May 20 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT) May 21, 2020
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9:02 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

More than 1.5 million cases of coronavirus recorded in the US

The United States has recorded at least 1,527,355 cases of coronavirus and 91,872 related deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

At least 17,059 new cases and 1,383 deaths have been reported on Tuesday.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.

See CNN's live tracker of US cases here:

9:01 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Trump calls high US Covid-19 numbers "badge of honor" because it means more testing

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

US President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable in the State Dining Room of the White House May 18, in Washington, DC.
US President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable in the State Dining Room of the White House May 18, in Washington, DC. Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

US President Donald Trump said today that he is considering a travel ban on Latin America and called the high number of US Covid-19 cases a “badge of honor” because it means the country is testing more people.

“We are considering it,” the President said when asked if he was considering a travel ban on Latin America, and Brazil in particular, which now has the third highest number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in the world.

“We hope that we’re not going to have a problem. The governor of Florida is doing very, very well testing -- in particular Florida, because a big majority come in to Florida. Brazil has gone more or less herd, and they’re having problems," Trump added.

“I worry about everything, I don’t want people coming in here and infecting our people,” Trump said, “I don’t want people over there sick either.”

“By the way,” the President interjected, “when you say that we lead in cases, that’s because we have more testing than anybody else.”

“Actually the number of cases, and we’re also a much bigger country than most, so when we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing, I look at that as, in a certain respect, as a good thing, because it means our testing is better,” he said.

“I view it as a badge of honor. Really, it’s a badge of honor,” Trump said. “It’s a great tribute to the testing and all of the work that a lot of professionals have done.”
9:00 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Trump defends his use of hydroxychloroquine

From CNN's Allie Malloy 

US President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet Meeting in the East Room of the White House, on Tuesday, in Washington.
US President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet Meeting in the East Room of the White House, on Tuesday, in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his use of hydroxychloroquine -- a drug that is unproven to prevent coronavirus -- and called research warning of its risks a “phony study.”

Trump particularly bashed a US study of patients he claimed were too sick and old. 

“There was a false study done -- they gave to sick people,” Trump said, adding it was given to people who “were ready to die" from old age or heart problems.

Trump claimed that the study was conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was in fact funded by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia but conducted in VA hospitals. 

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie did make the distinction in the cabinet meeting; however, he also promoted the drug and said it’s been used by the VA in large quantities for many health issues.

“I want to clear up something … that was not a VA study,” Wilkie told reporters. “Researchers took VA numbers and they did not clinically review them, they were not peer reviewed. They did not even look at what the President just mentioned the various comorbidities.”

What other studies say: The research Trump was alluding to is not the only study of its kind warning of the risks of hydroxychloroquine.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a new study last week, the largest of its kind, that shows that hydroxychloroquine does not work against Covid-19 and could cause heart problems. That follows another study in the New England Journal of Medicine showing similar results. 

What Trump says: Trump claimed that the drug “doesn’t seem to have any impact” on him, saying "it is has gotten tremendous reviews.” 

“It’s gotten a bad reputation only because I’m promoting it,” Trump told reporters, adding, “If anyone else was promoting it, they’d say this is the greatest thing ever.”

8:43 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Brazil sees record surge of coronavirus deaths and cases in one day

From CNN's Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo

An aerial view of open graves amid the coronavirus pandemic at Vila Formosa Cemetery on Monday, May 18,  in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
An aerial view of open graves amid the coronavirus pandemic at Vila Formosa Cemetery on Monday, May 18, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

Brazil recorded its highest number of coronavirus deaths and cases in one day, according to the country's health ministry on Tuesday.

The numbers: From Monday to Tuesday, Brazil confirmed 1,179 more deaths, bringing the country's total to 17,971

Brazil also recorded 17,408 more Covid-19 cases, bringing the country's total to 271,628

The increase in cases and deaths are both the highest jump in numbers in a day for Brazil since it confirmed its first case in February. 

Sao Paulo state alone reported a record number of deaths on Tuesday, with 324 deaths in the past 24 hours.

Yesterday, Brazil became the country with the third highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, behind the US and Russia.

US President Donald Trump said today he is considering a travel ban on Latin America, and Brazil in particular.

9:07 p.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Evidence grows that inflammation is culprit in severe Covid-19 cases, doctors say

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Doctors warned today that inflammation is causing the severe effects of Covid-19 disease in patients, and said reducing those effects may be key to helping people get better.

Teams across the US are testing a variety of immune-modulating drugs often prescribed for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, Dr. Vincent Marconi of the Emory University School of Medicine told a briefing organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Marconi described more than a dozen drugs that are being tried out in severely ill Covid-19 patients. Various drugs attack inflammation from different angles and might tamp down the so-called cytokine storm that appears to be causing the worst damage in advanced patients, Marconi said.

They include sarilumab, sold under the brand name Kevzara, to treat rheumatoid arthritis; adalimumab, or Humira, also a rheumatoid arthritis drug; siltuximab, or Sylvant, used to treat cancer; and others.

The stages of symptom severity: Marconi said a three-stage process takes patients from mild disease to extreme symptoms that affect the whole body, and said inflammation underlies the most serious stage.

Many people infected with Covid-19 may not have any symptoms, and most have mild symptoms. Marconi said the mild stage has common symptoms, including a dry cough, fever and a headache.

“The vast majority of individuals will recover at this point and will not progress to the pulmonary phase,” he said. That second phase is marked by lung inflammation and trouble breathing.

After that, patients can get worse quickly. That’s when doctors see symptoms of shock, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and the “terrible” clotting problems that cause organ damage, blockages and strokes.