May 18 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 1612 GMT (0012 HKT) December 28, 2020
18 Posts
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12:10 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

US records more than 18,000 new cases

At least 18,873 new coronavirus cases and 808 Covid-19-related deaths were recorded in the United States on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

That brings the nationwide totals to at least 1,486,757 cases and 89,562 deaths.

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:

12:01 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Australia announces bid to win back tourists

From CNN's Jessie Gretener and Lynda Kinkade

Uluru is one of Australia's most famous tourist attractions.
Uluru is one of Australia's most famous tourist attractions. Live

When we do go outside again, what will it be like?

Over the weekend, Tourism Australia -- the country's national travel organization -- called upon a couple of well-known mates to connect couches across the country and answer that very question. 

Streamed on Facebook, the virtual event "Live from Aus" transported viewers to 36 destinations down under. The two-day program was filled with famous Australian travel experiences and hosted by zookeepers, chefs and even a pair of Chris Hemsworth's personal trainers.

"Everyone has been cooped up in units and apartments, so what we have is very appealing in terms of the wide-open spaces and beautiful landscapes," Matt Wright, an animal expert who introduced the event, said while a crocodile snapped playfully at his feet.

It's all part of an ongoing push by Tourism Australia to inspire Aussies to travel locally once it is safe to do so.

The coronavirus pandemic has halted international travel for the foreseeable future. But, as restrictions begin to ease in Australia, domestic travel is being seen as a big step forward in the road to recovery.

Read how Australia plans to restart its tourism industry:

Australia announces bid to win back tourists

Australia announces bid to win back tourists

By Jessie Gretener and Lynda Kinkade

11:47 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Virus-stricken aircraft carrier simulates being at sea in preparation for return to operations

From CNN's Ryan Browne

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, docked at Naval Base Guam on April 27.
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, docked at Naval Base Guam on April 27. Tony Azios/AFP/Getty Images

Sailors aboard the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt "are simulating being at sea while moored at Naval Base Guam," as part of its preparations to return to active operations.

The simulation, known as a "fast cruise," comes as the US Navy continues to combat the spread of the coronavirus aboard the ship.

The Navy recently removed 15 sailors that tested positive for the virus from the vessel after they had returned as part of efforts to bring the ship back into operation.

Despite those setbacks, the Navy is proceeding with the simulation.

Read the full story:

11:23 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Japan just fell into recession, and much worse could be on the way

From CNN's Laura He and Kaori Enjoji

People walk through a shopping street on May 17 in Utsunomiya, Japan.
People walk through a shopping street on May 17 in Utsunomiya, Japan. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Japan's economy has entered recession, and the coronavirus pandemic will likely make things even worse.

The world's third-largest economy shrank 0.9% in the January-to-March period compared to the prior quarter, according to government data released Monday.

It's the second straight quarter of declines -- meaning Japan has now entered recession.

Japan's economy was already struggling before the outbreak: Economic activity contracted late last year as the country absorbed a sales tax hike and grappled with the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis, a powerful storm that hit last fall.

Tom Learmouth, Japan economist for Capital Economics, said in a research note today that "much worse" is to come in the second quarter, forecasting a 12% quarter-on-quarter plunge.

Read the full story:

11:10 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Mayor of Brazil's biggest city warns health system is on the brink of collapse

From CNN's Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo's mayor warned on Sunday that the health system could collapse very soon if residents don’t adhere to social isolation guidelines. 

“The city is coming to the limit of options,” Bruno Covas, the mayor of Brazil’s biggest city told journalists, warning that ICU beds are at 90% occupancy.

"We need to decide if we want to test the limits or if we will be prudent and firmly maintain social isolation for the time needed so that the health system doesn’t collapse. We are closer than we would like," he said.

The city of Sao Paulo, considered the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Brazil, has recorded 38,605 cases of Covid-19 -- 16% of the total confirmed cases in the country. 

When Sao Paulo city and state declared quarantine in March, more than 60% of residents sheltered at home and the spread of the virus slowed.

But in the last couple of weeks the percentage of residents respecting the quarantine has fallen below half and coronavirus numbers have started to rise. 

Read more about the crisis in Sao Paulo:

10:59 p.m. ET, May 17, 2020

Restore CDC's authority, say top US professors

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

The CDC has been the lead agency in battling other recent pandemics and disease outbreaks.
The CDC has been the lead agency in battling other recent pandemics and disease outbreaks. Tami Chappell/AFP/Getty Images

More than a dozen top professors and other staff at Emory University in Georgia are calling for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lead the US efforts in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The CDC has been the lead agency in battling other recent pandemics and disease outbreaks, including the 2009 H1N1 swine influenza pandemic, the 2003-2004 SARS outbreak and the spread of Zika virus in 2015 and 2016.

But regular briefings by the CDC on coronavirus were stopped by March and the White House took over national public briefings.

This is a mistake, the Emory staffers, all of them members of the National Academy of Medicine, wrote in a letter to the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Sunday.

“We call on our state and nationwide industry, academic, and government leaders to take urgent action to ensure that the CDC, based here in Georgia, regains its leading position in these times,” the group wrote.

Signatories include Claire Sterk, President of Emory University; Dr. William Foege and Dr. Jeffrey Koplan who are former directors of the CDC; and Dr. James Curran, who is dean of Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health.

“If we are to win the battle against COVID-19, we need the CDC’s scientific independence and unstifled voice,” they wrote.
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: