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April 19 coronavirus news
By Helen Regan, Jenni Marsh, Laura Smith-Spark, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN
Testing provisions a hang-up in talks over small business loan expansion
From CNN's Manu Raju
Three sources involved in the negotiations said that the details over how to spend billions over testing for Covid-19 remains unresolved in the talks over the massive relief bill under negotiation by top congressional leaders and the White House.
The measure will include hundreds of billions of dollars for the new small business loan program, Payroll Protection Program.
Democrats and Republicans have different visions over a testing policy, one of the sources said.
President Trump has increasingly said that testing needs to be done by the states, while Democrats have called for a testing program led by the federal government.
As part of the deal to replenish the small business loan program, the two sides had agreed to $25 billion for testing.
But the details are more complicated to sort out.
It appears increasingly likely that talks will extend into tomorrow, but they are still negotiating tonight, the sources said.
Trump calls social distancing protesters "great people"
From CNN's Nicky Robertson
US President Donald Trump on Sunday called people who are protesting their governors’ social distancing measures “great people.”
Trump said this despite the fact the states are following recommendations of federal health officials to institute the distancing guidelines.
In recent days Trump has encouraged governors to relax those guidelines as soon as they feel it’s safe to do so.
Trump was asked on Sunday if he is worried that his tweets about liberating Kentucky, Michigan and Virginia are in any way helping to incite potential violence, as some governors have reportedly received death threats.
Trump responded: “I’ve seen the people. I’ve seen interviews of the people. These are great people.” He added that they have cabin fever and they want their lives back.
“Their life was taken away from them,” he said. “These people love our country, they want to get back to work.”
Trump describes the "mess" of early CDC testing -- and without evidence blames prior administrations
From CNN Health’s Arman Azad
United States President Donald Trump has called the country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's early work a "mess" -- but said things had improved.
“CDC had obsolete tests, old tests, broken tests and a mess,” said Trump at a White House news briefing on Sunday.
He was responding to a question about failures in testing at the CDC.
Multiple health officials told CNN this weekend that contamination in manufacturing at the CDC caused weeks of delays that slowed the US response to the coronavirus pandemic. The problem stemmed in part from the CDC not adhering to its own protocols, a Food and Drug Administration spokesperson said on Saturday.
But things have since improved, Trump said.
“(The CDC) has done a very good job, and they've done it under pressure,” he said. “The pressure is -- they had to do this under pressure so we're very proud of the job they've done.”
Without citing evidence, however, Trump blamed prior administrations for the CDC’s early failures during the pandemic.
“I told you we inherited a lot of garbage, we took, they had tests that were no good, they had all this stuff was no good,” said Trump, who has been President for three and a half years.
Iran's slow decline of coronavirus cases continues
From CNN's Sara Mazloumsaki in Atlanta
Iran reported 87 more coronavirus-related fatalities on Sunday, bringing the nationwide total to 5,118 deaths, according to the Iranian Health Ministry.
Over the past 24 hours, 1,343 new cases have tested positive in the country, which brings the total number of reported infections in Iran to 82,211.
As the coronavirus numbers slowly decline, the Iranian government is considering taking steps to reopen their economy in the coming weeks.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranians to continue social distancing and abide by the recommendations of the health ministry on Saturday, according to the Iranian News Agency report.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro joined a rally to end quarantine measures
From CNN's Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Jackie Castillo in Atlanta
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro joined a rally in the country's capital on Sunday, where protesters called for an end to quarantine measures and some urged military intervention to shut down Congress and the Supreme Court.
Congress and the Supreme Court have supported social isolation measures imposed by governors.
The President didn’t wear a mask and coughed several times while speaking to the crowd of a couple of hundred supporters in Brasilia.
“(Everyone must) do whatever is necessary for the country to have the prominent place it deserves,” he said. “We will not negotiate anything.”
The rules in Brazil: National and local governments in the country have issued mixed messaging on how to behave during the pandemic. While Bolsonaro has been pushing against strict restrictions, state and local governments in some of Brazil's hardest-hit areas have closed schools and all but essential businesses, with firefighters and police in the streets urging people to stay indoors.
Last week, Bolsonaro fired his health minister after weeks of clashes over social isolation measures. During a news conference to introduce his new minister, he reiterated that businesses need to be reopened to ensure that the economic fallout isn’t worse than the virus. Polls, however, show that a majority of Brazilians support social isolation.
On Sunday, Bolsonaro's supporters also organized caravans in different cities.
The background: Brazil has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in Latin America. As of Sunday, the country had reported 38,654 cases and 2,462 deaths, according to health officials.
Trump admits he excluded Mitt Romney from congressional task force because he still holds a grudge against him
From CNN's Jason Hoffman
President Donald Trump admitted Sunday that he excluded Sen. Mitt Romney from the bipartisan congressional task force focused on reopening the country because he maintains a grudge against Romney who voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment.
When asked at Sunday’s coronavirus task force briefing if the decision to shut Romney out of the task force shows that he still holds a grudge against Romney, the only Republican senator left off the congressional task force, Trump said yes.
“Yeah it does. I’m not a fan of Mitt Romney at all,” Trump said. “I’m not a fan of Mitt Romney, I don’t want his advice.”
Romney voted to convict Trump on the first article of impeachment -- abuse of power. Romney was the only Republican Party senator to vote in favor of either articles of impeachment.
Nursing homes required to report coronavirus cases to families, patients and CDC
From CNN’s Nicky Robertson
Seema Verma, administrator for The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has announced that nursing homes will be required to report to patients, their families and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when they have any coronavirus cases.
Verma added that the government will be paying labs to go to nursing homes to collect samples.
"It's important that patients and their families have the information that they need, and they need to understand what's going on in the nursing home," Verma said. "This will support CDC's efforts to have surveillance around the country and contact tracing so we can mitigate the spread of the virus in the communities that show spread starting in the nursing homes."
New guidelines discussed for reopening non-coronavirus health care services
From CNN’s Jason Hoffman
Hospitals that want to move toward reopening for elective surgeries and other non-covid medical procedures still need to be able to handle potential surges from coronavirus infections, according to new guidelines announced Sunday by Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Verma said that since some hospitals said they have unused capacity, the new guidelines will be folded into phase one of reopening the US.
“Every state and local official has to assess the situation on the ground. They need to make sure they can still address surges, they need to make sure that they have adequate supplies and a plan for conserving supplies. They need to be able to screen patients and healthcare workers for Covid virus. And they need to make sure that patients feel safe when they come in to seek healthcare services by assuring that they have the appropriate cleaning in place and they observe social distancing inside the facilities,” Verma said.
Verma said that this will be a “gradual process” and that “health care officials across the country and health care systems need to decide what services should be made available, and ultimately doctors and patients need to make decisions about their health care services.”