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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11:20 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

US judge blocks Alabama emergency order requiring delay of most abortions during pandemic

A federal judge is blocking the full enforcement of an Alabama emergency order which would put off some abortion procedures during the coronavirus emergency. 

In a rare injunction issued on a Sunday, Judge Myron Thompson said Alabama’s rule could effectively keep some pregnant women from being able to obtain an abortion at all. 

“For at least some women, a mandatory postponement until April 30 would operate as a prohibition of abortion,” Judge Thompson wrote, “entirely nullifying their right to terminate their pregnancies, or would impose a substantial burden on their ability to access an abortion.”

The judge says the state’s delay can be enforced only on a case-by-case basis, and only after considering several factors, including whether delay would keep a pregnant woman from being able to obtain an abortion at all after the state emergency is due to expire on April 30. 

Under Alabama law, most abortions are illegal starting in the 20th week of pregnancy.

11:01 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

It's 11 p.m. in New York and 11 a.m in Beijing. Here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic

  • Global cases top 1.8 million: At least 1,848,503 cases of the novel coronavirus and more than 114,000 deaths have now been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. This doesn't represent the total number of active cases, but rather the number of infections since the pandemic began. 
  • US worst-affected country by far: The United States has confirmed more than 556,000 cases, with New York City alone reporting over 104,000 infections. More than 22,000 people have died countrywide. Speaking on Sunday, the country's top medical expert on the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN that lives would have been saved if mitigation efforts had started earlier.
  • 2020 US Presidential vote could be affected: Speaking to CNN, Fauci said that he "can't guarantee" US voters will be able to cast their ballot for president in person in November, saying that there could be a rebound in coronavirus cases in autumn or winter.
  • Spain to begin loosening restrictions: Despite still reporting thousands of new infections every day, the Spanish government has announced it will begin rolling back some of its tough lockdown restrictions from Monday. The move is aimed at sectors like construction and manufacturing -- but non-essential retail outlets, bars and places of entertainment must remain closed. 
  • More than 100 new infections in China: For the first time in at least a week, the Chinese government has announced a three-figure rise in new infections, recording 108 new confirmed cases on Sunday. All but 10 of the new cases were imported.
  • Beijing tightens grip on research: All academic papers on Covid-19 will be subject to extra vetting by the Chinese government before being submitted for publication, according to a new policy. Studies on the origin of the virus will receive extra scrutiny and must be approved by central government officials.
10:31 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Spain begins to lift coronavirus restrictions as infections rise above 160,000

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will lift some restrictions on movement and service despite thousands of new cases of the coronavirus being reported in the country daily.

Speaking in an Easter Sunday news conference, Sánchez warned the Spanish people against complacency as the rate of infections and deaths from coronavirus continues to slow.

"I want to be clear, we are not even entering phase two ...The state of alarm continues, consequently the general confinement continues."

Sánchez said that the lifting of restrictions, some of which will begin on Monday, would be progressive and measured. Spain has been one of the countries most heavily-affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with at least 166,831 infections and 17,209 fatalities as of Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Markers would be established to measure the infection rate and the capacity of Spain’s health system, and those markers will determine which restrictions to lift. Above all, he said, the progress in combating the virus would not be put at risk.

Sanchez said he took responsibility for insufficient supplies of protective equipment such as masks -- but the whole world had been unprepared. "Spain has begun to guarantee systematic provision of these materials," and was taking "indescribable" steps to protect health care personnel. 

In the face of growing criticism from other parties of the government’s handling of the virus, Sánchez also called for a united political response -- in Spain and in Europe. He proposed "a great bargain" between political parties in Spain to begin the recovery -- a display of unity to match that of the Spanish people.

"No word will come from my lips but unity," he said.
10:11 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

More than 29,000 members of the National Guard supporting Covid-19 response

There are now more than 29,000 members of the National Guard on duty around the United States to deal with the response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a tweet from the chief of the National Guard Bureau. 

"We’re in this together, and we’ll get through this together," General Joseph Lengyel wrote.

Guardsmen have been called to serve a variety of roles in different states, from staffing emergency operations centers to restocking grocery shelves.

9:51 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

FDA green-lights system that can decontaminate "millions" of N95 respirators per day

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

An N95 protective mask sits on the dashboard of an ambulance in Teaneck, New Jersey, on Saturday, April 11.
An N95 protective mask sits on the dashboard of an ambulance in Teaneck, New Jersey, on Saturday, April 11. Angus Mordant/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration on Sunday announced a plan to decontaminate "millions" of N95 respirators per day, according to the agency.

Thousands of hospitals already have the system installed, according to the FDA, and could now use them on N95 respirators, which are in short supply.

It’s the agency’s third such authorization for a respirator decontamination system, with the first issued in late March and the second issued last week.

The agency said its most recent authorization, to a company called Advanced Sterilization Products, could allow for the decontamination of approximately 4 million N95 respirators per day.

“This authorization will help provide access to millions of respirators so our health care workers on the front lines can be better protected and provide the best care to patients with COVID-19,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn said in a news release.

The system, called the STERRAD Sterilization System, uses “vaporized hydrogen peroxide gas plasma sterilization,” according to the agency.

More than 6,300 hospitals in the US already have the system installed, according to the FDA, and each system can reprocess approximately 480 respirators per day.

The system is limited to “a maximum of 2 decontamination cycles per respirator,” according to the FDA letter authorizing its use.

9:29 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

New York City now has more than 100,000 cases of the novel coronavirus

A medical workers takes in a patient at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, on April 12.
A medical workers takes in a patient at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, on April 12. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A rise of at least 5,695 cases on Sunday has put New York City's total number of coronavirus infections at over 104,000, with at least 6,182 fatalities.

More than 189,000 cases have been reported in New York state -- the most heavily-affected state in the US. Hundreds of people are currently dying every day from coronavirus-related complications.

Speaking on Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said authorities wanted to reopen the state as soon as possible but said it was hard to know how the virus would continue to develop.

"I don't think anyone can make an informed decision right now," he said.
9:23 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Texas jail more than doubles

From CNN’s Andy Rose

There are now 25 inmates in Harris County, Texas, who are confirmed to have coronavirus, which more than doubles the previous count of nine within the jail population, according to a tweet Sunday evening from the sheriff’s office. 

The sheriff’s office says "dozens more inmates with symptoms are still awaiting test results." Harris County is home to Houston and is the most populous county in Texas.

8:54 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Ivanka Trump: "Wear a mask or face covering when out in public"

From CNN’s Jessica Durando 

Ivanka Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to urge people to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to "wear a mask or face covering when out in public."

8:42 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

More than 170,000 sign petition rejecting UK Parliament's "work-from-home" allowance

From CNN’s Robert Iddiols 

A petition calling for British MPs to be stripped of an additional £10,000, or almost $12,500, work-from-home allowance has gathered more than 170,000 signatures online.

The one-off sum is designed to cover increased costs as members of parliament and their staff work from home during the coronavirus lockdown.

"We are requesting that Parliament discuss this allowance and identify whether the funds could be put to better use," wrote Lucy Pearson, the petition's author.

Pearson cited personal protective equipment for frontline health workers as an example.

As of Sunday night, more than 172,000 people had signed the petition on the Change.org website.