May 19 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 8:02 p.m. ET, May 19, 2021
22 Posts
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12:22 p.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Covid-19 vaccine rollout for ages 12 to 15 is “better than expected,” health officials say

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A 15-year-old receives a first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination clinic at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA on May 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. 
A 15-year-old receives a first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination clinic at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA on May 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.  Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

The rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 has been "better than expected," Dr. Lisa Costello, a pediatrician at West Virginia University Medicine Children's Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on State Government Affairs, told CNN.

Costello said that the rollout for that age group in the United States has been reminiscent of when the vaccine was first authorized for adults in December – and those very first doses were administered.

"As we've seen this new age category, from 12 to 15, it's brought renewed hope. Many of the people who I know that work the various vaccine clinics, they've told me it felt like December when we were giving those first shots," Costello said. "People are so hopeful."

 

It has been one week since the rollout for younger teens and pre-teens began. The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of Pfizer/BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine in the new age group last Monday and then on Wednesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended using the vaccine in that age group. 

"In less than one week, we have vaccinated more than 600,000 12- to 15-year-olds," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Tuesday.

In total, about 3.5 million children 12-17 have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine so far, according to the latest CDC data. Walensky said that her own son was one of them. 

Both CVS and Walgreens pharmacies confirmed to CNN via email on Tuesday that their locations are continuing to vaccinate adolescents ages 12 to 15 and Walgreens noted that there was "a spike in booked appointments, indicating early interest from parents to vaccinate their children." Yet neither company provided data on just how many young people have received their first dose of vaccine yet so far.

It's still too early to tell exactly how the rollout is going nationwide and where it's heading – but it seems that there has been a "pretty brisk uptake" of the vaccine among this younger age group so far, Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told CNN on Tuesday.

In West Virginia, there has been a lot of demand for the vaccine and enough supply to meet that demand, Costello said.

"Our state took preparatory action to make sure that there would be enough Pfizer product in supplies so that we would have enough to be able to offer a vaccine to that age group," Costello said.

"But certainly I think we need to continue to work to boost confidence and share information," she added. "We have to continue to inform the public as to where the vaccines are."

Parents and guardians can visit vaccines.gov to find where vaccines may be available for young teens in their area.

12:08 p.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Don't rely on antibody tests to determine if you're immune to Covid-19, FDA warns

From CNN's Ben Tinker

The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday issued a “safety communication” to remind Americans that SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests should not be used to evaluate whether someone is protected – or immune – from infection. SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the virus that causes Covid-19.

“The FDA is reminding the public of the limitations of COVID-19 antibody, or serology, testing and providing additional recommendations about the use of antibody tests in people who received a COVID-19 vaccination,” Dr. Tim Stenzel, director of the FDA’s Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, said in a statement.

“Antibody tests can play an important role in identifying individuals who may have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and may have developed an adaptive immune response. However, antibody tests should not be used at this time to determine immunity or protection against COVID-19 at any time, and especially after a person has received a COVID-19 vaccination," the statement added.
11:04 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Go There: CNN is in New York, where vaccinated people no longer have to mask and capacity limits are ending

New York will lift many capacity restrictions on businesses starting today, including retail, food services, and gyms. The state will also adopt the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines to not require masks or social distancing for vaccinated people starting today.

CNN's Alexandra Field was live in New York City with the latest. Watch:

11:02 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

CDC chief: Pandemic would have been “extraordinarily different” if infrastructure was improved pre-pandemic

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies at a hearing on May 19 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies at a hearing on May 19 in Washington, DC. Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The Covid-19 pandemic would have been “extraordinarily different” if the United States had stronger public health infrastructure, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Walensky spoke in response to a question from Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, on how things would have been different in the US had the country invested in tools such as genomic sequencing capabilities earlier. 

“I think they would have been extraordinarily different. We would have had content tracers on the ground ready to go. We would have been able to identify cases quickly. We would have been able to see single, outbreaks and clusters that we might not have been able to pin down to contact trace and not have expand,” she said.

“I think the testing – the inability of our public health systems to be able to conduct these tests in massive scale – didn't allow us to find the disease where it was. Certainly we hadn't done genomic sequencing until January,” Walensky said. 

“We didn't know anything about the variants that were circulating here. There are numerous ways that this could have gone better if we had had a more robust public health infrastructure across all of those domains," she added.

 

10:33 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

New York updates Covid-19 guidance and protocol for child care, day camps and overnight camps

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced updated Covid-19 guidance and protocol for child care, day camps and overnight camps including mask and distancing requirements for unvaccinated staff.

Programs and facilities must collect vaccination status of all staff and children and implement mandatory health screening practices of staff and visitors, including temperature checks, according to a statement from Cuomo. 

“Children and campers over the age of two and staff who are not fully vaccinated must wear face coverings except when eating, drinking, showering, swimming, or sleeping/resting,” the statement said.

It adds that “facilities and programs must provide and require the use of face coverings for individuals who are not fully vaccinated.”

Each site must also implement a property specific limitation for children and campers that ensures social distancing, and staff that are not fully vaccinated must maintain a 6 ft. distance from other unvaccinated staff, the release said.

10:31 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Nepal reports its highest daily death toll from Covid-19

From Asha Thapa and CNN's Jessie Yeung

Paramedics get ready to load the bodies of Covid-19 victims into an ambulance for cremation in Kathmandu, Nepal, on May 12.
Paramedics get ready to load the bodies of Covid-19 victims into an ambulance for cremation in Kathmandu, Nepal, on May 12. Niranjan Shrestha/AP

Nepal reported at least 246 new Covid-19 deaths Wednesday, its highest daily jump since the pandemic began. The country's death toll now stands at 5,657.

At least 8,173 new Covid-19 cases were also reported Wednesday, bringing the nationwide total to 480,412.

The country has been thrown into political turmoil after Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli was forced to step down a week ago following public anger over his response to a deadly second wave of coronavirus.  

Just a month ago, the Himalayan nation of 31 million people was reporting about 100 cases a day, but now cases are skyrocketing and hospitals are becoming overwhelmed.

Read more about Nepal's fight with Covid-19 here

9:44 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

CDC forecast predicts Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to drop

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

A nurse holds a nasal swab to test for coronavirus on April 27 in New York.
A nurse holds a nasal swab to test for coronavirus on April 27 in New York. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Ensemble forecasts published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project that the number of newly reported Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths will likely continue to decrease over the next four weeks.

The forecast predicts a total of 594,000 to 604,000 US Covid-19 deaths reported by June 12.

The previous ensemble forecast, published May 12, projected up to 602,000 deaths would be reported by June 5.

8:35 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Some Indian states face Black Fungus treatment shortage as cases in Covid-19 patients rise

From Esha Mitra in New Delhi 

Several Indian states are facing a shortage of an antifungal drug used to treat Black Fungus, or Mucormycosis, a disease Indian Health officials have increasingly been detecting among patients who have recovered from Covid-19.

At least 52 people have died from Black Fungus in the state of Maharashtra, where the disease is on the rise among patients who have recovered from Covid-19, Dr Tatyarao Lahane, a senior state health official told CNN on Wednesday.

At least 2,000 cases of Black Fungus have been detected in Maharashtra, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health on Friday. 

“We are now getting 100 cases daily on average...there was a shortage (of the drug for treating black fungus) initially because it was not expected, but that’s been resolved now, 16,000 doses arrived just yesterday,” Lahane added. 

Maharashtra’s health minister Rajesh Tope said last Wednesday an order had been placed for 100,000 vials of Amphotericin B, a drug used to treat Black Fungus. 

“There are very few districts where there aren’t patients (of Black Fungus),” Tope also said, as states across the country, such as Uttar Pradesh, Maydhya Pradesh, Delhi and Telangana have made appeals for deliveries of the drug as they face shortages.

“Currently there is a sudden demand surge,” a statement from the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers said on Tuesday, adding that “the Government is committed to making all possible and necessary efforts to make it available to needy patients...the shortage is expected to get resolved at the earliest.” 

The western Indian state of Gujarat is also facing an increase in Black Fungus cases. The local government has placed an order for 100,000 vials of Amphotericin B and Liposomal injections used to treat the disease, after Gujarat’s High Court issued an order on Monday noting “the rapid increase in the cases of flesh eating Black Fungal infection called ‘Mucormycosis’".

“The shortage of injections being administered for the said disease and the cost of its treatment are also the issues which deserve to be seriously and immediately considered by the State,” the order added. 

Mucormycosis is commonly found among patients of diabetes or those with weakened immune systems. While the disease is not caused by Covid-19, Indian health officials have increasingly detected it among Covid-19 patients, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health on Friday

“This fungus infection is caused by a fungus called mucor...it is found on wet surfaces...when there is uncontrolled diabetes mucor attacks,” V K Paul, head of India’s covid task force said on Friday.

“If someone has a disease or takes medication which suppresses the immune system. or is exposed to wet surfaces they can contract the disease…(for Covid-19) we are using drugs which suppress our immune system...when Covid-19 patients receive oxygen which has a humidifier which has water collection which can increase the tendency of the fungus,” Paul added. 

8:24 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

People are misinterpreting the updated US CDC mask guidance, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives for a hearing on May 11 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives for a hearing on May 11 in Washington, DC. Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Axios that people are “misinterpreting” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new mask guidance by thinking the guidelines say no one needs to wear a mask.

“I think people are misinterpreting – thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It’s not,” Fauci said. “It’s an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors.”

Fauci said that this wasn’t their fault.

“People either read them quickly, or listen and hear half of it. They are feeling that we’re saying: ‘You don’t need the mask anymore.’ That’s not what the CDC said. They said: If you are vaccinated, you can feel safe – that you will not get infected either outdoors or indoors. It did not explicitly say that unvaccinated people should abandon their masks.”