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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9:29 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

New York manufacturing index collapses to lowest level in history

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

New York's manufacturers don't see a light at the end of the tunnel yet.

The New York Federal Reserve's index that measures general businesses conditions plummeted 57 points to -78.2 in April. That's the lowest level on record in the history of the Empire State Manufacturing Survey.

The coronavirus crisis is weighing on both demand and supply chains in manufacturing.

The damage is broad-based, with the survey revealing worsening conditions on every front: business activity, new orders and shipments declined. Delivery times have also expanded and inventories have fallen.

There's a thin silver lining: Survey respondents expect conditions to be slightly better six months from now.

9:24 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

A 106-year-old woman has been released from hospital after recovering from coronavirus

From Simon Cullen

 Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust
 Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust

Connie Titchen, a 106-year-old great-grandmother in the United Kingdom, has been released from the hospital three weeks after testing positive for coronavirus.

“She is our oldest patient to beat the virus - and may well be the oldest in the country to do so,” the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust said Wednesday.

Nurses at Birmingham City Hospital lined the corridor to applaud the great-grandmother of eight as she was wheeled out to be sent home.

“I feel very lucky that I’ve fought off this virus. I can’t wait to see my family,” Titchen said, according to a statement from the NHS Trust.

The hospital says Titchen, who was born in September 1913 and has lived through two World Wars, was admitted to City Hospital in mid-March with suspected pneumonia. She was diagnosed with coronavirus soon afterwards.

“It’s been fantastic to see Connie recover. She is amazing and we’ve been doing our best to nurse her back to health. We were really pleased when she was given the all clear. It’s nice to see patients leave our ward after having beaten this virus," nurse Kelly Smith said.

9:12 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Amazon warns it could suspend activities in France after court ruling

From Hadas Gold

Employees observe social distancing at the entrance of Amazon, in Douai, France, on April 9.
Employees observe social distancing at the entrance of Amazon, in Douai, France, on April 9. Michel Spingler/AP/FILE

Amazon says it may suspend all of its distribution activity in France after a court ruled Tuesday it had to stop all non-essential activities due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement on Wednesday, the company said it is “perplexed” by the court ruling.

“Our interpretation of the ruling suggests we might have to suspend the activities of our in-country fulfillment network in France. We’re working rapidly to understand the judgement and evaluate our options, and we expect to appeal,” Amazon said in the statement.

The online retail giant went on to say it has already implemented safety measures including “temperature checks, masks, and enforced social distancing which have received the approval of health and safety representatives at multiple sites.”

Some context: On Tuesday a French court ordered Amazon to reduce its local delivery operations to only essential goods, or the company could face a penalty of 1 million euros ($1.1 million) for each day of delay.

The court has also required that the company carry out an assessment of the "occupational risks inherent in the Covid-19 epidemic" in all of its warehouses.

9:07 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

American Medical Association president says halting WHO funding is "dangerous"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt 

American Medical Association President Dr. Patrice Harris said now is not the time to cut funding to the World Health Organization, after President Trump announced Tuesday he is halting funding to the organization while a review is conducted.

“During the worst public health crisis in a century, halting funding to the WHO is a dangerous step in the wrong direction. Others, many others, have said this virus knows no boundaries, this is a global pandemic, it certainly requires global cooperation. Infections in other parts of the world could certainly impact us here in the United States,” Harris said. 

Some context: The US sends $400 million to $500 million to the WHO each year, Trump said. 

Harris added that “clear and consistent messaging” is key during any health crisis. 

“The public needs to trust that their leaders are being honest and forthcoming and are really working cooperatively to do whatever they can,” she said. “Physicians feel like we're going into this with one arm tied behind our back. And so we really need the administration to use all the levers of the government to get those on the front lines all the support they need."

Watch Harris' remarks:

9:08 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Switzerland faces shortages of ICU drugs for coronavirus patients

From Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Medical workers treat a patient with COVID-19 in the intensive care unit at the University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 3.
Medical workers treat a patient with COVID-19 in the intensive care unit at the University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 3. Pool/AP

Switzerland faces shortages of medicine for coronavirus patients in intensive care unit, the country's health ministry admitted Tuesday, calling the situation ''tense.''

Patrick Mathys, the head of the Swiss federal health ministry resolution team, told reporters in a press conference ''there are real bottlenecks for essential medicines in intensive care'' adding that ''there has been some easing of the situation, but in the long term it's a huge problem." 

Mathys went on to say that the country competes with the international market to purchase more drugs and that the procurement of medicine is equally as challenging as procuring protective masks.

''We need to procure these (intensive care medicine) as much as we can on the international market but you can imagine that as with protective masks, these drugs are also in demand again worldwide. The situation is tense,'' he said.

Switzerland's death toll from coronavirus stands at 973 on Wednesday, according to figures from the Federal Office for Public Health. In addition, the number of infected cases has risen to 26,336-- an increase of 502 cases within the last 24 hours.  

The country’s Federal Council, which extended lockdown measures until April 26, said it would convene on Thursday to discuss easing of restrictions and observe developments in neighboring countries like Austria, which began to allow partial returns to work after Easter.

9:02 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Notre Dame restoration put on hold amid nationwide shutdown in France

From CNN's Oscar Holland and Alaa Elassar

A crane stands above Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, on April 15.
A crane stands above Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, on April 15. Michel Euler/AP

It has been a year since a fire devastated the Notre Dame cathedral, causing its spire to collapse and leaving the 850-year-old church's future in doubt.

The blaze, which French prosecutors say may have been started by a cigarette or electrical malfunction, elicited solidarity and donations from around the world last April.

But with the coronavirus shutdown bringing restoration efforts to a standstill — and the country's attention now focused elsewhere — the somber anniversary is set to pass with little fanfare.

Work at the Paris site has been suspended since March 16, when France introduced widespread measures to help control the spread of Covid-19. And despite the months of recovery work already undertaken, there is ongoing uncertainty about the full extent of the damage.

Some context: Dismantling of the scaffolding was due to be completed in June, though France's Ministry of Culture has not yet responded to CNN's requests about how the suspension of work may impact the restoration timeline — or how realistic Macron's initial plans to reopen the landmark by 2024 remain.

The French president's priorities lie elsewhere, and on Monday evening he used a televised address to announce that the nationwide shutdown would continue for another month.

Read the full story here.

9:20 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

CDC is preparing "to get America back to work," director says

From CNN's Amanda Watts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working hard to make sure testing, contact tracing and an expanded public health capacity is in place as the country begins talking about opening back up, director Dr. Robert Redfield said this morning on CBS.

“It's going to be really important to get a few things in place: more obviously testing for early diagnostics, expand the public health capacity for early diagnosis, isolation and contact tracing. This is going to be fundamental to maintain and contain cases as they occur. And then make sure we have the health capacity to deal with this, as we work to regain the confidence of the American public that it's safe to go back to work," Redfield said.

Asked about the study saying Americans may need to social distance until 2022, Redfield said, “I think the mitigation steps that we’ve done are going to be an important component of it. I think it's really, really a moment to take a bow for the American public that really embraced the social distancing recommendations that we put forward.”

Redfield added: “It really is the American public's response to social distance and sacrifice, not for themselves but for the benefit of the most vulnerable. It's really a testament. I do think we're going to have some social distancing that's going to be a critical part of our strategy as we go forward while we await the fruits of the innovation of the different biological countermeasures to include a vaccine."

8:36 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

United Kingdom says WHO has "important role" to play in leading coronavirus response

From Luke McGee

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leaves number 10 Downing street in central London after the daily Covid-19 briefing on April 15. Raab, who is filling in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will participate in a G7 leaders conference call on Thursday.
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leaves number 10 Downing street in central London after the daily Covid-19 briefing on April 15. Raab, who is filling in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will participate in a G7 leaders conference call on Thursday. Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The United Kingdom believes the World Health Organization (WHO) has an “important role” to play in leading the global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said, adding there are no plans to withdraw funding.

The comments put the UK at odds with President Trump, who has criticized the WHO’s response and announced a suspension of funding.

 “Our position is the UK has no plans to stop funding the WHO which has an important role to play in leading the global health response,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said Wednesday.

 “Coronavirus is a global challenge and it is essential countries work together to tackle this shared threat, the spokesperson added. “In terms of how we contribute to the WHO, that is an assessment of the WHO’s needs and is not based on other country’s funding.”

Some context: Earlier this week, the UK announced it would boost its contribution to the WHO by £65 million ($81 million).

The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is filling in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will participate in a G7 leaders conference call on Thursday.

According to the prime minister's spokesperson, Raab will underline the need for “global collaboration” to deal with the crisis, including the speed and scale of a vaccine and testing internationally.

“We will also discuss economic concerns and how to support struggling nations,” the spokesperson said.

8:23 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

There's been a flattening of coronavirus cases in the US, Fauci says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an interview Wednesday that the US is seeing a flattening out of new coronavirus cases.

Except for a few cities where cases haven't peaked yet, "there's no doubt what we've seen over the last several days is a flattening out," Fauci said.

"Even when you get to New York, it's actually starting to come down regarding admissions, hospitalizations, needs for intensive care and intubation," Fauci told NBC.

"Hopefully that trend will continue. … As I say, I'm a very cautious person, but we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel," Fauci added.