May 7 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Brad Lendon, Aditi Sangal and Angela Dewan, CNN

Updated 2:04 AM ET, Mon May 10, 2021
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7:20 p.m. ET, May 7, 2021

Wyoming governor prohibits state government agencies from demanding proof of Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon gives the State of the State address at the state Capitol in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on March 2, 2021.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon gives the State of the State address at the state Capitol in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on March 2, 2021. Michael Cummo/The Wyoming Tribune Eagle/AP

Wyoming is the latest state to prohibit state government agencies from asking people whether they have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Under a directive signed Friday by Gov. Mark Gordon, the state boards and agencies are ordered to “provide full access to state spaces and state services, regardless of a constituent’s COVID-19 vaccination status.”

“Vaccine passport programs have the potential to politicize a decision that should not be politicized,” Gordon said in a written statement. The news release notes that the governor has been vaccinated, and encourages the residents of his state to voluntarily be vaccinated.

Unlike a similar order signed by the governor of Florida, the Wyoming directive is only mandatory for the state government. However, it says local governments and private businesses “are encouraged” to follow Gordon’s directive.

6:35 p.m. ET, May 7, 2021

Common painkillers won't worsen Covid-19, study finds

From CNN's Ryan Prior

People who take common over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin don’t risk getting sicker from Covid-19, according to a study from researchers at the University of Edinburgh.

When the Covid-19 pandemic began, there was concern that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could cause more severe disease or even raise the risk of death in Covid-19 patients, particularly those with rheumatological disease. The French health ministry issued recommendations that physicians should use acetaminophen instead.

However, subsequent research with evidence from community studies, administrative data, and small studies did not support fears that hospitalized Covid-19 patients fared worse on NSAIDs. 

Now this new study, published Friday in the journal Lancet Rheumatology, helps to settle doubts about the effect of NSAIDs on Covid-19 severity. 

In the largest study to date on NSAIDs and Covid-19, the researchers enrolled 78,674 patients across 255 health facilities in England, Scotland, and Wales. The evidence was drawn from patients with a confirmed positive or suspected Covid-19 case between Jan. 17 and Aug. 20, 2020.

Just under 6% of them had taken NSAIDs prior to hospital admission. Compared with a similarly sized group of patients who had not taken NSAIDs before going to the hospital, the researchers found that neither patient group was more severe than the other at the time of hospital admission. For example, 30.4% of those who had taken NSAIDs died compared with 31.3% of those who did not.

And their outcomes were similar throughout their hospital stays as well. Use of NSAIDs was not associated with worse in-hospital mortality, critical care admission, requirement for ventilation, requirement for oxygen, or acute kidney injury.

"When the pandemic began over a year ago, we needed to be sure that these common medications would not lead to worse outcomes in people with COVID-19," Dr. Ewen Harrison, a professor of surgery and data science at the University of Edinburgh and lead author of the study, said in a statement. "We now have clear evidence that NSAIDs are safe to use in patients with COVID-19, which should provide reassurance to both clinicians and patients that they can continue to be used in the same way as before the pandemic began."

That means that patients who rely on NSAIDs to relieve conditions such as gout, arthritis, bone pain, and menstrual pain wouldn't have to worry about the drugs worsening a case of Covid-19.

"In conclusion, policy makers should consider reviewing issued advice around NSAID prescribing and COVID-19 severity," the researchers wrote.

However, though NSAIDs may not harm Covid-19 patients, the evidence doesn't lean toward the drugs helping either.

"Although use of NSAIDs could, in theory, be beneficial in patients with COVID-19, we did not identify any evidence to support this," the researchers wrote.

7:08 p.m. ET, May 7, 2021

Bodies of Covid-19 victims are still stored in refrigerated trailers in New York City

From CNN's Mirna Alsharif and Ray Sanchez

Refrigerated morgue trailers believed to be holding the bodies of people who died of Covid-19 are seen at South Brooklyn Marine Terminal on November 23, 2020 in New York City.
Refrigerated morgue trailers believed to be holding the bodies of people who died of Covid-19 are seen at South Brooklyn Marine Terminal on November 23, 2020 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The bodies of New York City coronavirus victims are still being stored in refrigerated trailers converted into makeshift morgues during the height of the pandemic one year ago, according to the medical examiner's office.

The long-term temporary morgue at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal holding 750 bodies — not all victims of Covid-19 — is a reminder of the crush of coronavirus fatalities that overwhelmed city hospitals, mortuaries and funeral homes last spring.

In early April 2020, more than 800 coronavirus deaths were reported in a single day in New York City. During the week of April 5, an average of 566 were dying every day in the city, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Long term storage was created at the height of the pandemic to ensure that families could lay their loved ones to rest as they see fit," said Mark Desire, a spokesperson for the Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

In late March 2020, refrigerated trailers also served as makeshift morgues outside city hospitals amid the surging death count in the epicenter of the nation's coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.

5:14 p.m. ET, May 7, 2021

West Virginia will lift statewide indoor mask mandate next month

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

An employee works behind the food counter at the Griffith & Feil pharmacy on January 14, in Kenova, West Virginia.
An employee works behind the food counter at the Griffith & Feil pharmacy on January 14, in Kenova, West Virginia. AP Photo/John Raby

West Virginia’s statewide indoor face covering requirement will be lifted on June 20, according to a release from Gov. Jim Justice's office. 

“We believe that all West Virginians 12 years of age and older will be eligible to take the vaccine soon, and by June 20, we project that 65 percent of all eligible West Virginians will have the first dose at that point in time, 75 percent of our population that's 50 and above will have the first dose at that time, and 85 percent of our population that’s 65 and above will also have the first shot at that time,” Justice said in the release. “So that's the date we're going to go with. It just coincides perfectly with the celebration of this absolutely incredible state on its birthday.”

“Naturally, it will still be your choice, when you’re in public, whether you want to have a mask on or not,” the governor added. “But the mandate will be lifted.”

However Justice emphasized that the indoor mask mandate will still remain in effect until June 20, requiring all West Virginians age nine and older to wear a face covering at all times inside all indoor public places, regardless of whether they are able to maintain proper social distance.

3:32 p.m. ET, May 7, 2021

Use of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine still lags 2 weeks after US pause was lifted, CDC data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

DC Health Nurse Manager Ashley Hennigan fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine during a walk-up clinic at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' outdoor Reach area on May 6 in Washington, DC.
DC Health Nurse Manager Ashley Hennigan fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine during a walk-up clinic at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' outdoor Reach area on May 6 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Two weeks after a pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine was lifted, the vaccine accounts for a very small share of doses administered and the current pace of administration lags significantly from the pace before the pause, CDC data shows. 

The US Food and Drug Administration and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after investigating cases of extremely rare blood clotting events after vaccination.

The vaccine is again in use in people age 18 and older, now with an added warning.

Over the past seven days, the J&J vaccine accounted for just about 3.5% of total doses administered and about 9% of people added to the total population with at least one dose of vaccine, according to the latest data published by the CDC on Friday. 

Only about 509,000 doses of the J&J vaccine have been reported administered in the past week, down 79% from before the pause, when about 2.5 million doses of the J&J vaccine were reported administered in a week in mid-April.

The pace of vaccinations has generally slowed, but less than half as much in that same timeframe – about 38% overall. 

More than 150 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, but less than 9 million of those people have received the J&J vaccine, CDC data shows. 

3:25 p.m. ET, May 7, 2021

CDC updates explanation of how coronavirus spreads to stress airborne risk

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its explanations Friday on how coronavirus is transmitted, stressing that inhalation is one of the main ways the virus is spread and placing less emphasis on the risk of picking it up from surfaces.

The changes to the CDC website are in line with the agency’s gradual de-emphasis of the need to keep surfaces clean and more toward the idea that the virus spreads through the air – either to be breathed in, to get into the eyes or to settle onto surfaces that people later touch.

“COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected,” the agency says on its updated website. The CDC also updated its scientific brief on how the virus spreads.

“This is not new guidance. This is the beginning of how, perhaps, guidance will begin to evolve,”  Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer for the CDC's Covid-19 response, told CNN.

It doesn’t change what people need to do, but might help the public better understand how the virus spreads, Brooks said. Guidance remains the same – wear a mask when near other people or inside and sharing air with others, keep a distance from others when possible and wash hands frequently.

CDC also updated its science brief on mask use to counter fears about the safety of wearing masks. “Research supports that mask wearing has no significant adverse health effects for wearers,” it said.

Masks don’t just filter the air, Brooks pointed out. “Wearing a mask covers your mucus membranes. It is more difficult to touch your mouth when a mask is over it,” he noted.

Scientists who had been lobbying for the changes had both praise and criticism.

“I’m really happy with a whole lot of this stuff. I think it’s an important and major step forward,” Dr. Donald Milton, who studies how viruses are transmitted at the University of Maryland, told CNN.

But Milton signed a letter Friday along with four other experts on aerosols to say the CDC needs to do and say more.

“However, we are concerned that CDC has not strengthened its guidance or recommendations to effectively prevent exposure to small aerosol particles to stop transmission of this deadly virus,” they wrote. “There is clear consensus among aerosol scientists and epidemiologists that inhalation of small aerosol particles is a major driver of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

They want CDC to push for better ventilation in places such as meatpacking facilities where air is recirculated, and to emphasize the importance of face masks known as respirators, including N95 respirators, in places where people are forced to breathe recycled air.

“I don’t disagree,” Brooks said in response. “I would stay tuned. This is an issue we are concerned about.”

3:54 p.m. ET, May 7, 2021

More than a third of people in the US are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

A man holds his emotional support dog, named 'Rhea,' as he receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine during a walk-up clinic at the Kennedy Center's outdoor Reach area on May 6 in Washington, DC.
A man holds his emotional support dog, named 'Rhea,' as he receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine during a walk-up clinic at the Kennedy Center's outdoor Reach area on May 6 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

More than a third of the US population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to data published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Nearly 111 million people are fully vaccinated – accounting for 33.4% of the total US population – and more than 150 million people – about 45% of the population – has received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine. 

Overall, 254,779,333 total doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered, about 78% of the 327,124,625 total doses delivered. 

About 2.8 million more doses have been reported administered since Thursday, for a seven-day average of about 2.1 million doses per day. 

Note: Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported. 

3:04 p.m. ET, May 7, 2021

CDC will look carefully at differences between Covid-19 death toll estimates, director says

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid and Deidre McPhillips

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will examine the differences between its own Covid-19 death estimates and estimates from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a briefing Friday. 

The IHME at the University of Washington released an analysis on Thursday that found Covid-19 had caused about 6.9 million deaths around the world, more than double the number officially reported. The institute’s analysis compared countries’ excess death rate against expected death rates, and said most of the underreporting is unintentional.

The United States has reported more deaths than any other country, and the updated IHME analysis estimates the actual number of Covid-19 deaths in the US to be more than 905,000 — about 58% higher than the reported count of about 574,000, and about 30% more than the CDC’s current excess death estimate.

Compared to other countries, underreporting in the United States was said to be “not bad.”

“We will look at this carefully and then we will work within the CDC to make decisions as to whether to count them as excess or to count them as Covid-specific,” Walensky said. 

“Regardless, I think we need to understand that the death toll of this disease has been attributable directly from Covid as well as the collateral damage I would say, what has happened from Covid-19.”

2:05 p.m. ET, May 7, 2021

France adds 7 countries to mandatory quarantine list

From CNN’s Barbara Wojazer

France will impose a compulsory 10-day quarantine restriction on travelers from Turkey, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, according to an update on the French Interior Ministry website on Friday.

This brings the number of countries subject to a travel quarantine in France to 12.

France now imposes a mandatory 10-day quarantine to travelers coming from: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, India, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

Travelers coming from the French department of Guiana are also subject to a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal on Wednesday announced that new countries would soon be added to the quarantine list because France “cannot take the risk of new variants lightly.”