April 12 coronavirus news

By Amir Vera, Fernando Alfonso III, James Griffiths, Jenni Marsh and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 9:36 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020
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5:20 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Walt Disney World to furlough 43,000 employees amid coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian and Natasha Chen

The entrance to Disney World in Orlando is seen empty on March 16, the first day the theme park was closed.
The entrance to Disney World in Orlando is seen empty on March 16, the first day the theme park was closed. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Walt Disney World will temporarily furlough 43,000 employees at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando effective April 19, President of Unite Here Union Eric Clinton said in a video address on Sunday. 

Clinton is president of one of six unions in the Service Trades Council Union that represents 43,000 cast members at Walt Disney World.

“This is a decision that the union doesn’t like, however, it’s within the company’s right to lay-off and furlough employees in this situation,” he said.

“Disney has reached agreements with several unions for hourly cast members that will maintain members’ health insurance benefits coverage, educational support and additional employee assistance programs during a temporary furlough effective April 19,” a statement from a Disney spokesperson reads.

Clinton explained that the union secured a historic agreement that “provides healthcare for 12 months to any Disney cast member that currently has health care at no cost to them at all.”

“These agreements provide an easier return to work when our community recovers from the impact of Covid-19. We are grateful to have worked together in good faith to help our cast and members navigate these unprecedented times,” the statement from Disney reads.

2:33 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Ecuador president and cabinet to take 50% salary cut amid coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Jen Croft

Ecuador President Lenin Moreno in 2019
Ecuador President Lenin Moreno in 2019 Cristina Vega/AFP via Getty Images

Ecuador President Lenín Moreno announced on Twitter that he is ordering a 50% reduction in his salary and the salaries of his entire cabinet due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

In the announcement, Moreno said he arranged for a salary reduction for himself, the vice president, the cabinet ministers, vice ministers, governors and members of the National Assembly.

There are 24 provincial governors in Ecuador and 137 seats in the National Assembly.

Ecuador has 7,466 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 333 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Read Moreno's tweet:

2:37 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

New Jersey reports more than 61,000 coronavirus cases

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

A sign informs visitors that the boardwalk at Seaside Heights in New Jersey is closed on April 10.
A sign informs visitors that the boardwalk at Seaside Heights in New Jersey is closed on April 10. Ted Shaffrey/AP

New Jersey reported an additional 3,733 positive coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to 61,850, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

“We’ve lost another 168 fellow New Jerseyans to Covid-19 related complications, bringing our statewide total to 2,350,” Murphy tweeted today.

As of 10 p.m. Saturday, 7,604 residents were hospitalized, including Covid-19 positive and persons under investigation.

There are 1,914 people listed in critical or intensive care and 1,644 are on ventilators. Murphy said.

Read Murphy's tweet:

3:59 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

There are at least 532,339 coronavirus cases in the US

There are at least 532,339 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 21,418 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases. 

Wyoming is the only state that is not reporting a death from coronavirus.

5:20 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Arkansas governor defends no stay-at-home statewide order as 'successful'

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Sunday defended his decision not to issue a statewide stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying that his "targeted approach" has proven to be effective.

"If we need to do more, we will do more," the Republican governor told CNN. "So that's always an option on the table if we have to shelter in place. But right now, what we're doing proves to be successful, this targeted approach."

Arkansas is one of a handful of GOP-led states that has not issued stay-at-home orders for its residents, which the majority of US states have implemented to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Hutchinson said he does not believe Arkansas needs to issue a statewide order because of its low density in population. He pointed to his actions in declaring a public emergency when Arkansas had its first confirmed case of coronavirus, closing the state's schools and increasing testing.

"We have masks and social distancing and the people of Arkansas have embraced that. That gives you success," Hutchinson said, adding later, "We want to take the long-term approach to this and you're not going to win simply by a lockdown."

5:21 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

New York needs to coordinate with other counties and states before reopening its economy, governor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Gov. Cuomo's Office
Gov. Cuomo's Office

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said everything, from business to schools, was closed regionally "and that’s how we will go forward together" as the state looks at when and how the economy could reopen.

This comes after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday that public schools in the city would remain closed for the rest of the academic year. A few hours later, Cuomo said no decision had been made yet.

At a press conference Sunday, Cuomo was asked about his working relationship with de Blasio. He said he understood the mayor's stance and that it's "not an unreasonable position."

He added that unlike de Blasio, he has to worry about other counties and neighboring states when making decisions and said coordination with Connecticut and New Jersey would be optimal.

"We won’t open schools one minute sooner than they should be open, but we won’t open schools one minute later than they should be open either," Cuomo said. "Whatever plan we come up with will be driven by data and science."

Cuomo explained it is important to open business at the same time as schools because schools act in part as child care so parents can go to work. He added opening both at the same time is also critical for restarting the economy.

"If you say the schools are closed through June, you are effectively saying businesses are closed through June because you can’t –– restart the economy fully without restarting schools," Cuomo said.

12:41 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Obama wishes the US a "blessed and joyful Easter" amid coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama wished the nation a "joyful" Easter Sunday, while remarking on the dramatic differences in celebrating this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Although our celebrations may look different this year, our unwavering faith remains the same. For me, Easter is a time of hope — a reminder of rebirth and renewal — and a belief in a better day to come. From my family to yours, we wish you all a blessed and joyful Easter," the former president wrote on Twitter.

Due to the pandemic, US officials have recommended social distancing and urged Americans not to attend services larger than 10 people — leaving churches empty and congregations to celebrate online.

Read Obama's tweet:

12:49 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

If social distancing is relaxed, US would see rebound of coronavirus cases, health expert says

From CNN Health’s Wes Bruer

Dr. Christopher Murray on AC360 on April 11.
Dr. Christopher Murray on AC360 on April 11. CNN

Dr. Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said Sunday on CBS that if the social distancing measures and closures were relaxed May 1, the country would see a rebound of coronavirus cases.

"We don’t think the capability in the states exists yet to deal with that volume of cases and so by July or August we could be back in the same situation we are in now” if there was premature opening of the country, Murray said. 

Murray noted states on the West Coast that are father along in the pandemic will still need “weeks of closures” beyond the peak for the opportunity to conduct proper testing and contact tracing. 

Citing Dr. Anthony Fauci’s statements on CNN that some states would open up in mid-May, relaxing closures and social distancing measures on a rolling basis poses a new set of questions that have not been addressed, Murray said. 

“Of course there’s a big issue of states are on different timings of their epidemics, which we know is the case. How are they going to control importation from other states into their state," Murray added.

He also pointed out the inconsistent state mitigation policies have also been a problem for the modeling of this pandemic.

“We're now in the last series of forecasts being around 60-61,000 deaths. We predicted the peak about now, and that seems to be occurring at the national level, but because of incomplete implementation of social distancing closures in many states is adding a degree of uncertainty," he said.

12:19 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Beijing tightens grip over coronavirus research, amid US-China row on virus origin

From Nectar Gan, Caitlin Hu and Ivan Watson

China has imposed restrictions on the publication of academic research on the origins of the novel coronavirus, according to a central government directive and online notices published by two Chinese universities, that have since been removed from the web.

Under the new policy, all academic papers on Covid-19 will be subject to extra vetting before being submitted for publication. Studies on the origin of the virus will receive extra scrutiny and must be approved by central government officials, according to the now-deleted posts.

A medical expert in Hong Kong who collaborated with mainland researchers to publish a clinical analysis of Covid-19 cases in an international medical journal said his work did not undergo such vetting in February.

Some context: The increased scrutiny appears to be the latest effort by the Chinese government to control the narrative on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives and sickened 1.7 million people worldwide since it first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December.

Read more here.