to promote social distancing. 

– Chris Woodyard and Dawn Gilbertson

Coronavirus could be contracted through eyes

More Americans are using cloth coverings to shield their noses and mouths in an effort to blunt the spread of coronavirus, but eyes — long believed to be a possible infection route — usually remain open to the air. That’s how a high-profile infectious disease expert believes he caught the virus.

Virologist and NBC contributor Joseph Fair says he was likely infected through his eyes while on a crowded airplane flight, Fair told the Today Show. He said he was taking precautions he advises others to take, including wearing a mask.

Yet, days later, he began presenting symptoms of COVID-19 and soon needed to be hospitalized. “You can still get this virus through your eyes … it’s the best guess I have of probably how I got it,” Fair said. He also said he expects he will soon be discharged.

Experts told USA TODAY Thursday that, while the story underscores a risk that people should take seriously during a pandemic, it isn’t one that should prompt panic.

– Joel Shannon

One in four restaurants may shut down permanently

One of the most noticeable long-term victims of the COVID-19 crisis may be restaurants, with 25% of them likely shuttering for good. That’s the forecast from the reservation service OpenTable, whose bookings on Wednesday had shrunk by 95% compared to May 13 of last year, Bloomberg reported.

The National Restaurant Association said its members lost about $30 billion in March, and $50 billion in April. In the last week alone, several restaurants have announced they won’t re-open, including the buffet chain Sweet Tomatoes/Souplantation, Jen’s Grill in Chicago and 32-year-old Ristorante Franchino in San Francisco.

– Jefferson Graham

Global deaths pass 300,000 and counting

Crossing the 300,000 mark in global deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday served as another grim reminder of the enormous damage inflicted by the virus, with the U.S. right in the middle of the pandemic.

No country approaches even half the 85,000-plus lives the U.S. has lost. That figure represents about 28% of the world’s total even though the American population makes up only 4.3% of the global amount. 

Next on the death toll list is Great Britain with more than 33,000. The UK population of 67 million is about 20% of the U.S.’s 330 million, so the British rate of fatalities is considerably higher than America’s.

The Jersey shore, ‘where memories are made,’ to open Memorial Day weekend

New Jersey’s beaches can reopen by Memorial Day weekend but with rules in place that will require beachgoers to spread out their umbrellas and chairs more than usual. Gov. Phil Murphy said towns that open their beaches, boardwalks and lakefronts must comply with social distancing measures and limit capacity. More than 15,000 coronavirus deaths have been reported in New Jersey so far, the second-highest total behind New York.

“The Jersey Shore after all is where memories are made,” Murphy said. “The last thing any of us wanted was a summertime down the shore to be a memory.” 

– Stacey Barchenger

Whistleblower warns of ‘darkest winter in modern history’

An immunologist who says he was unfairly ousted from the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that if the U.S. does not develop a plan to address a second wave of the virus, the country will experience the “darkest winter in modern history.” 

Rick Bright, who was removed last month from his position as the director of HHS’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the nation might be rushing too quickly on a vaccine before a full assessment is made of its effectiveness and safety. A 12-to-18-month schedule to develop one would require everything to go perfectly, he said.

“We’ve never seen anything go perfectly,” he added.

– Maureen Groppe and William Cummings

More COVID-19 headlines from USA TODAY


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