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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1:29 p.m. ET, May 16, 2020

New Jersey has seen a 55% drop in new coronavirus hospitalizations since May 1

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

News 12 NJ/Pool
News 12 NJ/Pool

New hospitalizations from coronavirus have decreased by 55% across New Jersey in the past two weeks, Gov. Phil Murphy announced at a news briefing on Saturday.

The number of overall patients in the hospital has decreased by 36%, the number of patients in the intensive care unit decreased by 36% and the number of patients on ventilators is down 31% since May 1, Murphy said.

Reopening: The governor also announced he will sign an executive order today that will allow fishing charters and other chartered boat services and watercraft rentals to resume effective at 6 a.m. tomorrow.

Specific social distancing and sanitation measures will be required including the implementation of online or telephone payment systems to “further lessen” direct person to person contact among other procedures spelled out in the order, he said. 

"Even with social distancing we are confident that everyone can have a safe and memorable summer," Murphy said.

All customers and passenger logs must be properly maintained for the purpose of contact tracing should that be required, the governor said.

1:03 p.m. ET, May 16, 2020

Protesters arrested in London during anti-lockdown demonstration

From CNN's Nada Bashir

Police speak to people during a mass gathering protest in Hyde Park in London on May 16.
Police speak to people during a mass gathering protest in Hyde Park in London on May 16. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

At least 13 protesters participating in an anti-lockdown demonstration in London have been arrested, the British Metropolitan Police told CNN on Saturday.

Dozens of people who had gathered in Hyde Park to protest against the government’s emergency coronavirus restrictions were met by police officers attempting to control the demonstration.

In videos shared online, protesters were heard chanting “shame on you” as the un-masked police officers ask people move people along.

Some context: The protests come as the country prepares to enter its ninth week of lockdown on Monday, with a total of at least 34,466 deaths recorded across the UK so far.

In videos shared on social media, Piers Corbyn – the brother of former UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn – was seen warning demonstrators of the government’s “lies” about the deadly virus.

"They’re telling us there’s a pandemic. It’s a pack of lies to brainwash you and keep you in order,” Piers Corbyn said.

In the crowd, one protester was seen holding a sign calling on the government to “stop violating our human rights,” while another sign read: “I will not be masked, tested, tracked or poisoned. This will not be my new normal.”

1:00 p.m. ET, May 16, 2020

Decision to reopen schools is based on "best scientific advice," UK government says

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac and Nada Bashir

Children walk home from school in Altrincham, England, on March 20.
Children walk home from school in Altrincham, England, on March 20. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Britain is planning for some students to return to school as early as next month, as long as rates of infection continue to decrease, United Kingdom Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

“We can now start the planning for a very limited return to school for some pupils, potentially as early as next month,” Williamson said during a daily government news briefing. 

Only those in kindergarten, grade one and grade six will return but only with smaller class sizes, he said. High schoolers in grades 10 and 12 will go back on a “limited basis” in order to have face to face contact with teachers, Williamson added.

Those students are being prioritized because they have the “most to lose” by staying out of school, he said. 

“We’re asking schools to adopt a number of strict protective measures. This includes reducing class sizes, making sure pupils stay with these small groups, creating a protective and small bubble around them," he said.

Williamson emphasized that schools will be “rigorous about hygiene, cleaning and hand washing.” 

“This approach is based on the very best scientific advice, with children at the heart of everything we do," Williamson added.

12:43 p.m. ET, May 16, 2020

Study of hydroxychloroquine showed "no benefit or adverse harm," NY health commissioner says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Al Bello/Getty Images
Al Bello/Getty Images

New York Health Department Commissioner Howard Zucker said a study of hospitalized patients that had hydroxychloroquine administered showed “there was no benefit or adverse harm.”

“It was clearly known that there was an issue with a potential of abnormal heart rhythms when you gave that drug along with azithromycin,” Zucker said.

“The drug was tested in hospital trials for the FDA,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, adding, “the tests suggested not to go ahead with the drug.”

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.