March 17 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Jack Guy, CNN

Updated 10:20 PM ET, Tue March 17, 2020
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10:19 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here.

10:09 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Bolivia closes border to curb coronavirus spread

From CNN’s Abel Alvarado and Jackie Castillo in Atlanta

Bolivia’s borders will be closed due to the ongoing threat of coronavirus, Interim President Jeanine Áñez announced in a statement released by her office on Tuesday.

Effective Thursday, only Bolivian citizens and residents may enter the country, the statement said. Travelers entering the country must follow protocols implemented by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization.

International and national flights will be suspended starting Friday, the statement said. The transportation of goods will still be allowed into Bolivia.

In addition to border closures, work days will be shortened and markets will open for limited hours. The measures will be in place until March 31.

10:00 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Hawaii governor asks visitors to postpone their vacations

A US state heavily dependent on tourism dollars is making the extraordinary request for visitors to stay away due to the coronavirus. 

Speaking at a news conference in Honolulu on Tuesday, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said, “I am strongly encouraging our guests to postpone their vacations for at least the next 30 days and reschedule it for a later date.”

Ige said additional steps are coming, as they will screen all passengers disembarking from cruise ships starting Friday. Physicians will check the temperature of each passenger and conduct interviews about their health. Ige said they intend to do the same screenings for airport arrivals as soon as possible.

The state is banning table service at restaurants, and the governor said all bars and clubs will be closed. Additionally, all gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited, including worship services.

9:50 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Nevada governor orders non-essential businesses to close for 30 days

The marquee and sign at an entrance of the MGM Grand & Hotel & Casino display messages after the Las Vegas Strip resort was closed as a precaution against coronavirus on March 17 in Las Vegas. 
The marquee and sign at an entrance of the MGM Grand & Hotel & Casino display messages after the Las Vegas Strip resort was closed as a precaution against coronavirus on March 17 in Las Vegas.  Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The governor of Nevada is strongly advising as many residents as possible to stay home indefinitely to slow the spread of coronavirus.

In a news conference, Gov. Steve Sisolak said only businesses and organizations that serve food, gas and other essential items or social services can remain open as of noon Wednesday. Restaurants can only provide their services via delivery or carryout.

All casinos are ordered closed, as well as pubs and wineries that do not serve food. All gaming devices in any location must be shut down by midnight Tuesday night.

“Non-essential services such as beauty shops, barber shops [and] salons should close until further notice,” Sisolak said. “This is not the time for sleepovers, play dates, theater outings, or athletic events... it's definitely not the time to go to the movies.”

Sisolak strongly suggested postponing weddings scheduled for the next month – especially those involving guests traveling from out-of-state, and even advised Nevadans to limit attendance at funerals. The order does not apply to houses of worship, but the governor said, “I strongly urge our faith leaders to find ways to deliver to their congregations without bringing them together in person.”

“It’s incumbent upon the citizens of this state to take this seriously,” Sisolak said as he pounded the podium with his finger.

10:11 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

US and Canada preparing joint statement that could suspend non-essential travel between the two countries 

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

The United States and Canada are preparing to issue a joint statement that could suspend non-essential travel between the two countries in the next 24 to 48 hours, a Trump administration official tells CNN.

The agreement is not yet finalized and officials are still working to define "non-essential travel," but the official stressed that the new restrictions will ensure that business and trade between the two countries can continue.

Part of the discussions involve what types of vehicles and individuals would still be allowed to travel between the two borders and for what purpose, the official said. The restrictions will likely allow for significant flexibility.

Unlike travel restrictions on Europe and China, this would be a mutual agreement between the two countries.

"The Canadians have been our friends throughout this and many other crises and they continue to be honest brokers," the official said.

When Trump was asked at the coronavirus task force briefing whether he was considering closing the US land borders on Tuesday, he said, "I don't want to say that, but we are discussing things with Canada and we're discussing things with Mexico, quite honestly, and again, the relationship is outstanding with both, outstanding. We just signed our deal, the USMCA, and the relationship is very strong." 

9:30 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

California schools likely to be closed for rest of school year, governor says

From CNN's Jon Passantino

California public schools will likely remain closed for the remainder of the school year to prevent spread of novel coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference Tuesday.

“Don’t anticipate schools are going to open up in a week, please don’t anticipate in a few weeks,” Newsom said. “I would plan and assume that it’s unlikely that many of these schools, few if any, will open for before the summer break.”

Nearly all school districts in the state, with a total student body of 6.1 million students, have been closed in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

9:29 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Florida cancels all remaining testing for state’s schools

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking at a news conference Tuesday, said that all remaining testing for students K-12 has been canceled for the year.

Requirements for students who are readying for graduation will still be looked at, without the testing component.

Parents will have a choice to keep their children in the same grade for the 2020-2021 school year. There will be no K-12 grades calculated for the rest of this year, he said.

9:39 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Nearly 8 million Northern California residents asked to shelter in place

From CNN's Jon Passantino

A pedestrian crosses an empty street in San Francisco on Tuesday, March 17.
A pedestrian crosses an empty street in San Francisco on Tuesday, March 17. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Sonoma County joined nine other Northern California counties on Tuesday, ordering residents to shelter in place to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus, raising the total number of residents under the orders in the region to nearly 8 million.

The order issued by Sonoma County restricts residents’ activity, travel, and business functions to only the most basic and essential needs. It goes into effect at midnight March 18 and will be in place for three weeks until April 7.

“In light of the recent cases of local transmission of COVID-19 in the County, we are taking proactive action to curtail the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County's interim health officer. 

Other counties currently ordered to shelter in place include Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz.

9:08 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Air traffic control tower at Chicago Midway International Airport is temporarily closed, FAA says

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

The sun sets behind the air traffic control tower at Chicago Midway International Airport on Tuesday, March 17.
The sun sets behind the air traffic control tower at Chicago Midway International Airport on Tuesday, March 17. Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

The air traffic control tower at Chicago Midway International Airport has temporarily closed after several technicians at the facility tested positive for coronavirus, the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday.

The federal agency said the closure is necessary “while we ensure a safe work environment for air traffic controllers and technicians.”

“The airport remains open and operations will continue at a reduced rate until the situation is resolved,” the FAA said in a statement.

The airport is also shifting to "one-in-one-out" flight operations, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

"We have been notified by the FAA that out of an abundance of caution, access to the air traffic control tower at Midway International Airport will be limited, and flight operations will shift to "one-in-one-out," the department said in a statement.

"Subsequently, the FAA has implemented a ground delay program, which applies to any flight bound for Midway that has not yet departed its point of origin. Midway remains open, but operations will be limited until further notice. Travelers are encouraged to contact their airline for the most up-to-date flight information," the department said.