May 9 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Brett McKeehan, Angela Dewan and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 8:51 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020
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11:00 a.m. ET, May 9, 2020

FDA grants emergency use authorization for first antigen test for coronavirus

From CNN Health’s Wes Bruer

The US Food and Drug Administration has granted the first emergency use authorization for an antigen test for the coronavirus, according to a statement from the agency on Saturday.

This test can detect “the presence of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein antigen,” according to the product details outlined in a letter sent by the FDA to the manufacturer. 

Often used to check for the flu and strep, antigen tests look for pieces of a virus. That differs from most coronavirus tests, which look for the virus' genetic material and require a number of chemicals to operate, many of which are in short supply.

“These diagnostic tests quickly detect fragments of proteins found on or within the virus by testing samples collected from the nasal cavity using swabs,” according to a statement from FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn and Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

However, they note the tests are not as sensitive as PCR-type of diagnostic tests already authorized by the FDA, and there’s a higher chance of false negatives.

“One of the main advantages of an antigen test is the speed of the test, which can provide results in minutes. However, antigen tests may not detect all active infections, as they do not work the same way as a PCR test,” Hahn and Shuren said in their statement.

“Antigen tests are very specific for the virus, but are not as sensitive as molecular PCR tests. This means that positive results from antigen tests are highly accurate, but there is a higher chance of false negatives, so negative results do not rule out infection. With this in mind, negative results from an antigen test may need to be confirmed with a PCR test prior to making treatment decisions or to prevent the possible spread of the virus due to a false negative," the statement continued.

10:51 a.m. ET, May 9, 2020

Federal government ships 260 cases of remdesivir to hardest hit states

From CNN's Kevin Bohn

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Saturday it had shipped 260 cases of the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir to states hardest hit by Covid-19.

These cases are part of the previously announced donation by the drug’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, to the federal government, a HHS statement said.

The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization allowing remdesivir to be used to help treat the coronavirus.

Some context: The distribution of remdesivir has come under scrutiny since the FDA announcement which sparked a rapid rise in demand.

That has also caused frustration among some medical professionals wanting to get access to it. The White House announced Friday the coronoavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx will help manage the drug’s distribution. The process for shipment began on Thursday night, HHS said.

The locations and amounts of the newest distributions are:

  • Connecticut (30 cases)
  • Illinois (140 cases)
  • Iowa (10 cases)
  • Maryland (30 cases)
  • Michigan (40 cases)
  • New Jersey (110 cases)

Each case contains 40 vials of the drug.

HHS also announced Saturday how the distribution process will work. In its statement it said state health departments will distribute the doses to appropriate hospitals since state and local health departments have insight into various community needs to help in the response to the virus. Candidates for the donated doses must be patients on ventilators or on life support who need supplemental oxygen.

In late April, Dr. Anthony Fauci announced that a study from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID) showed remdesivir had a "clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery" from coronavirus.

The study showed patients who took remdesivir recovered faster than patients who did not

10:41 a.m. ET, May 9, 2020

How artists around the world view self-isolation during the pandemic

As the pandemic marches on, people around the world continue to live in self-isolation or under strict lockdown measures –– this includes many members of the international artist community.

In the absence of physical human connection and with movement drastically limited, many artists have had to turn inwards for inspiration.

CNN asked nine artists living in cities around the world to create an original artwork that reflects the times we are living in today.

Here are some of them:

Anthony Muisyo: Mombasa, Kenya

Anthony Muisyo
Anthony Muisyo

"This particular piece employs both dark and solemn colors as well as shades that contrast this. Over time, I have been able to better understand the role color plays in conveying emotions and in this particular case, color works to bring out the duality of a dark reality and that of a hopeful future," Muisyo said. "This has been a period of self-reflection –– to try and understand what kind of world I'd like to live in, to deeply value and treasure the already beautiful and meaningful connections I have managed to build with people I care for and finally, to always hope."

Olivié Keck: Cape Town, South Africa

Olivie Keck
Olivie Keck

"Having to adjust has been difficult. However, I have found sanctuary in the act of making. The escapism of creating helps stabilize and relax me because the action is so moment to moment," Keck said.

Elen Winata: Singapore

"In Singapore, life is temporarily on hold to contain the spread of the virus. Businesses are closed, roads are empty and the hustle and bustle of city life is no more. However, the community feels more connected than ever with everyone looking out for each other," Winata said.

See more of what the artists created.

11:40 a.m. ET, May 9, 2020

An in-person Democratic National Convention could be possible, Pelosi says

From CNN’s Manu Raju

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

During an appearance on C-SPAN Friday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a suggestion on how Democrats could still hold an in-person Democratic National Convention this Summer.

“My suggestion to Mr. Perez was get a gigantic stadium and put people six feet apart. So maybe you, instead of having 80,000 people there you would have 16,000 people there and just do it all in one day," she said.

"Have your platform and then nominate your vice president, nominate your President and have your speeches and everyone goes home.” Pelosi added. “The problem though is the logistics. You have to have many more buses to get people there. That was my suggestion to him with absolutely no support for how it could be done.”

On Trump: Pivoting away from the convention, Pelosi also dismissed the President’s attack that suggested the House is on vacation.

She reiterated to C-SPAN’s Steve Scully that the upcoming stimulus will be “big” and didn't rule out that it could be more than $2 trillion.

10:34 a.m. ET, May 9, 2020

FDA chief will self-quarantine for 2 weeks

From CNN's Maggie Fox, Jim Acosta and Veronica Stracqualursi

JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Stephen Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, will self-quarantine for 14 days after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive for coronavirus, an FDA spokesperson told CNN.

"As Dr. Hahn wrote in a note to staff today, he recently came into contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Per (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, he is now in self-quarantine for the next two weeks. He immediately took a diagnostic test and tested negative for the virus," FDA spokesperson Michael Felberbaum said in a statement on Friday.

While the FDA did not name the person with whom Hahn came into contact, President Trump earlier Friday had revealed that Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, had tested positive for Covid-19.

Hahn is a member of the White House coronavirus task force, which held its most recent meeting on Thursday. 

An official familiar with the situation inside the White House coronavirus task force told CNN it's unclear whether some on the panel will go into quarantine and that more will be known about next steps on Saturday.

10:04 a.m. ET, May 9, 2020

US Army working to develop wearable sensors to detect coronavirus symptoms

From CNN's Barbara Starr

The US Army is asking technology companies to develop wearable sensors to detect early symptoms of coronavirus.

This week they invited initial proposals for a $25 million contract to develop a device that uses existing technology as much as possible.

"There is a dire and urgent need for development of rapid, accurate wearable diagnostics to identify and isolate pre-symptomatic Covid-19 cases and track/prevent the spread of the virus," the Army said in an initial solicitation that was issued through a medical consortium.

Where ever the sensor is worn on the body, possibly on the wrist like a watch or on a shirt or belt, the aim is it will provide indicators of a fever, respiratory difficulties, "molecular biomarkers" of exposure to the virus and even the presence of antibodies against it.

If symptoms are detected then the service member can be fully tested, isolated and receive medical attention if necessary.

Some context: This is all part of a broader military effort to contribute to efforts to battle the virus on everything from vaccine research to sewing face coverings. Many of the initiatives are similar to what is happening in civilian society, but there are efforts to adapt emerging battlefield technology to take on the pandemic.

An Army team based at Fort Benning, Georgia, in charge of ensuring advanced warfighting capabilities for soldiers in close combat has adapted goggles used in battle to take the temperature of 300 troops in 25 minutes.

The concept is important for high traffic areas such as public transportation, airports and buildings -- as well as for the safe movement of large numbers of military personnel, especially new recruits who may need to be screened and tested multiple times.

10:52 a.m. ET, May 9, 2020

2 Florida high schools will have a drive-through graduation at Daytona International Speedway

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Students from two Florida high schools are going to have a graduation ceremony like no other.

Chip Wile, the president of the Daytona International Speedway, is planning a drive-through commencement to honor graduating seniors at the local high school.

"Knowing that these seniors are not going to get the opportunity that we all had when we graduated high school to walk across that stage, what better way to do it than at the Daytona International Speedway," Wile told CNN on Saturday.

Wile said the students and their families will be in their own cars and drive across the finish line when their name is called over the speakers in the stadium where they will be handed a diploma through the window.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," he said.

The ceremony will be broadcast on the speedway's low frequency AM radio so the graduates can hear it in their cars, Wile said.

"Then they'll then make an entire lap around the speedway – at slow speeds – and then they'll park at pit end, right where the cars end at pit road, and we'll actually do a hat toss," Wile said.

"So really trying to find all of the different elements that happen at graduation, and be able to incorporate them into the event," he added.

Hunter Perez, a senior at Matanzas High School who will be participating in the graduation ceremony at the speedway, said it is going to be an event he never forgets.

"I think I most look forward to getting that picture at the speedway. Something that I'll be able to show others. And always have something to remember," he told CNN.

8:39 a.m. ET, May 9, 2020

Today is Saturday. Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic.

From CNN's Elise Hammond

A woman sits during a hair-styling appointment in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 8.
A woman sits during a hair-styling appointment in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 8. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It's almost 9:00 a.m. ET in the US. Here what you need to start your day:

  • Triple drug therapy: A combination of three antiviral drugs, plus an immune system booster, seems to help patients recover more quickly from coronavirus infections, doctors in Hong Kong announced yesterday. They say the approach needs more testing but could be another possible treatment.
  • The first at-home Covid-19 test: The US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency-use authorization for the first at-home Covid-19 test that uses saliva samples, the agency said yesterday. People can collect their saliva at home and send samples to a lab for results. The test remains prescription only.
  • Americans split about states reopening: Protesters have been taking to the streets for days, demanding individual states allow businesses to reopen. But as nearly all of them started lifting restrictions this week, the issue remains polarizing. Two-thirds of Americans say they are concerned about their states rushing to reopen, while nearly a third state restrictions are not being lifted quickly enough, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
  • Positive tests in the White House: One of Trump's personal aides, Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary and Ivanka Trump's (remote) personal assistant have all tested positive for the virus in the past few days.
  • The state of the economy: The US economy lost a record 20.5 million jobs in April, the worst monthly plunge since records began more than 80 years ago, according to a new report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
7:13 a.m. ET, May 9, 2020

Thousands gather for military parade in Belarusian capital, as leader brushes off coronavirus concerns

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Thousands of people gathered in Minsk on Saturday to attend a Victory Day military parade, despite increasing numbers of coronavirus cases in Belarus.

Unlike other former Soviet states, Belarus did not cancel mass events to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe and has not imposed strict self-isolation rules.

Belarusian servicemen march for the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, as a crowd watches on with no social distancing measures in place.
Belarusian servicemen march for the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, as a crowd watches on with no social distancing measures in place. Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images

Belarus has been criticized for inaction, continuing to hold football matches in the initial weeks of its outbreak, as other countries around the world stopped spectator sports and brought their economies to a halt.

For Victory Day celebrations. Minsk has set up seating up to 11,000 people, and 3,000 servicemen are also taking part in the parade, according to state-run Belarusian news agency Belta. Few people were seen wearing masks on the live-feed from the parade, aired by Belarusian TV stations. 

President Alexander Lukashenko’s decision to hold the parade amid the pandemic was met with criticism both abroad and at home, with over 13,000 people signing a petition to cancel the parade and use the funds to buy ventilators for hospitals. 

Belarus' servicewomen take part in a military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, in Minsk on Saturday
Belarus' servicewomen take part in a military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, in Minsk on Saturday Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images

Lukashenko, who has publicly dismissed other countries’ coronavirus measures as “psychosis” and declared “it’s better to die standing than to live on your knees," addressed the criticism during the ceremony on Saturday. 

“In this crazy, disoriented world there will be people who will criticize us for timing and the location of this sacred event,” Lukashenko said. "And to them I say, like human to human, do not jump into conclusions and, moreover, do not rush to judge us, the descendants of victory.”

"We just couldn't have done it differently, we had no other choice, and even if we had, we would have done the same thing,” Lukashenko added.

Images of the celebrations showed a large number of spectators seated close together with very few wearing face masks, as servicemen and woman marched together in groups.

As of Saturday, Belarus, a country of 9.5 million, has officially reported 21,101 cases of coronavirus and more than 120 deaths, Johns Hopkins University figures show.