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States relax more rules, but some could return to stay-at-home orders if coronavirus cases surge

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo got a coronavirus test during his daily news briefing, saying "it is so fast and so easy that even the governor can take this test."

Posted: May 18, 2020 5:01 PM
Updated: May 18, 2020 5:01 PM

A new week brings new freedoms to those who have hunkered down under stay-at-home orders. But if the coronavirus pandemic gets much worse, some governors say they're willing to change course.

All states except one, Connecticut, have loosened stay-at-home restrictions. In some states, people can get tattoos, go shopping inside malls and eat inside restaurants again.

But only 18 states showed a downward trend of new cases on Monday, according to an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. That's down from 28 states that showed general declines as of Friday.

It's not clear whether the increases in coronavirus cases were simply due to more testing, or if the virus is now spreading more rampantly.

But the challenge now is keeping a lid on new cases and deaths while trying to revive the economy.

Across the US, than 1.4 million people have been infected, and more than 89,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Good news emerges from a vaccine trial

As research teams scramble to create or test vaccines, one company announced a milestone in its progress Monday.

The biotech company Moderna said eight trial participants developed neutralizing antibodies to coronavirus. Neutralizing antibodies bind to the virus, disabling it from attacking human cells.

If future studies go well, the company's vaccine could be available to the public as early as January, said Moderna Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tal Zaks.

But the results of the study, which was led by the National Institutes Health, have not been peer reviewed. And there's much more work to be done, Zaks said.

"We are going to have to conduct formal efficacy trials where you vaccinate many, many people, and then you monitor them in the ensuing months to make sure they don't get sick," he said.

Millions more can go to the gym and retail stores

On Monday, Massachusetts became the 49th state to be fully or partially reopened. Gov. Charlie Baker said he's allowing manufacturing and construction sites to reopen immediately.

"We've all been doing our jobs to fight (coronavirus), and as a result, positive case rates are moving in the right direction and hospitalizations are down," Baker said.

All public transportation riders in the Boston area must continue wearing face masks. Baker said more sectors of the economy will be allowed to open in phases, with the next one starting May 25.

Florida entered its first full phase of reopening Monday, allowing restaurants, retail stores and gyms across the state to reopen with certain restrictions.

California, the first state to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, is now in its second of four reopening phases.

"I deeply understand the stress and anxiety that people have, that entire dreams have been torn asunder because of the shutdowns, their savings account depleted and their credit ratings destroyed," Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Texas, one of the first to start reopening, had its highest single-day increase in new cases over the weekend. Restaurants, movie theaters and malls have been open for more than two weeks, but the governor has attributed an increase in coronavirus cases to more testing.

Why it'll take weeks to see the health effects of reopening

And in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware, beaches will be open for Memorial Day weekend, with restrictions.

But with greater freedoms come more responsibilities to prevent a resurgence of coronavirus -- which would lead to another blow to the economy.

That includes wearing masks in public, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said.

"About 90% of our economy is back open because we thought it was a huge risk not to reopen," DeWine said Sunday.

If the situation gets worse, "we're prepared to do what we have to do to pull back," he said.

"We don't want to be like some of the other countries we've seen where they shut down, opened up, and now are starting to shut down again," DeWine said. "And it's in everyone's collective hands how we act in the next month or two, whether or not we're going to be in that position."

In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp also said the state will keep tracking the numbers and "will take whatever action is necessary to protect the lives and the livelihoods of all Georgians."

Connecticut will be the last state to let go of its stay-at-home order and will start reopening Wednesday. Officials announced a website with "strict safety guidelines" that businesses must meet before reopening.

Where each state stands in the reopening process

Union issues guidelines on when to reopen schools

Most states have said students won't return to class this school year, and most parents have no idea when their kids will be back in school.

But a union representing nearly 1.7 million teachers has published guidance on how schools should safely reopen.

"Once we have reduced the number of cases for at least 14 days with adequate testing in place, reopening plans can go into effect on a community-by-community basis," said a report by the American Federation of Teachers.

Schools should also consider protections for at-risk staff and at-risk students, the union said.

Protecting students' health may also mean having to reorganizing parts of schools -- including making classrooms smaller, staggering lunch times and finding alternative plans for some after-school programs.

"While our public schools have been woefully under-resourced, and we must continue the fight to change that, this next two years is an opportunity to visualize what schooling looks like in a post-pandemic era," the report says.

Testing increases, but so do concerns about accuracy

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the US has conducted more than 10 million coronavirus tests, and the federal government is deploying rapid tests to meatpacking facilities and nursing homes.

But there are new concerns about the accuracy of some diagnostic tests, which are supposed to determine whether someone currently has the virus.

AdventHealth said about 35,000 coronavirus tests -- 33,000 of which were conducted in Florida -- have been deemed unreliable because problems at a processing lab.

AdventHealth declined to name the lab, but said it was "working diligently" to notify people who may be affected.

The news comes after concerns about the accuracy of antibody tests, which are supposed to tell whether you've been exposed to the virus in the past.

Health officials stress that it's too early to know whether having coronavirus antibodies means you have long-term immunity against a second infection -- or if you have immunity at all.

Your coronavirus questions, answered

Doctors say the CDC shouldn't be sidelined

Months into the pandemic, experts are calling for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to step up and lead the US efforts of fighting the virus.

The CDC has been the lead agency in battling other pandemics and outbreaks, such as the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic and the 2003-2004 SARS outbreak.

But the CDC's regular briefings on coronavirus were halted by March, and the White House took over.

That was a mistake, Emory University doctors, professors and staffers wrote in an open letter in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"If we are to win the battle against Covid-19, we need the CDC's scientific independence and unstifled voice," the group wrote.

"There is debate over a perceived trade-off between health and restarting our economy. We believe that it is not a trade-off, but that lasting economic recovery is intricately dependent on controlling COVID-19."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 50300

Reported Deaths: 2748
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11920692
Lake5432248
Elkhart347058
Allen2902133
St. Joseph205169
Hamilton1665101
Cass16449
Hendricks1446100
Johnson1325118
Porter80238
Tippecanoe7599
Clark68144
Vanderburgh6816
Madison67264
LaPorte60527
Howard59458
Bartholomew59345
Kosciusko5704
Marshall5308
Noble50128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4783
Boone47444
Delaware46952
Hancock46036
Shelby43525
Floyd40444
Morgan33631
Monroe32928
Grant30926
Dubois2976
Henry29717
Montgomery29720
Clinton2893
White26810
Decatur25532
Dearborn25423
Lawrence25225
Vigo2478
Warrick24329
Harrison21722
Greene19332
Miami1922
Jennings17912
Putnam1728
DeKalb1674
Scott1639
Wayne1536
Daviess15017
Perry1459
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1332
Franklin1278
Ripley1277
Wabash1152
Carroll1132
Gibson1132
Fayette1057
Whitley1045
Newton10010
Starke983
Huntington932
Randolph794
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington681
Knox670
Clay665
Pulaski661
Rush613
Posey550
Owen521
Benton510
Spencer501
Adams491
Sullivan471
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Tipton321
Switzerland300
Martin240
Parke230
Ohio220
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62856

Reported Deaths: 3032
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11433443
Cuyahoga8786393
Hamilton6563207
Lucas2889305
Marion274039
Montgomery237835
Summit2299209
Pickaway221641
Mahoning1907239
Butler176747
Columbiana135060
Stark1196114
Lorain109769
Trumbull103277
Warren94525
Clark79310
Delaware67515
Fairfield64317
Tuscarawas60110
Lake57022
Belmont56722
Medina56632
Licking56012
Miami50331
Portage48759
Wood47451
Clermont4537
Ashtabula44544
Geauga42543
Wayne37253
Richland3635
Allen34841
Greene3229
Mercer29510
Erie26722
Holmes2575
Darke25326
Huron2382
Madison2139
Ottawa16624
Sandusky15715
Washington14420
Coshocton1413
Ross1393
Crawford1385
Putnam13415
Hardin12312
Morrow1211
Athens1111
Auglaize1094
Jefferson1052
Muskingum961
Union931
Monroe8917
Hancock851
Lawrence820
Preble821
Hocking809
Clinton791
Guernsey793
Shelby744
Williams742
Logan681
Fulton660
Scioto650
Carroll643
Ashland632
Wyandot625
Brown601
Fayette550
Defiance533
Knox531
Champaign511
Highland491
Van Wert451
Perry411
Seneca402
Henry330
Paulding280
Jackson270
Pike270
Adams251
Vinton232
Gallia201
Noble130
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan120
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
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Huntington
74° wxIcon
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Decatur
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Van Wert
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Breezy, Sunny Saturday
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