Coronavirus: Walmart requires employees to wear face masks

Nearly 2.3 million people worldwide -- including more than 706,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals manage unprecedented patient surges.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here.

>> Coronavirus: Know the facts directly from the CDC

Live updates for Saturday, April 18, continue below:

Walmart requires employees to wear face masks

Update 11:30 p.m. EDT April 18: Employees at Walmart are required to wear a face mask or other face covering while working, company officials said Friday.

“We have evolved our policy on face coverings from optional to mandatory as public health guidance has shifted,” officials said in a statement. “The (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) now recommends wearing face coverings in public settings, including grocery stores, to help curb the spread of the virus.”

The policy takes effect Monday and includes all store associates employees at clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers and at corporate offices."We hope this step will promote safety and consistency across all of our facilities and be of comfort to our customers and members," officials said. “However, it’s important to remember that face coverings are simply an additional health precaution.”

Laura Bush, Michelle Obama share message of hope during Global Citizen concert

Update 11:06 p.m. EDT April 18: Former first ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama joined together, albeit from their own separate houses, to share a message of hope as part of the Global Citizen concert.

They also expressed gratitude to first responders, medical professionals and other frontline workers during the “One World: Together At Home” TV concert and fundraiser for the World Health Organization, CNN reported.

“You’re the fabric of our country and your strength will carry us through this crisis,” Bush said.

Obama ended their message.

“The coming days will not be easy, but this global family of ours is strong,” she said. “We will continue to be here for one another and we will get through this crisis. Together.”

The more than 8 hour broadcast also featured performances by John Legend and Sam Smith, Lizzo, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones (each from their own location).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Japan surpasses 10,000 cases

Update 10:33 p.m. EDT April 18: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Japan surpassed 10,000 Saturday.

There are 10,296 confirmed cases and 222 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins’ tracking website.

The increase has prompted the government to extend the state of emergency in seven prefectures, CNN reported.

More than 1,300 Ohio inmates test positive for virus

Update 10:15 p.m. EDT April 18: More than 1,300 inmates at three Ohio prisons have tested positive for the coronavirus, CNN reported.

Officials decided Thursday to test every inmate at Marion Correction Institution and Pickaway Correctional Institution, CNN reported. Inmates at Franklin Medical Center are also being tested. The results are coming back in stages.

So far 1,057 inmates at Marion Correctional Institution have tested positive. At least 202 have at Pickaway and 101 inmates at Franklin Medical Center have, CNN reported.

“Large numbers are eye popping but one of the big reasons here is it’s a congregate setting,” Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Gov. Mike DeWine, told CNN.

Four inmates at Pickaway have died. At least 64 employees at the facility have also tested positive, CNN reported. There have been 103 employees at the Marion facility to test positive. One of those workers died from the virus, CNN reported.

Nearly 700 members of FDNY test positive for virus

Update 7:40 p.m. EDT April 18: At least 667 members of the Fire Department of New York have tested positive for the coronavirus, CNN reported Saturday. The number includes firefighters, emergency medical services members and civilian employees.

There are more than 2,200 members of the FDNY on medical leave, CNN reported. That number also includes non-coronavirus ailments.

The New York Police Department said that 4,347 members have tested positive for the virus, CNN reported. That includes 3,350 uniformed officers and 730 civilian employees, the New York Post reported.

California secures 11,000 hotel rooms for homeless population

Update 6:57 p.m. EDT April 18: California officials have secured nearly 11,000 hotel rooms to house the state’s homeless population, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday.

“We had an audacious goal a few weeks back of identifying 15,000 hotel rooms that would be made available as a subset of our larger homeless strategy to get people off the streets,” Newsom said during a news conference. “Four thousand two hundred eleven individuals are now inside off the streets, out of our shelters, representing roughly 38% of all those hotel rooms now being occupied.”

There are 5,025 rooms at 47 Motel 6 locations in 19 counties being used.

230 inmates test positive for virus at Arkansas prison

Update 6:20 p.m. EDT April 18: Officials in Arkansas are contemplating listing coronavirus cases among inmates separately from the general population as the number of infected prisoners increases.

There are 230 cases at Cummins Unit prison after officials tested 1,000 inmates, CNN reported.

“We’re doing an extraordinary amount of testing there,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during a Saturday news conference. “And if we’re going to do that volume of tests, that really skews the reporting, and so I think in the future, we will be trying to show those in a different light, but in a very transparent way, as well.”

None of the prison staff has tested positive for the virus.

Florida schools to remain closed for remainder of school year

Update 5:42 p.m. EDT April 18: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced all schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

Students at K-12 schools will continue distance learning for the rest of the year, the Miami Herald reported.

“We’ve got pretty good momentum for distance learning," DeSantis said, CNN reported. "It’s obviously not the ideal situation, but given where we are in the school year, we felt that that was the best, best decision to go forward.”

Global death toll tops 158,000

Update 3:22 p.m. EDT April 18: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus topped 158,000 by midafternoon Saturday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. The actual number at 3 p.m. stood at At noon, the number of fatalities worldwide stood at 158,202.

In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 2,297,712 people worldwide.

Contamination at CDC central lab delayed test kits

Update 2:38 p.m. EDT April 18: Contamination at the central laboratory of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caused a delay in quickly producing a test kit for detecting the coronavirus, The Washington Post reported.

The problem at the Atlanta complex stemmed in part from the CDC not following its own protocols, a Food and Drug Administration spokesman told CNN.

“(The) CDC made its test in one of its laboratories, rather than in its manufacturing facilities. CDC did not manufacture its test consistent with its own protocol," the spokesman said.

The cross-contamination most likely occurred because chemical mixtures were assembled into the kits within a lab space that was also handling synthetic coronavirus material, the Post reported.

After officials detected the problem, CDC officials took more than a month to remove the unnecessary step from the kits, the newspaper reported.

More than 160 South Koreans test positive a 2nd time

Update 2:21 p.m. EDT April 18: More than 160 South Koreans have tested positive a second time for the coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Many of the residents had volunteered fo be reexamined after showing symptoms, the newspaper reported. So far, these patients have not spread the virus to others, according to South Korean health officials.

Health officials believe the virus has “reactivated” in the patient, which means it was dormant and then returned, The Wall Street Journal reported. However, the South Korean government said its report is continuing and inconclusive, the newspaper reported.

US death toll from COVID-19 passes 37,000

Update 1:34 p.m. EDT April 18: The death toll attributed to the coronavirus topped 37,000 Saturday afternoon Saturday, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University. The actual total was 37,309, according to the university’s figures.

There are now at least 711,197 cases of coronavirus in the United States.

Department of Defense to extend travel restrictions for personnel

Update 1:08 p.m. EDT April 18: Defense Secretary Mark Esper is expected to extend travel restrictions for Defense Department personnel through June 30, a Pentagon official said.

Matthew Donovan, undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, told reporters the order will become effective Monday, CNN reported.

“Continuing these travel restrictions is necessary because of the global nature of the department of defense enterprise. We have service members stationed in all 50 states and in numerous foreign nations across the globe," Donovan said. "While many areas in the United States may be on a positive trajectory, some areas and many nations are not,”

Donovan added that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will review the policy every 15 days to determine whether conditions will allow travel to resume earlier than June 30.

Florida cases top 25K; 14 people die from COVID-19 overnight

Update 12:50 p.m. EDT April 18: The Florida Department of Health reported 14 coronavirus-related deaths and 516 new cases statewide since Friday evening, WFTV reported.

Officials said the total number of cases in Florida has reached 25,269 with the statewide death toll now at 740.

Worldwide death toll from COVID-19 tops 156,000

Update 12:17 p.m. EDT April 18: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus topped 156,000 by midday Saturday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. At noon, the number of fatalities worldwide stood at 156,100.

In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 2,274,800 people worldwide.

Cuomo: NY state had 540 deaths in past 24 hours

Update 11:59 a.m. EDT April 18: During his daily news conference, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 540 people died in the state from the coronavirus. Cuomo added that more than 2,000 people were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 over the past 24 hours.

“If you notice, (at) 2,000 we’re not at the peak, but this is where we were just about in late March, when it started to go up,' Cuomo told reporters. “So we’re not at the plateau anymore, but we’re still not in a good position. And the worse news is still tragic news, number of deaths, 540. It’s not as high as it was. It’s still 540 people died yesterday. 540 people. 540 families. 504 in hospitals, 36 in nursing homes.

"Nursing homes are the single biggest fear in all of this. Vulnerable people in one place, it is the feeding frenzy for this virus.”

Trudeau: US-Canada border to stay closed another 30 days

Update 11:47 a.m. EDT April 18: Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, said Saturday his country and the United States have struck a deal to extend border restrictions between the two nations for another 30 days.

“This is an important decision and one that will keep people on both sides of the border safe,” Trudeau said during his Saturday news conference, CBC reported.

NYC mayor to residents: Report social distancing violators

Update 10:47 a.m. EDT April 18: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new service that encourages city residents to report people who are violating social distancing guidelines.

In a tweet, de Blasio told residents to take a photo of a crowded place or crowds of people who are violating the guidelines and text them to a telephone number that will alert authorities.

“We still know there’s some people that need to get the message and that means sometimes making sure the enforcement is there to educate people and make clear we’ve got to have social distancing,” de Blasio said in his tweet. “When you see a crowd, when you see a line that’s distanced, when you see a supermarket that too crowded, anything, you can report it right away so we can get help there to fix the problem.”

De Blasio said that once the photos are sent, "We will make sure enforcement comes right away.”

Texans preparing to join nationwide protests

Update 10:03 a.m. EDT April 18: Protesters in Texas are preparing to meet on the steps of the state capitol in Austin and call for the reopening of the state, The New York Times reported.

The protesters are moving ahead even though Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday he would reopen the state with a “phased-in” approach that included lifting restrictions on nonvirus medical procedures, state parks and shopping, the newspaper reported.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement that it asks the public to comply with the social distancing guidelines found in the orders signed by Abbott and in recommendations issued by federal health officials. “Our officers will take appropriate enforcement action -- as with any other protest -- should the situation warrant such action,” the statement read.

More beaches opened up in northeast Florida

Update 9:34 a.m. EDT April 18: More beaches were opened up in northeastern Florida. The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office announced beaches in the county have been partially reopened from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m., seven days a week, WJAX reported. Public parking lots were reopened, but beach parking remains closed.

The move comes after Jacksonville city officials reopened Duval County beaches at 5 p.m. Friday. Beaches in Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach are now open from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Queen Elizabeth II cancels traditional birthday gun salute

Update 9:10 a.m. EDT April 18: Queen Elizabeth II canceled the traditional royal gun salute for her birthday, noting the gesture would not be appropriate during the pandemic, the BBC reported. The queen turns 94 on Tuesday.

The Trooping the Colour parade, held in June to mark the queen’s official birthday already has been canceled, the network said.

Telephone and video calls with family members will be kept private, a source at Buckingham Palace told CNN.

Tennessee Supreme Court delays execution over COVID-19 concerns

Update 8:31 a.m. EDT April 18: The Tennessee Supreme Court delayed a scheduled execution over concerns with the coronavirus pandemic. Oscar Franklin Smith, who is scheduled to die June 4, had his execution delayed until Feb. 4, 2021, The Tennessean reported.

Smith’s attorneys had fought against the June execution, citing an unnecessary health risk to witnesses.

“It makes no sense to bring execution witnesses and other people into the prison and possibly expose them to COVID-19 infection or introduce the virus into the prison population,” federal public defender Kelley Henry said in a statement.

Global coronavirus death toll nears 155K, worldwide cases approach 2.3M

Update 7:45 a.m. EDT April 18: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 154,694 early Saturday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 2,259,317 people worldwide. Meanwhile, Spain has become the third nation to surpass 20,000 virus-related deaths.

The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows:

• The United States has reported 706,779 cases, resulting in 37,079 deaths.

Spain has confirmed 190,839 cases, resulting in 20,002 deaths.

Italy has reported 172,434 infections, resulting in 22,745 deaths.

France has confirmed 149,130 infections, resulting in 18,703 deaths.

Germany has reported 141,397 cases, resulting in 4,352 deaths.

• The United Kingdom has reported 109,769 cases, resulting in 14,607 deaths.

China has recorded 83,784 cases, resulting in 4,636 deaths.

Iran has recorded 79,494 cases, resulting in 4,958 deaths.

Turkey has recorded 78,546 cases, resulting in 1,769 deaths.

Belgium has confirmed 37,183 cases, resulting in 5,453 deaths.

WHO says no evidence antibody tests can determine coronavirus immunity

Update 7:10 a.m. EDT April 18: The World Health Organization warned Friday there is no evidence suggesting the presence of antibodies in blood can determine whether someone has immunity to the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s executive director for health emergencies, told CNN there is no indication so far that a large proportion of the population had developed immunity.

“There’s been an expectation, maybe, that herd immunity may have been achieved and that the majority of people in society may already have developed antibodies. I think the general evidence is pointing against that ... so it may not solve the problem the governments are trying to solve.”

NBA, WNBA selling team-branded face coverings to fight coronavirus, proceeds going to charity

Update 6:39 a.m. EDT April 18: The NBA and WNBA began selling team-branded face coverings Friday, with all proceeds benefitting hunger-relief organizations in the United States and Canada as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to infect millions across the globe.

According to ESPN, the masks are available at the leagues’ official online stores, and the proceeds from all sales will benefit Feeding America in the U.S. and Canada’s Second Harvest.

“As a global community, we can all play a role in reducing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic by following the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendation to cover our nose and mouth while in public,” Kathy Behrens, the NBA’s president for social responsibility and player programs, told ESPN, adding, “Through this new product offering, NBA and WNBA fans can adhere to these guidelines while joining in the league’s efforts to aid those who have been directly affected by COVID-19.”

Alabama prisons report 1st coronavirus cases

Update 5:13 a.m. EDT April 18: Three inmates in the Alabama corrections system have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed early Saturday.

The cases are the first detected in the state's prison system and involve two inmates at the St. Clair Correctional Facility and one at the Bullock Correctional Facility.

According to CNN, one of the St. Clair prisoners, a 66-year-old terminally ill inmate, died April 16, but was already being treated for preexisting conditions.

The other two inmates to test positive for COVID-19 infections are receiving treatment.

Federal judge nixes Tennessee plan to block abortion access during coronavirus pandemic

Update 4:58 a.m. EDT April 18: Citing the “time-sensitive” nature of the procedures, a federal judge ruled Friday that the state of Tennessee cannot block abortions by lumping them in with nonessential medical procedures temporarily banned statewide to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Judge Bernard Friedman of the Middle District of Tennessee said in his late-night ruling that women could face imminent harm if abortions are restricted during the pandemic, The Tennessean reported.

“Delaying a woman’s access to abortion even by a matter of days can result in her having to undergo a lengthier and more complex procedure that involves progressively greater health risks, or can result in her losing the right to obtain an abortion altogether,” Friedman wrote.

Chicago’s highest-volume jail has released more than 20% of inmates amid coronavirus crisis

Update 4:33 a.m. EDT April 18: The population in Chicago’s Cook County Jail has reached an all-time low after more than one-fifth of the correctional facility’s inmates have been released during the past month in a bid to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus.

According to the Cook County State Attorney’s Office, the inmate population in Cook County Jail has been reduced from more than 5,000 in mid-March to 4,276 as officials have worked to release both low-level, nonviolent offenders and those awaiting trial.

“Hundreds of gallons of bleach and disinfectant is distributed throughout the jail weekly as well as masks and other protective gear. We’ve proactively single celled the majority of the jail population and maximized social distancing to the extent it is possible in a correctional facility, including preparing and opening previously closed detention areas,” the Cook County Sheriff’s Office told CNN.

Chief of staff to Nigerian president dies of coronavirus

Update 3:51 a.m. EDT April 18: Abba Kyari, chief of staff to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, died Friday following a month-long battle with the novel coronavirus, according to a statement from the office of the presidency.

Kyari, who was in his 70s, was one of the most powerful figures in Buhari’s administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Reuters reported.

Coronavirus prompts Ticketmaster to issue refunds for postponed concerts

Update 2:24 a.m. EDT April 18: Following tremendous pushback from angry customers, Ticketmaster announced Friday it will issue refunds for more than 18,000 events postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

According to Billboard, the ticket retailer has canceled or postponed 30,000 events, accounting for roughly $2 billion in ticket sales.

Per the new policy, beginning May 1, fans will receive emails from Ticketmaster to initiate a full refund but not until the postponed shows announce the rescheduled dates. Fans will then have 30 days to request their refunds, The Washington Post reported.

Read more here.

New requirement: All Walmart employees to wear face coverings as coronavirus lingers

Update 1:33 a.m. EDT April 18: Beginning Monday, all employees of Walmart and Sam’s Club wholesale stores will be required to wear face coverings.

“We will begin requiring that associates wear masks or other face coverings at work. This includes our stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers, as well as in our corporate offices,” a Friday letter sent to employees read, WTXL reported.

The company will provide the face coverings for employees, or they can provide their own. And while customers are also encouraged to cover their faces when patronizing the stores, the statement noted that measure would not be mandatory.

“We hope this step will promote safety and consistency across all of our facilities and be of comfort to our customers and members. However, it’s important to remember that face coverings are simply an additional health precaution. They do not guarantee against the spread of this virus,” the statement said.

US coronavirus deaths hit 37,054, total cases top 701K

Published 12:35 a.m. EDT April 18: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 701,000 early Saturday morning across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 702,164 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 37,054 deaths. Of those cases, more than 230,000 have been reported in New York, meaning the state has, itself, confirmed more cases than any other nation outside the United States, including the United Kingdom with 109,769 cases, Germany with 141,397, France with 149,130, Italy with 172,434 and Spain with 190,839.

Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 17,134 – or roughly 46% of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 3,840 in New Jersey, 2,227 in Michigan and 1,404 in Massachusetts.

In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak with at least 230,624 confirmed cases – roughly three times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 78,467, Massachusetts with 34,402, Pennsylvania with 30,031 and Michigan with 29,263.

Seven other states have now confirmed at least 16,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including:

California: 29,198, resulting in 1,041 deaths

Illinois: 27,575, resulting in 1,1,32 deaths

Florida: 24,759, resulting in 726 deaths

Louisiana: 23,118, resulting in 1,213 deaths

Texas: 18,074, resulting in 456 deaths

Georgia: 17,432, resulting in 668 deaths

Connecticut: 16,809, resulting in 1,036 deaths

Meanwhile, Washington state and Maryland each has confirmed at least 11,000 cases, followed closely by Indiana with 10,154; Ohio and Colorado each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases, followed closely by Virginia with 7,491; Tennessee and North Carolina each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases, followed closely by Missouri with 5,371; Alabama, Arizona, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Wisconsin each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; Mississippi and Nevada each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Utah, Kentucky, the District of Columbia, Oklahoma, Iowa, Delaware and Minnesota each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases.

Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.