May 28 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, CNN

Updated 6:01 p.m. ET, May 28, 2021
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2:38 p.m. ET, May 28, 2021

CDC drops masking and physical distancing guidance for fully vaccinated campers and staffers

From CNN's Ben Tinker

A row of cabins are seen at a summer camp in Fayette, Maine, on June 4, 2020.
A row of cabins are seen at a summer camp in Fayette, Maine, on June 4, 2020. Robert F. Bukaty/AP/File

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dropped masking and physical distancing guidance for campers and staffers who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Staff and campers who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks at camp, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance,” the CDC said in an update to its website on Friday. “Although fully vaccinated persons do not need to wear masks, camps can be supportive of staff or campers who choose to continue to wear a mask.”

In the guidance, the CDC encouraged everyone 12 years and older to get vaccinated for Covid-19, and underscored that the vaccines are safe and effective.

The agency said people who are fully vaccinated to not need to undergo routine Covid-19 testing, and do not need to be tested – even if they are exposed to someone with a known Covid-19 infection – “unless they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms."

2:10 p.m. ET, May 28, 2021

Pfizer anticipates more than 20 countries will commit to its Olympic vaccination program

From CNN's Amanda Sealy

Since Pfizer announced it would donate Covid-19 vaccine doses to Olympic participants in early March, the company now says it expects more than 20 countries will participate its vaccination program.

These countries are where the “necessary regulatory and legal conditions exist,” according to a company statement.

However, in countries that do not meet these conditions, Pfizer says “there is work underway to establish central locations where delegations from countries where the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is not yet available can go to be vaccinated ahead of traveling to Japan.” 

It is not yet clear how the logistics would work, considering it’s recommended that the two doses of this vaccine be administered 21 days apart, and someone is not considered fully protected until two weeks after their second dose.

More than 200 countries, states and territories are expected to be represented at the games.

“Pfizer and the International Olympic Committee have made meaningful progress in working with the local governments and National Olympic Committees in markets around the world during the few weeks since the donation announcement,” the company said in a statement.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission Chairman John Coates said during a news conference on May 21 that 75% of Tokyo Olympic village residents are vaccinated, or are due to be vaccinated, and by the time the Games come around, "this will be over 80%."

"This has been made possible by the IOC initiative with the Pfizer by earning donation of vaccines for Games participants," Coates said.

2:35 p.m. ET, May 28, 2021

Brazilian health agency extends storage conditions for Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso

A health worker holds a tray with vials of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 at a community medical center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 6.
A health worker holds a tray with vials of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 at a community medical center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 6. Andre Penner/AP

Brazilian health agency Anvisa authorized new storage conditions for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 on Friday. 

The vaccine can now be kept at a controlled temperature between 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and 8 degrees Celsius (46.4 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to 31 days. The previous storage period was five days.

Regulatory agencies in the United States and Europe have also extended the duration of storing the immunizer to one month in those conditions.

The Brazilian Health Ministry signed two contracts with Pfizer/BioNTech to receive 200 million doses of the immunizer by the end of the year. To date, Brazil has received 3.4 million doses. 

1:23 p.m. ET, May 28, 2021

Vermont lifts bar and restaurant curfews as state nears vaccination goal 

From CNN's Hannah Sarisohn 

A curfew on bars and restaurants in Vermont will be lifted and establishments can resume their normal operating hours starting tomorrow, Gov. Phil Scott announced Friday. 

“This is a time when we think we’re within a week or two from lifting all restrictions,” Scott said at a news conference. “We felt that it was safe to do so at this point, there was no reason to keep that limit in place.”

Scott said Vermont is just shy of its 80% statewide vaccination goal, with 77% of residents 12 and older having now received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Scott said Vermont is just shy of its 80% statewide vaccination goal. As a result, Scott said starting tomorrow the 10 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants will be lifted and establishments can resume their normal operating hours. 

The governor said the state of emergency should also be lifted shortly after the 80% threshold is met. 

He also said while a total reopening next week is possible, he’ll have to see how well Vermonters do with vaccinations at that point. 

Vaccination rates in the 18- to 29-year-old group increased over the past month from 30% to 50%, he said. 

1:23 p.m. ET, May 28, 2021

Biden touts progress made in combatting Covid-19 during remarks in Virginia

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

President Joe Biden speaks at the Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria, Virginia on May 28.
President Joe Biden speaks at the Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria, Virginia on May 28. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden projected a sense of hope and optimism heading into the Memorial Day weekend, touting the progress the country has made in combatting the coronavirus pandemic thanks to the vaccination efforts, help from local leaders, and Americans who have done their “patriotic duty.”

“Four months after I took office, we're further along in this fight than anyone thought possible. Let’s remember where we were 129 days ago. When I took office, we were averaging 184,000 cases per day nationwide. Here in Virginia, as the governor pointed out, schools were closed, main street had gone quiet here and in cities all across America.” Biden said during remarks at Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria, Virginia, on Friday.

“And today you've gone from 184 cases per day nationwide to fewer than 22 cases — 22,000 cases per day. Deaths have dropped by over 85%. Tens of thousands of moms and dads, grandpops and grandmas, brothers, sisters, neighbors, friends are still with us today who would otherwise have been lost,” he added.

The President said thanks to the 165 million Americans who have gotten at least one shot and 51% of Americans who are fully vaccinated, “we’re not just saving lives, we're getting our lives back.”

“Stores and restaurants up and down main street are hanging open signs on their front doors. And here, in the rock-climbing gym we're greeted by another and we're greeting one another, with smiles, with our masks off,” he said.

However, Biden stressed that despite the growing light at the end of the tunnel, Americans can’t let up now, and he urged those not yet vaccinated against Covid-19 to do so.

“As more Americans get vaccinated the days grow brighter and brighter but let me be clear, we're not done yet. We have to reach those who are not vaccinated and make it as easy as possible for them to get protected,” the President said, calling on Americans to “sprint through the finish line.”

Biden also said that the increase in vaccinations across the country shows that Americans are willing to come together for a common goal of beating the virus.

“When I ran for office, I said I wanted to do three things, one of which was to unite the country. It's difficult, but this is the first real evidence that we're able to do it. The American people are more ready to come together, I believe, than the Congress and the elected officials are, but we're getting there,” he said.

The President also touted the economic progress the country has made since he has taken office, just hours before his first budget proposal gets sent to Congress.

“From pain and stagnation of a long, dark winter to an economy on the move, growing faster than it has in nearly 40 years. From anemic job creation in the months before I took office to the fastest job creation in the first three months of any administration in American history. And rising wages, rising wages,” Biden said.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam also spoke Friday, discussing the progress his state specifically has made in getting to a point where it can roll back restrictions.

“Today we mark a tremendous milestone in our fight against Covid-19. As of 12:01 this morning, for the first time since March 2020, there are no limits on capacity or distancing in Virginia’s restaurants, businesses, offices or other venues. That’s something that we can all be proud of,” Northam said.

He also touted the state’s vaccination efforts, saying 66% of Virginia adults have had at least their first shot and more than half of adults are fully vaccinated, adding that the state will hit Biden’s goal of 70% of adults getting at least one shot by July 4.

Northam praised the Biden administration for following the science, taking a – not so veiled – swipe at the Trump administration. 

“As Governor, I can tell you that having a partner in the White House, makes a huge, huge difference, setting clear goals as he has done, and support us with the resources we need to meet those goals. And as a doctor, I know it also makes a big difference when leadership respects science and follow its lead," he said.

12:10 p.m. ET, May 28, 2021

Malaysia declares "total lockdown" for two weeks after Covid-19 cases increase

From CNN's Elaine Ly and Jaide Garcia 

Malaysia will implement a two-week "total lockdown" on social and economic sectors, according to a statement from the prime minister's office and reported by state media Bernama News Agency on Friday. 

The Malaysian National Security Council will oversee the lockdown, according to the statement. Beginning June 1, "all sectors will not be allowed to operate, except for essential economic and service sectors to be listed by MKN." 

The statement attributes the decision to the latest rise in Covid-19 cases, saying the country is seeing "daily cases exceeding 8,000 and over 70,000 active cases," as well as the presence of a new variant with a high and rapid infection rate. 

According to the security council, a total of 2,552 people have died as a result of the pandemic, and the numbers are increasing. 

11:54 a.m. ET, May 28, 2021

Mexico authorizes emergency use of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Karol Suarez

Mexico's health authority Cofepris issued emergency use authorization for the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, the regulator announced in a statement on Thursday.

"The Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) has granted the authorization for emergency use of the vaccine against COVID-19 Ad26.CoV2.S, requested by Janssen-Cilag, S.A. de C.V.," according to the statement.

"The New Molecules Committee met on May 7, 2021, to analyze the use of this vaccine, which received a unanimous positive opinion from the experts," it continued.

Mexico's health minister Hugo López-Gatell said in a Covid-19 briefing the country is not planning to sign a purchase agreement with J&J but highlighted the chances to receive support from the US. 

"Some of the explorations made regarding the support or collaboration that might come from the US government, that had been a topic during the talks between President AMLO and US Vice President Harris, it might include the possibility that this support would be with the J&J vaccine," he said.   

"It's always good news to have more authorizations for safe, quality, and effective vaccines," López-Gatell tweeted. 

Mexico says it administered 732,001 doses on Thursday, bringing the country's total to 29,239,997 vaccinations.

Mexico is currently administering vaccine doses from Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Sinovac, and CanSino. 

11:27 a.m. ET, May 28, 2021

EU approves Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 15

From CNN's Chris Liakos in Paris and Lauren Kent

A nurse at the Christalain nursing home in Brussels prepares an injection of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on January 14.
A nurse at the Christalain nursing home in Brussels prepares an injection of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on January 14. Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

The EU drug regulator has approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in adolescents ages 12 to 15, a European Medicines Agency (EMA) official said in a news conference on Friday.

"The vaccine, as you know, was already authorized in people from 16 and above, and now we have data that will show that the vaccine is also safe in the age of 12 to 15 years," said Dr. Marco Cavaleri, Head of Biological Health Threats and Vaccines Strategy for the EMA. 

The approval from the EMA scientific committee will now be sent to the European Commission, which will issue the final approval to use the vaccine for patients ages 12 to 15. Then, each European member state can decide whether or not to use the vaccine in younger patients, according to the EMA. 

"The most common side effects in children aged 12 to 15 are similar to those in people aged 16 and above. They include pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills and fever. These effects are usually mild or moderate and improve within a few days from the vaccination," said the EMA in a statement, adding that the benefits of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine outweigh the risks for this age group.
11:17 a.m. ET, May 28, 2021

CDC: Gaps in vaccination coverage have grown for America’s most vulnerable counties

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

Covid-19 vaccination coverage is lower in more vulnerable counties in the United States, and those disparities have grown as vaccine eligibility has expanded, according to a study published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The CDC social vulnerability index (SVI) assesses counties based on 15 factors in four categories: socioeconomic status, household composition, race and ethnicity, and housing type and transportation. More vulnerable counties have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but have also lagged in vaccination rates.

In counties in the lowest quartile of vulnerability, an average of 59.3% of adult residents had received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine by May 1, compared to 49% of adult residents in the highest quartile of vulnerability. These disparities were most pronounced in areas surrounding large cities, such as suburbs, as well as non-metropolitan counties, according to the study.

The authors of the report suggest that efforts specifically tailored to a county’s urban or rural geography, and specific socioeconomic factors, could help improve equity in vaccination coverage.

“Ensuring equitable COVID-19 vaccine access will require focused efforts on increasing coverage in counties with high SVI and tailoring efforts to local population needs. Efforts could include walk-in vaccination clinics and public health messaging about the importance of getting vaccinated,” they wrote.

Also, “strategies to improve vaccination coverage in counties with high SVI should also address vaccine confidence,” as vaccine hesitancy has been higher among US adults with less education and income – key socioeconomic factors assessed in the SVI index, according to the report.

More incomplete data for certain counties may limit interpretation of results, and both social vulnerability and vaccine coverage may vary within counties. Also, the analysis may have differed if the share of adults fully vaccinated had been assessed, instead of those with at least one dose.