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
49 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
9:23 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Vehicles crammed Michigan roadways in protest against the state's stay-at-home order

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

Vehicles sit in gridlock during a protest in Lansing, Michigan, on April 15.
Vehicles sit in gridlock during a protest in Lansing, Michigan, on April 15. Paul Sancya/AP

Drivers jammed into Michigan's capital and surrounded the state Capitol in a protest against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order that featured neither face masks nor social distancing, but rather the honking of horns that could be heard inside.

The collision between a public health battle and a political one, which played out for more than five hours on Wednesday, underscores the boiling tensions of a restless nation struggling with the wisdom of reopening the economy before the deadly pandemic subsides.

Whitmer could hardly ignore the scene, considering the honking horns, raucous jeers and blaring music became background noise for her video conference call with health care workers.

"Right outside my office right now, people have come to town who are not wearing masks, they are not observing the six-foot distance," Whitmer said. "Give me some advice. How can I magnify what you're seeing and what you're experiencing?"

CNN's Jeff Zeleny reported on the gathering in Michigan, which he called a "protest-by-parade."

"The protest was large, but the thing that struck me the most is that it went on and on, with honking horns, blaring music and raucous jeers for more than five hours. It was protest-by-parade — definitely not organic, considering it was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, but the anger was absolutely real. It had the feel of a Trump rally from 2016 and a Tea Party rally from 2010 — back at a time when rallies were the norm," Zeleny said. "What was striking was dozens upon dozens of people who stood on steps of the Capitol and the surrounding sidewalk, defying not only the strict stay-at-home orders, but also blatantly ignoring basic medical common sense."

Zeleny acknowledged the economic pain Michigan is feeling with one-quarter of the state's eligible workforce seeking some type of unemployment help. Yet in the end, the protest "seemed oddly discordant on a day that the state's death toll hovered around 2,000 people," he said.

Michigan currently has 29,263 coronavirus cases and 2,093 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.


8:49 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

US Surgeon General calls wearing face coverings "sign of respect" during pandemic

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Customers wait in line at a grocery store in Wheaton, Maryland, on April 16.
Customers wait in line at a grocery store in Wheaton, Maryland, on April 16. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said wearing a covering over your nose and mouth in public could be viewed as a "sign of respect" in an effort to not spread the coronavirus. 

"I've really been in the thick of this whole mask discussion, and we know that wearing a cloth facial covering prevents you from spreading to other people," Adams told "Fox & Friends" this morning.

"And I do think it's a sign of respect, of appreciation for the fact that you could be asymptomatically spreading to someone else," Adams said. "That's something that governors are going to consider as they look at how do we safely reopen." 

In early March, Adams told the general public to "stop buying masks." He said at the time that wearing a mask improperly could increase your risk of contracting the coronavirus due to touching your face often when wearing the mask.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week announced an executive order requiring everyone in the state to wear a face covering in public when not social distancing. 

Adams said on "Fox & Friends" on Friday that "in New York especially, I know that there are challenges -- because it's a densely populated area -- with keeping people inside and if you're going to go out, you wear your mask to protect me. I wear mine my facial covering to protect you."

8:34 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

What it's like to travel on a plane during the coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on March 29.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on March 29. Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

CNN's Jeff Zeleny recently flew from Reagan National in Washington, DC, to the Detroit Metro Airport and recounted his experience.

Zeleny said both airports were "virtually empty."

"The biggest inconvenience: No coffee for my 6 a.m. flight on Wednesday, since all restaurants were closed. And only bottled water, with a side of Biscotti and Purell wipes served in a plastic bag, on the plane. But I'm certainly not complaining, given the janitorial staff and airline workers still on duty as before," Zeleny said.

The hotel was empty, too: "I travel often — or I did before the pandemic — but I don't believe I've ever stayed in an entirely empty hotel. The front desk manager told me only one other room was occupied, which was for my colleague Jake Carpenter, a CNN photojournalist. I limited my trip to one night and ordered pizza and salad from a nearby restaurant in East Lansing."

8:31 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Coronavirus survivor says taking a breath "felt like I’d been underwater too long"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt


Jason Hartelius, who is recovering from coronavirus, shared a video on social media of him unable to take a full breath and breaking into coughing fits. 

“It felt like I had been underwater too long and I came up gasping for air. And just when I thought I was catching my breath again, I got pulled underwater,” he said in an interview with CNN. “The night before I went to the hospital, I was basically like that all night. Never slept because I couldn't fall asleep. And I was afraid if I did fall asleep, I was worried I might stop breathing."

On day two in the hospital, Hartelius said he thought about the reality of him dying. He was put on oxygen and given a drug to treat pneumonia. It’s been one month since Hartelius started experiencing symptoms of coronavirus.

Thirty days later, he is still experiencing fatigue and got a little winded when he walked around his block for the first time. His advice for others at this point is to exercise caution.

“You may say you're fine. You may say you're low risk. You know what? You might get it, not know it, go back to work thinking you're fine, never have any symptoms. You could give it to people you work with who could get very sick or die. That's what I want people to understand. That's why I put the video out there,” he said.

Watch the video:

8:15 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

It is "highly likely" that the coronavirus is "not man-made," European official says

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in London

This scanning electron microscope image shows 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19.
This scanning electron microscope image shows 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19. NIAID-RML

A European intelligence official told CNN that it "is highly likely that it did occur naturally and was not man-made," when asked about the origins of the novel coronavirus.

The official was responding to reports on whether the disease was genetically engineered by the Chinese.   

Some context: US intelligence and national security officials say the United States government is looking into the possibility that the novel coronavirus spread from a Chinese laboratory rather than a market, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter who also caution it is premature to draw any conclusions.

8:08 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Yemen can’t survive war on two fronts, UN envoy says, as coronavirus outbreak looms

From CNN's Radina Gigova in Atlanta

A local administration worker fumigates a neighbourhood in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, on March 23.
A local administration worker fumigates a neighbourhood in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, on March 23. Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic threatens to bring "deeper and more widespread suffering" in Yemen, UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths said, calling for an end to the country's conflict. 

“Yemen cannot face two fronts at the same time: a war and a pandemic," Griffiths told the UN Security Council on Thursday. 

"The new battle that Yemen faces in confronting the virus will be all-consuming," he said. "We can do no less than stop this war and turn all our attention to this new threat." 

Yemeni government forces, together with allies and rebels known as Houthis, have been fighting over control of the impoverished nation for more than five years, creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the UN said. Roughly 80% of the population relies on aid relief.

“The arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic to Yemen threatens to bring deeper and more widespread suffering to the people,” Griffith said. “There cannot be a more timely moment for the two parties to commit to silencing the guns and ending the conflict through a peaceful, political solution.”

Griffiths has been “in constant negotiations” with the two sides on proposals for a nationwide ceasefire and on key measures, such as prisoner release, paying civil servant salaries, and opening roads for humanitarian access, the UN said in a statement. 

Nonetheless, hostilities have continued and civilian casualties have been rising every month since January, according to the UN. More than 500 people were killed or injured during this period, a third of them children.

Five years of fighting have degraded the country's health infrastructure, exhausted people’s immune systems and increased acute vulnerabilities, said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock. 

“As a result, epidemiologists warn that Covid-19 in Yemen could spread faster, more widely and with deadlier consequences than in many other countries,” he said. 

Precautions to reduce the risk from Covid-19 are being hampered by "bureaucratic roadblocks, insecurity and restrictions on staff and cargo movements," the UN said. Funding is another impediment, as 31 of the UN’s 41 major aid programs in Yemen will shut down in the coming weeks, if they are not supported.

Lowcock said he is worried about the loss of health teams that have been essential in containing past disease outbreaks. “We need these teams more than ever – not just to keep on top of Covid-19, but to contain a growing risk that cholera will rebound as the rainy season starts,” he said. 

7:56 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Shinzo Abe says there are issues with WHO, and Japan will review its funding after the pandemic

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on April 17.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on April 17. Kiyoshi Ota/Pool/Getty Images

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told media in a Friday press conference that the WHO has issues and Japan will review its financial contributions after the pandemic is over.

"We must support WHO firmly now. However, it is true that there are problems and issues. I think it Is necessary to look into it once the coronavirus outbreak has ceased," Abe said.

Abe says the WHO takes a political stance and that Japan has been requesting for Taiwan to becomes a member for several years. China considers Taiwan a renegade province and objects to its inclusion as an equal by international organizations.

7:42 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

Australian mayor fined after violating stay-at-home orders and going out for beer

From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

The mayor of Australian city Warrnambool has been fined $1,044 after being photographed drinking beer with others outside a liquor store this month -- a breach of stay-at-home orders in the state of Victoria.

Victoria’s social distancing rules state that “gatherings of more than two people are not allowed except for members of your immediate household and for work or education purposes." 

In a statement released on Thursday, mayor Tony Herbert said "I made mistakes" and "I wish to apologies for them."

"I believed my actions to engage with business owners as part of my mayoral role was within the bounds of the law," Herbert added. "However, I realize I had inadvertently breached the new laws."

Speaking about the incident, first reported by public broadcaster ABC, Victoria Police told CNN: "Following reports of people gathering and drinking in a street outside a Warrnambool liquor store Tuesday 7 April, police can confirm they have issued four penalty notices for breaching Chief Health Officer directions."

Australia currently has 6,523 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, including 65 deaths.

7:32 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020

A crisis in care homes: Are the world's most vulnerable coronavirus patients being forgotten?

From CNN's Rob Picheta and Paula Newton

A senior living care home is pictured in Bagshot, England on April 14.
A senior living care home is pictured in Bagshot, England on April 14. Warren Little/Getty Images

As countries tackle their own devastating coronavirus outbreaks with varying levels of success, one troubling trend has emerged: a crisis in care homes.

Staff in long-term care facilities around the world are reporting a swath of undiagnosed cases, a lack of protective equipment, and a gap in the numbers with their residents’ deaths often going unreported.

In the UK, a group of social care charities said they are "appalled by the devastation which coronavirus is causing in the care system," in an open letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Hancock and the British government have faced intense scrutiny over the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) available to care workers, and for the fact that the government's official coronavirus death figures do not record those who pass away in care homes.

Pete Calveley, the chief executive of Barchester Healthcare, said on Thursday that cases of confirmed or suspected coronavirus in care homes are “far more widespread than has previously been acknowledged.”

His company is caring for 663 residents with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 in 118 of its 236 care homes, he said.

In Italy, an investigation has been launched into a string of health violations at elderly care homes across the country. 17% of the first 600 elder care homes to be inspected had failed to follow national coronavirus protocols, authorities said.

These violations included a lack of protective equipment for staff, and an absence of dedicated quarantine space to isolate suspected coronavirus patients. A total of 15 facilities have so far been closed and their patients relocated.

Meanwhile, in Canada, public health officials revealed that nearly half of all coronavirus deaths are among residents of seniors’ homes.

Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, has said she expects to see more deaths in the coming days even as the growth rate in positive Covid-19 cases continues to decline in some parts of Canada. There are dozens of outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the country and some have reported multiple deaths and infection rates of one quarter to one half of all residents.

On Saturday a criminal investigation was launched in a Montreal area seniors’ home after 31 residents died in less than a month. While five residents were confirmed Covid-19 cases, the cause of 26 other deaths is under investigation as Quebec officials said the owners concealed information including medical records.

Hundreds of Canadians have already pulled their relatives out of long-term care facilities but others say their relatives are too vulnerable to leave.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, whose province is now dealing with outbreaks at nearly 100 long-term care facilities, said "he speaks from experience" as he described how his mother-in-law remained in an at risk seniors’ home in the Toronto area.