May 23 coronavirus news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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."

3:50 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

Arkansas experiencing a second peak, governor says

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the state is experiencing its second peak of Covid-19 cases. 

We're having a second peak right now and they're really about 30 days apart," Hutchinson said at a briefing Saturday. 

The first peak saw 160 cases in one day followed by a "deep dip," Hutchinson says. On Saturday, there were 163 new cases of Covid-19 in Arkansas in what the governor calls a second peak.

There are "enough hospital beds in Arkansas to accommodate the number of Covid-19 patients that need that hospital care," according to Hutchinson.

"We’re in good shape now with that, and we will be in the future," the governor said.

3:50 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

Nevada launches online application program for unemployment assistance

Nevada launched a weekly Pandemic Unemployment Assistance online application program on Saturday, according to a tweet from Gov. Steve Sisolak.

The PUA program is designed for Nevadan's who are self-employed, 1099 contract workers and gig workers, a release from the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said.

About 2,000 claimants filed 9,500 weekly certifications within 45 minutes of the launch, Sisolak said in a tweet.

On Friday, Sisolak tweeted that the unemployment rate had risen to 28.2%, a record high unemployment for Nevada.

4:04 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

There have been 96,479 coronavirus-related deaths in the US

There are at least 1,611,691 cases of coronavirus and at least 96,479 people have died from the disease in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the country.

The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

2:59 p.m. ET, May 23, 2020

Santa Monica mayor says city’s economy has "tanked"

Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown
Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown CNN

The mayor of Santa Monica, California, issued a stark forecast for the city’s economy as it struggles through the coronavirus pandemic.

“Things are financially pretty grim. We want to get the city reopened as quickly as we can, but we need to protect people, not only from each other, but from themselves. Our local economy has tanked. We are a tourism town. People have been coming here for over 100 years. Tourism has ended for the time being,” Mayor Kevin McKeown said in an interview with CNN today. 

McKeown went on to discuss how the city will be "down by $224 billion" over the next two years, which is needed to fund "police and fire, to pick up the trash, to have clean, pure water in the pipes."

"So that's going to mean other services now in this city have to be cut. And that's very hard to do,” he said.

There have been layoffs and voluntary retirement for city staff, McKeown said. 

“We've had recessions before, but never anything that happened this suddenly or this deeply that took that much money out of the city coffers so quickly,” he said. 

The city’s beaches are open for recreational activities, but parking lots are closed and people cannot sunbathe or go in the water. The famous Santa Monica Pier is also closed. Santa Monica is now “the home of the three-piece bathing suit: a bikini and a face mask,” the mayor said. 

McKeown also slammed the federal government for not implementing more relief funding for cities that are suffering economically.

“It's been about 10 weeks since I really had a good night's sleep or had a day off. I'm not saying that for pity. It's just the reality of trying to run a local government in these unprecedented circumstances,” he said. 

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