April 6 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 9:18 p.m. ET, April 6, 2020
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6:51 p.m. ET, April 6, 2020

LA Surge Hospital for coronavirus patients to open next week

From CNN's Sarah Moon

The state of California and the County of Los Angeles has partnered with Dignity Health and Kaiser Permanente to open up a “Los Angeles Surge Hospital” for coronavirus patients in the city.

The temporary facility, which will be located on the campus of the former St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, will expand access to additional beds and expand ICU capacity for coronavirus patients in the coming weeks, according to a press release from Los Angeles County.

The hospital is expected to open on April 13 in phases, “ramping up to accept more patients as physicians and staff are hired and supplies and equipment are secured.” When fully operational, up to 266 beds will be available.

6:49 p.m. ET, April 6, 2020

Masks were ineffective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, small study finds

From CNN's Jen Christensen

A small experiment involving patients with coronavirus who wore cotton and surgical masks showed that both seemed ineffective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus when the patients coughed. Scientists found coronavirus particles in the environment and on the exterior of the mask itself. 

The experiment was published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Scientists tested face masks on four patients infected with the coronavirus at two hospitals in Seoul, South Korea.

They compared the use of surgical masks with reusable 100% cotton masks against patients who were not wearing masks. The researchers placed a petri dish about 7 inches from the patients’ mouths and told the patient to cough five times each onto a petri dish.

Researchers saw greater contamination on the outer surface of the mask, compared to the inner surface. It was unclear if the force of the person’s cough leaked out of the edge of the mask to contaminate the outer surface, or if the particles of the coronavirus were so small that a high-velocity cough penetrated the mask. 

The experiment did not look at the effectiveness of N95 masks, nor did it show if the masks protected against the actual transmission of infection from patients with Covid-19 while wearing different masks. Nor does it show if masks shorten the distance these droplets travel while someone is coughing.

More research will be needed to determine if the masks help prevent the spread of the disease with people who are asymptomatic or people who have Covid-19 and aren’t coughing.

7:34 p.m. ET, April 6, 2020

Inside a prison Covid-19 lockdown

From CNN’s Jean Casarez

Former Wisconsin inmate Jeremy Egger gave CNN a glimpse inside what a Covid-19 prison lockdown looked like in his medium security facility over the past three weeks.

With limited contact to the outside, he heard snippets about the coronavirus pandemic on a prison radio. “The radio station we had, it was from Milwaukee. We only had bits and pieces about a virus out there.” 

Egger said that -- without being told anything directly by the guards -- he could tell something was changing within the prison. Egger said guards' posturing was different.

“Whether inmates were coming down with it or guards, I didn’t know, but something wasn’t right and it was in the institution," he said.

Former Wisconsin state prison employee Jeff Wydeven said a change in demeanor with the guards doesn’t surprise him at all. “Of course they’re going to be scared,” he told CNN. “It’s their health too.”

Egger, 33, was taking morning courses in Wisconsin’s Thinking For Change program and studying in the afternoons. He arrived at the Metropolitan Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) on March 12 expecting to serve three months for a parole violation.

Three days later everything changed.

While Egger was taking one of his courses, “they suddenly locked the entire place down," he said.

"Everybody had to go back in their cells and that’s when we’re like, OK, there’s got to be a case here somewhere," Egger said.

'From the normal to being locked'

Prison life went “from the normal to being locked,” he said. Egger said the initial lockdown was 23 1/2 hours a day with only 30 minutes out of a cell he shared with three other inmates. They shared a dry cell that Egger described as a cell without a toilet, running water or television. Those 30 minutes a day gave them time to use the phone, microwave food and use shower facilities. 

During a call with his mother on March 25, Egger grew concerned because she was exhibiting symptoms of the virus, but couldn’t get a test. His mother, Cheryl Fountaine-Kempf, said she “could easily detect the pain and fear in his voice.”  

The next day, an even more stringent lock down was instituted, according to Egger.��

“It just all changed again from one day to the next,” Egger said, adding that inmates were only allowed out for 45 minutes about every three days. 

 “I’m sitting there wanting to call my mom, thinking she’s deathly sick and I can’t call her for another two days.”

Guards told Egger they were trying to do their part in helping to slow the spread, he said.

MSDF Milwaukee has the largest population of parole revocations re-entering the system for short periods of time “so people are going in and out constantly which creates much more of a risk than other facilities,” according to Wydeven.

Four staff members at MSDF have tested positive, according to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, which noted on its website this is the highest number of staff cases at any Wisconsin prison.

“Each site has pandemic plans to address COVID-19,” according to the website which states the plan includes “protocols and isolation procedures if someone is exposed and/or becomes infected. In the event of a confirmed positive case in one of our secure facilities, contact investigations are being conducted to determine which individuals may have been exposed to the virus, and subsequent isolation or quarantine may occur to manage these situations.”

CNN has reached out to the Department of Corrections for additional details.

More changes

On March 30, almost three months before his expected release, Egger was told to contact his family and probation officers because there was a possibility he was going to get out. He said after that even more changes began happening. 

“The last two weeks there was no laundry was being done internally and it was instead, outsourced,” he said.

Wydeven said while inmates normally do the laundry, with a lockdown they wouldn’t be able to do it. 

“We had to wear the same 'yellows,' a jumpsuit, for like two weeks,” Egger said.

“We’re supposed to wash our hands, but we could only shower about once every other day If we were lucky ... and wearing dirty clothes With no running water in their cell hand washing was at a minimum," he said.

Egger, a registered sex offender, was released on April 3. He was originally released from prison in 2016 and obtained his welder’s certificate and a commercial drivers’ license.

He is living with his mother for the next two weeks to make sure he hasn’t contracted the virus, and then will move to rural Wisconsin with his father, he told CNN.

Watch video from inside the prison:

7:05 p.m. ET, April 6, 2020

Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's order to postpone primary election because of coronavirus

From CNN's Eric Bradner and Ariane de Vogue

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks to the media in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on February 26.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks to the media in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on February 26. Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court blocked Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ order to postpone Tuesday’s election, despite his arguments that in-person voting could endanger poll workers and voters because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The court sided with Republicans who control the state legislature and opposed Evers’ executive order Monday that sought to delay the election until June 9. The decision was 4-2, with the court’s conservative majority backing the GOP’s position. 

It was the latest twist in a legal battle that has thrown the primary into chaos as state and local elections officials have consolidated polling places and scrambled to find workers and supplies for those that will open. 

6:34 p.m. ET, April 6, 2020

Los Angeles County urges residents to skip grocery shopping this week

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Los Angeles County health officials urged residents to skip grocery shopping this week as the number of coronaviruses cases continue to rise. 

“If you have enough supplies in your home, this would be the week to skip shopping altogether,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the LA County Department of Public Health Director, on Monday.

This would be the week to use delivery services for medications and groceries, she advised.

“We will see many more cases over the next few weeks. It remains important that we continue to do what we know will work,” she added.

6:55 p.m. ET, April 6, 2020

Trump says he won't take steps to distance from Pence in light of Boris Johnson situation

From CNN's Kevin Liptak 

President Donald Trump on Monday said he won't take steps to physically separate from Vice President Mike Pence to protect the continuity of government in light of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's worsening condition.

"No I don't think so," Trump said when asked about potential new steps he might take after the top US ally fell seriously ill from coronavirus.

Trump said he would likely ramp up testing of people around him given the relative ease and speed of new testing kits.

"I think we’ll probably, just because of questions like that, I think we’ll probably have maybe quite a few tests," he said. 

Standing alongside Trump, Pence said he was tested earlier Monday and that it came back negative.

Neither Trump nor Pence nor other members of the White House coronavirus task force wore masks to Monday's briefing, despite updated guidance from the federal government suggesting face coverings in settings where social distancing is difficult.

Watch here:

6:14 p.m. ET, April 6, 2020

Trump approves Cuomo's request to be able to treat Covid-19 patients inside hospital ship

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Ryan Browne 

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus pandemic at the White House on April 6.
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus pandemic at the White House on April 6. Alex Brandon/AP

President Donald Trump said Monday he would be granting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s request to convert a hospital ship docked off of Manhattan to treat coronavirus patients.

Cuomo, a Democrat, told members of the press earlier Monday that he was “going to call the President this afternoon and ask him to shift the (USNS) Comfort from non-Covid to Covid.” 

Trump, speaking at a White House press briefing Monday afternoon, said he “was informed that Gov. Cuomo has already told you and announced he called me up a little while ago and asked whether or not it would be possible to use the ship with respect to fighting the virus.”

“We hadn’t had that in mind at all, but we’re going to let him do it,” Trump remarked.

The President also confirmed that the ship has been approved to treat New Jersey patients.

6:30 p.m. ET, April 6, 2020

Who is Dominic Raab? The Brexiteer ex-lawyer deputizing for Boris Johnson

From CNN's Luke McGee

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives for a meeting of the cabinet at 10 Downing Street on March 11.
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives for a meeting of the cabinet at 10 Downing Street on March 11. Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Before British Prime Minister Boris Johnson went into intensive care on Monday evening with worsening coronavirus-related symptoms, he asked his Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab to deputize for him “where necessary.”

While now is a time of great uncertainty for the British public, Johnson’s handing over of some duties to Raab should be relatively seamless and is unlikely to affect any immediate government business.

Less clear is what will happen if Johnson is incapacitated for more than a few days. There’s no clear “Plan B” in Britain’s constitution or in the Cabinet Manual – which lays out the rules for running the government – for who should take over if Johnson isn’t able to lead the country, experts told Reuters. 

One thing that should help in terms of continuity: Unlike in the United States, where a President might hail from a different party than leaders in Congress, the UK government is entirely comprised of members of Parliament from Johnson’s party, which won the most seats in December’s election – meaning it operates as one entity.

An ardent Brexiteer 

Raab, a 46-year-old former lawyer, was elected to Parliament in 2010, and spent his entire political career on the same wing of the party that secretly yearned for Johnson to have a serious go at taking the reins.  

Like Johnson, Raab is a longstanding advocate of Brexit who was willing to be a thorn in his own party’s side when it had more pro-European leadership.

Despite his euroskeptic leanings, his qualities were noticed by that pro-European leadership, and when then-Prime Minister David Cameron won reelection in 2015, Raab was offered a job in government. At the time, Raab was seen as a rising star within the party, and his promotion was seen as a way for Cameron to bolster his own euroskeptic credentials.

Raab previously served in Theresa May’s cabinet as the Brexit secretary, only to resign in protest at the deal she eventually struck with the EU. And despite running against Johnson in last summer’s Conservative leadership contest, he has been extraordinarily loyal to the Prime Minister ever since. 

While Raab is perhaps less socially liberal than Johnson, it is highly unlikely he would depart radically from the Prime Minister’s agenda in the short-term -- not just because there simply isn’t enough time to change government policy during a time of national crisis, but also because the UK cabinet works on the principle of collective responsibility. 

6:08 p.m. ET, April 6, 2020

Trump announces deal with 3M to ship additional 55-million N95 masks to US for next several months

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

President Donald Trump announced the United States has reached an agreement with 3M that will see the company supply 55 million additional N95 respirator masks to the US each month.

"Because of my actions under the (Defense Production Act) I can also announce today that we have reached an agreement — very amicable agreement with 3M — with the delivery of an additional 55.5 million high quality face masks each month," Trump said during a Monday press conference. 

The agreement comes just days after Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to force the company's hand.

Under the deal, 3M will ship an additional 55 million masks per month to the US from its overseas factories for the next three months, a senior administration official said, which will help alleviate shortages in personal protective equipment for medical workers. The overwhelming majority of the masks will come from 3M's Chinese factories, the official said.

A senior administration official said the government's decision to use the Defense Production Act was key to shifting the trajectory of negotiations between the two sides and forcing 3M's hand.