May 31 coronavirus news

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9:43 p.m. ET, May 31, 2020

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here.

7:49 p.m. ET, May 31, 2020

More than 500,000 coronavirus cases reported in Brazil

From CNN’s Taylor Barnes in Atlanta

A nurse performs a coronavirus test to a resident of the riverside community of Belavista do Jaraqui on May 29 in Brazil. 
A nurse performs a coronavirus test to a resident of the riverside community of Belavista do Jaraqui on May 29 in Brazil.  Andre Coelho/Getty Images

Brazil has reported 16,409 cases of novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide total to 514,849.

Brazil is second only to the United States in its number of coronavirus cases.

Dr. Carissa Etienne, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, said earlier this week that the Americas have “become the epicenter of the Covid pandemic.”

Brazil also recorded 480 new coronavirus-related fatalities over the past 24 hours, according to its health ministry, raising the overall death toll to 29,314.

Brazil has the fourth-highest number of coronavirus deaths globally, according to Johns Hopkins University.

7:15 p.m. ET, May 31, 2020

Queen Elizabeth makes first appearance since coronavirus lockdown

From CNN’s Leona Siaw

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II rides Balmoral Fern, a 14-year-old Fell Pony, in Windsor Home Park, west of London, over the weekend of May 30 and May 31.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II rides Balmoral Fern, a 14-year-old Fell Pony, in Windsor Home Park, west of London, over the weekend of May 30 and May 31. Steve Parsons/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II has been pictured riding a pony on the grounds of Windsor Castle, in her first photographed appearance since the coronavirus lockdown started in the UK.

The 94-year-old Queen has been a passionate horse lover throughout her reign and was photographed over the weekend riding one of her ponies, a 14-year-old Fell Pony called Balmoral Fern. On Sunday, the Royal Family’s verified Twitter page posted photos of the Queen riding.

The Queen has made two televised addresses during the lockdown, the first assuring those in isolation that "we will meet again" and the other to mark VE Day.

7:03 p.m. ET, May 31, 2020

More than 8,000 new coronavirus cases reported in Peru

From CNN’s Claudia Rebaza and Taylor Barnes

A doctor wearing personal protective gear examines COVID-19 patients at Regional Hospital of Loreto Felipe Arriola Iglesias on May 20 in Iquitos, Peru.
A doctor wearing personal protective gear examines COVID-19 patients at Regional Hospital of Loreto Felipe Arriola Iglesias on May 20 in Iquitos, Peru. STR/Getty Images

The number of coronavirus cases in Peru rose to 164,476 on Sunday, an increase of 8,805 from the previous day, according to the country's Health Ministry.

The spike follows a trend of increasing reports of new cases in recent days, which have seen Peru go from reporting about 4,000 to more than 7,000 new cases each day.

The country also reported 135 new coronavirus-related deaths, taking the national death toll to 4,506, according to the Ministry.

The capital city of Lima has the largest concentration of infections, according to the Health Ministry, which reported on Sunday that the city has recorded 100,526 virus cases.

Peru has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in Latin America, behind Brazil.

5:46 p.m. ET, May 31, 2020

FDA commissioner on off-label use of hydroxychloroquine: "We do not regulate the practice of medicine"

From CNN's Arman Azad

Discussing the "off-label" use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for Covid-19, the commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration this weekend said his agency does not "regulate the practice of medicine."

FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn made the comments in an open letter published on the FDA’s website Friday and tweeted out by Hahn Sunday. 

The letter was titled "Bringing a Cancer Doctor’s Perspective to FDA’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic," but it focused heavily on unproven drugs touted by President Trump for coronavirus.

"The drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have received particular attention," Hahn wrote in the letter. The medications are FDA-approved for some conditions, such as malaria, but they’re not approved to prevent or treat Covid-19. Like other drugs, they can still be prescribed off-label. 

In April, however, the FDA warned against using the drugs to treat coronavirus outside of hospitals or clinical trials, pointing to the risk of severe heart problems or death. Even so, Trump earlier this month claimed he was taking daily doses of hydroxychloroquine to prevent infection.

In his letter, Hahn said many physicians have “prescribed these drugs for patients with Covid-19 based on an individual assessment of the potential benefits versus the risks for an individual patient.”

"The agency neither endorses individual prescribing decisions nor prohibits physicians from prescribing medications," Hahn wrote. "We do not regulate the practice of medicine."

Still, his letter pointed to the potential risks of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. "It is important that patients and health care providers understand the known side effects of these drugs, including serious and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm problems as noted in a recent Drug Safety Communication," Hahn wrote, pointing to the FDA’s earlier warning.

But he said patients who have been prescribed the drugs for approved reasons, like lupus, should understand that "the FDA’s approval means the agency has determined them to be safe and effective for those conditions."

Hahn appeared to defend a limited emergency use authorization that the FDA issued for the two drugs in late March. The authorization was narrow in scope, applying only to hospitalized Covid-19 patients and only to drugs donated to the Strategic National Stockpile. 

"This decision was based on evaluation of the EUA criteria and the scientific evidence available at that time. We continue to look at the data on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and we will make future determinations on these products based on available evidence including ongoing clinical studies," Hahn said in the letter.

The emergency use authorization, or EUA, made it easier for pills donated to the national stockpile to be distributed to coronavirus patients. “We also knew it was important to help ensure a stable supply of the drugs for patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis given the increased demand,” Hahn said.

In an interview with CNN this week, Hahn denied political pressure at the FDA. But the agency has had to issue a number of high-profile walk-backs and revisions during the pandemic. 

"Some of the science and data aren't perfect in emergency situations,” he said. "You make the best with the information you have at hand."

6:34 p.m. ET, May 31, 2020

US sending hydroxychloroquine and ventilators to Brazil

From CNN’s Jason Hoffman

A pharmacy tech holds a pill of Hydroxychloroquine at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20.
A pharmacy tech holds a pill of Hydroxychloroquine at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20. George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

The United States has delivered 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine and will soon send 1,000 ventilators to Brazil, according to a joint statement from both countries.

The statement reads in part, "HCQ will be used as a prophylactic to help defend Brazil’s nurses, doctors, and healthcare professionals against the virus. It will also be used as a therapeutic to treat Brazilians who become infected."

This comes after the World Health Organization announced it has temporarily halted studying hydroxychloroquine as a potential Covid-19 treatment due to safety concerns. The decision was made after an observational study published in the medical journal The Lancet described how seriously ill Covid-19 patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were more likely to die.

The US Food and Drug Administration has warned against the use of hydroxychloroquine outside of clinical trials and that there are currently no published studies on using the drug as a prophylaxis, or preventative treatment.

The statement also announces the formation of a joint research effort to help combat coronavirus in the two countries. 

"Further, in continuation of the two countries' longstanding collaboration on health issues, we are also announcing a joint United States-Brazilian research effort that will include randomized controlled clinical trials.”

The US and Brazil are the two countries with the highest confirmed number of coronavirus cases worldwide.

 

6:32 p.m. ET, May 31, 2020

More than 104,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

A hearse enters a temporary morgue near Green-Wood Cemetery on May 27 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
A hearse enters a temporary morgue near Green-Wood Cemetery on May 27 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

There have been at least 1,778,515 coronavirus cases in US and approximately 104,051 deaths due to the virus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. 

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

6:30 p.m. ET, May 31, 2020

Covid-19 cases continue to decline in Italy, despite loosened restrictions

From CNN's Nicola Ruotolo and Zahid Mahmood

People enjoy a gondola ride on May 30 in Venice, Italy.
People enjoy a gondola ride on May 30 in Venice, Italy. Andrea Pattaro/AFP/Getty Images

Despite four weeks of loosened restrictions, the number of Covid-19 cases in Italy continue to decline.

The number of active cases of coronavirus decreased by more than 1,600 over a 24-hour period, according to figures released by Italy’s Civil Protection Agency on Sunday.

The statement said that there has been a decrease of at least 1,616 cases since Saturday’s figures, bringing the total number to approximately 42,075.

The Covid-19 death toll in the country currently stands at approximately 33,415 – an increase of 75 deaths due to the virus since yesterday, according to the agency.

12:28 p.m. ET, May 31, 2020

Number of coronavirus deaths in New York state continues to drop, governor says

From CNN's Elise Hammond

State of New York
State of New York

At least 56 people died due to coronavirus in New York state yesterday –– a decrease from 67 deaths on May 29, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his daily news briefing on Sunday.

"This reduction in the number of deaths is tremendous progress from where we were," he said.

The number of total hospitalizations, new hospitalizations and intubations have also all decreased, Cuomo said.

"All good news," he said.