May 19 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton and Tara John, CNN

Updated 9:20 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020
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12:04 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

US reports more than 21,500 new cases

At least 21,551 new coronavirus cases and 785 Covid-19-related deaths were reported in the United States on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

That brings the total number of infections reported in the country to at least 1,508,308, including at least 90,347 fatalities.

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:

11:53 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

China reports 6 new cases of Covid-19

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Hong Kong 

China recorded six new cases of coronavirus on Monday, including three locally-transmitted infections, the country's National Health Commission said Tuesday.

The locally transmitted cases include two infections in Jilin province, and one new patient in Wuhan, Hubei province, authorities said.

In addition, 17 new asymptomatic cases were also recorded, the NHC said.

The total number of officially reported cases in mainland China now stands at 82,960. Some 78,241 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital, the NHC added. 

There are 85 active cases in the country, the NHC said.

Testing drive: Wuhan -- ground zero for the pandemic -- started conducting citywide coronavirus testing on its residents last week after health officials detected several new locally transmitted cases. As of Monday, the city had tested 854,606 people since May 12, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.

11:47 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Trump threatens to permanently pull funding from WHO and "reconsider" US membership

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

US President Donald Trump late Monday threatened to permanently pull US funding from the World Health Organization if it does not "commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days."

In a letter to WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump said, "It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world. The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.

"My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste."

The strongly-worded letter alleges that the WHO "consistently ignored credible reports of the coronavirus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier," and "repeatedly made claims about the coronavirus that were either grossly inaccurate or misleading."

Read the full story:

11:10 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

This man has been stuck on a ship for 62 days in port. He's been tested 8 times for coronavirus

From CNN's Gregory Lemos

A man from Winter Springs, Florida, told CNN on Monday that he has been stuck on a cruise ship and then a hospital ship in an Italian port for 62 days after testing positive for Covid-19 in early April. 

"Some days are really bad and some days are OK," Taylor Grimes, 28, said over video chat Monday. 

Grimes set sail mid-January from Genoa, Italy, on his second cruise as an employee of MSC Cruises, a global cruise company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Grimes worked in the jewelry store on their Mediterranean route.

On March 17, a friend of Grimes and fellow employee tested positive for Covid-19, Grimes said. After consulting with the ship doctor and captain, Grimes said he "voluntarily went into isolation." Fifteen days later, he also tested positive, Grimes said.

Grimes has since been tested seven more times and has received a mixture of positive and negative results, he said.

"We are very concerned about his mental health," Taylor's mother, Ann Grimes, said Monday. 
"Last Monday he was sobbing on the phone, saying he wanted to go home," she said. "He had just tested positive." 

Grimes said he hopes his eighth Covid-19 test result will be negative, so he can return to the United States.

The American Embassy confirmed to the family it is Italian policy that cruise ship employees may not be released from a ship until they have tested negative in two subsequent tests, Ann Grimes said. 

"We don't question that that's the standard," Ann Grimes said. "It's the fact the testing is so sketchy. How can you be in quarantine for 62 consecutive days and still be testing positive?"

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10:51 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Chinese province offers to buy wild animals from farmers to support wildlife trade crackdown

From Eric Cheung and Vanesse Chan in Hong Kong

Hunan province in southern China has announced a scheme to buy wild animals from farmers as the country cracks down on the trade of wildlife for consumption.

The initial outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan, capital of China's central Hubei province, where a wide variety of wild animals were being sold as meat, including snakes, porcupines and raccoon dogs.

Since then, China has been working to clamp down on the wild animal trade.

In January, Chinese officials announced that the trading of wild animals would be temporarily suspended in hopes that would help contain the virus. The next month, China slapped a temporary ban on all farming and consumption of "terrestrial wildlife of important ecological, scientific and social value."

On Friday, the Hunan provincial government said it will offer compensation to wildlife farmers so they can switch to alternative forms of farming. Only farmers who obtained a license for the artificial breeding of wildlife are eligible, it said.

The compensation varies depending on the species. Officials will pay 120 yuan ($17) per kilogram of king rat snake, while a guinea pig is worth 24 yuan ($3.40).

Jiangxi province in southeastern China announced a similar scheme last Saturday, but did not specify the compensation offered to its farmers.

In a statement, animal protection group Humane Society International praised Hunan and Jiangxi for "demonstrating global leadership" on the issue, and urged other provinces and countries to follow suit.

"Chinese farmers not only have an opportunity to leave a trade that poses a direct threat to human health -- something that can no longer be tolerated in light of Covid -- but also to transition to more humane and sustainable livelihoods such as growing plant foods," said Peter Li, the NGO's China's policy specialist.
10:32 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

It's just past 11:30 p.m. in Sao Paulo and 10:30 a.m. in Beijing. Catch up on the latest headlines

The novel coronavirus has infected nearly 4.8 million people and killed at least 318,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the pandemic:

  • Trump taking hydroxychloroquine: US President Donald Trump said he is taking daily doses of the drug that he's long touted as a potential coronavirus cure. Medical experts and the FDA question its efficacy and warn of potentially harmful side effects.
  • US death projection revised down: A key model often cited by the White House has revised its death projection for the US slightly downward. It now predicts that 143,360 people will die by August 4 -- 3,700 fewer deaths than its previous forecast.
  • Positive early results in vaccine trial: All eight volunteers who received Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine developed antibodies to the virus, according to the biotech company, which has partnered with the National Institutes of Health for the trial.
  • China backs probe -- but wants to wait: Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a key WHO summit on Monday that he supports calls for an investigation into the handling of the pandemic. However, Xi insisted that any inquiry should wait until the virus is contained.
  • Brazil cases surge: Brazil is reporting the third most Covid-19 cases in the world, behind only the US and Russia. At least 254,220 infections have been officially recorded in the country.
  • Latin America death toll mounts: The number of deaths from Covid-19 in Latin America has surpassed 30,000 as of Monday evening, according to JHU. Brazil has more deaths than any other Latin American country, with at least 16,792.
10:12 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

El Salvador's Supreme Court overrides President's state of emergency extension

From CNN's Stefano Pozzebon

A patient suspected of being infected with Covid-19 receives treatment at the San Rafael Hospital in Santa Tecla, El Salvador on May 16.
A patient suspected of being infected with Covid-19 receives treatment at the San Rafael Hospital in Santa Tecla, El Salvador on May 16. Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

El Salvador's Supreme Court on Monday suspended the anti-coronavirus state of emergency declared by President Nayib Bukele, saying the decree's extension was unlawful.

Bukele signed a presidential decree extending anti-coronavirus measures on Saturday, a day before the restrictions were set to expire, without seeking Congress approval. 

Critics and lawmakers accused the President of overstepping his authority.

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the power to extend anti-coronavirus measures resides with the Congress, and ordered the presidential decree to be suspended with immediate effect.  

The Supreme Court urged the President and Congress to "act together" in order to present a new emergency decree as soon as possible, according to the text of the resolution.

Bukele reacted to the resolution in a tweet Monday, accusing the court of breaking constitutional order. 

"Who is invading whose functions? Who's breaking the constitutional order?" he tweeted. 

El Salvador first implemented anti-coronavirus measures on March 14, one of the first countries in Central America to impose a lockdown. 

The country has confirmed 1,413 cases and 30 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

9:51 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Doctor who revised down US death projection says he was "pretty surprised" by his model

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

Dr. Christopher Murray, right, with Anderson Cooper.
Dr. Christopher Murray, right, with Anderson Cooper. CNN

Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told CNN Monday night that he was “pretty surprised” by his model’s downward revision. 

His comments come after his model -- which is a key coronavirus forecast often cited by the White House -- revised its death projection for the United States slightly downward.

It's now predicting that 143,360 people will die by August 4 -- about 3,700 fewer deaths than the model predicted when last updated on May 12.

“I must say, we were pretty surprised, Anderson. We were expecting them to probably go up because of a big surge in mobility in the last two, three weeks that we’ve seen in the cell phone data,” Murray said on “Anderson Cooper 360” when asked about the new forecast. 

“But what’s really been fascinating is there’s not a strong correlation between where mobility’s gone up and the trend in cases and deaths, even when we take into account the increase in testing.”

Murray had previously explained upticks in the model’s projections by pointing to mobility data. The thinking had been that as people move around more, they’ll come into contact with more people and create opportunities for transmission.

But those expected increases in infections haven’t materialized yet -- at least not to the extent IHME expected.

“Our explanation for that is if you dig a little bit deeper, and look into the fraction of the population in different states that are wearing masks, we think that’s really the key difference there -- both their behavior and mask wearing.”

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta pointed to delays between infections, hospitalizations and deaths, and asked Murray what he thought the model would look like in a few weeks, as the impact of reopenings becomes clearer.

“I think we’re going to really need to watch the next week or two, because we sort of expected to see it by now, but certainly it could just be a lagged effect,” Murray said. “And I think we may also run into the phenomenon that people may get fatigued of being cautious -- stop wearing a mask, start having more physical contact.”

9:35 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Trump administration to extend US border and travel restrictions related to coronavirus

From CNN's Geneva Sands and Priscilla Alvarez

Passengers walk between terminals at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on May 15, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Passengers walk between terminals at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on May 15, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Trump administration is preparing to extend travel restrictions and stringent border control measures this week related to the coronavirus pandemic, according to two administration officials.

The latest slate of restrictions indicate that while the United States moves toward reopening, the federal government is not ready to ease measures put in place in March that largely sealed off the US to stem the spread of Covid-19. The strict rules also have the effect of continuing to curb immigration to the US.  

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also suggested last week that the US-Canada border would likely remain closed through June. The agreement as it stands forbids any non-essential travel, although commercial traffic continues.

CNN reached out to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security for comment. 

Opposition: The rules curbing immigration have raised concern among immigrant advocates, lawyers and public health experts who argue restrictions appear to be intended to halt immigration, not to serve a public health purpose.

On Monday, more than two dozen health experts at leading public health schools, medical schools and hospitals cast doubt about the basis of those restrictions. 

"The nation's public health laws should not be used as a pretext for overriding humanitarian laws and treaties that provide life-saving protections to refugees seeking asylum and unaccompanied children," they said in a letter to the Health and Human Services Department. 

Read the full story: