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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11:12 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Los Angeles sees 95% drop in plane travel

From CNN's Sarah Moon

The LAX Gateway Kinetic Light Pylons are seen lit up in blue near Los Angeles International Airport, on Friday, April 10, in Los Angeles.
The LAX Gateway Kinetic Light Pylons are seen lit up in blue near Los Angeles International Airport, on Friday, April 10, in Los Angeles. Mark J. Terrill/AP

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a news conference today that 95% of plane travel has stopped in the city -- the biggest drop in flights in the airport’s history, he added.

During the 9/11 terrorist attacks, plane travel dropped by about 55% and it took 10 years to come back, Garcetti said.

Los Angeles International Airport is the fourth busiest airport in the world, with 87.5 million passengers in 2018.

Relief loans: LA is expected to receive more than $323 million from the CARES Act, which issues coronavirus relief loans. This will help maintain vital infrastructure and keep employees working as the city recovers from the crisis, Garcetti said.

In addition, airlines and their contractors are receiving $29 billion in federal funds from the legislation. Garcetti explained that a condition of these funds will be to retain almost all of their employees through September 30. 

Expanding testing capabilities: Los Angeles has expanded its coronavirus testing capacity and is now able to test 11,000 people per day. By the end of today, approximately 61,000 people across all testing sites will have been tested.

10:54 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

China's economy shrank last quarter for the first time in decades as the coronavirus took its toll

From CNN's Laura He

Shipping containers at the Lianyungang Port in Lianyungang City, east China's Jiangsu Province.
Shipping containers at the Lianyungang Port in Lianyungang City, east China's Jiangsu Province. Geng Yuhe/Xinhua via Getty

China's economy has just experienced its worst three-month period in decades as the coronavirus pandemic forced much of the country to shut down for weeks on end. 

The world's second largest economy contracted 6.8% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to a year earlier, according to government statistics released Friday.

That's even worse than the 6.5% decline that analysts polled by Reuters predicted.

The plunge is the worst for a single quarter that China has recorded since it started publishing such figures in 1992. It's also the first time China's economy has shrunk since 1976, when Communist Party leader Mao Zedong's death ended a decade-long social and economic tumult in China.

The country where the coronavirus outbreak started was almost completely shut down in late January as the government sought to stem the spread of the virus. 

Read the full story here.

10:29 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

US reports more than 670,000 coronavirus cases

At least 670,353 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the United States, including 33,101 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

On Thursday, Johns Hopkins reported 32,242 new cases and 2,257 deaths. 

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

CNN’s map, using JHU data, refreshes every 15 mins:

10:28 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Michael Cohen will be released from prison due to the coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Kara Scannell

The federal Bureau of Prisons has notified Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, that he will be released early from prison due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to people familiar with the matter and his lawyer.

Cohen is serving a three-year sentence at the federal prison camp in Otisville, New York, where 14 inmates and seven staff members at the complex have tested positive for the virus.

Cohen was scheduled for release in November 2021, but he will be allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence from home confinement, the people said. He will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine at the prison camp before he is released. 

Some background on Cohen: He pleaded guilty in 2018 to tax fraud, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress. He admitted to helping facilitate hush money payments to two women who alleged past affairs with Trump. When pleading guilty, Cohen implicated Trump, telling a federal judge that he made the payments “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, who prosecutors identified in court filings as “Individual 1.”

A vocal Trump surrogate: Cohen had been a vocal surrogate for Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign, often sparring with reporters and appearing on television to support his long-time client.

Read more here:

2:35 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

US reopening guidelines are "fairly strict" to allow time to get testing and surveillance ready, Birx says

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

Dr. Deborah Birx.
Dr. Deborah Birx. Source: CNN

Dr. Deborah Birx, a HIV researcher and the White House coronavirus response coordinator, characterized the White House guidelines to reopen the country as “fairly strict.”

“That’s to give states really the time to really set up exactly how they’re going to contact trace with the CDC in the background as supporting, I think those two pieces together, we really need to move forward over the next few weeks as the states move through, and really decrease the number of cases,” Birx said on CNN’s global coronavirus town hall.

Testing, contact tracing and surveillance will need to be done as a partnership between the states, local leaders and the federal government, Birx said.

 “This isn’t possible unless we work as a seamless team,” she said.

Birx said the federal government is working closely with states and local leaders to identify all the labs and materials they need.

“I know it’s been dynamic, it continues to be a work in progress, but it’s really a partnership between the state and the federal government,” Birx said.

10:34 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Trump suggests world leaders were not adequately warned about coronavirus

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

US President Donald Trump seemed to suggest during today's press briefing that world leaders were not adequately warned about the severity of the coronavirus, saying he was “angry” because he and fellow G7 leaders were out of the loop. 

Speaking about a meeting earlier Thursday with other G7 leaders, Trump said, “all of them and their countries have been devastated by this. Their economies have been devastated by this.”

“And I was angry, because it should have been told to us. It should have been told to us early. It should have been told to us a lot sooner. People knew it was happening and people didn’t want to talk about it. I don’t know why, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it,” Trump continued. 

Without mentioning China by name, where the first cases of the coronavirus were reported, Trump added, “I’m not saying anything. I’m saying people should have told us about this. They should have told the rest of the world, too.” 

10:33 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.

10:38 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 speaks at a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Thursday, April 16, in Washington.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks at a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Thursday, April 16, in Washington. 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.

10:41 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Trump: Some states could open "literally tomorrow"

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

President Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the coronavirus at the White House on Thursday, April 16, in Washington.
President Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the coronavirus at the White House on Thursday, April 16, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

US President Donald 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 (CDC) 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.