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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8:10 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

CDC publishes updated guidelines to 'get and keep America open'

From CNN’s Nick Valencia

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new details on community mitigation, as part of the White House Task Force’s plan to "get and keep America open."

The guidelines, posted overnight Friday on the CDC website, include actions "persons and communities can take to help slow the transmission of the virus."

New concepts include emphasizing personal responsibility and tailoring strategies to target specific populations.

"Mitigation strategies can be scaled up or down depending on the evolving local situation," the CDC said on its website. "When developing mitigation plans, communities should identify ways to ensure the safety and social well-being of groups that may be especially impacted by mitigation strategies, including individuals at increased risk for severe illness."

Regarding financial resources, the CDC said it has awarded nearly $730 million in funding to carry out surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications and other preparedness and response activities.

The CDC says it has "500 existing field staff embedded in state, tribal, local and territorial health agencies, most of whom have pivoted to support the COVID-19 response."

Community protection teams are being sent to eight states to conduct contact tracing. The eight states include:

  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Rapid testing on a wide scale and a contract tracing systems to quickly isolate any outbreaks are widely considered to be necessary in order to reopen the economy.

When asked in what capacity the CDC teams would be working, a federal health official with knowledge of the community protection initiative said they will be "testing new technologies," including "having people do self-swabbing and evaluating how effective that is. They are also looking at some mobile technology to look at contact tracing."

7:58 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Scenes from coronavirus protests across the US

Protesters gathered in several states Saturday to voice their opposition to stay-at-home orders issued to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Here are some scenes from Annapolis, Maryland, Indianapolis, Indiana, and Concord, New Hampshire:

A person holds up a sign while protesting restrictions and lockdowns in Annapolis, Maryland.
A person holds up a sign while protesting restrictions and lockdowns in Annapolis, Maryland. WBAL-TV

Protesters hold up signs outside the governor's residence in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Protesters hold up signs outside the governor's residence in Indianapolis, Indiana. WRTV 

Protesters gather outside of the State House in Cocord, New Hampshire
Protesters gather outside of the State House in Cocord, New Hampshire WMUR-TV
7:30 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

NY, NJ and Connecticut align policies allowing boatyards and marinas to open for personal use

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced Saturday that marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers "will be allowed open for personal use as long as strict social distancing and sanitization protocols are followed," according to a release from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

The states are aligning their policies for marinas and boatyards, noting that chartered watercraft services or rentals will not be allowed and restaurant activity at these sites must be limited to take-out or delivery only.

"A unified approach is the most effective way to alleviate confusion for the residents of our states during the ongoing public health emergency," Murphy said.

7:28 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

667 FDNY members have coronavirus as of Saturday

From CNN’s Mark Morales

At least 667 members of the Fire Department of New York have Covid-19, FDNY spokesman Jim Long tells CNN. The number includes firefighters, EMS and civilian personnel.

There are more than 2,200 members of the FDNY on medical leave currently, which also includes non-coronavirus-related illnesses or injuries.

7:27 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

There are at least 732,197 coronavirus cases in the US

From CNN’s Chuck Johnston 

There are at least 732,197 cases of coronavirus and at least 38,664 people have died from the virus in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of US coronavirus.

Track coronavirus cases in the US using this interactive CNN map.

7:38 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Testing for coronavirus must increase by more than 3 times to be able to reopen America, experts say  

From CNN's Gina Yu

A medical worker handles a coronavirus test at a drive-through testing center in Springfield, Tennessee, on April 18.
A medical worker handles a coronavirus test at a drive-through testing center in Springfield, Tennessee, on April 18. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The US needs to conduct at least 500,000 tests for Covid-19 every day to be able to successfully open the economy and stay open, according to three Harvard researchers.

Currently, about 150,000 tests per day are completed, and about 20% of those tests have been positive. More testing is necessary to be able to capture who is infected and might put others at risk, researchers said.

The current percentage of tests that are positive in the US is too high, the researchers said. The World Health Organization has suggested that an adequate test positive rate should be between 3 and 12%, while the US rate is around 20%.

To achieve a 10% test positivity rate by May 1, about 580,000 people per day would need to be tested, research shows. If instead, contact tracing is considered and an estimated 10 contacts are tested for each estimated positive case by May 1, about 535,000 tests would need to be conducted per day.

The researchers include:

  • Dr. Ashish Jha, faculty director of the Harvard Global Health Institute
  • Dr. Thomas Tsai, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Benjamin Jacobson, research assistant at the Harvard Global Health Institute

Scholars believe the numbers are underestimated, Jha wrote in an email to CNN. She said a formal write-up of their research will be available in the future.

“If we can’t be doing at least 500,000 tests a day by May 1, it is hard to see any way we can remain open,” the researchers wrote.

President Donald Trump told reporters the US has conducted more than 3.78 million coronavirus tests to date at a Friday White House briefing.

7:07 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Trump: Pandemic response should not be 'partisan witch hunt' but he criticizes Democratic governors

From Nicky Robertson

Patrick Semansky/AP
Patrick Semansky/AP

Invoking his favorite phrase of criticism directed at the Russia investigation, President Donald Trump says the response to the coronavirus “…should not be a partisan witch hunt.” He added that “we have to work together” to address the pandemic.

However, Trump attacked three Democratic governors Friday urging people to “liberate” Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia.

For two days in a row, Trump has harshly criticized Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, wrongly claiming Northam wants to take away the Second Amendment rights of Virginians. Trump is referring to a bill Northam signed that allows law enforcement to take temporary control of guns if people are deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Trump claimed that some people are "attempting to bring this into politics." He later went on to claim that Democratic senators were "nasty" and "rude" on a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence yesterday when several senators asked tough questions about the lack of testing availability.

7:01 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

4,347 NYPD members test positive for coronavirus to date

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

To date, 4,347 members of the New York Police Department have tested positive for coronavirus, the department said in a news release.

As of Saturday, 5,324 uniformed members of the NYPD were on sick report, which accounts for 14.7% of the uniformed work force, down from a high of 19.8%, the department said.

Of those out sick, about 1,855 uniformed members and 375 civilian members have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

A total of 2,089 members of the NYPD have returned to work full after recovery.

6:50 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Trump says 'some governors have gotten carried away' with social distancing measures

From Nicky Robertson

Patrick Semansky/AP
Patrick Semansky/AP

President Donald Trump said Saturday he believes "some of the governors have gotten carried away" with social distancing measures, when asked about protests against social-distancing measures taking place across the nation.

He said that "a lot of people don’t have to be told to do what they are doing," in following social distancing measures. His comments come as protests against coronavirus-related restrictions continue in various states across the country.