May 7 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Updated 10:35 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020
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9:28 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

"We don't have a unified approach," public health journalist says

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Laurie Garrett.
Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Laurie Garrett. CNN

Laurie Garrett, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who has written about public health for years, said that the global community needs to do a better job in unifying its response to the Covid-19 pandemic in order to get it under control.

"The real problem at the moment is we have very fragmented responses all over the world," Garrett, the author of "The Coming Plague," said during CNN's global town hall.

"Every country is doing its own thing. Within countries, every state or province is doing its own thing. Every county is doing its own thing. We don't have a unified approach," she said.

The vaccine race: Garrett said that some countries are simply racing to find a vaccine in an effort to "buy themselves time and solve their own local problems."

"The virus will continue to circulate in the world regardless of whether or not there's a vaccine, unless we're committed to a strategic goal of really getting rid of the virus from the planet with appropriate implementation of a vaccine for everybody, 7.5 billion human beings."

9:01 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Here are your questions, answered by health experts

Dr. Leana Wen.
Dr. Leana Wen. CNN

Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore health commissioner, joined CNN's ongoing town hall to talk about the novel coronavirus pandemic and answer some viewers' questions.

What can I do to reduce my own risk? States are reopening but the risk hasn't changed, Wen said. This means people should still follow the official guidance: Wash your hands often, stay home, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings -- and work remotely if it's an option. Wear a mask, and try to avoid public transportation.

Is swimming at a lake safer than in a pool? It's not really about what kind of water you're swimming in -- it's your proximity with other people, said Wen.

"If there are other people around you and they can breathe on you or cough on you and there are surfaces that you could be touching, then you could get coronavirus that way," she said.

Should I wear gloves to the grocery store? The key thing is to avoid touching your face, with or without gloves on, Wen said. If you wash your hands often, be mindful of the things you touch, and avoid touching your face. You don't necessarily need to wear gloves out, she said.

I live near a Tyson Foods plant. If an infected worker there is processing meat, can that meat become tainted and pass Covid-19 onto me? No. This is a respiratory virus, said CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

"So really the way you're going to become infected is if someone is putting the virus out in the air around you and you get exposed that way or touch a surface. You don't eat this virus and get it that way," he said.
9:00 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

A 29-year-old volunteer explains why he's taking part in vaccine trials

Vaccine volunteer Ian Haydon.
Vaccine volunteer Ian Haydon. CNN

Ian Haydon, a 29-year-old living in the Seattle area, joined CNN's global town hall to explain what motivated him to participate in a vaccine trial for the virus.

Haydon said he was one of 45 healthy people selected to participate in the phase 1 trial after thousands volunteered.

He said he was just trying to do his part to stop the virus' spread.

"My motivation for wanting to participate in this trial is pretty simple: this is one way that I can help out, and I'm very fortunate to be in good health. If stepping up can speed up a vaccine, that seems like the right thing to do," he said.
"The weight of the world is on these vaccines right now. No one knows if this is going to be the one. But I think the people involved in the study clearly know they’re involved with something historical here."


8:38 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Coronavirus testing in the US should surpass 8 million this week, Birx says

Dr. Deborah Birx, a White House coronavirus task force official, hopes that the United States will have conducted more than 8 million tests for the virus before the end of the week.

Birx shared this insight on Thursday night during CNN's coronavirus town hall.

"I think I've been very encouraged about two parts of the testing. One, the dramatic increase and the number of tests we're doing per week. We hope this week to get closer, over 8 million. We're going up. We're about 2.5% of all Americans having been tested. That is increasing by half a percent every week so we can get close to other countries and their 3%," Birx said.
8:37 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Why isn't the White House using CDC guidelines on reopening US economy?

Dr. Deborah Birx.
Dr. Deborah Birx. CNN

Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said on CNN's global town hall that the Trump administration was still in the editing process regarding a draft recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to reopen the United States after the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're working with the CDC on a whole series of products," she said. "Those are still being worked on. No one has stopped those guidelines. We're still in editing."

A senior CDC official told CNN Thursday that the Trump administration would not implement the 17-page recommendation.

"We are used to dealing with a White House that asks for things and then chaos ensues. A team of people at the CDC spent innumerable hours in response to an ask from Debbie Birx," the official said.

Birx said that the decision was made not to implement the recommendation because the editing process had not been completed.

"It was more about simplification to make sure to make sure that American people as well as public health officials understand the guidelines," she said.

Birx said that they were also devoting special attention to "surveillance for asymptomatic individuals."

"That was a very new element that we really felt very strongly had to be included because of the ever-increasing evidence of asymptomatic spread," she said.


8:26 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Coronavirus could kill up to 190,000 in Africa, WHO warns

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa. Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone/AP/FILE

The novel coronavirus could kill as many as 190,000 people in Africa during the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail, the World Health Organization warned on Thursday.

“While Covid-19 likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder in transmission hotspots,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, said in a statement.
“Covid-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region. We need to test, trace, isolate and treat.” 

The WHO predicted that between 29 million to 44 million Africans could be infected in the first year. As many as 5.5 million of these people could require hospital treatment, a number that would overwhelm the medical capacity of most places on the continent.

A survey done in March of health services in Africa found an average of nine intensive care unit beds per 1 million people in 47 African countries.

“These would be woefully inadequate,” the WHO said.

8:18 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Are things getting better or worse in the US?

A total of 44 US states are expected to partially reopen by Sunday -- nearly the entire country.

But the coronavirus crisis isn't getting better everywhere. There are signs of improvement in 16 states -- but the situation is deteriorating in many more ...

Things are getting better in states like Montana, New York, and Colorado. In these places, some schools are starting to reopen as new daily cases plateau or drop.

But things are getting worse in places like Minnesota and Puerto Rico, where cases were up 50% between last week and the week before. States like Texas and Washington aren't as hard hit, but cases are still increasing by 10% to 50% week-on-week. Only a few states -- like California and Florida -- are holding steady.

Take a look:

8:05 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

CNN's global town hall on coronavirus will start soon

CNN's Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
CNN's Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. CNN

Former Vice President Al Gore and director Spike Lee will join CNN's global town hall tonight.

The town hall starts at 8 p.m. ET.

How to watch: The town hall will air on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español. It will stream live on's homepage and across mobile devices via CNN's apps, without requiring a cable log-in. You can also watch on CNNgo, and subscribers to cable/satellite systems can watch it on-demand.

We'll also be covering it with live updates here.

6:55 p.m. ET, May 7, 2020

Dalai Lama to hold public spiritual teaching sessions online

From Tenzin Dharpo in Dharamsala and CNN's Sugam Pokharel in Atlanta

The Dalai Lama will hold his first spiritual teaching in mid-May after suspending it in February due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dalai Lama's office announced on Wednesday that the Tibetan leader will hold public teaching on May 16 and 17, but via live webcast.

“At the request of individuals and groups from around the world, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has graciously consented to give a two-day teaching," according to the announcement.

The Dalai Lama canceled all his public engagements “until further notice” on February 12 after his personal physician and others advised him to due to the coronavirus outbreak. He has not made any public appearances since late January.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader in a statement on Sunday called for a “coordinated, global response” to fight the pandemic, and urged people to focus on "what unites us as members of one human family."