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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9:43 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Our live coverage of the global coronavirus pandemic has moved here

8:37 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Italy to lift funeral ban, but church leaders are unsatisfied

From CNN's Nicola Ruotolo and Leoan Siaw

A priest conducts a funeral service for a coronavirus victim on April 24, in Cuneo, Italy.
A priest conducts a funeral service for a coronavirus victim on April 24, in Cuneo, Italy. Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images

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.

7:05 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

37 NYPD members have died from coronavirus

From CNN's Laura Ly

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.

6:33 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

The US has at least 963,168 coronavirus cases

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

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.

6:06 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

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

From CNN's Nicola Ruotolo and Robert Iddiols

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 announces plans to loosen lockdown restrictions across the country during a television broadcast on April 26. Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

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.

If we do not respect social distancing, the curve will go up and will go out of control, our deaths will increase, and we will suffer irreversible damage to our economy. If you love Italy, carry on distancing!” he said.

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.”

5:53 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Massachusetts hospital conducting antibody tests for 1,000 asymptomatic residents

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

The exterior of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
The exterior of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Blake Nissen/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

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.

4:49 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

New York hospitals study heartburn drug as treatment for coronavirus patients

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen and Wes Bruer

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.

There are a lot of anecdotes passing around that give us some hope,” Tracey said. “I’m really looking forward to the results of this trial.”

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.

4:47 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Government sends stimulus recipients a letter from President Donald Trump

From Jason Hoffman and Kevin Bohn

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

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.

4:15 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

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

From CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia 

Darren McGee/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP
Darren McGee/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP

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.