May 18 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0003 GMT (0803 HKT) May 19, 2021
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1:13 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

Lollapalooza returning to Chicago this summer

From CNN’s Omar Jimenez

Festival goers attend Lollapalooza at Grant Park in Chicago, in 2019.
Festival goers attend Lollapalooza at Grant Park in Chicago, in 2019. Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Lollapalooza, Chicago's iconic music festival, is back at full capacity this July, the city announced in a statement today. 

Attendees must be fully vaccinated and those unvaccinated must present a negative Covid-19 test prior to attending the festival.

“Here in Chicago, the word ‘Lollapalooza’ has always been synonymous with summer, great music and four days of unforgettable fun – which made last year’s decision to postpone it all the more difficult,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in the statement. 

“Now, less than a year later and armed with a vaccine that is safe, effective and widely available, we are able to bring back one of our city’s most iconic summer music festivals," Lightfoot added.

12:56 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

Go There: CNN reports from Tokyo as protests grow to cancel the Olympic Games

People protest against the hosting of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, on May 17.
People protest against the hosting of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, on May 17. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

Protests are being held in Tokyo to support the cancellation of the Olympic Games as the Covid-19 pandemic worsens in the country. Japan has only fully vaccinated about 1% of its population.

CNN correspondent Selina Wang reports from Tokyo.


12:39 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

Kenyan doctors hope to receive Covid-19 vaccines donated by the US

From CNN’s Bethlehem Feleke, Larry Madowo and Saskya Vandoorne 

A nurse prepares a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Nairobi, Kenya, on April 21.
A nurse prepares a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Nairobi, Kenya, on April 21. Yasuyoski Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Kenyan doctors hope to receive a share of the vaccines donated by the United States in partnership with the COVAX initiative in time for second shots, Dr. Kanyenje Gakombe, the chair of Kenya Healthcare Federation, told CNN on Tuesday.

As Covid-19 vaccines in the country near depletion, Gakombe says he hopes that some of the 80 million doses being donated by the US will reach Kenyans.

"Especially to those who received the first, it would be very, very great if they got the second dose so that the vaccine serves the purpose it was meant for," he said.

Kenya is weeks away from finishing its stock of doses having only vaccinated less than 2% of the population, and had solely relied on AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility. Shipments have been halted to several African countries after India suspended exports of the vaccine due to the second wave.

Nearly 1 million people in Kenya have been vaccinated with their first shot of AstraZeneca, with no promises of a second dose yet.

Eighty million doses donated by the US in partnership with COVAX would be critical for countries like Kenya, after the Serum Institute of India — the world's largest vaccine manufacturer that was supplying COVAX — said it would not be able to resume the supply until the end of this year.

Gakombe, who is also the CEO of a private hospital in Nairobi, had his facility equipped with a brand-new oxygen production plant in preparation of a potential fourth wave.

"March was a bad month, Easter was a terrible period to my staff and I, because all of us were shopping for oxygen," Gakombe said adding that patients in Kenya had died because of a shortage of oxygen in the last wave.

12:32 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

India's Serum Institute hopes to start delivering Covid-19 vaccines to COVAX by end of 2021

From CNN’s David McKenzie, Eleanor Pickston and Manveena Suri

The Serum Institute of India (SII) said it hopes to start delivering Covid-19 vaccine doses to COVAX and other nations only by the end of the year, and will continue to prioritize India, it said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The CEO of the Institute, Adar Poonawalla, said his company has “never exported vaccines at the cost of the people of India and remain committed to do everything we can in the support of the vaccination drive in the country.”

The Serum institute is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer and has been under intense pressure to ramp up production of vaccines for India as the country suffers through a devastating wave of Covid-19.

The timeline on exporting vaccines to COVAX and individual countries is another blow for global vaccine distribution. The COVAX initiative aimed at distributing vaccines to poorer countries already faces significant shortfalls because of the crisis in India and rich countries buying up vaccine supply. 

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 had to pause exports in March as India battled its second wave of the coronavirus infections.

The statement from the SII comes as India’s central government continues to face scrutiny for a shortage of vaccine supplies, with many state governments blaming it on the decision to export vaccines. 

Acknowledging there has been “intense discussion” on the decision to export vaccines”, Poonawalla said it was “important that before we make conclusions, we consider a few important aspects of the events that have transpired.”

In his statement, Poonawalla said that in January 2021, the company had a large stockpile of vaccine doses. Coupled with a successful launch of the vaccination drive and the number of daily cases at an all-time low, “most people, including health experts believed that India was turning the tide on the pandemic.”

The statement continued that it was during this time “many other countries in the world were facing an acute crisis and were in desperate need of help. Our government extended support wherever possible during this period.”

Some background: The Indian government has exported at least 66.3 million vaccines to date to countries across the globe, out of which 19.8 million doses were given to the COVAX alliance, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

India launched its vaccination drive on Jan. 16, first prioritizing heath care and frontline workers, followed by people above the age of 60 and those over 45 with existing health conditions. 

On May 1, the drive was extended to include everyone above the age of 18. However, several states have faced challenges due a shortage of vaccine supplies.

You can read more on this story here.

12:25 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

People in New York's Time square react to new mask guidelines

From CNN's Alexandra Field, Evan Simko-Bednarsk and Mirna Alsharif

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that the state will adopt the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to not require masks or social distancing for vaccinated people, except for certain circumstances, beginning on Wednesday. 

CNN’s Alexandra Field asked people in New York City's Times Square how they feel about this.

Adam Kreiselman, who is fully vaccinated, told CNN he is going to stick with the mask anyway.

"I just think it's safer and not everybody is vaccinated yet," said Kreiselman. "This seems cleaner and healthier, and germ free."

Kyle Weiss, on the other hand, feels confident going without the mask.

"I'm vaccinated so I feel completely confident in the vaccine and I feel fine," Weiss said. "So, yeah, I mean obviously inside buildings and close quarters I still wear my mask or what not, so I'm very modest to other people but outside when I'm by myself obviously, usually, you know, in passing, there's no concern, at least in my head."

Hear more reaction from people in New York:

12:28 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

Slow uptake of Covid-19 vaccine in rural areas could prolong the pandemic, CDC says

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

People who live in rural areas have an increased risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19, yet the vacation rate in these areas lags behind cities – and that could hinder the end of the pandemic, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Through April of this year, vaccination coverage was nearly 39% in rural counties, compared to more than 46% in urban counties, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published Tuesday. Yet, in September, the incidence of Covid-19 in rural counties surpassed those in urban counties.

Getting a vaccine to people in rural areas can be difficult. While people who live in these rural areas are more vulnerable to severe Covid-19 in part because they have a higher number of underlying health conditions, fewer people are insured, and easy access to a doctor for regular appointments is difficult in many rural parts of the country.

The trend over the last century has been for people to move to big cities, yet about 60 million people still live in rural counties – a fifth of the US population. If this low vaccination rate continues, this could have a negative impact on the country’s overall efforts to control Covid-19.

“Because residents of rural communities are at increased risk for severe COVID-19-associated illness and death, vaccination disparities between urban and rural areas might hinder efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 nationally,” the report said.

The CDC recommends that public health leaders collaborate with doctors and local influencers in rural areas to address hesitancy, to ensure equitable vaccine access, and to encourage more people to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

11:00 a.m. ET, May 18, 2021

Covid-19 vaccination rate among people of color was 51% the last couple of weeks, White House says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

White House Covid-19 Response Team senior adviser Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith said Tuesday said that there are some “encouraging national trends,” particularly in relation to vaccinations in communities of color over the last couple of weeks. 

In the past two weeks, 51% of those vaccinated in the US were people of color – and that’s above the 40% general population representation for these groups.

“We recognize zip code is a stronger predictor of health,” Nunez-Smith said. Meeting people where they are, to bring the vaccine to the community, seems to be working, she said. 

Across all of the FEMA-run federal vaccination sites, about 60% of shots have been given to people of color and about 70% of shots administered through the federal government’s community health centers have been given to people of color.

“We know we must push further, and to do so, we have to make sure we reach everyone in this phase,” Nunez-Smith said.

11:50 a.m. ET, May 18, 2021

Over 27 million Covid-19 vaccine doses will be distributed this week in the US, White House says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

A health worker administers a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in Los Angeles, California, on May 14.
A health worker administers a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in Los Angeles, California, on May 14. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Over 27 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be distributed this week, the White House announced Tuesday.

“This week, more than 27 million doses will go out into the country,” White House senior Covid adviser Andy Slavitt said at Tuesday’s Covid briefing.

Here’s our latest list on vaccine distribution:

  • Week of May 19: over 27 million doses
  • Week of May 10: 28 million doses
  • Week of May 3: over 29 million doses
  • Week of April 26: nearly 30 million doses
  • Week of April 19: 28 million doses
  • Week of April 12: 28 million doses
  • Week of April 5: 33 million doses
  • Week of March 29: 33 million doses
  • Week of March 22: 27 million doses
  • Week of January 18: 8.6 million doses

Slavitt also noted President Biden’s Monday announcement that the US will be sharing 80 million vaccines globally.

During his opening remarks, Slavitt shared some graduation wisdom with young people, encouraging them to get vaccinated as a civic duty.

“Get vaccinated. Whether you’re a graduate, still in high school and college, just our or more than a little bit out, it’s the most important thing you can do right now,” he said.

“Young people, they’ve been through a lot in this pandemic,” he added. “You’ve seen and experienced stress in a way you probably haven’t before. I know it’s been an anxious time, and you’ve been asked to do difficult things, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

He presented vaccination as something young people can do for the country and is “part of carrying the mantle of becoming the generation that changes things for the better.”

“You have the power to help your country and the world for the better right now,” Slavitt said.

He also shared that his son is still experiencing long-term Covid symptoms, including tachycardia, shortness of breath, and ongoing and frequent flu-like symptoms.

4:33 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

About 60% of people 18 and older have had at least one Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday during the White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing, that yesterday was a “landmark day”: 60% of people 18 and older in the US have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose.

In total, more than 3.5 million children ages 12 to 17 years old got their first dose, since the US Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine for this age group last week.

“We need to continue to ensure vaccination coverage is uniform across the country,” Walensky said. “This will require us to meet people where they are, to listen to their concerns, and to help people make informed decision about vaccination.” 

Correction: An earlier version of this post had the wrong number of doses given to children ages 12 to 17. More than 3.5 million 12- to 17-year-olds received their first dose.