More than 4.8 million people worldwide – including more than 1.5 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 Tuesday, May 19, continue below:
Update 11:45 p.m. EDT May 19: Numbers released Tuesday show Oregon’s unemployment rate soared to a “catastrophic” 14.2% in April, marking the deepest recession the state has experienced since it began keeping records in 1939.
The number of unemployed Oregonians rose by 227,530 to reach 300,420 in April. The state lost 266,600 jobs in the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic, going from a near-record-low unemployment rate of 3.5% in March to the current high. The leisure and hospitality industry took the biggest hit and lost 54% of its jobs within a month.
Still, the massive job losses don’t fully reflect the impact on the economy of the statewide stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. Kate Brown to slow the spread of the disease, said Anna Johnson, a senior analyst with the Oregon Employment Department.
“While these numbers make for shocking historical records, they cannot totally capture the economic trauma so many Oregonians are experiencing at this time,” Johnson said.
Other industries hit hardest in April were health care and social assistance, retail, professional and business services and government jobs.
The U.S. unemployment rate rose from 4.4% in March to 14.7% in April.
Update 10:40 p.m. EDT May 19: The Maseratis, the Rolls-Royces and the Mercedes-Benzes were back on Rodeo Drive on Tuesday — along with a few high-end buyers — as America’s most fashionable shopping street slowly got back to business.
Just a few days after Beverly Hills officials announced the high-end boutiques lining its most exclusive street could reopen for curbside pickup, shoppers began tentatively making their way onto its wide sidewalks and narrow roadway.
They came looking for things like Gucci handbags, Salvatore Ferragomo shoes, Louis Vuitton belts and other items with names that scream out to passersby, “This is ridiculously expensive.”
One young man pulled up in front of the Fendi store, paid for a pair of shoes and sunglasses that he quickly tossed into the back of his red convertible sports car as he explained they were gifts for his wife, then sped away.
Nearby, Delicia Cordon of Atlanta stood outside the Gucci store looking at purses and backpacks a salesperson inside sent photos of to her phone. She picked out the perfect ones for her daughter’s 11th birthday, punched in her credit-card information and did a quick exchange at the door. The sales associate who handed the items to her declined to talk before pulling the door back shut.
For Cordon, who had to catch a plane home in just a few hours, scoring the purse and backpack was an incredible stroke of good fortune. There’s a Gucci store in her hometown, she said, but it doesn’t have a children’s department and she feared if she ordered online the gifts wouldn’t arrive by her daughter’s birthday on Friday.
“I was surprised that they were doing the curbside and I was really excited,” said the Atlanta fashion designer.
The street was only lightly trafficked with both pedestrians and motorists on a beautiful, sun-dappled Southern California afternoon, so Cordon said she never feared getting too close to anybody.
“I had to wear my mask. I had my gloves on,” she added.
Most others on the street also had masks as did everyone inside the stores. Many of the store employees briskly wiped down windows and surfaces when not handing out purchases.
Update 9:40 p.m. EDT May 19: Maine is making it easier for residents to get outdoors and breathe some fresh air this Memorial Day weekend by accelerating the opening of private campgrounds across the state, officials said Tuesday.
Private campgrounds and RV parks can open Friday while public campgrounds will reopen June 1 as previously planned, Maine Economic and Community Development Heather Johnson said.
“Maine has a longstanding tradition of embracing the outdoors, which also has the added benefit of promoting mental health during this global pandemic. We’ve got a short season to enjoy some of our favorite outdoor activities,” Johnson told reporters.
There will be precautions to keep Mainers safe, including spaces between campsites and limits on the size of gatherings, she said.
The state also is delaying the June 1 reopening of indoor gyms and nail salons based on new information about the transmission of the coronavirus.
State officials expect to announce new re-start dates for nail salons, gyms and fitness centers in early June.
The changes demonstrate that the administration is remaining flexible about the reopening of the economy, Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement.
Update 8:10 p.m. EDT May 19: Demand for opioids such as fentanyl has surged during the new coronavirus outbreak in Tennessee’s largest county, where more than 100 people have died of drug overdoses since mid-March, officials said Tuesday.
Officials in Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said more than 750 drug overdoses and 112 deaths have been reported since March 15, when the county began issuing stay-at-home orders related to the virus response.
Overdose deaths have eclipsed the number of fatalities from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter noted during an online news conference. As of Tuesday, 88 people had died from the virus in the county, Tennessee’s largest by population.
“We have had an unprecedented number of overdoses, and an unprecedented number of deaths,” Haushalter said.
From April 7 to May 7, 58 people died of drug overdoses, the highest county total for a 30-day period since record keeping began in January 2019. The count is compiled from a database of incidents reported by first responders and the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center.
The county health department has issued seven “spike alerts” in the past several weeks. The alerts call attention to a sharp rise in drug overdoses, including those involving heroin and fentanyl and other opioids. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is many times stronger than heroin.
Update 7:10 p.m. EDT May 19: A Trump administration policy of quickly expelling most migrants stopped along the border because of the COVID-19 pandemic was indefinitely extended Tuesday, with a top U.S. health official arguing that what had been a short-term order was still needed to protect the country from the virus.
The order issued by Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, authorizes Customs and Border Protection to immediately remove migrants, including people seeking asylum, as a way to prevent the potential spread of the virus while in custody.
President Donald Trump issued the initial 30-day order in March, and it was extended for another month in April. The new version notably has no fixed end date, though it says the CDC will review public health data every 30 days to ensure it is still necessary.
Administration officials have defended the policy as critical to helping prevent the spread of the virus amid criticism from human rights advocates who say the U.S. is using public health as a pretext to deny people their right to seek asylum and enact immigration policies aimed at appealing to some of the president’s supporters in an election year.
“Trump’s goal is not to protect our health, it’s to sow division and advance his political agenda,” said Andrea Flores, deputy director of immigration policy for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Under the policy, CBP has been sending Mexican and Central American migrants they encounter along the southwestern border back to Mexico in about two hours. It is turning people from other countries over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for rapid repatriation, turning people away who might have remained in the country for months, or even years, to pursue asylum claims.
Update 5:25 p.m. EDT May 19: Public health officials in some states are accused of bungling coronavirus infection statistics or even using a little sleight of hand to deliberately make things look better than they are.
The risk is that politicians, business owners and ordinary Americans who are making decisions about lockdowns, reopenings and other day-to-day matters could be 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 showed new COVID-19 cases declining over time in the most severely affected counties. The daily entries, however, were not arranged in chronological order but in descending order.
For example, the May 7 totals came right before April 26, which was followed by May 3. A quick look at the graph made it appear as if the decline was smoother than it really was. The graph was taken down within about a day.
Georgia state Rep. Jasmine Clark, a Democrat with a doctorate in microbiology, said the graph was a “prime example of malfeasance.”
“Sadly it feels like there’s been an attempt to make the data fit the narrative, and that’s not how data works,” she said.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s office denied there was any attempt to deceive the public.
Update 4:55 p.m. EDT May 19: Walmart emerged as one of the few lifelines to millions of people as the coronavirus spread, leading to surging profit and sales for the world’s largest retailer.
Online sales in the U.S. jumped 74% for its fiscal first quarter that ended April 30, which captured the brunt of the pandemic’s outbreak. Same-store sales rose 10% at U.S. Walmart stores on strong sales of food, health and wellness goods.
At a time when a huge swath of stores that sell non-essential merchandise temporarily shut down, Walmart has the natural advantage of carrying the very items that consumers need during a pandemic.
But unlike its online rivals like Amazon, Walmart enjoys an extensive network of nearly 5,000 physical stores and a variety of delivery and pick-up options that it ramped up to meet crushing demand for essential items, from paper towels to canned food. Walmart’s reputation for low prices also helped as the unemployment rate has spiraled to the high level since the Great Depression.
“Having a wide range of fulfillment options, including delivery to home, collection from store — and by using stores for fulfillment — allowed Walmart to ramp up capacity in a way that many other players struggled to do,” said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. “We also believe that by using stores effectively, Walmart mitigated some of the higher costs associated with the online channel.”
Walmart shoppers did not limit their purchases to just essential items, using their federal stimulus checks to buy clothing, TVs and video games, which helped boost sales in April. Walmart also said it’s seeing gains in new customers from across all income brackets.
Update 3:45 p.m. EDT May 19: Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Tuesday that he’s suing two gyms that have continued to operate in violation of the Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation, KIRO-TV reported.
Ferguson said his office has given several warnings to officials at Northwest Fitness Company in Puyallup and Power Alley Fitness in Arlington, according to KIRO-TV. He added that if the businesses close by Wednesday, his office won’t seek fines or legal fees.
On its website, officials with Power Alley Fitness said the gym was “in a battle with the Washington State Government over our constitutional right!”
Update 3:30 p.m. EDT May 19: Gov. John Carney of Delaware on Tuesday announced that retail establishments across the state will be allowed to reopen with restrictions beginning Wednesday.
Carney said businesses will be allowed to operate by appointment only beginning at 8 a.m. Officials expect to begin the first phase of reopening businesses shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic on June 1, when restaurants and stores will be allowed to reopen at 30% of their state fire capacities.
Carney stressed in a statement released Tuesday that people should remain vigilant and continue to practice social distancing despite the loosened restrictions.
“Keep your distance from others. Wear a face covering in public settings. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently," Carney said. "That’s how we’ll limit community spread of COVID-19 and get Delaware’s economy back going again.”
Update 3:15 p.m. EDT May 19: Health officials in Florida reported that 55 people have died of COVID-19 statewide since Monday and that there were 502 new cases of the virus, WFTV reported.
Data shows there have been 46,944 cases of the virus in the state and 2,052 deaths.
Update 2:30 p.m. EDT May 19: As states relax restrictions imposed in March because of the coronavirus outbreak, schools at all levels are trying to figure out the best road ahead in the fall, with deep uncertainty about how the virus outbreak will impact kids from pre-school to college.
In recent days, two major universities have announced they would scrap a standard fall break for students, worried the travel from school to home - and then back to school - could further spread the virus.
“Two major changes will stand out as you review the following schedule,” wrote University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen. “First, there will be no Fall Break and second, we will conclude face-to-face instruction at Thanksgiving Break.”
At the University of Notre Dame, classes will start on August 10, two weeks earlier than normal, with no fall break in October, and an end to classes by Thanksgiving.
“Bringing our students back is in effect assembling a small city of people from many parts of the nation and the world, who may bring with them pathogens to which they have been exposed,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s President.
Update 2:20 p.m. EDT May 19: Six drugmakers that manufacture generic hydroxychloroquine report the drug is in short supply, while three others reported in the last week that their product is available, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s drug shortages website.
The companies cite increased demand as the cause, with some stating they expect to next ship the drug at the end of May.
President Donald Trump said Monday he has been taking hydroxychloroquine and a zinc supplement daily “for about a week and a half now,” after two White House staffers tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump has spent months pushing hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure or preventive drug for COVID-19 against the cautionary advice of many of his administration’s top medical professionals.
One of the companies, Concordia Pharmaceuticals, also makes the brand-name version, called Paquenil. It says that drug is completely unavailable but is expected to be available again at the end of this month.
Update 2 p.m. EDT May 19: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 2,412 new coronavirus infections Tuesday morning, raising the country’s total number of infections to 248,818.
Officials said that as of 9 a.m. local time, 35,341 people had died nationwide of COVID-19.
Update 1:50 p.m. EDT May 19: Four employees of supermarket chain Giant Eagle have tested positive for novel coronavirus infections at the company’s manufacturing and distribution center in Freedom, Pennsylvania, WPXI reported.
Company officials told WPXI that about 400 people work at the facility, which is used as a warehouse, a corporate office and a manufacturing facility for some things sold in Giant Eagle stores.
Citing Giant Eagle officials, WPXI reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or packaging.
Update 1:35 p.m. EDT May 19: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Tuesday that 1,055 new coronavirus infections have been reported, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 149,013.
“The curve continues to move in the right direction overall,” Murphy said in a series of Twitter posts.
“This is no time for anyone to be spiking any footballs or patting anyone on the back. Those things wouldn’t comport with social distancing, anyway. This is a time for us to double-down. Let’s keep it up.”
Officials also reported 162 new fatal COVID-19 cases. Statewide, 10,586 people have died of coronavirus.
Update 1:30 p.m. EDT May 19: Annie Glenn, the widow of astronaut-turned-senator John Glenn, has died.
Hank Wilson, a spokesperson at Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University, said she died of complications from the coronavirus, The Associated Press reported.
John Glenn died in 2016 at the age of 95. The couple had been married for 73 years.
Update 1:25 p.m. EDT May 19: Officials in Louisiana reported 329 new coronavirus infections Tuesday, raising the state’s total number of infections to 35,038.
Officials said that statewide, at least 2,458 people have died of COVID-19 and 26,249 people have recovered from the viral infection.
Update 1:20 p.m. EDT May 19: Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News on Tuesday that he is not taking a malaria drug which President Donald Trump said he’s taking to lessen the symptoms of COVID-19.
Trump said Monday that he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine for about a week now after he requested it from the White House physician, however, the drug has not been proven effective for treating the novel coronavirus.
“My physician hasn’t recommended that,” Pence told Fox News, adding that if his doctor did recommend he start taking the drug, he “wouldn’t hesitate.”
Update 12:45 p.m. EDT May 19: The number of active coronavirus cases dipped by about 1,500 cases Tuesday in Italy, with 65,129 ongoing cases reported as of 6 p.m. local time, according to numbers released by health officials.
Authorities said 226,699 cases of COVID-19 have been reported nationwide as of Tuesday. The virus has claimed 32,169 lives in Italy. Officials said 129,401 people have recovered from COVID-19.
Update 12:15 p.m. EDT May 19: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are scheduled to testify Tuesday before a Senate panel on the distribution of a $2 trillion government relief packaged aimed at helping businesses and Americans struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The hearing before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs is the first oversight hearing into the distribution of CARES Act funding.
Lawmakers from both parties have criticized the Payroll Protection Program, which initially provided $349 billion in forgivable loans to small companies but has been plagued by a host of problems. Many businesses were unable to get loans before the initial funding was exhausted. A second round of loans faced computer processing delays and a number of publicly traded companies ended up receiving money that Mnuchin demanded be paid back to the government.
Update 12:10 p.m. EDT May 19: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Tuesday that 105 more people have died of COVID-19 statewide, continuing a downward trend in fatal coronavirus cases.
The number was slightly less than the 106 new fatal cases reported one day earlier.
Cuomo urged the federal government to do more to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We’re doing more testing than any other state. We’ve been more aggressive than any other state in nursing home precaution. So, we have been smart,” Cuomo said. “Now we need a federal government that is as smart as the people who elected that federal government.”
Update 11:15 a.m. EDT May 19: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada said Tuesday that the country’s border with the United States will remain closed for another 30 days.
At a news conference, Trudeau confirmed that “Canada and the United States have once again agreed to extend by 30 days the current measures in place along the border.”
“This is an important decision that will keep people in both our countries safe,” Trudeau said, according to CBC.
The U.S. and Canada agreed in March to limit border crossings to essential travel amid the pandemic. Nearly 200,000 people crossed the border daily in normal times.
Update 10:55 a.m. EDT May 19: Country music star Reba McEntire announced plans Tuesday to postpone her scheduled summer arena tour until 2021 due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I hate to do that but out of everybody’s well-being we just want to make sure that everybody stays safe and healthy,” McEntire said in a video statement posted Tuesday on social media. “I’m going to miss you terribly and the band crew and I, we’re really wanting to get back on stage. But this is the best thing to do right now.”
McEntire said tickets for the 2020 tour dates will be honored in 2021 and added that people who want refunds for their tickets will be emailed with more details.
In lieu of the concerts, McEntire said she plans to release old concert footage online for streaming.
“I know it’s not the same as being live,” she said. “Hopefully it’ll provide a little bit of entertainment during the summer.”
Update 10:50 a.m. EDT May 19: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. said Tuesday that 164 new coronavirus infections have been reported in the area, raising the total number of cases in the area to 7,434.
Bowser also said eight more people between the ages of 61 and 91 died of COVID-19. As of Thursday, 400 Washington D.C. residents have died of coronavirus, officials said.
Update 10:45 a.m. EDT May 19: In a joint statement Tuesday, bands Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer announced the decision to cancel a tour planned to begin over the summer.
“Hopefully this doesn’t come as a surprise, but as much as we were all looking forward to seeing you all this summer, everyone’s safety is our highest priority so we’ve officially made the call to reschedule all North American dates of the Hella Mega tour until next year,” the bands said in a statement posted on social media.
The bands said they plan to reschedule the tour to take place in the same venues in Summer 2021. People who’ve bought tickets to the shows will be able to use them for the 2021 tour or will be emailed with options for refunds, according to the statement.
Update 9:45 a.m. EDT May 19: Stocks opened lower Tuesday on Wall Street one day after the market had its biggest jump in more than five weeks. Banks and health care companies were posting the biggest losses in the early going, while technology companies kept up their winning streak.
Earnings reports from major retailers showed how differently those companies were faring during the coronavirus pandemic. Walmart rose after reporting a surge in sales as people stocked up on crucial supplies as they sheltered in place. But Kohl’s, whose stores are closed, swung to a $541 million loss as its revenue fell more than 40%.
Update 9:20 a.m. EDT May 19: Officials with Pier 1 Imports Inc. on Tuesday announced that the company has filed a motion in bankruptcy court seeking approval to wind down its business “as soon as reasonably possible after store locations are able to reopen."
In a statement released Tuesday, Pier 1 CEO Robert Riesbeck thanked employees for their work and customers for their support over the years.
“This decision follows months of working to identify a buyer who would continue to operate our business going forward,” Riesbeck said. "Unfortunately, the challenging retail environment has been significantly compounded by the profound impact of COVID-19, hindering our ability to secure such a buyer and requiring us to wind down.”
Pier 1 was founded in San Mateo, California in 1962. The company has more than 1,000 stores nationwide and in Canada.
Update 8:30 a.m. EDT May 19: Officials announced plans Tuesday to send applications to vote by mail to all registered voters across Michigan ahead of elections scheduled for August and November.
“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement.
The decision came after officials saw record-breaking turnout for elections held in 33 counties on May 5.
“Mailing applications to all registered voters is one of the ways that we are ensuring Michigan’s elections will continue to be safe, accurate and secure,” Benson said.
More than 7.7 million people are registered to vote in Michigan.
Update 7:53 a.m. EDT May 19: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 318,857 early Tuesday, 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 4,823,479 people worldwide. Meanwhile, 12 nations now have total infection counts higher than China’s 84,063.
The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows:
• The United States has reported 1,508,957 cases, resulting in 90,369 deaths.
• Russia has confirmed 299,941 cases, resulting in 2,837 deaths.
• Brazil has recorded 255,368 cases, resulting in 16,853 deaths.
• The United Kingdom has reported 247,709 cases, resulting in 34,876 deaths.
• Spain has confirmed 231,606 cases, resulting in 27,709 deaths.
• Italy has reported 225,886 cases, resulting in 32,007 deaths.
• France has confirmed 180,051 cases, resulting in 28,242 deaths.
• Germany has reported 177,289 cases, resulting in 8,041 deaths.
• Turkey has recorded 150,593 cases, resulting in 4,171 deaths
• Iran has recorded 122,492 cases, resulting in 7,057 deaths.
Update 7:47 a.m. EDT May 19: Louisiana health officials have confirmed about 100 coronavirus cases at three crawfish farms in Acadiana, a region in the southern part of the state.
“We will continue to work with them to prevent further spread of this illness and to ensure workers understand where and when to be tested,” Health Department spokeswoman Aly Neel told the Advocate.
Update 6:56 a.m. EDT May 19: Shakespeare’s Globe theater could soon fall dark forever unless the company operating the iconic venue can find a more sustainable business model amid the lingering novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Without emergency funding and the continuation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we will spend down our reserves and become insolvent,” Shakespeare’s Globe told the BBC, estimating at least $6 million is needed to prevent a complete closure.
The famed London venue, which opened in 1997, shut down March 20 in accordance with coronavirus prevention measures. The open-air theater, situated on the River Thames, is a replica of playwright William Shakespeare’s original Elizabethan structure completed just before the turn of the 17th century, The Washington Post reported.
According to the BBC, the Globe does not receive Arts Council England funding, meaning it has no claim under the $110 million emergency coronavirus relief fund.
Update 5:31 a.m. EDT May 19: Health officials in India confirmed Tuesday the nation has become the 11th worldwide to surpass 100,000 confirmed novel coronavirus cases.
According to the latest figures provided by India’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, the country has now confirmed 101,139 cases, resulting in 3,163 deaths to date.
India joins the United States, Russia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Turkey and Iran in surpassing 100,000 total cases.
Update 5:20 a.m. EDT May 19: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order Monday allowing some businesses and restaurants across northern Michigan to reopen at reduced capacity by week’s end.
The order, slated to take effect Friday, applies to the “sparsely populated” Upper Peninsula and 17 counties in the northern tip of the state’s Lower Peninsula which rely heavily on tourism, The Washington Post reported.
Once considered a hot spot for emerging U.S. novel coronavirus cases, Michigan has confirmed a total 51,915 COVID-19 infections to date, resulting in 4,915 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
Specifically, the order will allow bars and restaurants in the itemized areas to operate at half capacity, provided servers wear face coverings and patrons maintain at least six feet of distance between one another.
The order also allows for gatherings of as many as 10 people.
Update 4:56 a.m. EDT May 19: The Seychelles has suspended all cruise ship tourism through the close of 2021, in a bid to minimize the impact a second wave of the novel coronavirus could have on the East African island nation.
Didier Dogley, the country’s minister for tourism, civil aviation, ports and marine, made the decision, according to the Seychelles Nation, the nation’s largest newspaper.
According to CNN, the Seychelles is a popular destination among celebrities such as Prince William and the former Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who honeymooned there in 2011, as did George and Amal Clooney in 2014.
Update 4:37 a.m. EDT May 19: More than 1,000 immigrants residing in United States’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to the agency’s latest figures.
“Of this medical risk population, ICE has released over 900 individuals after evaluating their immigration history, criminal record, potential threat to public safety, flight risk and national security concerns," a statement on ICE’s website reads.
According to CNN, the agency has tested 2,172 of 27,908 total detainees to date, with 1,073 – or nearly half – testing positive for COVID-19.
Update 3:58 a.m. EDT May 19: The latest forecasting model released Monday by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects the death toll from the novel coronavirus in the United States could be lower by early August than originally expected.
According to The Washington Post, the model now predicts that 143,360 people will succumb to COVID-19 infections by Aug. 4, or roughly 3,700 fewer deaths than earlier models projected.
Christopher J.L. Murray, the institute’s director, designed the model and told CNN the decrease can be attributed to social distancing measures and the increased use of face masks but was still more substantial than modelers expected.
“We were expecting to probably go up because of the big surge in mobility,” Murray told the network.
Update 3:18 a.m. EDT May 19: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that $11 billion in emergency coronavirus funds is being disbursed among states and territories to ramp up COVID-19 testing efforts.
“This funding from the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act will provide critical support to develop, purchase, administer, process and analyze COVID-19 tests, conduct surveillance, trace contacts, and related activities,” HHS said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called “readily accessible” testing a “critical component of a four-pronged public health strategy that also incorporates rigorous contact tracing, isolation of confirmed cases and quarantine measures.
“As communities move toward a blended mitigation and containment strategy, I encourage all Americans to continue to embrace powerful public health measures – social distancing, hand washing and face coverings,” Redfield said in a statement.
Update 1:50 a.m. EDT May 19: President Donald Trump threatened Monday to “reconsider” U.S. membership in the World Health Organization and permanently cut funding to the United Nations body charged with monitoring global health as a novel coronavirus pandemic continues its global spread.
In a four-page letter addressing WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump alleged a pro-China bias within the organization that exhibits an “alarming lack of independence” from Beijing, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump wrote, adding, “The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.”
The letter also sets a 30-day deadline for the organization to “commit to major substantive improvements.”
In April, Trump placed a 60-day freeze on U.S. funding for the health body, which totals about $400 million annually.
Update 12:33 a.m. EDT May 19: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States continued to climb past 1.5 million early Tuesday 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 1,508,598 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 90,353 deaths.
The hardest-hit states remain New York with 351,371 cases and 28,339 deaths and New Jersey with 148,240 cases and 10,439 deaths. Massachusetts, with 87,052 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 5,862, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 96,485. Only 17 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 5,000 cases each.
Five other states have now confirmed at least 44,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including:
• California: 81,738 cases, resulting in 3,285 deaths
• Pennsylvania: 66,669 cases, resulting in 4,515 deaths
• Michigan: 51,915 cases, resulting in 4,915 deaths
• Texas: 49,185 cases, resulting in 1,350 deaths
• Florida: 46,442 cases, resulting in 1,997 deaths
Meanwhile, Maryland, Georgia, Connecticut, Louisiana and Virginia each has confirmed at least 31,000 cases; Ohio, Indiana and Colorado each has confirmed at least 22,000 cases, followed by North Carolina with 19,208; Washington state and Tennessee each has confirmed at least 18,000 cases, followed by Minnesota with 16,372; Iowa and Arizona each has confirmed at least 14,000 cases; Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Alabama each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases; Mississippi and Missouri each has confirmed at least 11,000 cases, followed by Nebraska with 10,625; South Carolina and Kansas each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases; Kentucky, Delaware, Utah, the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 7,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 6,096 and Oklahoma with 5,398.