April 15 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 3:17 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020
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4:27 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Maryland mandates face coverings in retail establishments and on public transportation

From CNN’s William Brown

Michelle Ervin exits a grocery store while wearing a mask in Annapolis, Maryland, on April 15.
Michelle Ervin exits a grocery store while wearing a mask in Annapolis, Maryland, on April 15. Susan Walsh/AP

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday an executive order mandating face coverings in public for people in retail establishments or riding on public transportation. 

The order comes on the heels of Maryland’s deadliest 48 hours of the pandemic, with 87 people reported dead so far this week.

Hogan urged leaders in Washington “to put aside partisan politics” and warned that without additional federal action states could face “devastating” consequences.

“We’ve asked the Trump administration to support the governors and states, and ask for their help in breaking this logjam in the US Senate so that we can continue working together to fight this pandemic and to get our states and our economies back on track,” Hogan said.

Maryland now has 10,032 confirmed Covid-19 cases, and 311 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

4:20 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

California governor announces assistance plan for undocumented workers

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

California’s undocumented workers who have been forced out of work as a result of the pandemic will be eligible for payments in a new private-public partnership announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The workers are not eligible for federal stimulus payments. Undocumented workers make up about 10% of California’s workforce, Newsom said.

Because these workers pay approximately $2.5 billion in state and local taxes, Newsom has signed a Direct Disaster Assistance order, which will provide up to $500 for individuals and up to $1,000 for families.

The state will provide $75 million to fund the program and private philanthropists will give $50 million. Some philanthropic foundations that have signed on to donate include the Emerson Collective, the Zuckerberg Chan Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, and Blue Shield Foundation.

4:14 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

New York state reports 213,779 coronavirus cases

From CNN's Elizabeth.Joseph

New York has reported an additional 11,571 coronavirus cases, bringing the statewide total to 213,779 confirmed cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said in a statement Wednesday.

Cuomo previously announced 752 people died from coronavirus on Tuesday in New York.

4:14 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

CDC changes how it's counting coronavirus cases to include probable cases

From CNN’s Amanda Watts and Mallory Simon

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now including confirmed and probable coronavirus case and death counts on their websites. Previously, the CDC was only counting confirmed and presumptive positive cases. 

“This change was made to reflect an interim Covid-19 position statement issued by the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists on April 5, 2020. The position statement included a case definition and made Covid-19 a nationally notifiable disease,” its website says.  

The CDC is reporting 605,390 cases of novel coronavirus in the United States. The agency says at least 24,582 people have died. 

CNN relies on Johns Hopkins University for its tally and won’t always match the CDC’s count. Johns Hopkins has reported 613,187 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US and 26,950 deaths.

4:14 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Stocks end lower following weak economic data

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Kena Betancur/Getty Images
Kena Betancur/Getty Images

US stocks closed lower on Wednesday, after weak economic data and earnings weighed on the market all day.

Energy stocks led losses, after oil settled below $20 a barrel for the first time since 2002.

The Dow finished down 1.9%, or 445 points, and the S&P 500 fell 2.2%. It was the worst day for the two indexes since April 1.

The Nasdaq Composite broke a four-day winning streak, its longest since early February. The index closed down 1.4%.

Remember: As stocks settle after the trading day, levels might still change slightly.

4:11 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Acting Homeland Security secretary: "We are not going to test our way out of this"

From CNN's Geneva Sands

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf speaks during a press briefing at the White House on April 1.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf speaks during a press briefing at the White House on April 1. Alex Brandon/AP

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, a member of the White House coronavirus taskforce, emphasized the need for mitigation to combat the pandemic in the US.

Wolf, speaking to the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee on Wednesday, said he wanted to “emphasize some very basic things, and that is mitigation works, so we're not going to test our way out of this." He added that washing your hands, not touching your face and ensuring social distancing are key.

Wolf said the department is urging the preservation of personal protection equipment so that doctors hospitals and nursing homes can make them last longer than that one time. 

“Instead of having that gown or that mask or this glove, being a 70 cent pair of gloves, we need them to be a $100 pair of gloves and we need those facilities to start treating those gloves or those masks or those respirators much, much differently,” Wolf said.

He also said the department is working to accelerate supplies to meet demand, touting the use of Federal Emergency Management Agency's Air Bridge.

Some context: As of April 14, there were about 44 flights with another 56 that are scheduled, he said. DHS is working with about five or six medical distributors, whose PPE is already destined for the US.

“What we're trying to do is we're trying to get it here quicker. And then we're trying to make sure that we allocate it to those hotspots, as well as their traditional supply chain,” he said. 

Wolf said DHS is also involved in domestic efforts to alter supply lines and shift to mask and other personal protective equipment production, as well as proper allocation of supplies. He said that companies have given the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Defense unprecedented insight into their supply chains.

4:02 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

CDC releases demographics on coronavirus cases in the US

From CNN's Amanda Watts

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released “demographic characteristics of Covid-19 cases in the United States” on its website Wednesday.

The newly published information details the race and age of coronavirus cases in the United States as of April 14. On Wednesday, the CDC reported more than 605,000 cases of coronavirus, but the demographics are only listed for 398,852 cases.

A majority of the cases, in some instances, up to 85%, the CDC lists “unspecified” or “missing” as the age and race. 

Here are some of the findings from the CDC:

  • Of the cases, a majority are in the 18-44 and 45-64 age ranges
  • 73% of the cases fall between 18-64
  • 90,619 cases are those over the age of 65
  • 80% of the cases listed under white are over the age of 65
  • 34% of the cases listed in the 45-64 age group are black or African American
4:10 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Members of business panel tell Trump that testing is key to reopening the US economy

From CNN's Vivian Salama, Kevin Liptak, Cristina Alesci and Kaitlan Collins

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

In the first phone call convened between President Trump and some members of his newly formed business council, industry leaders reiterated to the President what public health experts and governors have been telling him for weeks: that there would need to be guarantees of ramped up coronavirus testing before people would return to work, according to one person briefed on the discussions. 

The call, one of a series being held with various sectors on Wednesday, was the first task force teleconference aimed at devising a strategy for reopening the country.

The call lasted for about an hour and had dozens of participants from the banking, food, hospitality and retail sectors, many of whom lauded the President and his administration for their efforts to combat coronavirus and jumpstart the economy, this person said.

Many of Trump’s conservative allies have encouraged him to listen to advice from business leaders, hopeful their recommendations on reopening parts of the country will counterbalance the advice of public health experts like Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, who convinced Trump to extend social distancing guidelines by another month at the start of April.

Those allies are convinced internal discussions on the coronavirus task force, and the information it provides the President, are overly weighted toward models and worst-case public health scenarios. They had hoped another panel inside the White House focused on the economic effects of the pandemic might lend equilibrium.

Some of Trump’s advisers also hoped having the imprimatur of American industry on White House decision-making might lend credibility — and cover — to whatever decision Trump announces on how and when to recommend reopening certain portions of the country, which some fear could lead to new outbreaks if rushed out too quickly.

But uncertainty about the new task force prevailed from nearly the moment Trump said he was considering in on April 5. 


3:56 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

There are 698 New York City Fire Department members with coronavirus

From CNN's Mark Morales

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

There are 698 members of the New York City Fire Department who are currently positive for Covid-19, Jim Long, a spokesperson for the department, told CNN. The number includes firefighters, EMS and civilian personnel.

There are approximately 2,500 members of the FDNY on medical leave currently, which includes non-Covid-related illnesses or injuries.