April 17 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 10:40 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020
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10:38 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

All New York City events in May will be canceled, mayor says

From CNN's Sheena Jones

NYC Media
NYC Media

All events in New York City will be canceled for the month of May, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a Friday morning news conference.

The mayor said his office will not issues any permits. Events like the Brooklyn half marathon will be canceled, de Blasio said.

The mayor said his office is currently talking to event planners for the month of June.

10:48 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Coronavirus drug trial investigator: Patients are improving though it's too early to draw conclusions

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Ulrich Perrey/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Ulrich Perrey/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Some patients severely infected with Covid-19 are recovering quickly after taking an experimental drug called remdesivir, according to a report from STAT News, which obtained a video of a conversation about a clinical trial at the University of Chicago.

The drug, made by Gilead Sciences, was tested against Ebola with little success, but several studies in animals show it could both prevent and treat viruses related to Covid-19. 

Gilead is expecting results from their own trial later this month.

“We had a lot of our patients improving and going home and I think that we're all really pleased to see that,” says infectious disease physician Dr. Leila Hojat, principal investigator on the Gilead study. “It is hard to know at this point if that's related to the study drug or not, but we're expecting results…a little bit later this month at least on the first several hundred patients that were studied.” 

In an interview with CNN, Hojat explains that the drug works by preventing the virus from making copies of itself, which prevents the infection from progressing. 

“Part of the benefit of this having gone through trials in Ebola is even though it wasn't able to show efficacy there, at least we got a lot of data in terms of its safety,” Hojat said, also noting that patients did not have any major side effects after taking the drug.

9:55 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Coronavirus deaths in United Kingdom hospitals continue to rise

From CNN's Milena Veselinovic

Alberto Pezzali/AP
Alberto Pezzali/AP

The number of people who have died from the coronavirus in United Kingdom hospitals has reached 14,576 as of Friday, according to the UK Department of Health and Social Care.

That's an increase of 847 from Thursday.

Some context: Britain made a decision to extend Covid-19 lockdown until May 7. 

Speaking at a daily government coronavirus press briefing on Thursday, the UK Foreign Secretary said while there are “indications” the measures have been successful in slowing the spread of the virus, overall the infection rate has not dropped as much as needed.

Read the tweet from the health department:

9:42 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

US lacks sufficient testing capabilities needed to reopen, medical association warns

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Al Bello/Getty Images
Al Bello/Getty Images

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) says the US needs to ramp up effective and proactive testing before the country can reopen. 

Dr. John Lynch, IDSA board member and associate medical director at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, said the US needs broad and easy access to testing.

“We need to find a way to have testing accessible in a public health forum — an approach where it's widely, easily accessible, it is agnostic to your insurance status, and it is ahead — it is aggressive, it is out in front, where there are potentially no cases," Lynch said. "We have to recognize this virus is not going anywhere. There is a distinct risk that we will just bump straight back up and we'll see a brisk increase in the number of infections. As we relax these, we have to be able to respond to that."

Lynch said, “Social distancing is very, very effective. It has been amazing.” He called it a “lifesaving tool.”

9:27 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Testing and maintaining mitigation will play key roles in reopening the country, CDC director says

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

CDC Director Robert R. Redfield attends the daily briefing at the White House on April 8.
CDC Director Robert R. Redfield attends the daily briefing at the White House on April 8. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Certain jurisdictions in the US are "very close" to having testing capabilities in place in order to reopen, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during an appearance on NBC Friday morning. 

"People have to look at what the real strategic role of testing is and at this point it's to make that rapid early diagnosis, which then you can affirm and then isolate and then do the contacts then test, figure out of the contacts who's infected, isolate those individuals then do their contacts — it's really the traditional public health approach for containment," Redfield said. "I think there's a number of jurisdictions that are very close to having that capability. We're going to work with them."

This does not mean the American public can "let up" on the mitigation strategies that include frequent handwashing and physical distancing, Redfield said.

"This new opening up — which has that requirement of early case diagnosis and isolation and contact tracings — is really embedded, as you'll see in the phases, with still maintaining that personal vigilance, that personal mitigation so that we can continue to limit and protect the vulnerable in this nation," Redfield said. 

Redfield added: "So it's important not to let up at all, but do this in a prudent, gradual way as we go through the different phases and really maintain those mitigation strategies of handwashing, social distancing, wearing a face covering when you're in public if you're in an area where there's still significant ongoing transmission like we still see in New York, Boston, obviously Baltimore, Washington, different parts of our nation."

 

9:25 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Schumer says negotiations on more aid for small businesses will continue through the weekend

From CNN's Alex Rogers and Nicky Robertson

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on MSNBC that he has had “good conversations” with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about how to extend a small business lending program that has run out of money, while also expanding coronavirus testing and providing more assistance for hospitals and local governments.

Schumer said the talks will continue through the weekend.

“We're making progress,” said Schumer. “We can get this all done hopefully very, very soon.”

Schumer said that Democrats have proposed $100 billion for hospitals, $30 billion for a testing program and assistance for local governments in addition to more funding for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.

“It's vital we do this,” said Schumer. “It’s vital we help small business, but if we don't deal with the testing and health care problems, if we don't deal with the local government problems, small business may have enough money to get back, although we got to fix that program, but people won't go out on the streets.”

Schumer also said the Paycheck Protection Program needs to be reformed as the federal government gives it more money, saying that many small businesses are having trouble getting approved for loans.

Schumer also said that the plan to reopen the country President Trump outlined on Thursday is “a little more measured than what the President has said in the past,” but the New York Democrat also voiced concerns over the lack of testing.

9:12 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Reopening the economy could turn workplaces into "killing fields," ex-acting labor secretary says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

CNN
CNN

Former acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris expressed criticism of President Trump’s plan to reopen the economy, saying “if you can’t do that safely, then our workplaces are going to turn into killing fields.”

Harris, who worked for the Obama administration, says Trump’s federal guidelines are “seriously lacking” for workplaces, citing no plans for contact tracing, PPE for employees, and specific protections for workers. 

“If I were an employer who read the President's plan, I would feel like the federal government was hanging me out to dry and providing me with no support,” he said. 

Harris said the federal government needs to be more involved and issue specific guidelines for employers to protect workers and get people back to their jobs safely. 

“I think we can slowly, carefully reopen the country, but we have to do it in a way that makes sense and that keeps workers safe. And the President simply washing his hands of any responsibility for anything in this crisis is not the way to get there,” Harris said. “We need a coordinated federal state effort. We need the federal government to play the role that only the federal government can play with respect to workplace safety and health and producing the protective gear that we need. I'm really worried about it. I think that the experience we've had so far is not encouraging."

Watch the interview:

9:05 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Foreign government hackers targeting US coronavirus research, FBI says

From CNN's David Shortell

Foreign governments have attempted to hack into US healthcare institutions researching coronavirus and vaccines for it, a senior FBI official said Thursday.

“We have certainly seen reconnaissance activity and some intrusions into some of those institutions — especially those that have publicly identified themselves as working on Covid-related research,” Tonya Ugoretz, the Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, said at an event hosted by the Aspen Institute. 

The attempted cyberattacks are in line with efforts by nation state-backed hackers to steal corporate secrets and other research even outside times of crisis, but the activity has been heightened during the pandemic, Ugoretz said.

“There are certainly good reasons for those institutions to tout the work that they’re doing and educate the public on the work that they’re doing. The sad flip side is that it kind of makes them a mark for other nation states that are interested in learning details about what exactly they are doing and maybe even stealing proprietary information that those institutions have,” she said.

Law enforcement has recorded significant increases in the number of other reported cybercrime as many Americans have shifted their lifestyle online amid nationwide stay-at-home orders, and the FBI has warned that government-issued stimulus checks will prove a fruitful mark for online thieves. 

The Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, the FBI’s online tip line for cyber crime, has seen a surge in reported incidents — marking 3,000 to 4,000 complaints per day in recent months, up from typical levels of 1,000 per day, Ugoretz said. 

 

9:03 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Biotech company awarded $483 million to develop coronavirus vaccine

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Moderna Therapeutics headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2019.
Moderna Therapeutics headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2019. Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa USA/AP

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, known as BARDA — a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services — awarded up to $483 million to accelerate development of the biotechnology firm Moderna’s experimental vaccine against the novel coronavirus, the company announced in a press release on Thursday.

“Vaccines are a critical tool for saving lives and stopping the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” BARDA Director Rick Bright said in the press release.

“Delivering a safe and effective vaccine for a rapidly spreading virus requires accelerated action," Bright said in part. "BARDA’s goal is to have vaccine available as quickly as possible."

Bright added that preparing now for "advanced stage clinical trials" and "production scale-up" while the vaccine candidate is currently in a phase 1 study could help accelerate the development of vaccines.

Some context: In late February, Moderna had shipped an experimental coronavirus vaccine to US government researchers six weeks after it started working on the immunization. Now a phase 1 study of the vaccine is being conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The study began on March 16. 

“We are thankful for BARDA’s support to fund the accelerated development of mRNA-1273, our vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2,” Stéphane Bancel, Moderna's CEO, said in the press release. “Time is of the essence to provide a vaccine against this pandemic virus. By investing now in our manufacturing process scale-up to enable large scale production for pandemic response, we believe that we would be able to supply millions of doses per month in 2020 and with further investments, tens of millions per month in 2021, if the vaccine candidate is successful in the clinic.” 

Moderna is among several companies that are currently testing vaccines, but it will take months — or more likely at least a year — to complete those trials.