Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:50 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020
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12:42 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Reopening decisions should be made by local governments, WHO official says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

 

As governments consider loosening various social distancing measures, such decisions should be made at the "lowest administrative level," Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, a World Health Organization infectious disease epidemiologist, said during a media briefing in Geneva on Wednesday.

"It’s not a one size fits all, and what countries need to do – and what decision makers need to do – is to evaluate the situation in their countries at the lowest administrative level as they can to determine what can be lifted where and when," Van Kerkhove said.

She continued: "First and foremost, is to really understand where this virus is, how far it’s being transmitted and if it is controlled. Countries need sufficient systems in place in order to detect any new cases that come up. … It doesn’t mean that you won’t see your families for long periods of time. There may be situations where these measures can be lifted, but it has to be done in a controlled way."

12:40 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Trump announces National Parks to reopen, but doesn't offer dates or details

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

US President Donald Trump speaks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on April 22.
US President Donald Trump speaks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on April 22. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

National Parks will begin reopening, President Trump announced today, as he urged states to reopen after coronavirus closures.

The President made the remarks on the South Lawn of the White House during a ceremony marking Earth Day and Arbor Day.

“We’re starting to open our country again,” the President said, “thanks to our significant progress against the invisible enemy, I’m pleased to announced that in line with my administration’s guidelines for opening up America again, we will begin to reopen our National Parks and public lands for the American people to enjoy.”

He then called on Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to comment with more details, but Bernhardt did not come to the podium or have a microphone, so his comments were inaudible.

Vice President Mike Pence later commented that the administration would “work closely with governors” to reopen parks and public lands, “so that the American people can enjoy the blessings of those extraordinary places.”

Pence told the Trump that the American people are, “anxious to get back to enjoying all those public parks, and will greatly welcome your leadership.”

It's unclear the degree to which the President's announcement will affect states and other localities. 

12:17 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Cuomo says Trump agreed to waive state match for FEMA

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt  

A FEMA trailer sits in Brooklyn, New York, on April 11.
A FEMA trailer sits in Brooklyn, New York, on April 11. John Nacion/NurPhoto/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said President Trump agreed to waive the state match for the costs related to using the Federal Emergency Management Agency during their meeting yesterday.

“Normally, a state has to pay 25% of the FEMA cost. That would be a cruel irony for New York and adding insult to injury,” Cuomo explained. “New York had the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country. Therefore, our cost of FEMA was the highest cost in the nation.”

“You're going to penalize us for having the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country. And at the same time, the Congress passed a piece of legislation not even funding the states,” Cuomo said. 

He said it’ll save the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Cuomo also said he talked to Trump about getting more state funding into the next stimulus bill. 

“This was not the time for baby steps. This is when you should be taking bold action,” he said.

12:07 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Gov. Cuomo: "This is no time to act stupidly"

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he understands that local officials may feel political pressure to reopen their economies.

"We can't make a bad decision," he said. "Frankly, this is no time to act stupidly, period. I don't know how else to say it."

Cuomo said reopening prematurely would set back the progress that has been made flattening the curve. He warned communities that have not been hard-hit by coronavirus to keep certain restrictions in place, saying a second wave could "knock you down."

Hear what he said:

12:01 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will launch a contact-tracing program, Gov. Cuomo says

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at the State Capitol in Albany, New York, on April 22
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at the State Capitol in Albany, New York, on April 22

New York will work with New Jersey and Connecticut to launch a "nation-leading contact-tracing program," Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this morning.

"This is going to be a massive undertaking," he said.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg will help develop the first-ever testing/tracing/isolation programs, Cuomo said.

John’s Hopkins University and Vital Strategies will help with the tracing operation, he added.

Contact tracing is a virus containment strategy that involves finding sick people, isolating them and then tracing everyone with whom they've been in contact with. Those contacts are then put into quarantine.

12:02 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Gov. Cuomo said he and Trump put politics aside at yesterday's meeting

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he had a “productive” meeting with President Trump yesterday at the White House.

“To me, a productive visit means we spoke truth. We spoke facts. We made decisions, and we have a plan going forward. And that was accomplished yesterday. And I feel good about it personally,” Cuomo said.

The governor said political differences were placed on the back burner during the meeting. 

“By the way, these are people in the White House who, politically, don't like me. You know, that's the fact, right? You see the President's tweets. He's often tweeted very unkind things about me and my brother. … We’ve had conflicts back and forth. But we sat with him. We sat with his team. And that was put aside. Because who really cares how I feel or how he feels? Who cares? Get the job done,” he said.

Cuomo referred to his call to keep politics out of the health pandemic: “When you're at war, you're in a foxhole. … I don't care what your politics are. I don't care what you think about my politics. It doesn't matter. We both have a job to do. Let's do the job. That was the spirit of the meeting yesterday,” Cuomo said.

Watch the moment:

12:08 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Vermont continues to report a downward slope of coronavirus cases

From CNN's Carma Hassan

Streets sit empty in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont, on April 19.  
Streets sit empty in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont, on April 19.   Brian Snyder/Reuters

Vermont is reporting a downward slope of coronavirus cases and less Vermonters are going into the urgent care or hospital emergency settings with symptoms that might sound like Covid-19, officials said today.

"As you’ve been hearing, our efforts to flatten the curve are starting to make a difference, but this isn’t over yet, and continuing to take action to protect yourself and those around you is really still critical," said Vermont Commissioner of Health Dr. Mark Levine said. 

A month ago, 6% of urgent care or ER visits were for Covid-19 type-symptoms. Now those visits are in the 1% to 2% range, Levine said.

There have been approximately 40 coronavirus deaths in Vermont, Levine said, and they have assessed the first 29 deaths.

11:48 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

At least 474 died from coronavirus in New York on Tuesday

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at least 474 people died across the state from coronavirus yesterday.

That is down from 481 deaths in the state on Monday.

The governor said the death toll updates are "the worst news that I have to deliver every day, and the worst news that I've ever had to deal with as governor as New York."

However, he said death rates are no longer increasing every day and the toll "seems to be on a gentle decline."

11:50 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

New York governor: "We are actually in a much better place"

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at the State Capitol in Albany, New York.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at the State Capitol in Albany, New York. Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that, while it feels like the state has been under restrictions for "terribly long," New York is now "in a much better place."

"When you look at the reality of the situation, We are actually in a much better place," he said.

"We're at a relatively good place," he added.

Hospitalization and intubation rates are down. However, the number of new people going into the hospital each day is still "troublingly high," Cuomo said.