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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4:06 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

60% of adults have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, CDC data shows

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

Alex Telfort receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from Delores Fye, a licensed practical nurse, at the UHealth's pediatric mobile clinic on May 17 in Miami.
Alex Telfort receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from Delores Fye, a licensed practical nurse, at the UHealth's pediatric mobile clinic on May 17 in Miami. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More than 158 million people have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to data published Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 60% of adults in the US have now received at least one shot and nearly 48% of adults are fully vaccinated. Among seniors, nearly 85% have received at least one shot and about 73% are fully vaccinated.

Overall, 275,535,207 total doses have been reported administered, about 80% of the 346,672,525 doses delivered.

That’s about 1.1 million more doses reported administered since Monday, for a seven-day average of about 1.8 million doses administered per day. The average seven-day pace of doses administered has been falling for more than a week and below 2 million shots per day for five days.

Seven states have reached the Biden administration’s goal to vaccinate at least 70% of adults with at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine by July 4 — Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont — and 18 states have fully vaccinated at least half of their adult residents.

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

3:22 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

US Defense Department to reduce vaccination support team sizes

From CNN's Michael Conte

The US Department of Defense announced they will be reducing the size of the 30 teams that are providing support to community vaccine centers in the coming days and weeks.

“Several DOD-supported community vaccine centers will be mission complete – in other words, done – and will begin reducing personnel as the sites reassess the size of the vaccination support teams that are going to be needed,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby at a briefing to reporters.

 DOD personnel has administered 15 million vaccines over 900 sites, according to Kirby.

3:11 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

Texas governor bans state government agencies from mandating masks

From CNN’s Hannah Sarisohn

Students wearing face masks work on computers at Tibbals Elementary School in Murphy, Texas, on December 3, 2020.
Students wearing face masks work on computers at Tibbals Elementary School in Murphy, Texas, on December 3, 2020. LM Otero/AP

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order today prohibiting state governmental entities such as counties, school districts, and public health authorities from requiring mask-wearing, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

The executive order allows public schools to continue current mask-wearing guidelines through June 4. However, after June 4, no student, teacher, parent, or staff member can be required to wear a mask on school grounds, according to the order.

Local governmental entities attempting to impose a mask mandate can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000, the release said.

The order exempts state-supported living centers, government-owned or operated hospitals, state department of justice facilities and county and municipal jails, according to the release.

"Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans' liberty to choose whether or not they mask up,” Abbott said in the release.

Abbott’s order comes less than a week after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated guidance allowing vaccinated people to be both outdoors and indoors without a mask in most cases. Texas lifted its statewide mask mandate on March 2.

2:07 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

Oxford scientist: “Morally wrong” to vaccinate kids before high risk citizens in poorer countries

From CNN’s Eleanor Pickston

It is “morally wrong” for children in wealthier countries to be offered a Covid-19 vaccination before those at high risk in poorer countries, Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, told UK lawmakers on Tuesday. 

Professor Pollard, who heads the group which helped develop the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, said that the overall aim of a global vaccination programme in a pandemic, is to “stop people dying” and that priority groups are known to be over 50s, those with health conditions and healthcare workers. 

“We are in a situation at the moment where there are many unvaccinated people in the world but not enough doses for everyone yet. But there are many unvaccinated people in the world, whilst people whose risk is extremely low of disease are being vaccinated, including children, who have near-to-zero the risk of severe disease or death,” Pollard told the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus. 

Referring to the deadly coronavirus wave in parts of South Asia, Pollard commented that the “inequity is absolutely plain to see,” with medical staff facing “the most appalling circumstances, they’re not working in a situation where there’s an NHS to support them.”

“It feels completely wrong to be in a situation morally where we were allowing that to happen, whilst in many countries vaccines are being rolled out to younger and younger populations at very, very low risk,” Pollard added. 

The comments come just a day after UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs that the UK now has enough Pfizer vaccine for all children over 12, if it is clinically approved for 12 to 18s. 

The world has “lost the direct line of sight of what we’re trying to do to end the pandemic, and that’s to stop direct pressure on health systems, and that’s not just here in the UK, that’s in all countries, and you only do that by focussing the doses you have on those who are at risk of going into hospital,” Pollard concluded. 

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: