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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8:02 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.


7:28 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Pence says coronavirus task force is looking into guidance on recycling gowns

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Vice President Mike Pence holds his notes in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on April 9.
Vice President Mike Pence holds his notes in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on April 9. Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

Vice President Mike Pence suggested the task force is looking into reassessing guidance regarding disposable gowns as many hospitals across the country face shortages of personal protective equipment. 

“We tasked the (the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services) to review the feasibility of allowing hospital workers to use cloth gowns for performing procedures. It was observed that 20 years ago, most physicians and most surgeons used cloth gowns and laundered them, but it’s transitioned to disposable gowns,” Pence said Thursday.

Pence continued: “And we’re working very rapidly in the next 24 hours and we’ll have guidance for hospitals and healthcare workers about the ability to, in effect, recycle gowns and make sure that we have the supplies that we need.”

7:10 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Missouri schools to remain closed and use online learning until end of academic year

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

All public and charter schools within the state of Missouri will remain closed through the rest of the school year, Gov. Mike Parson said during a Thursday afternoon press conference.

All schools should continue to use online learning and end the school year on the previously set date for each district, Parson said.

Food service options will remain available for those who need them, Parson said.

7:10 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Trump says funding for hospitals should be saved for "next phase" of stimulus

From CNN's Sarah Westwood 

Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump said he does not believe additional funding for hospitals and states should be attached to a proposed influx of cash to the Paycheck Protection Program, which is providing loans for small businesses struggling with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump was asked at the coronavirus task force briefing Thursday whether he supports sending additional funds to states and hospitals that need the money.

“I do, but I support it for the next phase,” the President said.

Some context: Senate Republicans and Democrats sparred Thursday over dueling proposals to add to the stimulus bill Congress recently passed.

Republicans aimed to funnel $250 billion of additional funds into the Paycheck Protection Program available for small businesses, but Democrats said support for hospitals and states should be included with the small business support.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill remain locked in a stalemate.

6:59 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

New Mexico governor is "disturbed" by people not social distancing

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said during a press conference Thursday that she was "disturbed" by images she's seen on social media of people participating in large social gatherings despite the state order.

"I am really disturbed by the notion that any New Mexican would highlight the fact that they are in direct violation of our efforts and orders," Lujan Grisham said.

Data gathered by the state shows that too many people are congregating too long in places like grocery stores, hardware stores and convenience stores as well as parks, Lujan Grisham said.

She showed a picture of her mother, who she said is in an assisted living facility in Albuquerque, and said she is one of the vulnerable people that could be threatened by others failing to social distance. 

Lujan Grisham said she hasn't seen her mother in six weeks and is concerned that if people aren't acting responsibly she, and others, could suffer. 

"The life that you could destroy could be mine because I could lose my mother," Lujan Grisham said.