Live Updates

April 26 coronavirus news

What will it take to reopen the economy in a safe way?

What you need to know

  • The numbers: Covid-19 has infected more than 2.9 million people and killed at least 205,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • US toll: More than 53,000 people have died in the United States, representing more than a quarter of all deaths worldwide.
  • Spain eases restrictions: The country’s children can finally leave their homes for the first time in over six weeks.
  • Holy month: Indonesia has temporarily banned domestic travel, as the nation with the world’s biggest Muslim population marks the start of the holy month of Ramadan.
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Italy to lift funeral ban, but church leaders are unsatisfied

A priest conducts a funeral service for a coronavirus victim on April 24, in Cuneo, Italy.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced Sunday that the country’s funeral ban will be lifted on May 4. 

Speaking at a press conference, Conte confirmed that funerals will be allowed – preferably outdoors – with a maximum of 15 family members in attendance, adding that he understands “the suffering of not being able to exercise freedom of worship.”

He went on to say that other religious ceremonies will require the approval of the scientific committee.

In a statement, Italian Bishops complained, saying that the Prime Minister’s decree “arbitrarily excludes the possibility of celebrating Mass with the people.”

“In the next few days, a protocol will be studied which will allow the faithful to participate in liturgical celebrations as soon as possible in conditions of maximum safety,” the Prime Minister’s office said in response.

37 NYPD members have died from coronavirus

Two additional members of the New York Police Department have died due to complications from Covid-19, bringing the total number of NYPD deaths to 37, according to a daily NYPD coronavirus report.

Principal Administrative Associate Josephine Hill dedicated 33 years to the NYPD, the last 19 assigned to the Manhattan Tow Pound Unit. Associate Traffic Enforcement Agent Mohammad Ahsan served 15 years with the police department, most recently assigned to the Bronx Traffic Enforcement Unit, the NYPD said.

Both were members of the NYPD’s Transportation Bureau, the report said.

About 8.8% – or 3,166 members – of the NYPD’s uniformed workforce were out sick on Saturday, down from a high of 19.8%, according to the NYPD.

As of Sunday, 3,530 members of the NYPD have returned to work full-time after recovering from a positive Covid-19 test, while 953 uniformed members and 317 civilian members are still out sick with a Covid-19 diagnosis.

In total, 4,837 NYPD members have tested positive for Covid-19 to date, the NYPD said.

The US has at least 963,168 coronavirus cases

In the US, there are at least 963,168 cases of coronavirus and at least 54,614 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases and those in the US military, veterans hospitals and federal prisons.  

CNN has an interactive map tracking coronavirus cases across the country.

Italy to ease lockdown restrictions in coming weeks, Prime Minister says

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announces plans to loosen lockdown restrictions across the country during a television broadcast on April 26.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Sunday outlined plans to loosen lockdown restrictions across the country in coming weeks.

“Now, the phase of coexistence with the virus begins for everyone, and we must be aware that the contagion curve could rise again in some areas of the country. The risk is there, and we must face it methodically and with rigor,” announced Conte via video link from the Presidential Palace in Rome. 

New measures won’t take effect until May 4, Conte said. These include the loosening of some travel restrictions, increased access to parks and gardens, and the ability to hold funerals with up to 15 attendees.

The manufacturing and construction sectors will reopen entirely, while bars and restaurants will be allowed to offer takeaway services.

Conte warned that social distancing measures must be respected.

Conte added that on May 18, other restrictions will be lifted, such as the opening of museums and libraries, and sports teams may return to training outdoors.

As of June 1, the government plans to reopen “barbershops, beauty salons, massage centers, and other personal care activities more widely.”

Schools will remain closed during this phase. If not, Conte warned, “we would have a new outbreak in probably one or two weeks.”

Massachusetts hospital conducting antibody tests for 1,000 asymptomatic residents

The exterior of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced the city is teaming up with its public health commission and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to evaluate Covid-19 exposure through antibody testing of 1,000 asymptomatic residents.

MGH will administer both diagnostic and antibody testing, according to a release from the mayor, which added the randomized testing is “critical.”

Randomized sampling will focus on residents living in East Boston, Roslindale and within the boundaries of zip codes 02121 and 02125 in Dorchester, the release said.

“It is our hope that by conducting this testing, we as a collective City will get a better understanding of the true prevalence of COVID-19 in our community,” Walsh said. “The more we can expand our testing, the more we can learn how to use our medical resources more efficiently, and how we need to focus our current efforts to contain the virus. I want to thank MGH for being an excellent partner on this effort that we hope will be a step forward towards the path to recovery.”

Participation in the study is voluntary for residents who have been contacted, and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Testing for the study is expected to be completed by May 1 and summary data will be made publicly available following.

Outreach in the communities began Sunday. No resident will be charged for testing.

New York hospitals study heartburn drug as treatment for coronavirus patients

A major New York hospital network has given high doses of an over-the-counter heartburn drug to patients with Covid-19 to see if it works against the coronavirus.

The study of famotidine – the active ingredient in Pepcid – started April 7, and preliminary results could come in a few weeks, said Dr. Kevin Tracey, president of Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health, which runs 23 hospitals in the New York City area. 

The patients are receiving the drug intravenously at doses about nine times higher than what people take orally for heartburn.  

So far, 187 patients have been enrolled in the clinical trial, and Northwell eventually hopes to enroll 1,200, Tracey said.

Tracey and his colleagues got the idea to study famotidine after it was observed that some patients in China taking the drug fared better than patients not taking the drug.

Tracey said in addition to the observation in Chinese patients, in a review by Florida-based Alchem Laboratories of existing drugs that might fight coronavirus, famotidine showed up at the top of the list.

The famotidine study was first reported in Science Magazine.

Government sends stimulus recipients a letter from President Donald Trump

A letter from President Donald Trump to citizens about the stimulus payments.

Some people in recent days have opened their mailboxes and found something unusual: a personal letter from President Donald Trump.

CNN has obtained a copy of the letter, signed by the President, sent to recipients of the federal stimulus payment.

In the letter, Trump said he “proudly signed into law” the CARES Act, which authorized payments to individuals. The letter states: “I am pleased to notify that as provided by the CARES Act, you are receiving an Economic Impact Payment… We hope this payment provides meaningful support to you during this period.”

The return address is the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service. The envelope says “Postage and Fees Paid, Internal Revenue Service.”

In the legislation, there is a section saying “Not later than 15 days after the date on which the (Treasury) Secretary distributed any payment to an eligible taxpayer pursuant to this subsection, notice shall be sent by mail to such taxpayer’s last known address. Such notice shall indicate the method by which such payment was made, the amount of such payment, and a phone number for the appropriate point of contact at the Internal Revenue Service to report any failure to receive such payment.”

CNN reported Friday that more than 88 million people received their payments totaling nearly $158 billion, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service said. That leaves about 62 million others.

Individuals are due up to $1,200, and married couples can receive up to $2,400. The amount decreases as income increases.

Gov. Cuomo outlines phased plan to re-open New York starting with construction and manufacturing

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a phased plan to re-open New York Sunday, according to a news release from his office.

“The State is closely monitoring the hospitalization rate, the infection rate and the number of positive antibody tests, as well as the overall public health impact, and will make adjustments to the plan and other decisions based on these indicators,” the release said.

The phased plan will go as follows:

  • Phase one will include opening construction and manufacturing functions with low risk.
  • Phase two will open certain industries based on priority and risk level. Businesses considered “more essential” with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized.

There will be two weeks between each phase to monitor infection rates, the release said.

Orlando Health doctor says they have used convalescent plasma in 12 patients

Physicians at Orlando Health have used convalescent plasma transplants in 12 patients and are seeing “drastic improvements” in at least two of those patients, Dr. Sunil Desai said in a press conference Sunday afternoon with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The process, known as plasma-derived therapy or convalescent plasma, involves doctors testing the plasma of people who recovered for antibodies to the virus and then injecting that plasma, or a derivative of it, into a sick person.

Plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients have been given to 12 patients in the health system, Desai said, and he has direct knowledge of two patients showing drastic improvements.

Physicians are asking every patient who has tested positive to donate plasma, Desai said.

The hospital began doing the convalescent plasma transplants two weeks ago to help treat Covid-19.

Orlando Health officials said that cases in their area peaked April 1. Their hospitalization peak was at 116 patients on April 7. They currently have 68.

US Treasury and IRS announce 'significant enhancements' to 'Get My Payment' app for stimulus checks

The US Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service said they’ve made “significant enhancements to the ‘Get My Payment’ app” to help improve Americans’ ability to receive stimulus checks in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a news release from the Treasury Department.

“Some of the key enhancements include: payment status update for closed bank accounts, greater app access for taxpayers who filed in 2018 but not 2019 and did not use direct deposit, and the ability to submit a ‘0’ amount for zero income filers,” a Treasury spokesperson told CNN.

“This Administration has already delivered over 88 million payments in less than three weeks, with millions more on their way,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “We encourage people who still need to input their information or want to track their payment to use the app.”

Florida governor doesn't have a date for reopening the state

Gov. Ron DeSantis is not putting a date on when Florida could reopen, he said at a new conference on Sunday.

“We are going to do everything in a smart way,” DeSantis said. “I am less concerned about the date and more concerned about getting it right.” 

DeSantis met with doctors at Orlando Health – who have been working on using convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19 patients.

DeSantis said the statewide numbers are dropping, but there is still a need for more testing.

The state has reported 31,528 cases and 1,074 deaths.

The current stay-at-home order for the state expires on April 30.

Schumer calls on FDA to crack down on fake coronavirus tests

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to crack down on companies who are selling fake at-home coronavirus test kits online.

Schumer said at a press conference on Sunday that he is sending a letter to the FDA to increase policing of online tests, make public which tests have been approved by the FDA and issue cease and resist orders to every company found to be selling false tests.

Schumer warned that the spread of non-FDA approved at-home tests would make the recovery from coronavirus much longer, if people falsely believe that they do not have the virus, or that they have already had it.

There are more than 950,000 cases of coronavirus in the US

There have been at least 954,182 coronavirus cases and 54,573 deaths due to the virus in the United States, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

As states begin to include “probable deaths” in their counts, so will the university. In the upcoming days, these changes may show as surges of deaths in the United States.  

The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as repatriated cases and those in the US military, veterans hospitals and federal prisons.  

Birx says the US will need a "breakthrough" in testing to help screen large numbers of people

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, said Sunday that the US will need a breakthrough in testing to help screen large numbers of people.

The US is continuing to scale coronavirus testing, “but at the same time, we have to realize that we have to have a breakthrough innovation in testing,” she said on NBC.

“We have to be able to detect antigen, rather than constantly trying to detect the actual live virus, or the viral particles itself,” Birx added.

Birx was referring to a type of testing technology – antigen testing – that is often used for rapid flu tests.

In a separate interview on CNN, Birx emphasized how the administration has been working in the last week to increase testing capacity – both by increasing usage in labs and by making sure governors are aware of all of the facilities available in their states.

“For every lab, though, they’re now – they now have six or seven platforms that they have to integrate and utilize. And labs are learning now how to bring all of those platforms up to hopefully double and increase our testing ability across the country, and to really align the needs,” Birx told CNN. “There’s capacity, that tests are not being run. And I think ensuring that they have the swabs, ensuring that they have the tubes to transport the swabs in, and then ensuring that all the laboratory platforms are up and running, and that’s the information we gave to the governors.”

British government is encouraging furloughed workers to help with June crop harvest

A farm worker prepares a field next to a field of flowering rapeseed near Pontefract, England, on April 23.

The British Government says it is working on an approach to “encourage” workers who have been placed on furlough as a result of the coronavirus pandemic to help with the harvest of British crops which is expected to start in June.

“We estimate that probably only about a third of the migrant labour that would normally come to the UK is here, and was probably here before lockdown,” the British secretary for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, said during a news briefing on Sunday. “We are working with industry to identify an approach that will encourage those millions of furloughed workers to in some cases consider taking a second job helping get the harvest in in June.”

He said the need for workers is not immediate because the harvest just started, but they do anticipate there will be “a need to help recruit staff for those months in June,” Eustice said.

All patients have been discharged from the USNS Comfort

USNS Comfort on March 30

All patients have been discharged from the USNS Comfort, according to Northwell Health spokesperson Terry Lynam.

The USNS Comfort, which has been docked in New York City harbor, treated 182 patients during the pandemic.

Separately, the Javits Center is still treating roughly 84 patients, Lynam said.

The USNS Comfort is still expected to depart at the end of the month, according to a United States Defense Official.

The crew will stick around on the ship to do some work to get ready to depart, including disinfecting, cleaning the vessel, stowing medical equipment, and preparing the ship’s engines, the US Defense Official said.

Getting the ship ready to depart will likely take several days, according to the official.

Italy reports lowest daily coronavirus death toll since mid-March

The number of people killed by coronavirus in Italy has increased by 260 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 26,644 since the outbreak began, according to data released by the Italian Civil Protection Agency on Sunday.

The death toll reported on Sunday is the lowest since March 14, according to a tally of data kept by CNN. 

The total number of patients hospitalized with symptoms of the disease decreased by 161.

Maryland governor says hundreds of people have called asking about ingesting disinfectant

Following President Trump’s press conference on Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan said his state experienced hundreds of calls from people across Maryland asking whether injecting or ingesting disinfectants was an effective way to combat coronavirus.

“I think it is critical that the President of the United States, when people are really scared and in the middle of this worldwide pandemic, that in these press conferences, that we really get the facts out there,” Hogan told CBS on Sunday.

Hogan emphasized that his state’s coronavirus response team has been trying to base all decisions on information provided by public health doctors and epidemiologists and that they “try to get those facts out to the public so they know exactly what’s going on.”

"Everybody has to think outside the box" to safely reopen the economy, New York governor says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said when it comes to moving forward, and thinking of solutions to problems, everyone should question why we do things the way we do.

He said implementing new ways to safely reopen the economy will require making changes at a societal level.

“People don’t like change,” Cuomo said. “We like control more than anything, right. So it’s hard. It’s hard to make change. It’s hard to make change in your own life let alone on a societal collective level.”

He added: “If you don’t change, you don’t grow. And if you don’t run the risk of change, you don’t have the benefit of advancement.”

On the stress of a pandemic: Cuomo said “do not underestimate the stress that this situation has created.”

The governor, speaking at a news conference Sunday, said the state is monitoring trends that domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health needs are all going up.

He also said “some trends” suggest drug usage is increasing as well.

Schools will be necessary for businesses to reopen, New York governor says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said schools are necessary for a large scale business reopening, adding “you couldn’t really get to a maximum phase two without opening schools.”

At a news conference Sunday, Cuomo outlined a phased reopening plan that described “phase two” as the opening of certain essential businesses.

Questions remain about whether the state can reopen for the rest of the school year, adding that many local districts are talking about summer school to make up for some lost time.

“Remote learning is great in concept, we had to jump into it with both feet, and we didn’t really have a chance to scale up for it,” Cuomo said.

“I’m not really comfortable getting too far ahead of ourselves,” he said, adding that he did not want to try to predict anything farther than two weeks away.

New York governor outlines phased reopening strategy

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined the state’s phased reopening at a news conference Sunday saying it will be important to base the strategy on a “regional analysis.”

“Look at the regional analysis. Make a determination. And then monitor whatever you do,” he said about the plan.

The phases are:

  • Phase 1: Construction and manufacturing activities – and within that “those businesses that have a low risk” Cuomo said.
  • Phase 2: More of a business by business analysis – using a matrix that determines how essential a service that business provides and how “risky” is that business and how “important” is it for that business to reopen.

Cuomo said the second phase is “going to be up to businesses.”

Business have to do the matrix analysis themselves to determine how risky it would be for them to reopen, and then outline how they will put safety precautions in place, the governor added.

There will be two weeks in between the phases to monitor the effects and determine the next steps, the governor said.

367 people have died in New York over the past 24 hours from coronavirus

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported that 367 people died across New York over the past 24 hours from coronavirus, he said at a news conference today.

“The overall hospitalization rate is down, number of intubations is down. Even the number of new Covid cases is down. Still not good. Still 1,000 new Covid cases yesterday, to put it in focus. That would normally be terrible news. It’s only not terrible news compared to where we were. This is just terrible news; 367 deaths, which is horrific,” Cuomo said. “There is no relative context to death. Death is death; 367 people passed; 367 families.”

There were 437 coronavirus-related deaths in New York on April 24.

Cuomo added: “We are now back to where we were on March 31st before we started this dramatic increase in the number of cases.”

South Carolina receives 1.5 million surgical masks from China

The state of South Carolina has received 1.5 million surgical masks from China thanks to help from a business owner, state leaders announced in a press conference this morning.

The masks arrived in partnership with Boeing on their Dreamlifter from China to Greenville, South Carolina, today.

In a joint press conference, state leaders thanked Discommon owner Neil Ferrier who sourced the masks in China.

The masks will be provided to healthcare workers at Prisma Healthcare as well as the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

White House economic advisers share contradictory tones on coronavirus impact

Steve Mnuchin and Kevin Hassett

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett painted a dire economic picture Sunday for the coming months because of the impact of coronavirus on businesses around the country.

Hassett predicted a very negative report on the economic output of the country.

“I think GDP (gross domestic product) growth in the second quarter is going to be negative big number. Wall Street estimates are 20, negative 20, negative 30% at an annual rate. And so that’s because we’ve done something that’s really unprecedented, we basically stopped everything,” Hassett told reporters Sunday.

Hassett separately said during an interview on ABC that he thought the country is going to see an unemployment rate comparable to the Great Depression.

“This is the biggest negative shock that our economy, I think, has ever seen. We’re going to be looking at an unemployment rate that approaches rates that we saw during the Great Depression,” Hassett said. “During the Great Recession, remember that was a financial crisis around 2008, that we lost 8.7 million jobs and the whole thing. Right now, we’re losing that many jobs about every ten days.”

While some private economists have predicted unemployment at that level, what is important is that these predictions are coming from a key White House economic adviser.

Some context: On Wednesday, the Commerce Department will release the nation’s first quarter GDP which will show the initial economic downturn due to the coronavirus.

Those figures will show the start of the economic slide, but the major impact will be seen in the numbers reflecting the second quarter GDP which will be released in July.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, meanwhile, painted a more positive outlook on Sunday.

He told reporters he believes the economy will begin to bounce back this summer because of the economic activity that he hopes will occur in May and June, as some states begin to reopen. 

“This is an unprecedented situation. This is not a financial crisis, this is — we shut down,” Mnuchin told reporters at the White House. “The traditional economic models may work. They may not work.”