April 23 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 2:40 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020
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9:16 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Don't eat or inject yourself with disinfectant, warns FDA commissioner

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn.
US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn. Source: CNN

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump suggested that scientists may want to explore bringing UV light inside the body to kill a Covid-19 infection, or should consider the use of disinfectant that "knocks it out in a minute ... by injection inside or almost a cleaning."

"I certainly wouldn't recommend the internal ingestion of a disinfectant," said US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, who is also a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

Speaking on CNN's global coronavirus town hall, Hahn added that it's a "natural question" given that there is some preliminary data showing that light therapy can have an impact on the coronavirus.

Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore health commissioner, agreed that nobody should be ingesting bleach or other disinfectants.

"I don't think there's any need to hedge on that," she said. "Do not try these things at home, and follow your doctor's advice and follow good public health guidance."


9:02 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Here are some of your questions, answered

A customer wears a mask as she shops for groceries on Friday, April 3, in Salt Lake City.
A customer wears a mask as she shops for groceries on Friday, April 3, in Salt Lake City. Rick Bowmer/AP

A panel of experts at CNN's ongoing global coronavirus town hall are answering questions sent in by viewers.

If I touch an infected surface and touch my mouth, I could get infected, but you say if I eat contaminated food, I will be fine. How do you explain this?

You won't get sick from eating the virus because it's not a food-borne illness -- it's a respiratory illness, said CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta. When you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, the danger is that you could be infected by inhaling the virus or by touching the mucus membranes in those areas.

Is there a way to disinfect and reuse face masks?

N95 masks and other types of face masks are meant to be single-use, said Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore health commissioner.

But hospitals and medical staff have run out of N95 masks, forcing some to find ways to reuse them. There are some "promising" studies that suggest vaporized hydrogen peroxide or UV light could be used to disinfect the masks, but it's still not optimal, Wen said.

How can I avoid being contaminated by my groceries?

Here are three things you can do to lower the risk, said Wen.

  1. Reduce the frequency you're going to the grocery store -- you're more likely to be infected by someone coughing at the store than by touching your groceries.
  2. Wipe down the shopping cart and the handle of the basket -- things you touch a lot at the supermarket.
  3. When you get home, put the bags on the ground, and wipe down the containers and groceries with soap and water.
8:58 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

US has enough tests for phase one of reopening, coronavirus task force member says

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

The US has enough tests and supporting material to accommodate the first phase of the White House’s plan to reopen the country, according to a member of the administration's coronavirus task force.

“We are confident that we have enough tests for phase one of the reopening America plan but we do acknowledge the fact that we need to keep the pressure on developing more tests, getting more tests out there,” White House coronavirus task force member and FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn told CNN during a global town hall on Thursday evening.

Hahn said the administration’s appraisal is based on the 1.1 million tests now being performed weekly.

He added the task force is working with members of Congress and state governors to “identify” and “fill” gaps for supporting matter like agents and swabs.

Watch Hahn's remarks:

8:51 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

There is no evidence suggesting coronavirus can be transmitted by food, FDA commissioner says

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn. Source: CNN

The coronavirus cannot be transmitted by food or food packaging, according to Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration.

Hahn addressed this topic Thursday evening during CNN's global town hall on Covid-19.

"I can give great assurance that the American food supply is safe. We also very much care about our food workers, both in the retail and in the manufacturing setting. So it's really important for folks to follow the CDC guidance in terms of protection. And to the question about getting infection, we have no evidence that the virus, the Covid-19 virus, is transmitted by food or by food packaging," Hahn said.

Some context: Hahn's comments come after Tyson Foods closed its largest pork plant as a growing number of workers become ill from coronavirus infections.

The plant, located in Waterloo, Iowa, had already slowed production because many of its 2,800 workers had been calling out sick. The Black Hawk County health department linked the Tyson plant to 182 of the county's 374 Covid-19 cases. Last week, Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart called for the Tyson facility to be shut down.

Those were all factors in Tyson's decision Wednesday to indefinitely stop production at the Waterloo facility this week. The company will continue paying its employees while the facility is closed, and the plant's 2,800 staff members will be invited to take Covid-19 tests later this week. The plant's reopening will depend on several factors, including the outcome of the tests, the company said.

Later on Wednesday, Tyson announced it will also close another pork plant in Logansport, Indiana, by the end of this week.


8:52 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

What's happening with treatment trials? What about hydroxychloroquine?

Dr. Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, spoke tonight at CNN's ongoing town hall about research into treatments for the virus.

The FDA has authorized 62 clinical trials in the United States, and there are another 211 trials in the planning process, he said. Trials that began months ago are well underway, with initial results expected as soon as a month from now.

"With respect to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, there are anecdotal reports and we've seen one this week that suggests that there is benefit, but also suggests there might not be benefit. These are observational studies. They're not actually clinical trials," said Hahn.

He added that the FDA relies on results of randomized clinical trials, but did take into consideration results from observational studies, which are particularly important for physicians making decisions for their patients.

8:21 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Wuhan, the first city in the world to go under coronavirus lockdown, is slowly opening up

Two people talk near the Yangtze River in Wuhan, China, on April 21.
Two people talk near the Yangtze River in Wuhan, China, on April 21. Getty Images

CNN international correspondent David Culver joined CNN's global town hall to talk about the reopening of Wuhan, China -- ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic.

Wuhan and much of the surrounding Hubei province was completely locked down for 76 days. But now, life is slowly returning to normal, with the outbreak appearing largely under control.

"I want to show you some video we captured as we drive through one of the commercial streets in particular," said Culver from Wuhan.

"You will notice, looking at the windows here, many of those stores are still closed. They still have these steel garage door-like gates down ... There is concern from the customer side of things that they can walk into a store without facing any potential exposure."

Fewer than half of the stores he saw had reopened, and major brands that have resumed business did so with some modifications, Culver said. The stores have moved products to the front, and changed their procedures, to reduce interactions between customers and staff and keep stores as uncrowded as possible.

Read more about Wuhan's reopening:

7:54 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Soon: CNN's global town hall on the coronavirus

CNN's global town hall on the coronavirus is kicking off soon. It will start at 8 p.m. ET.

We'll have medical experts, CNN international correspondents, and US politicians weigh in on the facts and fears surrounding the pandemic.

There'll also be an extra surprise -- Alicia Keys will premiere her new song “Good Job” during the town hall, dedicated to the heroes on the front lines.

How to watch: The town hall will air on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español. It will stream live on CNN.com's homepage and across mobile devices via CNN's apps, without requiring a cable log-in. You can also watch on CNNgo, and subscribers to cable/satellite systems can watch it on-demand.

We'll also be covering it with live updates here.

6:54 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Trump says UK's Boris Johnson is "ready to go" after battling coronavirus

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Trump heaped praise on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with whom he spoke following his release from hospitalization with Covid-19.

“I will tell you, he sounded incredible, he was ready to go,” Trump said at Thursday's coronavirus task force briefing.

“I’m very surprised,” Trump said. “It’s like the old Boris, tremendous energy, tremendous drive.”

Trump said he spoke to Johnson “pretty close to when he got out of the hospital” and described his counterpart as “so sharp and energetic.”

7:46 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

The number of coronavirus cases in Ecuador nearly double due to backlog of tests

From Ana Maria Cañizares and Flora Charner

The number of coronavirus cases reported in Ecuador nearly doubled Thursday, from 11,183 to 22,160, according to the country’s health minister.

The sharp increase was not caused by a new outbreak, Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos said during a news conference Thursday. Zevallos said it was due to a backlog of tests in the country’s laboratories, which left thousands of tests unprocessed.

Ecuador is one of the countries that has been hit hardest by coronavirus in Latin America. The country has the second highest number of cases behind Brazil, where more than 49,000 cases have been confirmed and 3,313 deaths.