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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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.

2:26 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

At least 40% of New Jersey coronavirus deaths are linked to long-term care facilities

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

At least 40% of coronavirus deaths in New Jersey are connected to long-term care facilities, according to Health Commissioner Judy M. Persichilli.

There has been 1,655 coronavirus deaths associated with long term care so far, Persichilli said.

This figure includes “Covid positive deaths, deaths in persons with pending test results, and respiratory illness deaths for which Covid testing was not performed," she said.

Persichilli said long term care facilities were associated with 125 of the deaths reported Friday.

2:26 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Contamination at CDC lab may have caused delays in rolling out coronavirus testing early on

From CNN's Sara Murray, Nick Valenica and Wesley Bruer

Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Contamination in manufacturing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's test for coronavirus caused weeks of delays that slowed the US response to the pandemic, multiple health officials told CNN.

The problem stemmed in part from the CDC not adhering to its own protocols, a Food and Drug Administration spokesperson said on Saturday.

“[The] CDC made its test in one of its laboratories, rather than in its manufacturing facilities. CDC did not manufacture its test consistent with its own protocol," the spokesperson said.

Some background: In mid-February, the CDC was uncertain whether its test was malfunctioning due to a design issue or a manufacturing issue, two FDA officials said.

That was concerning to the FDA. On Feb. 22, an FDA official traveled to Atlanta and spent the following days visiting CDC labs to try to sort out the testing problem.

According to an administration official, the FDA determined contamination was most likely occurring during the manufacturing process and that the CDC had appeared to violate its own manufacturing protocols. 

By Feb. 27 the FDA and the CDC worked together to shift the manufacturing of the CDC test kits to IDT, an outside manufacturer, two FDA officials said. Those test kits functioned correctly and were shipped to public health labs.

“The test manufactured by IDT was distributed and has encountered no issues, thus supporting the conclusion that it was a manufacturing issue,” the FDA spokesperson said in the statement.

The inspector general also announced that it is doing its own investigation of the test creation and expects to complete the review by 2021.

The Washington Post was first to report the issue of contamination.

1:50 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

New Jersey governor calls coronavirus "a different enemy"

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Gov. Phil Murphy holds a news conference in Trenton, New Jersey, on April 11.
Gov. Phil Murphy holds a news conference in Trenton, New Jersey, on April 11. Chris Pedota/The Record/AP

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said that anyone comparing Covid-19 to the flu has taken the wrong "point of view."

While there are flu outbreaks ever year and people die from the disease in New Jersey, it has not caused the "devastation" Covid-19 has, Murphy said. Data science and numbers prove "it’s a different enemy," he added.

In just six weeks, roughly 4,000 people have died from Covid-19 in New Jersey, Murphy said. 

Covid-19 is “more virulent” than the flu, and the hospitalization rate is far greater, he said.

The state continues to aggressively ramp up its testing capabilities because "having a strong testing regime in place is critical for us moving forward as we begin to plan at some point – whenever that is – to reopen our state,” Murphy said. 

1:42 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

New York attorney general issues guidance on stimulus payments

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York Attorney General Letitia James issued official guidance to state banking institutions creditors and debt collectors making clear that financial relief provided by stimulus payments under the CARES act are exempt from garnishment under the state law.

A release from the AG says these emergency stimulus payments were not designated as exempt from garnishment, allowing debt collectors to potentially benefit before consumers. 

“Today, we are taking concrete action to ensure debt collectors keep their hands off New Yorkers’ stimulus payments,” James said in a news release from her office. "This official guidance makes clear that banks and debt collectors cannot freeze or seize stimulus funds that are on their way to New York families, and any institution that violates this guidance will face swift legal action from my office.”
1:32 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Trump properties furlough more than 1,900 employees across the US

From CNN's Nicky Robertson and Cristina Alesci

The Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas on April 3.
The Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas on April 3. Jacob Kepler/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

More than 1,900 Trump Organization employees around the US have been furloughed due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to public documents.

Trump properties in Virginia, Nevada, Washington, DC, Illinois and New York have furloughed over 1,200 employees combined. In addition, 713 workers were furloughed at two properties in Florida.

The organization said the furloughs are of non-essential employees.

A spokesman for the Trump Organization did not respond to CNN's request for comment regarding the furloughs.

The real estate publication the Real Deal first reported the furloughs.

6:46 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

UK war veteran who raised more than $29 million for health care workers honored at hospital opening

From CNN's Nada Bashir

Captain Tom Moore completes the 100th length of his back garden in Marston Moretaine, England, on April 16.
Captain Tom Moore completes the 100th length of his back garden in Marston Moretaine, England, on April 16. Vickie Flores/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A 99-year-old British war veteran Tom Moore, who raised more than $29 million for the United Kingdom's National Health Service by walking 100 laps of his garden, has been invited as the “guest of honor” to preside over the opening of a new NHS Nightingale field hospital in northern England. 

“We’ve all been humbled by the gestures, large and small, by people across the country to show support to those working so hard to protect the NHS and to save lives –– none more so than Captain Tom Moore, who has raised an astonishing £23 million this week for NHS charities,” UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said Saturday. 

“I can’t think of a more worthy person to be the guest of honor at the opening of the new Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate next week,” he continued. 

Some background: Moore, who will turn 100 later this month, began a JustGiving fundraiser on April 8, initially hoping to raise £1,000 for NHS Charities Together, which raises funds for UK hospitals, including for staff, volunteers and patients affected by the coronavirus crisis. 

The World War II veteran completed the challenge on Thursday after walking 10 laps of his garden each day, aided by a walking frame.

Moore told CNN on Friday that he was "absolutely overwhelmed" by the money raised.

1:15 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

There are at least 37,309 coronavirus-related deaths in the US

There are at least 711,197 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 37,309 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the country.

The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases. 

1:09 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Coronavirus is having a "disproportionate" impact on ethnic communities in the UK, data shows

From CNN's Nada Bashir

Housing minister Robert Jenrick speaks on March 29.
Housing minister Robert Jenrick speaks on March 29. Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic appears to be “disproportionately” affecting black and ethnic minority communities in the United Kingdom, housing minister Robert Jenrick said Saturday. 

“There does appear to be a disproportionate impact of the virus upon BAME (black and minority ethnic) communities in the UK,” Jenrick told reporters. “I am acutely aware of this challenge and have been working with different groups across the country, ensuring that the voices of BAME communities are heard." 

Speaking at Downing Street’s daily coronavirus briefing, Jenrick said the government’s chief medical officer has commissioned work from Public Health England to “better understand” the issue. 

“There are a number of reasons for this that have been posited, and it is right that we do thorough research swiftly so that we can better understand it and take action as required,” Jenrick added.