May 25 coronavirus news

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12:26 p.m. ET, May 25, 2020

WHO temporarily pauses studying hydroxychloroquine due to safety concerns

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A bottle and pills of Hydroxychloroquine sit on a counter at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah.
A bottle and pills of Hydroxychloroquine sit on a counter at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah. George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has temporarily halted studying hydroxychloroquine as a potential Covid-19 treatment in its Solidarity Trial due to safety concerns, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing in Geneva on Monday.

The decision was made after an observational study was published in the medical journal The Lancet on Friday, which described how seriously ill Covid-19 patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were more likely to die.

Tedros said that an independent executive group is now reviewing the use of hydroxychloroquine in WHO's Solidarity Trial. The trial, which involves actively recruiting patients from more than 400 hospitals in 35 countries, is a global research effort to find safe and effective therapeutics for Covid-19.

"The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally," Tedros said on Monday.

"The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and, in particular robust randomized available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug," Tedros said. "The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board." 

Tedros added that the other arms of the trial are continuing.

"This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in Covid-19," Tedros said. "I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria."

12:00 p.m. ET, May 25, 2020

Japan will expand travel ban after lifting national emergency

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo and Philip Wang

A public screen shows Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, on May 25. Abe lifted a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo.
A public screen shows Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, on May 25. Abe lifted a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo. Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Japan is set to expand its travel ban list to 111 countries effective Wednesday, now including the United States, India, and South Africa, the government ministries said.

The ban list, which will add 11 more countries this week, forbids foreign nationals who stayed in those countries from entering Japan, to protect against the spread of coronavirus. 

Japanese citizens are still allowed to enter the country, although they will need to go through medical tests and self-quarantine for 14 days.  

The travel ban expansion comes after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the country’s nationwide state of emergency earlier today. It lasted almost a month. 

12:00 p.m. ET, May 25, 2020

New York will provide death benefits for frontline workers, governor says

From CNN's Sheena Jones

The state of New York and local governments will provide death benefits to frontline workers, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday at the state’s daily Covid-19 news conference.

“Today we are announcing that the state and local governments will provide death benefits for public heroes who died from Covid-19 during this emergency,” Cuomo said.

The governor said public employees who work in the state, whether in a city or county, can qualify and the local or state pension fund will pay for those death benefits.

"Frontline workers we have a full list, but they're the people we've been discussing. It's the frontline public health care workers, police workers, EMS workers, fire department workers. The people who showed up. Look, they showed up because I asked them to show up, they showed up because I required them to show up," Cuomo said.

At the start of the presser, the governor took a brief moment of silence to honor those who have fallen and to give thanks to them on Memorial Day.

The governor then went on to thank all frontline workers for the work they are doing today to fight the pandemic.

We needed the frontline workers to show up so others could stay home and be safe and healthy, Cuomo said.

11:49 a.m. ET, May 25, 2020

New York governor says daily death toll is down to 96

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at least 96 people died from coronavirus across the state yesterday — down from 109 on Saturday.

"It's still painfully high but only in the relative absurdity of our situation, is that relatively good news," Cuomo said.

He noted that the overall hospitalization rate, the number of intubations and day-to-day hospitalizations are all down.

"We are making progress here in New York," he said.

WATCH GOV. CUOMO:

11:40 a.m. ET, May 25, 2020

More than 97,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

A funeral home in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic deals with an excess of recent deaths because of the virus by storing bodies in the chapel before shipping to crematoriums and cemeteries in Queens, New York, on May 11.
A funeral home in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic deals with an excess of recent deaths because of the virus by storing bodies in the chapel before shipping to crematoriums and cemeteries in Queens, New York, on May 11. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images

There have been 1,646,495 cases of coronavirus reported in the US, and at least 97,794 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases. 

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

11:09 a.m. ET, May 25, 2020

Sweden's coronavirus death toll surpasses 4,000

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

State Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Swedish Public Health Agency attends a press conference to update on COVID-19 global pandemic in Solna, Sweden, on Monday, May 25.
State Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Swedish Public Health Agency attends a press conference to update on COVID-19 global pandemic in Solna, Sweden, on Monday, May 25. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Sweden has recorded a total of 4,029 deaths from coronavirus, a spokesperson for the national Public Health Agency confirmed to CNN on Monday. 

This latest increase in deaths comes after a study carried out by Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, revealed last week that 7.3% of Stockholm residents have developed the antibodies needed to fight coronavirus.

The results produced by the study, which was carried out to determine the potential herd immunity in the Swedish population, were a “little lower” than expected, according to Tegnell.

The Public Health Agency says it plans to release results from other regions, which will help to provide a clearer picture of the level of herd immunity in the Swedish population.

Remember: In a divergent approach from its Nordic neighbors, Sweden decided not to impose a mandatory lockdown, allowing businesses and schools to remain open despite the outbreak of Covid-19 within the country. 

11:04 a.m. ET, May 25, 2020

Democratic leaders say President Trump's coronavirus testing plan is "disappointing"

From CNN's Suzanne Malveaux

House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaking during a weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, on Thursday, May 21.
House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaking during a weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, on Thursday, May 21. Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

Four top congressional Democrats have issued a written statement Monday responding to the Trump Administration's Covid-19 Strategic Testing Plan, calling it "disappointing" and accusing the Administration of not taking responsibility for testing on a national scale. 

The leaders are House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee ranking member Patty Murray and House Energy and Commerce committee chair Frank Pallone.

"This disappointing report confirms that President Trump’s national testing strategy is to deny the truth that there aren’t enough tests and supplies, reject responsibility and dump the burden onto the states," said Speaker Pelosi, Sen. Schumer, Chairman Pallone and Sen.Murray.

They continued: "We still need clear explanations for how targets were set, how they will be met and what will be done if they are not. The Trump Administration still does not take any responsibility for ramping up our nation’s testing capacity, instead pushing the burden onto the states," they said. 

More on the report: The 81-page report was submitted to Congress late Sunday. It commits the Administration to obtaining 100 million testing swabs by years-end and distribute them to states. 

10:16 a.m. ET, May 25, 2020

What Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery is like during a pandemic

A member of the military place flags near headstones at the Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day in Arlington, Virginia on Thursday, May 21.
A member of the military place flags near headstones at the Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day in Arlington, Virginia on Thursday, May 21. Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Getty Images

President Trump will soon attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to mark Memorial Day.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed some of traditions at the cemetery, CNN's Barbara Starr reported. She noted that the officials attending the ceremony today are standing far apart to maintain social distance.

"This year is different — visually different, of course," Starr said.

Starr explained that burials at the cemetery also look different during the pandemic.

Families attending those burials are wearing masks. The "iconic visual" of a folded flag being handed to a relative is also gone: Now, folded flags are left on a table next to the grave site for contact-less retrieval.

WATCH:

10:12 a.m. ET, May 25, 2020

Spain will lift quarantine rules for international travelers starting on July 1

From CNN's Al Goodman and Ingrid Formanek in Spain

People sunbathe on Las Teresitas beach in the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife, on Sunday, May 25.
People sunbathe on Las Teresitas beach in the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife, on Sunday, May 25. Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images

Spain will lift quarantine measures for arriving international tourists starting July 1, the Spanish government announced Monday.

“The worst is behind us” tweeted Arancha Gonzales Laya, Spain’s Foreign Minister, referring the country’s fight to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. “In July we will gradually open to international tourists, lift the quarantine, ensure the highest standards of health safety. We look forward 2 welcoming you!” she tweeted, in French and English.

What this is about: Spain currently enforces a two-week quarantine for all international travelers to the country, a measure in effect since May 15. The quarantine measure applies to Spanish, as well as foreign arrivals.

Some more context: Spain’s tourism and hospitality sector have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the government has come under pressure to revive this part of the economy, which accounts for 12% of GDP and 2.6 million jobs.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez signaled the country will reactivate foreign tourism in July, during a press conference Saturday.

The country, under strict confinement measures since March 14 to limit the spread of the coronavirus, is now on a gradual reopening.

Just over half of the population is on Phase 1, including Madrid and Barcelona, and the rest is on the more advanced Phase 2, which allows even more businesses to re-open and more social activities, including weddings with up to 100 guests.