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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6:02 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Nearly 80% of US hotel rooms are empty

From CNN’s Aaron Cooper

Only 21.6% of hotel rooms in the United States were occupied last week, according to new data from hospitality analytics company STR. 

That’s down slightly from the week before and down more than 68% from the same week last year.  

Only 7% of the rooms in Oahu Island, Hawaii, are occupied, the lowest rate for any market in the country and down more than 90% from the same week last year. 

Across the board, economy hotels and lodging in suburban areas tended to have more people staying than other hotels, according to STR. 

New York City posted about 18% occupancy last week, which was a slight increase from the just over 15% posted for two weeks ago. 

5:58 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

African Americans account for 56% coronavirus cases in Mississippi and 72% of deaths, state epidemiologist says

From CNN’s Giovanna Van Leeuwen

African Americans in Mississippi account for 56% of coronavirus cases and 72% of deaths, state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said Wednesday.

“We’re seeing some significant disparities, some racial disparities both in the percentage of cases we’re seeing and deaths," he said. "We’re seeing now 56% of our reported cases so far are in African Americans."

He added: "72% of the deaths we’ve reported are in African Americans and when you break down those deaths, when you look at them, we’re seeing significant incidents of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, those chronic underlying problems that we know exist in Mississippi already."

5:56 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Illinois reports its highest Covid-19 numbers to date

Illinois' Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike on Wednesday announced the state is reporting 1,529 new Covid-19 cases, including 82 deaths, over the last 24 hours. 

"These are our highest numbers to date," Ezike said in a press conference.

"Although the numbers are still increasing, I will tell you that the rate at which they are increasing is less, and that is a good sign. We are not seeing the exponential growth that we were seeing before," she added.

Illinois has a total of 15,078 coronavirus cases, with 462 deaths in the state. 

6:06 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

US Military transferred 18 coronavirus patients after an emergency with oxygen at local NYC hospital

From CNN's Barbara Starr and Sonia Moghe

The USNS Comfort docked at Pier 90 in Manhattan on April 3. Ten patients were transported to the ship after a New York City hospital had issues with its oxygen supply Tuesday night.
The USNS Comfort docked at Pier 90 in Manhattan on April 3. Ten patients were transported to the ship after a New York City hospital had issues with its oxygen supply Tuesday night. Kena Betancur/Getty Images

A New York City hospital had issues with its oxygen supply Tuesday night causing the urgent transfer of multiple patients to be cared for elsewhere, Gen. Terrence O’Shaughessy told CNN. 

“They needed to transfer those patients immediately as quick as possible because their lives were dependent on it,” said O’Shaugnessy, the commander of US Northern Command overseeing the military response.

A team of 37 military doctors, nurses and technicians in full personal protective equipment moved 18 patients in an ambulance to different facilities for urgent care. 

Ten patients were moved to the USNS Comfort, five to Sinai, two to Bellevue and one to North Bronx, the general said. 

O’Shaughessy said the military is there to be used in such an emergency at area hospitals.

“It was challenging, they were all in various significant states of acute medical needs,” he said. “When they got to (the) Comfort, several of them were crashing so they had to provide that immediate medical assistance ... As they were pulling up to the Comfort they were crashing so the doctors from the Comfort had to respond in the ambulance and then get them stabilized and then bring them into the Comfort.”

A source with knowledge of the operations at multiple hospitals said the New York City area hospital had “major problems with excess ice accumulation on their overburdened medical oxygen systems.”

5:40 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

There are now 423,135 coronavirus cases in the US

According to Johns Hopkins University's tally, there are at least 423,135 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 14,390 people have died from the disease.

So far on Wednesday, Johns Hopkins has reported 24,326 cases and 1,495 reported deaths in the US.

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

5:41 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Pelosi says House would not have unanimous support for coronavirus bill

From CNN's Haley Byrd

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with NPR Wednesday that the chamber would not have unanimous support to approve the Senate’s version of a measure to add $251 billion in funding to a small business loans program established by the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package last month.

“The bill that they put forth will not get unanimous support in the House. It just won’t,” Pelosi said of the Senate’s straightforward bill to add more funds to the small business Paycheck Protection Program.

Democrats have called for additional funding for hospitals, state and local governments, and food stamps to be passed alongside the small business loans funding. 

“The White House says they don’t support that, but we do,” Pelosi said.

Asked about President Donald Trump’s removal of the inspector general who had been tasked to oversee the implementation of the CARES Act, Pelosi said what Trump is doing “is so very, very wrong.”

“We cannot allow this to happen without a bright light shining on it,” she said of rolling out the aid package.

Pelosi said the committee on the coronavirus crisis that Democrats plan to launch later this month will seek to prevent waste, fraud, abuse, profiteering and price-gouging. 

“This is not an offense to the President. It's about how big money attracts some kind of profiteering and price gouging and the rest,” she added of the committee’s purpose.

5:26 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Fauci says handshakes could become a thing of the past in post-coronavirus world

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The nation’s top infectious disease expert told a reporter that the handshake, a customary American greeting, could become a thing of the past as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout the United States.

Asked about the country getting back to normal, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Sinclair Broadcast Group’s political reporter Scott Thuman that “it depends on what you mean by 'normal.' ”

“I think what we’re going to have embedded and imprinted in us forever is the realization that something as catastrophic as what the world is experiencing now can happen," Fauci said. “And just as a society, just forget about shaking hands. We don’t need to shake hands. We’ve got to break that custom because, as a matter of fact, that is really one of the major ways that you can transmit a respiratory-borne illness.” 
5:16 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

FDA sends warning letter to company for marketing "fraudulent and dangerous" coronavirus treatment

From CNN Health’s Wes Bruer

The US Food and Drug Administration has sent a letter to a firm marketing a product that falsely claims to “cure, mitigate, treat, prevent, or diagnose Coronavirus and/or Covid-19 in people,” according to a press release from the agency.

The letter was sent to Genesis II Church of Health and Healing and multiple websites associated with the firm. It targeted the “Miracle Mineral Solution” -- a chlorine dioxide product -- which was marketed as prevention and treatment for coronavirus.

The FDA has issued previous warnings that chlorine dioxide poses a significant risk to health and is not shown to be safe and effective for any health use.

“The sale of these products can jeopardize a person’s health and delay proper medical treatment,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement. “We continue to take action and keep up our efforts to monitor for fraudulent treatments during this public health emergency and remind the public to seek medical help from their health care providers.”

The recipient of the warning letter has 48 hours to provide documentation that misleading claims have been corrected, along with outlining what steps are being taken to prevent future recurrences. Failure to do so “may result in legal action, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction,” according to the letter sent Wednesday. 

CNN has reached out to Genesis II Church of Health and Healing for comment.

5:24 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Georgia governor signs executive order extending state’s public health emergency through mid-May

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has extended the state's public health emergency through May 13.

Kemp signed an executive order Wednesday extending the public health emergency in an effort to help contain the coronavirus.

“This measure will allow us to deploy more resources to communities in need, lend support to frontline medical providers and keep preparing as we brace for potential patients in healthcare facilities,” the Republican governor said.

Kemp also announced Wednesday the state will extend the shelter-in-place order through April 30 in accordance with public health recommendations.

Kemp added he has signed an executive order to activate an additional 1,000 national guard members to assist in the novel coronavirus emergency response.