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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8:58 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here.

8:52 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Trump warns 'there could be a difference' between enforcement of social distancing at mosques vs. churches

From Nicky Robertson and Jason Hoffman

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Donald Trump said Saturday that there "could be a difference” in how authorities enforce social distancing guidelines at mosques versus how they do at churches.

This was in a response to a question regarding a post by conservative author and political commentator Paul E. Sperry he retweeted today.

Trump said that he spoke with both imams and rabbis but claims that "politicians treat different faiths differently."

Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, called Trump’s remarks "insulting and frustrating on the eve of Ramadan … our president chooses to use his energy and platform to amplify the hateful words" of the original tweet."

"As is often the case, the President is yet again stoking anti-Muslim hate and sowing division at a time when he is failing to do his job," Khera said.

Asked if he thought mosques might not follow the social distancing guidelines, Trump responded, "I don't think that at all. I'm somebody who believes in faith. It matters not what your faith is. But politicians treat different faiths differently. I don't know what happened with our country. But the Christian faith is treated much differently than it was, and I think it's treated unfairly."

The retweet ignores the fact that President Trump is pushing for states to ease social distancing guidelines if they are ready to do so, and for weeks has been pushing for some of those restrictions to be lifted by May 1. Ramadan will be observed between April 23 and May 23 this year.

8:47 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

More than 1,300 inmates test positive for coronavirus at 3 Ohio corrections facilities

From CNN’s Hollie Silverman and Chuck Johnston

More than 1,300 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus across three facilities in Ohio, officials announced Saturday.

Officials saw an increase of coronavirus cases at the Pickaway Correctional Institution, Marion Correction Institution and Franklin Medical Center within the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction system earlier this week, Melanie Amato, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Health told CNN by phone Saturday.

The number of positive cases at each location are as follows:

  • 1,057 inmates at the Marion Correctional Institution
  • 202 inmates at the Pickaway Correctional Institution
  • 101 inmates at Franklin Medical Center

A decision was made by officials on Thursday to test all inmates and staff at the Pickaway and Marion facilities, Amato said. Testing began Thursday and results have been coming back in stages.

About 103 staff members also tested positive at Marion, according to Amato. One of those staff members passed away. No additional details were immediately available on the death.

Four inmates at Pickaway have died from coronavirus and 64 staff members tested positive at the facility. No additional details were immediately available on the deaths.

Amato said inmates who tested positive and inmates who did not test positive are being separated. 

The increase in positive was expected by the governor's office due to the expanded testing capacity in ODRC, Dan Tierney, press secretary for Gov. Mike DeWine's office told CNN by phone Saturday.

All inmates and all staff at the state-run correction facilities are being tested, according to Tierney.

"Large numbers are eye popping but one of the big reasons here is it's a congregate setting," Tierney said.

CNN has reached out to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for more information related to inmate conditions.

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.