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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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.

10:15 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Lack of testing leads to undercounting of coronavirus cases in Aden, Yemen

From CNN’s Nada AlTaher

There are coronavirus-related deaths in Yemen’s southern port city of city of Aden that are going unreported due to lack of testing, a source with intimate knowledge of the situation in Aden told CNN.

Aden accounts for 71 out of the 122 cases reported in government-controlled areas, according to the latest statistics published by the country’s Supreme National Emergency Committee for Covid-19 on Saturday.

In one hospital, 20 out of 60 patients that arrived over a five-day period, died due to what doctors believe were Covid-19 related reasons, the local source said.

“The patients died shortly after their arrival to hospital and were not tested – so their deaths were not ‘officially’ considered to be Covid-19 related even though all the signs said otherwise,” said the local source who declined to be named for security reasons.

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

Social distancing worked to limit the spread of coronavirus, new study confirms

From CNN's Arman Azad

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

A new study found that social distancing worked to limit the spread of coronavirus in the United States and may have prevented tens of millions of infections.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Health Affairs, found that government-imposed social distancing cut the virus’ daily growth rate by about 9% after roughly three weeks.

Without any social distancing measures at all, the number of coronavirus cases in the US could have been 35 times higher, the researchers estimated.

“Our paper illustrates the potential danger of exponential spread in the absence of interventions, providing relevant information to strategies for restarting economic activity,” they wrote.

Charles Courtemanche from the University of Kentucky — as well and colleagues there and at the University of Louisville and Georgia State University – estimated the effects of social distancing by comparing coronavirus cases in counties with and without a number of social distancing measures.

Shelter-in-place orders and the closure of restaurants and bars seemed particularly effective at slowing the spread of the virus, the researchers found. Bans on large events and the closure of public schools alone didn’t seem to affect the growth rate.

“[Our] results argue against returning to partial measures such as school closures and restrictions on large gatherings, while removing the restrictions that prevent the redirection of social activity to other settings,” the researchers wrote.

They did note that their study had some limitations. Official case counts, for example, are likely an undercount because they may not include people who aren’t sick enough to go to the doctor.

Other factors could have skewed the results too, such as “informal encouragement by government officials to wear masks or improve hygiene, changing business practices, and social norms regarding distancing.”

11:30 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

The federal government has an ethical obligation to help states and counties, California governor says

From CNN's Elise Hammond


As California faces a $54.3 billion budget deficit that is "directly Covid-induced," Gov. Gavin Newsom said the federal government has an obligation to support states and local governments moving forward.

"We have an obligation, a moral, an ethical obligation to American citizens across this country to help support cities, states and counties," he told CNN on Sunday.

Newsom said before the pandemic the state had been "managing our budget effectively."

"We're not looking for charity. We're not looking for handouts," Newsom said.

Some background: Newsom's comments come after the House passed a $3 trillion emergency relief bill on Friday, 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.

But, the White House and Senate Republicans have made it clear they do not support another massive spending bill right now.

"They say it's dead on arrival, I hope they'll consider this. The next time they want to salute and celebrate our heroes, our first responders, our police officers and firefighters, consider the fact that they are the first ones that will be laid off by cities and counties," Newsom said.

Because county health care systems are also struggling financially, health care workers and nurses would also be affected, Newsom added.


9:29 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Egypt to impose movement restrictions during Eid Al-Fitr

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali

People crowd the popular street market of Al Ataba in Cairo on May 15.
People crowd the popular street market of Al Ataba in Cairo on May 15. Gehad Hamdy/picture alliance via Getty Images

Egypt will impose stricter measures during the Eid Al-Fitr religious holiday including extending its curfew hours to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced on Sunday according to state news Ahram Online.

A nationwide curfew will begin at 5 p.m. starting from Sunday through Friday, Madbouly said in a televised briefing.

All shops, malls, beaches and parks will be closed during the period.

Saudi Arabia also declared Thursday that a 24-hour curfew will be imposed during the Eid Al-Fitr from May 23 through May 27 across all cities and regions.

Some context: Eid Al-Fitr — also called the Festival of Breaking the Fast, set to start on May 23 — is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan. 

10:00 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Reopening state economies is an issue of "health versus health," HHS secretary says

From CNN's Elise Hammond


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.

"Reopen we must, because it's not health versus the economy. It's actually health versus health. There are serious health consequences to keeping us shut down, whether it's the suicidality rates or cardiac procedures not being received, pediatric vaccinations declining. All of these are critical health needs that are part of reopening the economy," he told CNN on Sunday.

As states across the country start to loosen restrictions, he said these determinations need to be made on a local level.

"It's very hard to judge in any community whether a bar being open, a restaurant, a school is the right thing," he told CNN on Sunday. "That's why the local leaders lead this, the state supervises, and the federal government provides expertise and support from our level."

"There should not be one size fits all approaches to reopening," Azar added.

So far there has not been a spike in cases in states that have already started to reopen, he added.


9:13 a.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Texas reports largest single day number of positive Covid-19 cases since beginning of pandemic

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

Texas saw its highest single day increase in positive coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic this past Saturday, according to numbers released by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

The state reported an increase of at least 1,801 positive coronavirus cases yesterday.

The majority of positive cases, 734 cases, originated from employees of meat plants in Potter and Randall counties, a result of targeted testing of employees at meat plants in the area, according to Texas DSHS. 

CNN reporting shows an upward trend in increase of positive Covid-19 cases in Texas based on numbers reported from Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Numbers from the Texas DSHS also shows this upward trend.