April 26 coronavirus news

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

South Carolina receives 1.5 million surgical masks from China

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

WSPA
WSPA

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.”  

 

11:56 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

"Our efforts have begun to pay off," head of UK National Health Service says

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio

Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images
Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images

The head of the United Kingdom's National Health Service in England says the country's “efforts have become to pay off” after the UK reported its lowest daily death toll from the novel coronavirus since March.

The UK reported 413 deaths on Sunday.

“The number of deaths in hospitals is now starting to decline,” Stephen Powis, the national medical director for Britain’s National Health Service said of the numbers at a daily briefing on Sunday. “This is absolutely because we as the British Public have paid attention to the social distancing guidance that we’ve been given."

But while the numbers are positive, Powis refused to say the UK had overcome the peak of the outbreak and cautioned measures will "only continue to pay off if we continue to keep social distancing and continue to comply."

“My fear, as the fear of all of us, is that those curves won’t continue to be on a downward trend, but will start to go on an upward trend,” Powis also said. “We want to avoid a second peak, we want to avoid a rise, so I can’t emphasize enough that this is not the time to say: ‘actually, we’ve done a good job, we need to stop complying with our social distancing instructions and the government guidance.' This is exactly the time to keep that up.”
11:10 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Bill Gates on access to technology for online learning: "The inequity has gotten greater"

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Jack Taylor/Getty Images
Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said distance learning is "inferior" to being in classrooms for younger students and online learning has exposed inequalities in technology.

"Particularly for the low-income students where the online learning hasn't been fully enabled because, you know, they don't have the equipment or the connection or the teacher is not set up for it. The inequity has gotten greater in education," Gates told CNN.

"So if we can figure out how to do K through 12 in the fall, that would be good," he said.

The digital divide: In the US, the Federal Communications Commission estimated that 21 million Americans lacked access to broadband in 2019.

The lack of a reliable internet connection to do homework was more pronounced among black, Hispanic and lower-income families, according to a Pew survey in 2015.

Another Pew survey in 2018 found that even before the pandemic, about 17% of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 said they were often – or sometimes – unable to finish homework assignments because of the lack of a connection or a computer.

Many school districts have struggled to obtain enough devices for students learning at home, which has yet to be addressed by the federal government.

10:59 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Colorado to reopen offices next week, but implement social distancing, governor says

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian 

David Zalubowski/AP
David Zalubowski/AP

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is allowing offices to reopen with a reduced workforce on May 4 –– a decision he is confident in regardless of the possibility of a spike in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.

“We expect we’ll have to adjust the degree of social distancing in real time…we’re going to look at a number of different proxies and as we need to adjust in real time,” Polis told CNN on Sunday.

Polis said he is worried about a potential for a second spike in the fall, but his administration has been focused on how to implement and create enduring social distancing measures.

“Our target is 60% to 65% social distancing from the way people used to live,” Polis said.

Tapper asked the governor if he’s worried if his decision to reopen could cost him the lives of his constituents.

“What we know is that what matters a lot more than the date that the stay-at-home order ends is what we do going forward," Polis said. “How we have an ongoing, sustainable way, psychologically, economically and from a health perspective, to have the social distancing we need at the workplace."

10:56 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Treasury secretary predicts the economy will "really bounce back" in the summer

From CNN's Nicky Robertson and Sarah Westwood

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters Sunday he believes the economy will begin to bounce back sometime 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.”

“What I do think is, as we open up the economy in May and June, you will begin to see the economy bounce back in July, August, September,” Mnuchin added. “And my expectation is that you’ll see an increasing rate of growth in those three months.”

The Small Business Administration ran out of money for the Payment Protection Program, which loans money to small businesses, soon after it began.

A second round of money will be available Monday after Congress passed an extension last week. When asked in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” how long the additional funds will last, Mnuchin said he hopes “we run out of money quickly so we can get the money into worker’ pockets.”

He added that in this second round of funding for the PPP, the average loan size for companies will go down “significantly.” Mnuchin also said that officials are working with new guidelines to try and ensure that funds are distributed fairly to small businesses.

When asked by Fox’s Chris Wallace about additional funding to state and local governments that Democrats have been pushing for, Mnuchin said “we will consider” that in the next coronavirus stimulus bill, but noted that “this is a war, we will win this war, if we need to spend more money we will and we will only do it with bipartisan support.”

 

10:41 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Reopening New Jersey is "several weeks away," governor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said with his “best understanding of the data” right now he suspects the state is “still a number of weeks away” in regards to reopening.

The state “suffered an extraordinary toll,” adding that fatalities continue to be significant, though he reiterated the positive test curve has flattened, Murphy said on NBC today.

There have been fatalities in each of the 21 counties, however the northeast part of the state, near New York City, “have been crushed.”

During the interview on NBC, the governor was asked what kind of path he would be expected to take on reopening.

“I suspect – while we haven’t made a decision on that we’re going to move as one state recognizing you’ve got density issues in the north that you just don’t have in the south," Murphy said.

Murphy was also asked about what services he may need to cut back on without funding from the government.

“We’ve had constructive conversations and exchanges and we’re on with the White House morning, noon and night on healthcare, on testing, on financial matters. I have to reiterate what senator McConnell said about letting states go bankrupt was both irresponsible and not factual," Murphy said. “We won’t go bankrupt but we’ll gut the living daylights out of things like educators, first responders, the very folks we desperately need.”

“This is the healthcare crisis of all time in our countries history, we need states to be fully funded at the point of attack being there for our residents and so we need a big slug," he added. 

10:34 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

There is still uncertainty about antibody protection in recovered coronavirus patients, Birx says

From CNN's Wes Bruer

We still don’t know how long antibodies last in people who have recovered from the coronavirus infection, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said on Sunday. 

Birx was asked about the validity of a scientific brief released Friday by the World Health Organization addressing the idea of “immunity passports” that said “there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.” 

The following day, the WHO in a tweet clarified its earlier statement regarding “immunity passports” and antibody protection, stating: “We expect that most people who are infected with Covid-19 will develop an antibody response that will provide some level of protection.”

“WHO is being very cautious,” Birx said. “I think what WHO was saying we don’t know how long that effective antibody lasts and I think that is a question we have to explore over the next few months and the next few years.”

Other research about antibodies: Birx noted that in normal viral infections, our bodies develop “functional” antibodies that can neutralize the virus, as well as binding antibodies “that help pull out those viruses” and kill them. 

“The CDC is not only measuring antibody but they are also looking and see whether that antibody is neutralizing,” Birx said.

Simultaneously, the FDA is working alongside hospitals to determine the effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy in treating coronavirus patients to determine if the antibodies of a recovered patient would help those still infected.

“So, all of that data together, I think, is going to create a very clear picture about antibody,” she said. 

10:19 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Israel further eases coronavirus restrictions, as deaths top 200

A hairdresser cuts a customer's hair in his shop in Jerusalem on April 26.
A hairdresser cuts a customer's hair in his shop in Jerusalem on April 26. Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Hair salons, beauty parlors and other shops and services were allowed to open in Israel Sunday after the government agreed on loosening coronavirus restrictions.

Restaurants were allowed to sell food for take-away, though restrictions on seated guests remain in place.

All businesses permitted to re-open are required to follow lengthy regulations concerning the behavior of staff and customers, with a fine of 2,000 shekels, roughly $570, for any violations.

Shops in malls are to remain closed. 

The wearing of masks in public remains mandatory, with authorities free to issue fines to anyone flouting the requirement “from the first offense.”