April 2 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 11:23 p.m. ET, April 2, 2020
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11:28 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

US food officials: There's "no evidence" coronavirus can spread through groceries

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard and Amanda Watts

A man shops at a grocery store in Brooklyn amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 31.
A man shops at a grocery store in Brooklyn amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 31. .Braulio Jatar/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration wants to remind the public that there is no evidence of the coronavirus pandemic posing a threat to food safety.

"The food supply remains safe for both people and animals. There is no — and I emphasize no — evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of Covid-19," Frank Yiannas, FDA deputy commissioner for food policy and response, said during a call with reporters today.

Yiannas said it's "much more likely that an infected person will spread the virus through person-to-person transmission than from contaminated food or food packaging."

He added that if a person who works in a food facility tests positive for Covid-19, the FDA does not anticipate that there would need to be a massive recall or withdrawal of food products from the market. 

"Specifically for consumers, we advise you that you follow many of the same guidelines that you heard before the spread of the disease," Yiannas said. 

 He urged people who go grocery shopping to "adhere to good hygiene practices such as disinfecting grocery cart handles with the wipes often provided by retailers."

"Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth. After shopping, wash or sanitize your hands," he said.

When asked if consumers should wipe down food packaging when they bring it home, Yiannas said, “Again, we don’t believe that food packaging is a common route of transmission.” 

“I personally do not sanitize the exterior of food packages when I bring them into my home,” Yiannas added, “If you feel so inclined you can always wipe the surface of the packages when you get home with a disinfectant wipe and then air drying them.” 

11:31 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

UK ice rink will be converted into a mortuary

From CNN’s Simon Cullen

Planet Ice in Milton Keynes, where work has begun to turn the ice rink into a temporary mortuary capable of holding hundreds of bodies on Wednesday April 1.
Planet Ice in Milton Keynes, where work has begun to turn the ice rink into a temporary mortuary capable of holding hundreds of bodies on Wednesday April 1. Joe Giddens/PA Wire via AP

An ice rink in the British town of Milton Keynes will be converted into a makeshift mortuary.

The local Milton Keynes council said Planet Ice will be prepped "as a precaution should it be needed to support local operations."

"As part of sensible planning we are considering what additional temporary mortuary facilities may be needed in Milton Keynes if funeral directors are unable to cope with a rise in deaths from Covid-19," the council told CNN.

The Milton Keynes council did not say when the makeshift mortuary would go into operation or when they expected regular mortuary facilities in the city to reach capacity.

10:52 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Russia extends "non-working" period until the end of the month

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images
Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin extended the paid “non-working” period in Russia until April 30 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

"The threat is still there, the specialists suggest that the pandemic has not peaked yet worldwide, including in our country,” Putin said in a televised address. “Therefore I've decided to extend this non-working period until April 30."

According to Putin, this time frame will be revised in case the epidemiological station in the country changes.

“Of course the situation can unfold differently across the country as we have a very big country with varying population density. There are places where the coronavirus already poses a serious threat to its residents, like in Moscow, where, despite the regional and federal efforts, we so far have not succeeded in turning the tide,” Putin said. 

So far, the country has not proclaimed the state of emergency or called a nationwide quarantine, instead imposing "a paid holiday" week, which was due to end on Friday. However, the majority of regions independently have imposed self-isolation regimes and ramped up measures to urge Russians to stay home.

10:49 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Conditional approval reached for cruise ships to dock in Florida

From CNN’s Denise Royal, Sara Weisfeldt and Rosa Flores

Holland America's cruise ship Zaandam, left, and the Rotterdam cruise ship are seen in Panama City bay on March 28.
Holland America's cruise ship Zaandam, left, and the Rotterdam cruise ship are seen in Panama City bay on March 28. Ivan Pisarenko/AFP/Getty Images

Conditional approval has been reached to allow the Zaandam and Rotterdam ships to dock in Port Everglades in Florida.

The agreement includes a plan for passengers to go home. Final approval of the plan is expected to happen this morning, according to Broward County Commissioner Dr. Barbara Sharief. 

The ships are in sight of Port Everglades and the passengers are due to disembark at 1 p.m. ET, per Sharief.

According to the five-page conditional agreement, passengers who are healthy will be allowed to go home and passengers who are sick will remain on the ship to continue treatment. At this time, no one on board is in need of a hospital bed, Sharief said — but if a passenger needs a hospital bed, Broward Health has indicated capacity will not be an issue. 

The healthy people will be transported by a private bus from Port Everglades to airports, which could include the Fort Lauderdale and Miami airports. They will go directly to their chartered flights, and they will not linger at the airport to avoid possible community spread. 

Sharief says that after passengers began exhibiting flu-like symptoms, the ship received 200 rapid blood test kits to test for Covid-19. Eleven guests were tested and nine people tested positive for the coronavirus. Four men over the age of 70 — two of whom who had been diagnosed with coronavirus — died. One had a heart attack and the other had a pre-existing illness.

About the passengers: There are 311 US citizen passengers on board, representing 46 states, including 52 Floridians. The 26 Broward County residents on board have been in isolation for 14 days, and they have agreed to isolate for another 14 days at home.

The passengers on the ships are from the US, Canada, UK, Australia, France, Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Ireland, Switzerland, among others.

10:39 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Michigan suspends face-to-face learning for the rest of the school year

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has closed K-12 schools for the remainder of the school year with an executive order suspending face-to-face learning.

According to a release from the governor, “district facilities may be used by public school employees and contractors for the purposes of facilitating learning at a distance while also practicing social distancing.”

The order says the buildings will be closed "unless restrictions are lifted."

“My number one priority right now is protecting Michigan families from the spread of COVID-19. For the sake of our students, their families, and the more than 100,000 teachers and staff in our state, I have made the difficult decision to close our school facilities for the remainder of the school year,” Whitmer said in a statement.
10:32 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Florida congresswoman: It's "immoral" to turn away people on cruises 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Florida Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala in Washington on December 17, 2019.
Florida Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala in Washington on December 17, 2019. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/Getty Images

As two cruise ships are set to arrive off the Florida coast today, Florida Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala said it’s “immoral not to let them come.” 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state is going to accept Florida residents on board the ships, but expressed concerns about taking in others given the state's limited hospital beds.

"We Americans don’t turn people away," Shalala said. "I don’t care whether they’re Florida residents or whether they’re not — they’re human beings.”

More than 200 guests and crew have flu-like symptoms on the ships, including eight passengers who tested positive for Covid-19. It's not clear whether passengers will be allowed to disembark.

Four people on one of the ships, the Zaandam, have died since it disembarked from Argentina on March 7. 

Shalala also said that DeSantis’s delay in issuing a statewide stay-at-home order cost lives in Florida. Shalala is still critical of the order — which exempts religious services conducted in house of worship.  

“He’s fine-tuned the decision in a way in which people are still going to be exposed,” she said.

Watch more:

10:05 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

FEMA requests 100,000 body bags

From CNN's Barbara Starr

The Department of Defense is working to fulfill a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for 100,000 body bags.

Department of Defense spokesman, Lt Col Mike Andrews, said this in a statement:

"The Department of Defense and the Defense Logistics Agency have a longstanding arrangement with FEMA to procure key commodities from DLA's industrial partners during crisis response operations. DLA is currently responding to FEMA's prudent planning efforts for 100,000 pouches to address mortuary contingencies on behalf of state health agencies."
2:10 p.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Nearly 91% of Americans have been ordered to stay at home

From CNN's Shawn Nottingham

Nearly 91% of the US population is under a stay at home or shelter in place order that is in effect or scheduled to go into effect, according to a CNN count. That percentage translates to at least 298,589,452 people in the US.

The new count adds US territories; Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands

The 12 states that do not have statewide stay at home orders include: 

Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming. 

The count of nearly 91% includes, states, local city and county orders as well. The numbers were tallied using US census data.

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect that nearly 91% of Americans are under stay-at-home orders as of 12:37 p.m. ET.

9:43 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Markets edge higher even after record unemployment claims

From CNN’s Matt Egan

US markets edged higher Thursday morning in choppy trading even after a new report showed initial unemployment claims spiked to record highs.

  • The Dow rose 65 points, or 0.3%.
  • The S&P 500 gained 0.6%.
  • And the Nasdaq advanced 0.6%.

Stocks were on track for a larger rally earlier in the day, with major markets up around 2% at session highs.  

Futures fell sharply after the Labor Department said 6.6 million people filed claims for initial unemployment benefits in the week ended March 28. That doubled the previous all-time high that was set just a week earlier.