April 9 coronavirus news

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10:45 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Louisiana State University installs extra barrier to protect mascot "Mike the Tiger" from coronavirus

LSU mascot Mike the Tiger rests in his habitat during a game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the LSU Tigers at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 7.
LSU mascot Mike the Tiger rests in his habitat during a game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the LSU Tigers at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 7. John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via AP

Louisiana State University has erected an extra pedestrian barrier around the habitat for bengal tiger Mike, the school's mascot, to prevent the animal catching coronavirus.

The new layer of fencing was put in place Tuesday to provide a four-foot barrier between the tiger and pedestrians, according to Ginger Guttner, spokesperson for LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine.  

"(We're) aware that the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories has confirmed (coronavirus) in one tiger at a zoo in New York. This is the first instance of a tiger being infected with COVID-19," the statement said.
"As Mike’s caretakers, his health and wellbeing are our primary concern. We will, as always, monitor him closely."

The extra fencing can be seen on the live university camera run by the school, which shows the area outside the tiger habitat. 

10:48 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

It's just past 10:30 p.m. in New York and 10:30 a.m. in Beijing. Here's the latest on the pandemic

A Mirimus lab scientist prepares to test Covid-19 samples from recovered patients on April 8 in Brooklyn, New York City.
A Mirimus lab scientist prepares to test Covid-19 samples from recovered patients on April 8 in Brooklyn, New York City. Misha Friedman/Getty Images

If you're just joining us, here's the major developments of the past few hours.

  • Global infections: The number of coronavirus cases recorded around the world has now passed 1.5 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. At least 88,444 people have died from Covid-19 worldwide.
  • Hotter weather might not help: A prestigious scientific panel told the White House on Tuesday that it doesn't look like coronavirus will go away once the weather warms up -- despite President Donald Trump's claims that warmer weather will make the virus "miraculously" go away.
  • WHO under fire: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that it was not the time for a leadership change at the World Health Organization after a senior US administration official said the global health watchdog's leadership was a problem.
  • Fewer US deaths forecast: An influential model tracking the coronavirus pandemic in the United States now predicts that fewer people will die compared to its estimates from last week. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said the drop is because Americans have drastically changed their behavior. 
  • Empty hotel rooms: According to data from a hospitality analytics company, nearly 80% of US hotel rooms were empty last week.
  • China fears second wave: With China's outbreak apparently under control, President Xi Jinping has urged authorities in the country to carefully watch for imported cases, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
10:22 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Los Angeles mayor orders all city parks closed for Easter to prevent coronavirus spread

Pedestrians walk around Echo Park Lake wearing face masks on April 8, in Los Angeles.
Pedestrians walk around Echo Park Lake wearing face masks on April 8, in Los Angeles. Rich Fury/Getty Images

All parks in Los Angeles will be closed on Easter Sunday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus amid the city’s stay-at-home order, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in a news conference Wednesday night.

Many families have traditionally used the parks for Easter egg hunts and gatherings, but the mayor said the events now present too great a risk to public health.

“This is such a fun moment for our kids, this is such a great tradition that many families have, but we can’t afford to have one cluster of just even a few people together, it could spread this disease to more people and kill them,” he said.

The parks will be closed from the evening of Saturday, April 11 through the morning of Monday, April 13, Garcetti said. Park rangers and officers from the Los Angeles Police Department will be patrolling the facilities on Sunday to enforce the closures. 

Garcetti asks for help for undocumented immigrants: The LA mayor has also called for the federal government to provide benefits to undocumented immigrants who are now out of work due to the coronavirus outbreak and shuttering of non-essential businesses.

Garcetti estimated there are 2.5 million undocumented workers in California, with 650,000 of those living in Los Angeles County.

"They are an integral part of our city, they pay taxes,” Garcetti said. “That is why Congress needs to come back to the table.”
10:14 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Guatemalan President orders mandatory wearing of face masks

Everyone in Guatemala will be required to wear a face mask from Monday, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said Wednesday during a news conference.

Those circulating on the streets who do not wear a mask are “putting everyone else at risk and therefore will be sanctioned,” Giammattei said.

The government of Guatemala will be providing at least 3 million masks to citizens on Monday, the President said.

10:05 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

China's Xi warns of "new difficulties and challenges" amid rising risk of a second wave

In this photo released by state-run Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at a symposium on poverty alleviation in Beijing on March 6.
In this photo released by state-run Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at a symposium on poverty alleviation in Beijing on March 6. Ju Peng/Xinhua via Getty

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned against the risk of a second wave of infections in the country as the global pandemic continues to spread, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

In a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party's top decision-making body Wednesday, the Politburo Standing Committee, Xi said that amid growing downward pressures on the global economy, "unstable and uncertain factors" were increasing.

China's outbreak of the coronavirus is apparently under control, with few new locally transmitted infections or deaths announced in recent weeks. On Wednesday, the epicenter of the original outbreak, Wuhan, officially ended its lockdown.

"New difficulties and challenges have emerged for China's work resumption and economic and social development," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

Xi urged Chinese authorities to carefully watch for imported cases from abroad and prevent a resurgence of the outbreak at home, Xinhua reported.

9:44 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

CDC issues new guidelines for essential workers who have been exposed to coronavirus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield issued new guidelines for essential workers who have been exposed to the coronavirus, saying individuals would need to be asymptomatic to return to work

The guidelines, he said, are aimed at keeping essential workers, including first responders, health care workers, employees in the food supply chain and others at work -- even if they might have been exposed to someone who has coronavirus. 

“These are individuals that have been within six feet of a confirmed case or a suspected case so that they can, under certain circumstances, they can go back to work if they are asymptomatic,” Redfield said. 

Redfield said those individuals could return to their jobs if they take their temperature before work, wear a face mask at all times and practice social distancing at work. 

He reiterated that people should stay home if they feel sick, should not share items used on or near their face and should refrain from congregating in break rooms and other crowded places.

The CDC’s new guidelines also outlined steps employers should take, including checking temperatures before employees start work, sending anyone who becomes sick home and cleaning commonly touched surfaces more frequently, among others.

9:11 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

This Chicago jail has one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in the US

More than 400 coronavirus cases are linked to one jail in Chicago, local officials said, making the Cook County Jail the largest known source of infections in the US outside of medical facilities.

The Cook County Sheriff’s office said Wednesday that 251 detainees and 150 staff members have tested positive for the virus. Of the detainees infected in the outbreak, 22 are hospitalized for treatment and 31 others have been moved to a recovery facility.

One detainee has died of “apparent” complications of Covid-19, sheriff’s officials said, but an autopsy remains pending.

The jail has created a quarantine “bootcamp” to keep detainees that are infected separate from the rest of the jail population. 

The jail complex currently houses about 4,700 detainees according to the sheriff’s office. Jail officials have previously said they planned to screen and release nonviolent pretrial defendants.

9:31 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Nearly 80% of US hotel rooms are empty

The parking lot is nearly at a Hampton Inn hotel on March 24 in Rockford, Illinois.
The parking lot is nearly at a Hampton Inn hotel on March 24 in Rockford, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Only 21.6% of hotel rooms in the United States were occupied last week, according to new data from hospitality analytics company STR. 

That’s down slightly from the week before and down more than 68% from the same week last year.  

Only 7% of the rooms in Oahu Island, Hawaii, are occupied, the lowest rate for any market in the country and down more than 90% from the same week last year. 

Across the board, economy hotels and lodging in suburban areas tended to have more people staying than other hotels, according to STR. 

New York City posted about 18% occupancy last week, which was a slight increase from the just over 15% posted for two weeks ago. 

9:00 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Coronavirus cases pass 1.5 million worldwide

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1.5 million people and killed over 88,000 worldwide, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

There are at least 429,052 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 14,739 people have died from the disease in the country.