April 26 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Jenni Marsh, Tara John, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 9:44 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020
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10:41 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Reopening New Jersey is "several weeks away," governor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said with his “best understanding of the data” right now he suspects the state is “still a number of weeks away” in regards to reopening.

The state “suffered an extraordinary toll,” adding that fatalities continue to be significant, though he reiterated the positive test curve has flattened, Murphy said on NBC today.

There have been fatalities in each of the 21 counties, however the northeast part of the state, near New York City, “have been crushed.”

During the interview on NBC, the governor was asked what kind of path he would be expected to take on reopening.

“I suspect – while we haven’t made a decision on that we’re going to move as one state recognizing you’ve got density issues in the north that you just don’t have in the south," Murphy said.

Murphy was also asked about what services he may need to cut back on without funding from the government.

“We’ve had constructive conversations and exchanges and we’re on with the White House morning, noon and night on healthcare, on testing, on financial matters. I have to reiterate what senator McConnell said about letting states go bankrupt was both irresponsible and not factual," Murphy said. “We won’t go bankrupt but we’ll gut the living daylights out of things like educators, first responders, the very folks we desperately need.”

“This is the healthcare crisis of all time in our countries history, we need states to be fully funded at the point of attack being there for our residents and so we need a big slug," he added. 

10:34 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

There is still uncertainty about antibody protection in recovered coronavirus patients, Birx says

From CNN's Wes Bruer

We still don’t know how long antibodies last in people who have recovered from the coronavirus infection, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said on Sunday. 

Birx was asked about the validity of a scientific brief released Friday by the World Health Organization addressing the idea of “immunity passports” that said “there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.” 

The following day, the WHO in a tweet clarified its earlier statement regarding “immunity passports” and antibody protection, stating: “We expect that most people who are infected with Covid-19 will develop an antibody response that will provide some level of protection.”

“WHO is being very cautious,” Birx said. “I think what WHO was saying we don’t know how long that effective antibody lasts and I think that is a question we have to explore over the next few months and the next few years.”

Other research about antibodies: Birx noted that in normal viral infections, our bodies develop “functional” antibodies that can neutralize the virus, as well as binding antibodies “that help pull out those viruses” and kill them. 

“The CDC is not only measuring antibody but they are also looking and see whether that antibody is neutralizing,” Birx said.

Simultaneously, the FDA is working alongside hospitals to determine the effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy in treating coronavirus patients to determine if the antibodies of a recovered patient would help those still infected.

“So, all of that data together, I think, is going to create a very clear picture about antibody,” she said. 

10:19 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Israel further eases coronavirus restrictions, as deaths top 200

A hairdresser cuts a customer's hair in his shop in Jerusalem on April 26.
A hairdresser cuts a customer's hair in his shop in Jerusalem on April 26. Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Hair salons, beauty parlors and other shops and services were allowed to open in Israel Sunday after the government agreed on loosening coronavirus restrictions.

Restaurants were allowed to sell food for take-away, though restrictions on seated guests remain in place.

All businesses permitted to re-open are required to follow lengthy regulations concerning the behavior of staff and customers, with a fine of 2,000 shekels, roughly $570, for any violations.

Shops in malls are to remain closed. 

The wearing of masks in public remains mandatory, with authorities free to issue fines to anyone flouting the requirement “from the first offense.”

10:24 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

New York City must get "back to work," mayor says

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Scott Heins/Getty Images
Scott Heins/Getty Images

One of the immediate goals for recovery is to get people "back to work," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The mayor wants to immediately get people back on their feet and his office is creating a Fair Recovery Task Force to help with that.

The task force will come up with a preliminary roadmap to recovery by June 1, de Blasio said. They will focus on the long road ahead, he added. 

The mayor is also creating a Charter Revision Commission. The commission will hold hearings across the city and will think about the big picture for the government and where it needs to go for the future.

10:43 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Birx calls Trump's comments about injecting disinfectants a "dialogue"

From CNN's Alison Main and Aaron Pellish

White House Coronavirus task force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said President Trump's suggestion on Thursday that injecting UV light or disinfectants into the human body as possible coronavirus treatments was a "dialogue" between the president and acting Department of Homeland Security official Bill Bryan about new information.

When the President turned to her at the briefing she made it clear, and the President understood, that injections were not a treatment for the virus, she told CNN on Sunday.

Bryan had presented a study about how light and disinfectants could help kill the virus on surfaces and exposing the outer part of the body — but not doing so inside.

Birx said it was "unfortunate" that critical information about the impact of direct sunlight on the aerosolization of the virus detailed in the study Bryan presented was lost during the stir over the President's comments.

Birx said it bothers her that the President's comments are still a topic of conversation because she thinks "we're missing the bigger pieces of what we need to be doing as an American people, to continue to protect one another."

"I think I've made it clear that this was a musing, as you described. But I want us to move on to be able to get information to the American people that can help them protect each other and also help them understand how devastating this virus is to different age groups and different symptoms and different comorbidities," Birx said.

Some background: During the briefing, President Trump specifically directed a question at Birx about the possibility of sunlight and disinfectant, according to the official White House transcript.

The transcript had to be officially amended to reflect that Birx responded to the President’s question by saying “Not as a treatment,” instead of “That is a treatment.”

During a bill signing ceremony in the Oval Office on Friday, Trump said he was not speaking to either Birx or Bryan, but was instead addressing reporters and being sarcastic.


9:58 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

New York City mayor: "We are going through a lot"

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Scott Heins/Getty Images
Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York City will come back stronger than ever, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Sunday morning. 

The recovery will take the next 20-months of his administration and far beyond that, de Blasio said.

The mayor reminded people of 9/11 and how the city fought back.

“We will rebuild and we will be stronger,” de Blasio said.

We are going to build something new and something better, de Blasio said it will be fair and for everyone. 

The mayor said the city has to fight back against the disparities made clear during Covid-19.

De Blasio will launch several councils to talk about reopening, these councils are set to start meeting on May 1.

There will be separate councils for education, small business, large businesses, public health, labor and the arts, among others.

9:54 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Michigan governor says "it's outrageous" for McConnell to suggest bankruptcy for states

From CNN’s Annie Grayer

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was asked about the oversight committee set up in the Michigan legislature to oversee her actions, and if believes she has gone too far with her stay at home restrictions.

“No, I know that what we have done the vast majority of people in Michigan agree with and have done the right thing. Because of that what was looking to be just, you know an astronomical increase and predictions with regard to how many people would lose their lives from Covid-19, we have flattened that curve because people are doing the right thing. And people recognize the value of the order that I’ve issued” Whitmer said told ABC.

When discussing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s suggestion that states should consider filing for bankruptcy, Whitmer said not only is default not an option for Michigan, but also, “it’s outrageous for Mitch McConnell to even suggest that.”

“For Senator McConnell to suggest that is incredibly dangerous, and I don’t think the vast majority of governors in this country, Republican and Democrat, would agree with him. He’s wrong and we need Congress to help states” Whitmer said, potentially setting up the next battleground for the coronavirus relief effort, namely how much support states receive from Congress in the next relief package.  

10:44 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Another federal relief bill would provide money to states in a "very significant way," Pelosi says

From CNN's Elise Hammond

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there will be another federal emergency relief bill that will include money for state and local governments that are facing budget deficits, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he did not want to issue more federal aid.

"We will have state and local and we will have it in a very significant way," Pelosi told CNN on Sunday.

Some context: A relief package was signed into law earlier this week, but didn't include money state leaders could use for basic operations –– something several governors have spoken out against.

"State and local governments have done their job magnificently. They should be impatient. Their impatience will help us get an even bigger number," Pelosi said.


9:21 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Republican senator proposes a $500 billion bail out for state and local governments

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Sen. Bill Cassidy, a republican from Louisiana, is proposing a $500 billion bill that would give emergency relief funds to state and local governments as several of the nation's governors say they need federal money to continue daily operations.

One-third of the money would be awarded based on population size, one-third based on the number of coronavirus cases in the state and one-third based on the state's revenue loss, Cassidy said.

He said supporting local governments means supporting small businesses.

"Your city is going bankrupt because they rely upon sales tax, hotel bed tax, tourism to keep the police, to keep the fire, to keep the sanitation," he told CNN Sunday morning. "The city's bankrupt because a federally ordered lockdown has happened and now you don't have the police, the sanitation. What is your restaurant going to do? It's going to close its doors. Garbage piling up in front, and rats running in the garbage, is not what brings people through your doors."

He said supporting the system of city workers who help businesses thrive, is important to the reopening of the economy.

"This is about supporting those small businesses by supporting the cops, the firemen, the sanitation workers who allow those small businesses to stay in business. We have an ecosystem, we need to support it," Cassidy said.

Some background: Some states say they are facing billion dollar budget deficits because of spending needed to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell floated the possibility of states declaring bankruptcy rather than receive more federal aid.

While Republicans are in general agreement with McConnell that they should hit pause on any new funding, some GOP senators like Cassidy are publicly and privately expressing an openness toward a new round of aid to cash-strapped state and local governments

President Trump signed a more than $480 billion coronavirus relief package into law earlier this week –– but it did not include money for state governments.