April 27 coronavirus news

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2:15 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

Almost all of Germany now required to wear masks in public

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

A woman with a face mask sits in a bus in Berlin, Germany, on April 22.
A woman with a face mask sits in a bus in Berlin, Germany, on April 22. Markus Schreiber/AP

Almost all of Germany's 83 million population will be required to wear face coverings in public spaces as of Monday, according to announcements on federal state websites.

Germany is a decentralized country so every state has its own set of rules.

Here's a breakdown of when and where you need to wear a mask:

  • The capital Berlin is the most lax, with masks only required when riding public transport.
  • All other states require citizens to cover their mouths and noses in stores and on public transport.
  • Germany’s largest state, North Rhine-Westphalia, requires citizens to cover their mouth and nose when visiting doctors and when they receive handy workers in their homes.
  • In the northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein the law requiring masks does not go into effect until Wednesday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government urgently recommended citizens to wear masks in public when it loosened some of the restrictions placed on public life to combat the coronavirus pandemic a week ago.

But all German states have since separately enacted laws making the wearing of face coverings a requirement in some public spaces.

1:57 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

Trump is driving Birx's balancing act to the limit

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson and Maeve Reston

Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 22, in Washington.
Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 22, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

Dr. Deborah Birx's balancing act between science and US President Donald Trump's disinformation may be reaching the point of no return.

The US coronavirus task force official has been caught in an unenviable spot, juggling her public health mission and reputation with the need to stay in the good graces of Trump, who has shown both a penchant for touting unproven therapies and a willingness to show his critics the exit.

Birx, a physician and diplomat, came under scrutiny Thursday when she failed, in real time, to correct Trump's assertion at the White House briefing that injecting disinfectant into the body might combat the virus. She further compromised her science focus Sunday by defending the President's remark as an example of the way he processes information aloud.

But Birx is facing what may become an even more difficult challenge to her credibility in the weeks ahead: the gap between the insufficient level of coronavirus testing -- a lynchpin to opening the economy -- and the federal government's failure to put a viable testing infrastructure and guidelines in place.

Read the full analysis here:

1:37 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

Nail salon under investigation following Texas mayor's visit while business was ordered to close

From CNN's Alta Spells

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation is investigating several complaints that a nail salon provided services to Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames despite the governor’s executive order closing hair and nail salons, Tela Goodwin Mange, the public information officer with the agency said.

This comes after a photo surfaced on social media last week showing Ames in a nail salon soaking her hands in a bowl. At the time of the visit, there were executive orders in place requiring salons to remain closed because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Ames told CNN affiliate KFDM that she was not having her nails done, but had gone to the salon to pick up solution needed to remove her artificial nails because "they hurt." Once at the salon, the mayor said the owner had her come in for a few minutes to show her how to perform the process.

Ames said she and the owner of the salon were alone in the closed salon, both wearing masks, at least six feet apart, before she left within minutes, according to KFDM.

The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office is planning to investigate the mayor's actions. 

Ames issued an apology on Thursday, for entering the nail salon, calling it a “lapse in judgement.”  

The investigation by TDLR involves the services provided by the nail technician and not the mayor, said Mange. Failure to comply with the governor's executive order carries criminal penalties and could result in jail time, fines of up to $1,000 and additional administrative fines for the cosmetologist.

Texas remains under a stay-at-home order that expires on April 30.

1:14 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

Bank of Japan warns economy could contract by as much as 5% this year

From CNN's Kaori Enjoji and Jill Disis

People walk in a street in Tokyo's Akihabara area on April 24.
People walk in a street in Tokyo's Akihabara area on April 24. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

The Bank of Japan expects the country’s economy to contract by 3% to 5% this year -- a sharp departure from its forecast at the start of the year, which predicted slight growth.

The economy “is likely to remain in a severe situation for the time being due to the impact of the spread of the novel coronavirus at home and abroad,” the central bank wrote in a statement released Monday as it concluded a shortened policy meeting.

While it said Japan’s economy is likely to improve as the outbreak wanes, the central bank added that “future developments are extremely unclear.” Officials had earlier predicted growth between 0.8% and 1.1% for 2020.

The Bank of Japan kept interest rates steady Monday at its policy meeting, which usually lasts two days but was shortened to just half a day this month. But it did announce more easing measures as it tries to offset economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and address corporate funding strains.

The central bank said it would now buy an unlimited amount of government bonds, scrapping an annual cap of 80 trillion yen ($745 billion). The move was largely symbolic, since the central bank has in recent years been buying about a quarter of that amount annually, so it had a lot of room to increase its purchases even without removing the cap.

However, Monday’s announcement sends the message that Japan will do whatever it takes to shore up its economy. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already committed roughly $1.1 trillion to protecting the country from virus-related fallout.

Japan’s economy had been flirting with recession even before the outbreak. The world’s third-largest economy shrank in the fourth quarter of 2019 as it absorbed a sales tax hike and grappled with the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis, a powerful storm that hit the country last fall.

Japan will report first quarter GDP next month. 

12:54 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

China says all hospitalized coronavirus patients in Wuhan have been discharged

From Alexandra Lin in Hong Kong

A staff member sprays disinfectant on empty beds after all patients left Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. The hospital, built in less than two weeks to handle a large number of Covid-19 patients closed on April 14.
A staff member sprays disinfectant on empty beds after all patients left Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. The hospital, built in less than two weeks to handle a large number of Covid-19 patients closed on April 14.  STR/AFP/Getty Images

All hospitalized coronavirus patients in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, have been discharged from hospitals, Mi Feng, a spokesperson for China’s National Health Commission said on Sunday.

“With joint effort of medical professionals from Wuhan and from around the country, by April 26, all hospitalized Covid-19 patients in Wuhan have been cleared,” Mi said.

Wuhan was the first city in the world to go into lockdown due to the virus. It has been slowly returning to something that might be described as normal, after months of fear and anxiety.

But the scars of the viral outbreak, which for 76 days shut down the Chinese city and much of the surrounding Hubei province, lie just beneath the surface. Many citizens are worried about a second outbreak and businesses are struggling to get back on their feet.

The first known cases of the virus were detected in Wuhan in mid-December. In the weeks that followed, case numbers spiked and from January 23 until April 8, residents were unable to leave the city as the Chinese government attempted to contain the outbreak.

But despite the attempts to halt the spread of the virus, it has now infected nearly 3 million people worldwide.

Read more:

12:39 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

New Zealand is set to lift its toughest restrictions

An empty street is seen in Auckland, New Zealand, on March 26.
An empty street is seen in Auckland, New Zealand, on March 26. Bradley White/Getty Images

New Zealand will lift some of its strictest lockdown restrictions at midnight local time as the country moves from level 4 to a level 3 alert for two weeks.

What it means: Under level 3, New Zealand will still essentially be under lockdown, but there will be an easing of restrictions. Schools can open. People will be able to buy takeaway food, and take part in more recreational activities, such as swimming at the beach. Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather for weddings and funerals. 

Alert level 3 does not permit more social activity, but would allow more economic activity like construction, manufacturing and forestry.

Dwindling cases: The move comes as New Zealand has seen a dwindling number of coronavirus cases over the past few weeks. On Monday, New Zealand reported one new case, four "probable cases" and one new death.

"It has been nearly five weeks living and working in ways that just two months ago would have been impossible. But we did. And we have done it together," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a news conference today.

Ardern said that New Zealand had one of the highest testing rates per capita in the world, with the capacity to process up to 8,000 tests per day. The country also has one of the lowest mortality rates and a low rate of transmission, with each case infecting less than half an additional person, she said.

“This provides strong evidence that there is not widespread transmission that is going undetected," she said. “Through out cumulative actions, we have avoided the worst.”

What happens next: Ardern said that the ambition is to be able to ease the social restrictions, but said to do that confidently, they would need to move "slowly and cautiously."

"We must make sure that we do not let the virus run away on us again and cause a new wave of cases and deaths," she said. "To succeed we must hunt down the last few cases of the virus."

"It is not and cannot be a return to pre-Covid-19 life," she said.

Level 3 will remain in place until May 11, when Cabinet will review whether to extend.

12:20 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

The US reported more than 1,000 deaths on Sunday

From CNN's Alta Spells

At least 965,942 cases of coronavirus, including 54,883 related deaths have been reported in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

On Sunday, JHU reported 26,732 new cases and 1,092 deaths in the US.

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:

12:08 a.m. ET, April 27, 2020

Bill Gates explains how the US can safely ease coronavirus restrictions

From CNN's Clare Duffy

Bill Gates says US states should focus on "high value" segments of the economy, and how to reopen them with masks and social distancing.
Bill Gates says US states should focus on "high value" segments of the economy, and how to reopen them with masks and social distancing. PBG/AAD/STAR MAX/IPX/AP

The ability for parts of the United States to safely and effectively begin to lift coronavirus restrictions will depend on the country's capacity to aggressively test for and trace new cases of the virus, Bill Gates said Sunday.

Here's what he said:

Warning: Just because some areas looking to reopen have experienced relatively small outbreaks doesn't mean they're not at risk, Gates said. Many are concerned that reopening too soon could prompt a second wave of infections

In stages: It will require thinking critically about which elements of society are most essential to get back to work, implementing safety measures as they are reopened and ensuring diagnostic testing and contact tracing are in place.

Finding the cause of a rebound: "What we don't know is, (if) we go slightly back to normal, which activities create the risk of a rebound?" Gates said. 

Ramp up testing: "We need to put in place a very dense testing regime so you would detect that rebound going back into exponential growth very quickly and not wait for the ICUs to fill up and there to be a lot of deaths. If you see the hot spot, you kind of understand the activities causing that," he said.

Planning for reopening: States should focus on "high value" segments of the economy such as schools, manufacturing and construction, and should figure out how to operate those things with masks and social distancing, Gates said.

Continue tracking: Once some schools and businesses get back to work, communities should continue to track the effects on infection rates, he said. But it will take time. "The inequality has gotten greater in education, so if we can figure out how to do K through 12 in the fall, that would be good," Gates said.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has studied pandemics for years and is now involved in fighting coronavirus.

Read more here.

11:47 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Reviving America after Covid-19 will take years, not months

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

Another 4.4 million Americans filed first-time jobless claims last week, bringing the number of people who've lost work in the past five weeks to an apocalyptic 26.5 million.

Each individual claim represents a life on edge.

People who never had their hands out before are going to food banks, and the unemployment rate is suddenly approaching Great Depression territory. It's the same story around the world.

President Donald Trump thinks pent-up demand will ensure that the US economy takes off when normal life creaks open and once customers are free to shop and spend again. But even if the virus were waning across the US -- which it isn't -- shops, restaurants, bars and movie theaters would likely reopen at reduced capacity.

And there's no guarantee those other jobs will ever come back.

Fewer workers will mean fewer people with money to buy cars and go on vacation -- which will mean that industries like tourism, entertainment and hospitality have a long haul.

After the battle against the coronavirus is won, the war to revive America will likely continue. We're talking years, not months.

Read the full analysis: