May 7 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Updated 10:35 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020
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6:41 a.m. ET, May 7, 2020

 Poland postpones presidential election

From CNN’s Deborah Bloom in Atlanta

A woman watches the candidates take part in Poland's presidential debate in Krakow on May 6.
A woman watches the candidates take part in Poland's presidential debate in Krakow on May 6. Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Poland's upcoming presidential election will be postponed amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus, the country's coalition government leaders said Wednesday.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski of the ruling Law and Justice party, and Jaroslaw Gowin of the smaller Agreement party, announced a "solution that will guarantee Poles the opportunity to take part in democratic elections" in a joint statement reported by state-run Polish News Agency. 

"The speaker of the Sejm will announce new presidential elections at the earliest possible date," the statement reads, referring to Poland's lower house of parliament. It adds that voting will be done by post, "in the interests of the safety of Poles in view of the epidemic situation." 

A total of 733 people have died from coronavirus in Poland, where 14,740 cases of the virus have so far been reported, state-run Polish Radio announced late Wednesday. 

The decision to postpone the vote comes after weeks of criticism of the government. Campaigners and academics have said that the Law and Justice party is using the pandemic to continue chipping away at democracy and tightening its grip on power.

6:18 a.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Black people four times more likely to die of Covid-19 in the UK compared to white people

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Sharon Braithwaite in London

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Members of ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom, especially black men and women, face a higher risk of dying from Covid-19, according to data from England and Wales released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on Thursday.

According to the ONS, the mortality rate from the novel coronavirus is 4.2 times higher for black men than for white men.

The numbers are similar for black women whose death rate from Covid-19 is 4.3 times higher than for white women.

The ONS statisticians found that black people are 1.9 times more likely to die of the virus even when age, socio-demographic characteristics and measures of health and disability are taken into account.

People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani, Indian, and mixed ethnicities had “statistically significant raised risk of death” from Covid-19, compared with those of white ethnicity, the ONS said.

“These results show that the difference between ethnic groups in Covid-19 mortality is partly a result of socio-economic disadvantage and other circumstances, but a remaining part of the difference has not yet been explained,” the ONS said in its report. 

5:40 a.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Russia hits yet another record for new cases

From CNN’s Nathan Hodge in Moscow

A health care provider makes a computer tomography (CT) of a patient at Lomonosov Moscow State University's Clinic, where coronavirus patients are being treated.
A health care provider makes a computer tomography (CT) of a patient at Lomonosov Moscow State University's Clinic, where coronavirus patients are being treated. Iliya Pitalev/Sputnik/AP

Russia on Thursday recorded a record daily rise in coronavirus cases, reporting 11,231 new cases over the last 24-hour period, the country’s Covid-19 response headquarters said in a statement.

All told, Russia has seen 177,160 official cases of coronavirus, and 1,625 deaths.

The Russian government has nationwide lockdown measures in place until May 12, and President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said those measures may be extended and strengthened in some regions of the country.

5:16 a.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Trump contradicts nurse he's honoring over PPE availability

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

US President Donald Trump contradicted a nurse he was honoring in the Oval Office on Wednesday, insisting there are no personal protective equipment shortages in the US despite her account that availability could be "sporadic."

A reporter asked the nurses attending the National Nurse Day event if their PPE supplies are where they need to be amid the coronavirus pandemic, and many of them nodded in agreement or answered affirmatively.

"I think it's sporadic," answered Sophia L. Thomas, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. "I mean, I talk to my colleagues around the country. Certainly there are pockets around the country where PPE is not ideal, but this is an unprecedented time."

Thomas said she works at a community health center in New Orleans, and that her youngest Covid-19 patient was 4 days old.

"The infection control measures that we learned back when we went to school, one gown and one mask for one patient per day -- this is a different time," she said, adding that she has been reusing a single N95 mask for "a few weeks now."

"PPE has been sporadic, but it's been manageable. And we do what we have to do," Thomas said. "We are nurses and we learn to adapt and do whatever we can do for our patients to get the job done and the care provided, and that's what we will continue to do as Covid-19 continues."

Despite her firsthand experience, Trump disputed Thomas' account.

"Sporadic for you but not sporadic for a lot of other people," the President told her.

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4:59 a.m. ET, May 7, 2020

British doctors are buying their own PPE and relying on donations, medical association says

Health care providers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) care for a patient with coronavirus at the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, England, on Tuesday, May 5.
Health care providers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) care for a patient with coronavirus at the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, England, on Tuesday, May 5. Neil Hall/EPA/AP

Nearly half of UK doctors surveyed by the British Medical Association said they had to buy their own personal protective equipment or rely on donations during the coronavirus epidemic.

The BMA, a trade union for British doctors, said it surveyed 16,000 doctors in the UK, asking them about access to PPE, their well-being and drug shortages.

The UK government has long been criticized for failing to provide enough adequate protective equipment for the National Health Service (NHS).

The latest PPE controversy came on Thursday, when it emerged that a much touted delivery of around 400,000 surgical gowns ordered by the government from Turkey in mid-April was never distributed among NHS workers because it did not meet British safety standards.

Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, the chair of the BMA Council, said in a news release:

On the one-hand it shows how resourceful they have been and how much support there has been from the general public in providing kit; but far more importantly, it is a damning indictment of the Government’s abject failure to make sure healthcare workers across the country are being supplied with the life-saving kit they should be.
4:43 a.m. ET, May 7, 2020

These are the Covid-19 patients who should be gasping for air but aren't

From CNN's Sandee LaMotte

In hospitals around the world, doctors are shaking their heads in disbelief as they watch Covid-19 patients who should be comatose or "seizing" from hypoxia -- a lack of oxygen in the body's tissues -- check social media, chat with nurses and barely complain of discomfort while breathing.

Some have dubbed them "happy hypoxics," a terrible misnomer for what could be a long, slow recovery -- or worse.

The proper medical term is "silent hypoxia." It happens when people are unaware they are being deprived of oxygen and are therefore showing up to the hospital in much worse health than they realize.

Typically, these patients have experienced some Covid-19 symptoms for two to seven days before they show up at the hospital complaining of sudden chest tightness or an inability to breathe deeply, said Dr. Richard Levitan, who's been an emergency room physician for some 30 years.

While he practices at Littleton Regional Healthcare in New Hampshire, Levitan recently spent almost two weeks volunteering in the emergency room of a New York City hospital near the epicenter of the city's devastating outbreak.

Levitan said scans of these patients' lungs showed signs of pneumonia so severe they should be in terrible pain as they gasp for their next breath.

"Their X-rays looked awful, their oxygen was terrible, and yet they're completely awake, alert on a cell phone, and they all said is they've been somewhat sick for days," he said.
"And then only recently did they notice either shortness of breath or fatigue or something else," Levitan added. "That's what is so fascinating about this disease and also so terrible."

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4:24 a.m. ET, May 7, 2020

UK government hasn't made "any final decisions" on easing Covid-19 restrictions

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London

Two police officers walk past a sign at Charing Cross on May 6 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Two police officers walk past a sign at Charing Cross on May 6 in Glasgow, Scotland. Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

The British government has yet to make “any final decisions,” on which of the anti-coronavirus restrictions it will ease on Monday, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said in an interview on Thursday.

“We haven't made any final decisions on these issues yet,” Lewis told BBC Breakfast. “I would just say to people to not get too carried away with what we may be reading and just wait until the government guidelines and the prime minister's statement.”

The Northern Ireland secretary also seemed to pour cold water on those craving to go back to work starting Monday.

“I would say to people that the current government position is very clear that where you can work from home you should, we should stay home wherever we can," he said.

The background: UK media reported on Wednesday that stay-at-home advice would be scrapped from Monday, according to information given to MPs by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

According to The Telegraph, Johnson said that people would be encouraged to go back to work if possible and allowed "unlimited" exercise outside.

4:15 a.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Twelfth Vatican City Covid-19 patient works for the Pope

From Valentina DiDonato in Rome

An Italian State Police car patrols along Via della Conciliazione on May 6 in Rome near Vatican City.
An Italian State Police car patrols along Via della Conciliazione on May 6 in Rome near Vatican City. Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

A twelfth case of Covid-19 in Vatican City is also an employee of Pope Francis, the Holy See press office said on Wednesday. 

The person has been working remotely since early March and is now under observation at home, according to the director of the Holy See press office, Matteo Bruni.

Vatican City is the seat of the Catholic church, and it has been a sovereign state in the middle of Rome since 1929. It has 605 residents, all with a Vatican City passport and who are out of Italy's legal jurisdiction. 

“A new positive case was recently confirmed of having Covid-19, the twelfth in Vatican City State and among employees of the Holy See. The person had been working remotely since the first days of March and when symptoms arrived (they) remained in fiduciary home isolation," Bruni said in a statement.
"Before returning to the workplace, (the patient) was successfully tested by the Vatican Health and Hygiene Department and is now under observation at home.”
7:57 a.m. ET, May 7, 2020

How Angela Merkel went from lame duck to global leader on coronavirus

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

Angela Merkel doesn't give big speeches. The German Chancellor addresses her nation once a year, in a pre-recorded New Year's message. When she decided to update German citizens about the coronavirus outbreak in March, it was the first unscheduled televised address she had given in almost 15 years of leadership.

The speech was a hit.

Merkel, a pastor's daughter with a PhD in quantum chemistry, presented the grim facts of the pandemic while also offering a dose of compassion. She referenced her East German background and the difficulty she had with the idea of restricting freedom of movement. But she explained why doing so was necessary, and got Germans on her side.

"She is not a great orator, but this calm message to the nation contributed to the confidence of the people: 80% to 90% felt she can do it," said Wolfgang Merkel (no relation to the Chancellor), professor of political science at Berlin's Humboldt University.
"When people are deeply insecure about the future, they seek protection and more certainty from the government."

It has been a real transformation for Merkel, who began the year as a lame duck leader. Her political record had been damaged by the huge backlash against her "open door" refugee policy, her succession plan collapsed and her party was rapidly losing ground to the fringes.

But when Covid-19 began to spread across the globe, Merkel stepped up once again.

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