March 12 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Sheena McKenzie and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 10:06 PM ET, Thu March 12, 2020
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5:26 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center could be closed for months, mayor says

Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center could be closed for months, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference today.

This comes after an announcement was made to cancel events of 500 or more people across the state, de Blasio said.

5:28 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus case confirmed at Fiat Chrysler facility in Indiana

From CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich

Auto giant Fiat Chrysler confirmed today that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 at one of its facilities in Kokomo, Indiana, according to a statement from the car maker.

“FCA [Fiat Chrysler Automobiles] is working with local area health authorities in Kokomo, Indiana, to support the treatment of an employee who tested positive for COVID-19. The employee, who works at the Kokomo Transmission Plant, is currently receiving medical care,” the statement read.

The employee’s immediate co-workers have been placed into quarantine along with others in the facility who the person may have come into direct contact with. FCA has deep cleaned and disinfected the employees working area.

The company is also “deploying additional sanitization measures across the entire facility, retiming break times to avoid crowding and deploying social spacing,” according to the statement.

More context: The United Auto Workers union, which represents 400,000 members, is actively monitoring the situation and working with Fiat Chrysler on precautions and measures necessary to “protect our members and everyone who works in our facilities,” said United Auto Workers Vice President Cindy Estrada. 

The FCA Kokomo plant currently remains open.

5:21 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Seattle Symphony livestreamed recordings of performances as comfort offering

From CNN's Joe Ruiz

The show must go on. Sorta.

While the home of the Seattle Symphony has canceled all public events through the end of the month, the Symphony has said it will continue to offer its performances online "to offer strength, comfort and unity" while many public gathering places are closed to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

“I believe music has the power to transform lives and bring people together in new and surprising ways,” shares Music Director Thomas Dausgaard. “Even though we can’t gather at Benaroya Hall, I’m so happy we’ll still be sharing musical moments together, whether you’re at home in Seattle or halfway across the world.”

The first rebroadcast is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. local time (10:30 p.m. ET) on Thursday night. More details about the streaming schedule can be found on the Symphony's website.

4:55 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

There are no plans to shut down subways or streets in New York City, police say

The New York Police Department tweeted today that there are no plans to shut down the roadways or subways in the city.

4:47 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Maryland will close all schools for two weeks starting Monday

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

All schools will close for two weeks in Maryland starting Monday, State Superintendent of Maryland Schools Karen Salmon said at a news conference today.

The schools will remain closed until March 27, Salmon said.

As a result of the closure, make-up days will take place during spring break, which was scheduled for mid-April, Salmon said.

Students who receive meals will continue to receive food through programs, Salmon said.

The Maryland Department of Education is also working to give childcare options to residents who must continue to work such as health care providers, Salmon said.

5:10 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Maryland governor activates National Guard in response to coronavirus

Gov. Larry Hogan has directed Maryland Emergency Management to the highest activation level and issued an executive order that moves the National Guard to a higher state of readiness, he said at a news conference Thursday.

He also banned all gatherings of more than 250 people. Any religious, sporting or other gatherings of 250 people or more will need to be canceled and postponed, Hogan said. 

Additional measures are being taken to mitigate the spread of novel coronavirus, including state government workers teleworking, public access to state buildings being restricted, and the closures of senior activity centers, Hogan said.

Hogan encouraged grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations to remain open as to not impact daily life of Maryland residents.

Maryland currently has at least 12 cases of coronavirus statewide.


5:02 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

All Catholic churches across Rome to completely close due to coronavirus

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

The Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, popular with tourist, is seen in Rome on December 20, 2019.
The Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, popular with tourist, is seen in Rome on December 20, 2019. Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

Catholic churches across Rome have been ordered to completely close due to the spread of coronavirus and worshippers are exempt from attending Sunday mass. 

Pope Francis’ cardinal in charge of the Diocese of Rome, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, said on Thursday that all churches in the city, whether active parishes or just open to the public, will shut down until April 3.

A church historian in Rome has said this is the first time that all churches in Rome have been closed to the faithful.

In a statement on the Church of Rome website, the Cardinal said the shutdown was necessary due to a “sense of belonging to a human family exposed to a virus of which we still don’t know the nature of or how it propagates. The faithful are therefore dispensed from the obligation of fulfilling Sunday celebration.”

“We are living in a very serious health situation each one of us is asked to have the utmost attention, because any imprudence in observing health measures could harm other people,” he added.
4:39 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

NBA player who tested positive for coronavirus apologizes for touching mics and recorders

From CNN's Joe Ruiz

Rudy Gobert, the All-Star center for the NBA's Utah Jazz, took to Instagram on Thursday to thank people for their support after he was diagnosed with coronavirus.

He also apologized for his actions seen in a now viral video of him earlier this week deliberately touching microphones and recorders following a media session.

"The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered. At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse. I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously. I will do whatever I can to support using my experience as way to educate others and prevent the spread of this virus," he said.

Gobert's positive test came shortly before the Jazz were due to tip-off against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. The NBA postponed the game just before it started, and shortly thereafter postponed the entire season.

Donovan Mitchell, Gobert's teammate and fellow NBA All-Star this season, announced Thursday afternoon that he, too, had tested positive for coronavirus.


4:37 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Women's Tennis Association Tour cancels next 2 tournaments

From CNN's David Close

The Women's Tennis Association Tour will cancel the next two scheduled tennis tournaments, WTA CEO Steve Simon announced Thursday.

"Due to safety and health concerns surrounding the coronavirus, as well as the travel restrictions imposed on entering the United States from Europe, the Miami Open and the Volvo Car Open in Charleston will not be held at this time," he said in a statement.

He continued: "There isn’t anything more important than protecting the health of our players, staff, volunteers, and fans who attend our events, along with the general public. We are disappointed but the decision has been made in the interest of public health and safety, which is the top priority.  The WTA, working alongside our player and tournament leaders, will make a decision in the week ahead regarding the European clay court season."