April 16 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:22 PM ET, Sun December 27, 2020
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3:07 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Georgia hospital system reports death spike while admissions plateau 

From CNN’s Angela Barajas

Southwest Georgia's Phoebe Putney Health System, which services the Albany area, announced a plateau in their number of Covid-19 cases at their hospitals. However, most of the patients admitted to their emergency rooms are critically ill. 

Putney said it is reporting an additional nine deaths of positive patients equaling "the highest number of deaths we have reported on any single day since this public health emergency began."

Two of Putney's hospitals are reporting 76 deaths combined. The hospital system has reported nearly 2,000 positive Covid-19 results. 

In the statement, Putney cautioned to keep vigilant during the continuing public health emergency given the deaths in the area.

"That fact alone should be a wakeup call to anyone who thinks he or she is safe from this virus. Covid-19 is a vicious illness that continues to claim lives in our community, and we must all take the threat seriously," the hospital said.
3:05 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Switzerland easing restrictions as epidemic slows down 

From CNN's Mia Alberti

 

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The Swiss government has said it will ease some of the emergency measures imposed five weeks ago, since the number of Covid-19 cases is slowing down. 

"Five weeks after announcing the restriction measures, the government has decided which measures to remove. The measures we took allowed us to slow down the epidemic, today, the epidemic situation allows us to start to look at the next steps," Alain Berset, the head of Internal Affairs, said at a news conference on Thursday.

Berset said the first phase of the epidemic "is behind" Switzerland and the next steps will happen in three phases. First, on April 27, hospitals, health centers, dentists, physiotherapy and massage salons can receive non-urgent treatments again. Hairdressers, beauty and tattoo shops and gardening shops will also reopen.

On May 11, the government plans to allow schools to reopen for "mandatory grades," which includes pre-school through ninth grade. Shops and markets will also be allowed to reopen.

Professional schools and universities will be allowed to reopen on June 8, as well as museums, libraries, botanic gardens, and zoos.

The government said social distancing rules must remain in place throughout this period and added that there is no timeframe for when that could stop.

"We want to avoid having to reintroduce the restrictions," said Simonetta Sommaruga, president of the Swiss Federation.

"We do not want to endanger all the work we've done so far, thanks to the support of the population. That's why the government invites everyone to continue to respect distancing and hygiene measures," she added. 

 

3:02 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

New York state reports an additional 8,505 coronavirus cases

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York state has reported 8,505 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 222,284, according to a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.  

On Wednesday, the state reported 11,571 new cases.

2:46 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Facebook cancels large in-person events through June 2021

From CNN’s Kaya Yurieff

Facebook is canceling all of its planned physical events with 50 or more people through June 2021 due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. 

Some of those events will be held virtually instead, CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his Facebook page on Thursday.  

Zuckerberg also said the "vast majority" of Facebook employees will work from home through at least the end of next month. The company is extending its policy of no business travel through at least June. 

"A small percent of our critical employees who can't work remotely, like content reviewers working on counter-terrorism or suicide and self-harm prevention, and engineers working on complex hardware, may be able to return sooner, but overall, we don't expect to have everyone back in our offices for some time," Zuckerberg said.

Some context: Covid-19 has infected more than 2 million people and killed at least 137,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Zuckerberg also said employees who feel they can't return to the office for reasons such as lack of childcare can work remotely through at least the summer.  

In February, Facebook canceled F8, its biggest annual event, due to concerns over the coronavirus. At F8, which is aimed at developers, the company typically shares its future vision and teases new features and products. Facebook also canceled a large advertising conference in San Francisco. 

Apple moved its annual developer conference to online only. Google initially moved its developer conference to online, but later canceled it completely.

2:44 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

In Ohio, 21% of coronavirus cases are health care workers

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Health care workers in Ohio account for 21% of coronavirus cases, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said at a news conference Thursday.

There are at least 8,414 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio and 1,729 of them are health care workers, Acton said.

So far, 826 cases have been identified in long-term care facilities, according to Acton.

Acton said that the high rate of cases in those communities are to be expected because there is an increased risk of exposure in those environments.

There have been a total of 389 deaths statewide and cases have been reported in 87 of 88 counties, Acton said.

There have been 74,000 coronavirus tests performed in the state, Acton added.

2:42 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Wisconsin extends stay-at-home order to May 26

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has extended the state's stay-at-home order to May 26, according to a statement from his office. 

The extension also loosens some restrictions on businesses.

Golf courses will be allowed to reopen and public libraries and arts and crafts stores may offer curb-side pickup, the announcement said.

However, the statement also notes that public and private K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

"The order implements some new measures to ensure safety and support the progress we've made in containing COVID-19, but also allows certain activities to start up again," the statement said.

The order also directs essential businesses to ramp up disinfection and urges retail stores to limit the number of people allowed to enter.

2:52 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Midwest governors will work in coordination to reopen the region's economy

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images
Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

The governors of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky have announced that they will work in close coordination to reopen the Midwest region economy in the wake of the pandemic, according to a statement from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on behalf of all the participating governors.

"We recognize that our economies are all reliant on each other, and we must work together to safely reopen them so hardworking people can get back to work and businesses can get back on their feet," the governors said in a joint statement.

The governors said they will focus on least four factors when determining when best to reopen the economy:

  • Sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations. 
  • Enhanced ability to test and trace. 
  • Sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence. 
  • Best practices for social distancing in the workplace. 

“Our number one priority when analyzing when best to reopen our economy is the health and safety of our citizens,” the governors said in a joint statement.

The governors went on to say that they would make decisions "based on facts, science, and recommendations from experts in health care, business, labor, and education."

Similar collaborations have been taken by governors in recent days on the West and East coasts.

2:34 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

CDC protection teams sent to 8 states to combat coronavirus, official says

From Nick Valencia, Kristen Holmes, Caroline Kenny and Ellie Kaufman

A federal health official tells CNN that teams from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are being sent to the eight states – New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, North Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio — to bolster contact tracing efforts in order to help contain Covid-19.

Contact tracing is widely considered to be necessary to have in place in order to reopen the economy.

The health official said the teams will be “testing new technologies,” including “having people do self-swabbing and evaluating how effective that is. They are also looking at some mobile technology to look at contact tracing.”

Some states will have specialized epidemiology studies performed in nursing facilities. CNN previously reported these teams were also being sent to help homeless and prison populations in some states.

The goal of the CDC teams will be to expand testing “and try and help those states remain at low levels of transmission,” the official previously told CNN.

The agency has not officially announced the new “Community Protection Initiative” program. 

Among the eight states, Wyoming announced Tuesday the CDC would be sending it approximately five people as part of the program. And New Mexico said Wednesday it had been approached to be a part of it.

CNN has reached out to the states for comment.

2:58 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Trump pushes back on calls for expanded testing before states reopen 

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images
Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

In his call with senators on Thursday, President Trump heard a similar message he received a day earlier from business leaders: the country needs to dramatically increase its testing capabilities before states can reopen.

In the phone call with Democratic and Republican senators, Trump was told by some lawmakers that without the increased testing, asymptomatic people may return to workplaces and unknowingly spread the virus, creating further contagion, according to people familiar with the call.

Trump countered by saying his administration had worked to scale up testing and repeated his dubious claim that the United States had tested more people than any other country.

He also pointed to a new test that people could administer themselves that uses saliva, a person familiar with the conversation said.

As he did on Wednesday during his briefing, Trump told senators that individual states — and not the federal government — should be responsible for testing, but that the administration would support governors in their efforts to scale up tests.