April 26 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Jenni Marsh, Tara John, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 9:44 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020
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2:00 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

All patients have been discharged from the USNS Comfort

From CNN’s Taylor Romine and Ryan Browne

USNS Comfort on March 30
USNS Comfort on March 30 Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

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.

1:55 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Italy reports lowest daily coronavirus death toll since mid-March

From Nicola Ruotolo in Rome and Rob Iddiols in London

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.

1:32 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

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

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian

Brian Witte/AP
Brian Witte/AP

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.”

1:24 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

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

From CNN's Elise Hammond

State of New York
State of New York

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.

"Everybody has to think outside the box. Right, because there is no box," he said.

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.

1:07 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

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

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

State of New York
State of New York

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.

12:27 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

New York governor outlines phased reopening strategy

State of New York
State of New York

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.

"Businesses, you develop a plan on how you want to reopen given everything we know," Cuomo said.

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

12:16 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

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."

11:58 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

South Carolina receives 1.5 million surgical masks from China

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch


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.

11:49 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

White House economic advisers share contradictory tones on coronavirus impact

From CNN's Richard Davis and Kevin Bohn

Steve Mnuchin and Kevin Hassett
Steve Mnuchin and Kevin Hassett AFP via Getty Images/AP

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.”