Live Updates

May 21 coronavirus news

Melania Trump sends a message to students amid pandemic
01:51

What you need to know

  • The numbers: More than 5.1 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported worldwide, including more than 332,000 deaths.
  • Brazil spike: The country recorded its highest number of deaths within 24 hours and surpassed 300,000 total cases on Thursday, according to its health ministry.
  • In the US: All 50 states have at least partially reopened. More than 94,000 people have died in the nation.
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Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here.

China will not set a specific target for economic growth this year, Premier says

China will not set a specific target for economic growth this year, said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the 13th National People’s Congress in Beijing. 

The NPC, China’s top legislature, opened its third session on Friday morning.

The decision not to set a target is “because our country will face some factors that are difficult to predict in its development due to the great uncertainty regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and the world economic and trade environment,” said Li, the country’s second-in-command.

Not setting a specific target for economic growth would enable the government to focus more on achieving stability and security, he said.

Li added that China is expected to face great uncertain economic challenges following the pandemic, and that coronavirus was “the fastest spreading, most extensive, and most challenging public health emergency China has encountered since the founding of the People’s Republic.”

CNN's town hall on the coronavirus has ended

CNN’s global town hall on the coronavirus has now concluded.

Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta were joined by top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and education experts, who discussed what it will take to get kids back in the classroom.

Plus, first lady Melania Trump shared a special message for students.

Check the Town Hall tab above to catch up on what happened during the show.

Melania Trump shares words of encouragement for students coping with the pandemic

First lady Melania Trump.

First lady Melania Trump thanked American students for keeping up their studies and helping to keep the country safe.

She acknowledged the many changes they’ve had to make during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our the past two months, I know you have had to make many changes in your life. Many of you have had to attend classes in your homes and haven’t been able to see your friends,” Trump said.

The first lady went on to say she’s proud of them.

“Those changes were not easy but you’ve been so strong and I am proud of the examples you have become,” the first lady said in the prerecorded message aired during CNN’s town hall on coronavirus Thursday. “Your determination to get through this will define your generation for years to come.”

“So thank you for helping your families, your friends, your communities and our country to stay healthy and safe during these unusual times. Thank you for keeping up your studies and learning in new ways. As we navigate the days and weeks ahead, take care of yourself,” she added.

Trump encouraged students to “use this time” to read a book, practice their favorite sports, help out at home and reach out to friends and family.

“These are important and healthy habits that we can all easily practice and they are a reminder that we will only get through this with patience, compassion and care,” the first lady said.

“Please know that the President and I are with you during these challenging times and we continue to do everything we can to support you,” she added.

Watch:

The pandemic is "a historic moment" that children can persevere through, author says

Grit author Angela Duckworth.

Angela Duckworth, author of “Grit,” has some words of encouragement for children who feel like they are missing out on life while the US adapts to the new normal caused by the pandemic.

“You’re experiencing history. This is not going to be a sentence or a footnote in the history books. You’re living through at least a paragraph, a full page or maybe a chapter in history. It’s happening to everyone and it’s hard. Kind of understanding that we are in a historic moment,” Duckworth said Thursday during CNN’s global coronavirus town hall. “You can’t predict everything that’s going to happen at least, but you can control your response to it. And you probably want to think, you know, when I grow up I’d like to look back at this chapter in history, and when I tell my grandchildren about it, I would love to tell them that I did my best and I managed it with a little bit of humor, some grace, some generosity.”

More on Duckworth: She is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Duckworth is a co-founder of the Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development in children. 

Watch:

Most kids will face a "major disruption" in their education, says school psychologist 

Guidance counselor John Kelly.

New York school psychologist John Kelly joined CNN’s ongoing town hall on the coronavirus to talk about the pandemic’s impact on children and their education.

One viewer asked: Do you think there will be a major regression in children’s education and what they learned in the first half of the school year?

Schools are now having to make innovative changes to the way they operate to mitigate the impact, he added. “We are talking about reopening schools, setting up different strategies and systems of support … making sure we are prepared to support students when we reopen.”

Watch:

Higher education expert explains how the pandemic is affecting America's student debt crisis

CNN'S Anderson Cooper, Sanjay Gupta and New York University marketing professor Scott Galloway.

New York University marketing professor Scott Galloway joined CNN’s global coronavirus town hall tonight to explain the difficult position college students find themselves in as the US economy limps along during the pandemic.

“We have raised tuition rates 1,400% over the last 40 years. This is a time of year that’s supposed to be a nervous but a rewarding time of year where people figure out where they’re going to school, and instead it’s become a time of year where people try to imagine how they’re going to take several thousand dollars on in-household debt,” Galloway said.

Galloway contends that higher education has “raised prices faster than health care” while much of the university experience has remained largely the same.

“If you walked into a class today, it wouldn’t look, feel or smell much different than it did 40 years ago. So I think we’ve stuck out the mother of all chins and the fist of Covid-19 is coming for us. I think this involves huge disruption and I think it starts this fall,” he added.

Watch:

The University of Notre Dame is reopening. Here's how they're doing it

President of the University of Notre Dame Rev. John Jenkins.

Rev. John Jenkins, the President of the University of Notre Dame, joined CNN’s ongoing town hall to discuss the college’s plan to bring students back by August.

“If we do not have testing capacity, we will not open,” he said at the town hall. “Everyone we have spoken to has given us confidence that we will … I believe we will be there by the time we welcome students back.”

Here’s how they’re doing it:

  • The university will set up facilities to isolate and quarantine any students that test positive for Covid-19.
  • They will restructure the classroom and interactions between faculty and staff to protect those more vulnerable to the virus.
  • They’ll implement measures to minimize in-person meeting – for instance, office hours may be conducted via videoconferencing apps like Zoom.

There are still some details to iron out – for instance, what to do about sports games where people crowd together in stadiums – but “our first priority is to get the kids in the classroom,” Jenkins said.

Some context: While some campuses plan to cancel in-person classes through the fall, students at Notre Dame will return earlier than expected.

Notre Dame plans to bring students back on August 10, two weeks earlier than originally scheduled, Jenkins said.

The school near South Bend, Indiana, will also skip fall break and end the fall semester before Thanksgiving, it announced Monday. Health officials say the US could see a second wave of coronavirus infections in the fall.

Notre Dame, which has an enrollment of more than 12,000, sent students home in March to complete the 2019-20 spring semester via remote learning.

Watch:

Danish school holds math lessons in local graveyard to abide by social distancing

A Danish grammar school is holding some classes in a local church graveyard to follow social distancing guidelines because the numbers on gravestones can be used in math lessons.

CNN correspondent Frederik Pleitgen caught up with educators and students in Denmark during a segment aired tonight during the network’s global coronavirus town hall.

“Because of the physical distancing measures they didn’t have enough space for all the students to come back, so they actually moved some of their lessons into the local church. So math lessons from the church with the teacher standing in the pulpit, and they even do some of the lessons for statistics in the local church graveyard because there are a lot of numbers on all those headstones and the Danish government actually encourages that,” Pleitgen said. “They say schools should do as many lessons as possible outside.”

Watch:

Education expert: "We're going to have a mental health epidemic among our children in this country"

Geoffrey Canada, president of Harlem Children's Zone.

The coronavirus pandemic is going to leave a lasting impact on the mental health of children around the US, especially for those who are poor.

“I’m really worried that we’re going to have a mental health epidemic among our children in this country. Just think about it. The poorest kids they know people who die, they know people who are sick. The very air you breathe, the people you pass on the street are suddenly dangerous to you. All of that trauma is going to come into our schools and into our classrooms, and we really need to prepare for this,” Geoffrey Canada, president of Harlem Children’s Zone, said during CNN’s global coronavirus town hall.

Canada stressed that it is important for teachers to prepare for this harsh reality before schools reopen.

“We need to start thinking about this, but just think, I taught for 10 years and I’ve gotten my kids together, and now I have to keep all of my kids apart. That’s a skill that we have to practice, and we need time for teachers to begin to practice the kind of monitoring, the talking, the engaging that doesn’t really gather kids together in ways that we’re used to,” he said.

Watch:

What will be the "new normal" of education when schools start reopening?

Dr. Tanya Altmann, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Tanya Altmann, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, joined CNN’s ongoing town hall to answer questions from viewers on what the “new normal” might look like in schools across the country.

How are parents supposed to feel safe sending their children with underlying health conditions back to school? We will all have to rely on everybody following the same rules, Altmann said – meaning everyone must stay physically distanced, wear masks, and wash their hands. Parents with sick kids will have to promise not to send them to school. It all falls on us to keep each other safe.

How can preschools and day-care centers reopen when kids that young don’t understand social distancing or safe practices? Educators may have to split kids into smaller classes, and keep them in small groups of six to 10 students at a time, Altmann said. “We can also give them their own toys to play, frequently wash them, and make sure they have the recess time outside, separate from other classes.”

How can we teach physical education when we’re sharing equipment? What about other school activities like choir? If the weather permits, doing things outdoors is one way to carry out these activities while lowering the risk of transmission.

“Maybe, instead of playing catch, people will be doing more soccer where they kick the ball, because you want to avoid touching the same balls, in terms of other kids,” said Altmann.

She added that at the school where she works, they’re thinking of holding choir and band in outdoor spaces or outdoor tents, instead of having students blow air at each other in an enclosed room.

Schools will have to adjust a lot of other activities – for instance, they may need to add more school buses so kids can socially distance on board, and encourage parents to drive their children to school when possible.

Watch:

How to fly safely during the coronavirus pandemic 

CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta warned viewers during CNN’s global town hall “things are going to feel a lot different next time you go to the airport,” but offered some practical advice on how to safely fly during the pandemic.

Here are some tips for flying safely:

  • Before you even arrive, pack hand sanitizer and use it to clean your hands as often as possible throughout your journey, said Gupta in a short video demonstrating his own trip to the airport.
  • As you make your way past the ticket counters and through security, try to touch as few surfaces as possible and wear a mask throughout your entire journey. “You wear the mask, again, to protect other people,” he said. “The frontline workers are there all day. Another reason to try and be as safe as possible.”
  • Once you are inside the concourse and headed for your gate, avoid crowded areas. If you have the time, skip the train that moves passengers between terminals and walk. 
  • On the aircraft, you can try to choose a window seat, which could reduce your exposure to passengers passing by in the aisle
  • Finally, you know that adjustable outlet that shoots cool air down down on to your seat? It’s called a “gasper” and it’s your friend.

“Turn it up as high as you can,” Gupta said. “That’s going to cause turbulent air in front of you and break up any clouds of virus.”

Gupta acknowledged that nothing you do will make you totally safe, but these tips could reduce your risk of catching coronavirus while traveling.

“These are small things,” he sad. “They may make a small difference, but it’s easy to do and it’s probably worth it.”

Watch:

3 strategies schools need to figure out before reopening

Dr. Tanya Altmann, spokeswoman for American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Tanya Altmann, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, shared three key areas of concern schools around the United States must address before reopening their doors.

Altmann shared this insight Thursday night during CNN’s global coronavirus town hall.

The three areas were as follows:

Schools must keep the virus from entering the campus: “So that’s going to be health checks and temperature screenings, staggered arrivals as you mentioned and limiting visitors on campus,” Altmann said. Person-to-person transmission on campus must be reduced: “This is going to be smaller classrooms, less mixing of kids, close commonly touched areas, a lot of hand washing with assigned seats, disinfecting, avoiding shared supplies and also mass use is going to play a key role,” she said. Addressing students who get sick: “We need to quickly test them, diagnose, isolate and then contact trace, which is a lot easier when there’s fewer kids they’ve come into contact with throughout the day,” Altmann added.

Watch:

The US is taking a "harm reduction" approach. How does this work?

Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and infectious disease epidemiologist Julia Marcus.

The United States is no longer just looking at mitigation and containment, but is also taking a “harm reduction” approach to co-existing with the virus, said infectious disease epidemiologist Julia Marcus on CNN’s ongoing town hall on the coronavirus.

“Up until now, we have had an all-or-nothing approach where we have been telling people to stay home – which is what we needed to do for the first couple of months,” she said.
“Then we realized that this is something that we actually have to do for many months, if not years, so we have to find a way to do this sustainably.”

Encouraging people to be outside is actually one way to reduce risk, she said; the risk of transmission is lower outdoors when people have more space, as long as people are still following common-sense guidelines like wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart.

Staying home is still the safest thing to do. But the harm reduction approach allows people more sustainable ways to resume daily life by engaging in low-risk behaviors, she said.

Here’s how to do it properly:

  • To judge which activities are low-risk or high-risk, people need to consider three variables: proximity with others, the nature of the activity, and duration, said emergency physician Leana Wen during the town hall.
  • If you’re gathering with friends, do it outdoors with some distance apart. Don’t hug, kiss, or share utensils. If you’re eating, takeout is still safer than going to a restaurant.
  • Risk is cumulative – so don’t go out and do everything all at once. If you’re going to get a haircut, don’t also go to a restaurant, Wen said.

Watch:

Americans should "go out" for Memorial Day, Fauci says

Don’t be surprised if you catch Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House’s coronavirus, out hiking over Memorial Day weekend.

The country’s leading infectious disease expert shared words of encouragement and guidance Thursday night during CNN’s global coronavirus town hall, ahead of the holiday weekend.

“Memorial Day, it’s a very important holiday. Hopefully the sun will be out. We’ll be having people who want to get out there and get fresh air. You can do that. We’re not telling people to just lock in unless you’re in a situation where you have a major outbreak going on, we don’t have too much of that right now in the country.
“Go out, wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from anyone so you have the physical distancing, and go out. Go for a run. Go for a walk. Go fishing. As long as you’re not in a crowd and you’re not in a situation where you can physically transmit the virus, and that’s what a mask is for, and that’s with the physical distance,” Fauci said.

Fauci shared a bit of his plans, saying he will “go out for nice walks and hikes over Memorial Day and I’m going to do it with care, with a mask on.”

Watch:

Fauci says Americans could expect to see more scientists from coronavirus task force soon

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, tonight acknowledged there had been a “lull” in public appearances from himself and top scientists on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, but suggested Americans could expect to hear more from the group soon. 

“There was a period of time there was a little bit lull in being out there with the press but I believe that’s going to change,” said Fauci in a response to a question from CNN’s Anderson Cooper on why Americans are no longer hearing from the group on a daily basis. 

Fauci has been absent from national television interviews over the last two weeks, as the White House moves ahead with reopening the economy.

“I think you’re going to probably be seeing a little bit more of me and my colleagues,” Fauci said. “We’ve been talking with the communications people, and they realize we need to get some of this information out, particularly some of the scientific issues for which I’m predominantly responsible for, so hopefully we’ll be seeing more of us, will get the opportunity to talk to you.”

Asked if the task force was still robust, despite the fact that it met for the first time today in six days, Fauci said the focus shifted to reopening and the economic impact, but the shift was not at the cost of studying scientific issues.

“We had a very good meeting today,” he said. “I was very pleased with it.”

Watch:

Fauci discusses when and why someone should get a Covid-19 test

Covid-19 testing remains a crucial topic of discussion around the US as many people wonder whether they have contracted the virus.

One of these people is Nancy Isakson who submitted a video question for the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Thursday night during CNN’s global coronavirus town hall.

Q: “Our county is now offering free coronavirus testing. There is a local lab that offers antibody testing for a cost. Both are available without a doctor’s orders and without symptoms. Which one would you recommend getting or would you recommend getting both?”

Fauci: “That’s a question that a lot of people are asking. If you want to know if you are infected, then clearly you want the test for infection, namely, the test that determines you have virus in you. If you’re interested in knowing if you’ve been exposed and you have been infected and you’ve recovered, then the antibody test. Unless you have symptoms or have a reason to believe you have been exposed to someone, there really is no reason to have the test for the virus.”

Watch:

Fauci is "cautiously optimistic" about Moderna vaccine trial

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, joined CNN’s ongoing town hall to discuss the promising early results of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine trial.

The biotech company partnered with the National Institutes of Health to develop the vaccine, and reported this week that volunteers are showing positive results. If future studies go well, the vaccine could be available to the public as early as January, according to Moderna’s chief medical officer.

Here’s how it works: This vaccine produces neutralizing antibodies, which bind to the virus, thus disabling it from attacking human cells and preventing infection.

The human body actually produces antibodies against coronavirus quite readily, Fauci said – that’s why a large number of people spontaneously recover from the virus by themselves.

The trial results: The Moderna trial vaccinated dozens of participants and measured antibodies in eight of them. All eight developed neutralizing antibodies to the virus at levels reaching or exceeding the levels seen in people who’ve naturally recovered from Covid-19, according to the company.

“Although the numbers were limited, it was quite good news because it reached and went over an important hurdle in the development of vaccines. That’s the reason why I’m cautiously optimistic about it,” Fauci said.

Read more about the trial results here.

Watch:

Where all 50 states stand on reopening as Memorial Day approaches

Memorial Day is around the corner and each state has unique rules and regulations around how people can celebrate at places like beaches and state parks.

CNN has produced a resource here that shows where each state stands on reopening.

“Florida’s beaches are technically open, but if you want to go to the 7 1/2 miles of beach in Miami beach, those remain closed. The mayor there says it has to do with exactly what you would think,” CNN’s Erica Hill said during the network’s global coronavirus town hall. “There are concerns about controlling the numbers of people on the beach, concerns about social distancing on those public beaches.”

CNN's global town hall on the coronavirus pandemic will start soon

First lady Melania Trump will take part in CNN’s weekly global town hall on coronavirus tonight.

Her remarks, which will be pre-recorded, are the first solo broadcast message from Trump since the onset of the pandemic.

It is anticipated she will specifically address the nation’s students, most of whom have had their academic lives altered by stay-at-home orders and other precautionary health measures.

This week’s town hall, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is focused, in part, on education and the disruption to schools and colleges because of Covid-19. The town hall starts at 8 p.m. ET.

How to watch: The town hall will air on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español. It will stream live on CNN.com’s homepage and across mobile devices via CNN’s apps, without requiring a cable log-in.

You can also watch on CNNgo, and subscribers to cable/satellite systems can watch it on-demand.

We’ll also be covering it with live updates here.

Brazil reports record number of deaths as coronavirus cases top 300,000

Brazil set a record high for deaths from coronavirus within 24 hours and surpassed 300,000 total cases, the country’s Health Ministry announced on Thursday.

The country reported a record high of 1,188 new deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 20,047 deaths.

Brazil’s total number of confirmed cases reached 310,087 Thursday, up 18,508 from Wednesday, the ministry said.

Some context: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who once compared the virus to “a little flu,” sent a tweet on Wednesday about the new health ministry protocol regarding the use of chloroquine to treat mild and moderate cases of Covid-19.

He tweeted: “There is still no scientific proof, but it is being monitored and used in Brazil and around the world…we are at war ‘the shame of not fighting is worse than being defeated’ – God Bless our Brazil.”

5% of antibody tests in the UK are positive, Health Secretary says

An antibody fingertip test for the detection of COVID-19 is conducted on a patient in London on May, 21.

Around 5% United Kingdom antibody tests are positive, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said during a daily briefing on Thursday, citing to a surveillance study conducted by the UK Government.

According to Hancock, the UK government’s antibody surveillance study has also shown that the percentage that tested positive for coronavirus antibodies in London is higher at 17%.

The study “has told us that around 17% of people in London and around 5% or higher in the rest of the country have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies,” Hancock said.

The Swiss multinational healthcare company, Roche, as well as the American multinational medical devices and health care company, Abbott, will supply the UK government with 10 million coronavirus antibody tests, Hancock said.

Latin America overtakes US and Europe in new coronavirus cases three days in a row, CNN analysis shows 

View of the Intensive Care Unit treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients at a hospital in Manaus, Brazil, on May 20.

Latin America has reported more new coronavirus cases than either the United States or Europe for three days in a row, driven by high numbers in Brazil, Peru and Mexico, CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins University and World Health Organization data shows.

The numbers: The region reported at least 32,854 new cases on Wednesday, with more than half of them in Brazil.

The United States reported 22,534 new cases that day, according to Johns Hopkins University, while Europe – including Russia – reported about 17,900, according to the WHO. Both agencies rely on national governments for their data.

Latin America also reported more new cases than the Unites States or Europe on Tuesday, CNN calculations show: At least 29,240 in Latin America, compared to 22,391 in the United States and about 19,200 in Europe.

And on Monday, Latin America reported at least 23,388 new infections, while the United States reported 22,813 and Europe reported about 20,000.

Hear more:

UK company trialing 20 minute Covid-19 test, Health Secretary says

Screen grab of Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a coronavirus (COVID-19) media briefing in Downing Street, London, on May 21.

Britain has begun trials of a new swab test for the novel coronavirus which provides results in 20 minutes, the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced during a daily briefing on Thursday.

“It doesn’t need to be sent to a lab to be processed and so you get the result, on the spot, typically within around 20 minutes,” Hancock said, adding that it had proven effective in early trials. “We want to find out if it will be effective on a larger scale.”

 “If it works, we will roll it out as soon as we can,” he also said.

 The new test is developed by British company Optigene. 

UK secures deal with pharma giant Roche for antibodies tests

Britian's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London on May 20.

British health care workers will be the first to be tested for coronavirus antibodies after the government reached a deal with Roche to procure the test kits. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said today that the UK and the giant pharmaceutical company had agreed on deal, a week after the national health agency approved the tests for use. 

The tests will be free and more details will be released later during a daily government coronavirus briefing, he said. 

The UK currently has the fourth most coronavirus cases, according to the John Hopkins University tally on the pandemic.