April 16 coronavirus news

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

Updated 3:30 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020
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9:27 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

There have been more than 30,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the US

There are at least 639,664 cases of coronavirus in the US and 30,985 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the country.

As states begin to include “probable deaths” in their counts, so will Johns Hopkins. In the upcoming days, these changes may show a surge of deaths in the US.

On Thursday, Johns Hopkins has reported 1,553 new cases and 141 reported deaths. 

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

2:12 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Facebook put warning labels on 40 million posts in March to fight coronavirus misinformation

From CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan

Facebook put warning labels, but did not remove, 40 million posts on its platform in March that contained false or misleading claims about the coronavirus, a Facebook vice-president revealed Thursday.

The company has in recent months has also “removed hundreds of thousands of pieces of misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm” like false claims that “drinking bleach cures the virus and theories like physical distancing is ineffective in preventing the disease from spreading,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice-president of integrity, wrote in a blog post released Thursday.

Facebook is working with a network of 60 fact-checking organizations around the world that review posts in more than 50 languages, Rose said.

9:07 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Prince William opens the United Kingdom's second coronavirus field hospital

From CNN's James Frater and Lauren Kent

Britain's Prince William speaks via videolink as he officially opens the NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham, in the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), England, Thursday, April 16. T
Britain's Prince William speaks via videolink as he officially opens the NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham, in the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), England, Thursday, April 16. T Jacob King/Pool/AP

Prince William opened the United Kindgom's new National Health Service field hospital in Birmingham via video link on Thursday, Kensington Palace said in a statement. It is one of seven NHS locations to open across the UK.

The coronavirus field hospital will be called NHS Nightingale, after the pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale. Other hospital sites include London, Manchester, Bristol, Harrogate, Exeter and Washington. 

"The new NHS Nightingale Hospital has been constructed inside the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) and is the second of seven hospitals being built around England in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The hospital, which will have a workforce of doctors, nurses, therapists and support staff, will provide beds for general medical Covid-19 patients," the palace said in a statement.

Some context: Last week, the NHS Nightingale twitter account said, "We've created extra capacity to ease pressure on hospitals across the Midlands in response to #coronavirus. Starting with 500, the hospital has the capacity to scale up to 4,000 beds if needed."

8:56 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

FEMA union urges Trump to use wartime-era law for more protective equipment

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

The union representing Federal Emergency Management Agency employees is joining growing calls for the Trump administration to utilize the full authorities provided by the Defense Production Act to shore up more protective equipment to fight Covid-19, according to a letter obtained by CNN.  

The wartime-era law, which gives the government more control during emergencies to direct industrial production, has been a point of contention between states and the Trump administration.

Some context: While President Trump has invoked the law in some instances during the coronavirus pandemic, the shortage of critically needed supplies has fueled calls to use the law in its full capacity. 

The letter is the first time FEMA's union, which represents 3,000 employees, has joined that push. 

"We will not flatten the curve unless every front-line worker in the public and private sector who has a job where telework is not available has access to appropriate personal protective equipment," said the letter, written by Steven Reaves, president of FEMA's union. 

The letter is expected to be sent to lawmakers later Thursday.  

8:54 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Pregnant nurse died after contracting coronavirus, but her baby survived

From CNN’s Hilary McGann in London

An image of Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong taken from a GoFundMe page set up to support her family.
An image of Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong taken from a GoFundMe page set up to support her family. From GoFundME

A 28-year-old pregnant nurse died from coronavirus on Sunday after an emergency cesarean section to deliver her baby in a hospital just outside London.

The baby is doing “very well,” a spokeswoman for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) told CNN on Thursday.

Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong – who worked at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital – was admitted to the hospital on April 7 after testing positive to the virus on April 5, according to the spokesperson.

Agyapong worked for the hospital system for five years and was a “highly valued and loved member of our team,” said David Carter, CEO of Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who announced the news “with great sadness.”   

“Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Mary’s family and friends at this sad time,” Carter said in a statement.  

A fundraiser has been set up to raise money for the nurse’s husband AJ, and the baby – also called Mary – who was “born at the time of her demise,” according to the GoFundMe website.  

More than £96,000 ($120,000) has been raised just 24 hours after the page was published with an original goal of raising £2,000 (about $2,500).   

8:50 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Pompeo: "The United States government is working diligently" to figure out coronavirus origin

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the “the United States government is working diligently” to figure out the origin of the coronavirus.

“The mere fact that John had to ask the question, the mere fact that we don’t know the answers, that China hasn’t shared the answers, I think is very, very telling,” Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News, referring to John Roberts’ question about the reported lab transmission of the virus. “To your point, the President said that there are multiple sources. What we do know is we know that this virus originated in Wuhan, China. We know that there is the Wuhan Institute of Virology just a handful of miles away from where the wet market was. There’s still lots to learn. You should know that the United States government is working diligently to figure this out."

The top US diplomat said that the Chinese government needs to “open up.”

“They say they want to cooperate. One of the best ways they could find to cooperate would be to let the world in, to let the world’s scientists know exactly how this came to be, exactly how this virus began to spread,” Pompeo said.

Some context: CNN has reported that US intelligence and national security officials say the US government is looking into the possibility that the novel coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory rather than a market, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. Those sources caution it is premature to draw any conclusions.

The US does not believe the virus was associated with bioweapons research, and officials noted that the intelligence community is also exploring a range of other theories regarding the origination of the virus, as would typically be the case for high-profile incidents, according to an intelligence source.

8:56 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Health care workers at risk, even when they don’t work directly with coronavirus patients

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen and Michael Nedelman

Medical workers transfer a COVID-19 patient in severe and critical condition to the Intensive Care Unit ward at the Zhongfaxincheng campus of Tongji Hospital affiliated to Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China,on April 12.
Medical workers transfer a COVID-19 patient in severe and critical condition to the Intensive Care Unit ward at the Zhongfaxincheng campus of Tongji Hospital affiliated to Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China,on April 12. Shen Bohan/Xinhua/Getty Images

Health care workers are putting themselves at risk of infection during a coronavirus pandemic, even if they don’t work directly with coronavirus patients, a research letter published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine found.

Researchers from Fujian Medical University Union Hospital in Fuzhou, China, looked at patient records in that country and found that 3,387 of the 77,262 patients with Covid-19 – 4.4% – were health care workers. As of April 3, there are 23 people who have died.

Many of the health care workers who died were in demographic categories that might have put them at a higher risk for severe infection. Eleven had been brought back from retirement, and all but three were age 50 or older. Five had underlying health conditions, including heart problems.

Of the 23 who died, 13 had been providing direct patient care, but only two worked in respiratory medicine with coronavirus patients. None were actually working in departments that specialized in infectious disease or worked in a hospital with that specialty. Eight were surgeons, 1 was a nurse and 1 was an electrocardiography technician.

Researchers believe that the health care workers who got sick or who died may have become infected in the early stages of the epidemic when there was insufficient or inadequate personal protective equipment.

As of March 31, none of the 4,600 health care workers that flooded into Hubei Province to care for patients at the initial center of the outbreak were known to get sick, the research found.

Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, who did not work on the study but has been sounding the alarm since early on in the pandemic that health care workers would be at risk, called the deaths “devastating.”

“We saw this with SARS-1 in 2003, MERS in 2012, and now we’re seeing it again. So this is the modus operandi of coronaviruses,” Hoetz said.

In the US: So far, more than 9,200 health care workers have been infected with Covid-19, according to an early report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published Tuesday.

“We had a heads up and we still couldn’t do anything to protect our healthcare workers,” Hotez said. “That’s terrible.”

 

8:42 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing total to 22 million

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Another 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending on April 11.

In total, 22 million Americans have filed first-time claims since mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic is forcing businesses to close and lay off workers.

8:37 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Japan extends state of emergency before national holiday

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki

A convenience store employee serves a customer from behind plastic sheeting that has been put up to protect staff from customers who may have coronavirus, on April 14, in Tokyo.
A convenience store employee serves a customer from behind plastic sheeting that has been put up to protect staff from customers who may have coronavirus, on April 14, in Tokyo. Carl Court/Getty Images

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared that Japan's state of emergency will be extended nationwide through May 6 in further attempts to curb the spread of coronavirus infections.

The state of emergency previously applied to seven urban prefectures, including Tokyo. Abe said his decision comes after seeing the rapid hike of infections outside these areas.

Abe wants to minimize the human flow during the golden week, a string of national holidays from the end of April through May 6.

He also announced he was considering cash handouts of 100,000 yen (approximately $925) for each citizen, instead of the previous plan of 300,000 yen (approximately $2,800) per low-income family.

Some context: On Wednesday, public broadcaster NHK reported that a team of experts set up by Japan’s Health Ministry estimated more than 400,000 people could die of Covid-19 in Japan if nothing is done to contain the virus.

According to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, Japan has 8,626 reported cases of Covid-19 and 178 deaths.