April 18 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Brett McKeehan, Laura Smith-Spark, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 8:59 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020
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12:06 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Minnesota governor says he called Trump to ask about his tweets

From CNN's Janine Mack

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz at a news conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Friday.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz at a news conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Friday. Christine T. Nguyen/Minnesota Public Radio via AP, Pool

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he tried to speak with US President Donald Trump after the US leader tweeted “LIBERATE MINNESOTA" on Friday, but he didn't get a call in return.

Speaking at a news conference Friday, Walz said he called to ask, "What are we doing differently about moving towards getting as many people back into the workforce without compromising the health of Minnesotans or the providers?

He added that it "will probably take longer than a two-word tweet."

Protesters have gathered in front of the governor's residence for two days in a row to demonstrate against his statewide stay-at-home order. Walz urged protesters to follow social distancing guidelines.

On Friday, Trump tweeted "LIBERATE MINNESOTA" one day after saying he was leaving the reopening decisions up to the governors.

11:32 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Pence describes federal efforts to work with states to respond to coronavirus

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Betsy Klein 

US Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Friday.
US Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Friday. Alex Brandon/AP

US Vice President Mike Pence on Friday described how the federal government is working with states to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pence said that a recent disaster declaration for American Samoa marked the first time in American history that all states and territories had been under a disaster declaration.

“We’re continuing to bring, at the President’s direction, full resources of the federal government to bear. Today, the President approved a major disaster declaration for American Samoa, and now all 50 states and all territories are under major disaster declarations for the first time in American history,” Pence said.

Pence also said there would be an additional call with governors on Mondan the topic of of supplies.

“Today we issued a letter to our nation’s governors summarizing all the medical equipment and supplies that have been distributed to their state from FEMA between the first of this month and April 14 through Project Airbridge and through the commercial supply network,” Pence said. 

He continued: “We’ll be speaking with our nation’s governors on Monday and detailing that information at that time.”

Pence said the group will also discuss testing capacity and lab activation “very specifically” during the Monday call.

9:04 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020

5.5 million testing swabs will be sent to US states, Trump says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Donald Trump briefs the press in the White House on Friday.
Donald Trump briefs the press in the White House on Friday. Alex Brandon/AP

US President Donald Trump laid out the administration’s swab testing efforts during Friday’s briefing. 

In the next few weeks, he said, the federal government will “be sending out 5.5 million testing swabs to the states.”

The swabs, he said, “can be done easily by the governors themselves. Mostly it’s cotton. It’s not a big deal, you can get cotton easily, but if they can’t get it, we will take care of it.”

People might soon be able to perform their own test swabs for Covid-19 at home with a newly designed, Q-tip-style swab, the FDA said Thursday.

CNN reported the FDA said it had worked with US Cotton to design the swabs, which are shorter than the swabs used by technicians, doctors or nurses to collect samples to test people for Covid-19 infection. The FDA also said US Cotton plans to manufacture large quantities of these swabs.