May 23 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Rob Picheta, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 8:36 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020
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7:52 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

Early results from convalescent plasma study are encouraging, researchers say

From CNN's Arman Azad

Convalescent plasma from a recovered coronavirus patient is seen at Central Seattle Donor Center of Bloodworks Northwest in Seattle, Washington.
Convalescent plasma from a recovered coronavirus patient is seen at Central Seattle Donor Center of Bloodworks Northwest in Seattle, Washington. Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

Hospitalized Covid-19 patients appear to fare better when they receive infusions of antibody-filled convalescent plasma, according to a study released on Friday.

The study hasn’t been peer-reviewed or published in an academic journal, but researchers said the findings are a good sign for the plasma therapy, which is derived from the blood of recovered Covid-19 patients.

We are encouraged that our initial assessment offers evidence in support of convalescent plasma as an effective intervention," said Dr. Nicole Bouvier, an associate professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a co-author on the study, in a statement.

Researchers are "remaining mindful that additional studies are needed to confirm these findings and draw more definitive conclusions in different populations," she said.

The new study was small. It compared 39 patients who received convalescent plasma with "matched controls" – patients who didn’t receive plasma but were similar to those who did.

It wasn't a traditional clinical trial because patients weren’t randomly assigned to a treatment group or a control group. Instead, the controls were picked after-the-fact using an algorithm.

Still, patients who received plasma saw improved survival. As of May 1, about 13% of patients who received the treatment had died, compared to 24% of those who didn’t.

The researchers said larger studies were needed, but they noted that the mortality benefit was limited to patients who didn’t need a breathing tube.

"We did not observe significant benefit of convalescent plasma in intubated patients, consistent with past literature demonstrating that passive antibody transfer therapies are most efficacious early in disease," they wrote.

7:29 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

UK police say they spoke with father of Dominic Cummings, contradicting Downing Street statement 

From CNN's Nada Bashir

Dominic Cummings arrives at his home in London on May 23.
Dominic Cummings arrives at his home in London on May 23. Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

British police have confirmed that an officer made contact with the father of Dominic Cummings – a senior adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson – regarding his trip to Durham during the nationwide lockdown, the Press Association reported Saturday. 

This information contradicts an earlier statement from Downing Street, which asserted that the police made no contact with Cummings or his family. 

An officer spoke with the father of Dominic Cummings, who said that his son had traveled to the northeast of England and was "self-isolating in part of the property," according to Durham Police, the PA reported Saturday. 

This comes after Downing Street issued a statement regarding Cummings' trip to Durham, asserting that "at no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported."

Cummings has come under fire for reportedly traveling to Durham – more than 250 miles from his home in London – on two separate occasions, despite national lockdown regulations. 

Downing Street has since denied these reports, featured in the Mirror and Guardian newspapers, arguing that they contain "false allegations" and "inaccurate stories" about Cummings. 

"His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally," according to a statement from Downing Street.

6:40 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

43rd member of the NYPD dies of Covid-19 complications

From CNN's Laura Ly

The New York Police Department has lost a 43rd member to complications of Covid-19, according to the NYPD's daily coronavirus report.

Doris Kirkland died Friday after having served as a school safety agent for over 30 years, the NYPD said.

To date, 5,739 members of the NYPD have tested positive for coronavirus.

As of Saturday. 5,598 members of the NYPD have returned to work full-time after recovering from a positive test for the coronavirus, the report said.

On Saturday, 2.6%, or 926 members, of the NYPD's uniformed workforce were out sick – down from a high of 19.8%. A total of 80 uniformed members and 19 civilian members are still out sick diagnosed with coronavirus, the NYPD said.

6:46 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

Chile reports more than 3,500 new Covid-19 cases in a single day

From CNN's Ana Cucalon

A health worker opens the window of a field clinic where patients suspected of having the coronavirus are treated in Santiago, Chile.
A health worker opens the window of a field clinic where patients suspected of having the coronavirus are treated in Santiago, Chile. Esteban Felix/AP

Chile's Ministry of Health reported 3,536 new cases of the novel coronavirus in a single day, bringing the country's total cases to 65,393, as of Saturday afternoon.

Health authorities reported 43 new deaths, bringing the country's death tally to 673.

After Brazil and Peru, Chile has one of the highest number of confirmed cases in Latin America.

6:33 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

Around 12.5% of Moscow residents likely to have Covid-19 antibody, health officials say

From CNN’s Nathan Hodge

Around 12.5% of Moscow's residents – or around 1.5 million people – are estimated to have the antibody for coronavirus, the city's health authorities said Saturday, following screening involving more than 50,000 residents over the past two weeks.

The Russian capital on May 15 formally launched a massive free coronavirus screening program, selecting Moscow residents at random to visit one of 30 city clinics for the free antibody tests. The city has also been screening medical workers and patients for antibodies.

The results of the study pointed to a possible easing of lockdown measures in the city, according to a statement from Alexey Khripun, the head of the city's health department.

"Such a percentage of immunity among Muscovites may point to a softening of the regime of self-isolation," Khripun said. "Yesterday the mayor of Moscow decided to expand planned medical treatment. This is an example of how Moscow will gradually move away from a strict regime of self-isolation."

Authorities in Moscow said the screening program is designed to better inform measures taken to contain the epidemic. The statement from the city’s health officials said the results were "comparable to cities that were among the first to encounter the virus," comparing Moscow’s results to those in Madrid. 

5:35 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

Peru coronavirus cases rise to 115,754 with 3,373 deaths

From CNN’s Taylor Barnes

A worker checks for the names of coronavirus victims at El Angel cemetery in Lima, Peru, on May 21.
A worker checks for the names of coronavirus victims at El Angel cemetery in Lima, Peru, on May 21. Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

The total number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Peru rose to 115,754, an increase of 4,056 from the previous day, the Peruvian Health Ministry said on Friday.

A total of 3,373 people with the virus have died in Peru, including 129 additional deaths reported since the previous day, the ministry said.

The ministry reports countrywide totals each day for cases confirmed through midnight of the previous day. 

Peru has the second highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Latin America behind Brazil.

8:06 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

Several cases of coronavirus reported after a swim party in Arkansas, governor says

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson Arkansas governor's office

Hospital officials have reported several people were infected with Covid-19 at a "high school swim party" in north Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at a briefing Saturday. 

I'm sure everybody thought was harmless. They're young, they're swimming, they're just having activity and positive cases resulted from that," Hutchinson said. 

"During this Memorial (Day) weekend, we want to be out and we want to enjoy ourselves, we want to remember this holiday and those that have served our country and given their lives in service of our country. But let's be safe and let's be disciplined at the same time," Hutchinson said.  

The governor declined to provide further details on the swim party, saying "it is an important anecdote for people to understand how easy that this can spread and that we still need to be careful." 

As CNN has reported, the Arkansas governor never issued a stay-at-home order to his citizens as a way to limit the spread of coronavirus nationwide.

4:21 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

Minnesota places of worship can open up to 25% capacity, governor says

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

Places of worship may open up at a 25% occupancy starting May 27 if they adhere to social distancing and other public health guidelines aimed at keeping congregants safe, Minnesota Gov.Tim Walz said at a press conference on Saturday.

Walz said the decision was made using CDC guidelines in consultation with all relevant groups and the state health department.

"As we move to try and have some of these places of worship open up, they’re done with a common goal of the safety and security of not only the congregants but the community at large," Walz said.

4:22 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

Minister in Brazil suggests government take advantage of pandemic to relax environmental regulations

From CNN’s Flora Charner

Ricardo Salles, Brazil’s environmental minister, suggested the government should take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to "change all the rules" and "simplify norms" around environmental regulations, a recent cabinet meeting video showed Friday.

"We need to make an effort, while we are in this moment of calm in terms of press coverage, because they are only talking about Covid-19 to change all the rules and simplify norms," Salles said during the April 22 cabinet meeting. "Now is the time to join forces and simplify regulations."

Salles also said during the meeting that the government "would not need Congress" because "they wouldn't get anything approved."

The video of the closed-door cabinet meeting was released by the Supreme Court Friday, as part of an investigation into accusations that President Jair Bolsonaro interfered in police matters.

Salles wrote on his personal Twitter Friday, "I always defended de-bureaucratization and simplifying the norms in all areas, using common sense and within the law. The web of irrational rules impedes investments, the creation of new jobs and the sustainable development of Brazil."