April 8 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Jack Guy, Fernando Alfonso III, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 9:35 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020
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3:51 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Pennsylvania reports more than 1,600 new coronavirus cases

Pennsylvania today is reporting 1,680 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the state total to 16,239 cases, according to Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

According to Levine, these numbers include 760 healthcare workers who have tested positive, 831 individuals who are in 157 long-term or personal care facilities and 309 deaths.

There are currently 1,892 patients hospitalized in Pennsylvania due to Covid-19, which represents 11 percent of the total count, Levine said.

Approximately 51% of hospital beds, 40% of ICU beds, and 70% of the state’s ventilators, are available at this time, according to Levine.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf also announced that the state will be launching a hospital preparedness dashboard, that will let anyone see a county-by-county breakdown of key equipment availability and usage.

3:21 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Delta will stop booking middle seats

From CNN’s Chris Isidore

Delta said it will no longer book the middle seat on flights through the end of May in an effort to allow for social distancing.

Delta said it is also pausing automatic, advance seat upgrades.

"These will now be processed at the gate – still in priority order – to allow gate agents to determine how to best seat customers while considering social distancing and aircraft weight-and-balance restrictions," said the airline.

Some context: Delta and other airlines have already been slashing schedules and reporting a low level of passenger traffic on flights.

For example, Delta CEO Ed Bastian told Delta employees that it would be reducing its schedule by 80% in April due to the lack of demand, that it expects second quarter revenue to be down 90% and that on March 28, it carried only 38,000 customers, versus its normal late-March Saturday traffic of 600,000.

3:11 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

More than 13,800 people have died in the US from coronavirus

There are at least 404,352 cases of coronavirus in the US, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

At least 13,829 people have died in the US from coronavirus. 

The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases. Wyoming is the only state or territory that is not reporting a death from coronavirus.

So far today, Johns Hopkins has reported 5,543 new cases and 934 reported deaths. 

3:22 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Florida governor says 150,000 coronavirus tests to be completed by the end of the day

From CNN's Angela Barajas

Pool
Pool

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said today that the state will be able to complete over 150,000 tests by the end of the day, making Florida as "one of the top states for testing."

DeSantis toured the Miami Beach Convention Center today which is being turned into a temporary hospital to treat Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients. 

The governor said the facility, scheduled to open April 20th, would start off with 400 beds and 50 others for ICU with the capacity to significantly expand. 

“I would much rather be prepared for the worse and the worse not come here," said DeSantis.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the county has 3,000 vacant beds and 300 ICU vacant beds. More than 700 ventilators have yet to be used according to Gimenez. 

DeSantis reminded Floridians to keep social distancing rules when applying for unemployment and commended the City of Hialeah for instituting a drive-thru following yesterday's long lines.

3:00 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Chicago imposes curfew on liquor sales as city looks to curb gathering of groups

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has announced a 9 p.m. curfew on liquor sales in Chicago effective Thursday.

Lightfoot said at a press conference today that the curfew was prompted by the fact that "too many individuals and business were violating the stay at home order" at the press conference that was provided to CNN by affiliate WGN.

"Far too many have been congregating at stores that sell alcohol, especially in the evening hours," Lightfoot said.

The new order gives city police the power to "further curb non-compliance" through fines, arrests, and the revocation of liquor licenses, Lightfoot announced.

The city has already issued "significant citations" to eight businesses for violations of existing orders, Lightfoot said.

Interim Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department Charles Beck said that the city's officers have dispersed over 2,000 groups since the start of the city's public health orders.

"Last night was our zenith, our highest level of dispersals, at over 300," Beck said at the press conference.

"We've done enforcement, we've done warnings, we've written tickets, and we've made arrests, now its time to limit opportunities," Beck explained.

2:49 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Trump approves Vermont's disaster declaration

From CNN's Betsy Klein, Nikki Carvajal and Jason Hoffman

President Trump approved a disaster declaration for Vermont due to Covid-19.

This is the 52nd disaster declaration approved by the President in response to the coronavirus pandemic: 47 states, the US Virgin islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico have all declared disasters. 

Only Alaska, Idaho and Wyoming have not declared disasters. The US has never had a 50-state disaster.

2:38 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

On a county level, officials lament "an inadequate and chaotic federal response" to Covid-19

From CNN's Donald Judd

People wait in line in their cars to get tested for COVID-19 at Roseland Community Hospital on April 3 in Chicago.
People wait in line in their cars to get tested for COVID-19 at Roseland Community Hospital on April 3 in Chicago. E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

In a call with reporters Wednesday, local and county officials with the National Association of Counties raised the alarm that the federal response to Covid-19 has left counties in the lurch and without resources.

Much of the challenges they’re facing involve meeting budgets and hitting revenue targets, which have been sorely hit by states closing businesses nationwide.

Cook County, Illinois, Board President Toni Preckwinkle was among the county officials who was on the call. Preckwinkle said they have “faced some tremendous challenges around personal protective equipment ... there's been, I can only say, an inadequate and chaotic federal response to this.” 

“Our purchasing folks in our Office of Emergency Management have been scouring the marketplace to try to find, particularly the N95 masks that we need, but, personal protective equipment more broadly," she said. "I think that's been one of the most kind of the biggest challenges for local units of government in the fact that we haven't had a comprehensive and coherent effort at the federal level to stockpile and distribute this equipment.”

Mark Poloncarz, who serves as the county executive for Erie County, New York, echoed that sentiment.

“We've had a number of orders that we processed with reputable partners to get N95 masks and the like, almost all of these are made overseas, and of course, there have been delays. We've heard the stories about where vendors are processing an order and then your order comes back a few days later and you've been told you're not getting it anymore, primarily because they're selling it to someone else. So, we are all kind of in the same boat with regards to this across the country," Poloncarz said.

2:30 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

New York governor launches social media campaign to encourage people to stay home

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a social media campaign to encourage New Yorkers to stop the spread of coronavirus.

He announced the campaign — using the hashtag #IStayHomeFor — after his daily news conference.

“Who are you staying home for? It's not about staying home for yourself. Stay home for others, stay home for the vulnerable people … stay home for the health care worker in the emergency room because you don't want to infect anybody else who puts a greater load on the health care system. Who are you staying home for? I'm staying home for my mother,” he said during a press briefing Wednesday.

Read Cuomo's tweet:

 

2:28 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

White House coronavirus task force is working on a framework to get America back to normal, Fauci says

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks at the White House, Tuesday, April 7.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks at the White House, Tuesday, April 7. Alex Brandon/AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci told lawmakers today that the White House coronavirus task force is working on establishing a framework for how Americans will be able to return to normalcy, according to a source.

Fauci held a call today with Democratic House members. On it, he was asked about antibody testing and tracking that the White House task force has been working on in terms of developing a timeframe toward normalcy.

Fauci told lawmakers that the White House task force was working on it last night.

But remember: This is an ongoing conversation. 

Another source said that Vice President Mike Pence was very complimentary on the call of governors — including Democrats — for helping to slow the spread of the disease. Pence cited local and state leaders in Washington and California as having made a significant contribution in helping to slow the spread.