May 25 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:08 p.m. ET, May 25, 2021
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10:55 a.m. ET, May 25, 2021

Fewer than half of Americans are now social distancing, poll finds

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

People walk on the Coney Island beach boardwalk in New York City on May 19.
People walk on the Coney Island beach boardwalk in New York City on May 19. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Fewer than half of Americans social distanced in the last week — the first time the percent has gone below 50% since the Axios-Ipsos poll began. The new poll data finds that 44% of Americans social distanced last week, down 12 percentage points from two weeks ago. 

The poll, published Tuesday, was conducted May 21 to 24 and made up of a nationally representative sample of 1,102 US adults.  

Those over the age of 50 and the vaccinated are the groups where some of the biggest changes are taking place in, but “regardless of gender, region of the country, partisanship, or race, people are socially distancing less than before.” 

This is happening at the same time as 45% of Americans are wearing masks whenever they leave their home, down from 58% two weeks ago. 

The change in mask wearing is driven by the decreasing numbers of vaccinated Americans masking at all times; the percent has dropped “dramatically,” Ipsos said, going from 65% two weeks ago to 47% now.

 Here are some more key findings:

  • On getting out of the house: Americans are also doing more outside the home: 63% visited friends or family in the last week and 58% have gone out to eat, four point increases from two weeks ago and 10 point increases from mid-April for both.
  • On going back to work: Returning to the office is one thing that hasn’t changed. One in three employed respondents said they worked from home or remotely, a number which has remained relatively constant this year and for much of late 2020. 
  • On what risky means: The percent of Americans who view their pre-coronavirus lifestyle as risky continues to drop; 38% saying it’s a large or moderate risk, down from 43% two weeks ago and 52% last month. Some activities are viewed as less risky, for example 22% say that attending in-person gatherings outside the home with family and friends poses no risk, which is up from 17% two weeks ago. However, there are activities that are still seen as risky, 58% say traveling on a plane poses a large or moderate risk, but this is down from 68% just over a month ago. Indoor concerts and going to a bar or nightclub are still seen as a large/moderate risk by 62% and 64% of respondents respectively. 
  • On the new mask guidance: The large majority of respondents – 96% — said that they had at least heard of updated guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention around masking and social distancing, and 82% said they were very or somewhat familiar with it. While most people – 69% — said that guidelines were clear, there were differences in how clear. Exactly half – 50% — said it was “somewhat clear” compared with only 19% who said it was “very clear.” Trust in the CDC to provide accurate Covid-19 information remains high and unchanged, with 66% of respondents saying they trusted the agency. 
10:26 a.m. ET, May 25, 2021

Americans don’t trust people outside their close circle to be honest about vaccination status, poll finds

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Americans don’t trust people who are outside of their close circle to be honest about whether they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19, according to new poll results from Axios-Ipsos published Tuesday. 

The poll found that 71% of respondents had a great deal or fair amount of trust in their coworkers to be honest about their vaccination status, and 88% felt this way about their family and close friends. The poll was conducted between May 21 to 24 and made up of a nationally representative sample of 1,102 US adults.

Trust was a lot lower when it came to groups outside of friends and family. 

Only 38% were likely to trust people outside their close circle. People in public settings were even less likely to be trusted, such as outdoor sporting events or concerts (25%), indoor restaurants and bars (25%) and airports (24%) 

Democrats were less likely to trust people to be honest than Republicans and Americans overall, especially when it came to trusting people who were opposed to taking the vaccine. Thirty-one percent of Americans overall trusted those who were opposed to the vaccine to be honest about if they were vaccinated, including 47% of Republicans and only 19% of Democrats. 

9:28 a.m. ET, May 25, 2021

White House expects US to reach 50% adults fully vaccinated today 

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Medical Assistant Odilest Guerrier administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Marie Val at a clinic in Immokalee, Florida, on May 20.
Medical Assistant Odilest Guerrier administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Marie Val at a clinic in Immokalee, Florida, on May 20. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The White House expects the US will reach a new milestone when it comes to vaccinations today with 50% of adults now fully vaccinated. Officials are expected to tout the numbers during today's coronavirus briefing at 1:30 p.m. ET, CNN has learned. 

As of Monday, the US was at 49.8% of adults fully vaccinated, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data reviewed by CNN's Deidre McPhillips. That means nearly 131 million people are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. 

Earlier this month, President Biden said he wanted 160 million US adults fully vaccinated by July 4. 

8:22 a.m. ET, May 25, 2021

Moderna says its Covid-19 vaccine is safe and appears effective in adolescents

From CNN's John Bonifield

Boxes of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are seen in freezers at Kedren Community Health Center in Los Angeles, California, on May 13.
Boxes of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are seen in freezers at Kedren Community Health Center in Los Angeles, California, on May 13. Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Moderna says its vaccine is safe and appears to be effective at preventing Covid-19 in adolescents.

In a Phase 2/3 trial of 3,732 children ages 12 to 17 in the United States, blood tests showed that the vaccine produced an immune response that was equivalent to earlier findings in adults 

The company did not provide an efficacy number as the trial wasn't designed to look specifically at efficacy. However, initial observations found that none of the children who received the vaccine got sick with Covid-19 starting 14 days after their second dose. Four of the children who received the placebo tested positive for Covid-19, which Moderna says is "consistent with a vaccine efficacy of 100%." The company notes that figure could change as more data is collected.

The company also reviewed how well the vaccine worked after just one dose. The results suggest that after one dose, the vaccine was 93% effective at preventing mild cases of Covid-19, involving only one symptom instead of two or more symptoms.

Moderna announced the results Tuesday in a news release, and the results have not yet been peer reviewed or published

The company said the vaccine was "generally well tolerated" and no significant safety concerns have been identified. Side effects included headache, fatigue, muscle pain and chills after administration of the second dose. Pain at the injection site was also sometimes observed.

Moderna says it plans to submit the results to the US Food and Drug Administration in early June along with a request for authorization to use the vaccine in adolescents. It also plans to submit the data to a peer-reviewed publication.

The Moderna vaccine is already authorized for use in people age 18 and older. Another Covid-19 vaccine – one made by Pfizer/BioNTech – is authorized for use in people age 12 and older.

4:34 a.m. ET, May 25, 2021

Delhi leader says Indian government vaccine procurement policies are "a joke"

From CNN’s Esha Mitra in New Delhi and CNN’s Amanda Sealy

Delhi’s deputy chief minister said the Indian central government's vaccine rollout is “a joke," saying international companies including Pfizer have declined their separate requests for vaccines. 

“What kind of a joke is being made of vaccines,” Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said in an online address Monday, while discussing the central government's efforts at vaccine procurement and distribution. 

“If we ask the central government for vaccines from Indian companies, they say they will give us only 4 lakh (400,000 doses),” Sisodia said. The population of Delhi was more than 11 million in the last census in 2011.

Sisodia added that when state governments went directly to foreign companies, they were told the companies were negotiating with the federal government instead.

The deputy chief minister claimed Moderna and Pfizer had declined the local government's requests for vaccinations, saying they would not sell to individual states. 

In a statement to CNN, Pfizer said the company would continue to engage with the Indian government on making their vaccine available for use in India.

“During the pandemic phase, across the world Pfizer is supplying the Covid-19 vaccine only to central Governments and supra-national organizations for deployment in the countries’ national immunization programs," the statement said.

"The allocation of doses and implementation plan within a country is a decision for local governments based on relevant health authority guidance.”

Moderna has not yet responded to CNN’s request for comment. 

Sisodia questioned why India is still dependent solely on two domestically-made vaccines, which were exported without first catering to in-country demand. 

“Why are vaccines not available, where did they go? I have said many times the central government is to blame for this," Sisodia said.

"If the country is forced to deal with the brunt of corona it's because the central government has completely failed in vaccine management."


3:46 a.m. ET, May 25, 2021

Taiwan extends second-highest Covid-19 alert level for three more weeks

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Taipei, Taiwan

A soldier disinfects his fellow worker after a sanitization operation in Taipei, Taiwan on May 24.
A soldier disinfects his fellow worker after a sanitization operation in Taipei, Taiwan on May 24. Annabelle Chih/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Taiwan has extended its second-highest Covid-19 alert level for three more weeks until June 14, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced today, as the island battles its biggest coronavirus outbreak since the start of the pandemic last year.

The level 3 alert requires people to wear masks at all times in public and prohibits indoor gatherings of more than five people. The restrictions will be applicable across the island, said Taiwan's Health Minister Chen Shih-chung.

All students have been asked to take lessons remotely until June 14.

Chen added that Taiwan is expected to receive two million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in June, though he did not specify which vaccines the island would receive.

The extension comes as Taiwan reported 281 new local Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, Chen said. A total of 49 of those cases were reported in capital Taipei, while 154 were reported in New Taipei City -- a region in northern Taiwan that surrounds the capital.

In addition, more than 261 Covid-19 cases were found to have been left out of the total count in previous days due to reporting delays, causing the CECC to revise up Taiwan's final number of infections.

After the revision, Taiwan has confirmed 5,456 Covid-19 cases. The island reported six more deaths from Covid-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll since the beginning fo the pandemic to 35.

9:10 a.m. ET, May 25, 2021

Covid-19 variant first detected in India is now the most dominant mutant variant in the country

From CNN’s Esha Mitra in New Delhi

Data on genome sequencing shared during a Covid-19 review by the Indian Minister of Health indicates that B.1.617 is the most dominant mutant variant in India. 

Out of 25,739 positive Covid-19 samples sequenced, the variant B.1.617 was found in 5,261 of them, making it "the most common mutation detected till now,” the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a statement Monday.

In March, India's health ministry said the Covid-19 variant which was first detected in the UK was the most prevalent in the country. But B.1.617 has since grown in prevalence following the second wave which has torn through the country.  

India has not only been struggling with an increasing number of mutant variants, but also a strain of infections of "black fungus" -- a rare and potentially deadly disease called mucormycosis.

Many of those being infected with the "black fungus" are coronavirus patients, or those who have recently recovered from Covid-19, meaning their immune systems have been weakened by the virus.

Based on an analysis of 5,424 cases of black fungus reported in the country, 4,556 cases had a history of Covid-19 infections. Health minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said 55% of those affected also had diabetes, leaving them more vulnerable to the disease. 

The latest figures from the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers said there are at least 8,848 cases of black fungus in the country. 

Read more on black fungus here:

9:10 a.m. ET, May 25, 2021

India reports 196,000 Covid-19 cases — the lowest single-day rise in over a month

From CNN’s Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A health worker collects a nasal swab sample in a mobile testing van in Amritsar, India on May 24.
A health worker collects a nasal swab sample in a mobile testing van in Amritsar, India on May 24. Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images

India reported 196,427 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, the lowest single-day rise in cases since April 14, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

This marks a decline from the first week of May when the country was reporting more than 300,000 cases daily. 

India also reported 3,511 fatalities on Tuesday, the lowest single-day death toll since May 4, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health. On Monday, India became the third country to top 300,000 deaths from the virus, after Brazil and the United States. 

The Indian Ministry of Health said Monday that the weekly positivity rate had declined to 12.6%, and 72% of the country’s active cases were being reported from eight states.

However, the director of the National Center for Disease Control, Sujeet Singh, warned the growth rate of cases continues to be “a matter of concern," according to a news release from the health ministry.

India has reported a total of 26,948,874 Covid-18 cases, including 307,231 deaths. There are 2,586,782 confirmed active cases in the country, according to the health ministry.

1:22 a.m. ET, May 25, 2021

São Paulo announces measures to prevent spread of Covid-19 variant first identified in India

From journalist Fernanda Wenzel in Porto Alegre, Brazil

Tietê bus station on March 19 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Tietê bus station on March 19 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rodrigo Paiva/Getty Images

São Paulo's government on Monday announced plans to restrict the coronavirus variant first identified in India from reaching Brazil’s most populous metropolis, after one confirmed case and other suspected infections were detected in the country's northeast. 

Symptomatic passengers coming through the Tietê bus station, one of the busiest in the country, will be sent to hospital facilities for Covid-19 tests, a city government statement said. Symptomatic truck drivers traveling on highways will also be tested. 

The move follows a news conference held this weekend by Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga, who announced measures aimed at preventing the spread of the B.1.617 variant in the hopes of preventing community transmission. 

The federal government’s first measure was to send 600,000 rapid tests to the northeastern state of Maranhão, where the first case of the new variant was detected in Brazil.

The patient is a 54-year-old man who was aboard a ship that traveled to Brazil from Malaysia. The patient has been hospitalized in São Luís, Maranhão's capital, since May 14.

According to Queiroga, the tests will be used on passengers in airports and at the state’s borders. "Any passenger with a positive rapid test will have to take a RT-PCR test with genomic research to verify the Indian variant,” the minister said. 

The same strategy will be replicated in Guarulhos, Brazil’s busiest airport, in the state of São Paulo, and on the main roads and bus terminals in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Last week, the Brazilian government banned flights coming from or transiting through India, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland or South Africa from entering the country. 

In addition to Maranhão, one suspected case of the variant first identified in India is being investigated in the state of Ceará, also in the northeast region, and two cases are under investigation in the state of Pará, in the north of Brazil, according to statements from those state governments.