China's Xi warns of "new difficulties and challenges" amid rising risk of a second wave
Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned against the risk of a second wave of infections in the country as the global pandemic continues to spread, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
In a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party's top decision-making body Wednesday, the Politburo Standing Committee, Xi said that amid growing downward pressures on the global economy, "unstable and uncertain factors" were increasing.
China's outbreak of the coronavirus is apparently under control, with few new locally transmitted infections or deaths announced in recent weeks. On Wednesday, the epicenter of the original outbreak, Wuhan, officially ended its lockdown.
"New difficulties and challenges have emerged for China's work resumption and economic and social development," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.
Xi urged Chinese authorities to carefully watch for imported cases from abroad and prevent a resurgence of the outbreak at home, Xinhua reported.
9:44 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020
CDC issues new guidelines for essential workers who have been exposed to coronavirus
From CNN's Jason Hoffman
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield issued new guidelines for essential workers who have been exposed to the coronavirus, saying individuals would need to be asymptomatic to return to work
The guidelines, he said, are aimed at keeping essential workers, including first responders, health care workers, employees in the food supply chain and others at work -- even if they might have been exposed to someone who has coronavirus.
“These are individuals that have been within six feet of a confirmed case or a suspected case so that they can, under certain circumstances, they can go back to work if they are asymptomatic,” Redfield said.
Redfield said those individuals could return to their jobs if they take their temperature before work, wear a face mask at all times and practice social distancing at work.
He reiterated that people should stay home if they feel sick, should not share items used on or near their face and should refrain from congregating in break rooms and other crowded places.
The CDC’s new guidelines also outlined steps employers should take, including checking temperatures before employees start work, sending anyone who becomes sick home and cleaning commonly touched surfaces more frequently, among others.
9:11 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020
This Chicago jail has one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in the US
From CNN’s Omar Jimenez
More than 400 coronavirus cases are linked to one jail in Chicago, local officials said, making the Cook County Jail the largest known source of infections in the US outside of medical facilities.
The Cook County Sheriff’s office said Wednesday that 251 detainees and 150 staff members have tested positive for the virus. Of the detainees infected in the outbreak, 22 are hospitalized for treatment and 31 others have been moved to a recovery facility.
One detainee has died of “apparent” complications of Covid-19, sheriff’s officials said, but an autopsy remains pending.
The jail has created a quarantine “bootcamp” to keep detainees that are infected separate from the rest of the jail population.
The jail complex currently houses about 4,700 detainees according to the sheriff’s office. Jail officials have previously said they planned to screen and release nonviolent pretrial defendants.
9:31 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.
9:00 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020
Coronavirus cases pass 1.5 million worldwide
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1.5 million people and killed over 88,000 worldwide, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
There are at least 429,052 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 14,739 people have died from the disease in the country.
9:38 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020
Trump criticizes WHO'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 news conference earlier on 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.
9:39 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020
Health expert says drop in US death projection is due to change in American behavior
From CNN's Nikki Carvajal
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said models projecting the number of American deaths from coronavirus have dropped dramatically in recent days because Americans have drastically changed their behavior.
Birx said the US was doing "much better in many cases than several other countries, and we're trying to understand that."
"We believe that our health care delivery system in the United States is quite extraordinary," she said, but added that the models were based on "what America is doing."
"I think what has been so remarkable I think to those of us that have been in the science field for so long," Birx continued, "is how important behavioral change is, and how amazing Americans are at adapting to and following through on these behavioral changes."
The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, later said the changing models proved that social distancing steps are working.
"We know that mitigation does work. The reason that we know it works, is the question that was asked about the numbers ... why they came down with the projections," Fauci said. "What you do with data will always outstrip a model. You redo your models depending upon your data."
"Our data is telling us that mitigation is working," Fauci said. "Keep your foot on the accelerator, because that is what's going to get us through this."
Some context: As CNN previously reported, an influential model tracking the coronavirus pandemic in the United States now predicts that fewer people will die and fewer hospital beds will be needed compared to its estimates from last week.
As of Wednesday, the model predicted the virus will kill 60,000 people in the US over the next four months. That's about 33,000 fewer deaths than the model estimated last Thursday.
While the US is still expected to face a shortage of about 16,000 hospital beds, it will need 168,000 fewer beds than previously expected, according to the new analysis.
9:39 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020
Pompeo says "this is not the time" for a leadership change at WHO
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that it was not the time for a leadership change at the World Health Organization, but did not dispute President Donald Trump’s earlier call to potentially scale back funding for the organization.
“This is not the time to be doing that kind of change,” Pompeo said at the White House briefing. “There will be a lot of time to look back and see how the World Health Organization performed."
“In the meantime what our task is is to preserve and protect the American taxpayers to make sure that our resources don’t go to places that aren’t going to deliver on behalf of the American people and the world,” Pompeo continued. “And President Trump and I are determined to do that.”
Some context: In a Wednesday interview with “The Wendy Bell Show,” Pompeo said that “it’s pretty clear that the World Health Organization hasn’t lived up to its billing, it hasn’t been able to achieve what it was designed to achieve, and we just can’t continue to permit that to go on.”
“It performs important functions, important global health and pandemic functions, and we can see in this case we haven’t been able to deliver on that,” he said on the radio show. “So we need a global health organization that can achieve that and if this one can’t do it, then it’s not appropriate for American taxpayer dollars to go towards it.”
Despite Pompeo’s suggestion that the US is not looking to replace WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for the time being, a senior administration official on Wednesday said that the WHO's leadership was part of their problem.
“The problem is not the WHO system. The system has good people … It’s about comments made from the leadership -- which went beyond what I am told their own staff wanted to say,” the official said.
8:37 p.m. ET, April 8, 2020
Coronavirus won't go away with warmer weather, scientists tell White House
From CNN Health’s Elizabeth Cohen
A prestigious scientific panel told the White House on Tuesday that it doesn't look like coronavirus will go away once the weather warms up.
President Donald Trump has claimed that "when it gets a little warmer (the virus) miraculously goes away."
In their letter to the White House, members of a National Academy of Sciences committee said data is mixed on whether coronavirus spreads as easily in warm weather as it does in cold weather, but that it might not matter much given that so few people in the world are immune to coronavirus.
"There is some evidence to suggest that (coronavirus) may transmit less efficiently in environments with higher ambient temperature and humidity; however, given the lack of host immunity globally, this reduction in transmission efficiency may not lead to a significant reduction in disease spread without the concomitant adoption of major public health interventions," the letter stated.
The letter noted, for example, that a study of the outbreak in China showed that even under maximum temperature and humidity conditions, the virus spread "exponentially," with every infected person spreading it to nearly two other people on average.
The scientists sent the letter to Kelvin Droegemeier at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The letter from the NAS scientists notes that some laboratory studies have shown reduced transmission of the virus under warmer and more humid conditions, but that it's still a concern.
The letter points out that in the real world, the virus is still transmitting in countries with warm weather.
"Given that countries currently in 'summer' climates, such as Australia and Iran, are experiencing rapid virus spread, a decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed," the letter said.