Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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3:23 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

CDC reminds people to follow disinfectant instructions while using

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

An attendee holds a container of Lysol disinfecting wipes as San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks during a press conference on March 16 in San Francisco, California.
An attendee holds a container of Lysol disinfecting wipes as San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks during a press conference on March 16 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday issued a reminder about disinfectants: Use them properly.

“Household cleaners and disinfectants can cause health problems when not used properly. Follow the instructions on the product label to ensure safe and effective use," the CDC said in a tweet.

Some context: The CDC message was sent a day after President Trump suggested that injecting disinfectant might be a possible treatment for coronavirus.

“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute,” Trump said.

“And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning,” the President added. “Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that.”

The CDC tweet included a link for anyone interested in learning “more about cleaning and disinfecting your home.”

Among other instructions. the CDC website says people should try “not to breathe in product fumes. If using products indoors, open windows and doors to allow fresh air to enter.”

CNN has reached out to the CDC for clarification on what prompted the tweet.

Earlier today, The maker of Lysol issued a statement clarifying that under no circumstances should its products be administered into the human body.

See Dr. Birx's reaction to Trump's disinfectant suggestion:

2:36 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Airlines move forward with plans to carry cargo in passenger aircraft 

From CNN's Greg Wallace

A Delta Air Lines jet lands at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah on April 22.
A Delta Air Lines jet lands at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah on April 22. Rick Bowmer/AP

US airlines are moving forward with plans to carry cargo in otherwise empty passenger planes. 

Airlines for America, the industry group that represents airlines, on Friday formally asked the Federal Aviation Administration to allow all carriers to transport cargo on airplane seats. 

Delta Air Lines said it has received federal government approval to carry cargo in empty overhead bins on cargo-only, wide-body charter flights. Since early April, it has been using passenger planes for those flights, but the passenger compartment is empty.  

What we know: The airlines are proposing carrying up to 50 pounds of cargo on each seat — or up to 110 pounds if the cargo is packaged in a single container that takes up three seats. They propose carrying up to 20 pounds of cargo under each seat. The seats will be in the upright position, rather than reclined, and flight attendants would be aboard to make sure none of the cargo catches fire. (Passenger compartments typically don’t have the firefighting systems installed in cargo compartments.) 

Some airlines are also looking at removing passenger seats, providing even more cargo capacity. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said on a call with financial analysts earlier this week: “We are — we have looked at and we're taking some of the main deck seats off our — a few of our international planes to facilitate taking greater lift in the short term.” 

The 80% cut in US flights means there is significantly less cargo capacity available to shippers.  

Earlier this month, the FAA laid out the standards airlines must meet when seeking approval to carry cargo in non-traditional areas. Details on that below.  

Here's a diagram from Airlines for America showing how cargo would be placed on seats: 

 

Credit: Airlines for America
Credit: Airlines for America

2:39 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Students file lawsuits against colleges over tuition refunds

From CNN's Annie Grayer and Athena Jones

Columbia University Visitors Center pictured on December 22, 2019 in New York City.
Columbia University Visitors Center pictured on December 22, 2019 in New York City. Shutterstock

Three class action lawsuits have been filed against New York-area universities by students who argue the schools’ have failed to adequately refund or reimburse students for tuition and other fees they paid to attend in-person, on-campus classes.

The lawsuits are against Columbia University, Pace University and Long Island University. The students argue that online-only instruction is less valuable and should cost students less.

Pace University spokesperson Marie Boster told CNN that while they have not been served yet, “housing fee adjustments for students who had to leave the residence halls are being issued. We are planning to use CARES Act funding to support our students when it is available.”

Columbia University and Long Island University have not yet responded to comment.

2:34 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Delaware governor says schools will remain closed through end of academic year 

From CNN's Renee Baharaeen

Delaware schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year, Gov. John Carney announced on Friday. 

“Today we're making it official that the schools will remain closed for students through the end of this school year,” Carney said. “There's obviously no replacement for in person instruction in classrooms in terms of the relationships and the services. But obviously doing what we can between now and the end of what would have been the school year, we want to get as much benefit for our students as possible.”

The governor also encouraged superintendents to begin planning for summer learning and instruction, summer food distribution, and preparation for the new school year. 

2:00 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Trump says he won't sign more funding for US Postal Service unless it raises prices on some packages

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

US Postal Service worker Lou Martini goes about his daily delivery route during the coronavirus pandemic on April 15, in Kings Park, New York.
US Postal Service worker Lou Martini goes about his daily delivery route during the coronavirus pandemic on April 15, in Kings Park, New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

President Trump attacked the US Postal Service, calling it “a joke” during Friday’s Oval Office bill signing ceremony.

Trump said that the postal service needs to raise the price of a package, “approximately four times” because they are currently losing money delivering packages for Amazon “and other internet companies.”

“The Postal Service is a joke, because they are handing out packages for Amazon and other internet companies, and every time they bring a package, they lose money on it,” Trump said. 

Trump said that the Postal Service is “very cozy with some of these companies” which is why, according to Trump, they wont raise the price on packages.

“But they don't want to raise, because they don't want to insult Amazon and they don't want to insult other companies, perhaps, that they like. The post office should raise the price of the packages to the companies, not to the people, to the companies and if they did that, it would be a whole different story,” Trump said.

Some background: The Postal Service is a government agency, but it operates as an independent business without direct taxpayer support. It has lost $65 billion over the last 11 fiscal years.

Amazon has a confidential agreement with the Postal Service where it delivers large numbers of packages directly to the post office nearest to where they need to be delivered. The Postal Service then delivers the packages the "last mile" to their destinations. The Postal Service says the law requires that such negotiated contracts cover its costs, and that regulators have studied the Amazon contract and approved it.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that there was a $10 million loan provided to the USPS in the CARES Act, but “certain criteria for postal reform” would be included as part of that loan. 

Trump added that if the USPS doesn’t raise the price on packages, he won’t sign anything for more funding for the postal service.

Watch:

2:57 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Trump suggests he "will" look into vaccine expert's dismissal

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Donald Trump listens during the signing of a coronavirus aid package in the Oval Office of the White House, April 24.
President Donald Trump listens during the signing of a coronavirus aid package in the Oval Office of the White House, April 24. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump reiterated Friday that he didn’t know Dr. Rick Bright, the dismissed director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), an office leading the charge on a coronavirus vaccine.

“Until yesterday, I never heard of the gentleman,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “I guess they moved him to a different group.”

Asked if he had any plans to look into Bright’s move to a narrower position at the National Institutes of Health, Trump suggested he will.

“I have not yet, at some point I will,” he said.

Bright has alleged that his ouster was retaliatory and stemmed in part from his opposition to widening the availability of a coronavirus treatment with dubious scientific merits that the President had repeatedly promoted.

Watch:  

3:10 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Trump signs $484 billion coronavirus relief package

US President Donald Trump signs the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 24.
US President Donald Trump signs the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 24. Oliver Douliery/AFP/Getty

President Trump Friday signed into a law a roughly $480 billion package to deliver aid to small businesses and hospitals and expand Covid-19 testing, the latest attempt by Washington to blunt the devastating impact of the pandemic.

The total price tag of the funding package is approximately $484 billion. It will add to the already historic levels of spending to deal with the pandemic by authorizing an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which was set up to help small businesses struggling from the economic deep freeze triggered by coronavirus.

Funding for the program ran dry earlier this month, prompting an outcry from the business community.

Watch the moment here:

1:04 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

More than 400,000 Tennesseans have filed unemployment claims 

From CNN’s Will Brown

 

More than 400,000 people in Tennessee have filed unemployment claims, Gov. Bill Lee announced at a news conference on Friday. The claims add up to about 15% of the state’s workforce. 

Lee also said the state suffered an $870 million loss in revenue in March, and that state officials predict a $5 billion loss to Tennessee’s GDP in 2020.

Yesterday, the US Department of Labor  announced that first-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 4.4 million in the week ending April 18, after factoring in seasonal adjustments.

12:52 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Elective surgeries to resume and farmers market to reopen next week in Iowa

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference on April 23, in Johnston, Iowa.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference on April 23, in Johnston, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/Pool/AP

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced plans to start reopening some sectors of the economy on Monday during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

During Friday's news conference, Reynolds said the proclamation she is signing will allow for hospitals to resume elective surgeries in a phased approach. Farmers Markets will also be able to reopen with limited operations on Monday as well.

Iowa recorded 521 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the state total to 4,445, Reynolds said.

The state also reported 11 additional deaths, bringing the total to 107. The deaths include residents from long-term care facilities and those with pre-existing conditions, Reynolds said.