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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2:08 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

70,000 Spanish nurses may have coronavirus

From CNN's Al Goodman in Madrid and Max Ramsay in London

Health workers help two elderly coronavirus patients in Barcelona, Spain, on April 11.
Health workers help two elderly coronavirus patients in Barcelona, Spain, on April 11. Felipe Dana/AP

Nearly a third of nurses in Spain — up to 70,000 — could have been infected with Covid-19, according to preliminary findings in a new study from the Spanish College of Nursing.

Almost 30% of the nurses surveyed by email said they had symptoms of Covid-19 infection, the professional body for the Spanish nursing profession said.

Around 75% of nurses who responded to the ongoing study believed they had been exposed to the infection in the workplace, with around 35% putting this down to a lack of personal protective equipment.

The Spanish government says 27,758 health care workers have tested positive for coronavirus to date, about 15% of all cases in the hard-hit country. A number of health workers, including doctors, have died.

The Spanish College of Nursing has more than 300,000 members.


1:47 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

FDA authorizes second and third coronavirus antibody tests

From CNN’s Arman Azad

The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday issued emergency use authorizations for two new coronavirus antibody tests, which are able to detect past infections after people have recovered.

A total of three tests are now authorized by the agency, which determined that the benefits of using the quickly-designed tests during the pandemic outweigh the risks – such as false negatives or false positives.

The tests, which use blood samples instead of a swab, are limited to use in authorized laboratories. Instead of looking for traces of the virus, they look for our body’s response to the virus: antibodies.

The FDA, though, is warning that the tests could lead to false negatives, since antibodies aren’t present at the earliest stages of infection.

“A negative result may occur if you are tested early in your illness and your body hasn’t had time to produce antibodies to infection,” the agency said in fact sheets published Wednesday.

While the tests may miss some recent infections, experts say they’re useful to understand how widespread the coronavirus really is – since they should be able to detect past infections, even if people had few or no symptoms.

It’s unclear how long immunity might last after someone recovers from Covid-19, but the antibody tests could also offer insight into who may be protected against re-infection.

In a series of tweets announcing the new authorizations, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said: “Serology tests can play a critical role in fighting #COVID19 by helping health care professionals identify people who may have overcome #COVID19 & developed an immune response.”

The new tests come from Chembio Diagnostic Systems and Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, and they join a test authorized in early April from the company Cellex.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, hinted at the new authorizations last week.

"Within a period of a week or so, we're going to have a rather large number of tests that are available," he said on CNN's New Day Friday morning.

2:10 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Germany will allow some shops to reopen

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

People walk past a closed shop in Frankfurt, Germany.
People walk past a closed shop in Frankfurt, Germany. Arne Dedert/dpa/AP

Germany will start to relax nationwide Covid-19 restrictions next week on some shops, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday.

The shops, which must meet certain size requirements, will be allowed to reopen if hygiene plans are followed, Merkel said Wednesday.

Schools will gradually reopen on May 4 with priority given to primary and secondary students in their final years.

At the same time, the country is extending its ''contact ban'' in the fight against coronavirus until May 3, Merkel said. Germany's contact ban rules that no more than two people can meet in public, unless people live in the same household.

Large public events are banned until the end of August to prevent mass transmission of the virus.

''Any further relaxation of lockdown will depend on how infection rate develops — we have little room to maneuver," Merkel said.

She went on to say that face masks should be worn in shops and public transport.

2:15 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

New York governor will issue executive order requiring a mask or face covering in public

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt 

A man wears a mask while walking his dog in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Tuesday, April 14.
A man wears a mask while walking his dog in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Tuesday, April 14. Mark Lennihan/AP

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is issuing an executive order that all people in the state must wear a mask or mouth and nose covering in public, whenever they are in a situation where they cannot maintain social distancing of 6 feet or less.

“If you're going to get on public transit, you're going to get on a bus, you're going to get on a subway, you're going to stand on a subway platform, you're going to walk in a neighborhood that is busy, you're going to be on a sidewalk, you're going to pass other people on a sidewalk, you're not going to be able to maintain social distancing, you must wear a mask,” Cuomo said. 

There will be a three-day notice period before the order is enforced, allowing New Yorkers to secure masks or face coverings, Cuomo announced Wednesday afternoon.

Local governments should start to enforce it, but there won't be any penalties as of right now, he added.


1:24 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

New York state will send ventilators to Michigan and Maryland

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph


New York will send 100 ventilators to Michigan and 50 to Maryland in an effort to mitigate death rates there, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“I will never forget the generosity people across the country showed our state,” he said.

Now that its health care situation has stabilized, New York is returning the favor to neighboring states.

1:22 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

N95 respirators can be decontaminated and re-used on a limited basis, according to NIH study

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

A critical piece of personal protective equipment, the N95 respirator, can be safety cleaned and re-used, according to a study published Wednesday by scientists at the National Institutes of Health.

The respirators are designed for single-use, but according to the NIH study, they could potentially be used up to three times if they’re properly decontaminated in between uses. 

The study has not been peer-reviewed, but was published on a pre-print server designed to expedite the release of research.

In a statement, NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that a variety of cleaning methods – such as vaporized hydrogen peroxide, dry heat, ultraviolet light or ethanol spray – could successfully decontaminate the respirators.

Some of these methods caused problems with the fit and seal of the masks, but one technique – vaporized hydrogen peroxide – did not result in failures. Masks undergoing that treatment, then, could be re-used three times, NIH said. 

The US Food and Drug Administration has now authorized three respirator decontamination systems for use during the coronavirus pandemic, all of which rely on hydrogen peroxide decontamination.

1:33 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Fauci suggests no fans and weekly testing needed for sports to return

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus pandemic at a White House press briefing on April 13.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus pandemic at a White House press briefing on April 13. Alex Brandon/AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top medical expert on the coronavirus pandemic and a member of President Trump's coronavirus task force, said there is a way for sports to return.

He suggested no fans and weekly testing.

Appearing on Snapchat's Peter Hamby show, "Good Luck America,"  Fauci said, "There's a way of doing that. Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [the players] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled ... and have them tested every single week and make sure they don't wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out."

"People say you can't play without spectators. Well, I think you will probably get enough buy in if from people who are dying to see a baseball game, particularly me. I'm living in Washington. We have the world champion Washington Nationals and I want to see them play again," he added.

1:31 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Idaho governor extends statewide stay-at-home order through April 30

Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Wednesday extended the statewide stay-at-home order until April 30.

Little, speaking at a virtual press conference, said Idaho has at least 1,464 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and 39 deaths.  

He went on to say that since the stay-at-home order was issued, the state has been "flattening the curve."

1:20 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Cuomo: "The more testing, the more opening of the economy"

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaking at his daily briefing, said all states are having a hard time bringing coronavirus testing to scale quickly,

"Every governor is now in the same situation," he said, citing conversations with his counterparts across the country.

The states need assistance from the federal government to bring testing to scale, he said, adding “the more testing, the more opening of the economy.”

States need help with testing and tracing, as well as funding from the federal government, Cuomo said.