April 9 coronavirus news

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

Updated 0236 GMT (1036 HKT) April 10, 2020
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8:36 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

CDC director says the most powerful weapon against coronavirus is social distancing


US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield praised the American people for largely adhering to social distancing guidelines, which he described as among the most important "weapons" wielded against the pandemic.

Redfield made these comments Thursday night during CNN's coronavirus town hall.

"We have one of the most powerful weapons against this virus. We're not defenseless. And that weapon was the social distance and is the social distancing. This virus has a very significant weakness. It can't swim 7 feet. If we can just maximize that social distancing, we can limit this virus's ability. Many people didn't predict and the modelers didn't predict for sure that the majority of American people would embrace that social distancing. And what I've said, when all of us try to do behavior modification, whether it's what we eat, exercise, you know, whether cigarette smoking, whatever it is for our own health, we're not very good at that," Redfield said.

He added: "But I can tell you, I've been really unbelievably amazed and gratified by the commitment of the American people."

8:07 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Honolulu announces nighttime curfew Easter weekend

From CNN's Andy Rose

The city of Honolulu, Hawaii, is instituting a "pilot" curfew for the city into place to try to avoid the spread of coronavirus over the coming Easter weekend.

Police Chief Susan Ballard announced in a press conference that most people will not be allowed to use any vehicles – “anything with a wheel,” she said – from 11 p.m. local time until 5 a.m. each day, as police patrols are increased. 

Although it is currently in effect only for the upcoming weekend, Ballard says it may be extended through the rest of the month if it’s considered a success.

The mayor also announced a new campaign called “No Butts on Beaches,” encouraging people not to use public beaches for sunbathing. 

Caldwell says socially distant surfing is still allowed, but with no mingling afterward.

“When you come out of the water, maybe you rinse off, but you go home,” Caldwell said.

8:03 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

CNN's coronavirus town hall has begun

CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta are hosting a two-hour special tonight on the coronavirus pandemic.

There is no audience tonight due to ongoing concerns around the coronavirus.

8:02 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Vermont governor announces coronavirus-related death of former state representative

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess and Melissa Alonso

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott today announced the passing of former Vermont State Representative Bernie Juskiewicz, who was a confirmed positive case of Covid-19, according to the governor’s office.

“Bernie served the people of Cambridge and Waterville with distinction in the House of Representatives, always placing their interests first. I had the privilege of working with him during his time in the legislature and saw firsthand just how committed he was to his community,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott added: “Although this terrible new disease took Bernie from us, the impact of his service will live on. My heart goes out to Suzan and the rest of his family during this difficult time."

Scott has ordered the Vermont state flag to fly at half-staff on April 13 in the late lawmaker's honor.

8:02 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Amazon says it's working to develop coronavirus testing capacity

From CNN’s Brian Fung

Michael Nagle/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Michael Nagle/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Amazon has reassigned a group of employees to build a lab meant for coronavirus testing, the e-commerce giant said Thursday. 

The company hopes to begin testing “small numbers of our front line employees soon” for the virus, and left open the possibility that the testing could be made more widely available.  

Some context: The move comes amid mounting pressure on Amazon to protect its workers, as more have fallen ill.

More than a dozen Amazon facilities have been hit by the pandemic, and many workers claim that the true number is far higher. 

“We’ve begun the work of building incremental testing capacity,” Amazon said in a blog post Thursday. “A team of Amazonians with a variety of skills – from research scientists and program managers to procurement specialists and software engineers – have moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative.”

7:53 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Governor signs order allowing funeral directors from around the US to practice in New York

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed an executive order that allows for licensed funeral directors around the country to practice in New York state, a move that will make it easier for more funeral directors to assist with the high number of coronavirus deaths.

The governor said earlier today that he was planning to sign this type of order.

The order also allows for the New York State Registrar to register death certificates and issue burial and removal permits, as well as allowing for individuals deputized by the Health Commissioner to be agents who, after being authorized by a funeral director, can be present and supervise and arrange for the removal or transfer of a deceased individual.  

7:45 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Labor secretary addresses delay in federal unemployment payments

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez 

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on April 9.
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on April 9. Andrew Harnik/AP

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said some states are already distributing the additional $600 benefit to unemployment applicants provided through the latest stimulus package, but acknowledged that there are still lags in other states’ computer systems preventing them from distributing the payments.

“I’m pleased that a number of states are now making those $600 additional weekly payments. More states will follow in the coming days. How long it takes will vary by states. Some states’ systems will take longer. But we at the department will continue to support them,” Scalia said during Thursday's White House briefing.

Some context: Scalia’s comments come amid skyrocketing unemployment claims across the country.

Scalia added the federal government has “already dispersed half a billion dollars to states to help them with their systems and making these payments. We have another half a billion dollars that we’re ready to release."

7:34 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

New Mexico using cell phone data to track movement of people within state, governor says

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

The state of New Mexico is using cell phone data to track the movement of people within the state for data on whether people are abiding by stay at home orders, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said during a Thursday evening press conference.

The state wants to screen truckers who are bringing in supplies and take their temperatures but doesn't have enough temperature readers to do so, Lujan Grisham said.

"We're really nervous that this virus will follow travelers into the state," she explained.

Lujan Grisham said the state is using road signage to let travelers from out of state know that many state parks are not open and small communities should not be visited.

The governor does not want people visiting tribal communities or pueblos and has put up signage to say so as well as diversions and road blocks. 

Lujan Grisham said there is a concern that tourists will overrun small communities, expose them to the virus and buy many supplies needed by residents.

Some tribes have put curfews in place to help dissuade travel of members, Lujan Grisham said.

8:14 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Health expert says new hot spots dealing with lower coronavirus attack rates

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus on April 9.
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus on April 9. Andrew Harnik/AP

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the Trump administration's White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that the attack rates for coronavirus in some newer hot spots, including Washington DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia, are lower than the attack rates were in some of the early hot spots.

The attack rate is how many people are getting sick per 1,000 people.

“The original outbreaks were very large, but the newer ones that we talk about in Washington and Philadelphia and Baltimore, it looks like their attack rates and attack rates in Denver and some of these other states that we have been talking about are much lower than New York and New Jersey,” Birx said.

Birx said that the attack rate in New York was seven in a thousand but new attack rates are one to two per thousand. She added that these numbers show early mitigation efforts have a direct impact on the amount of cases seen in these cities.

Birx said this new data allows for the integration of information from actual cases as oppose to relying on models in making future decisions.

“This gives us hope about really understanding how to integrate this information together, not dealing with a model but the real live cases that are occurring and understanding how to move forward together to really have a different future,” Birx added.