Coronavirus Live Updates: New York Sets Tentative Phased NYC Reopening Date

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and the measures being taken to flatten the curve of transmission.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)

Tyson Shuts Down Pork Processing Plant In Iowa After Hundreds Fall Ill — 5/29/20, 2:20 p.m. ET

A Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Storm Lake, Iowa, is temporarily halting operations after 22% of the plant’s 2,500 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter told the Des Moines Register 555 of the plant’s 2,517 employees tested positive, which the company blamed on “a delay in COVID-19 testing results and team member absences related to quarantine.“

Tyson said it plans to reopen next week after a “deep cleaning and sanitizing of the entire facility.”

Mayra Lopez, vice president of the Storm Lake League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa, told the Register Tyson could have done more to prevent the outbreak.

A meeting with Tyson earlier this month regarding the company’s efforts was “very short, very scripted, and very vague,” she said, though she agreed a lack of adequate testing was at least partly to blame.

“We finally, finally have the testing we’ve been waiting for,” she said. “I don’t think people are getting results quickly enough. I’ve heard Tyson employees waiting as long as a week to hear back if they have a confirmed case. By the time they get the results, it could be too late and they’ve passed it on to someone else.”

Meat processing plants have become COVID-19 hot spots in rural communities across the country; as of last week, an estimated 17,000 workers in processing plants across the US have fallen ill and 66 have died.

— Ryan Grenoble

New York Sets Tentative June 8 Phased NYC Reopening Date — 5/29/20, 1:30 p.m. ET

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday New York City is on track to begin a phased reopening on June 8, once hospital capacity and contract tracing are at sufficient levels to sustain the COVID-19 recovery.

The city has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Of the U.S.’s nearly 102,000 confirmed deaths, roughly a fifth — 21,415 — have been in the city alone, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.

Much of the rest of the state already began relaxing restrictions on May 15.

— Ryan Grenoble

Boston Marathon Canceled — 5/28/20, 2:51 p.m. ET

This year’s Boston Marathon, initially postponed from its traditional April date to September, will not be held in-person this year, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) announced Thursday. Walsh said organizers have deemed it “not feasible,” given the continued threat of COVID-19′s spread, especially through large events.

Any marathon runner who had entered will receive a full refund, and is invited to run a virtual marathon from Sept. 7-14. Organizers will also hold a series of virtual events that week in lieu of the in-person race, which is a major event for the city.

— Marina Fang

Unemployment Tops 40 Million Across U.S. — 5/28/20, 11:30 a.m. ET

Another 2.1 million people applied for unemployment benefits across the country last week, bringing the total number to around 41 million since the crisis dramatically worsened in March. 

Not all of that number are still jobless. Around 21 million are currently receiving unemployment aid, the Labor Department reported Thursday, providing a rough count of the unemployed.

 The increase in applications, however, suggests businesses are cutting staff even as all 50 states work to reopen at least some parts of their economies. 

In April, the national unemployment rate reached nearly 15%, which is the highest since the Great Depression. While businesses work on reopening with added restrictions to prevent spread of the coronavirus, the question remains of how quickly customers — some spooked by threat of the virus, others struggling economically — will come back. 

The economy is thought to be shrinking by 40% in the April-June quarter, according to The Associated Press.

— Sara Boboltz

Trump Acknowledges 100,000 Dead Americans A Day Late — 5/28/20, 10:30 a.m.

Trump tweeted a message of condolence Thursday, a day after the confirmed COVID-19 U.S. death toll surpassed 100,000.

“We have just reached a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000,” his account tweeted. “To all of the families & friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy & love for everything that these great people stood for & represent. God be with you!”

The delayed acknowledgement is in keeping with Trump’s messaging throughout the crisis. He spent months publicly downplaying the severity of the pandemic, even as deaths soared.

In April, Trump patted himself on the back and predicted the death toll would top out at around 60,000. “It looks like we’ll be at about a 60,000 mark, which is 40,000 less than the lowest number thought of,” he said at the April 19 briefing. The U.S. passed that threshold one week later.

Of the 13 hours Trump spent talking at the daily coronavirus briefings (which have since been canceled), he spent just 4.5 minutes expressing condolences for coronavirus victims, a Washington Post analysis found.

— Ryan Grenoble

Coronavirus Contact Tracing Program Launched In England — 5/28/20, 5:45 a.m.

People who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 will be told to self-isolate for two weeks as the British government launches its coronavirus tracing system in England.

Under the Test and Trace program, a team of 25,000 contact tracers will work out who those infected with coronavirus have been in contact with in a bid to control local flare-ups.

Everyone who tests positive for the virus will be asked to share details about who they have seen and where they have been with the tracers. This person’s close contacts will then receive an email or a text, telling them they must stay at home for 14 days – even if they don’t have any symptoms – to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus. Anyone with coronavirus symptoms should still self-isolate at home, along with their household, and get tested for COVID-19. 

Britain, which has the second-highest death toll from the virus globally, abandoned a strategy of testing and tracing in March when the virus started spreading exponentially and there was insufficient capacity to test more than a fraction of those with symptoms.

The government says there is now enough capacity for all who need tests to get them. It is aiming to provide test results within 24 hours. Read more 

— Jasmin Gray

Devastating Impact Of COVID-19 On Italy’s Restaurants Revealed — 5/28/20, 4:40 a.m.

The much-anticipated reopening of restaurants, pizzerias and bars in Italy has got off to a difficult start with businesses reporting a 70% fall in turnover compared to pre-lockdown levels.

HuffPost Italy reports (in Italian) that a survey of the sector has revealed few customers returned in the first week of reopening while costs have increased, with many small businesses not expecting to see an improvement until the fall.

Italy, which was the epicenter of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak, imposed one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world. Parts of the hospitality industry were given the green light to reopen May 18.

Figures reported by the Italian Federation of Public Establishments cite the lack of tourists, fewer office workers commuting to city centers, and a cautiousness among Italians about the risks of eating out, as reasons for the sharp declines in revenue.

However, businesses that have reopened have reported customers have largely complied with social distancing regulations and rules on wearing masks and hand washing.

— James Martin

U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Top 100,000 In Bleak Milestone — 5/27/20, 7:45 p.m.

More than 100,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States, a somber milestone in the country’s fight against the ongoing pandemic.

Johns Hopkins updated its tally on Wednesday evening, which comes just under four months after President Donald Trump claimed, without evidence, that the virus would likely disappear “in April as the heat comes in.” Those estimates proved far from reality: More than 1.6 million people in the U.S. have now tested positive for the virus and while infection rates are declining in some outbreak centers, they are still rising in regions across the country.

Trump has routinely revised his predictions for the ultimate U.S. death toll as cases spread and has continued to urge states to reopen their economies despite bleak warnings from medical officials that doing so too soon could result in a second wave of infections.

A study released by Columbia University earlier this month found that if the U.S. had imposed broad social distancing measures just a week earlier than it did in March, around 36,000 lives could have been saved.

— Nick Visser

Several Florida Theme Parks Announce Reopening Plans — 5/27/20, 12:06 p.m.
Several popular theme parks have announced plans to reopen in recent weeks, as a number of states across the U.S. continue to ease social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

On Wednesday, Disney World in Orlando, Florida, presented plans to a Central Florida economic task force outlining a strategy to reopen some portions of its theme park on July 11 and others on July 15. The park temporarily closed in March to curb the spread of the virus.

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