April 23 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 2:40 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020
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9:31 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Spain extends state of emergency until May 9, prolonging lockdown to 8 weeks

From CNN's Mia Alberti, Claudia Rebaza, Ingrid Formanek, Al Goodman and Isa Tejera

The Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain is seen deserted on April 21.
The Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain is seen deserted on April 21. Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

The Spanish parliament voted to approve the extension of the state of emergency for the third time until May 9, prolonging the country’s stay-at-home order to eight weeks in total.

The state of emergency was first decreed on March 14, which ordered severe restrictions on movement and business. 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez argued for another extension during a speech on Wednesday morning. 

"This extension is different than the others” Sanchez said. "It's the first time I can do this with a carefully optimistic future. It is (the extension) that will begin to de-escalate the rules of confinement", he added. 

Sanchez warned MPs that the next phase of de-escalation and the return to normality "needs to be slow, gradual and therefore secure."

The prime minister also mentioned that his government is "implementing a control system" for people traveling from inside or outside of Spain, "to avoid more imported contagions".  

"Each mistake we do now, each challenge we fail, each delay caused by other interests will be a weight we will carry in the next months and years", he added.

Spain has reported the world’s second highest number of coronavirus cases, with more than 208,000 infections. The country has also enforced Europe’s strictest movement restrictions.

9:05 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

150,000 tests from South Korea will arrive in Colorado by end of the week

About 150,000 Covid-19 tests will arrive in Colorado from South Korea by the end of the week, with a further 150,000 swabs expected in May, Gov. Jared Polis announced during a news conference on Wednesday.

The state is partnering with Colorado State University to expand testing at skilled nursing facilities, including asymptomatic workers, and work is going on to deploy "hundreds of thousands of antibody tests," Polis said. 

"No amount of testing is enough to reopen the state. If that's all you're doing," Polis said, but "testing will absolutely be a part of going back to work."

On Monday, Polis announced he will relax the stay-at-home order due to expire on April 26, and Colorado will move to a "safer-at-home" phase starting on April 27.

8:46 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

A large-scale UK study will track the spread of coronavirus and try to gauge immunity levels

From CNN's David Wilkinson and Milena Veselinovic in London 

Up to 300,000 people in the UK will take part in a major long-term study to track the spread of coronavirus in the population, and understand the levels of immunity, the British government announced in a statement on Wednesday.

The study will examine how many people are infected in the UK, and how many have developed antibodies to the virus, the statement says.

Participants will form "a representative sample of the entire UK population by age and geography" the government said, with initial findings expected in early May.

It will be led by the Department for Health and Social Care and the Office for National Statistics.

“This survey will help to track the current extent of transmission and infection in the UK, while also answering crucial questions about immunity as we continue to build up our understanding of this new virus," UK health minister Matt Hancock said in the statement.

Participants will provide samples taken from self-administered nose and throat swabs, and answer a few short questions during a home visit by a trained health worker, according to the statement.

The swab tests will show whether or not participants currently have the virus. They will be asked to take further tests every week for the first five weeks, then every month for 12 months, the statement adds.

In total, 25,000 people will take part in the pilot phase of the survey, with plans to extend it to up to around 300,000 over the next 12 months. the government said.

The pilot phase will take place in England only, but will be extended to other parts of the UK "in due course" the statement said.

10:17 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

7 more big cats at the Bronx Zoo test positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Laura Dolan

A guard stands at the entrance to the Bronx Zoo on April 6, in New York City.
A guard stands at the entrance to the Bronx Zoo on April 6, in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Seven additional big cats at New York's Bronx Zoo have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the non-profit organization that runs the zoo.

That makes a total of eight big cats who contracted coronavirus at the famed zoo in New York City.

Some context: Three tigers and three African lions exhibited symptoms in early April when the zoo announced a 4-year-old Malayan tiger, named Nadia, tested positive for the virus. Testing on these six cats now confirm they have Covid-19. One more tiger also tested positive despite showing no symptoms.

The zoo says all eight animals are behaving normally and eating well. 

The cats were infected by a staff member, although it is unclear how the infection occurred.

Preventive measure are now in place for all staff who are caring for cats in the four zoos run by the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. They include the Bronx Zoo, the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn and the Queens Zoo. 

The zoos have been closed since March 16.

8:40 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Social distancing measures to remain until there's a vaccine or treatment, says English medical expert

From CNN's Mick Krever and Milena Veselinovic in London 

The UK will have to rely on social distancing measures until there is a vaccine or a treatment for coronavirus, England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said during the daily Downing Street briefing on Wednesday.

“In the long run, the exit from this is going to be one of two things, ideally. One of which is highly effective vaccine, and there are a variety of ways vaccines can be deployed. They can be deployed for dampening down epidemics, they can be deployed to protect vulnerable people. Or, and or, highly effective drugs so that people stop dying of this disease even if they catch it, which can prevent this disease in vulnerable people," Whitty said.

Whitty cautioned that achieving that goal will take time and that the outbreak will have to be managed through social distancing measures until then.

“Until we have those, and the probability of having those anytime in the next calendar year are incredibly small, and I think we should be realistic about that, we’re going to have to rely on other social measures, which of course are very socially disruptive, as everyone is finding at the moment. But until that point, that is what we will have to do," Whitty said.

"But it's going to take a long time and I think we need to be aware of that," he added.

9:21 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Fauci says the US must "carefully consider how we get back to normal"

Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci championed the mitigation efforts implemented across the US and considers them the "basis for our being able to say that we can now think seriously about reopening America."

Fauci's comments come after numerous states, including Georgia and Tennessee, have said they would reopen parts of their economies soon.

"So what has happened is that the mitigation that we put in with the first 15 days and then the 30-day mitigation program of physical distancing worked. So it got us to where we are today. It is a successful formula. It is the basis for our being able to say that we can now think seriously about reopening America," Fauci said at the White House's coronavirus task force briefing today.

Fauci concluded his remarks with a request for lawmakers around the country to be careful to avoid a "rebound" of coronavirus cases.

"I plead with the American public, with the governors, with the mayors for the people with the responsibility, although I know one has the lead to leapfrog over things, don't do that. Do it in a measured way. This is a successful formula. The problem is if we don't do that, there is a likelihood that we'll have a rebound. And the one way not to reopen the economy is to have a rebound that we can't take care of," he said.
9:26 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Trump says he signed immigration executive order before briefing

US President Donald Trump arrives at the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House in Washington, on April 22.
US President Donald Trump arrives at the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House in Washington, on April 22. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

US President Donald Trump said he signed his immigration executive order before the coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday.

The order is expected to temporarily halt the issuance of new green cards and work visas -- steps that had already effectively been in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"In order to protect our great American workers, I've just signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the United States. This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens. Crucially, it will also preserve our health care resources for American patients," he said. 

"We have to take care of our patients, we have to take care of our great American workers and that's what we're doing," he added. "So I just signed it just before coming into the room, and very important."

9:09 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

CDC director clarifies comments about the second wave of coronavirus in the US

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clarified comments he made to the Washington Post about how the second coronavirus outbreak could emerge this winter in conjunction with the flu season to make for an even more dire health crisis.

"There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through," CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a story published Tuesday. "And when I've said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don't understand what I mean."

Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, Redfield said that the second wave "could be more difficult, more complicated" and not "worse."

"When I commented yesterday that there was a possibility of the fall/winter -- next fall and winter it could be more difficult, more complicated," Redfield said. "When we had two respiratory illnesses circulating at the same time, influenza and the coronavirus, but I think it's really important to emphasize what I didn't say. I didn't say this was going to be worse. I said it was going to be more more difficult and potentially complicated because we'll have flu and coronavirus circulating at the same time. I want to emphasize we continue to build the nation's public health infrastructure to ensure that we have the capacity to stay in the containment mode."