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
56 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:42 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

Maine to open businesses in some rural counties on Monday

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

A man walks by the Raging Bull Saloon in Augusta, Maine, on April 28.
A man walks by the Raging Bull Saloon in Augusta, Maine, on April 28. Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Maine Gov. Janet Mills announced a reopening plan for businesses in rural counties that haven't reported cases of community transmission.

There are 12 counties included in the Rural Reopening Plan: Aroostook, Piscataquis, Washington, Hancock, Somerset, Franklin, Oxford, Kennebec, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc.

"With low case counts, no evidence of community transmission, and now, expanded testing capacity, we believe it is appropriate to gradually lift some limitations on certain businesses in our rural counties with health and safety precautions to protect public health," Mills said in a tweet Friday.

On Monday, retail stores in those counties will be able to open, according to the plan.

The stores will need to use enhanced safety precautions. These include restricting the number of customers in a store at one time, implementing enhanced cleaning practices and using touch-free transactions when possible, the plan said.

Restaurants in those counties will be able to reopen on May 18 along with wilderness campsites, the plan said.

Restaurants will need to also have enhanced health and safety precautions including physically distancing customers, frequent hygiene and sanitation practices by employees, and controlling the flow of customers when possible.

Wilderness campsites will be open to Maine residents and visitors who have completed a 14 day quarantine period, the plan said.

3:01 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

University graduates are encouraged to find hope during virtual commencements today

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

Civil rights activist Henry Louis Gates Jr. gives the commencement address at American University's online ceremony on Saturday.
Civil rights activist Henry Louis Gates Jr. gives the commencement address at American University's online ceremony on Saturday. American University

In light of the ban on mass gatherings because of the coronavirus, many colleges and universities have either delayed or cancelled their graduations, while others have opted for virtual commencement ceremonies.

American University in Washington, DC, hosted an online ceremony today with civil rights activist Henry Louis Gates Jr. giving the commencement address.

Gates offered words of congratulations to the graduates and discussed the difficultly of entering the working world at a time of great uncertainty.

“Instead of experiencing joy and relief you are heading into a world which is reeling,” Gates told graduates. “You are asking both existential questions and reality based questions, what will the world look like when the next new normal begins, and more basically how on earth am I ever going to find a job.”

Gates encouraged students to “find inspiration and hope and courage in the stories of those ancestors, even when the tide seems to be rolling against us, with history as our guide we will not be turned back.”

He joked about the circumstances of graduating during a global pandemic.

“Let’s be honest. You had something else entirely in mind for the event we are commemorating today, no one could have imagined the scenario we are living through. Maybe my friend Steven King," Gates said.

American University has announced that it will hold a weekend of “special commencement ceremonies” for the Class of 2020 in mid-December.

Penn State University and the University of Connecticut also streamed online commencement ceremonies today.

The Obamas will host a virtual commencement for 74 historically black colleges and universities at "Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition," on May 16.

2:05 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

There has been more than 77,000 coronavirus deaths in the US

There has been at least 1,297,549 coronavirus cases in US, and approximately 77,744 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.

2:47 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

Spanish prime minister fails to prove existence of international coronavirus testing rankings he cited

From CNN's Scott McLean and Laura Perez Maestro in Madrid

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a speech on May 6.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a speech on May 6. J.J. Guillen/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

In a nationally-televised press conference on Saturday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was asked by CNN about the existence of a Johns Hopkins University ranking on Covid-19 testing that he had boasted about.

In a previous press conference on April 28, Sánchez said the university's rankings showed Spain was fifth in the world in testing rates. But, those international rankings appear not to exist. 

CNN informed Sánchez during Saturday’s press conference that Johns Hopkins was unable to locate such rankings and that the Health Ministry hadn't responded.

Asked if his office could point to the rankings he had referred to, Sanchez said only that “The numbers are there.” He then went on to read out the government’s latest testing data. 

When CNN first asked Sánchez about testing rates on April 28, the prime minister also cited contested Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data showing Spain was 8th in the world for testing rates.

But even before Sánchez answered the question, the OECD had issued a statement correcting its data, after acknowledging it had mistakenly included Spain’s antibody testing rates in the overall numbers, which skewed its position.

The updated OECD chart at the time showed Spain had the 17th-highest testing rate, not the 8th, for Covid-19. 

Some more context: In April, CNN followed up with Johns Hopkins University to verify the rankings, but a spokesperson said, “We weren’t able to immediately locate such a report.”

When CNN asked if Johns Hopkins was tracking testing data outside the US, the spokesperson said, “We have elaborate US testing tracking efforts, including state comparisons, right now.”

On its coronavirus website, Johns Hopkins maps Covid-19 infections and deaths around the world and appears to only be tracking testing rates in the US. In April, CNN also asked the Spanish Health Ministry to send a link or proof that the rankings existed. They did not reply.  

The Spanish prime minister and his government have been accused by opposition parties and criticized by some of the country’s leading media of manipulating Spain’s test ranking figures.

On Saturday, Sanchez said that as of May 7, Spain had completed 1,625,211 PCR tests, and 842,550 antibody tests.

“We are one of the countries doing the most testing,” he said. 

3:14 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

New Jersey reports more than 1,700 new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

The state of New Jersey is reporting at least 1,759 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the state total to approximately 137,085, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

There were 166 new deaths reported, bringing the statewide death toll to at least 9,116.

Where the state is seeing the most progress is the “declining positivity rate, that is the number of test that are coming back positive,” Murphy said.

Hospitalizations across the systems regionally are trending down and ventilator use also continues on a downward trend, Murphy said.

The governor also announced the American Red Cross will open two convalescent plasma collection sites in North Jersey on Monday. 

Approximately 100 Covid-19 patents at University Hospital, where one of the sites will be, have already been treated with convalescent plasma, Murphy said.

Long-term care facilities: Positive cases and deaths continue to grow in long-term care facilities, he added.

Murphy said the New Jersey National Guard is deploying members this weekend to several facilities to assist in mitigation efforts.

12:57 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

UK announces $2.4 billion package to encourage cycling and walking to offset coronavirus impact

From CNN’s Nada Bashir and Arnaud Siad in London

People ride bicycles in a cycle lane in the Chelsea neighborhood of London on May 9.
People ride bicycles in a cycle lane in the Chelsea neighborhood of London on May 9. Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

A $2.48 billion (£2 billion) package to encourage cycling and walking in the United Kingdom has been announced by the British government as part of efforts to promote alternative forms of travel to accommodate social distancing restrictions on public transport networks.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Saturday that cycling and walking would be “at the heart” of the UK’s transport policy in a bid to avoid overcrowding on public transport services.

“Even with public transport reverting to a full service, once you take into account the 2 metre social distancing rule, there would only be effective capacity for one in ten passengers in many parts of our network – just a tenth of the old capacity,” Shapps said. “Getting Britain moving again, while not overcrowding our transport network, is going to require many of us to think very carefully about how and when we travel."

According to the transport secretary, the government's new national cycling plan — which is to be introduced in early June — will aim to double cycling and increase walking by 2025.

"Swift emergency plans" are also to be put in place, including pop-up bike lanes, wider pavements for pedestrians and cycle and bus-only streets, Shapps added.

12:52 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

Spanish prime minister says more than 50% of the country will start to reopen

From CNN's Laura Perez-Maestro, Claudia Dominguez and Claudia Rebaza

J.J. Guillen/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
J.J. Guillen/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is confident his country is going in the right direction fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, according to remarks he made at a news conference on Saturday.

On Monday, more than 50% of the country will advance to Phase 1 in the "de-escalation process."

Sánchez said that despite the good news, the country will be still living with the virus and it is crucial for each citizen to follow all guidance given by his government.

“On Monday, let’s go out and rebuild our lives, but we need to act with caution," he said.
12:42 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

Covid-19 patients taking heartburn drug were less likely to die, new study shows

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen and Dr. Minali Nigam

Packages of famotidine tablets are seen in this photo taken on April 27 in Orlando, Florida.
Packages of famotidine tablets are seen in this photo taken on April 27 in Orlando, Florida. Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Patients who happened to be taking a common heartburn medicine while hospitalized for Covid-19 were more than twice as likely to survive the infection, according to a paper posted Friday on a pre-publication website.

It’s unclear whether the patients fared better because of the famotidine or if it’s a coincidence.

Of 1,620 hospitalized patients studied, 84 of them, or about 5%, were taking famotidine, an active ingredient in Pepcid, a popular over-the-counter heartburn treatment.

“Compared to the rest of the patients, those who received famotidine had a greater than 2-fold decreased risk of either dying or being intubated,” according to a statement by authors of the study at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Intubated refers to patients being put on a ventilator, a machine in the intensive care unit that breathes for patients who are unable to breathe on their own. 

“It is not clear why those patients who received famotidine had improved outcomes,” the authors wrote in their statement.

It could be a coincidence: The study doesn’t prove that famotidine caused the lower death rate – it’s possible that it’s just a coincidence.

“This is merely an association, and these findings should not be interpreted to mean that famotidine improves outcomes in patients hospitalized with Covid-19,” according to the authors. 

A clinical trial is currently underway to see if famotidine saves lives of coronavirus patients. In that study, some patients will receive famotidine intravenously at doses nine times higher than what someone would normally take for heartburn. Other patients will be given a placebo, or a drug that does nothing, and the researchers will then compare the death rates and other outcomes for the two groups.

“Hopefully the results from this trial will determine whether famotidine is efficacious for the treatment of Covid-19,” according to the authors of the preprint paper.

4:19 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

Some New York City health care workers to receive free vacations

From CNN’s Anna Sturla 

A Thank you sign for medical staff is seen outside of Elmhurst Hospital in New York on April 27..
A Thank you sign for medical staff is seen outside of Elmhurst Hospital in New York on April 27.. Gotham/Getty Images

Health care workers at New York City's Elmhurst Hospital will receive free vacations courtesy of American Airlines and Hyatt Hotels, according to a statement from American Airlines.

More than 4,000 doctors, nurses and assistants are eligible for three-night vacations to locations around the US and the Caribbean, according to the airline.

The donated flights "mark the largest total flight count ever provided to an organization by American," the company said.

"We’ve heard from so many of our colleagues and members who simply want to do some good and find a way to share their gratitude for some of the heroes of this pandemic in one of the hardest-hit areas of New York. We are humbled by the health care workers’ dedication to saving lives," Mark Hoplamazian, the president and CEO of Hyatt, said in the statement.