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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3:26 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

Details released about the 3 New Yorkers who died from an illness possibly related to coronavirus

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

The three young New Yorkers who died from an illness that may be related to Covid-19 include a teenager in Suffolk County, as well as a 7-year-old in Westchester County and a 5-year-old in New York City, according to the governor’s office.

Details of the children who passed away were reported in a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office following his news conference Saturday.

Some background: Cuomo said at the briefing that these children had symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic-shock like syndrome, more generally, inflammation that ultimately causes heart problems.

"These are children who come in who don't present the symptoms that we normally are familiar with with Covid. It's not a respiratory illness," he said. 

Cuomo said the Centers for Disease Control asked New York to develop national criteria for other states and hospital systems with similar patients.


3:09 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

France’s National Assembly extends state of emergency until July 10

From CNN’s Barbara Wojazer

French MPs vote on an amendment during a debate on the extension of the nationwide state of emergency at the National Assembly in Paris on May 8.
French MPs vote on an amendment during a debate on the extension of the nationwide state of emergency at the National Assembly in Paris on May 8. Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

France’s National Assembly voted today to extend the nationwide state of emergency until July 10.

Why this is important: The state of emergency provides the government with the legal framework to take uncommon measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, including restrictions on travel and enforcing social distancing measures.

Some lawmakers in both the Senate and the National Assembly voiced concerns regarding the implications of the law for individual freedoms.

Given these concerns, President Emmanuel Macron will refer the law to the Constitutional Council, a body that will examine if it is in accordance with France’s Constitution, an Elysee spokesperson told CNN on Saturday.

3:13 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

Arkansas reports 237 new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Hollie Silverman 

There were 237 new coronavirus cases reported Saturday in Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during an afternoon news conference.

Of the new cases, 173 were identified at the Forrest City Federal Correctional Institution. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is performing testing of inmates and staff at that facility, Hutchinson said.

A total of 301 inmates and 13 staff members at Forrest City have been diagnosed with the virus so far, according to Hutchinson. 

The new cases in the correctional facility are not from the last 24 hours but are from the last few days of testing and are now showing up in the state count, Health Secretary Nate Smith said during the news conference.

Arkansas now has a total of 3,984 cases and 90 deaths statewide, Hutchinson said.

4:23 p.m. ET, May 9, 2020

Catch up on the latest pandemic news

From CNN's Elise Hammond

It's 2:30 p.m. ET in the US. Get caught up on the latest coronavirus headlines.

  • Heartburn medicine: Patients who happened to be taking a common heartburn medicine, famotidine, 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. There is research being conducted to determine if this is because of the drug or if it’s a coincidence.
  • Social distancing in the UK: The United Kingdom announced a $2.48 billion package to encourage citizen to ride their bike or walk more. This is part of the effort to promote alternative forms of travel to accommodate social distancing restrictions on public transport networks.
  • A much deserved break: 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.
  • Graduation ceremonies: In light of the ban on mass gatherings because of the coronavirus, many colleges are having virtual commencement ceremonies today. In Florida, two high schools will have a drive-through commencement at the Daytona International Speedway, the president of the track announced today.
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.