May 13 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 9:26 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020
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9:37 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Smokers, former smokers at nearly the double the risk of severe Covid-19, study finds

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Smokers have a greater risk of developing severe cases of Covid-19 and dying from the illness, according to a new study.
Smokers have a greater risk of developing severe cases of Covid-19 and dying from the illness, according to a new study. Shutterstock

Smokers and former smokers, including e-cigarette users, have a significantly greater risk of developing severe cases of Covid-19 and dying from the illness than their non-smoking counterparts, according to a new study from the University of California, San Francisco. 

“Smoking is associated with substantially higher risk of COVID-19 progression,” Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, said in a statement.

The meta-analysis, or study of studies, looked at 19 peer-reviewed papers from China, South Korea and the United States. It found 30% of smokers developed more severe forms of Covid-19 compared to 17.6% of non-smokers.

“The meta-analysis showed an association between smoking and COVID-19 progression,” Glantz and colleagues wrote in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

“Smoking and e-cigarette use increase the risk and severity of pulmonary infections because of damage to upper airways and a decrease in pulmonary immune function in general, although these effects have not yet been studied for SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” they wrote. “Smokers have a known higher risk of infection and mortality from MERS-COV, a viral respiratory illness caused by a different coronavirus.”

The analysis likely underestimated how smoking affects the risk of contracting the coronavirus in the general population, the authors said, because the studies the analysis is based on were only focused on those who had already developed Covid-19.

But the authors urged health officials to add smoking cessation for both tobacco and e-cigarette products to the list of steps needed to curb the pandemic, and are advocating for more data collection on smokers and e-cigarette users to see if they’re at greater risk of contracting the disease.

9:20 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Slack back online after earlier confirming connectivity issues

From CNN’s Brian Fung

Workplace communication tool Slack is back online after being down for a short period of time this morning.

The outage was tough timing for the platform as workers have increasingly come to depend on the service for telework during the coronavirus pandemic.

Slack said Tuesday evening that it was investigating connectivity issues with the productivity app, following reports of outages on the service. 

The company acknowledged that users were experiencing failures in sending messages, in a status update on its website.

Slack has more than 12 million daily active users, according to the company's website.

10:33 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Key coronavirus model projects 147,000 US deaths by August -- 10,000 more than previous estimate

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

A key coronavirus model often cited by the White House has again raised its coronavirus death projection, now predicting 147,000 deaths in the US by August 4.

That’s an increase of about 10,000 deaths compared to the model’s estimate from this weekend, which was already higher than earlier projections. 

On Sunday, Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, tied the earlier increase to “explosive increases in mobility in a number of states.”

Compared to Sunday, the model now projects about 2,450 additional deaths in New York, 2,000 additional deaths in Massachusetts and 1,700 additional deaths in Pennsylvania. Other states saw sizable increases as well. North Carolina, for example, is now expected to see about 3,200 more deaths, and Maryland about 1,200 more.

Some states saw decreases in projected deaths, however, including Georgia, which is now expected to see 1,500 fewer deaths. The model’s projection for Indiana has also gone down by 1,600 deaths.

On its website, IHME said exact reasons for the changes vary by state. But the institute pointed to “epidemiological indicators and key drivers of viral transmission,” like changes in testing and mobility. 

IHME also pointed to the easing of social distancing policies, but said “the full potential effects of recent actions to ease social distancing policies, especially if robust containment measures have yet to be fully scaled up, may not be fully known for a few weeks due to the time periods between viral exposure, possible infection, and full disease progression.”


9:15 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Russia reports world's second highest number of coronavirus cases

Russia is reporting the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, after the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally. 

The country has officially recorded at least 232,243 confirmed cases and at least 2,116 deaths from the virus, according to JHU. 

Tuesday was the 10th consecutive day that Russia reported more than 10,000 new cases.

CNN is tracking worldwide coronavirus cases here:

8:54 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Iceland expects to ease restrictions on international travelers "no later than June 15"

From CNN’s Mia Alberti

Iceland expects to start lifting restrictions on international arrivals to the country "no later than June 15," the government said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Travelers will likely have to choose between being tested for Covid-19 or a two-week quarantine upon arrival. All arrivals will also be required to use the official tracing app during their stay.

"Iceland's strategy of large-scale testing, tracing and isolating have proven effective so far. We want to build on that experience of creating a safe place for those who want a change of scenery after what has been a tough spring for all of us," the Minister of Tourism, Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, said in a statement.

The government also announced that some professionals arriving in Iceland from May 15, including essential workers, "scientists, filmmakers, and athletes will be eligible for a modified quarantine." This means companies can request an exemption from quarantine if they can guarantee safety procedures in their work environment.

"These measures do not preclude the option of bilaterally opening borders between coronavirus-free countries," the government added. 

Since January, Iceland residents arriving from "high-risk" areas have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. The rule was extended to all travelers on April 24, as Iceland kept its Schengen borders open throughout the pandemic.

So far, Iceland has only seen three confirmed infections of Covid-19 in May, according to the statement. 

8:51 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Canada looking at "stronger measures" for US border as states reopen, prime minister says

From CNN’s Paula Newton

People wait in line at a mobile Covid-19 testing clinic on May 12, in Montreal.
People wait in line at a mobile Covid-19 testing clinic on May 12, in Montreal. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press/AP

Canada is looking to strengthen surveillance at US border crossings as discussions continue between the two countries about when and how to reopen the border to nonessential travel. 

“We are looking at stronger measures to make sure that we’re following up appropriately on people who come over,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a news conference in Ottawa Tuesday.

The Canadian government is looking at administering questionnaires, contact tracing apps, temperature and medical history checks.

“We’re going to be very, very careful about reopening any international travel, including the United States before we feel that it is time,” Trudeau said.

Some background: Canada and the US agreed to close the border to nonessential travel in March and the current agreement, already extended, expires May 21. There is still no decision on whether the border agreement will remain in place beyond that date. 

Canadian premiers and mayors across the country have expressed concern about fully reopening the border as the US continues to deal with Covid outbreaks and significant community spread. 

“Preventing transmission from outside of Canada into Canada, once we have controlled the spread within Canada, will be an essential part of ensuring that we don’t fall back into a second wave that could be as serious as this wave we’re going through, or even more so,” Trudeau said.
8:48 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Small rise in cases reported for a second day in Italy's worst-hit region

From CNN’s Mia Alberti and Livia Borghese

People stroll along the Navigli canals in Milan on May 8.
People stroll along the Navigli canals in Milan on May 8. Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

The worst-hit Italian region of Lombardy has reported a small increase in the number of Covid-19 cases for the second day in a row.

This comes after a few days where active case numbers were decreasing, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency.

On Tuesday, active cases in the region increased by 264, making a total of 30,675. However, Lombardy officials said the increase in cases could be explained by additional data that was collected over the past few days.

Across Italy, at least 30,911 people have died from Covid-19, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency on Tuesday. That is an increase of 172 since the day before and a variation in line with previous days.

The total number of cases recorded in Italy, including deaths and recoveries, is now at least 221,216.

8:43 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

France edges toward 27,000 coronavirus deaths

From CNN's Eva Tapiero in Paris

The French death toll from coronavirus is now at least 26,994, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

At least 21,595 people remain in hospital, the country's health ministry said.

France has recorded at least 178,349 confirmed cases of Covid-19.