April 8 coronavirus news

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8:10 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Coronavirus death count conspiracy theories "are nothing but distractions," Fauci says

From CNN[s Maegan Vazquez 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci pushed back on conspiracy theories suggesting that coronavirus deaths in the US are being inflated, especially among those dying with existing underlying conditions.

“We’ve made it very clear, every time I’ve been up here, about the comorbidities,” Birx said Wednesday during the White House press briefing. “This has been known from the beginning. So those individuals will have an underlying condition but that underlying condition did not cause their acute death when it’s related to a Covid infection.”

“Having an underlying condition and getting this virus, we know, is particularly damaging to those individuals,” Birx added.

Fauci took things a step further, saying, “You will always have conspiracy theories when you have very challenging public health crises. They are nothing but distractions.”

“I would just hope that we just put those conspiracy stuff — and let somebody write a book about it later on, but not now,” he continued.

7:31 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Health expert says drop in US death projection is due to change in American behavior

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said models projecting the number of American deaths from coronavirus have dropped dramatically in recent days because Americans have drastically changed their behavior. 

Birx said the US was doing "much better in many cases than several other countries, and we're trying to understand that." 

"We believe that our health care delivery system in the United States is quite extraordinary," she said, but added that the models were based on "what America is doing." 

"I think what has been so remarkable I think to those of us that have been in the science field for so long," Birx continued, "is how important behavioral change is, and how amazing Americans are at adapting to and following through on these behavioral changes."  

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, later said the changing models proved that social distancing steps are working. 

"We know that mitigation does work. The reason that we know it works, is the question that was asked about the numbers...why they came down with the projections," Fauci said. "What you do with data will always outstrip a model. You redo your models depending upon your data."

"Our data is telling us that mitigation is working," Fauci said. "Keep your foot on the accelerator, because that is what's going to get us through this."

Some context: As CNN previously reported, an influential model tracking the coronavirus pandemic in the United States now predicts that fewer people will die and fewer hospital beds will be needed compared to its estimates from last week.

As of Wednesday, the model predicted the virus will kill 60,000 people in the United States over the next four months. That's about 33,000 fewer deaths than the model estimated last Thursday.

While the US is still expected to face a shortage of about 16,000 hospital beds, it will need 168,000 fewer beds than previously expected, according to the new analysis.

7:30 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Pence says he was briefed Wednesday that Philadelphia is “an area of particular concern”

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

Vice President Mike Pence said he was briefed Wednesday that Philadelphia is “an area of particular concern” for the coronavirus outbreak.

“An area of particular concern we were briefed on this morning is the city of Philadelphia. I spoke today to (Pennsylvania) Gov. Tom Wolf and as we begin to see early trend lines in Philadelphia, I assured him that we were going to continue to flow resources and support to that community,” Pence said at the daily White House briefing on the outbreak. 

Pence emphasized that people in Philadelphia need to practice social distancing “now more than ever.” 

“Our message to the people of the Philadelphia area is now more than ever, practice the social distancing so that Philadelphia, and to some extent even Pittsburgh, do not have to endure what other communities before them have had to endure,” Pence said.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, added that the Philadelphia metropolitan area is seeing 1,400 cases per day and the Baltimore/Washington, DC, area is seeing a 15% positivity rate with 500 cases per day in DC and 200 cases per day in Baltimore. 

7:29 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

FEMA to restrict exports of critical supplies leaving US

From CNN's Geneva Sands and Priscilla Alvarez

Stacks of shipping containers sit at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, California.
Stacks of shipping containers sit at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Companies will soon be blocked from exporting critical medical supplies needed by the US for the coronavirus response, unless the Federal Emergency Management Agency gives approval for overseas shipments, according to a federal draft regulation.

The combined effort between FEMA and US Customs and Border Protection, which oversees trade and travel, comes as the United States seeks to shore up equipment for hospitals treating coronavirus patients.

Late last week: White House trade adviser Peter Navarro previewed these actions, saying there is “a black market which you have described, where we're having people bid against each other, brokers come in, they're bidding and bidding on all this different (personal protective equipment)."

"It's driving the price up and guess what? You know where it's going? The domestic sources here are being exported," said Navarro, the White House's Defense Production Act policy coordinator, at last Thursday's White House briefing. "We are going to crack down unmercifully."

In a joint statement Wednesday, the two agencies, both of which fall under the Department of Homeland Security, said they're "working together to prevent domestic brokers, distributors, and other intermediaries from diverting these critical medical resources overseas."

7:01 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Louisiana governor: "There was no Easter exemption from the stay-at-home order"

From CNN's Lindsay Benson

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged people to keep social-distancing for the Easter holiday. 

"This Easter is not going to look like previous Easters, but it doesn't mean that you can't find some significant way to meaningfully worship and to celebrate," Edwards, a Democrat, said. "There was no Easter exemption from the stay-at-home order. There was no Easter exemption from the 10 person limit. Because that virus isn't going to honor that."

"The virus is very much in control and that's why we're trying to do things that will actually limit the impact of the virus," Edwards said.
7:11 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Trump criticizes the World Health Organization's response to coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

President Donald Trump on Wednesday renewed his attacks on the World Health Organization after the head of the organization asked him not to “politicize the virus.” 

At a press conference earlier Wednesday, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus responded to attacks from Trump about how his organization handled the coronavirus outbreak. 

“Please don’t politicize this virus... If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it. My short message is: Please quarantine politicizing Covid," Ghebreyesus said.

At Wednesday's White House briefing, Trump declared it was Ghebreyesus who was politicizing the coronavirus and said he believes the organization favors China.

“I can't believe he's talking about politics when you look at the relationship they have to China. So China spends $42 million, we spent $450 million and everything seems to be China's way. That's not right, it’s not fair to us and honestly it's not fair to the world,” Trump said.

Trump implied that there would have been fewer coronavirus deaths if the WHO gave a “correct analysis.”

“I think when you say more body bags, I think we would have done, and he would have been much better serving the people that he’s supposed to serve if they gave a correct analysis,” Trump said.

Watch:

7:11 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Miami orders all employees and customers to wear masks at all times

From CNN’s Sara Weisfeldt in Miami

Joel Porro and Lizz Hernandez wear gloves and protective masks as they put bags in the trunk of their car after shopping at Walmart Supercenter in Miami.
Joel Porro and Lizz Hernandez wear gloves and protective masks as they put bags in the trunk of their car after shopping at Walmart Supercenter in Miami. David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

The city of Miami said Wednesday it has mandated all employees and customers in grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies and convenience stores to wear masks at all times while on premises, effective today at 11:59 pm ET.

In a statement, the city said this “citywide order to wear masks extends to those performing construction work on job sites, as well as food delivery workers.”

6:36 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Coronavirus global cases surpass 1.5 million

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1.5 million people and killed more than 87,000 worldwide, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

There are at least 424,945 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 14,529 people have died from the disease in the country.

6:34 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

New York City reports 5,603 new coronavirus cases

New York City has 5,603 new coronavirus cases and 716 new deaths, according to the city website.

The city now has a total of 80,204 coronavirus cases and 4,260 deaths.