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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3:22 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020

New York City has 7,890 confirmed coronavirus deaths

From CNN's Rob Frehse

New York City has 7,890 confirmed coronavirus deaths and 4,309 probable coronavirus deaths, according to the city website.

The New York City Health Department defines probable deaths as people who did not have a positive Covid-19 laboratory test but their death certificate lists the cause of death “Covid-19” or an equivalent. 

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is 12,199.

There have been 122,148 coronavirus cases in the city and approximately 32,843 people have been hospitalized, according to the city.

3:23 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020

School closures in Maryland have been extended through May 15

From CNN’s Anna-Maja Rappard

About 200 school buses are parked at the Montgomery County Schools Clarksburg Bus Depot, idled by the closing of schools across Maryland in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, on March 16, in Clarksburg, Maryland.
About 200 school buses are parked at the Montgomery County Schools Clarksburg Bus Depot, idled by the closing of schools across Maryland in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, on March 16, in Clarksburg, Maryland. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/FILE

Schools will remain closed through the rest of the academic year, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced at a news conference Friday.

“After extensive consultation with the State Board of Education and leading public health experts in the state. I am extending the closure of schools, through May 15,” Salmon said.

Plans for the summer and beyond are still being assessed.

“We will use this time to examine every option and continue to develop a long term plan for recovery,” Salmon said.

3:24 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Canadian prime minister says Trump administration agrees border won't reopen "anytime soon"

From CNN’s Paula Newton in Ottawa

CTV Network
CTV Network

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government and the Trump administration are "aligned" and that the US-Canada border will remain closed to all but essential travel for weeks to come.

“As I have said we do not feel that opening the border anytime soon is likely. My responsibility is to ensure the protection and safety of Canadians, that is what we will continue to do. The conversations with the Americans have been extremely aligned and extremely productive,” Trudeau said Friday during a press briefing.

Some context: President Trump indicated earlier this week that the border may reopen soon, along with other parts of the American economy. 

“Our relationship with Canada is very good — we’ll talk about that. It will be one of the early borders to be released,” Trump said.

“Canada’s doing well, we’re doing well — so we’ll see,” he said during a press briefing Wednesday.

The two countries negotiated a mutual ban on non-essential travel in late March. Since then, border traffic has decreased dramatically except for commercial goods and essential workers.

As the President has discussed the reopening of the US economy, anxiety has been building in Canadian border towns that have not been as severely affected by Covid-19 as their cross-border neighbors.

"Trudeau should say no right away," Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Thursday. "Until we have this under containment, we need to have our borders closed."

2:52 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Pennsylvania governor asks residents to "stay the course" when it comes to reopening the state

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf addressed residents and asked them to "stay the course," when it comes to reopening the state. The state still ranks firth in Covid-19 cases, the governor said.

Wolf says his office will work every day to make sure residents get whatever they need.

He went on to say we need to make smart data-driven decisions before reopening Pennsylvania.

The governor said they will give businesses clear guidelines for reopening, testing that requires tracking and monitoring, protecting the vulnerable residents and no large gathers.

Wolf said he will provide more details on the state’s reopening plan next week including reemployment plans, childcare, student loan deferments and living wages.

The state has seen nearly 30,000 of Covid-19 cases, Wolf said.  

3:13 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Authorities ask Muslims to pray at home during Ramadan

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi and Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta

SAUDI-HEALTH-VIRUS Band ar Aldandani/AFP/Getty Images

Islamic holy sites, including Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia and Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, may be empty during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan after authorities say people should pray at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority asked people to offer their daily Taraweeh evening Ramadan prayers from home to avoid the usual large mosque gatherings, according to the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs on Friday.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Islam's third holiest place, will also remain closed during Ramadan, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf Council said Thursday. 

Egypt and Jordan will also be banning prayers in mosques during Ramadan, according to governmental statements.

Arab countries are bracing for Islam’s holy month of Ramadan during which Muslims may not eat or drink during daylight hours with increased prayers in mosques and more frequent large family gatherings.

Read the Ministry's tweet:

2:26 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020

West Virginia issues order requiring residents and staff in long-term care to be tested for Covid-19  

From CNN’s Lori Daniel

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued an executive order requiring every single resident and staffers at a long-term living facilities to be tested for coronavirus, he said in a news conference.

"I do believe we have the capability to test everyone in our long-term living facilities,” Justice said, adding that if they have already been tested, he wants them retested.

The governor also filed an order effective today, requiring laboratories to provide immediate real-time electronic reports of both positive and negative Covid-19 tests to the Department of Health and Human Resources. 

“All these people that live in these long-term facilities have brought us wisdom for decades. These are not numbers, these are families,” the governor said. “We have had too many discrepancies in testing and I think we can all do better.”

"You know, most of the labs are already doing this, but we don't have…the expediency that we need from all the labs,” Justice said.

2:17 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020

There are at least 679,374 coronavirus cases in the US

There are at least 679,374 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 34,180 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

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 Friday, Johns Hopkins reported 8,223 new cases and 912 reported deaths. 

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

2:16 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Texas governor announces first steps in reopening the state

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that he is signing a new executive order today that outlines "how we go about opening Texas economy" at a news conference today.

State parks will reopen on April 20 but visitors will be required to observe social distancing, wear masks and gather in groups of no more than five, Abbott said.

Starting on April 22, current medical restrictions for surgery will be loosened, Abbott said. Procedures that do not "deplete the hospital capacity or the PPE needed to cope with Covid-19" will be permitted, a statement from the governor's office said. 

On April 24, retail stores in Texas should be able to operate “to-go,” Abbott said.

Under this model, reopened businesses are "required to deliver items to customer's cars, homes, or other locations to minimize contact," the statement said.

However, despite some loosing of restrictions, Abbott also announced that schools —including public, private, and higher education institutions — will remain closed for rest of the school year. 

2:07 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Sean Penn’s charity assisting with coronavirus testing in California 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Actor Sean Penn’s disaster relief charity has teamed up with the Los Angeles mayor’s office to offer free coronavirus testing in California, as well as training volunteers to run drive-through testing sites to relieve first-responders and firefighters from being at the sites.

Penn and his charity, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), have been involved in the Haiti earthquake and US hurricane relief. Penn told CNN’s Anderson Cooper the infrastructure already existed to put them in a place to easily offer assistance.

“We had the infrastructure and when we came into play, we came into a highly function governmental response in Los Angeles,” Penn said, commending Mayor Eric Garcetti and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s response to the virus.

Penn said that it’s a fluid situation as testing continues to evolve in the country, but added the federal government is key to organizing and distributing proper equipment. 

“Testing is the essential, complementary component to what the heroes in the hospitals are doing,” he said.

“We really need to have clear guidelines and national strategy for all of this,” he added.