What happened on board the last cruise ship still at sea
From CNN's Francesca Street in London
Passengers Yolanda and Carlos Payá, posing on Easter Island during an early port call. Courtesy Carlos Páya In January 2020, the gigantic Costa Deliziosa cruise ship slipped its moorings in the Italian city of Venice and headed out into the Adriatic Sea on an around-the-world voyage. Around 2000 passengers were on board for what they hoped would be the trip of a lifetime. The Deliziosa's experienced crew, captained by veteran seafarer Nicolò Alba, looked ahead to a long journey. They knew they'd be working hard to keep guests happy as they traversed the world's oceans, but they weren't expecting it to be that different from the many other excursions they'd completed. Instead, as the coronavirus pandemic spread, the Deliziosa would unwittingly sail into history. When it set off on its trip, the 965-feet long vessel was among thousands of cruise ships plying the world's oceans. By the time the Deliziosa arrived back to Italy this week, it was the last cruise ship still at sea carrying significant numbers of passengers. Those on board who completed the voyage have been revealing what it was like to cruise around the planet while the world descended into crisis -- as destination after destination was struck from their itinerary, amid mounting fears the virus would climb aboard and wreak havoc.
Over a quarter of the world's coronavirus deaths are in the United States
From CNN's Christina Maxouris
As health officials race to get the virus under control, state leaders are setting the date they'll begin reopening their economies. Less than three months since the first known coronavirus death in the US, the country's fatalities make up more than quarter of the global death toll. Nearly 52,000 Americans have died from the virus so far -- a number that increases daily as a result of new fatalities and states reviewing previous deaths that had not been tied to the disease. The virus has killed at least 197,000 people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the US, limited testing in early February was part of the reason California officials did not count two earlier deaths as coronavirus-related. This week, they confirmed the two victims -- a 57-year-old woman who died February 6 and a 69-year-old man who died February 17-- are the earliest known US victims. New efforts by some states to trace more cases will give officials a better idea of the magnitude of the pandemic in the country. That, in addition to testing -- which experts say is still not where it needs to be.
More testing needed: The US has conducted about 5.1 million tests but Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading epidemiologist, said this week the nation needs to increase testing. Two new reports from public health experts and economists highlight that in order to safely reopen states, the country needs to conduct millions of tests per week. And as health officials race to get the virus under control, state leaders are setting the date they'll begin reopening their economies -- decisions that President Donald Trump has said are entirely up to governors. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday opened some businesses, including barber shops and hair salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and bowling alleys. The state has recorded more than 22,491 infections and at least 899 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Spanish football league asks to delay Covid-19 tests for players
From CNN's Al Goodman and Isabel Tejera in Madrid and Claudia Rebaza in London
La Liga said it won’t start testing the players Spain’s football league had told its clubs on Friday it will delay testing of all its professional football players for Covid-19 “because the resumption of training sessions is going to be delayed.” In a letter sent to the clubs, obtained and published by Spanish media, La Liga said it won’t start testing players, coaches and medical staff for the virus until the Spanish government approves a protocol for that. All league football, including for the giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, stopped when Spain’s state of emergency went into effect on March 14. La Liga president Javier Tebas confirmed sending the letter to the clubs to CNN. In a video press conference on Friday night, he said: “If we consider that we’ll have the protocol in the coming days, maybe next week, well, from April 28 until May 11, 12, 13, or 14, to start the training again, that’s a lot of days for the players” to wait, after testing.
Prioritize frontline workers: La Liga’s announcement came hours after the Spanish Footballers Association (AFE) said it sent two more letters to the government, “again expressing the concern” of first and second division team players about the Covid-19 tests and a resumption of training. The association said the players think those decisions should be made by the government and it added the players “consider there are other groups that need the tests more at this time, along with access to health care supplies.” Jordi Figueras, player for Racing Santander in the second division, told CNN the decision was the right one. His team issued a statement last Thursday stating their priority was to finish the tournament, but added that tests should first be available for frontline workers. “Without knowing when training would exactly resume, there is no point to get tested soon," he said. Some Spanish media reported that La Liga had hoped to start Covid-19 testing of players as early as next week, as a first step before a resumption of training. Spain’s state of emergency is due to end on May 9, after almost two months. But government officials said re-opening the country will be a gradual process so as to avoid a second wave of infections.
Daily confirmed cases slows for the second day in Germany
From CNN's Lauren Kent
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned warned against moving too fast in easing some of the social distancing restrictions The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 2,055 to reach 152,438, said the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease on Saturday. It is however only the second day of case numbers going down, following three days of acceleration in new confirmed cases. Germany's coronavirus death toll stands at 5,500. The institute previously said the number of daily Covid-19 infections needs to fall to a few hundred per day before lockdown measures can be lifted.
Germany has been easing its lockdown: Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel laid out a list of steps the country would undertake to begin lifting its lockdown, and on Monday stores up to 800 square meters in size began reopening, as long as they have hygiene and social distancing measures in place. Bookshops, car dealerships and bike stores can also now reopen regardless of their size. Restaurants, bars and gyms will remain closed. Merkel also announced that the country would increase its contact tracing efforts, deploying a team of five officers for every 20,000 people in the population to trace those who may have come into recent contact with every confirmed case.
India's most populous state bans gatherings until end of June
From CNN's Swati Gupta in New Delhi
Police personnel block a street in Allahabad, India, on April 24. Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty Images The government of India’s most populated state, Uttar Pradesh, has announced a ban on gatherings until June 30. It is the first state to have issued a ban on gatherings beyond the end of the nationwide lockdown, which is May 3. Its Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath issued strict instructions to officials about the extended gathering ban, according to a tweet by state media advisor Mrityunjay Kumar. The decision has been taken to combat the spread of coronavirus, he added. The country entered a nationwide lockdown on March 25, which was further extended to May 3. The Indian government has gradually relaxed some of the restrictions, allowing crop harvesting and for some shops to open. Uttar Pradesh has recorded 1621 positive cases, including 25 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Aides and allies making concerted effort to get Trump to stop doing daily briefings
From CNN's Jim Acosta, Kristen Holmes, Dana Bash and Gloria Borger
US President Donald Trump at a daily press briefing. There has been a concerted effort among aides and allies to get President Donald Trump to stop conducting the daily coronavirus briefings, multiple sources tell CNN. After weeks of briefings that sometimes last more than two hours, there is some agreement in the West Wing that some of the news conferences have gone on too long, resulting in a situation where Trump and administration officials simply run out of coronavirus-related questions. The result, aides have noticed, is that the briefings stray into politics instead of the matter at hand. Axios was first to report potential changes to the coronavirus task force news briefings. Friday's coronavirus task force news briefing was the shortest since the pandemic began, clocking in at 22 minutes. Trump had also taken questions from the press while signing a coronavirus relief spending bill earlier in the day. The previous shortest briefing was 32 minutes. The MOH "has preliminarily confirmed an additional 618 cases of Covid-19 infection in Singapore," adding that more than 600 migrant workers who isolated in dormitories have tested positive, according to the statement. Seven cases are permanent resident holders in Singapore and not linked to the dormitories. Singapore is home to about 1.4 million migrant workers who come largely from South and Southeast Asia. As housekeepers, domestic helpers, construction workers and manual laborers, these migrants are essential to keeping Singapore functioning -- but are also some of the lowest paid and most vulnerable people in the city. The country's recent dramatic spike in coronavirus infections has been linked to clusters in foreign worker dormitories. To control the spread, the government has attempted to isolate the dormitories, test workers and move symptomatic patients into quarantine facilities.
Lifting lockdowns safely relies on effective testing. Germany surges ahead, but US states are flying blind
Analysis from CNN's Angela Dewan
People in the US state of Georgia can now get their nails done, their hair cut -- even get a tattoo or a massage -- after just three weeks of a state-wide stay-at-home order. That's an awful lot of touching, considering a highly contagious and deadly virus is going round. These activities may give some people in Georgia a sense that life is returning to normal, but Gov. Brian Kemp's decision to allow such businesses to reopen Friday is a risky roll of the dice. In a state that has performed a relatively small number of coronavirus tests, Kemp is driving Georgia through this pandemic blindfolded. As governments around the world begin easing their lockdowns -- and as new infections are inevitable -- they will get another chance to get their responses right. Many are embracing that second chance, but some US states are not. There are now fears that reopening too quickly, or too boldly, could mean a second wave of infections in the US as fierce as the first. If one lesson has come out of the rapid spread and sweeping death toll of this coronavirus over the past few months, it's the importance of testing, health experts have reiterated. Without a vaccine in sight, what governments need to do to safely lift lockdowns is test, trace and quarantine, according to WHO spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris. "We need to know where the virus is, and then separate the sick from the healthy -- that's why you need testing. You need to check that people who have symptoms actually have the virus, and then find people who they've been in contact with and isolate them," she said. "If you can't do that, then you go back to square one."
It's 9 a.m. in London and 4 a.m. in New York City. Here's the latest on the pandemic
The pandemic has killed more than 197,000 people worldwide. If you're just joining us, here is the latest on the outbreak:
Italy's medical workers: At least 150 doctors have died in Italy after contracting coronavirus -- and health care professionals account for about 10% of all infections, according to the Italian Association of Doctors.
Global hunt for vaccine: The United Kingdom will host a summit on June 4 to encourage the international community to “come together” to support the development of a Covid-19 vaccine. The World Health Organization has announced the launch of a new effort to accelerate the development of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Violence at home: London police have arrested more than 4,000 people for domestic abuse since restrictions were imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Drone delivery: The UK government has green-lit trials for drone delivery of medicines and medical equipment.
US offers help: The United States will send ventilators to Ecuador, El Salvador and Indonesia, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday, announcing he spoke with the countries' leaders.
Scaled down Anzac Day: Australia and New Zealand remembered fallen soldiers in World War I amid coronavirus restrictions in both countries.
India opens stores: Some stores will be allowed to resume trading despite the nationwide lockdown. These include certain market complexes, even if they are not selling goods deemed essential.
The pandemic ruined their plans for a big wedding. They still managed to be surrounded by loved ones
From CNN's David Williams
Only a handful of people were allowed into the church for Clare and Mel Keefer's wedding because of the coronavirus pandemic -- but the couple was still surrounded by the smiling faces of family and friends. Their families surprised the couple Friday by putting photographs of the guests in the pews at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in St. Francesville, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge. The Keefers are both nurses in the Baton Rouge area -- he works in the ER and she's treating Covid-19 patients in ICU. Mel Keefer, 35, said he met 25-year-old Clare when they both worked at Baton Rouge General Medical Center. Mel Keefer told CNN that he knew his mom, Pam Brignac, had gone to the church before the ceremony, but he thought she were just putting up flowers and other decorations. "It was a cool surprise," he said. "It meant a lot, it was pretty crazy." They both have big families and had planned to have about 100 guests. Instead they were joined by Mel's mom and three of his cousins, Clare's parents, two sisters, her grandmother, and her aunt. The priest and a photographer were also there. Dozens of photos, printed on computer paper, were hung with clothes pins from string that stretched across the pews. Keefer said they considered postponing the wedding so their loved ones wouldn't be left out, but they've been looking forward to it since he proposed in August. "The most important thing is that we wanted to be married," he said. "We didn't want to put something off that we were ready for just to have a bigger ceremony."
Many Southern California beaches remain closed as heatwave hits
From CNN's Paul Vercammen and Jon Passantino
Beaches in Los Angeles and San Diego counties will remain closed this weekend to slow the spread of the coronavirus as a heatwave brings record warm temperatures to Southern California. The continued closures have prompted local officials to remind the public to continue to stay home despite the temptation to hit the sand during the summer-like weather. More than 18 million people are under heat advisories across Southern California, and there's a potential for record-breaking high temperatures. In Los Angeles county, the stay-at-home order states that all public beaches, piers, public beach parking lots and beach access points remain shuttered. The closures could prompt Southern Californians to head to Ventura and Orange counties, where most beaches are open but parking lots and piers are closed to curb visits from out-of-towners. Both the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff are increasing patrols to enforce social distancing rules at beaches.