May 25 coronavirus news

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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.

9:53 a.m. ET, May 25, 2020

Man unable to see his dying wife criticizes Boris Johnson, who defended aide's lockdown breach

From CNN's Rob Picheta and Samantha Tapfumaneyi in London

Anger is mounting among Britons who have sacrificed family gatherings during the country’s lockdown, after Boris Johnson defended his chief aide for breaching restrictions by driving across the country while his wife had Covid-19 symptoms.

John Wilson shared a letter to his MP on Twitter on Monday in which he described being unable to visit his wife while she died in hospital with the coronavirus.

“I have delayed writing to you for 15 hours to try and let my rage subside so that I can be coherent and civil,” he wrote in the letter, which has gone viral.

"On the day she died I could not be with her to hold her hand, I just sat by the telephone, I was not able to see her body," Wilson wrote. "In other words under severe mental and emotional distress I, like the vast majority of the population, have complied with your government's instructions in order to protect my fellow citizens.”

Wilson asked his Conservative MP Greg Smith what his view is on Dominic Cummings’ trip to the north of England, and Boris Johnson’s decision to stand by the aide despite outrage in the UK that he was allowed to travel while the public were being told to stay at home.

“This is a letter about the actions and judgment of Mr. Johnson -- not, as many people seem to think, about Mr. Cummings,” Wilson explained too CNN.

His message exemplifies the sentiment of many Brits, who are asking why Cummings has avoided discipline while funerals of more than 10 mourners have been banned and Britons have been asked to stay away from family events.

The Prime Minister said on Sunday that Cummings had "no alternative" but to drive 260 miles across England to stay with his parents while his wife was sick with Covid-19 symptoms, insisting he acted "responsibly, legally and with integrity."

"I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that," Johnson added at the government's daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday.

But the scandal has rumbled into a fourth day and has derailed the government’s coronavirus response. "There cannot be one rule for Dominic Cummings and another for the British people," the opposition Labour Party said in a statement.

9:20 a.m. ET, May 25, 2020

Pence says Republicans will move convention "if need be"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a roundtable meeting with restaurant industry leaders in Norcross, Georgia, on Friday, May 22.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a roundtable meeting with restaurant industry leaders in Norcross, Georgia, on Friday, May 22. Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence reiterated President Trump’s threat to move the Republican National Convention from North Carolina.

“It’s an issue we’ve been talking about because these national conventions literally take many months to organize and prepare and there are, there are states around the country — we think of Texas, we think of Florida, Georgia — the last two states I visited last week that have made tremendous progress on reopening their communities and reopening their economies," Pence said during a Monday appearance on Fox News. 

He continued: "And I think the President is absolutely intent on ensuring that as we see our nation continue to make steady progress on putting the coronavirus epidemic in the past, that come this August, we’ll be able to come together in a safe and responsible venue and re-nominate President Donald Trump for four more years."

Pence said Trump’s request of Gov. Roy Cooper was “very reasonable.”

Some background: Trump began a solemn Memorial Day railing against North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, ahead of the 2020 Republican National Convention, threatening to pull it out of Charlotte, where the convention is expected to be held August 24 to 27.  

Trump contended that Cooper is "unable to guarantee" that the arena can be filled to capacity. 

After the tweets, Pence insisted "we all want to be in Charlotte, we love North Carolina, but having a sense now is absolutely essential because of the rules and regulations that are involved."

"We look forward to working with Gov. Cooper, getting a swift response, and, if need be, moving the national convention to a state that is farther along on reopening and can say with confidence that we can gather there,” Pence said.

9:25 a.m. ET, May 25, 2020

Montgomery, Alabama, now has 6 ICU beds — up from just 1 last week, mayor says

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos

Steven Reed, Mayor of Montgomery, Alabama
Steven Reed, Mayor of Montgomery, Alabama CNN

While Montgomery, Alabama, has seen an increase in available ICU beds, the city is "still at a crisis level," Mayor Steven Reed told CNN today.

The number of beds grew from just one on Thursday to six as of this morning.

"It is not the type of improvement we like to see," Reed told CNN's Alisyn Camerota. "We still have issues right now with more positive cases coming in and patients coming in in much worse condition."  

Reed sounded the alarm last week when he revealed the city had just one ICU bed.   

When asked about his states upward trend in positive cases, the mayor told Camerota that "people have decided the pandemic is over," and aren't doing things like social distancing or wearing masks. He said he was not comfortable with Gov. Kay Ivey's decision to reopen the state and depend on residents to be personally responsible.  

"I think that we have to ask people to be personally responsible but I also think the government has to set the tone," Reed told Camerota.  

Reed told Camerota's the governor's decision to allow high-school sports to resume training June 1 was "another example of us moving too fast, moving too soon."     

"I'm concerned that we may put not only the students at risk but we may also put their loved ones, their families at risk as well," Reed told Camerota. 

WATCH:

8:54 a.m. ET, May 25, 2020

Austrian hospital completes first coronavirus lung transplant in Europe

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Vienna’s medical university successfully conducted the first coronavirus lung transplant in Europe last week, the medical center said in a press release Monday. The hospital said the 45-year-old COVID-19 patient would not have survived otherwise but is now recovering well. 

“In our view, she is doing exceptionally well and there are not major problems,” said Walter Klepetko, the head of surgery at the clinic. 

The hospital said the patient was in good health without prior illnesses before coming down with coronavirus eight weeks ago. Shortly after falling ill, her condition deteriorated dramatically. 

“The situation was hopeless," Klepetko said. "The lung was like a block, there was nothing left,” 

The hospital describes the operation as being “highly complicated” but successful. 

Klepetko added, “All organs are working and we are very satisfied. But it will still be a long way ahead until we can hopefully discharge her from the hospital." 

8:32 a.m. ET, May 25, 2020

It’s 1:30 p.m. in London and 8:30 a.m. in New York. Here’s the latest on the pandemic

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reacts during a demonstration in favor of his government amidst the coronavirus pandemic in front of the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on Sunday, May 24.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reacts during a demonstration in favor of his government amidst the coronavirus pandemic in front of the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on Sunday, May 24. Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

  • Global cases rise above 5.4 million: The number of cases around the world has risen to 5,423,388, according to Johns Hopkins University. At least 345,360 people have died from the disease.
  • US bans arrivals from Brazil: Anyone who has been in Brazil in the previous 14 days will not be allowed to enter the US. Meanwhile, the country's president was called a “killer” and “trash” by an angry crowd in the country’s capital Brasilia.
  • Japan to lift state of emergency: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the measure would be lifted on Monday night.
  • Boris Johnson struggles to contain aide scandal: The UK leader is under fire from party colleagues, government scientists and Church of England bishops after refusing to fire top aide Dominic Cummings, despite multiple reported lockdown breaches.
  • New Zealand aiming for no transport restrictions by June 22: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country should aim to reduce its Covid-19 alert level from 2 to 1 by June 22. Alert level 1 means no restrictions on domestic transport or gatherings and all schools and workplaces can open. 
  • South Africa kick-starts its economy: President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that South Africa would reopen the majority of its economy on June 1, while maintaining social distancing and health safety measures. South Africa had its largest spike in new infections yet on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University figures, with more than 1,200 cases confirmed.
8:16 a.m. ET, May 25, 2020

White House adviser says unemployment rate could reach "north of 20%" this month

From CNN's Ali Main

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett speaks to the press at the White House on May 22.
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett speaks to the press at the White House on May 22. Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said he thinks that the unemployment rate will reach "north of 20%" for the month of May. He said he expects the rate will be even higher in June than in May, but after that "it should start to trend down."

Hassett, speaking on CNN's "State of the Union" yesterday, said that he thinks it is possible that the unemployment rate could still be in double digits in November, but he said he thinks "all the signs of economic recovery are going to be raging everywhere."

Pressed further by CNN's Dana Bash, Hassett doubled down on his prediction for November, saying it would take a while for the unemployment rate to go down and adding that a vaccine breakthrough could change things.

"I think that, yes, unemployment will be something that moves back slower. I think it could be better than that. But you're going to be starting at a number in the 20s and working your way down. And so of course you could still not be back to full employment by September or October. Again if there were a vaccine in July, then I would be way more optimistic about it. 

Hassett said President Trump is "going through all the options" related to another phase of economic stimulus. Bash ticked through a series of potential proposals for future legislation. On extending unemployment insurance, Hassett expressed hesitation about incentivizing not working and said the benefit would need reform.

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