May 16 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Brett McKeehan and Tara John, CNN

Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT) May 18, 2020
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12:23 p.m. ET, May 16, 2020

Pence to travel for first time since press secretary tested positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

After spending the past week in Washington largely out of sight, Vice President Mike Pence will hit the road next week, traveling to Florida.

This will be the vice president’s first trip outside of Washington since his press secretary Katie Miller tested positive for coronavirus on May 8. 

Pence will travel to Orlando on Wednesday where he will meet with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to discuss Florida’s phased economic reopening.

He will also deliver personal protective equipment to a nursing home and hold a roundtable with hospitality and tourism industry leaders to discuss their plans for reopening, according to a news release from the vice president's office.

12:18 p.m. ET, May 16, 2020

Catch up on the top coronavirus headlines you might have missed

From CNN's Elise Hammond

It's just after 12:00 p.m. in New York. Here are some of the top coronavirus headlines you might have missed.

  • WHO funding: President Trump tweeted this morning that he has not made a final decision on the restoration of funding to the World Health Organization. This comes after Fox obtained a draft letter to a WHO official that says the administration will "agree to pay up to what China pays in assessed contributions" to the WHO.
  • Dogs may be able to sniff out Covid: Trials for specially-trained sniffer dogs that may be able to detect coronavirus in humans, even before symptoms appear, are set to begin in London. Respiratory diseases are known to change body odor, according to the researchers, who hope dogs can detect the virus as they have been able to do with malaria.
  • Testing: The FDA has authorized “an at-home sample collection kit that can then be sent to specific laboratories for Covid-19 diagnostic testing.”
  • New York: Horse racing tracks can open without fans starting June 1, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced. The state reported 157 new deaths in the last 24 hours.
  • Jobs: Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said on Fox News that many American jobs are "not lost yet." This comes after almost 3 million Americans filed for unemployment this past week.
12:04 p.m. ET, May 16, 2020

Labor secretary claims many jobs are "not lost yet"

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia on April 9
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia on April 9 Oliver Contreras/SIPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said on Fox News this morning that he takes issue with the phrase “job losses.”

Even though many Americans are out of work, Scalia said that many of those jobs are “not lost yet.”

He claimed that he saw three surveys this week that show about 90% of Americans on unemployment “think they’re going back to their jobs.”

Some background: The US economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday — by far the most sudden and largest decline since the government began tracking the data in 1939.

Almost three million Americans filed for unemployment this past week.

Washington Post-Ipsos poll found this week that 77% of laid-off or furloughed workers believe that they will get their job back once the stay-at-home orders are lifted

Scalia went on to say that the longer the reopening takes, the more difficult it becomes to get people back to their jobs safely.

12:00 p.m. ET, May 16, 2020

Political affiliation should not determine what states get financial support, Gov. Cuomo says

State of New York
State of New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo rebuked any lawmakers turning discussions on providing financial aid to states into a political issue

Cuomo's remarks come after the House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill Friday to spend more than $3 trillion for Covid-19 relief and a rules change to allow lawmakers to vote remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure was approved by a vote of 208-199 despite opposition from Republicans as well as from some moderate and progressive Democrats. Fourteen Democrats crossed party lines to vote against it and one Republican voted in favor.

The legislation, which reflects Democratic priorities and was not a product of bipartisan negotiations, would stand as the largest relief package in US history and House Democratic leaders argued that the package, which allocates funding for state and local governments, coronavirus testing and a new round of direct payments to Americans, is urgently needed to address the crisis.

Republicans however have made clear that it is dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Democrats also had to grapple with criticism and pushback from moderates upset that the bill did not have widespread bipartisan support and progressives who believe the bill did not go far enough to help Americans facing fallout from the pandemic.

"For senators to be talking about 'I'm not going to bail out blue states because the blue states have more coronavirus cases,' shame on you. Shame on you to look at the death toll in this nation and say, 'I want to count how many people passed away by their political party. And I'm more interested in states where Republicans live than where Democrats live.' We're not Democrats and Republicans. We are Americans," Cuomo said today during a news conference.
11:54 a.m. ET, May 16, 2020

Horse racing tracks in New York can open without fans on June 1, governor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

State of New York
State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said horse racing tracks will be allowed to open across the state as of June 1 without fans.

“If you can have economic activity without a crowd that’s great," Cuomo said. "There will guidelines for the actual participants, but no crowds, no fans but for the industry itself, for the televised viewers that can still work."

The state will be issuing guidance shortly.

Watkins Glen International racetrack will also be opening, Cuomo said.

11:55 a.m. ET, May 16, 2020

US reports more 87,000 coronavirus-related deaths

According to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the United States, there are at least 1,445,867 cases of coronavirus and at least 87,643 people have died in the country from the disease. 

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

12:01 p.m. ET, May 16, 2020

Avoiding a spike in coronavirus cases will depend on how people act, New York governor says

From CNN's Elise Hammond

State of New York
State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said whether or not there will be a spike in coronavirus cases in the state after some parts of the economy reopen depends on "what we do."

"Tell me what you're going to do, and I'll tell you what will happen. How can that be? Because you're in control of what happens. How you act will determine what happens to you," he said a news briefing on Saturday.

As economic activity increases and people start to leave their homes, Cuomo expects to see an increase in numbers, but "we don't want to see a spike."

"Will there be a spike? It depends on how people react and it depends on their personal behavior," the governor said.

People need to remain vigilant and continue to do things like wearing masks, use hand sanitizer and avoiding large gatherings, Cuomo added.

11:40 a.m. ET, May 16, 2020

New York state reports 157 coronavirus-related deaths over the past 24 hours

State of New York
State of New York

New York state has reported 157 coronavirus-related deaths over the past day while net hospitalizations are down, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference today.

The net change in intubations is also down, he added.

"Number of new cases per day is also down, 400. Which sounds like a large number, but this is on a statewide population of 19 million, 50,000 hospital beds. The number of lives lost 157. That number has been stubborn, May 10 it was 161, these are all basically in the margin of error, if you will. This system is not that precise, I believe when they actually go back weeks from now and calculate the total number of deaths, at home deaths, et cetera, you'll see a variation in this number," Cuomo said.
11:05 a.m. ET, May 16, 2020

Your coronavirus questions answered

From CNN's Holly Yan and Scottie Andrew

Photo illustration by Utrecht Robin/
Photo illustration by Utrecht Robin/

CNN readers from around the world have asked more than 90,000 questions about coronavirus.

Here are the answers to some of the most popular questions:

Q: Can coronavirus stick to clothes? Do I need to wash my clothes right after encountering other people, like at the grocery store or while jogging?

A: “I don’t think you need to,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

Coronavirus can stay alive for up to three days on stainless steel and plastic. But clothing “is probably more like cardboard — it’s more absorbent, so the virus is unlikely to stay and last that long,” Gupta said.

While coronavirus can stay alive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, viruses generally don’t stick well on surfaces that are in motion.

“If you look at how viruses move through air, they kind of want to move around objects,” Gupta said. “They don’t want to necessarily land on objects. So if you’re moving as human body through the air … (it’s) unlikely to stick to your clothes.”

Q: Could I infect my pets with coronavirus, or vice versa? Can someone get infected by touching an animal’s fur? Should I get my pet tested for coronavirus?

A: There have been some reports of animals infected by coronavirus — including two pets in New York and eight big cats at the Bronx Zoo.

Most of those infections came from contact with people who had coronavirus, like a zoo employee who was an asymptomatic carrier.

But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus to humans. Therefore, at this time, routine testing of animals for Covid-19 is not recommended.

As always, it’s best to wash your hands after touching an animal’s fur and before touching your face. And if your pet appears to be sick, call your veterinarian.

Q: Why can’t we just test everyone in the US? If we isolate all the asymptomatic carriers, couldn’t the rest of us go back to work?

A: Doctors say it’s not realistic to test all people in the US, especially since many states are still struggling to get enough tests or testing supplies.

So in order for the economy to reopen and stay open, the US must triple the number of tests performed every day — from 150,000 tests a day to at least 500,000, three Harvard researchers found.

And the proportion of test results that come back positive needs to be much lower. About 20% of US test results have been positive, which is “clearly way too high,” said Dr. Thomas Tsai, one of the Harvard researchers.

The World Health Organization said an adequate range of positive test results would be 3% to 12%. Germany and South Korea have already met that goal, Tsai said.