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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4:00 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

More than 12,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

At least 12,021 people have died in the US from coronavirus according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

There are at least 383,256 cases of coronavirus in the US

3:55 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

At least 90 passengers are still on a cruise ship off the coast of Florida

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt 

Passengers look out from the deck of the Coral Princess cruise ship in Miami, Florida, on April 4.
Passengers look out from the deck of the Coral Princess cruise ship in Miami, Florida, on April 4. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

At least 90 passengers are still onboard the Coral Princess after the cruise ship docked Saturday, according to Princess Cruises.

New CDC guidelines, which require cruise travelers to fly on charter planes or take private transportation, are making it more difficult for those individuals to get home. 

The 90 passengers still onboard the Coral Princess are international guests who remain on the ship because of current travel restrictions, Princess Cruises said. They are awaiting clearance from their home countries, the cruise line told CNN. 

In response to CNN’s request, Princess Cruises is looking into whether or not any Americans remain on the ship.

Additionally, another 93,000 crew members remain at sea on 114 cruise ships that are in and around US waters, according to the US Coast Guard. 

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez expressed frustration with the new CDC guidelines during a virtual press conference, saying that these passengers and crew need to get off the ships and get home. 

Gimenez said he asked the cruise lines to allow crew members to go home and keep skeleton teams on the ships to minimize the risk of an outbreak. 

According to the US Coast Guard, the majority – about 90 – of the cruise ships with tens of thousands of crew members on board are in Miami’s area of responsibility.

3:53 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

How the coronavirus pandemic could shape how Americans vote

Analysis from CNN's Harry Enten

People wait in line to vote in Wisconsin's presidential primary election at Riverside High School in Milwaukee on April 7.
People wait in line to vote in Wisconsin's presidential primary election at Riverside High School in Milwaukee on April 7. Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty Images

The utter mess that the Wisconsin primary became shows how the coronavirus pandemic can interfere with our normal election routine.

Wisconsin is voting in its primary election in the middle of a pandemic. Meanwhile, every other state with an election scheduled for April postponed their contest or shifted it to by-mail voting only.

But most voters and election boards are not used to people voting by mail. If we want them to for the November elections, we need to prepare now. 

In 2016, about 59% of all votes were cast in-person on Election Day, and about 17% voted early in-person.

This means that only about 24% had their ballots mailed to them. Of these, 18% voted absentee (i.e. they had to request their ballot). The other 6% voted in all mail elections (i.e. ballots were automatically sent to them). 

Most states, however, do allow for voters to receive their ballot by mail without an excuse. In total, 33 states allow no excuse require absentee voting (28 states including Wisconsin) or have all mail voting (5 states). These states consist of 65% of all the electoral votes in the electoral college. Of the closest 15 states in 2016, 91% of all electoral votes are allotted to states that allow no excuse absentee voting or are all mail.

There are some notable exceptions that don't allow no excuse absentee voting like New York and Texas (where there have been efforts to expand voting by mail), but they are not the rule.  

This leaves the majority of states with two choices. Obviously, there could be drastic moves to shift states to all mail voting (a step Maryland has been taking).

An easier path is working within the framework of no excuse absentee voting. It's about ensuring that voters understand that they need to request a ballot in most states to get a ballot sent to them. It's about getting election boards the funds and manpower to count ballots that were sent through the mail. 

Without those steps, we could end up with what we're witnessing in Wisconsin.

3:38 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

5 Barnes & Noble workers diagnosed with coronavirus in New Jersey

From CNN’s Chauncey Alcorn

An employee operates a forklift at the Barnes & Noble Distribution Center in Monroe, New Jersey, in 2006.
An employee operates a forklift at the Barnes & Noble Distribution Center in Monroe, New Jersey, in 2006. Mark Lennihan/AP

At least five Barnes & Noble employees at a distribution center in Monroe, New Jersey, have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Employees at the facility received a letter from management this morning telling them as many as nine of their coworkers are currently suffering from Covid-19 symptoms, according to a spokesman for the Laundry Distribution and Food Service joint board union, which helped organize a planned protest by Barnes & Noble workers Tuesday.

Only five of the nine alleged Covid-19 cases have been confirmed by doctors, Barnes & Noble director of communications Alex Ortolani told CNN Business.

"The other [four] cases are employees with reported symptoms," Ortolani told CNN Business.

The company said it has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the matter, noting that the Monroe facility is cleaned daily and will receive an additional "deep cleaning" when it closes for Good Friday. Until then, the facility will remain open for business, Barnes & Noble said.

"We have been working with employees at our Monroe, New Jersey, facility to keep everyone safe during this difficult time," the company said in a statement  "We prioritize keeping our working environment as safe as possible and, on learning of the positive cases and those suffering symptoms, we closed the facility and had conducted a thorough clean. ... We appreciate all the hard work and efforts of our staff, and will continue to listen to their concerns and work with them to make a safe and secure work environment."

4:19 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

How to help local businesses during the pandemic

From CNN's Mayra Cuevas, Chris Dawson, Jennifer Grubb and AJ Willingham

Angus Mordant/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Angus Mordant/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic is overwhelming, and one of the most excruciating parts for many people is the feeling of utter helplessness in the face of widespread suffering and hardship.

Here's how to help small businesses in your community during the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Shop small: Independent bookstores across the country are offering delivery and curbside pickup. Find out how to connect to local offerings through IndieBound. If you prefer audio books, Libro.fm works with independent booksellers as well.
  • Buy gift cards: It will provide immediate income, and you get the product later. Help Main Street: Allows people to buy gift cards to their favorite stores now with the intention of using them once operations recommence. Kabbage: Use this service to buy gift certificates to support small businesses

CNN’s Impact Your World has compiled a list of donation opportunities and tips to help those affected by the crisis. You can read the full list here.

2:43 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

Pennsylvania reports 78 new deaths

From CNN's Laura Ly

Pennsylvania health officials said in a press release that there have been 78 new deaths statewide as of 12 a.m. ET Tuesday.

The total number of Covid-19 related deaths in the state is now at 240.

Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, said at a news conference today that the majority of deaths have been people over the age of 65. 

Levine said she did not yet have specific information on how many of those cases involved underlying conditions, nor did she have information on case breakdowns by race, but that the state is currently looking at different ways to gather that information.

2:42 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

Illinois official: We should not have to "compete with our own allies" for supplies

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Illinois state officials are frustrated with the federal government's response and states' ability to get much needed supplies in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza said she sent someone from her staff to a McDonald's with a check for $3.4 million to pay a middle man to get masks twice.

"This is what we resorted to as a state. It feels like you're almost doing a sketchy drug deal on the road, when in fact you're trying to save people's lives," Mendoza told Anderson Cooper.

She said states should not have to compete with other states for supplies. The absence of coherent guidelines from the White House has created a battle among states and hospitals, which have been hooked into bidding wars over key provisions to combat the pandemic.

"We shouldn't be in a situation where we are left to compete with our own allies, but that's essential what's happening in the absence of the federal leadership," Mendoza said.

Mendoza said the federal government promised the state "tens of thousands" of pieces of personal protection equipment and tests, but Illinois only received about 3% of what they asked for.

"It would be nice to have a coordinated federal response to this crisis, and it's just a little too late. They could have done so much more so much earlier. It's a shame," she said.

Illinois has 12,264 cases of coronavirus and 308 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

2:39 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

Pelosi says Trump is “taking action to undermine the oversight” of stimulus legislation

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

“The President is taking action to undermine the oversight of the legislation,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said while discussing more government aid for Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Pelosi called President Trump’s removal of the independent watchdog tasked with overseeing coronavirus emergency funds “a problem.”

“The President thinks he should be the only one [overseeing the fund], and that’s exactly upside-down,” she said. 

“It’s not geared to the President. It is geared to how the program is implemented,” she added. “And where there’s money, there’ll always…be some skullduggery.” 

Pelosi also praised the $2 trillion bipartisan package passed in March and opened up the possibility of Americans receiving more than the now-$1,200 direct payments.

“We wanted more. So we think that there’s a path to getting more for the direct payments for the American people,” Pelosi said when asked about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ remarks that every American should continue to receive normal paychecks during the pandemic.

When asked about the price tag for another stimulus bill in addition to the $2 trillion one, she said “we’ll evaluate as we go along.


2:29 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

This New York county is running out of morgue space. It'll use a farm's refrigerator to store bodies.

From CNN’s Sonia Moghe

There have been so many coronavirus deaths in a short amount of time in Suffolk County, New York, that the county’s morgue and overflow morgues are nearing capacity.

Now, the Long Island county is planning to use a refrigerated building on a farm to help store bodies, a county spokesman confirmed to CNN.

“At the early stages of this crisis, we were having conversations about suggestions of using ice rinks and stores with refrigeration to store bodies,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a statement to CNN. “I made the decision that I was not going to tell families that we need to convert their children’s ice-skating rinks and turn them into morgues because that is not who we are.”

Bellone decided, instead, to use facilities on the Suffolk County Farm, which is run by the Cornell Cooperative Extension but owned by the county.

There is a building on site that has large, unused refrigeration system, Bellone’s spokesperson Jason Elan said.

The county’s morgue capabilities, which includes a refrigerated trailer from the state, are half full, Elan said, adding that another trailer is expected to arrive later on Tuesday. After those are filled, the farm’s refrigerator would be used.  

Bellone’s administration has also requested more body bags from the state.

“I’m having conversations I never imagined having in this position,” Bellone said.