May 20 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 7:59 p.m. ET, May 20, 2021
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3:30 p.m. ET, May 20, 2021

Average daily pace of Covid-19 vaccinations down 46% from peak in April, CDC data shows

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

A worker from the University of Alabama at Birmingham waits for patients to arrive on Tuesday, May 18, at a mass COVID-19 immunization site in Hoover, Alabama, where declining demand prompted a shutdown.
A worker from the University of Alabama at Birmingham waits for patients to arrive on Tuesday, May 18, at a mass COVID-19 immunization site in Hoover, Alabama, where declining demand prompted a shutdown. Jay Reeves/AP

The average daily pace of coronavirus vaccinations is down almost 50% from its April peak, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows.

Over the past week, about 1.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered each day, a 46% drop from the peak rate of nearly 3.4 million doses per day in mid-April, according to CDC data published Thursday.

About 2.1 million new doses have been reported administered since Wednesday, bringing the total to 279,397,250 doses administered. That’s about 79% of the 351,955,515 total doses delivered.

More than 160 million people – about 48% of the US population – have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and nearly 127 million people – about 38% of the US population – is fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

Maine is the first state to have vaccinated more than half of its residents. 

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

3:11 p.m. ET, May 20, 2021

Maryland governor announces $2 million in lottery prize money for vaccinated residents

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

WJZ
WJZ

Starting next Tuesday, Maryland Lottery will randomly select and award a $40,000 prize to a vaccinated Marylander every single day, Gov. Larry Hogan announced today.

The state will continue the drawing for 40 straight days through July 3 and on the Fourth of July, a final drawing will be held to award one vaccinated Marylander a grand prize of $400,000. 

“So it’s a total of $2 million in prize money for a vaccinated Marylander,” Hogan said. “Entry is very simple – all you have to do is get vaccinated for Covid-19 here in Maryland, be a Maryland residents and be 18 or older. Anyone 18 and older who has already been vaccinated for Covid-19 in the state of Maryland, at any time, is also eligible for these prizes and will automatically be entered to win.”

Asked if the state took direction from Ohio’s Covid-19 vaccine lottery drawing, Hogan said Maryland had been talking about doing it for a while.

“They’re in a little bit different situation,” Hogan said. “For them it was sort of a Hail Mary touchdown pass, to try to get their numbers up. For us, we’re sort of cleaning up and we’re getting close to the goal line and this, we think, is going to push us over the edge.”

As of today, the state of Maryland has administered more than 5.7 million Covid-19 vaccines. According to the governor, Maryland has vaccinated more than 87% of all residents over 65, and more than 67% of all Marylanders 18 and older. 

“So remember Maryland – get your shot for a shot to win,” Hogan said.

4:21 p.m. ET, May 20, 2021

Biden: There has been a "shocking" rise in incidents of hate against Asian Americans during Covid-19 pandemic 

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Pool
Pool

President Biden noted the "shocking" rise in documented incidents of hate against Asian Americans during the pandemic while delivering remarks before signing the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act into law at the White House.

Biden recalled his conversations with the Asian American community in Atlanta following the deadly spa shootings in March.

"We heard about their pain, their fear, anger, and all that existed in the community and the feelings were, about those feelings, that they felt invisible and not seen. We heard how too many Asian Americans have been waking up each morning this past year, genuinely, genuinely, fearing for their safety, just opening the door and walking down the street. And safety for their loved ones. The moms and dads who, when they let their kids out the door to go to school, were worried. Attacked, blamed, scapegoated, harassed during this pandemic," Biden said.

Biden said the fears him and Vice President Kamala Harris heard in Atlanta are similar to those they are hearing from across the country.

"Documented incidents of hate against Asian Americans has seen a shocking spike, as the vice president has outlined at the front of her comments. Let alone, let alone, the ones that have never been reported. Gut-wrenching attacks on some of the most vulnerable people in our nation, the elderly, low wage workers, women, brutally attacked simply by walking outside or waiting for a bus. Asian American women suffered twice as many incidents of harassment and violence as Asian American men," he said.

Biden vowed that his administration would commit to stopping hatred and bias.

"All of this hate hides in plain sight. It hides in plain sight. And too often, it is met with silence, silence by the media, silence by our politics, and silence by our history... We are committed to stop the hatred and the bias," the President said.

"Silence is complicity. And we cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act. That's what you've done," he said.

Watch Biden give the remarks:

4:22 p.m. ET, May 20, 2021

Biden signs bill to counter rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during Covid-19 pandemic 

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

Pool
Pool

President Biden signed a bill into law that's aimed at countering a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden, who previously urged Congress to pass the legislation, thanked lawmakers for their support of the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act.

"Today, I can say that because of all of you, many of you sitting right in front of me, you've taken that first step, this important step," Biden said in White House remarks. The President noted that documented incidents of hate against Asian Americans has seen "a shocking spike."

"My message to all of those who are hurting is, we see you. And the Congress has said, we see you. And we are committed to stop the hatred and the bias," Biden said.

Vice President Kamala Harris said the bill brings the country "one step closer to stopping hate, not only for Asian Americans, but for all Americans."

"It will expedite the Justice Department's review of hate crimes, every type of hate crime," Harris said, adding that Biden is determine to give hate "no safe harbor."

Harris noted, however, that "our work will not be done" following the bill signing

"Here's the truth: racism exists in America, xenophobia exists in America, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia — it all exists. And so, the work to address injustice wherever it exists, remains the work ahead," Harris said.

Here's what the legislation signed by Biden will do:

  • It will create a new position at the Justice Department to expedite review of potential Covid-19-related hate crimes and incidents reported at the federal, state or local level.
  • It will direct the Justice Department and Health and Human Services to work with community-based organizations to issue guidance raising awareness of hate crimes during the pandemic, and would require the attorney general to issue guidance to work with state and local law enforcement agencies to establish online reporting of them.

The legislation passed in the Senate with an overwhelming 94-1 vote in April. And earlier this month, the House voted 364-62, with all the no votes being Republicans. The bill was introduced by New York Democratic Rep. Grace Meng and Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono.

Reported hate crimes against Asians in 16 of the US' largest cities and counties are up 164% since this time last year, according to a recent study from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University San Bernardino.

Separately, Stop AAPI Hate, which tracks reports of racism and discrimination against Asian Americans, says it has received more than 6,000 firsthand complaints since last year. The group began tracking violence and harassment on March 19 last year as more Asian Americans were verbally and physically assaulted while erroneously being blamed for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read more about the law here.

Watch Biden sign the bill into law:

2:34 p.m. ET, May 20, 2021

US continues to limit nonessential travel to Canada and Mexico

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

The Biden administration is extending nonessential travel restrictions along the US northern and southern borders, the Department of Homeland Security said on Thursday. 

“To fight #COVID19 spread and protect our citizens, the U.S. is continuing restrictions on non-essential travel at land borders through June 21, while allowing essential trade & travel. We're working closely with Canada & Mexico to safely ease restrictions as conditions improve,” the agency tweeted.  

The US has been limiting nonessential travel along both borders since the start of the pandemic and extending those restrictions on a monthly basis. The restrictions don’t apply to cross-border trade, US citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as people traveling for medical purposes or to attend school, among others.

2:31 p.m. ET, May 20, 2021

EU vaccine passports expected to take effect on July 1

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio

The European Union Covid-19 vaccine certificates should take effect on July 1, the chair of the European Parliament's civil liberties committee, Juan Lopez Aguilar, said at a news conference in Brussels on Thursday.

“It’s going to be called EU Digital COVID Certificate, a unified certificate,” Lopez Aguilar said. “It’s a better alternative than the absence of this certificate, which will create a new legal safeguard, which we hope will provide an incentive to trust, not just between member states, but also in citizens over the possibility of starting to enjoy the free circulation this summer, as the vaccination process advances.”

Lopez Aguilar said the deal guaranteed that European citizens’ rights and would help enact a common travel policy within the European Union, in opposition to the current system where each state acts unilaterally.

The European Covid-19 vaccine certificate is expected to help reopen borders within the common European travel area and member states will only be allowed to reimpose travel restrictions in exceptional circumstances, where the epidemiological situation warrants it.

Those measures must be announced 48 hours before being implemented, Lopez Aguilar said.

Lopez Aguilar also said the three European bodies had agreed to mobilize an additional 35 million euros ($42 million dollars) to cut the cost of antigen tests, to make them more affordable, while the need, especially in order to travel, remains high. An additional 100 million euros ($122 million dollars) will be made available to member states to offset the costs of PCR tests, while they continue to be needed.

1:55 p.m. ET, May 20, 2021

EU bodies reach deal on Covid-19 vaccine passport

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio

The European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission have reached an “informal agreement” for the implementation of Covid-19 vaccine certificates, which are expected to facilitate travel inside the bloc.

“Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators have reached an informal agreement on the proposal for the EU Digital Covid Certificate, which will make traveling during the pandemic easier and safer,” the European Parliament said on its official twitter account, without revealing additional details. 

Portugal's Prime Minister António Costa, whose country currently heads the European Union presidency, said he welcomed the deal. 

“The certificate will provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19, of a negative test result or of recovery from #COVID19,” Costa tweeted. “Although not a precondition for free movement, it will facilitate it and contribute to the European economic recovery.”

3:00 p.m. ET, May 20, 2021

White House leaves possibility open to using unused Covid-19 relief money for infrastructure 

From CNN's DJ Judd

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki left the door open to a proposal from West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito that unused Covid-19 relief funds could be used to pay for the administration’s multi-trillion dollar infrastructure proposal.

“The President's bottom line, as you've heard me say a few times before, is that he does not want to raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year,” Psaki told reporters Thursday. “We certainly, in that scenario, would need to assess whether these funds are needed, and not take them away from fighting the pandemic that we continue to battle every day.”

Capito told reporters on Capitol Hill “progress” was made in Tuesday afternoon’s infrastructure meeting between GOP senators and Biden officials, but they “still got a ways to go.” 

“They’re digesting what we proposed and I think the plan is for them to react to that,” she said Tuesday.

1:23 p.m. ET, May 20, 2021

Michigan set to ease Covid-19 restrictions in June with remaining rules to end in July 

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday announced all outdoor capacity limits across the state will be lifted effective June 1, and indoor capacity limits will increase to 50%. Nearly all Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted in July, the governor said. 

"On July 1, that is when we will take our final step. We will lift the broad mask and gatherings order and will no longer impose broad mitigation measures during the pandemic, unless of course, unanticipated circumstances arise," Whitmer said.

"I want to be clear about the fact that businesses and workplaces are well within their rights to require masks as patrons go in,” she said. "There will ultimately come a day when masks will be distant memories – maybe in boxes in our basements, but until then, we've got to transition back to normalcy together." 

According to Whitmer, Michigan has administered almost 7.9 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to more than 4.6 million Michiganders ages 16 and up with 57% of [the] eligible population receiving at least one dose. 

"Cases and test positivity have declined for five straight weeks [and] hospitalizations have declined for three weeks in a row," the governor said.