March 16 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:14 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020
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12:20 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

New Jersey closes all schools starting Wednesday

All schools and universities will be closed effective Wednesday, according to Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted.

“All pre-K through grade 12 schools (public, private, and parochial) and all colleges and universities will close effective Wednesday, March 18th until it’s deemed by health officials to be safe for in-person classes to resume," according to a statement he tweeted.

12:17 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

South Carolina reports first coronavirus-related death

The South Carolina Department of Health has reported the state's first death related to novel coronavirus, according to a statement from the department.

The patient was from Lexington County and a resident of Lexington Medical Center Extended Care Nursing Facility, the statement stated.

At least 69 have died in the United States because of coronavirus. 

12:20 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Automaker Renault will shut down production in France

Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

French carmaker, Renault, said Monday it will shut down production activities at all of its plants in France “until further notice, depending on the evolution of the health situation.” 

“From the end of the day on Monday, March 16, the Groupe Renault will suspend all production activities on French industrial sites in order to protect its employees in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and in compliance with the measures taken by the French government. These suspensions of industrial activities concern 12 sites and 18,000 employees in France,” Renault said in a statement. 

Renault said it would restart production activities as soon as conditions permit and would implement appropriate measures to respond effectively to commercial demand.

12:20 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

World Health Organization ships about 1.5 million tests to 120 countries

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The World Health Organization has shipped almost 1.5 million novel coronavirus tests to 120 countries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing on Monday.

"We’re working with companies to increase the availability of tests for those most in need," Tedros said.

He continued: "The most effective way to prevent infections and save lives is breaking the chains of transmission, and to do that you must test and isolate. You cannot fight a fire blindfolded and we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected. We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test."

Doctors answer your coronavirus questions:

12:09 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Rhode Island bans gatherings of more than 25 people

From CNN’s Ganesh Setty


All public gatherings will be restricted to 25 or less people in Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Monday. The ban applied to municipal buildings, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles.

All dine-in food and beverage services will be shut down until March 30 due to coronavirus concerns. The policy will take effect tomorrow, and drive-through and takeout delivery service can remain open, she said.

The state's April 28 primary election will not be postponed as of now, Raimondo added. 

“In an ideal world, we would move to an all mail — an all mail election,” she said.

12:05 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Indiana closes state museum and limits bars and restaurants

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he's closing bars and restaurants until the end of March, limiting them to carry out and delivery.

Nearly all of the school districts are closed, and the state is working with the only 16 school corporations that remain open to determine their next steps.

The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites will be closed to the public starting tomorrow. 

11:58 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Some businesses in New York are shutting down. These are the ones that are exempt.

John Minchillo/AP
John Minchillo/AP

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is working with with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, announced a number of business closures earlier this morning. 

Bars and restaurants close at 8 p.m. ET. All local governments must reduce their workforce by 50% minimum and all non-essential personnel can stay home.

Meanwhile, Cuomo outlined the businesses that are considered essential and exempt from the shutdown:

  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies
  • Medical facilities
11:53 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

New York governor: "We need the federal government to play its role"

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stressed the importance of federal assistance during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We need the federal government to play its role,” Cuomo said today. “We need federal assets and we need federal assistance.” 

He said the state needs to find facilities to be converted to hospitals and he hopes to not pay money to acquire new land. 

While noting that New York state has built bridges and other infrastructure, Cuomo said “We don’t have billions of dollars you would need.”

“This state can’t do it, no state can do it," he added.

Cuomo is asking local governments to “immediately identify a number of beds in facilities that are available.”


11:35 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

EU restricts non-essential travel

The European Commission will introduce temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU, as part of its efforts to tackle and contain the ongoing spread of coronavirus across Europe, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen just announced. 

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus, therefore, as I have just informed our G7 partners, I propose to the heads of state and government, a restriction on non-essential travel to the European Union,” von der Leyen said in a video statement shared on her Twitter account. 

She continued: “These restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 30 days, which can be prolonged as necessary,” she added.

However she clarified that there will be some exemptions to the restrictions, including family members of European nationals, essential staff, such as doctors and nurses, and people transporting goods to the European Union.