May 17 coronavirus news

By Nicole Chavez, James Griffiths, Jenni Marsh, Tara John and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 10:41 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020
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10:12 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Social distancing worked to limit the spread of coronavirus, new study confirms

From CNN's Arman Azad

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

A new study found that social distancing worked to limit the spread of coronavirus in the United States and may have prevented tens of millions of infections.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Health Affairs, found that government-imposed social distancing cut the virus’ daily growth rate by about 9% after roughly three weeks.

Without any social distancing measures at all, the number of coronavirus cases in the US could have been 35 times higher, the researchers estimated.

“Our paper illustrates the potential danger of exponential spread in the absence of interventions, providing relevant information to strategies for restarting economic activity,” they wrote.

Charles Courtemanche from the University of Kentucky — as well and colleagues there and at the University of Louisville and Georgia State University – estimated the effects of social distancing by comparing coronavirus cases in counties with and without a number of social distancing measures.

Shelter-in-place orders and the closure of restaurants and bars seemed particularly effective at slowing the spread of the virus, the researchers found. Bans on large events and the closure of public schools alone didn’t seem to affect the growth rate.

“[Our] results argue against returning to partial measures such as school closures and restrictions on large gatherings, while removing the restrictions that prevent the redirection of social activity to other settings,” the researchers wrote.

They did note that their study had some limitations. Official case counts, for example, are likely an undercount because they may not include people who aren’t sick enough to go to the doctor.

Other factors could have skewed the results too, such as “informal encouragement by government officials to wear masks or improve hygiene, changing business practices, and social norms regarding distancing.”

11:30 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

The federal government has an ethical obligation to help states and counties, California governor says

From CNN's Elise Hammond


As California faces a $54.3 billion budget deficit that is "directly Covid-induced," Gov. Gavin Newsom said the federal government has an obligation to support states and local governments moving forward.

"We have an obligation, a moral, an ethical obligation to American citizens across this country to help support cities, states and counties," he told CNN on Sunday.

Newsom said before the pandemic the state had been "managing our budget effectively."

"We're not looking for charity. We're not looking for handouts," Newsom said.

Some background: Newsom's comments come after the House passed a $3 trillion emergency relief bill on Friday, which allocates funding for state and local governments, coronavirus testing and a new round of direct payments to Americans, is urgently needed to address the crisis.

But, the White House and Senate Republicans have made it clear they do not support another massive spending bill right now.

"They say it's dead on arrival, I hope they'll consider this. The next time they want to salute and celebrate our heroes, our first responders, our police officers and firefighters, consider the fact that they are the first ones that will be laid off by cities and counties," Newsom said.

Because county health care systems are also struggling financially, health care workers and nurses would also be affected, Newsom added.


9:29 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Egypt to impose movement restrictions during Eid Al-Fitr

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali

People crowd the popular street market of Al Ataba in Cairo on May 15.
People crowd the popular street market of Al Ataba in Cairo on May 15. Gehad Hamdy/picture alliance via Getty Images

Egypt will impose stricter measures during the Eid Al-Fitr religious holiday including extending its curfew hours to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced on Sunday according to state news Ahram Online.

A nationwide curfew will begin at 5 p.m. starting from Sunday through Friday, Madbouly said in a televised briefing.

All shops, malls, beaches and parks will be closed during the period.

Saudi Arabia also declared Thursday that a 24-hour curfew will be imposed during the Eid Al-Fitr from May 23 through May 27 across all cities and regions.

Some context: Eid Al-Fitr — also called the Festival of Breaking the Fast, set to start on May 23 — is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan. 

10:00 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Reopening state economies is an issue of "health versus health," HHS secretary says

From CNN's Elise Hammond


Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said reopening the economy is an issue of "health versus health" and that there are "serious health consequences" to keeping states shut down.

"Reopen we must, because it's not health versus the economy. It's actually health versus health. There are serious health consequences to keeping us shut down, whether it's the suicidality rates or cardiac procedures not being received, pediatric vaccinations declining. All of these are critical health needs that are part of reopening the economy," he told CNN on Sunday.

As states across the country start to loosen restrictions, he said these determinations need to be made on a local level.

"It's very hard to judge in any community whether a bar being open, a restaurant, a school is the right thing," he told CNN on Sunday. "That's why the local leaders lead this, the state supervises, and the federal government provides expertise and support from our level."

"There should not be one size fits all approaches to reopening," Azar added.

So far there has not been a spike in cases in states that have already started to reopen, he added.


9:13 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Texas reports largest single day number of positive Covid-19 cases since beginning of pandemic

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

Texas saw its highest single day increase in positive coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic this past Saturday, according to numbers released by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

The state reported an increase of at least 1,801 positive coronavirus cases yesterday.

The majority of positive cases, 734 cases, originated from employees of meat plants in Potter and Randall counties, a result of targeted testing of employees at meat plants in the area, according to Texas DSHS. 

CNN reporting shows an upward trend in increase of positive Covid-19 cases in Texas based on numbers reported from Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Numbers from the Texas DSHS also shows this upward trend.

8:36 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Meet the man who donated iPads to local medical centers so families can stay connected

From CNN's Mirna Alsharif

John Lynch delivers iPads to Cape Regional Medical Center in Cape May, New Jersey.
John Lynch delivers iPads to Cape Regional Medical Center in Cape May, New Jersey.

Last month, John Lynch of New Jersey said a final goodbye to his father over FaceTime.

Hugh Lynch, who had dementia, died of natural causes at a memory care center in Atlanta on April 13. Because of Covid-19 guidelines restricting visitation to hospitals and care centers, John couldn't see his father in person before he died.

It was Lynch's experience with his father during the pandemic and conversations with medical worker friends that inspired him to take action.

Through the Lunch with Lynch Foundation, which Lynch founded in 2007, he launched Operation Connection: The iPad Project and asked members of his community to donate iPads with the goal of distributing them to local medical centers.

"Within the first hour of reach-outs, we had 20 donated iPads," Lynch told CNN. "This initiative was driven by the community, without a doubt."

The foundation, which usually focuses on providing educational experiences to local children, has since collected and distributed 60 iPads to hospitals in New Jersey, New York and South Carolina as well as nursing homes in Cape May County, New Jersey, according to Lynch.

Read the rest of the article here

1:26 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

What you need to know about coronavirus this Sunday

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in London

CDC releases illustration of the Coronavirus.
CDC releases illustration of the Coronavirus.

With the virus largely contained in China, life is slowly returning to normal there. Lockdowns have eased while some schools and factories have reopened.

But the country's top medical adviser, Dr. Zhong Nanshan, tells CNN that a potential second wave of Covid-19 infections remains a "big challenge." That's because we don't know whether people develop immunity to the virus after contracting it.

There have been worrying signs. Most recently, eight sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for the virus a second time.

Zhong also confirmed that local authorities in Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first reported in December, suppressed key details about the magnitude of the initial outbreak. "At the very beginning they kept silent, and then I said probably we have (a larger) number of people being infected," he said.

Fresh clusters of cases have emerged across China recently. On Friday more than 8,000 people were quarantined in and around Shulan, in the northeastern province of Jilin.

Fears of a potential second wave have also rattled South Korea, where confirmed cases believed to be linked to Seoul's nightclub cluster rose to 168 today.

Many from the country's LGBTQ community, which still faces discrimination in South Korea, frequent the nightclubs. And fears of having their sexuality outed have kept some patrons who were potentially exposed from coming forward.

As global leaders weigh the risk of second waves of infections with the need to reopen their economies, people are increasingly losing patience. Protests against lockdown measures spread this weekend in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.


Q: My kids don't want to wear a mask. What should I do?

A: To ease their fears, try buying or making masks with fun designs. Or have your child customize his or her own mask by drawing on them with markers. You can also order children's face masks with superheroes on them, or show your kids photos of their favorite celebrities wearing masks. It's also important to wear a mask yourself. And let them know that by wearing one they'll be just like mom or dad.

Read the rest of CNN's Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter here

8:04 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

South Korea to begin phased reopening of schools

From CNN’s Yoonjung Seo in Seou

People relax at the Cheonggye Stream in the South Korean capital, Seoul, amid a lifting of restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
People relax at the Cheonggye Stream in the South Korean capital, Seoul, amid a lifting of restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

South Korean schools will begin opening Wednesday, May 20, for students in third year through high school, South Korea’s Vice Education Minister said during a briefing on Sunday.

Public concern was raised about reopening of schools after a cluster infection was reported at nightclubs in Itaewon in the capital Seoul. As of Sunday, a total of 168 people have tested positive for the virus linked to the Itaewon cluster.

The minister, Park Baeg-beom, pointed out that many students are at a critical junction of their education, particularly those taking exams for job placement opportunities and students applying for arts and sports majors. 

All 51 teachers and students who had been to clubs in the Itaewon area have tested negative and several hundred people who visited the area have been tested,” he said. "There are 10 confirmed students with the virus who had not visited the Itaewon area but contracted the virus from an instructor at a private academy in Incheon."

All students and faculty members with temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher will not be allowed to go to school, the minister added. Temperature checks will happen twice a day and anyone with symptoms will be transported to centers.

Why is this happening now: South Korea was among the first places to deal with a major coronavirus epidemic, and seemed to be on track to loosen restrictions, after weeks of social distancing measures and careful surveillance. But the new cluster raised questions as to whether restrictions should be eased.

Before the latest cases, the number of new infections in South Korea had slowed to a trickle, with local transmission appearing to be halted. South Korea's response has been hailed as one of the best globally, aided in part by the country's relative small size, easily-controlled borders and aggressive testing regime.

Read more here

7:55 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Daily Covid-19 deaths in Spain fall below 100 for first time in two months

From CNN’s Tim Lister

A woman opens her store in Palma de Mallorca during phase one of Spain's reopening.
A woman opens her store in Palma de Mallorca during phase one of Spain's reopening. Isaac Buj/Europa Press/Getty Images

The number of daily deaths due to Covid-19 fell to 87 for the latest 24-hour period -- the lowest figure since March 16, figures from the Spanish Health Ministry on Sunday show.

The total number of deaths in Spain now stands at 27,650.

The number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 has reached 231,350, an increase of 421. Of that total, the number of health workers infected is 50,938, according to the Health Ministry.

The Spanish government has embarked on a major, nationwide testing program to discover who has or may have had the virus.

Most of the new cases and reported deaths are in Madrid and Catalonia.