Nursing homes, long-term care facilities, prisons and meatpacking plants are all facing increasing scrutiny heading into the weekend as sobering reports of outbreaks at each made news late in the week.
Even as questions are raised about how to contain those outbreaks, states across the nation are constantly changing their social distancing restrictions, slowly relaxing an uneven patchwork of regulations and making moves to reopen ravaged economies. The weekend will again bring challenges as some worry nice weather will cause crowding, especially at beaches in states including Florida and California.
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Here are the most important developments:Roughly a quarter of the nation’s overall deaths are nursing home and long-term care facility residents and staff — more than 16,000 people. More states are releasing information to help track which facilities are effected, but the patchwork of data can make it hard to know what is happening at a loved one's nursing home. A USA TODAY database can help.Production at meat processing plants has been hit by coronavirus outbreaks, leading to concerns of shortages. But experts believe meat won’t likely follow the path of toilet paper, with totally empty shelves and consumers clamoring to find it. Shoppers might find local shortages instead.
Some good news: Don't feel pressure to exercise too much as you're stuck at home — "Whatever your regular exercise routine was, I wouldn't alter it," one expert recommends.
A question you might have:What should I do if I think I might have coronavirus? This guide will walk you through next steps.
California, praised for early action, still held back by testing
California has gained praised for its speed in enacting social distancing orders which have helped keep the most populous state from suffering the kind of runaway outbreaks that have plagued other states. But a USA TODAY Network analysis finds the state is still woefully unprepared to reopen in accordance with public health recommendations.
Gov. Gavin Newsom recently laid out a reopening plan with benchmarks that must be met before he will recommend walking back stay-at-home orders and other social distancing measures. He called for California to test between 60,000 and 80,000 people daily.
California is doing just a third of that, as of late April, conducting only about 52 tests per 100,000 people each day, according to a USA TODAY Network analysis. Across the nation, California falls slightly into the bottom half of all states.
California is far behind behind the national leaders — Rhode Island, North Dakota and New Mexico — which are respectively averaging about 260, 209 and 163 tests per 100,000 residents each day. No other states have yet to achieve the recommended testing metric, though New York and Massachusetts are close.
Newsom has said some business sectors, such as retail and manufacturing, may be able to open within weeks if the state's testing capability grows and case numbers slow. But other businesses such as hair salons will take longer. Large gatherings such as concerts still remain out of reach, he said.
– Nicole Hayden, Mark Olalde, Jordan Culver and Joel Shannon
Tennessee to test all inmates, prison staff after massive outbreak
All Tennessee inmates and correction staff will be tested for the coronavirus as part of a new widespread initiative to mitigate the spread of the virus amid multiple massive prison outbreaks in the state, Gov. Bill Lee announced Friday.
The governor's office said more than half of the inmates and staff tested at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville tested positive for the virus.
Of the 2,725 total tests given at the facility this week, at least 1,349 came back positive, according to CoreCivic, the national private corporation that runs Trousdale Turner. Just two of the inmates who tested positive exhibited symptoms, CoreCivic said in a statement, and both are being treated at a nearby hospital.
"The rate of infection at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center is consistent with or below what is being reported by other correctional systems nationally," CoreCivic's public affairs office said in a statement Friday, noting that more than 70% of federal inmates have tested positive for the virus, according to recently released data.
Based on state virus data compiled by The Tennessean, the outbreak at Trousdale has led to the largest single-day spike in positive cases — more than twice the size of any other — since the virus came to Tennessee in early March.
Roads to Gallup, N.M. blocked off
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham invoked the state’s Riot Control Act on Friday as she sealed off all roads to nonessential traffic in one of the largest communities bordering the Navajo Nation, where a surging coronavirus outbreak has already prompted widespread restrictions and weekend lockdowns.
She also required businesses in Gallup to close from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. in the city of about 70,000 people along Interstate 40, which remained open to through traffic.
Gallup is a hub for basic household supplies, liquor sales and water-container refills for people living in remote stretches of the Navajo Nation — often without full indoor plumbing — and indigenous Zuni Pueblo. The Navajo Nation has imposed evening and weekend curfews on the reservation spanning portions of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.
COVID-19 infection rates in Gallup and surrounding McKinley County make it one of the worst U.S. hotspots for the pandemic as patients overwhelm intensive care facilities.
City officials requested new state of emergency under the riot act that can prohibit people from walking streets and using certain roads. Violations are punishable as misdemeanors on a first offense and as a felony on the second offense. Emergency declarations under the act expire after three days and can be renewed.
More coronavirus headlines from USA TODAY:Your coronavirus money questions, answered: Can I get unemployment if I stay home to take care of my child?Antibody tests were supposed to help guide US reopening plans.They've brought more confusion than clarity amid coronavirus. When will US reach 100,000 deaths? After a horrific April, grim milestone could hit in May.Need help coping amid the pandemic?Sign up for our Staying Apart, Together newsletter 📧
Report: Coronavirus could last up to 2 years
The coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon, infectious disease experts predict in a report released Thursday.
The pandemic could last between 18 and 24 months and won’t be halted until 60% to 70% of the population is immune, according to the report by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.
Researchers note that COVID-19 appears to spread more easily than the flu because it has a longer incubation period, spreads while people are asymptomatic, and has a higher basic reproductive number, meaning the average number of new infections that result from one infected person.
Because it's so contagious, "more people will need to get infected and become immune before the pandemic can end," the researchers note.
The report presents three scenarios for the spread of COVID-19 and makes several recommendations, including advising government agencies to plan for worst-case scenarios, making plans for periodic resurgences, and warning the public that the disease won't be over soon.
– Rachel Aretakis