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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7:01 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Louisiana governor: "There was no Easter exemption from the stay-at-home order"

From CNN's Lindsay Benson

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged people to keep social-distancing for the Easter holiday. 

"This Easter is not going to look like previous Easters, but it doesn't mean that you can't find some significant way to meaningfully worship and to celebrate," Edwards, a Democrat, said. "There was no Easter exemption from the stay-at-home order. There was no Easter exemption from the 10 person limit. Because that virus isn't going to honor that."

"The virus is very much in control and that's why we're trying to do things that will actually limit the impact of the virus," Edwards said.
7:11 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Trump criticizes the World Health Organization's response to coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

President Donald Trump on Wednesday renewed his attacks on the World Health Organization after the head of the organization asked him not to “politicize the virus.” 

At a press conference earlier Wednesday, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus responded to attacks from Trump about how his organization handled the coronavirus outbreak. 

“Please don’t politicize this virus... If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it. My short message is: Please quarantine politicizing Covid," Ghebreyesus said.

At Wednesday's White House briefing, Trump declared it was Ghebreyesus who was politicizing the coronavirus and said he believes the organization favors China.

“I can't believe he's talking about politics when you look at the relationship they have to China. So China spends $42 million, we spent $450 million and everything seems to be China's way. That's not right, it’s not fair to us and honestly it's not fair to the world,” Trump said.

Trump implied that there would have been fewer coronavirus deaths if the WHO gave a “correct analysis.”

“I think when you say more body bags, I think we would have done, and he would have been much better serving the people that he’s supposed to serve if they gave a correct analysis,” Trump said.


7:11 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Miami orders all employees and customers to wear masks at all times

From CNN’s Sara Weisfeldt in Miami

Joel Porro and Lizz Hernandez wear gloves and protective masks as they put bags in the trunk of their car after shopping at Walmart Supercenter in Miami.
Joel Porro and Lizz Hernandez wear gloves and protective masks as they put bags in the trunk of their car after shopping at Walmart Supercenter in Miami. David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

The city of Miami said Wednesday it has mandated all employees and customers in grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies and convenience stores to wear masks at all times while on premises, effective today at 11:59 pm ET.

In a statement, the city said this “citywide order to wear masks extends to those performing construction work on job sites, as well as food delivery workers.”

6:36 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Coronavirus global cases surpass 1.5 million

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1.5 million people and killed more than 87,000 worldwide, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

There are at least 424,945 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 14,529 people have died from the disease in the country.

6:34 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

New York City reports 5,603 new coronavirus cases

New York City has 5,603 new coronavirus cases and 716 new deaths, according to the city website.

The city now has a total of 80,204 coronavirus cases and 4,260 deaths.

6:37 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

 Trump says it will be safe to reopen the country when the US is on the "down side of that slope"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Donald Trump says it will be safe to reopen the country when "we can say we have to be on that down side of that slope."

"We can do it in phases, go to some areas where — you know, some areas are much less affected than others," he said at a Wednesday coronavirus task force briefing. "But it would be nice to be able to open with a big bang and open up our country, or certainly most of our country."

CNN reported earlier Wednesday that discussions are underway at the task force level about how to reopen the US economy.

Trump said he believes the US is "ahead of schedule" in efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.

"You hate to say it too loudly because all of a sudden things don't happen. But I think we will be sooner rather than later," Trump said.

"But we'll be sitting down with the professionals. We'll be sitting down with many different people making a determination," he went on. "And those meetings will start taking place fairly soon."


6:28 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Pompeo says a "handful" of State Department employees have tested positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says a "handful" of State Department officials around the world have tested positive for Covid-19, but the vast majority of US facilities are open. 

Pompeo said that only one US embassy has closed due to coronavirus.

"Our embassies, save for the one that is in Wuhan which we did pull everybody out of, the rest of our facilities around the world are all open," Pompeo said during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Wednesday. "We’ve had a handful of our folks test positive, but we feel like we have a good handle on it, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that not just the State Department officials, but our Department of Defense colleagues that are working on these missions as well are doing so in a way that reduces risk to them and their well being."

He later added that three local hires, "not US direct hires, but local people who were working for the State Department in embassies around the world," have died of coronavirus. 

6:21 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Pompeo changes tune on China: Now is "not the time for retribution"

From CNN's Allie Malloy

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

When asked Wednesday if China has withheld information on the coronavirus, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that now is “not the time for retribution” and instead stressed transparency of data from China and other countries.

China, he added, has been cooperating in many areas that the US is “deeply appreciative” of, but he did not get into additional details.

Pompeo refrained from bashing China during the Wednesday White House briefing, changing his tune from earlier in the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is not the time for retribution but it is still the time for clarity and transparency,” Pompeo said. "Every country, China included, needs to share data.”

6:14 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

US and Philips announce agreement under Defense Production Act to ramp up ventilator production

Fron CNN's Katelyn Polantz

The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday announced a second major purchase of ventilators, buying more than 43,000 ventilators from the manufacturer Philips for $646.7 million.

The ventilators will go into the national stockpile, which gets distributed across the country, in chunks. Philips will make a first delivery by the end of May of 2,500 ventilators, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement. The company will deliver a total of 43,000 ventilators by the end of the year.

The major purchase comes hours after the department announced a similar contract for the auto company General Motors to make ventilators.

The contract with Philips, a company that was already a major presence in building ventilators, comes under the Trump administration's announcement to use the Defense Production Act to get more needed supplies to aid the fight against the coronavirus epidemic.

HHS said it will award five other companies contracts under the DPA.

"The DPA is allowing the federal government to work with manufacturers, such as Philips, to accelerate production of ventilators and ensure that they go where they’re needed most," Secretary Alexander Azar said in a statement Wednesday. "HHS will continue awarding contracts to companies for which it has invoked the DPA for ventilator production, while we explore every possible avenue to get life-saving supplies to the frontlines of this war on the virus."

Frans van Houten, CEO of Royal Philips, issued a statement, saying Philips is "actively collaborating with the U.S. government to help save lives in the U.S. and across the globe.” 

“There is an unprecedented global demand for medical equipment to help diagnose and treat patients with COVID-19," van Houten said. "We welcome the support of the U.S. government in our efforts to aggressively increase the production of hospital ventilators. We believe in fair allocation of scarce medical equipment to those who need it the most, and we are ramping up to deliver 43,000 units to the most critical regions in the U.S. in the coming weeks and months through December 2020.”