May 17 coronavirus news

By Nicole Chavez, James Griffiths, Jenni Marsh, Tara John and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 10:41 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020
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12:05 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

New York state reports 139 coronavirus-related deaths over the past day

There have been 139 coronavirus-related deaths across New York state as the number of hospitalizations continue to fall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference today.

"In a different time and place, if I had that news to deliver, that would be incredibly shocking to people. Only in this environment is it not shocking. Relative to where we were, it's good news. Again, we're right about where we were when we started. We just want to make sure we never go back to where we were. The question is reopening or not. Everybody wants to reopen. Nobody wants to reopen more than I do," Cuomo said.

At least 157 people died from Covid-19 on May 15, Cuomo said Saturday.

12:10 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

United Kingdom reports 170 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours

From CNN’s Sarah Dean and Nada Bashir

The United Kingdom is reporting 170 coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours, UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said Sunday.

Sharma, speaking at the daily Downing Street news conference, said this brings the UK’s total death toll to at least 34,636.

There are approximately 10,035 people in hospital with Covid-19, which is a 15% decrease from 11,817 patients this time last week, Sharma said.

11:31 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

White House trade adviser says CDC "let the country down" on coronavirus testing

From CNN's Kristen Holmes and Arman Azad

Pete Marovich/Pool/Getty Images
Pete Marovich/Pool/Getty Images

Amid reports of growing tension between the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro slammed the top healthy agency, saying “it let the country down” on testing.

“Early on in this crisis, the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space — really let the country down with the testing. Not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy they had a bad test and that set us back,” Navarro said on NBC.

A spokesperson for the CDC did not have any immediate comment.

More from the White House: The comments from Navarro Sunday come as CNN reported that tensions are rising between the White House and the nation's leading public health agency.

In interviews, senior administration officials in Washington as well as top officials at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta described a growing sense of mistrust and animosity between the White House and CDC over how quickly the US should reopen and how the government tracks data on the virus.

In particular, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator for the President's coronavirus task force, has become increasingly critical of the CDC, making clear in recent meetings that she is more than frustrated with the agency, according to two senior administration officials.

Specifically, Birx believes the way the CDC gathers data on the coronavirus is antiquated, causing inaccurate and delayed numbers on both virus cases and deaths.

Some background: Contamination in manufacturing the CDC test for the coronavirus caused weeks of delays that slowed the US response to the pandemic, multiple health officials told CNN last month, a problem that stemmed in part from the CDC not adhering to its own protocols, according to a US Food and Drug Administration spokesperson.

The government has never fully explained what stalled the rollout of a crucial test needed to begin measuring the extent of the spread of Covid-19. It would take until the end of February to correct.

11:25 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Tennessee's Graceland is set to reopen on Thursday 

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The gates of Graceland will reopen May 21 with a more private and social distanced tour experience, according to the Memphis mansion’s website. 

“We are so excited to welcome you back to Elvis Presley’s Graceland, 100+ acres dedicated to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” the website said. “You will have the unique opportunity to walk in Elvis’ footsteps like never before, in your own personal tour space spread out from other touring guests."

The estate will reduce mansion tour capacity to 25%, the website added.

Graceland temporarily closed on March 21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to its Facebook page. 

11:03 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Get caught up on the latest coronavirus headlines

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

It's about 11 a.m. in New York and 4 p.m. in London. If you're just tuning in, here's what you need to know.

  • Social distancing works: That's what a new study found. Researchers said that government-imposed social distancing cut the virus’ daily growth rate by about 9% after roughly three weeks, and without it, the number cases in the US could have been 35 times higher.
  • Texas saw its highest single day increase in positive coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The state reported an increase of at least 1,801 positive coronavirus cases yesterday –– 734 of those originated from employees of meat plants.
  • Health issues related to not reopening: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said reopening the economy is an issue of "health versus health" and that there are "serious health consequences" to keeping states shut down including suicides, children not being vaccinated and cardiac issues not being treated.
  • Stimulus bill: California Gov. Gavin Newsom said his state faces a $54.3 billion budget deficit that is "directly Covid-induced" and that the federal government has an ethical and moral obligation to help states and county governments.
  • Beaches in New York City will not be open for swimming on Memorial Day, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, saying "it was not safe." De Blasio said people could walk on the beaches, however.
10:41 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

New York City reports decrease in positive coronavirus tests

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Mayor de Blasio's Office
Mayor de Blasio's Office

The percentage of positive tests and intensive care unit admissions in New York City have both dropped, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news briefing on Sunday.

At least 469 people were reported in ICU’s as of Friday, and those numbers are down from the 506 reported on Thursday.

Of the people tested for Covid-19, about 11% have tested positive across the city as of Friday, down 13% from Thursday.

Another spike in cases: While the city is preparing for things to get better they are also preparing for bad scenarios “and that would mean tightening up restrictions" if cases were to "boomerang," de Blasio said.

“If you don’t follow these rules unfortunately there’s a danger of that boomerang and even more restrictions," de Blasio said.

10:35 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Beaches in New York City will not open for Memorial Day, mayor says

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Mayor de Blasio's Office
Mayor de Blasio's Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio said beaches in New York City will not be opened on Memorial Day, saying "it is not safe."

“It is not the right thing to do in the epicenter of this crisis," de Blasio said at a news briefing on Sunday.

But even though beaches remain closed to swimming, walking on the beach is permitted. The New York Police Department will increase patrols across the beaches and parks, de Blasio said.

“There will not be swimming, it will not be allowed, there will not be lifeguards on duty,” he added.

The city will add fencing to control entry points and more fencing in reserve to close off the beaches if needed, adding its not something they want to do. Access will be further restricted if social distancing or no-swim rules are not observed.

“Were going to give people a chance to get it right," de Blasio said.

The mayor is asking people to not have gatherings on the beach and if they do, “up will come the fences, closing off those beaches.”

10:34 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Former CDC director: Fighting pandemic without the agency "is like fighting with one arm tied behind your back"

From CNN's Arman Azad

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Asked about the sidelining of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the coronavirus pandemic, former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said it was “like fighting with one arm tied behind your back.”

Frieden, the CDC director under President Obama, was asked about the agency on Fox News this weekend.

“Very briefly, do you think it’s been a mistake for this administration to sideline the CDC?” Fox’s Chris Wallace asked.

“I think fighting this pandemic without the CDC is like fighting with one arm tied behind your back,” Frieden said. 

These comments came after a discussion about the agency’s role under the Trump administration.

“As far back as I can remember, the CDC has always been the lead agency in health crises like this,” Wallace noted, pointing to Ebola and other diseases. “This time, it seems like the CDC has been sidelined to some degree,” Wallace said, noting the agency’s lack of public briefings.

Some context: CNN has previously reported on growing tensions between the White House and the CDC during the coronavirus pandemic.

Senior administration officials in Washington and at the CDC, for example, have described a growing sense of mistrust and animosity over how quickly the US should reopen and how the government tracks data on the virus.

CNN has also reported on tensions between the White House and CDC over guidelines on how to reopen the country.

A leaked 68-page document from the agency described a detailed approach to reopening states and businesses, but those guidelines have not been publicly released. On Thursday, the CDC published six ages of graphics labeled "decision trees" as updated guidance.  

10:26 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

New York City will have at least 1,500 contact tracers by the end of May, mayor says

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Mayor de Blasio's Office
Mayor de Blasio's Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City is partnering with 123 CityMd urgent care centers across the five boroughs to increase Covid-19 testing across the city,

De Blasio also announced that daily citywide testing capacity has reached 20,000 ahead of scheduled.

“We predict to begin 6,000 testings per day,” de Blasio said Sunday.

If an individual has insurance, they will use it, if they do not, CityMd will cover it, the mayor said, adding that testing will take place seven days a week.

More on the contact tracers: The first class of 500 contact tracers have completed their Johns Hopkins training and there are 1,000 more in progress, the mayor said.

Field training will take place the week of May 24. This includes learning about more than 100 potential case types.

The mayor expects to have an additional 1,000 tracers ready to go by the end of May, he said.

The test and trace corps are deploying Resource Navigators in every community by June 1. De Blasio said 200 to 300 people will be hired as Resource Navigators by June 1 and will be overseen by local organizations in each borough.