May 22 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 0138 GMT (0938 HKT) May 23, 2020
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10:07 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

CDC estimates that 35% of coronavirus infections are asymptomatic

From CNN Health’s Michael Nedelman and Arman Azad

A sign on the outside of the CDC Emergency Operations Center in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, February 13.
A sign on the outside of the CDC Emergency Operations Center in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, February 13. Will Lanzoni/CNN

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted new guidance on its website that estimates that about a third of coronavirus infections are asymptomatic. 

The agency also says its “best estimate” is that 0.4% of people who show symptoms and have Covid-19 will die, and it estimates that 40% of coronavirus transmission is occurring before people feel sick. 

In the guidance, intended for modelers and public health officials, the CDC outlines five potential scenarios. Four represent “the lower and upper bounds of disease severity and viral transmissibility.” The fifth is the CDC’s “current best estimate about viral transmission and disease severity in the United States.”

In that scenario, the agency describes its estimate that 0.4% of people who feel sick with Covid-19 will die. For people age 65 and older, the CDC puts that number at 1.3%. For people 49 and under, the agency says 0.05% of symptomatic people will die. It assumes that people without symptoms are every bit as infectious as those with symptoms.

The agency also estimates that 3.4% of symptomatic people with Covid-19 will require hospitalization, with that number rising to 7.4% in people 65 and older.

In the most severe scenario, the CDC assumes that 1% of people overall with Covid-19 and symptoms will die. In the least severe scenario, the CDC puts that number at 0.2%.

“The scenarios are intended to advance public health preparedness and planning.  They are not predictions or estimates of the expected impact of COVID-19,” the CDC says.

The agency also notes that its numbers could change as more is learned about Covid-19, and says they do not “reflect the impact of any behavioral changes, social distancing, or other interventions.” That would be relevant for some of the agency’s estimates, such as how many infections stem from each case.

With those caveats, the CDC said the new numbers are based on real data received before April 29. The CDC characterized them as preliminary estimates from federal agencies, including the CDC and the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

8:49 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Trump will lower flags to half-staff to honor coronavirus victims

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

US President Donald Trump announced that flags will be lowered to half-staff “over the next three days” to honor coronavirus victims.

“I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the CoronaVirus,” the President tweeted verbatim on his way back from Michigan today.

In a subsequent tweet, Trump wrote that on Monday, “the flags will be at half-staff in honor of the men and women in our Military who have made the Ultimate Sacrifice for our Nation.”

8:45 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Latin America reported more new Covid-19 cases than the US and Europe for 3 days in a row

Latin America has reported more new coronavirus cases than either the United States or Europe for three consecutive days, driven by high numbers in Brazil, Peru and Mexico, CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins University and World Health Organization data shows.

The numbers: The region reported at least 32,854 new cases on Wednesday, with more than half of them in Brazil.

The US reported 22,534 new cases that day, according to JHU, while Europe -- including Russia -- reported about 17,900, according to the WHO. Both agencies rely on national governments for their data.

Latin America also reported more new cases than the US or Europe on Tuesday, CNN calculations show: At least 29,240 in Latin America, compared to 22,391 in the United States and about 19,200 in Europe.

And on Monday, Latin America reported at least 23,388 new infections, while the US reported 22,813 and Europe reported about 20,000.

CNN is tracking worldwide coronavirus cases here:

10:06 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Michigan AG: Trump is "like a petulant child" for not wearing a mask at Ford plant

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

In this June 4, 2019, photo, Dana Nessel, Attorney General of Michigan, listens to a question from reporters in Detroit.
In this June 4, 2019, photo, Dana Nessel, Attorney General of Michigan, listens to a question from reporters in Detroit. Paul Sancya/AP

After US President Donald Trump refused to wear a mask in front of cameras during his visit to a Ford manufacturing plant on Thursday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel did not hold back in her condemnation.

"Today's events were extremely disappointing and yet totally predictable," Nessel told CNN's Wolf Blitzer during an interview.

"The President is like a petulant child who refuses to follow the rules and I have to say this is no joke," Nessel continued.

On Tuesday, Ford said it had shared its safety policies with the White House -- including that everyone wear a mask "in all facilities, at all times" -- but added that "the White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination."

Nessel said Trump's failure to comply with the plant's guidelines is consistent with his behavior to this point.

"The message he's sent is the same message since he first took office in 2017, which is I don't care about you, I don't care about your health, I don't care about your safety, I don't care about your welfare, I don't care about anyone but myself."

Nessel also took issue with the Ford facility for seemingly bending the rules specifically for the commander-in-chief.

"They knew exactly what the order was and if they permitted anyone, even the President of the United States, to defy that order, I think it has serious health consequences potentially to their workers," Nessel said.

She added: "The last thing we want to see is for this particular plant now to have to close its doors and shutter its doors again because someone may have been infected by the President. And that is a real possibility."

Nessel had a message for her constituents: "Even if you don't have a President of the United States that cares about the residents of this state, fortunately you have a governor and you have an attorney general who do. And we are going to do everything in our power to protect you, even if you have a President who won't."

Read more:

8:39 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

Brazil reports biggest spike in deaths as coronavirus cases top 300,000

From CNN's Shasta Darlington, Flora Charner and Chandler Thornton

Brazil recorded its highest number of deaths from coronavirus within 24 hours and surpassed 300,000 total cases, the country's health ministry announced on Thursday.

The country reported 1,188 new deaths, bringing its total to 20,047 Covid-19-related fatalities.

Brazil's total number of confirmed cases reached 310,087 on Thursday, up 18,508 from Wednesday, the ministry said.

Some context: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who once compared the virus to "a little flu," sent a tweet on Wednesday about the new health ministry protocol regarding the use of chloroquine to treat mild and moderate cases of Covid-19.

He tweeted: "There is still no scientific proof, but it is being monitored and used in Brazil and around the world…we are at war 'the shame of not fighting is worse than being defeated' – God Bless our Brazil."
9:00 p.m. ET, May 21, 2020

5% of antibody tests in the UK are positive, health secretary says

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio

Around 5% of United Kingdom antibody tests are positive, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said during a daily briefing on Thursday, citing a surveillance study conducted by the British government.

According to Hancock, the UK government’s antibody surveillance study has also shown that the percentage that tested positive for coronavirus antibodies in London is higher at 17%.

The study "has told us that around 17% of people in London and around 5% or higher in the rest of the country have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies," Hancock said.

Swiss multinational healthcare company Roche, and American multinational medical devices and health care company Abbott will supply the UK government with 10 million coronavirus antibody tests, Hancock said.