Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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2:27 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Lab group urges White House to provide "access to vital supplies" for testing 

From CNN"s Drew Griffin, Curt Devine and Nelli Black

A medical professional administers a coronavirus test at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site run by George Washington University Hospital on April 6, in Washington.
A medical professional administers a coronavirus test at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site run by George Washington University Hospital on April 6, in Washington. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A group representing tens of thousands of laboratory workers is urging the White House coronavirus task force to address the “critical needs of America’s clinical laboratories,” namely the lack of testing supplies and protective equipment at labs across the country, saying “significant barriers” ​remain that limit labs’ abilities to meet demand.

“At this point, the biggest barrier to testing is not capacity, but access to vital supplies,” wrote Carmen Wiley, the president of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry in an April 16 letter to Dr. Deborah Birx, who sits on the White House coronavirus task force.

The group represents more than 50,000 lab and diagnostic professionals.

The letter stated that nasal swabs for specimen collection as well as other test components remain in short supply. 

“Unless and until these supply chain issues are resolved, the nation’s laboratories will remain stymied in their attempts to maximize their testing capacity,” Wiley wrote.

Wiley added that lab professionals who collect and process specimens are frontline workers who require protective equipment, including gowns, masks, gloves, and face shields, and therefore increased production and disbursement of such items “is vital to ensuring the safety of those individuals.”

In an interview with CNN, Wiley said she felt it was important for the voices of the actual lab workers to be heard, “because we felt there was a disconnect between the theoretical capacity of tests that can be run and what we're actually experiencing.”

3:10 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Mitch McConnell confirms there won't be a stimulus deal today

From CNN's Clare Foran and Ted Barrett

Senat Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after leaving the Senate floor at the US Capitol in Washington on April 9.
Senat Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after leaving the Senate floor at the US Capitol in Washington on April 9. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there will not be a deal today as senators work on another coronavirus relief package.

“At this hour, our Democratic colleagues are still prolonging their discussions with the administration, so the Senate regretfully will not be able to pass more funding for Americans’ paychecks today,” McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor.

McConnell also asked for consent to setup another pro forma session for tomorrow, which could serve as a window for the Senate to try to pass an interim funding deal by unanimous consent if a deal is formally reached before then. There were no objections.

“Since this is so urgent, I have asked that the Senate meet again tomorrow in a new session that was not previously scheduled, and the Democratic Leader has agreed to my request. Colleagues, it is past time, past time, to get this done for the country,” McConnell said.

What this is all about: Congressional lawmakers and the Trump administration are on the verge of striking a deal on a nearly $500 billion package to extend funding for an emergency small business lending program, provide additional funding for hospitals and expand funding for coronavirus testing. 

Nothing is final until everything is agreed to — and they aren't there yet. But a resolution to a weeks-long stalemate is coming.

Hear McConnell's request from the Senate floor:

2:19 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

WHO director-general says without solidarity, "the worst is yet ahead of us"

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a daily press briefing on the coronavirus at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on March 11.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a daily press briefing on the coronavirus at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on March 11. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The world needs to come together on a national and global scale to overcome the coronavirus pandemic — and without that solidarity, "the worst is yet ahead of us," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

"We need global solidarity that’s cemented on generating national unity. Without the two — without national unity and global solidarity — trust us, the worst is yet ahead of us. Let’s prevent this tragedy. It’s a virus that many people still don’t understand," Tedros said, making the argument that WHO warned nations about the novel coronavirus from early on in the pandemic.

Speaking at a media briefing in Geneva, he went on to say, "We warned even developed countries, saying this virus will even surprise developed countries. It did. We said that it will surprise even wealthy nations. We said it on record. Let’s stop additional surprises. Let’s stop tragedy. Hundreds of thousands now dying is serious. Even one life is precious. Let’s say enough is enough."

Tedros made this call for solidarity at the same time nations are considering loosening their respective lockdown measures and the United States considers gradually reopening after weeks of instilling stay-at-home orders across states. 

"If there is national unity and if there is global solidarity, if we take this as a common enemy for humanity and give our best — of course understanding that this is a new virus and dangerous virus — we can win the fight," Tedros said.

Tedros went on to specify that political discourse could fuel the pandemic, making conditions worse if within nations leaders fail to work together across party lines and within the world if there is no global solidarity.

"Don’t use this virus as an opportunity to fight against each other or score political points. It’s dangerous. It’s like playing with fire. Please work together. We need national unity. We’re seeing the tragedy and we need global solidarity that’s based on honest and genuine national unity," Tedros said.

"It's the political problem that may fuel further this pandemic," Tedros said. "At the end of the day we should know the root cause of the problem and try to address that."

Overall, Tedros warned with emotion about the dangers of the novel coronavirus.

"This virus is dangerous. This virus is public enemy number one. This virus is new and which has behavior of serious contagion, like flu. It’s very contagious like flu. And at the same time, it’s very killer like SARS and MERS. It has a very dangerous combination," Tedros said.

"What made me emotional? Because I know death, I know war, I know poverty," Tedros said. "I know how people really are influenced by all this."

 

2:09 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Rhode Island hasn't reached the peak of coronavirus pandemic yet, governor says

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo speaks at a streaming press conference in Providence, RI on April 14.
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo speaks at a streaming press conference in Providence, RI on April 14. Barry Chin/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said Vice President Mike Pence is wrong when he said her state appeared to be "past" its coronavirus outbreak peak.

Raimondo said that while she means the vice president no disrespect, that is “clearly not true.” 

The state added 339 new cases to bring the state’s total to 5,090. They also added five deaths for a total of 155. That’s an uptick from previous days, and indicates the state is still on the incline of the curve. 

Raimondo laid out a plan for reopening her state’s economy. The governor’s stay-at-home order expires on May 8, so it wouldn’t be until at least after then that she would start to loosen restrictions.

In order to execute her “Reopen RI” plan, the state would need to answer “yes” to the following six questions:

  1. Has the rate of spread continued to decrease?
  2. Do we have the capacity to quickly identify community spread on an ongoing basis before a major outbreak occurs?
  3. Do we have necessary supports in place for vulnerable populations, and for anyone in quarantine?
  4. Does our healthcare system have the capacity and the personal protective equipment to handle future surges?
  5. Do businesses, schools, child care sites, faith organizations and recreational spaces have plans for long-term social distancing?
  6. Are we prepared to reimpose measures, or reclose certain sectors of the economy if it becomes necessary? 

The governor said her plan is a phased approach that is close in line with the approach laid out by the White House, but more tailored to Rhode Island specifically. 

2:04 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Nursing homes now have to report coronavirus cases to families and federal government

From CNN's Tami Luhby

U.S. Federal health workers carry boxes into the Life Care Center nursing home on March 09, 2020 in Kirkland, Washington.
U.S. Federal health workers carry boxes into the Life Care Center nursing home on March 09, 2020 in Kirkland, Washington. John Moore/Getty Images

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps through the nation's nursing homes, the facilities will now have to report all cases to patients and families, as well as to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thousands of residents have died from coronavirus in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, with one of the earliest outbreaks in the US happening at the Life Care Center in Washington, killing several dozen people. 

Many families have complained that they haven't been told of what's happening inside the facilities where their loved ones reside, though nursing homes are required to inform state or local health officials.

Now, nursing homes will have to tell patients and their families within 12 hours of a coronavirus diagnosis and give weekly updates. 

The facilities will also have to provide information on confirmed and suspected cases, hospital admissions and deaths of patients and staff to the CDC, said Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Her agency will also make the data available to the public but has not yet decided how.

"Nursing homes have been ground zero for Covid-19," said Verma, calling the new reporting requirement "critical" to monitoring the virus' spread and reopening the country.

The agency has already issued guidance to nursing homes, advising facilities to restrict visitors, tighten infection control measures and ensure staff are using personal protective equipment.

Why this matters: Older Americans have proven particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday said nursing homes have been a "feeding frenzy" for the outbreak. The hard-hit state said last week that there have been more than 1,100 confirmed and presumed coronavirus deaths in long-term care nursing home facilities.

2:24 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Jacksonville mayor on reopening beaches: "The community is responding well" to guidelines

From CNN's Tina Burnside

People walk down the beach on April 19 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
People walk down the beach on April 19 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Just days after reopening beaches in Duval County, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said the community is responding well to the limitations and social distance guidelines put in place by the city. 

Curry drew criticism over the weekend for opening the beaches too soon during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Curry said he has been in constant contact with law enforcement and mayors who have "been strong in the face of national, international news running sensational headlines without understanding our city." 

He said the limited beach reopening is the first step in a returning back to normal, but noted that they all must "be mindful of the risks." 

Keep reading.

Beachgoers talk to CNN as Jacksonville beaches reopen:

1:37 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Pennsylvania governor urges protesters to "please stay safe"

People take part in a "reopen" Pennsylvania demonstration on April 20 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
People take part in a "reopen" Pennsylvania demonstration on April 20 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf had a message for protesters at the Capitol today: “Please stay safe.”

“Obviously this a democracy everyone has a right to express their opinions I’m just hoping that they like every other Pennsylvanian recognizes that we want to keep each other safe so social distancing is part of that proposition," he said.

He added: “We want you to be safe. That’s what we’re trying to do here. We want to make sure that we do everything we can to keep Pennsylvanians safe — that includes you.”

Resentment has been growing across the country as stay-at-home orders keep the economy shut down and prohibit people from getting back to work and providing for their family.

1:31 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Federal aid is "critical" in solving Georgia's fiscal crisis, report says

From CNN’s Kevin Conlon

In a newly released report, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute outlined the dire fiscal crisis that state is facing due to the economic shutdown caused by the pandemic.

The report says that federal fiscal relief is critical in staving off what they calculate to be a $3 billion budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year.

"Without bold and aggressive action, Georgia’s leaders could face a difficult road to make up ground lost in the months and years ahead," the statement said.

The report provides some pretty sobering employment figures: According to GBPI, the state lost approximately 338,500 jobs during the last recession. As of today, the state is more than 2.5 times that level.   

The report makes a handful of policy recommendations such as a tax hike on tobacco, and, perhaps most notably for Atlanta, scaling back tax breaks for the film industry.

"In order to address the effects of the coronavirus, Georgia leaders must prioritize long-term recovery with investments in health, education, the safety net and other key programs and services," the statement said.

1:16 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Last major cruise ships at sea to dock Monday and Tuesday

From CNN’s Mia Alberti

The MSC Magnifica cruise ship is seen docked in Fremantle Harbour near Perth, Australia, on March 24.
The MSC Magnifica cruise ship is seen docked in Fremantle Harbour near Perth, Australia, on March 24. Richard Wainwright/AAP Image/Reuters

The last three major cruise ships in the world are docking Monday and Tuesday, leaving none at sea, Cruise Lines International Association said.

The Pacific Princess is due in Los Angeles within hours, CLIA said.

The MSC Magnifica docked in Marseille, France, earlier today, the Marseille Tourism office told CNN.

The final major cruise ship still due to be sailing, the Costa Deliziosa, is currently docked in Barcelona, Spain, but will depart for Genoa, Italy, later on Monday, CLIA said.

When it arrives in the Italian port on Tuesday, there will be no cruise liners associated with CLIA at sea anywhere in the world. The organization covers 95% of all cruise ships, including those operated by the world’s largest cruise lines.

“Pacific Princess should be arriving in Los Angeles in the next couple of hours,” CLIA told CNN in a statement. 

Some background: The Pacific Princess departed from Port Everglades, Florida, on January 5, according to an April 6 statement. The ship disembarked most guests in Fremantle, Australia, on March 21.

"However, not all guests onboard met the International Air Transport Association (IATA) fitness standards for air travel or were unable to return home by aircraft due to individual medical conditions unrelated to Covid-19," the company explained. There are currently 115 guests onboard.

The Costa Deliziosa docked at the Barcelona port on Monday to disembark some passengers, mainly of Portuguese and Spanish nationalities.

The ship will then continue its journey on Monday evening towards Genoa, its final destination, where it is expected to arrive on April 21.