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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3:36 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Virginia governor extends ban on gatherings of more than 10 people through May 8

Steve Helber/AP
Steve Helber/AP

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has extended his order closing recreation and entertainment businesses, as well as personal care services, and banning gatherings of more than 10 people, through May 8. 

According to Northam, Virginia’s “Stay at Home” order remains in effect until June 10. The governor said at this time, he doesn’t plan to extend that order from that point, but emphasized, that it remains a fluid situation and that decisions are being made on a day-to-day basis.

Virginia is reporting 329 new cases of Covid-19 today, bringing the total number of cases to 6,500.

The state is also reporting 41 new deaths, for a total of 195 Covid-19 related deaths, which is a big jump from the last report, according to Virginia State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver.

Oliver noted, however, that death surveillance is not done in real time, and that the new large number of deaths is a correction in their data reporting, where many of those deaths are from a prior time, with information just now coming in on those.

According to the health commissioner, the state’s data on racial and ethnic categories remains incomplete, but of the available data, 30% of the total cases are African American, and 35% of the deaths are African American.

Northam also spoke about thinking ahead to what a new normal may look like in days ahead, saying “right now, that new normal will probably look like covering you face, spending more time at home, telework, if you can, continuing to use social distancing, and to stay away from large gathering.”

2:30 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Los Angeles will require face masks for all essential errands

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

People wait in line to buy food at a grocery store in Los Angeles. Starting at midnight, Los Angeles residents will be required to wear a face covering or mask while venturing out for essential errands.
People wait in line to buy food at a grocery store in Los Angeles. Starting at midnight, Los Angeles residents will be required to wear a face covering or mask while venturing out for essential errands. Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

Starting at midnight tonight, Los Angeles residents will be required to wear a face covering or mask while venturing out for essential services, County Supervisor Kathryn Barger told CNN.

“Masks clearly are something that I think is here, and I believe is going to be here for a while,” Barger said.

About sporting events and other mass gatherings, Barger said she believes they are unlikely until a vaccine for coronavirus is available. When it comes to bars and nightclubs, Barger said, “I think that’s way out there.” 

Fitness centers and gyms are also probably low on the list for reopening but many construction projects are considered essential and still working within social distancing guidelines. 

"Masks definitely are going to be and are a must at all construction sites,” Barger said.

2:34 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

France registers first decline in coronavirus hospitalizations while death toll climbs

From Barbara Wojazer and Benjamin Berteau in Paris

Firefighters bring a suspected coronavirus patient to a hospital in Marseille, France, on April 15.
Firefighters bring a suspected coronavirus patient to a hospital in Marseille, France, on April 15. Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

A total of 17,167 people in France have died after contracting coronavirus while the number of national hospitalizations has declined, France's director-general of Health Jérôme Salomon confirmed Wednesday.

Although the latest death toll figures mark an increase of 1,438 from Tuesday’s confirmed total of 15,729, Salomon clarified that the increase also reflects an adjustment in data, rather than an actual increase in deaths over the last 24 hours. 

Despite this increase in deaths, Salomon also highlighted that France has – for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak – registered a decline in the number of hospitalized patients. 

"There are 513 fewer people hospitalized since yesterday. This is the first decrease in hospitalizations,” Salomon said during a news conference, confirming that there are currently 31,779 patients receiving treatment in hospitals across France. "We should applaud this decrease while remaining careful."
2:22 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

UK beginning to see "flattened curve" in new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Nada Bashir in London

A person walks down a nearly empty street in Canterbury, England, on April 11.
A person walks down a nearly empty street in Canterbury, England, on April 11. Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

The British government says that based on national data it is beginning to see a “flattened curve” for new Covid-19 cases, adding that containment measures appear to be having a positive effect on the trajectory of the outbreak. 

"What I see here is evidence that everybody’s efforts to stay home and not have as much contact with other people, as would be normal, is having the impact that we hoped it would have and bringing this epidemic to a much better trajectory where this is currently flat and no longer rising,” said Angela McLean, UK deputy chief scientific adviser, during a news conference at Downing Street. 

According to McLean, hospital admissions fell by 1% across the country on Tuesday, and by 5% in the Greater London area.  

Speaking alongside McLean, the UK’s Chief Medical Adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, said he believes the UK is “probably reaching the peak overall” in the trajectory of the national coronavirus outbreak.

But he warned the country could still see an uptick in the number of daily deaths.

“Sadly, we do think that high numbers of deaths will continue for certainly a short while on from where we are at the moment," Whitty said.

"We are not yet at the point where we can say confidently and safely that we are now past the peak,” he added. 

2:04 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Idaho governor says nonessential businesses can "prepare to reopen after April 30"

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

Idaho's governor said nonessential businesses can "prepare to reopen after April 30" by developing a number of operational plans over the next couple weeks. 

"Many nonessential businesses can also prepare to reopen after April 30 by developing operational plans over the next two weeks to do the following things," such as maintaining physical distancing and providing protection for employees and citizens, Little said.

Little's amended order also requires out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days after entering Idaho, excluding those performing essential services.

2:02 p.m. ET, April 15, 2020

At least 26,950 people have died from coronavirus in the US

There are at least 613,187 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 26,950 people have died from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

On Wednesday, Johns Hopkins reported 3,947 new cases and 917 reported deaths. 

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases.

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.