May 24 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, May 24, 2021
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12:36 p.m. ET, May 24, 2021

Go There: CNN is in Spain, where tourists from Japan and the UK can visit without testing or quarantines

British and Japanese tourists will be allowed to visit Spain without needing to get tested for Covid-19 or stay in quarantine, the country announced.

However, the British government still lists Spain on its amber list as of now — which means that returning travelers would be required to get tested and quarantine for at least 10 days.

CNN’s Atika Shubert was live in Spain at Valencia Beach with the latest.


12:24 p.m. ET, May 24, 2021

Michigan governor apologizes for breaking state's Covid-19 public health protocols

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a press conference about the state's Covid-19 response on Thursday, May 20, in Midland, Michigan.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a press conference about the state's Covid-19 response on Thursday, May 20, in Midland, Michigan. Kaytie Boomer/The Bay City Times/AP

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an apology on Sunday after a photo surfaced on social media of her at a restaurant seated together at tables that had been pushed together with at least 12 friends breaking the state’s public health protocols.

The photo, initially posted on Facebook, was picked up by Breitbart, which reported the photo has now been removed from social media.

“Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been committed to following public health protocols. On Saturday, I went with friends to a local restaurant. As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn't stop to think about it,” Whitmer said in a statement. “In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize."

Some more context: On May 15, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a health order stating “gatherings are prohibited at food service establishments, whether indoor or outdoor, unless: consumption of food or beverages is permitted only in a designated dining area where patrons are seated, groups of patrons are separated by at least 6 feet, no more than 6 patrons are seated together (at a table, booth, or group of fixed seats), and groups of patrons do not intermingle.”

On May 20, Whitmer announced the "MI Vacc to Normal" plan, which lifts capacity limits for outdoor events and increases indoor capacity limits to 50% on June 1 and states that on July 1 capacity limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings will be lifted.

Over the last week, Whitmer has eased several restrictions on gatherings, capacities, and face masks.


11:40 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

NYC schools will still require face masks in the fall and adhere to social distancing guidelines

From CNN’s Taylor Romine

Principal Ben Geballe speaks with students at Sun Yat Sen M.S. 131 on February 25, in New York City.
Principal Ben Geballe speaks with students at Sun Yat Sen M.S. 131 on February 25, in New York City. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

New York City public schools will still require face masks when they fully reopen on Sept. 13, NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said during a news conference Monday.

Porter said at least half of all NYC public school teachers and staff are fully vaccinated and more will be vaccinated by the time schools reopen.

The Covid-19 positivity rate in the city’s public school system is currently 0.16%, Porter said.

Porter echoed Mayor Bill de Blasio by saying that there would be no virtual option for students and that their school system will continue to adhere to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's social distancing guidelines. 

“We would never take any risks with our most important assets…our children,” Porter said, adding that every school will be equipped with social and emotional support resources for students.

The mayor said on MSNBC's Morning Joe today that schools will be able to maintain the CDC guidelines for schools, such as three feet of social distancing, but that he also expects the agency to make adjustments before school starts in the fall. 

"So I absolutely believe Covid will continue to go down, vaccinations will go up, recovery will be strong — I think the CDC will be changing those rules quite a bit between now and September. But right now New York City public schools, we could have every child three feet apart, we could make that work if we had to. But I actually fundamentally believe by August the CDC will relax those rules further to recognize the progress we've made in this country," de Blasio said.

10:51 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

US Federal Aviation Administration received 1,900 reports of passengers violating mask rules

From CNN's Greg Wallace

The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it has received about 1,900 reports of passengers violating the federal transportation face mask requirement.   

The reports make up the majority of the 2,500 reports of unruly passengers made to the agency since it launched a zero-tolerance campaign against airplane passenger misbehavior in mid-January.  

The new figures came as the FAA announced it plans to fine five more passengers for allegedly being unruly on aircraft, including two accused of pushing and hitting flight attendants. The agency has now proposed fines against a total of 22 passengers since launching the zero-tolerance campaign.  

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson called misbehaving passengers a “huge concern” in a recent CNN interview. “That's what this zero tolerance policy is all about — to make sure that we get this situation under control,” he said.  

9:58 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

North Carolina will give $25 to individuals who get the Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Devon Sayers 

A nurse administers a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on May 13, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
A nurse administers a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on May 13, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Robert Willett/The News & Observer/AP

As part of an ongoing effort to get more North Carolinians vaccinated, the state is offering $25 "Summer Cash" cards at select vaccine sites, according to a news release from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).

NCDHHS will begin offering the cash incentives on Wednesday through June 8. The cards will be distributed at select vaccine sites in Mecklenburg, Guilford, Rowan and Rockingham counties, the release stated.

Anyone 18 and older who gets their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine or drives someone to get their shot will receive the $25 cash card, while supplies last. 

The cash cards are for first dose vaccinations only, for both the person being vaccinated and the driver, according to the release. 

"Vaccines are the key to emerging from this pandemic and we must continue to do all that we can to get shots into arms," said Gov. Roy Cooper. 

9:56 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

Air travel this weekend was nearly back to 2019 numbers

From CNN's Greg Wallace

Passengers sit aboard a Delta Airlines flight on Friday, May 21.
Passengers sit aboard a Delta Airlines flight on Friday, May 21. Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Air travel hit a new high of the pandemic this weekend.   

Numbers from the Transportation Security Administration show it screened 90% of the people it screened on the equivalent day in 2019, prior to the pandemic.  

The Sunday figure of 1.86 million people screened is compared to nearly 2.1 million on the equivalent Sunday of 2019. At this point in 2020, the pandemic had driven air travel into a major hole, and the TSA reported only 267,000 screenings.  

The new number beat the previous record set one week earlier.  

With Memorial Day just one week away, planes are nearly as full as before the pandemic. The average domestic flight is carrying 98 passengers compared to an average of 99 passengers in 2019, according to data from Airlines for America. 

9:27 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

Half of US states have fully vaccinated at least 50% of adults. Here's a look at the latest figures. 

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

A member of the Maryland National Guard administers a dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on May 21, in Wheaton, Maryland. 
A member of the Maryland National Guard administers a dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on May 21, in Wheaton, Maryland.  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

At least 25 states — plus Washington, DC — have now fully vaccinated at least half of their adults, data published Sunday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

Those states are: 

  1. Alaska
  2. California
  3. Colorado
  4. Connecticut
  5. Delaware
  6. Hawaii
  7. Iowa
  8. Maine
  9. Maryland
  10. Massachusetts
  11. Michigan
  12. Minnesota
  13. Nebraska
  14. New Hampshire
  15. New Jersey
  16. New Mexico
  17. New York
  18. Oregon
  19. Pennsylvania
  20. Rhode Island
  21. South Dakota
  22. Vermont
  23. Virginia
  24. Washington state
  25. Wisconsin

The state with the highest proportion of adults who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 is Maine, with more than 62% of people 18 and older having completed their shots.

Across the US, roughly 61.3% of American adults have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose and about 49.6% are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

More than 49% of the country's total population has gotten at least one shot while more than 39% of the population is fully vaccinated, the data shows. Nationwide, over 130 million people are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The impact of vaccines is now obvious: the country is recording some of the lowest Covid-19 metrics in roughly a year, and officials say it could soon get even better than that.

Read more about where things stand in the US here.

8:18 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

First participants get shots in trial of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine booster 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

The first participants in Pfizer’s new study looking at coadministration of a third dose of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine and a pneumococcal vaccine candidate received their shots Monday, the company said in a press release.

The trial’s primary objective is to look at safety of the vaccines when they are co-administered, as well as follow up six months after vaccination.

The trial will also look at immune responses produced by each vaccine. Pneumococcal vaccines help prevent illnesses caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, such as pneumonia. 

The trial will include 600 adults over the age of 65, recruited from the company’s large Covid-19 vaccine Phase 3 trial and who received their second Covid-19 vaccine at least six months before entering this study. 

Participants will be randomized into three groups: those who receive the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine candidate 20vPnC and a third booster shot of the Covid-19 vaccine; those who receive 20vPnC and a placebo; and those who receive a Covid-19 booster shot and a placebo. 

Out of an abundance of caution, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously recommended administering Covid-19 vaccines alone. 

The agency now says Covid-19 vaccines and other vaccines can be administered without record to timing. “Although data are not available for COVID-19 vaccines administered simultaneously with other vaccines, extensive experience with non-COVID-19 vaccines has demonstrated that immunogenicity and adverse event profiles are generally similar when vaccines are administered simultaneously as when they are administered alone,” the agency now says.

Read more about Covid-19 vaccine boosters.

8:12 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

6 US states reported less than 1 Covid-19 death per day last week, Johns Hopkins data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Six US states reported an average of less than one Covid-19 death per day over the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University

The states are:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Montana
  3. North Dakota
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Vermont
  6. Wyoming

New Covid-19 case rates, however, vary widely among these states. Vermont and Hawaii reported about five new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people per day over the past week, among the lowest in the country. But Rhode Island and Wyoming both reported more than double that, among the highest in the country.

Overall, there were an average of 546 Covid-19 deaths reported per day in the United States over the past seven days, JHU data shows.

This seven-day average is one of the 30 lowest for the US since the pandemic began and one of the 10 lowest in the past year.