More than 4.4 million people worldwide -- including more than 1.4 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies.
Live updates for Friday, May 15, continue below:
Judge orders Los Angeles to move thousands of homeless
Update 11:45 p.m. EDT May 15: The city of Los Angeles and LA County must find shelter for thousands of homeless people who are living near freeways, a federal judge ordered Friday, saying their health is at risk from pollution, earthquakes and the coronavirus.
U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter issued a preliminary injunction requiring relocation of an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people camping near freeway ramps and under overpasses and bridges. He gave officials one week — until May 22 — to come up with a plan for providing “humane” housing.
“Without adequate access to shelter, hygiene products, and sanitation facilities, individuals experiencing homelessness face a greater risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, and an outbreak in the homeless community would threaten the general public as well,” Carter wrote.
He said those living near freeways are exposed to pollution, including lead, that can shorten their life expectancy by decades. Carter also said the location means the homeless face a greater danger of being struck by a car or injured during an accident or earthquake.
Carter said alternatives to shelters could include “safe parking sites” to camp or hotel and motel rooms that the county is renting under Project Roomkey, a state program established during the pandemic to get thousands of homeless off the streets temporarily to avoid transmission of COVID-19.
The injunction was issued in a lawsuit filed by the LA Alliance for Human Rights, which accused officials in greater Los Angeles of failing to comprehensively address the homelessness crisis.
“It seems like this order was meant to galvanize action and really compel all parties to start thinking these challenges in a new and innovative way,” said Daniel Conway, policy adviser for the alliance. “The judge has, frankly, issued a challenge: Let’s make this work and let’s start saving lives.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed hope for an agreement by the deadline.
House OKs proxy votes
Update 10:50 p.m. EDT May 15: Neither Civil War nor Great Depression nor any other national crisis has pushed the House to allow lawmakers to vote by proxy — without being “present,” as the Constitution requires. That’s about to change during the coronavirus pandemic.
The House approved Friday a package of historic rules changes so Congress can keep functioning even while it’s partly closed. The shift will dramatically change the look, if not the operation, of the legislative branch — launching a 21st century WFH House, like others, “working from home.
“This House must continue legislating,” Rep. Jim McGovern, the chairman of the House Rules Committee, said during a lengthy session ahead of the vote. “And we have to do so in a way that is safe for all those around us.”
Debate over the changes has been fierce. As President Donald Trump encourages Americans back to work, the 435-member House has stayed away due to health risks while the smaller Senate has resumed operations.
Democrats argue the House can rely on technology for remote work as the pandemic drags on. But Republicans objected to what they see as a power grab during the crisis. The vote was 217-189.
Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the rules panel, warned the changes will fundamentally alter the nature of the institution, “and not for the better.”
One by one Republicans lined up Friday to speak against it.
“We should all get to Washington, do our jobs,” said Rep. Bradley Byre, R-Ala.
Under the new rules, House lawmakers will no longer be required to travel to Washington to participate in floor votes. They will be allowed to vote by proxy — assigning their vote to another lawmaker who will be at the Capitol to cast it for them. Eventually, a provision allows for direct remote voting, once the technology is approved.
House passes $3T coronavirus relief package
Update 9:35 p.m. EDT May 15: Democrats powered a massive $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill through the House on Friday, an election-year measure designed to brace a U.S. economy in free fall and a health care system struggling to contain a pandemic still pummeling the country.
The 208-199 vote, over strong Republican opposition, advances what boils down to a campaign-season display of Democratic economic and health-care priorities. It has no chance of becoming law as written, but will likely spark difficult negotiations with the White House and Senate Republicans. Any product would probably be the last major COVID-19 response bill before November’s presidential and congressional elections.
The enormous Democratic measure would cost more than the prior four coronavirus bills combined. It would deliver almost $1 trillion for state and local governments, another round of $1,200 direct payments to individuals and help for the unemployed, renters and homeowners, college debt holders and the struggling Postal Service.
“Not to act now is not only irresponsible in a humanitarian way, it is irresponsible because it’s only going to cost more,” warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “More in terms of lives, livelihood, cost to the budget, cost to our democracy.”
Republicans mocked the bill as a bloated Democratic wish-list that was dead on arrival in the GOP-led Senate and, for good measure, faced a White House veto threat. Party leaders say they want to assess how $3 trillion approved earlier is working and see if some states’ partial business reopenings would spark an economic revival that would ease the need for more safety net programs.
Republicans are also sorting through internal divisions and awaiting stronger signals from President Donald Trump about what he will support.
“Phase Four is going to happen,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, using Washington insider-speak for the measure. “But it’s going to happen in a much better way for the American people.”
Trump and top Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are insisting the next measure should protect reopening businesses from liability lawsuits. The president is also demanding a cut to payroll taxes, but GOP leaders are not yet onboard.
New York tourist arrested after posting Hawaii beach photos
Update 9:30 p.m. EDT May 15: A tourist from New York was arrested for allegedly violating Hawaii’s traveler quarantine after he posted on Instagram photos of himself sunbathing and carrying a surfboard, state officials said.
Hawaii authorities have been cracking down on travelers who defy a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people arriving in the islands, a rule put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
As of Friday, Hawaii reported one new case of COVI-19, bringing the statewide total 638 cases and 17 deaths.
Some tourists have been arrested for defying the quarantine.
Tarique Peters, 23, of the Bronx, arrived in Honolulu on Monday, said a news release from the Hawaii COVID-19 Joint Information Center.
“He allegedly left his hotel room the day he arrived and traveled many places using public transportation,” the release said. “Authorities became aware of his social media posts from citizens who saw posts of him — on the beach with a surfboard, sunbathing, and walking around Waikiki at night.”
Agents from the state attorney general’s office arrested him Friday morning. Hotel staff told the agents they saw Peters leave his room and the hotel numerous times.
Travelers in quarantine aren’t allowed to leave hotel rooms or residences for any reason except medical emergencies. Hotel guests don’t receive housekeeping services and must arrange for food to be delivered to them.
Peters was booked, and his bail was set at $4,000.
Tourists enter reopened Grand Canyon despite virus concerns
Update 6:45 p.m. EDT May 15: Tourists appeared ready to roam Grand Canyon National Park again after it partially reopened Friday, despite objections from Navajo officials and others that it could hurt efforts to control the coronavirus.
By 7:30 a.m., more than two dozen people were enjoying viewpoints along the South Rim.
Among them was Matthias Zutter, 35, who was traveling through Arizona with his wife in a camper van as part of a final adventure before moving back to their hometown of Stans, Switzerland. The couple have been living in the U.S. for the past five years. They had visited the Grand Canyon once already but not the South Rim, which they’ve always wanted to hike.
“We got to see it one more time but not experience it the way we’d like to,” Zutter said. “At least it opened up today for us to stop and enjoy the views. We’ve got to look at the positive side.”
The couple, who were carrying masks, also never felt at risk of getting sick while they were there.
“I’d say you could clearly see that people took precautions and were keeping their distance and not touching things if it was not necessary,” Zutter said.
The Grand Canyon had been closed since April 1, one of the last big national parks to shut down completely to visitors. At the time, health officials in Coconino County said keeping the park open put employees, residents and tourists at risk.
Georgia aims to ease virus spread among Hispanic residents
Update 6 p.m. EDT May 15: “No Mask! No Service! No Mascara! No Servicio!” say the stickers, posters and T-shirts going up across northeast Georgia, as community leaders try to rally people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which recently flared up in the region and threatened to level the state’s huge poultry processing industry.
At La Flor de Jalisco #2 supermarket in the heart of Gainesville’s large Spanish-speaking community, hundreds of people drove up or walked up Friday to be tested for COVID-19. Shoppers wearing masks trickled in and out of the store.
It’s part of an effort aimed at tamping down the spread of disease in an area where an outbreak alarmed officials. Gainesville’s Hall County and neighboring Habersham County have the highest infection rates in north Georgia, which prompted Gov. Brian Kemp’s administration to begin focusing on the region in late April.
The Republican governor visited Gainesville Friday to highlight the effort, with local leaders saying they believed community outreach and infection-control efforts had begun to control the disease. It had threatened to overwhelm local nurses and take down the nation’s largest concentration of chicken processing plants.
As poultry industry officials proudly noted Friday, Georgia is the nation’s largest chicken producer, a $41 billion industry that employs more than 45,000 people statewide and turns out 15% of U.S. production.
Kemp’s visit came as Georgia neared 37,000 overall infections and more than 1,550 deaths. The state recently surpassed 300,000 tests, which Kemp hailed as a milestone in efforts to locate virus cases. The latest testing figure represents close to 3% of the state’s population.
But an Associated Press analysis found Georgia was among 41 states that are falling short of the COVID-19 testing levels that public health experts say are necessary to safely ease lockdowns and avoid another deadly wave of outbreaks.
Stocks manage modest gains but still end lower for the week
Update 4:20 p.m. EDT May 15: Stocks managed to close modestly higher on Wall Street Friday after a day of wobbling between gains and losses.
The S&P 500 rose 0.4%. The index still wound up with its biggest weekly drop since late March. The market’s enthusiasm was checked by yet more grim data showing how badly the coronavirus pandemic is crippling the economy. Retail sales sank a record 16.4% in April and industrial production plunged a record 11.2%. At the same time, investors are cautiously optimistic that the fallout from the outbreak will begin easing as more U.S. states reopen their economies.
Sailors on USS Theodore Roosevelt get virus second time
Update 4:00 p.m. EDT May 15: Five sailors the aircraft carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for a second time for COVID-19. They have been removed from the ship, The Associated Press reported.
All had been in isolation before for two weeks before being allowed back on the ship.
Vice President absent from events with president
Update 3:32 p.m. EDT May 15: Vice President Mike Pence was absent from on-camera events with President Donald Trump. Officials said he was still leading the coronavirus task force meeting but was not at Trump’s events out of an abundance of caution, CNN reported. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Pence is healthy as did a separate staff member.
Kate Miller, Pence’s press secretary, tested positive for coronavirus late last week, CNBC reported.
Rick Bright to return to NIH
Update 2:24 p.m. EDT May 15: The former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will return to the National Institutes of Health.
Rick Bright will be “second in command of the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines,” a source at the Department of Health and Human Services told CNN.
But Bright, who testified before Congress Thursday about a whistleblower complaint, is looking to be reinstated as the head of BARDA. Bright said he warned the leadership of HHS about concerns over a dwindling supply of personal protective equipment, but was “met with indifference.” He also testified that there is still no coordinated plan to battle the coronavirus, CNN reported.
But Bright’s attorney, Debra Katz, said her client was told it was a generic senior advisor role emphasizing diagnostics, The Washington Post reported.
U.S. death toll climbs above 86K
Update 1:40 p.m. EDT May 15: The death toll has hit 86,228 in the U.S. as Johns Hopkins University updated the number of cases. As of Friday, there are 8,942 new cases and 330 deaths.
President Trump gives remarks on vaccine development
Update 12:41 p.m. EDT May 15: President Donald Trump is expected to speak shortly from the White House Rose Garden. You can watch the remarks here or below.
As expected, Trump announced the leaders of “Operation Warp Speed” to develop the coronavirus vaccine. Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division, and Gen. Gustave Perna, a four-star Army general.
Slaoui will be the chief advisor with Perna serving as chief operating officer overseeing logistics, CNN reported.
Trump said the administration will have the vaccine “in the relatively near future” hopefully before the end of the year.
New York beaches to open for Memorial Day
Update 12:40 p.m. EDT May 15: Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during his daily news conference that New York beaches will be open for Memorial Day, as will the beaches in New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware.
Each state will have rules as to what will be permitted but will be similar, Cuomo said.
For New York, beaches will be limited to 50% capacity. There will be no group contact activities. Playgrounds and picnic areas will remain closed. Masks must be worn by employees at businesses and social distancing must be practiced. Visitors must wear masks when they can not social distance.
Town and county beaches can close or open at the officials’ discretion but if they decide to open, then they must abide by the rules, Cuomo said, according to CNN.
Nearly 86K deaths in U.S.
Update 11:10 a.m. EDT May 15: The United States has at least 85,964 deaths from the coronavirus with at least 1,419,863 cases according to Johns Hopkins University. Of those numbers, there were 2,089 new cases and 66 deaths as of Friday.
110 cases of pediatric inflammatory syndrome in NYC
Update 10:45 a.m. EDT May 15: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said there are at least 110 cases of pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome. In over half of the cases the child either tested positive for COVID-19 or the virus’ antibodies, CNN reported.
The illness has been seen in at least 18 states and Washington, D.C.
President Trump to make vaccine announcement Friday
Update 10:25 a.m. EDT May 15: President Donald Trump will speak from the Rose Garden about where the U.S. stands on developing a vaccine, CNN reported. He is expected to be joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has not been next to the president in a public capacity at the White House since April 29.
Adviser Kellyanne Conway said that Trump will introduce two professionals who are leading the race to come up with a coronavirus vaccination.
Moncef Slaoui, former chairman of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline, will lead the program said that having a vaccine by January is a difficult but “credible objective,” The New York Times reported.
Trump wants to have 300 million doses of a vaccine by January in a push that he’s calling Operation Warp Speed, according to the Times.
Stimulus vote expected
Update 9:40 a.m. EDT May 15: The House will vote on the HEROES bill. The bill is a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus package and provides funding for state and local governments, coronavirus testing and more money for Americans.
Click here to read the bill.
Republican leaders in the Senate say the bill won’t pass because more emergency funding is not needed yet, according to CNN.
Economic numbers released
Update 9:30 a.m. EDT May 15: As the country slowly starts the reopening process, retail sales hit a record low over the approximate 8-week shutdown. According to the Census Bureau, retail sales dropped 16.4% last month. It was the largest since the bureau started tracking retail sales in 1992, CNN reported.
The largest hit were clothing and accessories stores which lost almost 90% of business last month.
Large chains like Neiman Marcus and J. Crew filed for bankruptcy in April and JCPenney is expected to file soon.
But some stores are seeing booming business. Stores like Walmart, Target and Kroger are seeing higher sales totals as people buy more groceries and home essentials, CNN reported.
CDC produces brief checklists for reopening
Update 9:08 a.m. EDT May 15: The CDC has published six brief checklists for businesses, schools and camps to safely reopen amid the pandemic restrictions, The Washington Post reported.
The checklists fill the void left since the White House has not released technical guidance publicly. States and local governments have been trying to balance safety while still opening the economy, according to the newspaper.
The decision flow charts cover the reopening of:
Not everyone agrees with the decision charts. Former CDC acting director Dr. Richard Besser said they do not provide enough information, that they are too high level. He said that people need “detailed specifics” like the distance between tables and types of barriers that should be installed, CNN reported.
“You know, specifics is where it gets done,” Besser told CNN. “CDC is really good at that when they’re allowed to do it.”
Worldwide cases approach 4.4M, total deaths tops 297K
Update 7:51 a.m. EDT May 15: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 302,493 early Friday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 4,444,670 people worldwide. Meanwhile, nearly one in every four deaths reported worldwide has occurred in the United States, and 10 nations now have total infection counts higher than China’s 84,029.
The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows:
• The United States has reported 1,417,889 cases, resulting in 85,906 deaths.
• Russia has confirmed 252,245 cases, resulting in 2,305 deaths.
• The United Kingdom has reported 234,441 cases, resulting in 33,693 deaths.
• Spain has confirmed 229,540 cases, resulting in 27,321 deaths.
• Italy has reported 223,096 cases, resulting in 31,368 deaths.
• Brazil has recorded 203,165 cases, resulting in 13,999 deaths.
• France has confirmed 178,994 cases, resulting in 27,428 deaths.
• Germany has reported 174,478 cases, resulting in 7,884 deaths.
• Turkey has recorded 144,749 cases, resulting in 4,007 deaths
• Iran has recorded 114,533 cases, resulting in 6,854 deaths.
NY barber who defied stay-at-home orders to cut hair tests positive for COVID-19
Update 2:37 a.m. EDT May 15: Health officials in upstate New York have confirmed an unidentified barber who insisted on providing hair cuts in defiance of stay-at-home orders has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The Ulster County Department of Health and Mental Health issued a statement Wednesday via Twitter asking anyone who has received a haircut at a barbershop in Kingston, New York, during the past three weeks to contact a doctor or call a state hotline to be tested.
“Learning that a barbershop has been operating illicitly for weeks with a COVID-19 positive employee is extraordinarily disheartening,” Ulster County Health Commissioner Carol Smith said in the statement, adding, “As much as we would all like to go out and get a professional haircut, this kind of direct contact has the potential to dramatically spread this virus throughout our community and beyond.”
New York Stock Exchange reopening trading floor on May 26
Update 2:21 a.m. EDT May 15: The New York Stock Exchange plans to reopen its trading floor May 26, two months after the novel coronavirus pandemic forced its shutdown.
In an opinion column published Thursday by The Wall Street Journal, NYSE President Stacey Cunningham said certain restrictions will accompany the reopening, including limiting the number of traders allowed to return to the floor and strict enforcement of both face mask and social distancing requirements.
In addition, returning workers are prohibited from using New York City public transit to get there and must submit to temperature checks upon entering the facility, the Journal reported.
Arkansas music venue stands down from plan to hold Friday concert amid coronavirus concerns
Update 2:01 a.m. EDT May 15: Arkansas’ TempleLive has nixed plans to host a Travis McCready concert on Friday after having its liquor license suspended.
Concert organizers had argued their plan to welcome as many as 229 ticketholders was no more questionable than houses of worship being able to resume in-person services, especially considering they planned to incorporate “fan pods” to ensure social distancing guidelines were met within the 1,100-seat Fort Smith venue, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
The planned country-rock show would have violated not only Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s stay-at-home order, barring indoor performance venues from reopening until next week, but also the 50-person limit that will apply to crowds once shows resume.
In turn, Arkansas health officials issued a cease-and-desist order on Tuesday, and on Thursday the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division suspended TempleLive’s liquor license temporarily, the newspaper reported.
US coronavirus cases surpass 1.4M, deaths near 86K
Update 12:27 a.m. EDT May 15: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged past 1.4 million early Friday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,417,777 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 85,898 deaths.
The hardest-hit states remain New York with 343,051 cases and 27,641 deaths and New Jersey with 142,704 cases and 9,714 deaths. Massachusetts, with 82,182 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 5,482, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 87,937. Only 18 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 5,000 cases each.
Five other states have now confirmed at least 43,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including:
• California: 74,871 cases, resulting in 3,052 deaths
• Pennsylvania: 63,105 cases, resulting in 4,288 deaths
• Michigan: 49.582 cases, resulting in 4,787 deaths
• Texas: 44,485 cases, resulting in 1,235 deaths
• Florida: 43,210 cases, resulting in 1,875 deaths
Meanwhile, Georgia, Maryland, Connecticut and Louisiana each has confirmed at least 33,000 cases; Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Colorado each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases, followed by Washington state with 17,773; North Carolina and Tennessee each has confirmed at least 16,000 cases; Iowa and Minnesota each has confirmed at least 13,000 cases; Arizona and Rhode Island each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases; Wisconsin and Alabama each has confirmed at least 11,000 cases; Missouri and Mississippi each has confirmed at least 10,000 cases, followed by Nebraska with 9,260 and South Carolina with 8,189; Kansas, Kentucky and Delaware each has confirmed at least 7,000 cases; Utah, the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 5,503.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.