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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12:27 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

New Yorkers can now get married over video conference, governor's office says

From CNN's Elise Hammond

State of New York
State of New York

People in New York can now get married remotely over video due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are today signing an executive order allowing people to get their marriage licenses remotely and also allowing clerks to perform ceremonies over video," Melissa DeRosa, the secretary to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said at a news conference today.

"There's now no excuse when the question comes up for marriage. No excuse. You can do it by Zoom –– it's yes or no," Cuomo joked.

12:13 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Availability of reagents is needed for widespread testing, New York governor says

From CNN's Elise Hammond

State of New York
State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state knows how to conduct testing and contact tracing, but the problem is how to do it on a widespread scale to ensure reopening the economy would not cause a spike in coronavirus infections.

"The more you test, the more information, the more you can reopen society," Cuomo said at a press conference today. "The trick with testing is not that we don't know how to do it, we've done it better in this state than almost any other state, almost any other country. It's bringing this up to scale."

The testing supply chain: Cuomo explained that tests are made by private laboratory equipment manufacturers who then sell their tests to smaller labs. These smaller labs sell to hospitals and the public.

In order for these tests to be performed, local labs must have necessary testing chemicals known as "reagents."

"They bought the machine. They have the machine. They have the test. But they need the reagents to do a higher volume of tests," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said the problem with getting more reagents hinges on them not being made in the US. Additionally, because these manufactures are regulated by the federal government, it controls where the reagents are distributed.

"We need help on that supply chain, especially when it becomes international. And we need coordination and basic partnership," Cuomo said.

New York called the top 50 producing labs in the state and say “we could be doing more if they would give us the reagents, that’s the log jam that we are in," Cuomo said.

The local labs have to go back to that manufacturer to run their tests, and “there’s very little uniformity among the tests so your trying to coordinate this whole private sector system," he said.

12:22 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Funding for hospitals is under negotiation between the White House and congressional Democrats

From CNN's Manu Raju and Lauren Fox

The White House and congressional Democrats are discussing adding tens of billions of dollars for hospitals as part of a small business package stalled in Congress, a source involved in the talks said Saturday.

One area of discussion is $75 billion for hospitals as part of the measure, the source said. An agreement on hospital funding could make it easier for the two sides to reach a deal after $250 billion in additional money for the small business program remains stalled in Congress amid Democratic demands to extend funding to other entities affected by the crisis.

Republicans are hopeful they could see a deal by Monday, but there is a caveat, one Republican close to the negotiations told CNN.

It only takes one member of either chamber to object to stop any deal from going forward.

12:13 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

New York received 1.5 million cloth masks from the federal government

State of New York
State of New York

The federal government sent 1.5 million cloth masks to New York state yesterday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today at a news conference.

"I'm going to thank them for that. These are cloth masks that we can distribute to people to help implement our policy where, if you are in public, you have to wear a mask. It's not a surgical mask. It's a cloth mask," Cuomo said. "We're asking people to wear masks and this is going to be very helpful because we're going to have additional masks to distribute to the public."

Some context: Cuomo signed an executive order that requires everyone in the state to wear a mask or a mouth/nose covering in public when not social distancing, he said Wednesday.

There will be a three-day notice period before the order is enforced, allowing New Yorkers to secure masks or coverings. He said he is considering a civil penalty for those who break the rule.

11:43 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

540 people died in New York over the past 24 hours from coronavirus

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that 540 people in New York died Friday from coronavirus, he said moments ago during a news conference.

The state also recorded 2,000 new admissions to a hospital or new Covid-19 diagnoses yesterday, he said.

"And if you notice, 2,000 we're not at the peak, but this is where we were just about in late March, when it started to go up. So we're not at the plateau anymore, but we're still not in a good position. And the worse news is still tragic news, number of deaths, 540. It's not as high as it was. It's still 540 people died yesterday. 540 people. 540 families. 504 in hospitals, 36 in nursing homes. Nursing homes are the single biggest fear in all of this. Vulnerable people in one place, it is the feeding frenzy for this virus," Cuomo said.

ICU admissions and intubation numbers down in New York, Cuomo added.

11:16 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

New awareness campaign focuses on face coverings on New York's public transit


The Metropolitan Transit Authority is launching a public awareness campaign to remind riders to wear face coverings.

The campaign, “Keep Them Covered,” compliments New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order requiring all New Yorkers to wear a face covering while riding public transportation.

The campaign includes digital signage across more than 7,000 digital screens –– including 4,000 in the NYC subway system, 2,600 on busses and about 550 on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.

There are also an additional 7,000 printed signs and audio announcements across the system.

“Wearing the face covering is critical to protecting public health and could ultimately save lives," said Patrick Warren, MTA chief safety officer.

11:03 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Secretary Esper to extend travel restrictions for Defense Department personnel

From CNN's Jamie Crawford

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks at a press conference in 2019.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks at a press conference in 2019. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Mark Esper will extend the current Defense Department wide travel restrictions through June 30, a Pentagon official said Saturday. 

The order will continue to stop the movement of most military forces and their families to new assignments around the world in order to get a better sense of testing forces for coronavirus. 

In a telephone briefing with reporters, Matthew Donovan, under secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, said the order will be effective on Monday. It was due to expire in May. 

“Continuing these travel restrictions is necessary because of the global nature of the department of defense enterprise. We have service members stationed in all 50 states and in numerous foreign nations across the globe. While many areas in the United States may be on a positive trajectory, some areas and many nations are not,” Donovan said in the briefing. "Secretary Esper will maintain a continuous conditions based assessment of the Covid-19 pandemic and will formally review this policy every 15 days to determine if conditions allow travel to resume earlier than June 30."

Some context: In a briefing at the Pentagon earlier this week, Esper said the decision to allow more movements for troops and their families to new postings around the globe will be “driven by science by what the scientists and doctors are telling us about how this virus moves because protecting our people, protecting our communities will be task number one."


10:58 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Trump properties in Florida furlough 713 workers

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Two Trump properties in Florida have furloughed a total of 713 workers due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to documents the Trump Organization filed with the Florida Department of Labor and local officials.

There are 560 employees furloughed at Trump National Doral Miami and 153 employees were furloughed at the Mar-A-Lago club.

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

“We anticipate that this cessation of nonessential operations of the Club and these furloughs will be temporary. Based on the fluid and rapidly evolving nature of this situation, however, at this time we are unable to provide a specific date at which we will be able to recommence regular Club operations and return affected employees to work,” the organization’s head of human resources said in a letter regarding Doral.

A spokesman for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment regarding the furloughs.

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

10:37 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

New York City residents can now report people who are not social distancing

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Times Square is seen virtually empty on April 17.
Times Square is seen virtually empty on April 17. Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images

New York City residents can now report other people for not social distancing.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new service that encourages New Yorkers to take a photo of a crowded place, or a group of people who are not following social distancing guidelines, and text it to a phone number that alerts authorities.

"We still know there's some people that need to get the message and that means sometimes making sure the enforcement is there to educate people and make clear we've got to have social distancing," de Blasio said in a tweet today. "When you see a crowd, when you see a line that's distanced, when you see a supermarket that too crowded, anything, you can report it right away so we can get help there to fix the problem."

De Blasio said that once New Yorkers send the photo, "we will make sure enforcement comes right away."

He said the new reporting system is about saving lives and making sure social distancing is continuing in the city.

Some context: There has been 13,202 deaths due to the coronavirus so far in New York City, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Watch the mayor's announcement: