May 4 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Aditi Sangal and Kara Fox, CNN

Updated 0403 GMT (1203 HKT) May 5, 2021
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7:28 p.m. ET, May 4, 2021

Three Vegas casinos cleared to return to full capacity as workers get vaccinated

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino complex is seen on Las Vegas Blvdduring the current ) pandemic on April 23, 2020.
Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino complex is seen on Las Vegas Blvdduring the current ) pandemic on April 23, 2020. Barry Ambrose/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images/FILE

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas announced Tuesday it is cleared to operate its casino at 100% capacity after meeting vaccination goals for its employees.

The company has committed more than a million dollars in cash bonuses to its employees as an incentive to be vaccinated by May 8. 

“We believe the only clear path to normalcy and bringing our entire workforce back is through vaccinations,” Cosmopolitan CEO William McBeath said in a written statement Tuesday.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board is allowing casinos to end most of their pandemic operating restrictions – including having plastic dividers at gaming tables and slot machines – as long as they can show that at least 80% of their workers are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The Cosmopolitan announcement comes a day after a similar decision for Wynn Resorts, which operates Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Resort.

In a statement Monday, Wynn said 88% of their Las Vegas employees are vaccinated, but added, “Our employees and guests will continue to follow health and safety guidelines, including mask compliance, to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for all.” 

Casinos that do not meet the vaccination threshold are only allowed to operate at 80% capacity. Gov. Steve Sisolak has said he hopes all business across the state will be able to return to full capacity by June 1.

7:08 p.m. ET, May 4, 2021

California reports lowest daily Covid death toll in over a year

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

California’s health department reported two deaths resulting from Covid-19 Tuesday, the first time fatalities have dropped that low in more than a year.

The state’s low death toll comes on the heels of two straight days with Los Angeles County reporting zero fatalities. Both the state and county tallies are expected climb as reporting lags are updated.

Through the course of the pandemic, more than 60,000 California residents died as the result of Covid-19, and over 3.6 million were infected with the virus, state data shows.

About 1,300 newly confirmed cases were reported Tuesday, continuing the steep decline in new cases as more and more residents become vaccinated against the virus. More than 30 million doses have been administered to date, and almost 13 million, or 32% of Californians have been fully vaccinated. 

Reopening: The Golden State continues to shuffle its 58 counties through four tiers of reopening guidelines. Currently there are none in the most restrictive tier, and seven, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, are in the least restrictive tier. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans for the entire state to reopen completely by June 15.

6:41 p.m. ET, May 4, 2021

The US can reach Biden's Covid-19 vaccination goal by shifting strategy, Fauci says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas


The US can reach President Biden’s Covid-19 vaccination goal by shifting where and how most vaccines are offered, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday.

Biden announced a plan Tuesday to administer at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine to 70% of the nation’s adult population by July 4.

“I think we're going to be able to do it, and I think it's by changing a little bit of the strategy – getting out of the mass vaccination approach, and really putting in walk-in capabilities in 40,000 or so pharmacies throughout the country, getting mobile units going, getting the local capability of accessibility rather than these broad, mass vaccination sites,” Fauci told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a top Biden adviser, noted that shifting the strategy may help the US keep up its daily vaccination numbers 

“When you have a large cohort of people to vaccinate, it's easier to get a large number on a per-day vaccination,” he said. “As the pool of people who are unvaccinated gets smaller, it gets a little bit more difficult, and that's the reason why you want to do a modification of strategy.”

6:49 p.m. ET, May 4, 2021

Fauci says vaccinations for children "of any age" may be possible by late 2021 or early 2022

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Covid-19 vaccinations could be approved for use by individuals of any age by the end of this year or early next year, Dr. Anthony Fauci said today.

"Absolutely, that's the ultimate goal," said Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, when asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if the vaccines might eventually be considered a safe, routine childhood vaccination.

Fauci said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would continue to pursue an "age de-escalation" strategy, taking time to prove the vaccine is safe for increasingly younger age groups. 

"We would hope by the time we get to the end of calendar 2021 and the beginning of the first quarter of 2022, we'll be able to vaccinate children of any age," he said. 

Fauci's comments followed reporting that the US Food and Drug Administration is poised to authorize Pfizer/BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine for children and teens ages 12 to 15 by early next week.

"The efficacy of the vaccine in 12 to 15 years old was essentially 100% and it was really quite safe," said Fauci, urging young people to get the vaccine. "It has a good safety profile and it's highly efficacious. That's something you shouldn't walk away from."

6:30 p.m. ET, May 4, 2021

Fewer than 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses reported administered since Monday, CDC says

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

Fewer than 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been reported administered since Monday as the pace of vaccinations across the US falls, according to data published Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Over the past week, a daily average of just under 2.2 million doses have been reported administered each day. Daily increases tend to be larger later in the week, but this is the lowest average daily rate since March 10. 

Overall, the CDC reported that 247,769,049 total doses have been administered, about 78% of the 318,474,035 doses delivered. 

About 44.5% of the US population – nearly 148 million people – have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and 32% of the US population – more than 106 million people – are fully vaccinated. 

Note: Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported. 

5:51 p.m. ET, May 4, 2021

Authorization of vaccine for younger children will take longer, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta says

From CNN's Elise Hammond


As the US Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine for children and teens ages 12 to 15 years-old by early next week, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, said it's going to take longer to get the shot in arms of even younger kids.

He said researchers and the FDA will have to take additional steps to ensure that the vaccine is safe for kids 2 to 11 years old because the dosage will be different.

Right now, Pfizer applied for emergency use authorization for 12-to-15 year-olds using the same size dose as adults.

"It's going to be really figuring out right dose and figuring out safety of various doses, so they may do those dose escalation trials," Gupta said about the next age group.

He said he thinks scientists will be able to figure out the safe dose by the end of the year or at least by the fall.

"There's plenty of evidence that this vaccine produces antibodies and those antibodies are protective. But I think for 2-to-11-year-olds there's going to be a couple extra steps which is why it will take a little longer," he said.

Once kids are vaccinated, Gupta said they will be able to play outside, participate in team sports without masks and gather indoors with other vaccinated friends, among other things. He said it is important for children to get vaccinated because it increases the percentage of the US population that is eligible to get the shot – get the country closer to herd immunity.

For context: The FDA is currently reviewing data submitted by Pfizer to support the extended use. Pfizer said at the end of March that a clinical trial involving 2,260 12-to-15-year-olds showed its efficacy is 100% and it is well tolerated. The vaccine is currently authorized in the US for emergency use in people 16 and older.

5:41 p.m. ET, May 4, 2021

US could face another winter surge of Covid-19 if it doesn't meet 80% herd immunity, expert says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Paul Offi
Dr. Paul Offi CNN

The US needs to reach 80% herd or community immunity or the nation could be in store for another surge in the coronavirus pandemic this winter, vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit said Tuesday. 

“The proof will be in the pudding next winter,” Offit told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “If we don't get there to 80%, then I think you'll see another surge of this virus next winter.”

Offit is director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the US Food and Drug Administration's vaccine advisory committee.

He went on to say that the 80% population immunity could be achieved through a combination of both vaccination and immunity from natural infection. 

President Biden announced Tuesday a goal to administer at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine to 70% of the nation’s adult population by July 4.

5:25 p.m. ET, May 4, 2021

India's neighbor Maldives sees record high daily coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Sugam Pokharel

The Maldives on Tuesday reported its record high of at least 601 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the country's Health Protection Agency. 

The Indian Ocean island nation has so far reported 31,931 cases and 74 deaths related to the virus, the agency's data showed. Coronavirus cases have been rising since mid-April when a second Covid-19 wave started sweeping through its northern neighbor India. 

The surge comes as Maldivian officials last month announced plans to offer vaccinations to tourists on arrival in a bid to lure more visitors. 

Abdulla Mausoom, the country's minister for tourism, confirmed that the Maldives is developing a "3V tourism" scheme, which would allow tourists to "Visit, Vaccinate and Vacation.” The scheme aims to help boost tourism on the Indian Ocean island archipelago, which had an average of 1.7 million visitors a year before the pandemic. 

Data from the Michigan State University indicates that tourism contributes 28% of the Maldives's GDP, one of the highest totals in the world. 

The Maldives was one of the first countries to fully reopen to travelers last year.  

4:17 p.m. ET, May 4, 2021

Death of Covid-19 patients due to oxygen shortage is “not less than a genocide,” Indian court says  

From CNN's Sugam Pokharel

People wait to refill their medical oxygen cylinders for the Covid-19 coronavirus patients under home quarantine at a private refill centre in New Delhi on May 4.
People wait to refill their medical oxygen cylinders for the Covid-19 coronavirus patients under home quarantine at a private refill centre in New Delhi on May 4. Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images

A court in India on Tuesday said that deaths of Covid-19 patients due to lack of oxygen is a “criminal act and not less than a genocide," according to a judgement posted on the court's website.  

The Allahabad High Court, which has jurisdiction over India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state, said, “Death of Covid patients just for non supplying of oxygen to the hospitals is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure continuous procurement and supply chain of the liquid medical oxygen.”   

A two-justice bench of the court made the remark during a hearing related to the Covid-19 crisis in Uttar Pradesh, which is among the worst-hit states in India's deadly second wave of the pandemic.      

In a strong criticism of the Uttar Pradesh government’s handling of the crisis, the state’s top court cited videos showing hoarding of oxygen cylinders and harassment of poor people begging for an oxygen cylinder.  

“We find these news items showing a quite contrary picture to one claimed by the (state) government that there was sufficient supply of oxygen,” the court stated.  

It pointed out two specific stories of Covid-19 patients allegedly dying due to the lack of oxygen in the cities of Meerut and Lucknow, and directed the state government to take “immediate remedial measures" and ordered an inquiry into the two cases.  

The state's government is yet to formally respond to the judgement.

The court also noted that the Covid-19 protocol and guidelines could have been flouted during the counting of votes in a local election held recently – and ordered the state’s election authorities to provide CCTV of the counting.