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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7:19 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. 

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

Trump announces three-phased plan to reopen the country

From CNN's Elise Hammond

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 announced a proposed measure to reopen the economy in three phases at today's daily coronavirus briefing.

"We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time," Trump said.

Earlier today Trump gave state governors the proposed plan.

CNN reported on the recommendations sent to governors earlier Thursday. 

The plan outlines the “proposed state or regional gating criteria” for each phase. It includes when to reopen restaurants, bars, gyms and public spaces and gives guidance for employers, as well as phasing in nonessential travel.

In the first phase of reopening, the document suggests schools that are currently closed should remain so. Large venues can operate under strict social distancing protocols. Gyms can open as long as they maintain social distancing guidelines, but bars should remain shuttered.

The President said that because states are all different, governors will make decisions based on individual needs.

"If they need to remain closed, we will allow them to do that. 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," he said.

The phased plan also encourages employers to enact social distancing, temperature checks, testing and sanitation practices.

"Based on the latest data, our team of experts now agrees that we can begin the next front in our war which we are calling opening up America again. And that’s what we are doing. We are opening up our country," Trump said.

Watch:

6:00 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

South Carolina governor proposes legislature returns late June

From CNN's Dan Shepherd 

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Monday, April 13, in West Columbia, South Carolina.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Monday, April 13, in West Columbia, South Carolina. Meg Kinnard/AP

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has proposed the state legislature come back in late June, since coronavirus is expected to peak in mid-May.

By June, coronavirus will be on the downside of its’ peak and businesses should be opening around that time, McMaster said.

“We expect to be back in business by then. That way the government won’t shut down and no one needs to have any concerns about the government shutting down. We will not let the government shut down and it will continue into the next fiscal year,” he said.

McMaster said South Carolinians cannot let their guard down and asked that they continue to follow stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols.

“It’s too early to celebrate, we’ve got to keep the lid on ourselves. Contain your enthusiasm, because we still have to get out of it, but we will get out of it, and it will be sooner, rather than later," he said.
5:53 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Trump expected to announce new "contact tracing" initiative 

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

As part of his unveiling of new reopening guidelines, President Trump is expected to announce Thursday a new effort to bolster contact tracing in states, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The effort will include the hiring of hundreds of staffers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to perform tracing in states and helping states pay for new teams to contact people who have tested positive to see who they have interacted with.

The effort is meant to prevent new outbreaks in places as they begin to reopen. The new workers would supplement existing contact tracing efforts in state and local health departments.

Health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have cited contact tracing — along with testing and isolating cases — as essential to reopening efforts.

Earlier, CNN reported that teams from the CDC are being sent to the eight states — New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, North Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio — to bolster contact tracing efforts in order to help contain Covid-19.