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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11:33 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.”

11:22 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Judge postpones Giuliani associates trial until February 1 due to coronavirus

From Kara Scannell

Lev Parnas arrives at federal court in New York City for an arraignment hearing on October 23, 2019.
Lev Parnas arrives at federal court in New York City for an arraignment hearing on October 23, 2019. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

A federal judge has postponed the criminal trial of associates of Rudy Giuliani until February 1, granting a four-month delay over coronavirus concerns.

Prosecutors asked the federal judge Tuesday to postpone the trial of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman amid the coronavirus pandemic “given the considerable uncertainty surrounding any timeline for a relaxation or removal of those restrictions.”

They noted they didn’t object to a request by lawyers for the defendants who sought to postpone the trial because of their difficulty of meeting with their clients, who are based in Florida and California, and prepare for trial. 

Igor Fruman exits federal court in New York City on October 23, 2019.
Igor Fruman exits federal court in New York City on October 23, 2019. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Some context: Parnas, Fruman and two other men were charged in a campaign finance scheme. They have pleaded not guilty.

The men were schedule to go to trial on October 5, about one month before the presidential election. Parnas and Fruman were central players in Giuliani’s effort to dig up dirt on Joseph and Hunter Biden’s activities in the Ukraine.

The coronavirus pandemic has grinded the criminal justice system to a halt across the country with grand juries disrupted and criminal and civil trials postponed. In the Southern District of New York trials are postponed until at least June 1. 

10:39 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

There are now more than 2 million coronavirus cases worldwide

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 2 million on Wednesday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Covid-19 has infected 2,000,984 and killed at least 128,071 people globally.

The United States leads with the most deaths and the most confirmed cases worldwide. There are at least 609,696 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 26,059 deaths from the disease.

10:28 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

NIH scientist says coronavirus vaccine could be available by the fall

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt 

A vaccine for coronavirus may be ready for use by emergency workers sometime this autumn, according to Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, the National Institute of Health’s lead scientist for coronavirus vaccine research.

Corbett said that the vaccine could be ready for use by front-line health care workers as soon as this fall and for the global population by next spring. Her team is currently testing the safety of the vaccine in the first phase, and then will test its effectiveness in subsequent phases. 

“We’re targeting fall for the emergency use. … And then for the general population, our target goal is for next spring — and that is, if all things go well and if these phase one, phase two and phase three clinical trials work simultaneously for the good, our plan is to have people vaccinated all over the world by next spring,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Vaccine development is typically a long process, and Corbett said that her team has actually been working on a coronavirus vaccine for years already. 

“We’ve researched coronavirus vaccine development for the last 7 years — particularly under my direction, the team has researched this coronavirus development for 5 years. And so coming into the onset of this pandemic, we had an idea about what we wanted to do as far as the design of the vaccine,” Corbett said.

Watch the interview:

10:23 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

France to give bonus to healthcare workers working with Covid-19 patients

From Pierre Bairin and Benjamin Berteau in Paris

Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images
Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images

The French government announced it will pay health workers a bonus of up to 1500 euros, roughly $1,634, for treating Covid-19 patients.

Hospital staff will receive 500 euros (US$ 544) and those working directly in coronavirus impacted areas will get 1,500 euros (US$ 1,634), French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Wednesday following a cabinet meeting.

Medical staff working overtime will be compensated an extra 50% on top of their already elevated overtime pay.

Philippe said French President Emmanuel Macron wanted to give a bonus to nursing home staff and those managing Covid-19 patients confined at home.

The French state will also pay civil servants a bonus of up to 1,000 euros (US$ 1,087).