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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1:12 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

Experts are talking a lot about the importance of "contact tracing." Here's exactly what that means.

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images
Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Joia Mukherjee, the chief medical officer at Partners in Health, a global health organization, says contract tracing is an important step to decreasing the number of cases of coronavirus.

"If we want to not only flatten the curve, which we are doing through social isolation, but shrink the curve and make it fewer infections, we have to do contact tracing and isolation," Mukherjee told CNN's John King.

Here's what happens during contact tracing:

  • Step one: Investigating close contacts

Mukherjee said once a person tests positive for the virus, there will be a case investigation. This means public health officials call the patient and investigate who their close contacts have been. They will gather a list of everyone who came within 6 feet of the person who tested positive, starting two days before they started having symptoms.

  • Step two: Contact tracing team makes calls

That list of contact information then goes to a contact tracing team, Mukherjee said. The team calls each person who meets that definition of "a contact within that 6-foot radius," she said.

She said the contact team would tell them "you have been in contact of someone of COVID. These are the things you need to know. One, are you okay? Are you feeling okay? And if not connecting people rapidly to care, testing."

The team would also determine if the individual was able to self-quarantine, and if not, "we would refer that person to social support," Mukherjee said.

  • Step three: Make sure they can isolate properly

The third step to contact tracing is making sure the individual who is quarantining has enough food, housing or sanitation so they can isolate properly and not continue to spread the disease within families.

"We have to address those local contacts to stop transmission of this virus," she said.

12:56 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

South Dakota will be first state to conduct hydroxychloroquine trial, governor says

South Dakota will be the first state to conduct a hydroxychloroquine trial to test against Covid-19, Gov. Kristi Noem announced Monday. 

She announced the trial in a series of tweets.

"We’ve received the initial doses we need," Noem said. "We’re now the first state to do a full clinical trial to test whether hydroxychloroquine can treat and perhaps prevent #COVID19."

About the drug hydroxychloroquine: The drug is used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Trump has touted the drug, saying it shows "tremendous promise" of working against coronavirus as well.

But the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases isn't sponsoring any studies on hydroxychloroquine, according to a statement from the agency, which added that the agency is "considering" trials that examine the drug or its analogue chloroquine as a potential treatment for Covid-19 studies.

On its website, NIAID mentions several drug therapies it is supporting to fight coronavirus, but not hydroxychloroquine. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, another federal agency, also lists its coronavirus measures on its website, but hydroxychloroquine is not among them.

Despite Trump's enthusiasm, a federal government registry for clinical trials shows only two trials in the US for hydroxychloroquine to fight coronavirus, and only one of those is up and running.

12:44 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

"Masks are not an alternative to lockdown," WHO official says

From CNN's Amanda Watts 

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, said as the world considers getting back to normal, it’s important to remember that "masks are not an alternative to lockdown." 

Ryan continued: “Everything we do in public health or in health and policy affects something else. So the pressures on people to go back to work are going to be very strong and very appropriate, but we don't want people having to make difficult choices — and in some ways think that putting a mask on — is the same as staying home and reporting the fact that you're sick to authorities."

“There's huge pressure on people to go back to work to go back to school to participate in daily life. I don't want to be the person at home with a fever, and with a job to go to where I can make a calculation that instead of picking up the phone and phoning my health provider or phoning the public health authorities and asking for a test and a diagnosis that I think that putting a mask on, is an adequate response to that situation. And that is something we really have to be careful about,” Ryan added.

12:32 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

UK stay-at-home order is not expected to ease this week

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac in London

Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images
Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Emergency measures against Covid-19 in the UK will remain in place for now and are not expected to ease this week, the UK Foreign Secretary said on Monday.

The government’s coronavirus task force will meet this week to discuss the measures but Dominic Raab said that there will be “no changes to measures in place at that point.”

Speaking at a daily coronavirus press briefing, Raab said the country is “still not past the peak of the virus.”

Britain has been under a stay-at-home order for three weeks. 

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.