April 27 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Emma Reynolds and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 9:03 p.m. ET, April 27, 2020
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10:13 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

Russia says predicting the end of the lockdown is a "shot in the dark"

From CNN’s Darya Tarasova in Moscow

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, left, and Russian Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin attend a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on economic issues via teleconference call in Moscow, on Tuesday, April 14.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, left, and Russian Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin attend a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on economic issues via teleconference call in Moscow, on Tuesday, April 14. Aleksey Nikolskyi/Sputnik/AP

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin would meet tomorrow with regional governors to discuss the spread of coronavirus around the country.

Asked in a conference call when Russians might expect an exit from self-isolation orders, Peskov said it was too early for predictions. 

“It is obvious that a decision remains to be made based on current dynamics and short-term forecasts,” Peskov said. “Forecasts for the medium- and long term are hardly possible. To call any dates now would be a shot in the dark.”
9:29 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

Russian military reports more than 2,000 Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Dmitri Lovetsky/AP
Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

The Russian military reported 2,090 cases of the coronavirus among its personnel, cadets and civilian employees, according to the country's defense ministry.

From March through April 26, 874 servicemen have tested positive, the Defense Ministry said Sunday, adding that most of them were either isolated at home or in military hospitals. 

Another 971 cases were found among cadets in military academies and schools across the country, and 245 civilians employed by the defense ministry have tested positive. The majority of patients showed no symptoms, the statement added.

Over the past weeks, reports had emerged in Russia’s independent media outlets about coronavirus outbreaks in military academies, including troops who took part in the Moscow rehearsals for the May 9 Victory Day parade. 

Last week, the head of the prestigious Kirov Military Medical Academy in Moscow was fired for failing to implement adequate coronavirus measures. 

“The academy made errors in implementing preventive measures at the faculty for the training of medics for foreign armies, which led to infection among some cadets,” the defense ministry said, according to state-run agency TASS. "Given that … the head of the academy, Alexander Fisun, was removed from his position."

The defense ministry did not disclose the exact number of cases at the academy, saying that cases were found in foreign students as well as 55 cases in students of other faculties. 

Several thousand servicemen have also been quarantined after they took part in dress rehearsals for the Victory Day parade in the Moscow region as late as April 6. At the time, Russia had officially reported over 6,000 coronavirus cases and Moscow officials had already banned gatherings of more than 50 people. 

The massive parade marking the end of World War II in Europe, which usually has around 13,000 troops marching on the Red Square, has since been postponed by President Vladimir Putin.

The defense ministry is still moving ahead with its annual spring draft, with 135,000 army conscripts expected to be called up in May. 

8:52 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

Rural health CEOs take to hardware stores and delivery trucks in the coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

Adam Willmann, president and CEO of Goodall-Witcher Healthcare, delivers pizza to employees.
Adam Willmann, president and CEO of Goodall-Witcher Healthcare, delivers pizza to employees. Courtesy Goodall-Witcher Healthcare

In a small town, everyone pitches in, says Tim Putnam, the CEO at a rural hospital in Batesville, Indiana.

So even as the coronavirus pandemic puts added strain on many rural hospitals' finances and resources, they are buoyed by the support and sacrifice of their communities and individuals. Neighbors leave encouraging messages, businesses make donations and medical professionals work around the clock in compromising environments.

Even those at the top of rural hospital administration are getting into the thick of the coronavirus fight. For some CEOs, that means hitting the road to ensure their staff had the supplies they need to continue serving the communities that need them.

John Henderson, CEO of Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, formed part of a "daisy chain" transporting a supply of 70,000 surgical masks to 40 or 50 rural Texas hospital sites, he said.

Adam Willmann, President and CEO of Goodall-Witcher Healthcare in Clifton, Texas, began frequenting local hardware stores, lumber yards and feed stores to stock up on N95 masks. "I take this a lot more personally than maybe others do at a normal job because it's not a normal job to me," he said.

Read the full story here.

8:36 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

White House may scale back coronavirus task force meetings soon, only met once this weekend

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

After a tumultuous few days in the West Wing, the White House coronavirus task force only met once this weekend, according to three people familiar with the schedule. The group met Saturday but did not Sunday -- a rarity since the task force has met almost every day since it was assembled. 

Task force meetings usually last about 90 minutes at least as aides go over the latest data before the press briefing. But given there was no briefing this weekend, the meeting Saturday moved relatively quickly, a person who attended said. The task force may soon begin slowly scaling back its number of meetings altogether, a separate person told CNN, as President Trump and Vice President Pence schedule other events. 

The President spent the weekend venting about the negative coverage he received after he suggested last week there should be studies into whether disinfectants or light could be used to fight the coronavirus inside the human body. An exasperated President lashed out at aides, the media and Democrats in what multiple sources described to CNN as one of the most frustrated moments of his presidency. 

One of the things weighing heaviest on the president, people close to him say, are his sinking poll numbers. But being stuck inside doesn't help either. People who speak with the President often said he's internalizing negative coverage more than ever because he doesn't have his usual outlets, like golf. 

Divisions are also emerging among the staff in the West Wing. The new West Wing communications team has decided to retake control of the coronavirus messaging that Vice President Mike Pence’s staff had been handling since he was tapped to lead the task force in late February. 

8:29 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

This Indian village is distributing 10,000 umbrellas to help maintain social distancing

From CNN's Esha Mitra

Villagers in Thannermukkom at the launch of the initiative Friday.
Villagers in Thannermukkom at the launch of the initiative Friday. Credit: PS Jyothi, Thannermukkom village council president

A village in the southern state of Kerala is distributing 10,000 umbrellas to residents to help maintain social distancing, according to a senior local council official.

"We hope the clouds of Covid-19 may clear soon but during the summer and upcoming days of rain let us keep social distancing by unfolding an umbrella," PS Jyothi, president of the Thannermukkom village council said. 

The idea is to stand next to one another with open umbrellas to maintain a distance of at least a meter, Jyothi added. Along with umbrellas, two masks each will also be distributed to citizens. 

Women's neighborhood groups will stitch 100,000 masks under the Kudumbashree initiative in Kerala. The initiative, which mobilizes community groups, was launched under the Kerala state poverty mission to empower women but is being repurposed to fight coronavirus at a local level, according to Jyothi. 

The state has used several innovative measures to help contain the spread of coronavirus and trace infected patients. 

Walk-in kiosks were installed in a district in Kerala to facilitate sample collection earlier this month, and a robot is being used in a Kerala hospital to dispense medicines and food to patients in isolation wards to reduce human contact. 

Kerala was the first state in India to report cases of the coronavirus. The state currently has 458 cases of coronavirus including 4 deaths. India has a total of 27,892 cases of the coronavirus, including 872 deaths, according to the Indian Ministry of Health. 

8:16 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

She's been falsely accused of starting the coronavirus. Her life has been turned upside down

From CNN Business's Donie O'Sullivan

Heather Fulbright/CNN
Heather Fulbright/CNN

Maatje Benassi, a US Army reservist and mother of two, has become the target of conspiracy theorists who falsely place her at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, saying she brought the disease to China. 

The false claims are spreading across YouTube every day, so far racking up hundreds of thousands of apparent views, and have been embraced by Chinese Communist Party media. Despite never having tested positive for the coronavirus or experienced symptoms, Benassi and her husband are now subjects of discussion on Chinese social media about the outbreak, including among accounts that are known drivers of large-scale coordinated activities by their followers. 

The claims have turned their lives upside down. The couple say their home address has been posted online and that, before they shut down their accounts, their social media inboxes were overrun with messages from believers of the conspiracy. 

It's like waking up from a bad dream going into a nightmare day after day," Maatje Benassi told CNN in her first interview since being smeared online.

The family's suffering highlights the potential for blatant falsehoods to be rewarded and amplified by social media platforms. It also serves as a powerful reminder that misinformation online, however wild or obviously untrue it may seem, can have real and lasting consequences offline.

Read her exclusive interview with CNN Business here.

7:59 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

How to clean your bathroom to protect against the coronavirus

From CNN's Ryan Prior

An employee disinfects mirrors in a bathroom at the Taganka Theatre in Moscow on March 17.
An employee disinfects mirrors in a bathroom at the Taganka Theatre in Moscow on March 17. Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS/Getty Images

Bathrooms are a crucial point in the house that all humans -- and therefore microbes -- pass through. So during the present pandemic, keeping your toilets, sinks, counters and showers as germ-free as possible is key to keeping you and your family healthy.

The novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, is known to live on hard surfaces for up to three days, according to data published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Your bathroom has plenty of those.

Start by washing your hands. For your surfaces, you can use any household disinfectant, but the US Environmental Protection Agency released a five-page list of high-quality options -- including Clorox Disinfecting Wipes and certain Lysol sprays -- which can defeat "harder to kill" viruses such as SARS-CoV-2.

Focus on cleaning "high-touch" areas of your bathroom including light switches, door knobs and the sink areas in particular. Don't forget less obvious areas such as shower heads, shower curtains, the toilet seat, hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, shavers and other appliances.

After you wipe down hard surfaces like sinks and counter tops, make sure to leave them wet for 3 to 5 minutes. The American Cleaning Institute recommends letting the surfaces air-dry before rinsing them with water. 

Read the full article here.

7:48 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

Julian Assange's extradition hearing set to be adjourned until September over coronavirus

From CNN's Seb Shukla in London

Supporters of Assange hold placards outside Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in southeast London in late February.
Supporters of Assange hold placards outside Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in southeast London in late February. Matt Dunham/AP

The court hearing on whether Julian Assange will be extradited from the UK to the United States is set to be adjourned until September because of the coronavirus.

Citing fears around the virus, Edward Fitzgerald, QC, Assange’s lawyer, said the “evidence is it would not be medically safe for Assange to attend a video conference," according to News Central UK, a British court reporting service.

Fitzgerald said that for “over a month” his team have had no direct access to the WikiLeaks founder, who is being held at Belmarsh prison in south-east London, where visits have not been possible.

He said “there have always been great difficulties in seeking access to Mr. Assange but with the coronavirus outbreak the preparation of this case goes from difficult to impossible,” the court reporting service said.

He said that should the hearing go ahead on May 18, Assange “would be fighting a David and Goliath battle with his hands behind his back.”

Assange’s lawyer concluded that “for all these reasons we submit it is the fairest course to adjourn the matter from May to fix it for September when a realistic date can be settled on.”

The judge presiding over proceedings, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser agreed that the extradition hearing should be adjourned. An administrative hearing will be heard on May 4.

Assange is wanted in America for allegedly conspiring with US military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to expose classified US intelligence back in 2010. He was granted political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 and was arrested in April 2019 in London.

7:30 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

Prosecutors in northern Italy open investigation into handling of Covid-19 outbreak

From CNN's Valentina Di Donato in Rome

A staffer delivers a medical oxygen tank to coronavirus patients being treated at home in Bergamo on March 31.
A staffer delivers a medical oxygen tank to coronavirus patients being treated at home in Bergamo on March 31. Claudio Furlan/LaPresse/AP

Prosecutors in the northern Italian city of Bergamo have opened an investigation into the handling of the coronavirus outbreak there, Prosecutor Maria Cristina Rotta‘s office told CNN on Monday. 

Bergamo is in Lombardy, the Italian province worst-hit by the coronavirus, and was among the first areas to be put under restrictions to try to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Bergamo citizen Luca Fusco, whose father died of coronavirus in March, started a Facebook group called "Noi Denunceremo" -- meaning "we will denounce you" -- to hold the authorities to account.

The group, which has 48,000 members, wants to ''ensure that the truth of what really happened gets out," Fusco said.

We knew there was a problem, we saw the underestimation of the problem. We saw the cases in Codogno, we saw the cases in northern Italy, and no one was doing anything in the beginning," Fusco told CNN.

Separately, ANAAO, a doctors' union, has lodged formal complaints to prosecutors in 10 regions over what it described as a shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare staff.

“There's a lack of adequate personal protective equipment for doctors exposed to Covid-19. The high number of infections is linked to the failure to supply FFP2 and FFP3 filter masks,” Carlo Palermo, national secretary of the ANAAO, told CNN on Monday.

So far, 150 doctors in Italy have died after contracting coronavirus, the Italian Association of Doctors said on Friday, adding that healthcare professionals constitute 10% of all infections.