May 15 coronavirus news

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1:00 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

This is what international air travel looks like in the age of Covid-19

With international travel restrictions, health checks, government measures and more, air travel looks very different in the age of Covid-19.

CNN International Correspondent Will Ripley took a flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong this week. A journey that typically takes about five hours instead became a days-long exercise.

"This is one of three flights per week, they tell me, and it's flying with 109 passengers. The capacity is well over 400, so about a fourth of the capacity," said Ripley, once he got on the plane.

"It's easy to see why airlines are struggling so much right now. How do you sustain an airline, keep an airport open, when so few people are traveling?"

Ripley arrived in Hong Kong, where he received an electronic bracelet that will track his movements during the next 14 days to make sure he follows the mandatory quarantine (which everyone arriving at the airport must do, even if they test negative for Covid-19).

He and all other passengers were required to get tested -- but because it was late in the evening, the results wouldn't come in until the next day. So they were all taken to government-provided accommodation at a hotel and provided with a free meal.

Finally, 20 hours after he started his trip back to Hong Kong, Ripley got the news -- he tested negative. Now, it's time to go home, where he will stay quarantined for the next two weeks. He will have to monitor his health, and fill out a government-supplied daily log of his temperature and any potential symptoms.

12:43 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Trump's betting his 2016 instincts will get him through the pandemic -- and win him a second term

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

US President Donald Trump speaks in Allentown, Pennsylvania on May 14.
US President Donald Trump speaks in Allentown, Pennsylvania on May 14. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

With his crusade to open America, US President Donald Trump is betting for the second election in a row that he's got a better feel for the mood of the country than his opponents.

Trump's calculation to reject science and push to swiftly crank up an economy with the nation still ravaged by Covid-19 could kill many more than the 85,000 Americans who have already died.

That seems a price Trump is willing to pay as he appeals directly to the many millions of Americans who are also victims of the pandemic, but who have paid with their jobs, not their lives. That's a message that could resonate.

Tapping into economic pain: In states where the virus has not caused massive death tolls, it can seem remote. But economic blight is everywhere and may brew a political storm that could punish Democrats if Trump can paint them as stubborn enemies of a return to work or responsible for furloughs turning into long-term job losses.

In 2016, Trump confounded the political class by seizing on the "forgotten Americans" who had seen their jobs in industrial heartlands disappear to low-wage economies in Asia and were contemptuous of the promises of what they saw as politically correct, "globalist" politicians in both parties.

A familiar message: Four years later, the President, whose refusal to wear a face mask sends a message of defiance and outsider authenticity to his supporters, is again choosing a path that ignores the warnings of experts.

Trump has acknowledged that lives will be lost but says there is no alternative to reviving the economy on which so many lives rest -- and on which his reelection depends.

Read the full analysis:

12:30 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Life after lockdown in Vietnam: This is what it's like when an entire country reopens

From CNN's Katie Lockhart

As the faint smell of smoke rose up from the sidewalk and into my bedroom, I jumped up and stepped out onto the balcony to survey the Hanoi streets.

The owner of my building was burning joss paper (fake money) as an offering of good fortune to their ancestors.

After a week with no new Covid-19 cases, Vietnam's government had just eased its 22-day social distancing initiative, allowing some businesses to reopen on April 23.

What reopening looks like: Signs of life had already begun to emerge the day before. Honking from the streets grew louder as more people rode around on their motorbikes, while local shopkeepers swept the sidewalk in front of their store -- all good signs the city was poised to reopen as planned.

And now, domestic tourism is resuming too, as airlines increase flight schedules and hotels reopen throughout the country.

But this wasn't just luck -- the government took action. With just 288 cases and zero deaths, this Southeast Asian country acted faster than most nations, shutting its borders with China in late January and suspending visas to prevent foreigners from entering the country.

In comparison, Malaysia has recorded close to 7,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, Thailand has reported just over 3,000 infections and Singapore has seen more than 26,000.

Read the full story:

3:19 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Japan reports nearly 100 new cases, as most of the country rebounds from state of emergency

A man wearing a face mask walks in the grounds of Osaka Castle on May 14, in Osaka, Japan.
A man wearing a face mask walks in the grounds of Osaka Castle on May 14, in Osaka, Japan. Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan recorded 99 new cases of the coronavirus and 23 related deaths on Thursday, as the government lifted the state of emergency across most of the country.

That raise the national total to 16,905 cases and 723 deaths. Of those, 712 cases and 13 deaths were from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked at Yokohama Bay under quarantine for two weeks in February.

Yesterday, Japan lifted its state of emergency for 39 of the country's 47 prefectures. It had been in place nationwide since April 16.

Tokyo, Osaka, and several other hard-hit prefectures will stay under the state of emergency, and the government will reassess the situation on May 21.

The nationwide state of emergency was set to continue through May 31, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday he could end the order before its expiration date because he felt confident in the country's containment efforts.

"Compared to other G7 nations, we could contain the infection cases and death per capita overwhelmingly,” Abe said.

This post was updated to show the new cases were recorded on Thursday.

12:24 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Korean Air makes face masks mandatory on domestic flights

From CNN's Jake Kwon in Seoul

A flight crew from Korean Air, many wearing protective masks, depart the international terminal after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport on February 28, in Los Angeles.
A flight crew from Korean Air, many wearing protective masks, depart the international terminal after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport on February 28, in Los Angeles. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Korean Air will require passengers to wear face masks on domestic flights starting next Monday, according to a company bulletin released on Friday.

The measure is in accordance with a recommendation from South Korea's Central Disaster Response Headquarters, the company said. 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also recommends that passengers and crew wear masks and other foreign airlines are taking the same measures, the bulletin said.

The airline's new rule mandates that passengers on domestic flights must wear masks or appropriate face coverings before boarding as well, including at the check-in counter and the waiting area by the gates. 

Children under two years of age, people who cannot remove the mask without aid, and those who have difficulty breathing with a mask are exempt.

The company said plans are underway to expand the same measure to international flights after a review.

11:52 p.m. ET, May 14, 2020

US reports more than 27,000 new cases

A woman wears a mask while walking with her dog past the Walt Disney Concert Hall on May 14, in Los Angeles.
A woman wears a mask while walking with her dog past the Walt Disney Concert Hall on May 14, in Los Angeles. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

The United States reported 27,367 new cases of the coronavirus and 1,779 deaths on Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

New York remains the hardest hit state, with 343,051 total cases and 27,641 deaths. New Jersey, Illinois, and Massachusetts follow, in that order.

Thursday's numbers bring the nationwide total to at least 1,417,774 cases and 85,898 related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.   

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

CNN is tracking US coronavirus cases here:

11:40 p.m. ET, May 14, 2020

Hawaii discourages tourists from visiting through at least the end of June

From CNN’s Andy Rose

A plane takes off over the international airport in Honolulu on April 21.
A plane takes off over the international airport in Honolulu on April 21. Caleb Jones/AP

If you were hoping for an early summer vacation in Hawaii this year, the state’s governor hopes you think again.

“Certainly we will be extending the 14-day mandatory quarantine for all travel into the state until the end of June,” said Gov. David Ige during an online question-and-answer session.

The quarantine rule was established in mid-March, and Ige said at the time that tourists should cancel their travel for at least 30 days.

The state has cracked down on visitors who fail to abide by the quarantine, in some cases telling them to leave the islands entirely. 

Arrested for violating quarantine: Earlier this month, Hawaiian police arrested a California couple on their honeymoon after they ignored warnings to stay inside their hotel room.

In late April, a Florida man and Illinois woman were also arrested by Honolulu police after breaking quarantine. Hotel staff notified authorities after seeing the couple return to their room with shopping bags and takeout food, according to state health officials.

"Our initial goal is to educate people," Lt. Audra Sellers of the Maui Police Department said. "Our efforts are meant to keep people safe and stop them from spreading the virus."

11:27 p.m. ET, May 14, 2020

Another 17 cases linked to South Korea nightclub cluster

From CNN's Jake Kwon in Seoul

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a night club, now closed following a visit by a confirmed Covid-19 patient, in the popular nightlife district of Itaewon in Seoul on May 10.
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a night club, now closed following a visit by a confirmed Covid-19 patient, in the popular nightlife district of Itaewon in Seoul on May 10. Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

South Korea has identified 17 more coronavirus patients linked to a nightclub cluster in Seoul, Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said today.

Last weekend, authorities in the capital shut down all nightclubs and bars after a spike in cases was connected to the clubbing district Itaewon.

There are now a total of 148 cases in the nightclub cluster.

Authorities raced to track down people who may have been in the area during the incubation period, using cell phone data and credit card records. They have tested tens of thousands of people in the past week alone.

The country has now recorded 11,018 coronavirus cases and 260 deaths, according to Kim and data from Johns Hopkins University.

Church alert: Authorities feared the outbreak of another possible cluster in the city of Incheon, where two infected people attended church services along with 1,000 others.

However, a fresh crisis appears to have been avoided -- except for five people whose results are pending, all members of the congregation have tested negative.

Kim said it was likely because 300 of the 1,000 church attendees had been watching the service online, and the remaining 700 people who physically attended had worn masks and gloves and sat apart from each other.

"We can effectively stop secondary and tertiary mass infections through distancing,” Kim said.
11:13 p.m. ET, May 14, 2020

Prestigious medical journal blasts Trump over meddling with the CDC and ignoring warnings

From CNN's John Bonifield

One of the world's most prestigious medical journals, the Lancet, tacitly called for new presidential leadership in the United States in an editorial published on Thursday.

"Americans must put a president in the White House come January, 2021, who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics," the authors wrote.

They strongly condemned actions by the Trump administration that they say "chipped away" at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's capacity to combat Covid-19.

"The (CDC), the flagship agency for the nation's public health, has seen its role minimised and become an ineffective and nominal adviser in the response to contain the spread of the virus," the authors said.

They criticized the Trump administration for leaving "an intelligence vacuum" in China by cutting back CDC staff in the country just as Covid-19 began to emerge, and pointed to an instance where a prominent CDC doctor was sidelined from news briefings after warning the US to prepare for major disruptions due to the virus. 

They also accused the Trump administration of "punishing the agency by marginalising and hobbling it" after it failed to produce high-quality diagnostic tests early in the outbreak.

"This requires an effective national public health agency," the authors said.