April 18 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Brett McKeehan, Laura Smith-Spark, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 8:59 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020
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4:37 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Virus 'growth is slowing' in Illinois despite more than 1,500 new cases reported, state health director says

From CNN's Chuck Johnston

Temporary hospital rooms are constructed inside the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, Illinois, on April 17.
Temporary hospital rooms are constructed inside the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, Illinois, on April 17. Tyler LaRiviere/Pool/Getty Images

Coronavirus "growth is slowing" in Illinois, state Health Director Ngozi Ezike said Saturday.

The state reported 1,585 new cases and 125 new deaths Saturday, Ezike said.

Illinois has 29,160 positive cases and 1,259 deaths from coronavirus statewide, according to Ezike.

Ezike said despite the new cases officials are "cautiously optimistic" that "growth is slowing."

6:44 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

First inmate in Iowa tests positive for coronavirus

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian 

The Iowa Department of Corrections reports that an inmate at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center (IMCC) tested positive for coronavirus late Friday night, according to a press release from the Iowa Department of Corrections.

The inmate was newly processed to IMCC, and arrived from Henry County on Thursday, the statement read. The individual is currently undergoing a 14-day quarantine to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The inmate is currently in medical isolation, and a thorough contact tracing is taking place to identify any individuals that may have been exposed to him since his arrival, the statement read.

4:32 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

California governor secures nearly 11,000 hotel rooms for homeless residents during pandemic

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian 

Tents line a sidewalk in Skid Row near downtown Los Angeles on April 18.
Tents line a sidewalk in Skid Row near downtown Los Angeles on April 18. David McNew/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference on Saturday that the state has secured 10,974 hotel rooms and 5,025 rooms from Motel 6 in 19 counties for homeless residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We had an audacious goal a few weeks back of identifying 15,000 hotel rooms that would be made available as a subset of our larger homeless strategy to get people off the streets," Newsom said, adding that "4,211 individuals are now inside off the streets, out of our shelters, representing roughly 38% of all those hotel rooms now being occupied."

4:25 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Massachusetts governor compares coronavirus fight to the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings

From CNN’s Carma Hassan 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Gen. James McConville, the current US Army chief of staff, joined Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker at the Boston Hope Field Medical Station Saturday where he called the coronavirus an "invisible enemy."

"We are in a war against an invisible enemy. The Covid-19 virus," McConville said.

McConville was later asked how he felt about the deaths of the veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home and he said, "The loss of life is absolutely terrible. We don’t want to lose anybody."

When asked if he has a message to health care workers as they fight this enemy, McConville said he was in Afghanistan when the Boston Marathon bombing happened. He said he was proud of the response by Boston and the commonwealth, then and now, because the community became "Boston strong, they became Massachusetts strong and they will defeat this virus."

Baker noted that tumultuous events like the Boston Bombing are usually visible, unlike the current fight against the coronavirus.

What we are dealing with here, as the general said, is an invisible, insidious enemy and if you go outside and you walk around, it looks pretty much the same as it always did except there’s nobody on the streets, there’s very few automobiles, and everything for the most part is closed," Baker said.

The governor said that dealing with this virus is "a different kind of battle than one you can actually see what you are up against."

This "will, in some extent, be a marathon for us as well," the governor said.

4:14 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Turkey passes Iran with highest number of confirmed cases in the Middle East

From CNN’s Gul Tuysuz

A nurse cares for a coronavirus patient at the Medicana International Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 14.
A nurse cares for a coronavirus patient at the Medicana International Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 14. Umit Bektas/Reuters

Turkey has passed Iran for the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Middle East region with a total of 82,329 confirmed cases.

A total of 3,783 positives were confirmed over the last 24 hours, according to the latest Turkish health ministry figures, a slight decrease from the previous week in which daily positives hovered around the 4,000 mark. 

The daily number of deaths from the virus is 121, bringing the total number of fatalities to 1,890.

At least 1,894 people are receiving treatment in intensive care units, and 1,054 of those are intubated, the ministry said.

The total number of patients who have recovered is 10,453 with 1,890 people discharged from the hospital Saturday after testing negative, according to the ministry figures.

Turkey is under a weekend curfew that ends at midnight local time Sunday.

The interior ministry announced a 15-day extension of travel restrictions in place across 31 provinces which covers nearly two-thirds of the Turkish population.

3:31 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Infectious disease doctor says US needs more testing to get "on top" of coronavirus

From CNN's Elise Hammond

An infectious disease doctor said the US has "somewhere between one-third and one-tenth the number of tests we need in order to think about being on top of the testing issue," when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the chief of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, told CNN the US lost time at the beginning of the pandemic when the first test didn't work initially, according to health officials.

"While we were waiting for this test we were losing time in the containment stage of the epidemic," Walensky said. "We couldn't rapidly test people, we couldn't contact trace them and isolate the infected persons and quarantine their contacts and during that time we got community spread."

Experts and government officials have said widespread testing will be crucial to reopening the economy safely.

3:06 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Oregon executive order issued to prevent creditors from garnishing federal stimulus payments

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order Friday preventing creditors or debt collectors from garnishing federal CARES Act recovery rebate payments, a news release from her office said.

The order ensures that recovery checks go towards the essentials that people need rather than to collection agencies.

“Many Oregonians, through no fault of their own, are struggling to pay their bills, their rent, or even buy essentials like groceries and prescription drugs,” Brown said in the statement. “These recovery checks were meant to provide relief, not reward debt collection agencies for preying on Oregonians who have lost their livelihoods due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Some exceptions: The protection does not extend to "garnishments due to criminal actions requiring restitution or civil judgments based on a criminal conviction," according to the statement.

3:17 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Pence discussed coronavirus at US Air Force Academy commencement

From CNN’s Jason Hoffman

US Department of Defense
US Department of Defense

Vice President Mike Pence discussed how “America is being tested” by coronavirus during a commencement address he made at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Saturday.

Pence said that when hardship comes to the US, Americans come together and rise to the challenge. Pence outlined how Americans across all walks of life are working to fight coronavirus before discussing the military specifically.

He mentioned active duty military personnel deployed in hotspots around the country, including the National Guard and Air Force medical personnel in New York City. 

“You see it in everyday Americans but in these challenging times, as we've seen on this campus, we also see it in the American military, like the thousands of active duty military medical personnel that are deployed in hotspots across the nation. Like the citizen soldiers of the National Guard, that are active in states across the country, supporting our health care workers and first responders," Pence said.
6:45 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Rhode Island governor says peak in coronavirus cases is expected in the next few weeks

From CNN's Evan Simko-Bednarski

Beds are set up inside a field hospital in North Kingston, Rhode Island, on April 8.
Beds are set up inside a field hospital in North Kingston, Rhode Island, on April 8. Barry Chin/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo praised Rhode Islanders Saturday for adhering to social distancing measures that have reduced the rate of infections, deaths, and hospitalizations in her state.

The number of cases, deaths, and hospitalizations continues to rise, however, and Raimondo estimated that the peak in the state would come by the end of April or beginning of May.

There have been 4,491 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Rhode Island out of 32,826 tests. So far, 137 people died from coronavirus in the state, Raimondo said.

Raimondo said her state was currently testing roughly 2,000 people a day for the disease, but that those numbers would need to increase dramatically before any firm decisions could be made regarding reopening the economy.

More precautions: An order requiring nearly all essential workers to wear cloth face coverings went into effect today, the governor stated. The order also requires customer-facing businesses to remind and encourage customers to wear face coverings. Children under 2-years-old and those whose health would be adversely affected by wearing a mask are excluded, she said, but noted that if a resident's health would be harmed by wearing a mask, they shouldn't be in public right now.

The governor said that she expects to have regulations in place that would allow garden centers in the state to open for limited business by April 27.

Raimondo also announced a Rhode Island Artist Relief Fund, which has already distributed $126,000 to roughly 250 artists statewide.