April 15 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 3:17 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020
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11:37 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

WHO: "We regret the decision of the President of the United States to order a hold in funding"

The director of the World Health Organization responded to President Trump's decision to withhold funding to his organization 

“The United States of America has been a long-standing and generous friend of WHO and we hope it will continue to be so," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday in Geneva.

Tedros said WHO is reviewing the impact any withdrawal of US funding will have, and that the organization will work to fill any financial gaps it faces to ensure its work continues uninterrupted.

Tedros added WHO works to improve the health of world’s poorest and most vulnerable and doesn’t only fight coronavirus. 

11:30 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Virginia governor issues a call for up to 30,000 medical and non-medical volunteers

From CNN's Gregory Lemos and Liz Turrell

Gov. Ralph Northam is calling on both medical and non-medical volunteers to join the fight against Covid-19 in his state, according to a statement Wednesday.  

Northam announced a statewide effort in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health’s Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) to recruit "up to 30,000 volunteers … to provide support for the expected surge in hospitals and long-term care facilities throughout the Commonwealth."  

Northam says the effort will focus on university students, particularly those studying health or medicine, and individuals who have recently filed for unemployment but have "relevant experience," the statement said.  

Nearly a third of the 14,700 people who have signed up to volunteer with the MRC have done so in the last few weeks, and half of those have medical experience, the statement said.  

The statement expressed a need for nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students but said the state would be offering training for non-medical professionals as well.  

12:11 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Spain to give over 2 million masks to transportation workers

From CNN's Laura Perez-Maestro and Mia Alberti.

An employee cleans a public bus in the Spanish Basque city of San Sebastián on April 15.
An employee cleans a public bus in the Spanish Basque city of San Sebastián on April 15. Ander Gillenea/AFP/Getty Images

The Spanish government will distribute more than 2 million masks to workers in the transportation industry, the Ministry for Transport said in a statement.

With this new shipment, the government will have distributed 3.3 million masks for workers in this area.

"With this we are doubling the distribution of masks and, particularly in the case of public bus transport, we are quadruplicating it. As such, we are now distributing a total of 2,250,644 masks among workers in the transport sector," the statement says. 

The government said the transport sector is doing "an essential service," including the public transport of goods, bus travel, taxi services and rail travel, as well as the "private transport" of supplies. 

11:18 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

3M sues Florida company that allegedly tried to sell "likely nonexistent 3M N95 respirators"

From CNN's Chris Boyette

3M, the largest maker of N95 face masks in the country, has sued a Florida company for allegedly twice offering to sell tens of millions of 3M N95 respirators to the federal Division of Strategic National Stockpile at inflated prices.    

3M also says the company, Orlando-based Geftico LLC, falsely claimed to be associated with 3M as a distributor and that the masks in question were “likely nonexistent.”   

CNN has made multiple attempts to reach the president of Geftico and the law firm listed on the Florida Division of Corporations website as the company’s registered agent for comment, but has not received a response. 

The lawsuit alleges that at different times, Geftico offered to sell a specific model of 3M N95 masks for $6.77 per respirator, over four times more than 3M’s suggested list price of $1.27 per respirator and for $3.60 per respirator, still nearly three times the suggested price.  

3M is seeking injunctive relief to require Geftico to cease trying to sell masks and also requests damages, according to the complaint. 

If the company wins damages in the lawsuit, 3M said it will donate the money to charities working on Covid-19 relief, according to the complaint. 

Some context: Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment are in high demand for medical personnel.   

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of lawsuits 3M has filed recently alleging companies have price gouged and counterfeited their products. 

11:33 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Washington, DC, extends public health emergency until May 15

From CNN’s Nicky Robertson

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser attends a news conference on Capitol Hill on May 2, 2018.
Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser attends a news conference on Capitol Hill on May 2, 2018. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday morning the extension of the District’s public health emergency until May 15.

Bowser says the Washington, DC, government will provide more details on the future of schools and government employees on April 17.

11:13 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Justice Department employees told to wear face coverings in common areas

From CNN's David Shortell

The deputy attorney general told Justice Department employees to wear face coverings in common areas at agency buildings in a memo to staff on Tuesday.

The memo follows and notes country-wide guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that face coverings should be worn in public settings. The guidance also comes as many Justice Department employees continue to stay out of the office and work from home. 

Employees who work out of a government building are told they may remove the covering in a private office, cubicle or workspace where at least six feet of social distancing can be maintained from others. 

Some context: Attorney General William Barr has referred to some social distancing policies as "draconian" and called for steps towards normalcy to resume after the end of the month, but he's also acknowledged the administration's stay at home directives were necessary to combat the virus. 

More recently, Barr softened his tone and expressed support for the federal guidelines. 

For his part, Barr frequently wears a mask around the Justice Department as he continues to report to work during the pandemic, he told Fox News in an interview last week. He also wears one along with his security detail when he commutes into Washington every morning, he said. 

11:34 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

2,156 NYPD officers have tested positive for coronavirus

From Shimon Prokupecz

One Police Plaza, the headquarters of the New York City Police Department, is seen on March 27.
One Police Plaza, the headquarters of the New York City Police Department, is seen on March 27. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

There are 2,156 New York City Police Department officers who have tested positive for coronavirus, a source with knowledge confirmed to CNN.

In total, there are 6,274 NYPD officers currently out sick which represents 17.4% of the force.

Since March 12, 3,350 officers tested positive for the virus. Roughly 1,184 police officers have recovered from Covid-19 and have returned to work.

11:11 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

More than 100 countries have requested IMF assistance, only 10 have received help so far

From CNN's Matthew Friedman

More than 100 countries have already asked for emergency assistance from the International Monetary Fund amid the economic fallout from coronavirus. 

Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors that 10 countries have so far received their requested emergency funding, and the IMF will approve funding for half of the remaining countries by the end of April.

The IMF told the G20 finance leaders that it is “urgently seeking” $18 billion in new loan resources for its Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, and says it will likely need at least $1.8 billion in new subsidy resources.

Georgieva warned that they “will need to step up even more” in the months and years ahead. She said the IMF is ready to use its “full toolbox and $1 trillion firepower” through a deep recession in 2020 and only a partial recovery in 2021.

11:01 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Some labs say testing capacity is not an issue, others still reporting shortages

From CNN’s Arman Azad and Curt Devine

While delays in testing – and shortages of testing supplies – have been reported across the country, it’s also possible that a slowdown in the pandemic is responsible for the reported decline in tests.

Currently in the United States, testing is primarily done on those who are symptomatic. While the US is still seeing an increasing number of cases, social distancing measures do seem to be working, limiting transmission of the virus.

Assuming there are enough tests available, that slowdown could explain why fewer people are needing tests at hospitals, doctors’ offices and other sites. Or, doctors may just be ordering fewer tests, perhaps reserving them for only the sickest patients.

If there isn’t widespread availability of testing, though, then the reported decline in cases may be misleading.

In a statement on Wednesday, the American Clinical Laboratory Association – which represents commercial labs such as LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics – said that testing capacity was not an issue.

“ACLA members have now eliminated testing backlogs, and have considerable capacity that is not being used,” the group said. “We stand ready to perform more testing and are in close communication with public health partners about ways we can support additional needs.”

Some context: Other groups, though, have reported problems. In a Monday letter to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the Association of American Medical Colleges said labs are facing critical shortages.

“Widespread but uneven shortages in one or more of the essential components for testing have resulted in a situation where few labs are able to maximize the testing capacity of any one machine, platform, or test,” the group said.

It added that “laboratories across the country are working day and night to expand testing capacity but are severely hampered by shortages of needed reagents, swabs for testing, PPE, and specialized equipment designed by companies to be used with their own machines.”