Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Elise Hammond and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:35 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020
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1:12 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Alabama stay-at-home order will not be lifted yet, governor says

From CNN's Tina Burnside

Alabama's stay-at-home order will remain in effect until April 30, Gov. Kay Ivey said at a news conference today.

Last week Ivey announced the creation of a coronavirus task force that would begin listening to all recommendations and will put together a timeline for reopening based on facts and data. 

Ivey said while she is as eager as anyone to get the economy moving again, it must be done in a responsible way.

"Getting our economy up and running is not as simple as flipping a switch," Ivey said. 

She also said the state needs to expand its testing before resuming normal economic activity. 

Unemployment in the state: About 306,000 Alabama residents have applied for unemployment benefits in the last three weeks, Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said.

Washington said they have hit a peak in filings with daily applications trending downward. At least 40% of those who have applied for benefits have been paid, according to Washington. 

So far the state has paid out $264 million in unemployment benefits. 

12:53 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

New York City jail population falls below 4,000 for the first time in 70 years

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

New York City’s jail population fell below 4,000 last week during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

According to the mayor’s office, this is the first time in over 70 years that the city’s jail population has been below 4,000.

The city has been releasing many low level offenders for the last several weeks in response to the safety threat posed by coronavirus to jails.

“This dramatic reduction in the detainee population is a significant development which has allowed us to increase social distancing within our facilities as we deploy all available measures to fight the Covid-19 virus,” Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann said in a statement.

Some background: De Blasio issued an executive order March 16 that directed city officials to work with the Department of Correction to implement a plan to reduce the jail population safely — focusing on those most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Since March 16, the number of people entering jail fell to about 600 people, compared to 3,300 over the same time period last year, a statement from the mayor's office said. More than 2,000 people had been leaving the system at the same time, the statement said.

12:44 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Southern District of New York indefinitely postpones jury trials

From CNN's Kara Scannell

The chief judge presiding over federal courts in the Southern District of New York has suspended all jury trials until further notice of the court “because of constantly changing circumstances” of the coronavirus pandemic.

The indefinite postponement followed a decision Judge Colleen McMahon made late last month when she postponed all jury trials until June 1.

In Monday’s order the judge wrote “because of constantly changing circumstances, judges and parties are having great difficulty trying to schedule jury trials, both civil and criminal. It is hereby ordered, that the conduct of jury trials in this district be and hereby is suspended until further order of the court.”

She noted that the clerk of the court had ordered its jury staff to work from home until the New York state’s stay-at-home order is lifted and they can make the workplace amendable to social distancing.

The SDNY includes Manhattan and the surrounding counties.

1:17 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Deal has been reached on small business relief package, sources say

From CNN's Manu Raju and Lauren Fox 

Main Street is deserted as small businesses remain closed in Rockton, Illinois, on March 24.
Main Street is deserted as small businesses remain closed in Rockton, Illinois, on March 24. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Negotiations are done and a deal has been reached on a bill that includes new funding for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus outbreak, three sources familiar tell CNN. 

The text of the bill should be out soon as the two sides give the deal a final read.

They will try to pass it in the Senate at 4 p.m. ET

12:30 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Massachusetts schools closed for rest of academic year

All public and private schools in Massachusetts will remain closed through the end of the academic year, Gov. Charlie Baker said at a news conference.

It was a "big decision," he said today, adding that it is "the right thing to do considering the facts on the ground associated with the Covid-19 pandemic."

"There is no authoritative guidance or advisories with respect to how to operate schools safely and how to get kids to and from schools safely. We believe students therefore cannot safely return to school," he said. 

Remote learning will continue. The new order does not apply to residential special education schools.  

12:54 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

House members asked to come back to DC to vote on new coronavirus relief package

From CNN's Haley Byrd

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on April 9, 2019, in Washington.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on April 9, 2019, in Washington. Alex Edelman/Getty Images

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said today that House members have been asked to be in Washington, DC no later than 10 a.m. ET Thursday to vote on the next coronavirus relief package and a rules change to allow for proxy voting.

He said on a call with reporters that congressional leaders “are asking every member to return who can return, and we hope that that is a large number.”

Some lawmakers, he said, are particularly vulnerable to the illness and others are caring for family members. Some are concerned about traveling to DC and then having to quarantine themselves away from their family for 14 days. 

“We're not ordering members to come back, but we do expect sufficient members to come back so we can have a quorum,” he said.

He added that the relief package will likely get a full roll call vote, unlike the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which passed under an expedited process often used for uncontroversial legislation. 

“We think it will pass with a bipartisan vote,” Hoyer said. He said it is “unfortunate” that more funding for state and local governments did not make it into the agreement, which is still being finalized. He said he believes congressional leaders are “close to a deal.”

He said the legislation will include $25 billion for testing, divided between states, local governments and the federal government. 

11:40 a.m. ET, April 21, 2020

New York has 1,000 workers fielding unemployment calls, Cuomo says 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

A man reads a sign on the door of the New York State Department of Labor offices in the New York City borough of Queens, on Thursday, April 2.
A man reads a sign on the door of the New York State Department of Labor offices in the New York City borough of Queens, on Thursday, April 2. Anthony Behar/Sipa/AP

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged that the wave of unemployment claims has overwhelmed the state’s system.

Cuomo said the agency has hired 1,000 workers just to field unemployment calls. 

"They still can't keep up with the volume," Cuomo said. "And there's nothing worse than being unemployed and nervous about a paycheck, and then you call for unemployment benefits and you can't get through on the phone. I get it. I get it."

Cuomo said people are working seven days a week on the unemployment office problems, but they are trying to update a system that is used to a much lower capacity. 

"The good news is this: You're going to get the same benefit, anyway. It's not like it's costing you money, right? I know it's frustrating, but once you qualify, the qualification is retroactive, so you're going to get the same benefit. … You will get the benefit, it's just an annoying delay," he said.

12:25 p.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Cuomo will meet with Trump today: I'll "tell the truth"

Getty Images
Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will meet with President Trump at the White House today. The two have sometimes disagreed on their approaches to the coronavirus pandemic, and other times they've praised each other.

Cuomo said his approach today is simple: He'll tell the truth.

During his daily briefing, a reporter asked Cuomo about his upcoming trip:

"When you head down to the White House today — I think it's been fair to say that you've had to walk a fine line in your dealings with him," the reporter asked. "How's this going to continue when you meet with him today."

Cuomo responded:

"Life is a fine line. Being in government is a fine line. Everything is a fine line ... I'll tell you how you negotiate the fine line: You tell the truth"

Cuomo said the President has "no problem" telling him when he agrees and disagrees with the governor and vice versa.

"Heck with it, just tell the truth," Cuomo said.

What they'll discuss: Cuomo said the focus of his meeting with Trump will be on testing. He said said he believes the federal government needs to tackle manufacturing supply chain issues.

“It’s a situation where you need everyone to work together," the governor said


11:31 a.m. ET, April 21, 2020

Gov. Cuomo says states should be responsible for testing, but feds needs to coordinate supply

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he agrees with the federal government that individual states should be in charge of administering testing, but the US government needs to take the helm with supply issues. 

"It's only appropriate that the state should be in charge of actual testing in the state. I agree with the federal government's position on that," Cuomo said. 

Cuomo said that the state-regulated labs tell him that manufacturers are responsible for the testing holdup, and in turn, the manufacturers say the international supply chain is the problem. 

Cuomo said his daughters asked him why he didn’t think of buying test kits from South Korea, as Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan did.

"That piece is where the federal government can help us. Take that national manufacturer and that supply chain for the national manufacturers and let the federal government figure out South Korea and China and international supply issues, rather than have 50 states now figure out how to go be like Governor Hogan and figure out how to buy tests in South Korea," Cuomo said.