April 16 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT) December 27, 2020
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5:23 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

There are more than 650,000 coronavirus cases in US

There are at least 654,301 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 31,628 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

On Thursday, Johns Hopkins reported 16,190 new cases and 784 reported deaths. 

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

5:22 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

New Hampshire governor says schools will continue remote learning for the rest of the year

From CNN's Janine Mack

All public and private schools in New Hampshire will remain closed for the rest of the school year and students will continue remote learning, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said at a news conference on Thursday. 

Sununu said the decision was made to prevent the transmission of Covid-19. 

"What we know now that we didn't even realize, appreciate to a level that we appreciate now is that the asymptomatic transmission of this virus is very prevalent," he said. "You could have an entire classroom of kids passing coven back and forth without a single symptom, without a sniffle or you wouldn't even know. And for those kids, luckily it doesn't seem to affect the younger population, um, as severely as it does the older population. But we know those kids would likely be taking it home to their parents, to their grandparents, and causing another surgeon at the outbreak."

Sununu called for developing innovative ways to handle graduation and summer programs. 

5:18 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Germany's health minister says country will not be "like it was before" due to coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Nada Bashir

German Health Minister Jens Spahn speaks to the media during the coronavirus crisis on April 9, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. 
German Health Minister Jens Spahn speaks to the media during the coronavirus crisis on April 9, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.  Omer Messinger/Pool/Getty Images

Germany will begin adjusting to a “new normal” as the government lifts some restrictions previously imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Thursday.

He cautioned that the country will not be “like it was before."

“The number of new infections in Germany is down, and this has given us a chance to reopen, step-by-step. And that is important – step-by-step to a new normal. This won’t be like it was before,” Spahn told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. 

“This needs a step-by-step approach, of that I am very much convinced. This is a new virus, this is a new situation and, because of that, we are very cautious,” Spahn said. 

Spahn said citizens would need to continue practicing social distancing and wearing masks for "months" to come. 

“What we need to find is the right balance. It’s not public health, or the health of people, versus the economy, because they are both very much interlinked…you cannot have a well-equipped health system without a strong economy,” he continued, adding that German citizens will “need to learn to live with the virus” as the world continues to grapple with the pandemic. 
5:13 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Pentagon now says 2,889 service members have coronavirus

From CNN's Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne

The Pentagon building.
The Pentagon building. AFP/Getty Images

The Department of Defense has revised their figures for Covid-19 cases across the department with a slightly lower figure.

As of 5 a.m. ET Thursday, 2,889 service members tested positive for Covid-19, including two US service members who have died from coronavirus. This figure is lower than Tuesday when the figure was higher at 3,022 service members.

Two Pentagon officials said the discrepancy was due to miscounting in the Army but the Army has not yet responded with an on-the-record response.

"We strive to release information as quickly and accurately as possible," the Pentagon said in a statement. "The Department of Defense will continue to refine our reporting to the public.”

There are now at least 4,695 positive cases across the entire Department of Defense.

5:07 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

FAA outlines how airlines can carry cargo rather than passengers

From CNN's Greg Wallace

A pilot walks by United Airlines planes as they sit parked at gates at San Francisco International Airport on April 12, in San Francisco, California.
A pilot walks by United Airlines planes as they sit parked at gates at San Francisco International Airport on April 12, in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Federal regulators laid out on Thursday how airlines may remove the seats from passenger aircraft and use that space to instead carry cargo.   

The Federal Aviation Administration outlined how airlines could use “seat tracks to tie cargo down” but would need to figure out how to properly balance the weight on the aircraft, which they also must do when carrying passengers and luggage. 

The airline would also need a plan to prevent fires, because passenger compartments typically do not have the smoke detection and fire suppression systems used for cargo compartments. One workaround, the FAA suggested: Stationing a single crewmember to monitor for potential fires. 

The agency called it “an extraordinary situation … for an entire passenger cabin to be loaded with cargo.” 

“Passenger cabins are not designed for an all-cargo configuration,” the agency said. 

It also pointed out that airlines could also stow cargo in overhead bins and other parts of the aircraft already approved for storage, and possibly strap containers to passenger seats or behind bulkheads. 

The bellies of passenger aircraft are already an essential part in the supply chain, and repurposing the fleet of passenger aircraft is one way the distribution network can expand to deliver critical goods like food and medical supplies. 

Worldwide cargo capacity has dropped because passenger airlines are flying about a quarter of the flights operated earlier in the year. When US domestic flights do take off, only about 1 in 10 seats are occupied by a paying passenger. 

But planes are available. US airlines have grounded 2,250 planes since the outbreak began, according to Airlines for America, an industry group.  

Cargo flights can provide some revenue for cash-strapped airlines, which are shutting down the vast majority of their operations, asking employees to take unpaid leave, and taking tens of billions of dollars in a taxpayer bailout. 

5:02 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Protective equipment costs increase over 1,000% as demand surges during pandemic

From CNN's Daniella Diaz, Geneva Sands and Cristina Alesci

N95 particulate respirator masks are arranged for a photograph at a Dealmed-Park Surgical supply facility in Lakewood, New Jersey, U.S., on Wednesday, March 11.
N95 particulate respirator masks are arranged for a photograph at a Dealmed-Park Surgical supply facility in Lakewood, New Jersey, U.S., on Wednesday, March 11. Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The cost of personal protective equipment is skyrocketing – more than 1,000% in some cases – as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The federal government's Strategic National Stockpile has nearly emptied and states have been left to find PPE supplies on their own. The surge in demand has left importers, suppliers and purchasers scrambling. And price gouging has exacerbated the problem.

"The cost keeps rising and rising and rising, and there's no end in sight," said Michael Einhorn, CEO and President of Dealmed, a PPE distributor based in New York.

"You have a lot of that going on and that's not really a good thing. (The competition) really raises prices further. Now these companies have a right to charge more money and guess who's going to pay the higher price?" he added. 

Einhorn buys his supply from China, where he built relationships with manufacturers – but he says that doesn't matter anymore with the novel coronavirus.

"It doesn't function that way," he said. "Anyone who wants to come in, places a bid. The royalty and relationships that existed for so many years, don't exist. What matters is the almighty dollar to these people."

The cost of PPE supplies has gone up more than 1,000%, according to a report published last week by the Society for Healthcare Organization Procurement Professional, a new nonprofit organization, founded by two companies that provide consulting, including on purchasing, to nursing homes. 

These numbers put a clearer picture of the cost of what states have been complaining vocally about for weeks – that the lack of central control has severely driven up the price. The data was compiled by requesting cost information from more than 4,000 of the two companies' clients, which are skilled nursing facilities and assisted living centers.

More on this: The cost of N95 masks went up from $0.38 to $5.75 each (1,513% increase), the cost of vinyl exam gloves went from $0.02 to $0.06 (300% increase); and the cost of isolation gowns went from $0.25 to $5.00 (2000% increase), according to the report.

Reusable face shields that once went for $0.50 now are $4, up 900%, the report states.  

5:00 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Illinois governor says anyone with Covid-19 symptoms can be tested

From CNN's Chris Boyette

Source: Pool
Source: Pool

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday the state’s recommended testing criteria to include all those who are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.

He said no note from a doctor will be required.

This new guidance will apply to state-run drive-through testing centers, Pritzker said, and will be offered to medical providers across the state.

“While each independent provider can and will offer tests with their own unique criteria, the state of Illinois has expanded those eligible to get a test to include anyone who has Covid like symptoms, even if you have not been given a doctor's order,” the governor said.

Illinois has opened three state drive-through sites, which Pritzker said have the ability to run up to 1,800 tests per day.

4:50 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Trump's decision to halt WHO funding is a "big setback," German health minister says

From CNN's Nada Bashir

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that the US will halt its funding to the World Health Organization while a review is conducted is a “big setback” for the international response to coronavirus, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Thursday.

"The United States of America has been a longstanding partner and financial supporter of the World Health Organization … if they were to freeze their funding for the organization, that would be a big setback,” Spahn told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. 

“Our position is that, in times like this, we need international cooperation, and the role of the WHO in this is crucial,” he added, asserting that the WHO has Germany’s “full” support. 

On Tuesday, Trump told reporters that he would halt funding to the WHO while a review into the organization’s management of the coronavirus pandemic is conducted.  

Spahn argued that any review of the organization ought to be carried out after the pandemic is overcome. 

“Of course, we have to debate the lessons learned and we have to reflect on what went wrong and what can be done better, but that should be done after we overcome this,” Spahn said. 

4:46 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Miami-Dade County considers reopening parks

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has convened a team of health experts to determine a set of conditions that need to be met to ease certain restrictions for parks and open spaces, according to a video message he posted.

“It’s important for people to get out and get some sunshine and exercise,” Gimenez said.

Gimenez, however, warned that he does not plan to reopen outdoor activities until the right conditions exist based on the recommendations from medical experts. Any easing of the rules would stress social distancing, all while having zero tolerance for rule violations, he said.

Gimenez said the county has spent nearly $11 million to deliver services during the outbreak. He estimated revenue losses could reach $170 million.

Miami-Dade will host a virtual town hall next week, where residents will be allowed to give feedback on the county reopening.