Health and Science

Coronavirus updates: China ridicules efforts to make it pay coronavirus compensation, NY deaths fall to lowest level since March

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China's top diplomat criticized U.S. efforts to hold China accountable for its alleged role in the spread of the coronavirus, calling any aims to force Beijing to pay compensation for the coronavirus a "daydream."

Momentum is building at the White House for another round of stimulus checks, with President Donald Trump saying this week, "I think we're going to be helping people out" and "getting some money for them." A number of issues need to be negotiated in Congress about what form the next relief package takes, but the Republican-held Senate has started to open the door to a more narrow aid proposal.

The number of coronavirus fatalities in New York state have fallen below 100, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday, marking the lowest daily death toll since March 24.

Based on recent travel data, national parks around the U.S. could be ideal destinations this summer as people look to get away after spending weeks under stay-at-home orders

WHO officials say South America a 'new epicenter' of coronavirus pandemic
WHO officials say South America a 'new epicenter' of coronavirus pandemic
  • Global cases: More than 5.3 million
  • Global deaths: At least 340,875
  • Countries with the most cases: United States (more than 1.6 million), Brazil (347,398), Russia (335,882), United Kingdom (258,504), Spain (235,290)

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

French government urges citizens against planning vacations, demands Air France slash domestic travel

A woman wearing a protective face mask in France. The country is slowly reopening after almost two months of strict lockdown.
Pascal Le Segretain | Getty Images

11:27 a.m. London time — The French government does not want its citizens planning vacations, French Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said Sunday amid the gradual reopening of parts of the country. Borne stressed that Paris remained a "red zone" in terms of coronavirus cases. Some businesses across the country have been allowed to reopen as lockdown measures have begun to loosen. 

The minister also said that France's largest airline, Air France, would have to "drastically" lessen its domestic air traffic in exchange for state loan guarantees. High-speed rail can serve as an alternative to domestic flying, she told France Inter radio in an interview. The French government last month offered the carrier a 7 billion euro ($7.6 billion) state-guaranteed loan package. — Natasha Turak

U.K. aims to reopen elementary schools from June 1,  transport minister says

9:26 a.m. London time — Britain's government plans to reopen elementary schools, locally called primary schools, for some students from June 1, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Sunday.

"That's certainly the intention," Shapps said during an interview with Sky News. Some teachers and labor unions oppose the plan. — Natasha Turak

China tells U.S. to stop wasting time in coronavirus battle; says pursuit of China compensation is a 'daydream'

8:42 a.m. London time — China's top diplomat Wang Yi on Sunday criticized U.S. political rhetoric toward China, calling any aims to force Beijing to pay compensation for the coronavirus a "daydream" and urging the two countries to work together instead.  

"Some politicians have ignored the most basic facts and concocted too many lies about China and plotted too many conspiracies," Wang, who serves as China's foreign minister, said during a news conference at the Chinese parliament. "I want to say here: Don't waste precious time any longer, and don't ignore lives."

"If you want to infringe upon China's sovereignty and dignity with indiscriminate litigation, and extort the fruits of the hard work of the Chinese people, I am afraid this is a daydream and you'll only humiliate yourself," Wang said. "What China and the United States need to do the most is to first learn from each other and share their experience in fighting against the epidemic, and help each country fight it." — Natasha Turak

U.S.-China tensions flare up again
U.S.-China tensions flare up again

China's state economic planner optimistic on improving consumption 

11:58 a.m. Singapore time — Reuters reported that China's state economic planner Ning Jizhe said consumption for May will point to improvement. Consumer spending has been hit globally as governments impose restrictions in efforts to contain the coronavirus. Ning, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters that April data suggests the outlook for growth in consumption is stabilizing, according to Reuters. — Christine Wang

Why Hollywood movie-making may become more virtual in a post-coronavirus world

Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Elijah Wood as Frodo in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."
New Line | WireImage | Getty Images

4 pm ET — Many Hollywood blockbusters had to shut down production during the pandemic.

Weta Digital, Peter Jackson's visual effects company, thinks the post-Covid world of entertainment creation could lead to more matching of computer and live action.

While virtual production is suited to social distancing, actors may not like it, and not every release is an "Avatar." There have been numerable film flops in recent years where a virtual world was key to a movie's making and marketing. —Donovan Russo

NBA in talks with Disney about resuming season at ESPN complex in July

The NBA Playoffs logo and Official Spalding Balls before a game.
Andrew D. Bernstein | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

3 pm ET — The National Basketball Association is engaged in "exploratory conversations" with its media partner Walt Disney about resuming its season suspend by Covid-19, the league said.

In a statement released on the league's Twitter communications account, the NBA says it wants to start the season in late July at Disney's ESPN complex in Orlando as a "single site for an NBA campus for games, practices, and housing," the statement said.

On Friday, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry told CNBC the NBA has a board of governors call next Friday where discussions about restarting will continue. "I think we'll have something, hopefully within the next 6 to 8 weeks, we should be playing," he said on CNBC's "Halftime Report." The NBA became the major U.S. sports league to suspend games on March 11 due to Covid-19. On May 8, the league officially allowed teams to re-open practice sites in areas where stay-at-home orders are relaxed. —Jabari Young


New York coronavirus fatalities fall to lowest level since March

Governor Cuomo makes an announcement and holds briefing on COVID-19 response at Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.
Lev Radin | Pacific Press | Getty Images

1:32 pm ET — Coronavirus deaths in New York state have fallen below 100, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday, marking the lowest daily death toll since March 24.

The governor said the 84 new reported deaths was a "tragedy" but that the downward trend shows the state is making great progress.

"The fact that it is down as low as it is, is really overall good news," Cuomo said during a press conference at the governor's mansion in Albany. "In my head, I was always looking to get under 100. For me, it's just a sign of real progress." —Emma Newburger

National parks could be this summer's go-to vacation spots

A trail is marked with social distancing signs in Joshua Tree National Park one day after the park reopened after being closed for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic on May 18, 2020 in Joshua Tree National Park, California.
Mario Tama | Getty Images

1 pm ET — Based on recent travel data, national parks could be ideal destinations this summer as people look to get away after spending weeks under stay-at-home orders. Many national parks across the country are in the process of reopening, with iconic destinations like the Grand Canyon and Old Faithful already accessible to visitors. The parks are usually popular vacation spots  in 2019, the National Park Service system received more than 327.5 million visits, according to the NPS. —Riya Bhattacharjee, Hannah Miller

Italy reports 119 new deaths, 669 new cases

The EGOpro Social Distancing active tag is seen at the cathedral of Florence as it reopens following closure due to the coronavirus outbreak on May 22, 2020 in Florence, Italy. Believed to be the first such system in the world, the device guarantees maximum safety while visiting museums or galleries. It is a small device, provided free of charge to tourists at the beginning of the visits, which once worn signals with a sound, vibrating and lighting, that the minimum allowed distance has been exceeded and does not track the movements and data.
Laura Lezza | Getty Images

12:32 pm ET — Italy's death toll from Covid-19 climbed by 119 on Saturday, down from 130 new deaths from the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, according to Reuters.

The daily number of new cases rose 669 from 652 on Friday, Reuters reported.

Italy's death toll now stands at 32,735, the agency said. There were 572 people in intensive care on Saturday, which maintains a long-running decline, according to Reuters.

The agency reports that 2.16 million people have been tested for the virus as of Saturday, according to Reuters. —Chris Eudaily

Digital health stocks see a surge as the pandemic accelerates industry trends

Health-tech stocks vs. S&P 500 since market peak

11:46 am ET — The transition to remote health services brought about by pandemic lockdowns is moving at warp speed and companies in the telehealth and remote monitoring game are on the front line of that growth.

Hospitals are seeing an increase in virtual visits, CNBC's Christina Farr and Ari Levy report. 

Ochsner Health, in Louisiana, said it's conducted more than 120,000 virtual visits so far this year, far outpacing the 3,300 in all of 2019.

"Things that were 10 years away are now here," said Jake Dollarhide, CEO of Longbow Asset Management. "As companies question, do I need a permanent office or as large an office, they're also going to say, how do I save on health plans."

Since the stock market peaked on Feb. 19, the S&P 500 has fallen 13% as of Friday's close. Over that time, Teladoc has climbed 48%, while digital health management company Livongo has more than doubled. One Medical, which offers in-person and virtual services, has jumped 52%. —Chris Eudaily

Wuhan conducts 1.4 million coronavirus tests in one day

Travelers walk to the exit of the Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Wednesday, April 08, 2020, after 76 days of lockdown of the city due to Covid-19.
Barcroft Media | Getty Images

11:15 am ET — The city of Wuhan conducted 1,470,950 tests for the virus on Friday, the local health authority said, according to Reuters.

The city, which is the original epicenter of the outbreak in China, had 1,000,729 tests the previous day, Reuters reported.

On May 14, the city began a campaign to find asymptomatic carriers after discovering a cluster of infections May 9 and 10, Reuters reported. It was the first cluster of Covid-19 infections since the region's lockdown was lifted on April 8. —Chris Eudaily

Gyms reopen with more precautions and fewer customers, but health experts warn the virus risk isn't gone

A person disinfects an elliptical machine at a gym in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Saturday, May 16, 2020. Louisiana entered its phase 1 of reopening on Friday after Governor John Bel Edwards loosened restrictions on certain business in the state.
Bryan Tarnowski | Bloomberg via Getty Images

10:46 am ET — As a handful of states begin to ease restrictions put into place to control the spread of the coronavirus, states like Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arizona have given gyms the green light to resume operations with reduced occupancy and expanded health precautions.

Joe Cirulli, the founder of Gainesville Health and Fitness in Florida, said he's spent thousands of dollars in enhanced cleaning and sanitation practices for his chain of gyms, such as extra electrostatic cleaning supply to spray workout equipment daily and enough hand sanitizer and wipes to place throughout the entire gym.

"We ordered everything, everything," Cirulli said.

Health experts warn, however, that the coronavirus still has room to spread.

While the transmission of the virus may be manageable by wiping down surfaces, Cindy Prins, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida, said that people coughing into the air in a shared space like a gym or restaurant could spread Covid-19.

"I think we need to remember that this is primarily a virus spread by airborne droplets that we breathe out in the air," Prins said. "I miss the gym, I really want to go back. I'm not comfortable yet with that." —Noah Higgins-Dunn

Cases in Alabama are increasing with the state reopening much of its economy

People sit on the sand at a public beach in Dauphin Island, Alabama, U.S., on Friday, May 1, 2020. Alabama lifted their stay-at-home order and have allowed most businesses to open, subject to sanitation and social-distancing guidelines, Alabama Media Group reported.
Maranie Staab | Bloomberg | Getty Images

10:28 am ET — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey called for "personal responsibility" as the state has reopened much of its economy while pushing residents to continue health precautions, but leaders are struggling to get the public to buy in, the Associated Press reports.

In the state's most populous area, Jefferson County, officials said increasing cases and hospitalizations have led to the need for tighter rules than those set by Ivey, according to the AP.

New daily cases in the state have risen to 307 from 268, according to an AP analysis of testing data from The COVID Tracking Project, and the rate of daily tests coming back positive has increased from 6.7% to 7.5%. The AP used seven-day rolling averages to account for daily variability in the testing data.

In many public places it is rare to see a covered face, the AP reported.

"As I've gone out to some of these retail stores, I've noticed that people are not wearing masks," said Dr. Rachael Lee, an infectious diseases expert with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, according to the AP. —Chris Eudaily

Memorial Day will lift alcohol sales, but industry is still reeling from restaurant closures

9:52 am ET — Memorial Day weekend usually drives consumers to liquor stores.

But with government officials urging Americans to continue social distancing and stay close to home, consumers are unlikely to spend as much on alcohol as last year.

"I'm sure that there's going to be some drop in sales," Euromonitor International research analyst Aga Jarzabek said in an interview. "It's going to be much lower than last year, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's still a pretty huge spike for Memorial Day."

The alcohol industry is already reeling from the closures of bars and restaurants, although many consumers shifted to buying their beer, wine and spirits in stores or online. —Amelia Lucas

Here's why guidance from scientists has changed throughout the pandemic

People wearing face masks as a preventive measure walk along the Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California.
Ronen Tivony / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

9:28 am ET — Scientists have changed their minds as new evidence has come to light amid the coronavirus pandemic. But many fear that it's making them seem unreliable, making it less likely that the public will follow their recommendations.

However, science communicators say that it's "part of the process" for thinking and best practices to evolve over time, particularly in a situation when the virus is so new.

Vinay Prasad, a hematologist-oncologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco, said that the best scientists are "continually re-evaluating themselves to see what we got right and what we got wrong."

As he put it: "It's a high mark to be able to say, 'I'm going to change my mind'." —Christina Farr

U.K.'s Boris Johnson defends key advisor who drove 250 miles during lockdown

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on May 6, 2020 to attend Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the Houses of Parliament.
Daniel Leal-Olivas | Getty Images

9:08 am ET — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the actions of Dominic Cummings, a key aide, who drove 250 miles during lockdown with his wife who had symptoms of Covid-19.

It transpired Saturday that Cummings — the advisor behind the successful Brexit campaign — drove from London to Durham, in northern England, at the end of March so his son could be cared for by family if he and his wife got ill. The trip took place after Johnson announced the start of strict coronavirus lockdown measures from March 23.

Opposition parties have called for Johnson to sack Cummings.

On Saturday, a spokesman for Johnson said Cumming's wife has symptoms of the coronavirus at the time of the journey, and there was a "high likelihood" Cummings would also get ill.

As such, the spokesman said that Cummings did not break lockdown guidelines.

"His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines," Johnson's spokesman said Saturday. "Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally." —Katrina Bishop

Protests break out in Spain over lockdowns, government's handling of the pandemic

Demonstrators take part in a "caravan for Spain and its freedom" protest by far-right party Vox in Barcelona on May 23, 2020. The left-wing government's management of the crisis has drawn a barrage of criticism from right-wing parties who have denounced its "brutal confinement". (Photo by Pau Barrena / AFP) (Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)
Pau Barrena | AFP | Getty Images

8:44 am ET — A procession of thousands of vehicles drove through Madrid Saturday, honking, waving Spanish flags and protesting against the country's coronavirus lockdown, Reuters reported.

The far-right Vox party called for the protest, according to Reuters, where demonstrators called for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias to resign over the handling of the pandemic and the damage to the economy.

"It is time to end the #stateofabuse that Pedro Sanchez and Pablo Iglesias are using to gag Spaniards," Vox said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Spain instituted some of the toughest lockdown measures in Europe, and though the country has eased some restrictions, Madrid and Barcelona have continued restrictions due to bigger outbreaks, according to Reuters.

A speech by Vox leader Santiago Abascal was broadcast on EsRadio so people could listen in their cars, Reuters reported. He said the government was "directly responsible for the worst management of this crisis on the entire planet." —Chris Eudaily

Read CNBC's previous coronavirus live coverage here: Russia's total cases surpass 335,000, Patrick Ewing hospitalized

Correction: This blog has been updated to correctly reflect the total confirmed cases in Russia.