April 7 coronavirus news

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

Updated 9:24 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020
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6:37 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

World's busiest airport faces increasing number of homeless people seeking overnight refuge

From CNN's Angela Barajas

Planes take off from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Planes take off from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

The world's busiest airport, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, is facing an increasing homelessness problem as hundreds seek overnight refuge in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jeff Smythe, CEO of Hope Atlanta, an organization striving to curb homelessness, said his team screened more than 250 homeless people at the airport for Covid-19 symptoms each night this past weekend.

Smythe told CNN that at least one homeless person was sent to the hospital by Atlanta Police after being screened for Covid-19.

"We are very concerned about these vulnerable populations. I had a couple of veterans last night that were in either the high risk category because of age or chronic condition or both," Smythe said.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom's spokesperson told CNN in a statement that the city is working toward alternative solutions for the homeless community.

"The Mayor has worked closely with her team to ensure immediate compliance, and as needed, additional measures to further reduce the risk of exposure to people experiencing homelessness and airport staff," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added: "The City and its partners are working to finalize funding and action plans for additional solutions, such as emergency lodging with the opportunity for placement into permanent housing."

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Atlanta Police declined to comment referring CNN to statement released by City Hall.

5:33 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

North Carolina governor says state faces “overwhelming crush” of unemployment claims, topping 400K

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

North Carolina is currently dealing with an “overwhelming crush” of unemployment claims, which are topping 400,000, due to the economic fallout tied to the coronavirus pandemic, the governor said Tuesday. 

”Right now about 110,000 people have received checks, and I believe the figure is over 26 million dollars that has gone out to people. We have over 400,000 people who have applied,” Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper told reporters in Charlotte.

Cooper pledged that the state’s Employment Security Commission will keep on “working hard until these claims get paid and everybody gets in the system” but he also acknowledged the difficulty in processing all the claims.

“This is a frustration that's being faced in every single state in the country because for example in North Carolina, this is a system that was used to about 3,000 claims a week and now they're dealing with over 400,000," he said.

Cooper stressed that “every single family that applies for unemployment benefits is important."

"Every single family who applies is probably hanging by a thread right now and the people over at the Employment Security Commission know this," he said.

5:22 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

ICE releasing detainees on a case-by-case basis

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement told congressional staff Tuesday that it’s reviewing cases of individuals in detention who may be vulnerable to the coronavirus, following repeated calls from lawmakers to release detainees.

The agency, in an email obtained by CNN, told the congressional staff that it has instructed its field offices to "further assess and consider for release certain individuals deemed to be at greater risk of exposure, consistent with CDC guidelines, reviewing cases of individuals 60 years old and older, as well as those who are pregnant.”

“Additionally, efforts to identify other individuals who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19, based on risk factors identified by the CDC, other than age and pregnancy, are ongoing, based on the recommendations of CDC,” ICE said.

Nineteen detainees in ICE custody have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the agency.

5:35 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

Chef serves thousands of meals to people in need from Nationals Park

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Famous chef José Andrés has teamed up with Nationals Park in Washington, DC, to distribute thousands of meals to people in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrés is the founder of World Central Kitchen, a charity that has been serving low income communities battling the virus in more than 25 cities across the country.

He said it is important to help people during this pandemic because there are less volunteers and less resources for those experiencing homelessness. Andrés said his charity is not only providing meals, but also giving people hand sanitizer and educating them about social distancing.

"If we are not careful, we may have a humanitarian crisis as many people are losing their jobs and as many NGOs are not able to be providing services that normally they provide," Andrés said.

The charity delivers some food, but has also partnered with elderly homes and is in the process of partnering with delivery companies.

Having a kitchen at the National's stadium allows Andrés to bring food to not just people in Washington, DC, but also in Virginia and Maryland.

Andrés said keeping everyone safe and healthy is a priority.

"We've been getting experience in how to do it right, protecting our teams, and also protecting the people receiving our meals," he said.


5:25 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

California governor ships hundreds of surplus ventilators to New York, New Jersey and Illinois

From CNN's Donald Judd

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the Bloom Energy campus in Sunnyvale, California, on Saturday, March 28.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the Bloom Energy campus in Sunnyvale, California, on Saturday, March 28. Beth LaBerge/KQED/AP

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that shipments of ventilators will arrive in hotspots in New York, New Jersey and Illinois as early as Tuesday night, as his state began flying a surplus of 500 ventilators to states in need.

“One hundred going to New York, 100 going to New Jersey, 100 going to Illinois,” Newsom, a Democrat, told reporters Tuesday.

He continued: “The Vice President was correct ventilators are going to DC, Delaware, ventilators are going to Maryland, and likely Nevada. So that was the determination; it was done through the collective wisdom of our partners at FEMA ... it was done in collaboration with their expectation and needs of what is required of the moment on the ground, based upon that data, and that collaborative engagement, we made this determinations working together, including with the vice president and his (White House coronavirus) task force.”

Newsom said the 500 ventilators are being loaned after the state was able to refurbish and purchase sufficient equipment for the states own needs.

“Because we feel we're adequately resourced for the moment — again, in a dynamic world, where things can change, and we're confident that the number of ventilators that we currently have in possession are adequate to the task in the very short term," he said.

The ventilators being shipped are part of California’s own supply, and are being distributed as a loan.

5:33 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

Trump says there were initial issues with small business loan program during call with US banks, but that glitches were “very few”

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

President Trump signs the coronavirus stimulus relief package in the Oval Office at the White House on Friday, March 27.
President Trump signs the coronavirus stimulus relief package in the Oval Office at the White House on Friday, March 27. Evan Vucci/AP

President Donald Trump met by telephone with leaders from the banking industry Tuesday about Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses after the program had rocky rollout.

The program was initially met with confusion and a bit of pushback from some banks who claimed they didn’t have enough information about the program, or guarantees that they would ultimately be paid back by the government.

JP Morgan Chase told its customers last week it would not be able to start accepting applications for the loan when the program rolled out Friday, because it was “still awaiting guidance from the SBA and the US Treasury.”

But that confusion seemed to be cleared up by Tuesday, when the bank’s Chief Operating Officer Gordon Smith thanked the SBA and Treasury Department for working with the bank “seven days a week late, late into the night in very close partnership to make sure that we could deliver the program.” 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters the issues were due to “a lot of new users coming onto the system.”

“They’re all getting authenticated. We’ll get them all approved,” he said.

During the meeting, Trump acknowledged that there had been a few issues, but wrote them off as normal.

“There are a few glitches, very few,” the President said. “Any little glitch we had worked out within minutes. Within hours. There were a couple, a little on applications. They wanted to work it a little bit differently, banks had some suggestions and it was all done probably I would say 100% of it in the first day.”

Work on a new round of payouts for small businesses is already in the works, Trump and Mnuchin said.

4:58 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

Illinois Department of Corrections has released more than 1,100 prisoners, governor says

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker today announced the release of more than 60 people at the Department of Juvenile Justice and more than 1,100 low-risk prisoners at the Department of Corrections due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

"My team and I have been working hard to reduce the number of individuals housed in state correctional facilities," the governor said. 

He continued: "We are doing everything that we can to protect those individuals who remain incarcerated in these facilities, and we are focused on protecting our corrections and juvenile justice staff with PPE and medical checks as they perform a vital function to keep our communities safe."

4:57 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

Louisiana records highest number of coronavirus deaths in a single day

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

Louisiana recorded the highest number of deaths in the state in the past 24 hours as part of the coronavirus pandemic, with 70 new deaths, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday.

“Unfortunately we're reporting today 70 new deaths, that is the highest number we have recorded at any time and a 24-hour a report. And remember we're not saying that 70 people died in the last 24 hours, but that is the report is that we have today is it that 70 new deaths have been attributed to Covid-19,” Edwards told reporters in Baton Rouge.

The governor also offered some guidance on this figure of 70 deaths, saying that “some of these people expired, many of them perhaps most of them are expired before yesterday but the report just came in today because the testing finally confirmed that the individual had a Covid-19.”

Meanwhile, there are 519 patients who are currently on ventilators and according to Edwards “that's a big number but it's actually a decrease from yesterday from 550."

He continued: “Now we still cannot say with absolute confidence that the curve is flattening, but we are still seeing more evidence that we are moving in that direction."

The governor went on to thank the medical community including doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and everybody else associated with delivering healthcare in Louisiana currently “under these very difficult conditions.”

4:54 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

Detroit mayor says the mortality rate is slowing for cases in the city

From CNN’s Anna Sturla

Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images
Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

There are 25 more deaths in Detroit along with 469 more cases, according to Detroit Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair.

Detroit's mortality rate has begun to slow, according to Mayor Mike Duggan, who said the length of time it takes for the daily death toll to double has lengthened from two days in late March to every five to six days. 

Since Detroit began implementing 15-minute tests for city employees, 450 firefighters and police officers have returned to service.

Detroit will begin rapid testing nursing home residents. So far, 14 nursing homes in the city have some rate of infection, with 12 reported deaths, Duggan said.

Starting tomorrow, Wayne State University medical students will go out and collect samples from nursing home residents. Then, after the rapid testing lab closes to live samples at 9 p.m. local time, the students will stay until midnight or 1 a.m., testing samples from nursing home residents. Nursing homes will be informed the following morning.

Following the notable death of a bus driver who took to social media to complain about a passenger coughing without covering her mouth, Mayor Duggan said Detroit buses will now have boxes dispensing masks as passengers board.

The city also expects to run a deficit of more than 100 million dollars, the mayor said.