April 11 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Amy Woodyatt, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 1710 GMT (0110 HKT) December 27, 2020
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5:08 p.m. ET, April 11, 2020

Florida governor accelerates delayed infrastructure projects with less people on the road  

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

Interstate 4 in Orlando, Florida, on April 8.
Interstate 4 in Orlando, Florida, on April 8. Phelan M. Ebenhack via AP

Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking "advantage of this pause" in business to complete infrastructure projects in Florida, he said at a press briefing Saturday.  

Having less people on Florida roads is an opportunity to make some progress on Orlando's I-4 "construction congestion," DeSantis said.  

The $2.3 billion project aims to reconstruct 21 miles of the interstate in Central Florida, according to DeSantis.   

On average, the interstate sees "well over 100,000 cars a day" but "now you're dealing with volumes that are probably 40,000," allowing for increased road closures without affecting as many people, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Kevin Thibault said.  

DeSantis says the sped-up contract will increase day time operations and allow for longer hours. Thibault projects FDOT will be able to "get this work done in one to two months." 

10:33 a.m. ET, April 11, 2020

Harvard president participating in antibody study after recovering from coronavirus

Bacow in 2019
Bacow in 2019 Paul Marotta/Getty Images

The president of Harvard University said he and his wife will be donating plasma to help combat the coronavirus.

Lawrence Bacow and his wife, Adele, tested positive for the virus on March 24.

Bacow said in a letter to the community that they have volunteered to participate in research at the Ragon Institute with the hope that their coronavirus antibodies can be used to create a therapeutic.

"We hope that something good can come from our close encounter with COVID-19," the statement said.
4:42 p.m. ET, April 11, 2020

Laid-off flight attendants across Europe train to help hospitals with coronavirus crisis

From CNN's Lauren Kent in London

Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images
Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

As airlines across Europe have grounded planes and temporarily laid-off workers, some companies are encouraging flight attendants to train to help hospitals with the coronavirus crisis.

A cabin crew from SAS Scandanavian Airlines underwent training at Sophiahemmet hospital in Stockholm to learn how to "best how to take care of patients to relieve the hard-working heroes in healthcare" using their existing medical emergency training, said SAS on Twitter.

The airline said another SAS flight crew in Norway is connecting with the health care sector to tackle needs that emerge during the coronavirus crisis.

SAS temporarily halted most of its flight traffic on March 16 and temporarily laid-off 90% of its total workforce.

In the United Kingdom, some flight attendants for EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic have volunteered to help out at the new National Health Service (NHS) hospitals being set up specifically for coronavirus patients.

In a statement released Thursday, EasyJet said cabin crew members who sign up to help would perform clinical support roles at the NHS "Nightingale" field hospitals that are being built in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

"They will change beds, tend to patients and ensure they are as comfortable as possible. Many airline staff are ideal volunteers as they have been first aid trained and hold other medical qualifications as well as being security cleared," said the statement. "Expert training will be provided to all new recruits when they sign up. With the majority of flights currently suspended as a result of the pandemic, cabin crew will be able to put their unique skill set to use during this time to provide much needed support to the NHS."

Virgin Atlantic said their crews will also perform clinical support roles, and the staff and volunteers working at the new hospitals will be offered free accommodation and meals.

10:18 a.m. ET, April 11, 2020

NYC mayor wants homeless residents in hotel rooms and out of homeless shelters by April 20

From CNN's Sheena Jones

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomes medical members of the US Navy who have volunteered from across the country at the Jacob K. Javits Center on April 5.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomes medical members of the US Navy who have volunteered from across the country at the Jacob K. Javits Center on April 5. Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

Mayor Bill de Blasio plans on having at least 6,000 vulnerable single homeless residents in hotel rooms by April 20, the New York City mayor said at a press conference Saturday.

Homeless seniors will be prioritized and any homeless person with symptoms or has tested positive for Covid-19 will be moved to a hotel, de Blasio said.

The mayor will also put homeless individuals in hotels if they can’t practice clear social distancing guidelines.

5:09 p.m. ET, April 11, 2020

New York City public schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year

A view of the P.S. 116 Manhattan school playground in New York on April 4.
A view of the P.S. 116 Manhattan school playground in New York on April 4. Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York City public schools will remained closed until the end of this school year due to coronavirus concerns, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference early Saturday morning.

De Blasio said reopening schools for a few weeks is unrealistic because of the amount of preparation that is needed to do it safely. He said bringing students back until June does not provide much reward academically, and if buildings did reopen, many of them would have to close again because of individual coronavirus cases.

City officials will be working with the state of New York to meet state regulations of how many hours students have to be in the classroom. Student classrooms hours will be consistent with social distancing guidelines, the mayor said.

The mayor laid out a five point plan to help students: 

  1. Complete deliveries of internet enabled digital devices by the end of April. The city distributed about 66,000 devices already, but will need to get 240,000 more devices in the children hands over the next few weeks, the mayor said.
  2. Expand parent help line and tech support hours and staffing. De Blasio said the city will be adding more educators to provide more coaching for parents.
  3. Launch new online activities and programs. This includes free programing to help families get through this, de Blasio said. He also mentioned they are working with New York media companies to accomplish this.
  4. Graduate our seniors. There are about 75,000 students set to graduate. The mayor said he doesn’t know if there will be a ceremony, but want to make sure they graduate on time –– a full plan will be out next week.
  5. Be ready to reopen in September and combat learning loss. The mayor said the city is working now on a comprehensive plan to reopen schools. This includes focusing on mental health, de Blasio said.

Attendance is being taken once a day at virtual schools, the New York City chancellor said, as he cautioned they are getting in contact with students that have not been in contact with them.

When asked if summer school would happen this year, de Blasio responded, officials won’t know about summer school “until we have a lot more answers.”  

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged the mayor's position on schools in a press conference hours later but added “there has been no decision on schools.”

“There has been no decision, that’s the mayor's opinion, I value it” along with all the other county executives but “the decision will be coordinated among all of them," Cuomo said.

Regarding the mayor’s position of closing schools until June, Cuomo said “we may do that, but we're going to do it in a coordinated sense with the other localities,” including the counties in New York.

When asked if de Blasio's decision was invalid, Cuomo said “that’s his opinion, but he didn’t close them and he can’t open them, it happened on a metropolitan wide basis and we’re going to either; we’ll act on a metropolitan wide basis."

Some context: The New York City school system is the largest school district in the US with 1.1 million students, according to the city's Department of Education.

9:52 a.m. ET, April 11, 2020

United Kingdom's coronavirus death toll rises by 917

From CNN's Simon Cullen

The United Kingdom's death toll from coronavirus has risen by 917 to reach 9,875, according to new figures released by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The numbers are current as of 5 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET) April 10.

Overall, the department says 78,991 people have tested positive for the virus since the outbreak began.

Read a tweet from the department:

5:10 p.m. ET, April 11, 2020

Senate leaders call for more funding for American workers

From CNN's Kevin Bohn

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with reporters outside the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill on April 9.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with reporters outside the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill on April 9. Patrick Semansky/AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are pushing for Congress to pass more money for the Payroll Protection Program –– a program for small business aid in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

McConnell and McCarthy issued a statement today supporting the continued funding of the program without any other provisions. So far, Democrats are demanding money be added for states and hospitals before they will support the effort.

“Republicans did not ask to change any policy details that were negotiated by both parties and passed unanimously. All we want to do is put more money into a popular job-saving policy which both parties designed together," the statement said.

McConnell and McCarthy's statement also said they would, “continue to seek a clean PPP funding increase. We hope our Democratic colleagues familiarize themselves with the facts and the data before the program runs dry.”

The state of the economy: Another 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending April 4.

Altogether, more than 16 million Americans have sought aid in the form of jobless benefits in just the prior three weeks alone.

8:47 a.m. ET, April 11, 2020

Attorney Michael Avenatti released from jail temporarily over coronavirus concerns

From CNN’s Kara Scannell

Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti walks out of a New York court house on July 23, 2019 in New York City.
Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti walks out of a New York court house on July 23, 2019 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A federal judge released celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti from a federal jail due to coronavirus concerns.

The judge said Avenatti will have to return to custody in 90 days. The temporary release came after Avenatti’s lawyers said he was at risk for contracting coronavirus because he had pneumonia last year.

Avenatti will be required to be held in quarantine at the jail facility for 14 days to ensure he doesn’t have the virus and can’t spread it into the community, the judge said.

Once jail officials determine Avenatti doesn’t have the virus, he will be released to home confinement at his friend’s house in Los Angeles and will not be allowed to use the internet. A second friend posted a $1 million bond securing his release. 

Some context: The attorney has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan after a California judge revoked his bail earlier this year finding he engaged in suspicious financial transactions. The MCC has reported cases of the virus among inmates. 

Avenatti was convicted earlier this year of attempting to extort over $20 million from Nike.

He has been charged in two separate indictments with embezzling $300,000 from his former client Stormy Daniels and with tax fraud and stealing several million dollars from other clients. Avenatti has pleaded not guilty to those charges. His trials have been set for later this year.

5:10 p.m. ET, April 11, 2020

Japan prime minister calls on citizens to avoid nightlife entertainment spots

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

Stringer/Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images
Stringer/Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on citizens to refrain from visiting nightlife entertainment venues as the country sees increasing spikes in coronavirus infections.

Speaking at a meeting of the national coronavirus task force on Saturday, Abe asked people to avoid going to evening spots such as nightclubs and bars and follow the social distancing guidance.

Abe also urged businesses in seven prefectures, including Tokyo, to cut down the number of people going to the office by at least 70% and implement work from home systems.

The prime minister on Tuesday said Japan needs to reduce 70-80% of human contacts in the next two weeks to reverse the increasing trend of new coronavirus cases.

Despite Abe’s plea, urban cities in the country haven’t seen a drastic reduction in the number of commuters.

State of emergency declared: Japan issued a state of emergency on April 7 for a month across seven virus-hit prefectures but it carries no penalties for people venturing out for non-essential work.

Earlier on Saturday, Japan’s health ministry reported 658 new confirmed coronavirus cases and six deaths by the end of Friday.