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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7:34 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

More than 660,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in the US

There are at least 658,263 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 32,186 people have died from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

On Thursday, Johns Hopkins reported 29,114 new cases and 2,024 reported deaths. 

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

7:19 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

FDA approves new swabs that would allow for safer at-home coronavirus testing

From CNN's Maggie Fox

People might soon be able to perform their own test swabs for Covid-19 at home with a newly designed, Q-tip-style swab, the US Food and Drug Administration said today.

The FDA said it had worked with US Cotton to design the swabs, which are shorter than the swabs used by technicians, doctors or nurses to collect samples to test people for Covid-19 infection.

The swabs currently used are long and must be directed deep into the nose – a process that is uncomfortable and can make people sneeze potentially infectious particles.

The new swab is shorter and can collect a sample from the front of the nose, the FDA said.

“The type of testing at the front of the nose used in this study is notable because it allows self-collection by patients thereby limiting exposure of healthcare providers; it is more comfortable for patients and it can be performed by a swab that is more readily available and manufacturable at scale,” the FDA said in a statement.

The FDA also said US Cotton plans to manufacture large quantities of these swabs.

Commercially available cosmetic Q-tips are not suitable for use in testing because their cotton fibers absorb too much snot.

7:20 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Birx says vulnerable populations must be monitored as states prepare to reopen

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez 

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, on Thursday, April 16, in Washington.
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, on Thursday, April 16, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

Dr. Deborah Birx underscored that vulnerable populations need to continue to be monitored for potential coronavirus outbreaks as states prepare to reopen their economy.

“We want every state to have a plan for the health and safety of its workers in critical industries and protect the health and safety of those living in high-risk facilities,” she said.

Birx said the federal government will be conducting “sentinel surveillance throughout nursing homes, throughout inner-city federal clinics, throughout indigenous populations to really be able to find early alerts of asymptomatic individuals in the community and both for the syndromic cases.”

CNN previously reported on the new guidelines for “opening up America again,” which offer federal guidance advising when states should allow people back into the community and workplaces.

“We did not put a timeline on any of the phases. We want the governors, with the data that they have, community by community, to be setting up those timelines,” Birx said.

There are three phases to the “opening up America again” plan, and Birx called phase three “returning to our new normal.”

7:19 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Trump: Some states could open "literally tomorrow"

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Thursday, April 16, in Washington.
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Thursday, April 16, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump said certain states that are not battling a coronavirus outbreak could open for business as soon as Friday if they meet the criteria laid out by the White House today.

“If you look at Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota – that’s a lot different than New York, it’s a lot different than New Jersey,” Trump said at the coronavirus task force briefing.

The President said the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing guidelines should remain in place unless a governor determines it has gone 14 days with a low-enough number of cases to satisfy the new reopening guidelines.

“They’ll be in place, dependent on what the governor wants to do,” he said.

Trump said states could open tomorrow if they retroactively determine they’ve hit the two-week mark, allowing them to move onto the next “phase” of the new guidelines.

“They will be able to go literally tomorrow because they’ve met all of the guidelines,” he said.

Trump noted that if a governor acted too quickly to open its businesses and allow mass gatherings, the administration would be “expressing ourselves very strongly.”

“We have large sections of the country right now that can start thinking about opening,” he said.

The President noted that he asked officials today in meetings why the recommendations included that people wear masks in public, even in an area that has not seen many Covid-19 cases, when things return to a version of normal. He said he was told that is to protect locals “if someone should come in from an area that isn’t so successful” in mitigating the spread of the virus.

Trump said 29 states are “in that ballgame” of being able to consider reopening in the days ahead.

7:09 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Reopening the country will not be "game over" on avoiding risks, Fauci says

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on April 13.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on April 13. Alex Brandon/AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist, said just because the country may start using the phased plan to slowly reopen the economy, "it's not game over."

He said at the daily coronavirus briefing that there are checks built in to each phase to ensure safety above everything else — even if that means things don't go completely back to "normal."

"No matter what phase you are in, there are certain fundamental things that we've done that are not like it was in September and October," he said. "You want to call it the new normal, call it whatever you want, but even if you are in phase one, two or three, it is not game over. It's going to be a way that we protect ourselves."

Fauci said it is important to continue to take measures to prevent the spread of the virus until there is a vaccine.

"It may very well be that as we go the cycle around there will be this virus that wants to come back to us. I think we will be able to handle that," Fauci said.

6:44 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Missouri extends stay-at-home order through May 3

From CNN’s Andy Rose and Brad Parks

A man on a bicycle crosses an empty downtown street in Kansas City, Missouri on Wednesday, April 15, while stay-at-home orders continue in the state and much of the rest of the country as part of an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
A man on a bicycle crosses an empty downtown street in Kansas City, Missouri on Wednesday, April 15, while stay-at-home orders continue in the state and much of the rest of the country as part of an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. Charlie Riedel/AP

Missouri’s stay-at-home order will be extended through May 3, according to an announcement Thursday from the governor’s office. 

“Missouri is incredibly diverse, and our reopening efforts will be careful, deliberate, and done in phases,” Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement. 

Parson said he is cautiously optimistic that “Missouri is beginning to slow the course of the infection.”

He said the state's ability to reopen the economy after May 3 depends on how quickly they can expand testing and the supply of personal protective equipment for health care workers.

6:44 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Several governors tell Trump they are still lacking materials needed for testing 

From CNN's Kristen Holmes

President Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, on Thursday, April 16, in Washington.
President Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, on Thursday, April 16, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

Today on a call with the nation's governors about reopening the economy after the coronavirus, several governors pressed President Trump over lack of testing. 

According a source familiar, the administration focused on the two main private sector firms, Quest and Labcorp, saying both of them still had capacity to conduct more tests.

But, as this source notes, this does not address one of the biggest problems many states face, not just a lack of tests, but lack of materials needed for the testing, such as swabs.

During the call, the White House insisted that they had shipments of the swabs getting ready to go out, which should make the testing easier. However, the source pointed out that the administration has been promising this for more than a month.

The other problem with private testing is that it still takes multiple days to get the results.

“For any state to even think about reopening their economy, we need rapid testing. Without a quick turnaround, it’s almost impossible to do contact tracing,” the source said.

At one point, the administration also said that not all states were using their public state labs to their capacity.

6:32 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Trump: "Governors will be empowered" to tailor reopening approach

From CNN's Betsy Klein 

During his announcement about new guidelines from the federal government, President Trump made a complete reversal in course from remarks earlier this week where he suggested he had “absolute authority” to reopen the country.

Trump suggested Thursday that governors will be empowered to make the decisions regarding stay-at-home orders and will be supported by the federal government.

“Governors will be empowered to tailor an approach that meets the diverse circumstances of their own states, every state is very different. They’re all beautiful, we love them all, but they’re very, very different. They need to remain closed, we will allow them to do that. And if they believe it is time to reopen, we will provide them the freedom and guidance to accomplish that task and very, very quickly, depending on what they want to do,” Trump said at the coronavirus task force press briefing.

He continued: “We are also encouraging states to work together to harmonize their regional efforts. We’ll have numerous cases where states have worked, and will be working, very, very closely together.”

CNN reported details of the proposal earlier Thursday. 

6:35 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

There are more than 658,000 coronavirus cases in the US

There has now been at least 658,263 cases of coronavirus in the US, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

At least 32,186 people in the country have died from coronavirus.

As states begin to include “probable deaths” in their counts, so will Johns Hopkins University. In the upcoming days, these changes may show as surges of deaths in the United States. 

Today, Johns Hopkins reported 20,152 new cases and 1,342 reported deaths. 

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