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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6:51 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Los Angeles County Sheriff releases inmates early due to coronavirus concerns

From CNN's Sarah Moon

In response to concerns over the coronavirus, Los Angeles County is releasing inmates early and is reducing the number of arrests in the county, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference Monday.

They have reduced the population of jails by releasing inmates with less than 30 days left of their sentence. On February 28, when the county first started taking actions, they had 17,076 people in custody. As of Monday, they have 16,459 people, Villanueva said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is directing local agencies to cite and release everyone they can. Authorities are being directed to seek medical attention first for anyone showing symptoms before booking them, the sheriff said.

The number of arrests have been reduced from an average of 300 per day throughout Los Angeles County to about 60 arrests a day, Villanueva said.

There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the county jails, he said.

7:15 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

"Saturday Night Live" suspends production until further notice

From CNN's Rebekah Riess

Michael Che and Cecily Strong during the March 7 episode of Saturday Night Live.
Michael Che and Cecily Strong during the March 7 episode of Saturday Night Live. Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images)

"Saturday Night Live" has halted production until further notice and their episode slated for March 28 will not air, a NBCUniversal spokesperson told NBC News on Monday.

NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC News.

"The safety of our employees continue to be our top priority. We will monitor the situation closely and make decisions about future shows on an ongoing basis as further information develops," the spokesperson said to NBC News.


6:42 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

New limits on UK, Ireland travel poses another test for Trump administration after weekend airport meltdown

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez and Geneva Sands

At midnight Monday, the United States will implement a new slate of travel restrictions to combat coronavirus spread, limiting transit from the United Kingdom and Ireland, following a weekend of confusion and frustration at select airports nationwide. This time, though, officials say they'll be better prepared. 

A flurry of images on Saturday showed passengers squeezed together and waiting to get through US customs, after returning from overseas. Passengers shared stories of hours-long backups, inconsistent screenings, and waiting shoulder-to-shoulder to be processed through.  

Wait times have since decreased. But as the Trump administration remedies the issues raised over the weekend, it's on the cusp of putting in place more restrictions that could also sow confusion.

What we know: To avoid the backups that occurred over the weekend, US Customs and Border Protection is upping its staff at airports and adding more people on shifts. CBP has also streamlined the process, in coordination with others involved in screening, in order to expedite the processing and screening capacity to avoid long wait times.

The enhanced screenings are part of an administration effort to handle the coronavirus pandemic. Countries around the world have shut down their borders and placed increased restrictions on movement and social gatherings. 

The Trump administration began by restricting travel from China, then Iran. Last week, Trump extended those restrictions to include certain European countries, effective Friday night. The United Kingdom and Ireland were initially excluded, but limits for those countries take effect Monday at midnight. US citizens, green card holders and their family members are exempt from the restrictions.

What's happening Monday night: Starting at 11:59 p.m. ET Monday, people returning home from Ireland and the United Kingdom will also undergo enhanced entry at the same 13 airports, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Passengers coming in from Europe's Schengen Area—26 countries stretching from Iceland to Greece—have been funneled to the airports where they undergo enhanced screening. They first go through customs, then are screened by Homeland Security medical contractors, and in the event, someone exhibits symptoms or other red flags, passengers will be referred to CDC personnel on site.

Officials expect changes made to the system and collaboration with the airline industry will put CBP, and the agencies working alongside them, in a position to respond to new arrivals.  

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.

6:36 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

All schools in New York ordered to close by Wednesday, governor says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed schools to close statewide by Wednesday until April 1.

School districts statewide will be required to submit a plan to the State Education Department.

7:27 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

McDonald's USA will close seating areas in restaurants due to outbreak

From CNN's Dave Alsup

McDonald’s USA company-owned restaurants will close seating areas to the public during the coronavirus outbreak, the company said in a statement.

Restaurants will shift business to drive-in pick-up windows and walk-in takeout orders. 

Here's what McDonald's USA said in the statement:

"To align with increasing regulations throughout the country, effective at the close of business today, McDonald’s USA company-owned restaurants will close seating areas, including the use of self-service beverage bars and kiosks, and shift our focus to serving customers through Drive-Thru, walk-in take-out and McDelivery."
6:27 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Bars to close and restaurants services to be limited in Kentucky

From CNN's Rebekah Riess

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced new measures on Monday to combat the spread of novel coronavirus, including closing bars and limiting restaurants to takeout and delivery orders.

As a result, the governor announced that the state would be waiving the waiting period for unemployment.

Beshear also announced an executive order to prohibit price gauging.

These are the other services affected by the coronavirus outbreak:

  • All Kentucky hospitals must stop elective surgeries.
  • All child care centers must close by the end of the business day on Friday.
  • Kentucky’s state capitol will be closing to non-essential personnel starting Tuesday morning.  
6:05 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

"Game of Thrones" actor says he's tested positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Megan Thomas

Actor Kristofer Hivju, best known for his role as Tormund Giantsbane in "Game of Thrones," announced in an Instagram post on Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Hivju said he was experiencing "mild symptoms" of a cold, and he and his family are self-isolating at their home in Norway.

See his full post:

6:00 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

US airports seek $10 billion in government assistance

From CNN's Geneva Sands

US airports are seeking $10 billion in government assistance to offset losses spurred by the coronavirus outbreak, an airport industry source tells CNN. 

The $10 billion figure is in line with anticipated airport revenue losses, the source added.  

Reuters first reported the request. 


6:02 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

SoulCycle and FlyWheel Sports close studios nationwide due to coronavirus mandates

From CNN's Allison Flexner

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

SoulCycle and FlyWheel Sports will close its studios nationwide due to coronavirus concerns and government mandates.

SoulCycle’s closure goes into effect Monday by 8 p.m. local time for all studios in the US and Canada due to ongoing coronavirus developments and government mandates, according to an email sent to their members.

Flywheel studios are closing effective March 17, the company said in an email to members.