April 19 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Jenni Marsh, Laura Smith-Spark, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 10:02 p.m. ET, April 19, 2020
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5:11 p.m. ET, April 19, 2020

MTA says shutting down mass transit could lead to even more deaths

From CNN's Laura Ly

A person waits for the train at a subway station in New York City on April 17.
A person waits for the train at a subway station in New York City on April 17. Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to work better with the New York Police Department on social distancing and monitoring the number of people that can be on each car.

His comments Sunday came after he was asked about some city council members urging the governor to shut down the subways to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.  

The mayor also said he doesn’t know another way people could get around if trains were shut down.

MTA spokesman Shams Tarek released a statement Sunday saying "even with subway ridership down more than 90 percent, we are making it possible for doctors, nurses, first responders, grocery and pharmacy workers, and other essential personnel to get to work and save lives."

Shutting down mass transit during this unprecedented crisis would be dangerous and could lead to even more deaths."

Tarek also said "MTA has led the nation in its efforts to protect its employees and customers, disinfecting its stations and full fleet of rolling stock and even breaking away from federal guidance and providing hundreds of thousands of masks to our heroic workforce before the CDC recommended it.”

4:55 p.m. ET, April 19, 2020

UK government spokesman refutes 'untrue' and 'sloppy' Sunday Times critique of its early response to Covid-19

From CNN's Luke McGee and Nada Bashir

A UK government spokesman has refuted wide-ranging claims made by The Sunday Times in a damning article that criticizes the government’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic, arguing Sunday that the article contains a “series of falsehoods" that "misrepresent" the government's actions.

This article contains a series of falsehoods and errors and actively misrepresents the enormous amount of work which was going on in government at the earliest stages of the coronavirus outbreak," the government’s spokesman said in a statement. 

"The Prime Minister has been at the helm of the response to this, providing leadership during this hugely challenging period for the whole nation," the statement added. 

The spokesman’s response comes after Cabinet minister Michael Gove acknowledged that -- as reported by the Sunday Times -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not attend five national security COBR meetings focused on coronavirus in January and February.

According to the government’s spokesman, it is "entirely normal and proper" for such meetings to be chaired by the relevant secretary of state, as opposed to the Prime Minister. 

“It is ridiculous to suggest that coronavirus only reached the UK because the Health Secretary and not the PM chaired a COBR meeting,” the spokesman said. 

Additionally, The Sunday Times reported that a number of opportunities to reduce the impact of the pandemic had been missed by the UK government in January, February and March, claiming that UK officials "sleepwalked into disaster" and "played down the looming threat" of coronavirus. 

The government’s spokesman rejected such claims, asserting the government "started to act as soon as it was alerted to a potential outbreak" of coronavirus. 

“The suggestion that the government’s attitude was nonchalant is wrong. Extensive and detailed work was going on in government because of coronavirus," the spokesman said. 

"The government’s scientific advisory groups started to meet in mid-January and (Health Secretary Matt) Hancock instituted daily meetings to grip the emerging threat. We have taken the right steps at the right time guided by the scientific evidence," the spokesman added. 

3:26 p.m. ET, April 19, 2020

There have been at least 40,000 coronavirus deaths in the US

The United States now has at least 40,585 reported coronavirus deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

There are at least 742,442 cases of the virus in the US, according to the university.

2:50 p.m. ET, April 19, 2020

Tyson Foods issues statement on coronavirus safety after roughly 100 workers test positive

From CNN's Carma Hassan

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tyson Foods says it is following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Department of Agriculture and health departments after some of its team members tested positive for coronavirus.

Earlier today, CNN reported that 90 plant workers in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, tested positive for coronavirus, but there have been no deaths

Tyson Foods Senior Vice President Hector Gonzalez said in a video statement that the company is requiring workers to take their temperatures at the start of each shift and wear face coverings. The company has also expanded work spaces by erecting tents. 

“We're extremely grateful for the work our team members are doing and for the role they play in the critical supply chain that extends from farm to fork,” Gonzalez said.

Tyson Foods spokesperson Worth Sparkman said in a statement the company is also sanitizing plant production areas and has deep cleaned other areas of the facility, including employee break rooms and locker rooms.

"We have team members dedicated to constantly wiping down and sanitizing common areas. In some cases, this additional cleaning involves suspending a day of production," Sparkman said.

2:28 p.m. ET, April 19, 2020

There are at least 742,442 coronavirus cases in the US

According to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the US, there are at least 742,442 cases of coronavirus in the country and at least 39,291 people have died from the disease.

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

2:30 p.m. ET, April 19, 2020

100,000 people gather for funeral in Bangladesh, defying coronavirus lockdown

From Abir Mahmud in Bangladesh and Jaide Garcia 

Masuk Hridoy/AP
Masuk Hridoy/AP

More than 100,000 people defied Bangladesh's lockdown order on Saturday to attend the funeral of a senior leader of the Islamist party in the district of Brahmanbaria, according to the prime minister's special assistant, Shah Ali Farhad, and the Brahmanbaria police spokesperson Imtiaz Ahmed. 

The funeral for Maulana Zubayer Ahmad Ansari, an Islamic teacher, broke the country's ban of no more than five people attending prayers at one time, sparking fears of a new coronavirus outbreak emerging from the event. 

Tens of thousands of people flooded the roads to Brahmanbaria district, walking from the surrounding areas to attend the funeral, according to Mohammad Mamunul Haque, the joint secretary general of the Islamist party. 

The police were unable to control the crowd, resulting in the officer in charge and assistant superintendent being withdrawn from the event and a "three-member probe committee" being formed to start an investigation into the congregation activity, according to Sohel Rana, the Bangladesh Police Central spokesperson.

Bangladesh has a recorded total of 2,456 positive cases of coronavirus, with 91 deaths as of Sunday, though critics say the true number is higher and still unknown due to lack of testing kits. 

2:16 p.m. ET, April 19, 2020

Coronavirus outbreak in Austria is "under control," chancellor says

From CNN's Nada Bashir

A view of a shop in Vienna, Austria, on April 17.
A view of a shop in Vienna, Austria, on April 17. David Visnjic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The coronavirus outbreak in Austria in "under control," Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Sunday, crediting the positive development as a result of the government's early implementation of strict containment measures. 

"We were one of the first countries in Europe which decided to have a complete lockdown, and I think it was extremely important that we were faster than others and our reaction was tougher than in other countries," Kurz told CNN. "It was good that we did it because now the situation in Austria is under control. We only have about 100 new infections every day," he added. 

According to the Austrian leader, the number of new in-country coronavirus cases continues to go down, prompting the government to look towards a gradual relaxation of the nationwide lockdown. 

"What we are trying is to re-open very slowly and very carefully. We are doing this step-by-step, always with two weeks in between," Kurz said. "It is important that we always have two weeks in between, which gives us the opportunity to watch the numbers very carefully and slow down our re-opening plan and, if necessary, pull the emergency brake."

Kurz outlined that the government expects to allow small shops to open on Monday, extending to all shops by May 1; by mid-May, the government will look to extend this measure further to include restaurants, he added. 

"Of course, we will still have restrictions like social distancing…people in shops and also, in the future, people in restaurants and elsewhere will have to wear masks," Kurz said. 

1:56 p.m. ET, April 19, 2020

Cuba records more than 1,000 cases of coronavirus 

From CNN's Patrick Oppmann in Havana 

Cuba has reported 1,035 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to health officials on Sunday.

This is the first time the total number of infected people has topped 1,000 on the island. 

Cuba has enacted some of the region’s toughest restrictions as officials combat the spread of the disease, suspending nearly all domestic and international travel. Citizens who return from abroad are required to spend 14 days at government isolation facilities and anyone suspected of having coronavirus must immediately go to hospital for treatment.

The economic impacts of the pandemic have led to longer lines for food and other basic items, complicating efforts to stem the spread of the infection. 

As of Sunday, the death toll stands at 34, according to Dr. Francisco Durán García, Cuba’s national director of Epidemiology at the Ministry of Public Health. 

1:27 p.m. ET, April 19, 2020

Pelosi suggests she would support a proposal to allow proxy voting during the pandemic

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks to the press on March 27.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks to the press on March 27. Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested she could back a proposal from other Democratic congressional leaders to allow proxy voting during the coronavirus pandemic — a possible solution to the logistical issues facing members of Congress as they attempt to navigate the challenge of working on complex legislation from afar. 

Pelosi said on Fox today that relevant committee chairs had arrived at the idea of proxy voting after she tasked them with considering ways to keep up with House business while members adhered to federal guidelines recommending against travel and gathering in groups.