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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11:26 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

All frontline workers in Los Angeles can be tested for coronavirus

Starting Thursday, coronavirus testing will be available to all critical workers that are on the front lines -- regardless of whether they have symptoms, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in a news conference today.

"Health care professionals, grocery store workers, first responders, and critical government personnel can get a test even if you don’t have symptoms," Garcetti said.

"We want to make sure that they are healthy and that they have the peace of mind knowing they’re healthy."

There are 34 testing sites across the city and county of Los Angeles where critical workers can sign up for a test.

On Tuesday, the state of California expanded testing restrictions to include the testing of asymptomatic people who work or live in a high-risk setting.

California has reported at least 37,603 coronavirus infections, including 1,434 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

11:11 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Native American tribes file law suits over relief money

Eleven Native tribal organizations affected by coronavirus -- including the hard-hit Navajo Nation -- are suing the US federal government over relief money set aside by Congress for Native Americans.

The CARES Act earmarks $8 billion to be split among Indian tribes, but the lawsuit says the Treasury Department is preparing to include Alaska Native Regional Corporations in the group. These private corporations were established in a lawsuit settlement decades ago for the benefit of Alaskan Natives, but the new complaint argues they are not true tribal organizations and are not entitled to the money.

The Navajo Nation’s government employs more than 5,000 people, according to the lawsuit, and revenue has dried up as tribal businesses have shut down. As of Wednesday night, the Nation had confirmed 48 Covid-19 deaths and more than 1,200 infections.

"Our Nation’s government is in dire need of support for the critical medical and community needs of our people.  We are literally fighting for dollars to save lives," said Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen N. McPaul in a written statement. 

The lawsuit argues that including the Alaska Native Regional Corporations in the fund could cost each tribe an average of $4 million.

Read more:

11:00 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Mexico passes 10,000 coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Matt Rivers in Mexico City

Mexico has topped 10,000 cases of coronavirus, Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Hugo López-Gatell said on Wednesday.

In the largest number of recorded day-to-day cases in Mexico since the outbreak began, an additional 1,043 people tested positive for the virus. The increase raised the total number of cases to 10,544 in the country. 

The number of reported deaths from Covid-19 is 970, according to Mexican health authorities.

10:53 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

"We are just not making progress on testing," US expert says

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

To end the coronavirus pandemic, the US is either going to have to continue with extreme social distancing measures or do it with "ubiquitous" testing, according to Dr. Anish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Initiative.

"We have estimated we need at least three times as much testing as we have right now," Jha said said Wednesday on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront. "We have been flat for like three and a half weeks. We have made no progress.
"I haven’t met a single professional who doesn’t think we need a lot more testing and we’re just not making progress," he said. "It’s baffling, because the alternative is to stay shut down. That is not an alternative anybody likes."

Since the coronavirus is still so new, scientists are working overtime to generate new data to understand how it spreads. A recent study found one person at a restaurant spread the disease to others sitting at nearby tables.

"No one is going to go to restaurants if they think they’re going to get infected, so the only way to bring confidence back into our economy is to have widespread testing so we know there aren't a ton of infected people going into restaurants, going into coffee shops. This is how we open up our economy," Jha said.
“This choice between economy versus health has always been a false choice and the only way out of it is social distancing or testing. Those are our two choices.”
"I like testing better, as a better way to keep our economy going."

 Read more about what went wrong with US testing:

10:50 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

The New York Stock Exchange might reopen in phases beginning in May, two sources tell CNN

From CNN's Alison Kosik

The New York Stock Exchange is pictured on April 20, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City.
The New York Stock Exchange is pictured on April 20, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

The New York Stock Exchange might reopen in phases after May 15, two sources who were on a conference call with New York Stock Exchange chief operating officer Michael Blaugrund told CNN.

The sources also say the timing could change.

Blaugrund was speaking with NYSE employees, heads of firms and brokers on the 40-minute call. He said when the floor does open, there will be a reduced head count on the floor and social distancing guidelines will be followed, according to the two sources.

The same protocol the NYSE followed just before the floor closed will also be in effect, meaning temperature checks for anyone entering the building, according to the sources.

Blaugrund said the NYSE Arca Options trading floor in San Francisco might reopen on May 3, the two sources said.

10:57 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Nearly all Covid-19 patients put on ventilators in New York’s largest health system died, study finds

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

Nearly all coronavirus patients who needed ventilators to help them breathe died, a study of New York’s largest health system showed.

It found that, overall, about 20% of Covid-19 patients treated at Northwell Health died, and 88% of those placed on ventilators died. A ventilator is a device that forces air into the lungs of patients who cannot breathe on their own because of severe pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Other, smaller reports have indicated that patients who need ventilation are unlikely to survive.

Luckily, just 12% of the patients in the study needed ventilators, Dr. Safiya Richardson at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, Northwell Health, and colleagues found.

But this study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows how dire the outlook is for patients with severe Covid-19 disease.

The team looked at the electronic health records of 5,700 patients with coronavirus disease hospitalized at Northwell Health. Final outcomes were known for 2,634 of them.

The records support what doctors have been saying about the coronavirus: most people who become severely ill have some sort of so-called underlying condition. More than half, or 57%, had high blood pressure, 41% were obese and 34% had diabetes.

“Of the patients who died, those with diabetes were more likely to have received invasive mechanical ventilation or care in the ICU compared with those who did not have diabetes,” the researchers wrote.

They also confirmed that men were more likely to die than women, and no one under the age of 18 died.

The symptoms of infection were far from clear-cut. About a third of all patients showed up with fevers, 17% were breathing too fast and just under 30% needed extra oxygen. On average, patients were sent home after four days.

But 14% were treated in intensive care, 3% needed intensive dialysis and 21% died.

Since final data was only available on about half of the patients, it’s possible that more of those on ventilators survived, the researchers said -- something that would drive down the 88% fatality rate for that group.

“This study reported mortality rates only for patients with definite outcomes (discharge or death), and a longer-term study may find different mortality rates as different segments of the population are infected,” the Northwell Health team wrote.
10:25 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

China reports 10 new coronavirus cases

From journalist Vanesse Chan in Hong Kong

China reported 10 new confirmed coronavirus cases to the end of Wednesday, according the country's National Health Commission.

Among the new cases, six were imported from abroad and four were locally-transmitted.

No new Covid-19 related fatalities were reported Wednesday, leaving China's death toll unchanged at 4,632.

China has now officially reported 82,798 cases of novel coronavirus. Of the total cases, 77,207 have recovered and been discharged from the hospital, according to the health commission.

10:11 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Former US health secretary "alarmed" at political spin in White House scientific briefings

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

Former US secretary of health and human services Kathleen Sebelius.
Former US secretary of health and human services Kathleen Sebelius. CNN

Kathleen Sebelius, who served as US secretary of health and human services under former president Barack Obama, says she is “alarmed” at the political spin she sees at scientific briefings from the current White House.

Speaking to Anderson Cooper on CNN’s AC360 Wednesday, Sebelius said that during the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic, the Obama White House took a much different approach than one the Trump administration is taking with the coronavirus pandemic.

“We had to tell people what we knew and what we didn’t know and get out of the way and let the scientists, CDC and NIH, talk to the American public. We did that twice or three times a day,” Sebelius said. “At every point along the way, President Obama resisted political pressure to rewrite CDC guidance or bow to social pressure and he kept saying ‘we have to follow the science and let the public know what the scientists say.’”
Watching the daily briefings from the Trump White House, Sebelius added, “I’m very alarmed that you get a lot of political spin before and after scientists talk.”

Sebelius said she thinks the second wave of the coronavirus in the fall will be much more deadly, particularly if there is a “robust” flu season. If coronavirus patients will need to be cared for in addition to flu patients, “it could be deadly for even more individuals in this country,” Sebelius said.

Sebelius encouraged people to get a flu shot as soon as one becomes available.

9:54 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Most Covid-19 patients lost taste or smell, survey finds

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

Medical workers tend to a coronavirus patient at the intensive care unit of the Tor Vergata Covid-4 hospital, in Rome, Italy on April 21.
Medical workers tend to a coronavirus patient at the intensive care unit of the Tor Vergata Covid-4 hospital, in Rome, Italy on April 21. Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Loss of taste or smell does indeed seem to be a symptom of Covid-19 infection, researchers reported Wednesday.

A survey of more than 200 patients in Italy found that 67% reported an altered sense of taste or smell either right before or right after they tested positive for Covid-19. 

Dr. Daniele Borsetto of Guy’s Hospital in London and colleagues said theirs was only the second medical study of what’s called anosmia, despite many stories from patients who say they have experienced it.

For their study, called the Sino-nasal Outcome Test 22 or SNOT-22, the researchers spoke to 202 Italian Covid-19 survivors by telephone. “Patients were contacted five to six days after the swab was performed,” they wrote in their report, published in the medical journal JAMA. 

“During the telephone interview, they were asked whether they had experienced a sudden onset of an altered sense of smell or taste in the 2 weeks before the swab,” Borsetto’s team wrote.

They found that 130 of the patients reported some sort of altered taste or smell. That’s 67%. A third also reported having had a blocked nose, which can alter taste and smell.

“Other frequent symptoms were fatigue (68.3%), dry or productive cough (60.4%), and fever (55.5%),” the team wrote.

The loss of taste or smell is not necessarily a precursor to other symptoms. Only 12% reported it as their first symptom. About a quarter said they lost smell or taste along with their other symptoms and another 27% noticed it as the last symptom. Just 3% said it was their only symptom.

“If these results are confirmed, consideration should be given to testing and self-isolation of patients with new onset of altered taste or smell during the Covid-19 pandemic,” the researchers concluded.