April 13 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Amy Woodyatt, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 9:11 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020
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1:55 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

Trump has no intention of firing Fauci, White House says 

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump has no intention of firing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Monday.

The statement comes after Trump fueled speculation about Fauci's future on Sunday, retweeting a conservative who called for the expert to be fired after he said in a CNN interview more could have been done to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Trump has disputed that his administration was slow to respond, despite increased scrutiny of his initial handling of the crisis as it's been revealed that administration and health officials were sounding alarms for weeks before the President took decisive actions such as calling for social distancing measures.

1:47 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

Blood filtration systems receive emergency FDA authorization to treat coronavirus patients

From CNN's Arman Azad

Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency use authorizations for two blood purification devices that may help treat coronavirus patients.

The devices perform “extracorporeal blood purification” –��� essentially taking blood from a patient’s body, removing harmful inflammatory substances and then returning it.

Elevated levels of these substances – called cytokines – may cause problems with the immune system, according to the FDA.

“The proteins that are removed are typically elevated during infections and can be associated with a ‘cytokine storm’ that occurs in some COVID-19 patients, leading to severe inflammation, rapidly progressive shock, respiratory failure, organ failure and death,” the FDA said in a statement Friday.

Use of the devices is limited to patients 18 years or older, with confirmed Covid-19, who have been admitted to the intensive care unit with confirmed or imminent respiratory failure.

But the devices comes with risks: Among other side effects, the FDA says that heart problems, blood loss, infection and allergic reactions are all possible.

Still, in letters authorizing the devices, the FDA said they may help some patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

The known and potential benefits of the systems, according to the FDA’s authorization letters, outweighed the known and potential risks.

One of the systems green-lit by the agency is made by CytoSorbents, and the other is from Terumo BCT and Marker Therapeutics AG.

How helpful the devices might be, though, remains unclear, and there is currently no FDA-approved treatment for COVID-19.

1:44 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

189 UN staffers test positive worldwide

From CNN's Richard Roth

A view from inside the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations headquarters in New York
A view from inside the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations headquarters in New York Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Three United Nations staffers have died of coronavirus-related complications globally, and 189 staffers have tested positive for the virus as of Sunday evening, according to the deputy spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary General, Farhan Haq.

As the pandemic impacts those within the UN, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said at a virtual briefing to member states last week that an unprecedented sense of urgency drives the UN's response to this outbreak.

"In the end, it comes down to this: if Covid-19 remains active somewhere, we cannot be safe anywhere. And if we do not confront the pandemic and its consequences simultaneously, the virus will continue to run like wildfire, taking lives, affecting people and threatening social cohesion," Mohammed said.
1:40 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

Turkish president announces lockdown for next weekend

Leon Neal/Getty Images
Leon Neal/Getty Images

Turkey will have another lockdown next weekend due to the coronavirus pandemic, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech on Monday after a meeting with his cabinet. 

The lockdown from April 17 to April 19 will apply to the same 31 provinces that were on curfew last weekend, Erdogan said. The lockdown order applies to more than 63 million people across the 31 provinces including the large metropolitan areas of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. 

The weekend lockdowns will continue as long as needed, Erdogan said. 

The last minute lockdown announcement by the interior ministry last weekend lead to throngs of people going out to stock up on essentials leading to chaotic scenes in breach of social distancing guidance. Turkey’s interior minister submitted his resignation over the events but Erdogan has not accepted the offer. 

About Turkey's coronavirus cases: The number of the cases in the country now stands at 61,049, according to the latest figures released by the Turkish health ministry. At least 1,296 people have died from the virus, the ministry said. 

Turkey has tested at least 410,556 people for coronavirus, according to the ministry. 

1:39 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

23 members of the NYPD have died from coronavirus, commissioner says

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

Three more members of the New York Police Department have died due to the novel coronavirus, according to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. The force has now lost 23 members.

The three members who died:

  • Detective Jeffrey Scalf of the Gang Squad in the Bronx died Sunday
  • Detective Raymond Abear of the Queens Special Victims Unit died Sunday
  • Auxiliary Police Captain Mohamed Rahaman of the 115th died Saturday

“Devastated, we mourn with their loved ones as we vow to #neverforget our fallen," the tweet said, along with an updated NPYD video which contains their photographs.

Read the tweet:

1:18 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

UK should brace for increase in coronavirus deaths this week, official says

From CNN's Nada Bashir and Lindsay Isaac in London

The UK’s chief scientific adviser has said Britain will likely see an increase in Covid-19 deaths this week.

“I think this week is difficult. I think this week we are going to see a further increase,” Sir Patrick Vallance said during a daily government press briefing. 

“If you look at the effect on number of cases in the community, you would expect the measures in place to cause quite a sharp decrease. Unfortunately, with the deaths, there is not only a delay, but we would expect there to be a much more gradual decrease from the peak," he added.

The trajectory of the virus is expected to plateau once it peaks and that could last for “two or three weeks” before a slow decrease in deaths, Vallance explained.  

1:12 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

Experts are talking a lot about the importance of "contact tracing." Here's exactly what that means.

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images
Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Joia Mukherjee, the chief medical officer at Partners in Health, a global health organization, says contract tracing is an important step to decreasing the number of cases of coronavirus.

"If we want to not only flatten the curve, which we are doing through social isolation, but shrink the curve and make it fewer infections, we have to do contact tracing and isolation," Mukherjee told CNN's John King.

Here's what happens during contact tracing:

  • Step one: Investigating close contacts

Mukherjee said once a person tests positive for the virus, there will be a case investigation. This means public health officials call the patient and investigate who their close contacts have been. They will gather a list of everyone who came within 6 feet of the person who tested positive, starting two days before they started having symptoms.

  • Step two: Contact tracing team makes calls

That list of contact information then goes to a contact tracing team, Mukherjee said. The team calls each person who meets that definition of "a contact within that 6-foot radius," she said.

She said the contact team would tell them "you have been in contact of someone of COVID. These are the things you need to know. One, are you okay? Are you feeling okay? And if not connecting people rapidly to care, testing."

The team would also determine if the individual was able to self-quarantine, and if not, "we would refer that person to social support," Mukherjee said.

  • Step three: Make sure they can isolate properly

The third step to contact tracing is making sure the individual who is quarantining has enough food, housing or sanitation so they can isolate properly and not continue to spread the disease within families.

"We have to address those local contacts to stop transmission of this virus," she said.

12:56 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

South Dakota will be first state to conduct hydroxychloroquine trial, governor says

South Dakota will be the first state to conduct a hydroxychloroquine trial to test against Covid-19, Gov. Kristi Noem announced Monday. 

She announced the trial in a series of tweets.

"We’ve received the initial doses we need," Noem said. "We’re now the first state to do a full clinical trial to test whether hydroxychloroquine can treat and perhaps prevent #COVID19."

About the drug hydroxychloroquine: The drug is used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Trump has touted the drug, saying it shows "tremendous promise" of working against coronavirus as well.

But the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases isn't sponsoring any studies on hydroxychloroquine, according to a statement from the agency, which added that the agency is "considering" trials that examine the drug or its analogue chloroquine as a potential treatment for Covid-19 studies.

On its website, NIAID mentions several drug therapies it is supporting to fight coronavirus, but not hydroxychloroquine. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, another federal agency, also lists its coronavirus measures on its website, but hydroxychloroquine is not among them.

Despite Trump's enthusiasm, a federal government registry for clinical trials shows only two trials in the US for hydroxychloroquine to fight coronavirus, and only one of those is up and running.

12:44 p.m. ET, April 13, 2020

"Masks are not an alternative to lockdown," WHO official says

From CNN's Amanda Watts 

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, said as the world considers getting back to normal, it’s important to remember that "masks are not an alternative to lockdown." 

Ryan continued: “Everything we do in public health or in health and policy affects something else. So the pressures on people to go back to work are going to be very strong and very appropriate, but we don't want people having to make difficult choices — and in some ways think that putting a mask on — is the same as staying home and reporting the fact that you're sick to authorities."

“There's huge pressure on people to go back to work to go back to school to participate in daily life. I don't want to be the person at home with a fever, and with a job to go to where I can make a calculation that instead of picking up the phone and phoning my health provider or phoning the public health authorities and asking for a test and a diagnosis that I think that putting a mask on, is an adequate response to that situation. And that is something we really have to be careful about,” Ryan added.