Coronavirus restrictions continue to loosen after a weekend of recreation and protest across US

The FDA has approved emergency use of the experimental drug remdesivir to treat hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19, but experts say more clinical trials are needed. CNN's Sara Sidner reports.

Posted: May 4, 2020 6:37 AM
Updated: May 4, 2020 8:15 AM


The new week brings more reopenings across the US after a weekend many Americans spent outside, from protesting coronavirus restrictions to enjoying spring days in the park.

Across the nation, states will continue to slowly ease their restrictions this week, even as the number of cases and deaths rise. Florida, Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia are among the states that planned to ease restrictions Monday.

The reopenings are intended to revive a sputtering economy and calm restless residents, but they come with fatal risks.

The novel coronavirus's incubation period -- or the time from exposure to developing symptoms -- ranges from two to 14 days, according to the CDC, and the virus can even spread among people who show no symptoms at all. With widespread testing still limited, the consequences of these reopenings may not be evident for several weeks.

Even in reopening states, officials continue to recommend people stay at least 6 feet away from others, wear a cloth face mask outside the home, wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their face.

The public pressure to ease restrictions is rising even in states with significant outbreaks. This weekend, thousands gathered in California to protest coronavirus restrictions, leading to 32 arrests at the state capitol.

California is 'days, not weeks' away from beginning to lift restrictions to the state's stay-at-home order, said Gov. Gavin Newsom. But that likely won't happen across the state. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he does not think the city will reopen earlier than May 15.

Other parts of California are already reopening. In Northern California, restaurants, salons, spas, tattoo parlors, shopping malls and gyms will all be open to residents of Yuba and Sutter counties.

Coronavirus has killed 67,686 people in the US and infected more than 1,150,000 others, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Other reopenings across the US

Among the other reopenings starting Monday:

-- In Colorado, offices can reopen at 50% capacity with other guidelines, including allowing 6 feet between employees' desks and increased cleaning. Still, the state encourages businesses to allow telecommuting when possible.

-- In Florida, the first phase of reopening begins. That phase allows elective surgeries, and restaurants can open for outdoor dining with 6 feet between tables and indoor seating at 25% capacity. Shops can reopen at 25% capacity. Other businesses -- including bars, gyms and hair salons -- will remain closed.

-- In Nebraska, most churches, salons and restaurants can reopen.

-- In South Carolina, the 'work-or-home' order is being made voluntary and restaurants can begin outdoor dining.

-- In Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott expects thousands of residents to return to work after an executive order that allows them to operate with new safety rules. Manufacturing, construction and distribution businesses can operate with 10 or fewer employees.

-- Stay-at-home orders also expire Monday in Kansas and West Virginia.

New York cases declining, but others going up

In some states, the number of coronavirus cases continues to decline, while other areas face challenges.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear told reporters Sunday that the state's coronavirus cases were 'at the worst' plateauing. He thanked residents for their social distancing efforts.

'You are saving thousands of lives,' he said. 'I'm very proud to be your governor.'

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported that the number of intubations in the state hit hardest by coronavirus is down, and the total number of hospitalizations is below 10,000 for the first time since March. The Javits Convention Center field hospital in New York City discharged at least eight patients on Friday, including its last, Northwell Health spokesman Terry Lynam told CNN.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted Sunday that the state also saw its lowest day for ventilator usage since April 8.

But the improvement does not mean the nation can let down its guard.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said numbers in his city are going up, and he is concerned about relaxing restrictions.

'We're still very much in the beginning days of coronavirus,' Walsh said.

White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci also warned that lifting measures prematurely could lead to a rebound of the virus that could put the US in the 'same boat that we were a few weeks ago.'

And a second round of the virus, he said, is inevitable. Its severity will depend on how prepared the nation is, he said.

Government to begin shipping 'tens of thousands' of courses of drug

While Fauci and other doctors predict that second wave, there is hope the US will be armed with a new tool in that fight.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved the experimental drug remdesivir as treatment for hospitalized patients with severe coronavirus.

In an emergency-use authorization Friday, the agency said the benefits of using the drug outweighed the risks.

Remdesivir is the first authorized therapy for the virus in the country, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said.

'This is an important clinical advance that showed a statistically significant reduction in time to recovery for patients with Covid-19 and is the first authorized therapy for Covid-19.' Hahn said.

The drug was approved just days after researchers said it might help patients recover more quickly from the infection.

The federal government will begin shipping 'tens of thousands' of courses of remdesivir early this week and will decide where the medicine goes, according to Daniel O'Day, chairman and CEO of Gilead Sciences, the maker of the investigational drug.

'We intend to get (remdesivir) to patients in the early part of this next week, beginning to work with the government, which will determine which cities are most vulnerable and where the patients are that need this medicine,' O'Day said on CBS' 'Face the Nation' on Sunday.

CNN has reached out to the US Department of Health and Human Services for comment on how the drugs will be distributed.

States take on the virus

While states wrestle with how and when to reopen from the coronavirus closures, some are enacting measures to ensure they are equipped to fight the pandemic.

Health experts have cited testing as a key factor for the states hoping to open safely.

Over the weekend, Illinois recorded its highest number of new tests performed in a 24-hour period at 19,417 tests.

To address concerns over access to enough tests, Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City will produce its own testing kits. Partnering with Print Parks, the city is on track to produce 50,000 3D-printed swabs per week, de Blasio said.

New York state will also address supply concerns by building a purchasing consortium with seven northeast states for medical supplies. The partnership hopes to make each state more competitive in the international marketplace when purchasing personal protective equipment, tests and ventilators, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts together will purchase $5 billion of equipment and supplies.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30995

Reported Deaths: 529
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