Slack back online after earlier confirming connectivity issues
From CNN’s Brian Fung
Workplace communication tool Slack is back online after being down for a short period of time this morning. The outage was tough timing for the platform as workers have increasingly come to depend on the service for telework during the coronavirus pandemic. Slack said Tuesday evening that it was investigating connectivity issues with the productivity app, following reports of outages on the service. The company acknowledged that users were experiencing failures in sending messages, in a status update on its website. Slack has more than 12 million daily active users, according to the company's website.
Key coronavirus model projects 147,000 US deaths by August 10,000 more than previous estimate
From CNN Health’s Arman Azad
A key coronavirus model often cited by the White House has again raised its coronavirus death projection, now predicting 147,000 deaths in the US by August 4. That’s an increase of about 10,000 deaths compared to the model’s estimate from this weekend, which was already higher than earlier projections. On Sunday, Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, tied the earlier increase to “explosive increases in mobility in a number of states.” Compared to Sunday, the model now projects about 2,450 additional deaths in New York, 2,000 additional deaths in Massachusetts and 1,700 additional deaths in Pennsylvania. Other states saw sizable increases as well. North Carolina, for example, is now expected to see about 3,200 more deaths, and Maryland about 1,200 more. Some states saw decreases in projected deaths, however, including Georgia, which is now expected to see 1,500 fewer deaths. The model’s projection for Indiana has also gone down by 1,600 deaths. On its website, IHME said exact reasons for the changes vary by state. But the institute pointed to “epidemiological indicators and key drivers of viral transmission,” like changes in testing and mobility. IHME also pointed to the easing of social distancing policies, but said “the full potential effects of recent actions to ease social distancing policies, especially if robust containment measures have yet to be fully scaled up, may not be fully known for a few weeks due to the time periods between viral exposure, possible infection, and full disease progression.”
Russia reports world's second highest number of coronavirus cases
Russia is reporting the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, after the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally. The country has officially recorded at least 232,243 confirmed cases and at least 2,116 deaths from the virus, according to JHU. Tuesday was the 10th consecutive day that Russia reported more than 10,000 new cases.
Iceland expects to ease restrictions on international travelers "no later than June 15"
From CNN’s Mia Alberti
Iceland expects to start lifting restrictions on international arrivals to the country "no later than June 15," the government said in a statement on Tuesday. Travelers will likely have to choose between being tested for Covid-19 or a two-week quarantine upon arrival. All arrivals will also be required to use the official tracing app during their stay. "Iceland's strategy of large-scale testing, tracing and isolating have proven effective so far. We want to build on that experience of creating a safe place for those who want a change of scenery after what has been a tough spring for all of us," the Minister of Tourism, Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, said in a statement. The government also announced that some professionals arriving in Iceland from May 15, including essential workers, "scientists, filmmakers, and athletes will be eligible for a modified quarantine." This means companies can request an exemption from quarantine if they can guarantee safety procedures in their work environment. "These measures do not preclude the option of bilaterally opening borders between coronavirus-free countries," the government added. Since January, Iceland residents arriving from "high-risk" areas have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. The rule was extended to all travelers on April 24, as Iceland kept its Schengen borders open throughout the pandemic. So far, Iceland has only seen three confirmed infections of Covid-19 in May, according to the statement.
Canada looking at "stronger measures" for US border as states reopen, prime minister says
From CNN’s Paula Newton
Canada is looking to strengthen surveillance at US border crossings as discussions continue between the two countries about when and how to reopen the border to nonessential travel.
“We are looking at stronger measures to make sure that we’re following up appropriately on people who come over,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a news conference in Ottawa Tuesday.
The Canadian government is looking at administering questionnaires, contact tracing apps, temperature and medical history checks. “We’re going to be very, very careful about reopening any international travel, including the United States before we feel that it is time,” Trudeau said.
Some background: Canada and the US agreed to close the border to nonessential travel in March and the current agreement, already extended, expires May 21. There is still no decision on whether the border agreement will remain in place beyond that date. Canadian premiers and mayors across the country have expressed concern about fully reopening the border as the US continues to deal with Covid outbreaks and significant community spread. “Preventing transmission from outside of Canada into Canada, once we have controlled the spread within Canada, will be an essential part of ensuring that we don’t fall back into a second wave that could be as serious as this wave we’re going through, or even more so,” Trudeau said.
Small rise in cases reported for a second day in Italy's worst-hit region
From CNN’s Mia Alberti and Livia Borghese
The worst-hit Italian region of Lombardy has reported a small increase in the number of Covid-19 cases for the second day in a row. This comes after a few days where active case numbers were decreasing, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency. On Tuesday, active cases in the region increased by 264, making a total of 30,675. However, Lombardy officials said the increase in cases could be explained by additional data that was collected over the past few days. Across Italy, at least 30,911 people have died from Covid-19, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency on Tuesday. That is an increase of 172 since the day before and a variation in line with previous days. The total number of cases recorded in Italy, including deaths and recoveries, is now at least 221,216.
France edges toward 27,000 coronavirus deaths
From CNN's Eva Tapiero in Paris
The French death toll from coronavirus is now at least 26,994, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. At least 21,595 people remain in hospital, the country's health ministry said. France has recorded at least 178,349 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Teen drivers will have to take road test after all, Georgia governor says
From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch
Teen drivers in Georgia who were issued driver’s licenses during the Covid-19 pandemic without a road test will have to take the driver’s test after all, according to a new executive order signed today by Gov. Brian Kemp. A previous executive order signed by Kemp allowed for teens who met certain qualifications to upgrade their permits into licenses without taking a road test. Kemp said the new order will supersede the previous order. The new order says the Department of Drivers Services shall provide a process for drivers who have been awarded a driver’s license without completing an on-the-road test to complete the on-the-road test no later than September 30. The on-the-road test may be administered by examiners riding in the vehicle with the applicant during the test or by remote means, the order said. The Georgia Department of Drivers Services on May 6 said that nearly 20,000 teenagers had received their driver’s license without a road test.
Airlines acknowledge new mask policies are difficult to enforce
From CNN's Pete Muntean
Plans from several major US airlines on how to enforce their mandatory mask requirements, obtained by CNN, reveal that for the most part they will rely on passenger cooperation rather than strict enforcement.
American Airlines: Separate memos American Airlines sent to its pilots and flight attendants shows that customers may be denied boarding for not wearing a mask, but once on the plane “the face covering policy will become more lenient” and “the flight attendant’s role is informational, not enforcement,” the pilot memo reads. It was first obtained by Reuters. The American Airlines flight attendant memo describes how they should handle customers who don’t comply with the policy: “please encourage them to comply, but do not escalate further. Likewise, if a customer is frustrated by another customer’s lack of face covering, please use situational awareness to de-escalate the situation.”
United: Like the American Airlines’ policy, United makes exceptions for a variety of reasons including medical conditions. Its policy also points to avoiding confrontation. “If for some reason this policy causes a disturbance onboard, we’ve counseled our flight attendants to use their de-escalation skills, and they do have the flexibility to re-seat customers on the aircraft as needed,” United said in a statement.
JetBlue suggests workers at airports tell customers the following, “To help keep us all safe, customers and crewmembers are now required to wear face coverings.” The airline says there will be “challenges” to enforcing its policy. In a nod to how charged wearing masks has become, the policy says: “Please be sensitive to the current environment – remember to leverage our Hospitality Promises and ‘Ask, Bargain & Convince’ skills to de-escalate a situation with a non-compliant or frustrated Customer, and use your best judgement to uphold our service standards in order to minimize disruptions. While Customers failing to comply will not prompt the need for diversion or immediate removal, our Inflight Crewmembers should advise an Airports Crewmember upon arrival.” Its policy also reminds workers that they aren’t allowed to make people leave the terminal for not wearing a mask. CNN has reached out to Delta and Southwest as well.
College study abroad program cancels fall voyage
From CNN's Elise Hammond
Semester at Sea, a college study abroad program, announced that it is canceling its program in the fall of 2020 due to coronavirus concerns and travel restrictions. "We have the responsibility to cancel the Fall 2020 Voyage," Semester at Sea CEO Scott Marshall said in a statement Tuesday. About a month ago, it was announced that half of the fall session would be on the ship and half online, but as the number of coronavirus cases around the world increased, the program was canceled completely, the statement said. "Neither government agencies nor professional industries have proven policies and procedures to contain the pandemic while still allowing for travel. As a result, international travel remains uncertain and will for some time in the future," the statement said. Marshall said the only other time Semester at Sea was canceled was in 1977 due to low enrollment. "We are confident that this is both the right decision and the best path forward for Semester at Sea," Marshall said in the statement. The statement also said the program lost nearly $2 million, including $1.4 million in refunds, when the spring voyage was cut short at the beginning of the pandemic. "We have taken prudent and significant cost-saving measures to reduce our overhead, including a tiered compensation reduction for all leadership and staff, and significant decrease in travel, materials, and business operations," Marshall said in the statement. He also said the company received a loan from the Payment Protection Program as part of the CARES Act.
Bars and nightclubs in Georgia to remain closed until May 31
From CNN's Lindsay Benson
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a new order that live performance venues, bars and nightclubs must remain closed through May 31. "We will take whatever action is necessary to protect the lives and the livelihoods of all Georgians," he said. The order will also allow 10 people per 300 square feet in a public space, such as restaurants and dining rooms, and allow the size per table from six to 10 people. The order will also allow the increase of a childcare facility from "10 to 20 people so long as the staff-to-child ratio set by the Department of Early Care and Learning are also maintained," he said. "(Georgians) must continue to follow social distancing and gatherings of more than 10 people remain banned unless there is at least six feet between each person," he said. He said shelter-in-place must remain for people who are "medically fragile" through June 12. Kemp also announced that "starting May 14, summer day camps are allowed to operate if they can meet 32 minimum, mandatory criteria," and that they "are not allowing overnight summer camps in Georgia at this time."
Pence, Birx and Fauci all met in the same room for today's task force meeting
From CNN's Jason Hoffman
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted a picture of the coronavirus task force meeting showing him, along with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, seated distanced from one another with all three in face masks. Earlier on Tuesday, Fauci testified in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions via teleconference from his home. In a joint statement released today, Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, all said they would attend meeting at the White House if needed, leaving their respective versions of quarantine after being exposed to a White House staffer who has coronavirus. Fauci has previously said that he will attend the White House if needed. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have together determined that government entities working in support of the COVID-19 response efforts are providing essential services and the current guidelines for critical infrastructure workers apply,” they said. “Therefore, providing that they are asymptomatic, screened, and monitored for fever and other symptoms, wear a face covering, and maintain a distance of at least six feet from others, Drs. Redfield, Hahn, and Fauci can and will participate in meetings on the White House complex when their attendance is needed.” On Monday, Birx and Pence both participated on a call with governors, but they were on video teleconference in separate rooms.
Arizona to allow professional sports starting Friday, governor says
From CNN’s Andy Rose
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will allow professional sporting events in the state starting on Friday. “We have had some discussions with leaders in these leagues,” Ducey said Tuesday. So far, none of the major US sports leagues have announced when their events will resume. A number of Major League Baseball teams have their spring training games in Arizona, and Ducey has previously said the state may be able to accommodate games for other teams that normally play elsewhere. Gyms and fitness centers will also be allowed to reopen with special precautions starting Wednesday. The governor also announced that the stay-at-home order will be allowed to expire on Friday, but residents are advised to continue social distancing. “This is not a green light to speed,” Ducey said. “This is a green light to proceed.”
Catch up: Here are the top coronavirus headlines from today
From CNN's Elise Hammond
It's almost 7 p.m. in the US. Here are some of the top stories you might have missed.
New prediction: A key coronavirus model often cited by the White House has again raised its coronavirus death projection, now predicting 147,000 deaths in the US by August 4. The researcher who conducted the prediction said the increased death projection is because of relaxed social distancing and increased mobility – essentially people moving around more, which may lead to more contact and transmission.
US budget: The United States posted a record $738 billion budget deficit in April, according to a Treasury Department report. Federal spending climbed to nearly $980 billion last month as the federal government began doling out funds from the $2 trillion relief package Congress passed at the end of March.
New relief proposal: House Democrats released the legislative text of their new coronavirus relief proposal. The 1,815 page bill announced today has a price tag expected to be more than $3 trillion — an amount that would stand as the largest relief package in history. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said the bill is “dead on arrival” in the Senate, highlighting the party's opposition.
Unemployment rates: Randal Quarles, the Federal Reserve vice chairman for supervision, said he expects the near-term unemployment rate to be "extremely high." He also said the Fed may need to take further actions to support the US financial sector.
States in financial crisis: Several states are making cuts and trying to figure out how to balance their budgets. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that New York needs about $61 billion in federal support or the state will have to reduce spending.
White House outbreak: In addition to daily temperature checks and questioning, journalists who are members of the restricted in-house press pool will be given a rapid coronavirus test daily. Within the administration, Vice President Mike Pence made the decision to stay away from President Trump, after Katie Miller, the vice president's press secretary, tested positive for the coronavirus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.
Task force quarantined: Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said today that they will leave self-quarantine to attend meetings at the White House.
Los Angeles County: The county is expected to remain under some sort of stay-at-home order for months, according to Health Director Barbara Ferrer. She said “with all certainty,” the order will be extended another three months. Ferrer said restrictions will continue to be lifted, while the order remains.
Higher education: The California State University system plans to cancel nearly all in-person classes through the fall semester to reduce spread of coronavirus. The CSU system is the nation’s largest four-year public university system with a total enrollment of more than 480,000 students.
The new normal: Twitter will allow some of its workforce to continue working from home “forever” if they choose. The decision reflects how some companies are bracing for the pandemic’s extended impacts.
Airline industry: Customers in many cases are not entitled to refunds or even credits due to Covid-19 concerns, the Department of Transportation said in a new three-page document that outlined new guidelines for airlines.
Researcher behind new model ties projected death toll to relaxation of social distancing
From CNN Health’s Arman Azad
The researcher behind the influential model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington said on Tuesday that the United States is “speeding towards relaxing social distancing,” leaving the country on an “unfortunate trajectory” as states begin to reopen. The model predicts that there will be 147,000 deaths in the US by August 4. “When we started off making projections, we had assumed that all the states were going to sort of follow the New Zealand model, which is to keep social distancing in place until transmission gets to a very low level,” Dr. Christopher Murray, the director of the IHME, told CNN. “We’re not doing that. We’re speeding towards relaxing social distancing. People are getting the message, they’re getting out,” he said. “And I think we’ll see the numbers go up unless we see the benefits of people being cautious, wearing masks – and capacities to test, contact trace and isolate go up faster than we think they may.” Explaining the increased death projection, Murray pointed to relaxed social distancing and increased mobility – essentially people moving around more, which may lead to more contact and transmission. “We’re seeing upward trends in case numbers in a number of states, and big swings up in mobility,” he said.