May 18 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 1612 GMT (0012 HKT) December 28, 2020
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10:46 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Mike Pompeo backs away from theory that coronavirus originated in Chinese lab

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Devan Cole

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly condemned Beijing for a lack of transparency about the pandemic.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly condemned Beijing for a lack of transparency about the pandemic. Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appears to be backing away from a theory he and President Donald Trump were pushing that the coronavirus pandemic may have originated at a lab in Wuhan, China. 

Pompeo said in an interview with Breitbart that aired Saturday that "we know it began in Wuhan, but we don't know from where or from whom, and those are important things." 
"We have repeatedly asked to have teams go in to assist them in identifying where the virus originated," the secretary said.

Pompeo has for weeks publicly espoused the theory that the virus that has infected nearly 1.5 million Americans originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, claiming in an interview earlier this month that there was "enormous evidence" this was the case.

He later conceded that he couldn't be certain of its origin and that the evidence that it came from "the vicinity" of the Wuhan lab "could be wrong."

The Chinese government has pushed back on the claim, describing it as a "smear" intended to bolster US President Donald Trump's reelection chances.

Read the full story:

10:32 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

35,000 US coronavirus tests deemed "unreliable"

From CNN's Wesley Bruer

About 35,000 coronavirus tests in the United States have been deemed unreliable because a processing lab “has been unable to fulfill its obligation,” according to a statement from AdventHealth, which administered the tests.

More than 33,000 unreliable tests were conducted in Florida. AdventHealth did not specify where the other 2,000 tests were carried out.

 AdventHealth said they are not disclosing the lab at this time.

“While we work successfully with many other labs across multiple states to provide COVID-19 tests for our communities, we have terminated our contract with this particular lab and share in the disappointment and frustration this situation has created. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience and uncertainty it has caused,” said Terry Shaw, president and CEO of AdventHealth. 

AdventHealth said they would be “working diligently” to notify those who are impacted via letter or phone call. Those awaiting results from the lab in question will not receive results as the samples provided will not be tested but destroyed “in accordance with the law.” 

10:19 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Don't bet against America, says Fed chief on "60 Minutes"

From CNN's Anneken Tappe

Jerome Powell issues the Federal Open Market Committee statement in Washington on April 29.
Jerome Powell issues the Federal Open Market Committee statement in Washington on April 29. Federal Reserve via Getty Images

The US economy is going through an unprecedented recession and a recovery will take time. Even so, you don't want to bet against America's economy, said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on CBS News' "60 Minutes" on Sunday.

Business ground to a halt this spring as people stayed home and companies shut down to stop the spread of Covid-19. Mass layoffs forced 36.5 million Americans to file first-time claims for jobless benefits since mid-March.

The unemployment rate shot up to 14.7% in April -- the highest figure since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting this data in 1948 -- and is expected to climb even higher in May

Recovering from this will take some time.

"But I would just say this. In the long run, and even in the medium run, you wouldn't want to bet against the American economy," Powell said in a prime-time interview.
"This economy will recover. And that means people will go back to work. Unemployment will get back down. We'll get through this," he said.

Read more about the interview here:

9:59 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

It's just past 10 p.m. in New York and 7:30 a.m. in New Delhi. Catch up on the latest headlines

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 4.7 million people, killing at least 315,000 worldwide. Here are the latest headlines:

  • India extends lockdown: Restrictions will continue until at least May 31. On Sunday, India reported its biggest surge in infections with 4,987 cases. 
  • UK doctors' fears: Nearly half of the doctors in the United Kingdom working during the pandemic fear for their health, according to a new survey by the Royal College of Physicians. The survey found 48% of 1,582 respondents reported feeling concerned or very concerned for their health.
  • South Africa spike: The country saw its highest single-day jump of reported coronavirus cases on Sunday with an increase of 1,160 infections, bringing its total to 15,515.
  • NYPD back on the beat: More than 5,000 members of the New York Police Department have returned to work full time after recovering from coronavirus. About 149 members are still out sick with the virus.
  • Italy to ease lockdown: Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza has called on citizens to “remain prudent” as the country prepares to relax its coronavirus lockdown on Monday, warning that the “hard part” will begin then.
  • Trump meeting: US President Donald Trump will meet with members of the restaurant industry on Monday to discuss the impact of coronavirus at a roundtable meeting at the White House. Concerns about the Paycheck Protection Program are expected to come up.
9:48 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

More than 100 infections linked to fitness classes in South Korea, study finds

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

More than 100 coronavirus infections in South Korea have been linked to a fitness instructor workshop from mid-February, researchers have found.

The infections aren’t recent -- they were all identified by March 9 -- but the new research offers insight into how rapidly coronavirus can spread in enclosed spaces.

What happened: Almost 30 instructors participated in the original workshop, which was held in Cheonan, South Korea. They trained intensely for four hours, and while none had symptoms at the time, eight instructors eventually tested positive for the virus.

More cases uncovered: Less than a month later, researchers had identified 112 coronavirus cases linked to dance classes in a dozen different facilities. Half of the cases were the result of direct transmission from instructors to students, and some people went on to infect others outside of class. 

Why did the virus spread this way? Several factors may have made it easier for the virus to spread, according to Sukbin Jang and colleagues at the Dankook University College of Medicine in Cheonan. They published their findings in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The moist, warm atmosphere in a sports facility coupled with turbulent air flow generated by intense physical exercise can cause more dense transmission of isolated droplets,” they wrote.

Classes linked to transmission had five to 22 students and took place in small spaces for almost an hour. Out of 217 students exposed to infected instructors, 57 of them -- about one in four -- ended up testing positive.

9:33 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

180 people exposed to virus at church service

From CNN's Dakin Andone and Artemis Moshtaghian

A person who later learned they were positive for Covid-19 attended a California religious service on Mother's Day -- May 10 -- exposing 180 other people to the coronavirus, according to local health officials.

The individual got a positive diagnosis for Covid-19 the day after the service and is now in isolation at home, Butte County Public Health said in a statement on Friday.

People who attended the service have been notified about their exposure and received instructions from health officials to self-quarantine, the statement said. Officials are working to get testing for everyone who was in attendance.

Read more:

9:12 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

China reports 7 new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Alexandra Lin in Hong Kong

Medical workers administer a coronavirus test at East China Normal University in Shanghai on May 9.
Medical workers administer a coronavirus test at East China Normal University in Shanghai on May 9. Yin Liqin/China News Service/Getty Images

China reported seven new cases of novel coronavirus and no new deaths on Sunday, according to the country's National Health Commission.

The new infections include four imported cases in Inner Mongolia and three local cases -- two from Jilin province and one from Shanghai

The total number of confirmed cases in China stands at 82,954, with 82 active cases, according to the NHC.

A further 18 new asymptomatic cases were also reported on Sunday. Some 4,970 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation. 

A total of 78,238 confirmed patients have recovered and been discharged so far.

The official death toll in mainland China is 4,634. 

Read more about the situation in China:

8:58 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Nearly half of UK doctors fear for their health, Royal College of Physicians survey says

From CNN’s Sarah Dean

A junior doctor tends to a patient at the Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital in Blackburn, England, on May 14.
A junior doctor tends to a patient at the Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital in Blackburn, England, on May 14. Hannah McKay/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly half of the doctors in the United Kingdom working during the coronavirus pandemic fear for their health, according to a new survey by the Royal College of Physicians.

The survey found 48% of the 1,582 respondents reported feeling concerned or very concerned for their health.

This figure rose to 76% among doctors from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

The results, released on Monday, come amid ongoing issues surrounding the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the UK.

8:49 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

US coronavirus death toll approaches 90,000

At least 1,486,376 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the United States, including 89,550 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

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: