May 11 coronavirus news

By Brad Lendon, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, James Griffiths, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0007 GMT (0807 HKT) May 12, 2021
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11:57 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

Americans are going out more and wearing masks less, poll finds

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

A crowd looks on during the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo in San Angelo, Texas, on April 16.
A crowd looks on during the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo in San Angelo, Texas, on April 16. Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images

Americans are going out more and wearing masks less, according to new poll results from Axios-Ipsos published on Tuesday.

Pandemic-high numbers of Americans have gone out to eat in the last week: 54% – a six-point increase since the last poll, and the first the number has been above 50%. Fifty-nine percent say they visited friends and family in the last week, according to the poll, which was conducted May 7 to 10, and based on a nationally representative sample of 1,078 US adults.

These numbers are similar in vaccinated and unvaccinated people, with a majority of both groups saying they have done these things. 

Behavior around mitigation measures is also changing. More than half of those polled – 56% – are still social distancing, but this is down eight points from the beginning of last month, and 14 points from two months ago. The number of people wearing masks whenever they leave the house is at 58%, down from 63% since the last poll, and at the lowest point since June.

The decrease in masking is primarily driven by vaccinated people; 65% are wearing a mask whenever they leave the house, compared with nearly three-quarters last month. Vaccinated people are still more likely to wear a mask, however, with only 46% of unvaccinated Americans wearing one whenever they leave their home.

Inside public spaces, 58% of respondents are still wearing a mask at all times. Just over 1 in 10 say they’re wearing one at all times when they spend time with people they know outdoors, or with fully vaccinated family and friends specifically. 

This comes as 43% of respondents think that returning to their normal pre-coronavirus life is a large or moderate health risk, down from 52% three weeks ago. Americans are also saying that some normal pre-coronavirus activities carry smaller risks.

Sixty percent, for example, thought that going to a salon, barbershop or spa carried small or no risk, compared to 54% in the last poll. There were also fewer respondents that thought going to a sporting event, going on vacation, working in an indoor office or eating at a restaurant carried a large or moderate health risk.

Summer plans were made in the last week by 31% of the respondents, including 39% of parents with a child under 18 years old. 

The poll also found that Americans’ emotional wellbeing and mental health were improving, with 18% saying their emotional wellbeing improved over the last week – a six point increase since the last poll and an all-time high during the pandemic. Sixteen percent said their mental health had improved, compared with 12% who said it worsened over the last week – the first time that more people said it had improved than worsened since the question was first asked.

There was no difference based on vaccination status, and younger Americans were more likely to say their mental health had improved over the last week.


10:58 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

US plans to have Covid-19 vaccine booster doses available if they’re needed, US health official tells Senate

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

The United States is planning to have booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines available if needed, Dr. David Kessler, chief science officer of Covid-19 response with the US Department of Health and Human Services, said Tuesday.

“We are planning, and I underscore the word planning, to have booster doses available if necessary for the American people,” Kessler told the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee. “Increased age, the natural waning of antibodies over time, and new variants increase the probability that booster doses may be needed.”

Kessler said in addition to planning for booster doses, the government is working on expanding vaccine access to children and aiding vaccine sharing with the rest of the world. 

Vaccine makers are studying booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines, but it’s not yet clear if or when such doses might be necessary or how frequently they might be needed to maintain a high level of protection.

11:00 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

Broadway blockbusters "Hamilton," "The Lion King," and "Wicked" will open Sept. 14

From CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Three of Broadway’s biggest shows – "Lion King," "Hamilton," and "Wicked" – will open Sept. 14 after more than a year of being dark, the shows announced jointly Tuesday. Tickets went on sale today. 

“It's kind of indescribable,” said L. Steven Taylor who plays Mufasa on Broadway. “Broadway coming back is really a community coming back and making New York really start to go,” he told ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday, who first announced the news. 

On Broadway alone, these three productions combined have employed nearly 1000 performers during their runs, with thousands more who have performed in these shows around the world, press representatives for the productions said in a joint press release following the GMA announcement.

“This rare alliance between three of Broadway's fan favorites sends a message that Broadway is united in its commitment to ending a devastating period of hardship for the tens of thousands who make their living directly on Broadway shows and the tens of thousands in dependent industries,” the press release said. 

The shows will open at 100% capacity while following state and CDC guidelines. The theaters will adapt to health protocols including face coverings, health screenings, enhanced air filtration and ventilation, and cleaning and disinfection, the release said. 

“Once were back we’ll be better than ever and New York City can revive as well,” Krystal Joy Brown told GMA, who plays Eliza in Hamilton.

An estimated 100,000 Broadway workers have been out of work during the pandemic. Broadway generates billions of dollars for New York City attracting tourists from around the world – who spend critical dollars at restaurants and shops particularly in the Times Square area. 

Some more context: Last week Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave theaters the greenlight to open on May 19 when capacity restrictions will lift in New York. But Broadway League, which represents more than 700 theaters, said shows will need time to ramp up production and targeted a fall reopening instead. 

Other Broadway shows including Phantom of the Opera, Doubtfire, and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical announced opening dates later this year.

10:30 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

India’s Goa state to treat Covid-19 patients with drug not recommended by FDA or WHO

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

The Indian state of Goa is to roll out the use of an anti-parasitic drug not recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization to treat Covid-19 patients.

While it does not prevent infection, the drug, ivermectin, “helps in reducing the severity of the disease,” according to Goa’s health minister, Vishwajit P. Rane, in a Facebook post on Monday.

The FDA has not authorized the use of ivermectin for treating or preventing Covid-19, stating on its website that “taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm.”

“Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. Ivermectin is not an anti-viral,” according to the FDA.

“If you have a prescription for ivermectin for an FDA-approved use, get it from a legitimate source and take it exactly as prescribed,” it adds. 

The WHO has also raised concerns with its Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan tweeting on Monday, “Safety and efficacy are important when using any drug for a new indication. @WHO recommends against the use of ivermectin for #COVID19 except within clinical trials.”

Alongside her tweet, Swaminathan posted a statement by US drugmaker Merck, which said there was “no scientific basis” for using ivermectin as a treatment against Covid-19 based on pre-clinical studies and cited “a lack of safety data in the majority of studies”.

In Goa, the treatment will be available across the state, with people able to collect the medication, irrespective of symptoms.

“I have given instructions for immediate implementation of the (Prophylaxis) treatment. In this, patients will be treated with Ivermectin 12mg for a period of five days,” Rane wrote on Facebook.

CNN has contacted WHO representatives in India and the Health Minister of Goa for comment.

10:29 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

AstraZeneca pledges $1 million in aid to India and other hard-hit communities  

From CNN’s Sarah Dean

A health worker wearing personal protective equipment walks inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid-19 ward in New Delhi, India, on April 27.
A health worker wearing personal protective equipment walks inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid-19 ward in New Delhi, India, on April 27. Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Images

British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has pledged $1 million in humanitarian aid to India and other communities around the world hardest hit by the pandemic, a statement from the company said Tuesday.

“This includes directing $250,000 USD to Direct Relief to support their efforts in India, which includes the distribution of oxygen concentrators, medicines, other supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) to provide treatment and care for those with COVID-19,” the statement said. It did not specify where the rest of the pledged money would be directed. 

“We remain steadfast in our continued commitment to changing the course of the pandemic for the people of India,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said. “We hope that through increasing vaccinations, humanitarian relief efforts, and critical donations of medicines and needed equipment, India will steadily recover from this crisis. We stand united with the people of India, as we work tirelessly to bring this pandemic to an end as quickly as possible.”

CEO of the Serum Institute of India – the world's largest vaccine maker – Adar Poonawalla said in the statement: “We thank AstraZeneca for their unwavering support. We are working together to scale up and committed to provide more vaccines to India by July. This will help us to protect countless lives against this devastating virus.”

The SII is producing the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, also known as Covishield, and has pledged to manufacture and deliver 200 million doses for COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing initiative that supplies discounted or free doses to lower-income countries. However, the SII has had to pause exports as India battles a deadly second wave of the coronavirus infections.

The SII responded to AstraZeneca's statement on Tuesday, tweeting: "Much appreciated help from AstraZeneca, will help save countless lives in India."

10:17 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

South African President: Unequal access to Covid-19 immunization amounts to "vaccine apartheid" 

From CNN's David McKenzie in Johannesburg

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks in Cape Town, South Africa, on May 6.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks in Cape Town, South Africa, on May 6. Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty images

Allowing millions of people to die in poorer countries while wealthy countries immunize their populations could amount to “vaccine apartheid,” according to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who also expressed his support for the proposal to waive patent rights for coronavirus shots.

“A situation in which the populations of advanced, rich countries are safely inoculated while millions in poorer countries die in the queue would be tantamount to vaccine apartheid,” Ramaphosa said in statement Monday.

If the international community is "truly committed to human rights and the values of equality and non-discrimination, vaccines should be viewed as a global public good,” he said.

"They should be made available to all, not just to the highest bidders,” Ramaphosa added. 

Signs of change: Last week, the Biden administration announced that it is supporting the temporary waiver on intellectual property rights of Covid-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization.

The waiver on patents that belong to pharmaceutical companies would allow other nations to develop generic versions of the drugs.

Some experts say that even with patents waivers, much of the developing world doesn't necessarily have the means to produce vaccines at the scale needed. They say there is an urgent need to simply share more of the rich world's vaccines and to transfer technology to help poorer countries manufacture shots further down the line.

10:39 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

After WHO reclassifies B.1.617 variant, CDC says it’s still a "variant of interest" in US

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Although the World Health Organization now classifies the B.1.617 coronavirus variant first identified in India as a "variant of concern,” it is still classified as a "variant of interest" in the United States.

Classifications of coronavirus variants in the United States may differ from the classifications made by WHO "since the importance of variants may differ by location," the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN in an email on Tuesday. 

The agency also noted that classifications could change — to escalate or deescalate — based on scientific evidence. The CDC works with the US Department of Health and Human Service' SARS-CoV-2 Interagency Group (SIG) on its classification scheme for variants.

"Since the importance of variants may differ by location, CDC, in collaboration with the SIG, is closely monitoring the emergence of the B.1.617 variant in the United States," the email said in part. "And this variant has been prioritized for characterization by the US government to better understand the potential impact on available medical countermeasures, including vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics."

10:02 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

CVS will begin administering Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to 12-to-15-year-olds after CDC recommendation

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

A pharmacy intern at CVS prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Littleton, Massachusetts, in December 2020.
A pharmacy intern at CVS prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Littleton, Massachusetts, in December 2020. Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

CVS pharmacies will begin administering Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in people 12-15 years old after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends it, the company told CNN on Tuesday.  

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the administration of the vaccine in 12-to-15-year-olds on Monday.

CDC’s ACIP is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to vote on whether to recommend the use of the vaccine in this age group.  

“We’re fully prepared to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children ages 12-15 at thousands of CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide as soon as permitted,” Matt Blanchette, retail communications with CVS Pharmacy said Tuesday. 

8:07 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

14-year-old in line for vaccine in Georgia says seeing his friend with Covid-19 prompted him to get the shot

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

A 14-year-old teen in Decatur, Georgia, lined up to get his Covid-19 vaccine a day after the US Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to be given to adolescents as young as 12.

“My friend got Covid and it looked really bad, and I just did not want to get it,” Jacob Laney told CNN’s Nick Valencia.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet Wednesday to advise the CDC on whether to recommend the use of the vaccine in this age group. But states make the decision on who gives the vaccines — and when.

“After I get my second dose, I might be able to see more people, but not actually go see them a lot. But, I think I'll be less scared of getting it and less scared of having issues involved with Covid-19,” he said.

Laney said he was out of his school building for a year over two grade changes. 

“We do go back to school now, but we have to be really far away and can't always talk to each other, and everyone has masks on. It's very confusing,” he said. 

Watch the interview: