May 24 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Jenni Marsh, Rob Picheta and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 10:04 p.m. ET, May 24, 2020
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9:07 a.m. ET, May 24, 2020

G7 Summit likely to occur in person in late June

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

The G7 Summit will likely occur in person and in late June, not mid-June as was originally planned, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said on CBS this morning.

“I think the G7 leaders would love to meet in person,” O’Brien said.

He said President Trump has extended invitations to the leaders and received a “great response.”

“I think we’d be looking at the end of June, at this point,” O’Brien said of the timing, citing the “logistics” of bringing so many heads of state to Washington.


9:04 a.m. ET, May 24, 2020

Trump administration likely to announce temporary travel restrictions to Brazil because of spike

From CNN's Sarah Westwood and Austen Bundy

A man sits alone at the food court of the Manaus AM Eduardo Gomes International Airport in Manaus, Brazil, on May 18.
A man sits alone at the food court of the Manaus AM Eduardo Gomes International Airport in Manaus, Brazil, on May 18. Andre Coelho/Getty Images

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday the administration is likely to announce new restrictions on travel to Brazil.

O’Brien, during an interview with CBS, said the administration is likely to make a decision about restricting travel to Brazil today, and said White House officials “hope that will be temporary.”

He said the White House would “take a look at the other countries on a country by country basis” in that region.

When asked about reporting that the European travel restrictions from mid-March came too late to stop the virus from spreading through the US, O’Brien highlighted President Trump’s decision to restrict some travel to China. O'Brien suggested that US officials were unaware that people traveling through Europe from China could bring Covid-19 to America in the weeks before the European travel restrictions were implemented.

“We didn’t know at the time but we later learned that the Chinese continued to allow people to travel from Wuhan to Europe,” he said.

Some context: Coronavirus has yet to peak in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest and worst-infected big city, but the healthcare system is already beginning to break down.

As the crisis deepens and the number of deaths continues to rise, President Jair Bolsonaro is urging businesses to reopen. He opposes many governors who are stressing social distancing measures to slow the spread.

Far from hospitals, Brazil's indigenous people are dying at an alarming rate. The death toll is double that of the rest of Brazil's population, according to the advocacy group Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil.


8:35 a.m. ET, May 24, 2020

Is it safe to worship together? Here's what you need to know about coronavirus on Sunday, May 24

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

Pastor Billy Jones speaks to his congregation at Dunseverick Baptist Church in Bushmills, Northern Ireland, on May 24.
Pastor Billy Jones speaks to his congregation at Dunseverick Baptist Church in Bushmills, Northern Ireland, on May 24. Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Houses of worship have become the latest coronavirus battleground in the United States.

President Donald Trump declared them "essential" on Friday, calling for them to reopen "right now" and threatening to override governors who resist.

All 50 US states have taken steps to ease lockdown restrictions. But some states still ban large gatherings, including religious services, as the coronavirus death toll approaches 100,000.

Several Covid-19 clusters have been linked to places of worship. When a person who later learned they had the virus attended a California religious service two weeks ago, 180 other people were exposed to coronavirus.

Much like stay-at-home orders and mandatory face masks, the issue has deeply divided Americans. The Interfaith Alliance and the Council on American-Islamic Relations criticized Trump's calls and advised against holding services. The Southern Baptist Convention, however, said they were "pleased" with the President's announcement.

Europe has exercised more caution when reopening religious services. French and Italian authorities allowed them to resume this week for the first time in months. But strict rules are in place. Masks and hand sanitizers are mandatory and seats have to be placed at a safe distance from each other.

Meanwhile, Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-FItr. The religious holiday will be a somber affair this year, just like the month that preceded it.

What's important today

Brazil's deepening crisis: Coronavirus has yet to peak in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest and worst-infected big city, but the healthcare system is already beginning to break down. As the crisis deepens and the number of deaths continues to rise, President Jair Bolsonaro is urging businesses to reopen. He opposes many governors who are stressing social distancing measures to slow the spread.

The lockdown trounces women's rights: The coronavirus seems to be more deadly for men. But in most other ways, women are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. From a spike in domestic violence and restricted access to family-planning services, to a disproportionate economic impact, lockdown measures are hurting women and their basic rights more than men.

What antibody tests can -- and can't -- reveal: Roughly 12% of Moscow residents are believed to have coronavirus antibodies, the Russian capital's health authorities said yesterday. But health experts have warned against putting too much hope on antibody testing, because it's unclear whether people become immune after catching the virus. 

Hong Kong protesters take to the streets despite virus restrictions: Thousands of people flooded Hong Kong streets today, opposing the Chinese government's move to impose a national security law that threatens the city's autonomy. Police fired tear gas at protesters as they began the march, which did not receive official authorization and went against coronavirus social distancing restrictions banning groups of more than eight people from gathering.

On our radar

  • Thrift stores across the US are seeing a deluge of donations from people who've had months to think about the things they don't need.
  • The New York Times has devoted its entire front page to publishing the names of 1,000 people who lost their lives to coronavirus.
  • A cluster of coronavirus cases in the US state of Arkansas has been linked to a swim party. Unlike other states, Arkansas has not been under a stay-at-home order to limit the spread of coronavirus.
  • North Dakota's governor has made an emotional plea to avoid division over face masks.
  • With many restaurants closed in the US, rat sightings are increasing as the rodents search for sources of food beyond restaurant dumpsters.

A version of this story appeared in the May 24 edition of CNN's Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Read the full version here, and sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.

6:40 a.m. ET, May 24, 2020

New York Times publishes names of 1,000 lives lost to coronavirus

From CNN's Brian Stelter

The most important word on the front page of Sunday's New York Times is "incalculable."

The total losses from the Covid-19 pandemic are, indeed, incalculable. The losses are greater than any illustration or description. But The Times is trying, in a unique way, by dedicating Sunday's front page and three inside pages to the names of about 1,000 victims.

The result: A front page devoid of any photographs, news articles, ads, or anything else. The entire page is filled with the dead, under a banner headline that says "U.S. DEATHS NEAR 100,000, AN INCALCULABLE LOSS."

Many experts say the Covid-19 death toll is even worse, because some victims died at home or weren't counted for other reasons. But as the number of confirmed deaths approaches 100,000, editors and reporters at The Times talked about ways to take stock of what has happened in the past few months.

"We knew that there should be some way to try to reckon with that number," Simone Landon, an assistant editor of the Times' Graphics desk, said in a behind the scenes feature.

Landon said the project is also a response to "a little bit of a fatigue."

Read more here.

5:33 a.m. ET, May 24, 2020

Coronavirus is killing more men. But the lockdown is disastrous for women and their rights

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

The novel coronavirus seems to be more deadly for men. But in every other way, women are bearing the brunt of this pandemic.

From a spike in domestic violence and restricted access to family-planning services to disproportionate economic impact, the lockdown measures put in place to stop the outbreak are hurting women and their basic rights a lot more than men. Previous epidemics of Ebola and Zika have resulted in major setbacks for women and girls in the regions most affected by the outbreaks -- and experts and activists are warning the same thing is happening globally right now.

A CNN analysis earlier this year found that in the countries for which data was available, men were 50% more likely than women to die after being diagnosed with Covid-19. But experts say focusing purely on health data is dangerous.

"We think about this crisis in very narrow terms, only focusing on the health impacts, but we're missing the bigger picture," said Julia Smith, a researcher at the Simon Fraser University in Canada. Smith is working on a multi-year project looking at the wider impact of the pandemic.

"Men are having worse health outcomes if they become infected, but when we think about the secondary impacts, here we see that women are being disproportionately affected," she added.

The pandemic is worsening problems women were facing even before it started. "Crises like this exacerbate already existing structural inequalities in society -- when it comes to women's rights, women's health, and women's economic status, this is exactly what we are seeing now," said Kristina Lunz, co-founder of The Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy.

Read more here.

5:31 a.m. ET, May 24, 2020

The row over Dominic Cummings isn't going away: what the papers say

From CNN's Rob Picheta

Cummings outside his London home on Saturday.
Cummings outside his London home on Saturday.

The saga engulfing Downing Street dominates newspaper front pages in the UK, as anger grows over reports that Boris Johnson's top aide ignored lockdown rules to make multiple trips across England.

The government spent Saturday batting the first round of stories about Dominic Cummings, after it emerged he went from London to Durham while his wife was sick with Covid-19 symptoms.

Ministers said Cummings, who is often painted as the mastermind behind the Brexit campaign and Boris Johnson's premiership, had merely traveled to his parents' home to get help with childcare -- despite the trip clearly going against the guidance that people do not travel to see family members and self-isolate in one place if they have symptoms.

But much of that defense appeared to be crafted based on the idea that Cummings had only made the one trip. The Observer and Daily Mirror reported on Saturday evening, however, that witnesses had seen Cummings near Durham again on multiple dates in April, after he had recovered from his Covid-19 symptoms.

Both papers, which worked on the story together, led their Sunday editions with the new claims and the calls for Johnson to sack Cummings.

Downing Street said in a fiery response to the latest stories that it "will not waste our time answering a stream of false allegations about Mr Cummings from campaigning newspapers" -- a remarkable attack on two national papers that suggests they are not backing down in their defense of the aide.

But the calls for him to quit only grew louder on Sunday, when Conservative MPs began to break with the party line and call for Cummings to go. Influential backbencher Steve Baker said it is "intolerable" that Johnson's government is giving up so much political capital to save Cummings' job.

Simon Hoare added on Twitter: “Lockdown has had its challenges for everyone. It’s his cavalier “I don’t care; I’m cleverer than you” tone that infuriates people. He is now wounding the PM/Govt & I don’t like that.”

Cummings' anti-establishment message, rough-and-ready demeanor and ruthless reputation have made him a controversial figure at the best of times.

But it is the manner in which the government is defending him -- and the potential that they are severely undermining their own lockdown measures to save his job -- that has angered critics.

"What worries me most is that some of the most senior politicians in the government have spent the weekend undermining laws and public health messaging designed to protect the public in the pandemic. All to defend their friend. This is what matters," Labour's shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy said on Sunday.

And the government is feeling the heat even from papers traditionally sympathetic to Boris Johnson.

The Telegraph, which counts the Prime Minister among its former columnists, splashed on the second claims -- which were revealed just in time on Saturday night to cause a new wave of questions on Sunday.

The Mail on Sunday meanwhile dedicated several pages of coverage to the scandal, while the Sunday Times led on Johnson's defense of his aide but noted that "voters demand Cummings resign" in its subhed.

Johnson has personally kept quiet during the weekend row, giving no interviews and making no public statements about Cummings. But it is increasingly evident that this political row has become a defining moment in the UK's coronavirus response.

4:06 a.m. ET, May 24, 2020

Conservative lawmaker calls on Boris Johnson's embattled aide to resign

From CNN's Simon Cullen

Dominic Cummings faces reporters at his London home on Saturday.
Dominic Cummings faces reporters at his London home on Saturday. Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

One of Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party lawmakers has called on the Prime Minister’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings to resign for breaching coronavirus rules.

“Enough is enough,” Steve Baker wrote in an opinion piece for The Critic website. “Dominic Cummings must go before he does any more harm to the UK, the Government, the Prime Minister, our institutions or the Conservative Party.”

Baker said it is “intolerable” that Johnson’s government is losing so much political capital at the moment.

“Time is up. It is time for Dom to resign so Boris can govern within the conventions and norms which will see us through.

“It is time to get competing expert advice, decent software and better decisions, end the lockdown and start a long, hard recovery.”

A former adviser for Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, has also called on Cummings to resign.

“I think the second incident… if true, does it. I don’t think there’s any way around it,” Tom Swarbrick told Sky News.

“It’s very clear he broke the rules anyway and the mitigation that was being offered doesn’t stack up when you’ve had this second incident.”

The Guardian and Mirror newspapers are reporting that Cummings made a second trip from London to Durham during the coronavirus lockdown.

Downing Street said in response to the latest stories: “We will not waste our time answering a stream of false allegations about Mr. Cummings from campaigning newspapers.”

They follow earlier reports that Cummings made an initial journey to his parents for childcare while sick with Covid-19 symptoms.

4:15 a.m. ET, May 24, 2020

It's gone 9 a.m. in London and 4 p.m. in Hong Kong. Here's what you may have missed

There are more than 5.3 million cases of Covid-19 reported worldwide, and at least 342,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Here's the latest developments on the pandemic.

  • UK PM aide in hot water: Boris Johnson is under pressure to sack a top aide over multiple reported lockdown breaches. British police have confirmed that an officer made contact with the father of Dominic Cummings regarding his trip to Durham, PA Media reported. This information contradicts an earlier statement from Downing Street, which said police had made no contact with Cummings or his family. 
  • Plasma study: Hospitalized Covid-19 patients appear to fare better when they receive infusions of antibody-filled convalescent plasma, according to a study released on Friday. The study hasn’t been peer reviewed or published in an academic journal, but researchers said the findings are a good sign for the plasma therapy.
  • In the US: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum made an emotional plea with residents to not divide themselves over mask wearing or shame those who choose to wear masks, but to instead be empathetic. The country has more than 1.6 million cases, of which 21,361 were reported on Saturday.
  • India cases: India reported 6,767 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours -- the country's biggest one-day surge so far, said officials there on Sunday.
  • China lab: The director of Wuhan Virology Institute told Chinese state media that the institute did not have any knowledge of and had not encountered the coronavirus that caused this Covid-19 pandemic before December 30 last year.
  • Brazil cases spike: Brazil has overtaken Russia to have the second-highest total of confirmed cases, after the US. On Saturday, Brazil reported 16,508 new cases.
  • Indigenous bearing the brunt: That spike comes as a report said the mortality rate for Brazil's indigenous people is double that of the rest of Brazil's population, according to advocacy group Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB).

3:04 a.m. ET, May 24, 2020

What we know about Dominic Cummings -- Boris Johnson's chief aide who may have broken lockdown orders

Dominic Cummings arrives at Downing Street on February 12 in London, England.
Dominic Cummings arrives at Downing Street on February 12 in London, England. Peter Summers/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to sack his chief aide after it was reported he and his wife breached the UK’s lockdown by traveling across England to stay with his parents, while showing symptoms of coronavirus.

Here's what we know about the controversy:

What happened: An investigation by the Guardian and Mirror newspapers revealed that Dominic Cummings had been spotted in late March in Durham, more than 250 miles from his London home — seemingly in contravention of the government's lockdown regulations. 

Why that's significant: The UK’s coronavirus restrictions made clear that people must not visit any other household, including second residences or family homes, and must not carry out any non-essential travel.

What has Downing Street said? The British Prime Minister’s office has denied that top adviser Dominic Cummings breached coronavirus guidelines by traveling from London to Durham. Downing Street has called the reports in the Guardian and Mirror "false allegations" and "inaccurate stories" about Cummings. British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the Prime Minister has given his full support to Cummings, saying the decision was within the guidelines and aimed to provide his child with the necessary support.

"The reality of the matter is the 4-year-old child’s welfare is I think the important thing," he said. "It was a straightforward arrangement which meant that he stayed in the same place and prevented the possibility of a child, in this case, not having support around him."

What has Cummings said? The senior adviser said he “behaved reasonably and legally” when he travelled from London to Durham and will not consider resigning. Responding to a question about it not being a "good look" for the prime minister’s adviser to travel to Durham, Cummings replied: “Who cares about good looks. It’s a question about doing the right thing – not what you guys (journalists) think."

British police are involved: UK police confirmed that an officer made contact with the aide's father regarding his trip, the Press Association reported Saturday. That contradicts an earlier statement from Downing Street, which said that police made no contact with Cummings or his family.

Cummings' father told an officer that his son had traveled to the northeast of England and was "self-isolating in part of the property," according to Durham Police, the PA reported Saturday.