April 13 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Amy Woodyatt, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 9:11 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020
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12:25 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

Many antibody tests for coronavirus are "junk," former CDC director says

From CNN Arman Azad

Tom Frieden on October 5, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Tom Frieden on October 5, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, said in an interview today that many of the coronavirus antibody tests on the market are “junk.”

Right now, Frieden said, “there are many tests on the market and many of them – now that I can speak very freely that I’m not in the government – many of them are junk.”

The comments came in a live-streamed interview with STAT’s Helen Branswell.

Frieden, who served as CDC director under President Barack Obama, said “there are many bad tests, inaccurate tests on the market.”

Referring to a historical surge in the diversity of species, he said we’re going to see “a kind of Cambrian explosion, and then a winnowing down of the tests out there, so that we have more tests that are reliable.”

About Antibody tests: Antibody tests are useful because they can detect past infections, including mild or asymptomatic cases. That’s important for researchers looking to understand how widespread the virus really is.

The tests could also offer insight into who might have some protection against future infections, although it’s unclear how long immunity might last.

Only one coronavirus antibody test is currently authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration. The agency, though, has released guidance allowing unauthorized antibody tests to be distributed during the pandemic.

12:24 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

WHO warns the number of coronavirus cases will decrease slower than they increased

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the deceleration of coronavirus cases is much slower than the acceleration.

“While Covid-19 accelerates very fast, it decelerates much more slowly. In other words, the way down is much slower than the way up,” Tedros said.

Speaking on Monday in Geneva, Tedros said as countries consider lifting their social distancing measures, they need to be careful.

“That means control measures must be lifted slowly and with control. It cannot happen all at once. Control measures can only be lifted if the right public health measures are in place," he said.
12:22 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

Congress will likely remain on standby during pandemic, sources say

From CNN's Manu Raju and Lauren Fox

 

The Senate is currently scheduled to come back next week — but senators and aides say there’s a good chance this could change and they expect official announcements later this week.  

One source familiar with ongoing scheduling conversations told CNN that there are active conversations in the Senate about whether it is even feasible to come back and work at the Capitol safely. 

The House won’t come back to session unless members need to vote on legislation, according to leadership aides, and they’ll be given 24 hours notice if they have to return to the Capitol.

All this means that both chambers are likely to be on standby and will return to session as needed. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to make a Senate announcement official 

Thursday is the next pro forma session in the Senate, and a source tells CNN that a decision could be made by then.

12:22 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

Amazon is hiring 75,000 more workers to keep up with demand during pandemic

From CNN’s Kaya Yurieff

Amazon plans to hire 75,000 more workers to meet increased demand for household essentials and other goods spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The tech giant on Monday also said it has hired 100,000 new workers for its distribution centers since announcing plans to do so in mid-March.

Amazon said it now expects to spend more than $500 million in pay increases for workers, up from its previous expectation of $350 million. 

Amazon faces a difficult balancing act. The company is racing to bring on workers to meet surging demand from customers who are stuck inside at the same time that it faces pressure from lawmakers and workers to take more safety precautions and potentially close facilities hit by the virus.  

"Our top concern is ensuring the health and safety of our employees. We made over 150 process updates to help protect employees from enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures to piloting new efforts like using disinfectant fog in our New York fulfillment center," Amazon wrote in a blog post on Monday. 

There have been coronavirus cases reported at facilities in Washington state, California and New York among others, prompting calls for fulfillment centers to be closed for deep cleaning. Employees have also staged walkouts to protest Amazon's decision to keep warehouses open.

Earlier this month, Amazon said it would rapidly expand temperature checks for employees. But some Amazon employees and applicants previously told CNN Business they continue to be worried about crowded hiring events, limited access to disinfectant wipes and Amazon's overall ability to follow through on its promises.

 

12:10 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

Northeast governors will discuss a "geographically coordinated" plan of reopening, Cuomo says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will be joined by other governors an announce a "geographically coordinated" plan of reopening this afternoon. 

He said he has been in close contact with his New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island counterparts over the past few weeks on a variety of coronavirus issues that impact the northeast region.

“To the extent we can coordinate, we should and we will,” he said, referring to reopening plans.
12:34 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

New York governor: "The worst is over" if we stay smart

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said "the worst is over" and the state is controlling the spread.

“If you isolate, if you take the precautions, your family won’t get infected. We can control the spread. Feel good about that,” he said at a coronavirus briefing today.

However, Cuomo warned New Yorkers need to "continued to be smart."

“The worst is over. Yeah, if we continue to be smart going forward. Because remember we have the hand on that valve. You turn that valve too fast, you will see that number jump right back," he added.

Watch:

12:30 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

New York governor: We can't reopen the economy without the transit system

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

John Minchillo/AP
John Minchillo/AP

While discussing reopening the economy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo emphasized the importance of starting the transportation system along with the rest of the economy.

“You can’t start one system without starting the other systems. You can’t start the economic system without starting the transportation system. And if you can’t run the transportation system, then you can’t reopen the economy,” he said today at a coronavirus briefing.

“These systems work in coordination," he added.

Cuomo said the federal government also needs to work in coordination with these systems.

“You’re going to need federal support, and you’re going to need smart legislation passed by the federal government that actually attends to the need as opposed to normal political considerations," he said.

Watch:

11:58 a.m. ET, April 13, 2020

New York governor: I want this to be over now, "but that's not reality"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said recovering from the pandemic is not like flipping a switch on and off.

Cuomo said he often thinks about when this could be over — and he doesn't know.

"When is it over? I have this conversation a hundred times a day," he said, noting that many of the social distancing guidelines go against "human behavior and needs."

"It's not going to be, we flip a switch," Cuomo said. "I would love to say that's going to happen. It's not going to happen that way."

He added:

"There is going to be no morning where the headline says 'Hallelujah it's over.'"

He added that he thinks New York can "start on the path to normalcy."

"I want it to be over tomorrow," Cuomo said. "But that's not reality."

Later in the press conference, Cuomo said this wouldn't truly be over until there is a vaccine for Covid-19, which could be 12 to 18 months.

12:20 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

Here's what Gov. Cuomo says about "reopening" New York

State of New York
State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said whenever he "reopens" the state, it will mean easing isolation and reassessing what are considered "essential" businesses and workers.

Cuomo said this will increase economic activity.

"We never turned off the economy," he said. "We turned it way, way down."

The governor said that while this is happening, officials will monitor infection rates, saying it's "a delicate balance."

He added that he is not "interested in political opinions," and he will lean on advice from expertsWatch:

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