March 17 coronavirus news

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11:38 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Maryland will turn car inspection sites into drive-through testing centers, governor says

WBAL;
WBAL;

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said all vehicle emissions inspection programs will cease operations on inspections.

He has instead directed the state's Health Department and the Department of Transportation to repurpose them into drive-through coronavirus testing centers across the state.

11:27 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Uber pool service suspended in both the United States and Canada

Ride-share giant Uber announced Monday it is suspending its pool option in both the United States and Canada as concerns over the spread of novel coronavirus continue to rise. 

"Our goal @uber is to help flatten the curve of community spread in the cities we serve," Uber Rides and Platform Vice President Andrew Macdonald tweeted.

Macdonald said Uber is taking other steps to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Uber sent an in-app messages to their customers asking them to only travel when necessary to "make sure rides are available for those who truly need them.

Uber is also asking its riders to practice good hygiene by washing their hands, sitting in the backseat, covering their mouth if they cough or sneeze, and rolling down a window for ventilation, according to Macdonald's tweet. 

Uber will continue operating its on-demand individual booking. Uber Eats will also remain open and has also announced measures to financially buoy local businesses and its drivers.

"While foot traffic may have temporarily declined, fixed costs for our restaurant partners remain constant, putting their finances front-and-center," Janelle Sallenave, Head of Uber Eats US & Canada, wrote in a statement.

More about Uber Eats: Uber Eats is waiving delivery fees, allowing customers to request food be left at their doorstep, providing free marketing on its app for restaurants, and has tighten its payment timeline from weekly to daily, Sallenave said. Uber Eats has also offered financial support to drivers and delivery personnel should they become infected with coronavirus.

Additionally, Uber Eats will has promised to deliver over 300,000 meals to health care workers and first responders.

"The coming weeks will be challenging for all of us," Sallenave wrote. "We are committed to working with our restaurant partners, government agencies, first responders, and communities at large to keep people safe and fed."

11:23 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Miami is closing all non-essential business due to coronavirus outbreak

Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images
Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The City of Miami, Florida, has issued an order on Tuesday mandating all entertainment and non-essential business establishments to close until further notice due to increased cases of community transmission in Florida, according to a news release from the city. 

The order which goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 17, applies to all alcohol service establishments that do not serve food, including bars, nightclubs and lounges.

Dine-in restaurants may sell food for takeout, delivery, and drive-thru on a two-hour basis. 

Entertainment venues including movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers are also impacted by the new order. 

11:18 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

US airports are reporting millions fewer travelers compared to last year

 

Nearly 1 million fewer passengers passed through airport security checkpoints across the US on Friday, part of a steep drop-off in air travel over the past two weeks, data show. 

The Transportation Security Administration data found 957,000 fewer passengers that day compared with the equivalent day in 2019. It is the most recent day for which the throughput numbers are available.  

Overall in the past two weeks, nearly 5.2 million fewer people have passed through checkpoints than the year before.

10:57 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

New York governor: We cannot do this without help from the federal government

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state "cannot do this on our own."

He added: "I am telling you this [New York state] government cannot meet this crisis without the resources ... of the federal government."

He said he spoke to President Trump today who said he is "ready and willing to help...especially on the hospital capacity issue."

Cuomo, who has traded barbs on Twitter with Trump over the past couple days, said "I said to the President... I put my hand out in partnership. I want to work together 100%."

He continued, "I want your help. I need your help."

He said Trump responded that he wants to work together and he believed the President was "100% sincere" in saying that.

On the White House coronavirus response team, Cuomo said they have been "on it. They've been responsive."

WATCH GOV. CUOMO:

10:50 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

San Francisco is living under shelter in place orders. Here's what's still allowed.

Empty cable cars are seen in San Francisco, California, on Monday.
Empty cable cars are seen in San Francisco, California, on Monday. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Nearly seven million people living in a wide swath of Northern California, including Silicon Valley, are currently under a "shelter in place order."

Along with San Francisco, residents in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Marin, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties, along with the City of Berkeley are being required to stay home, per an order from Health Officers of those jurisdictions

In San Francisco, city officials ordered residents to remain in place at their homes except for essential activities, essential business and essential government functions.

The city government of San Fransisco said the following activities are essential and exempt from the orders:

Essential Activities (exemptions to the shelter in place order) include:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as getting food and supplies, pet food and getting supplies necessary for staying at home
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running provided that you maintain at least six feet of social distancing;
  • Performing work providing essential services at an Essential Business or Essential Government function, including work in health care work, child care and at grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • Caring for a family member in another household;
  • Caring for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
11:00 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

New York governor says "it's possible we will be doing more dramatic closings" of businesses

State of New York
State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said "it's possible we will be doing more dramatic closings" on top of closing bars, restaurants, and schools to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

He added that those orders won't be happening today. He said it might mean they have to "continue to close down things — such as businesses."

"We're not there yet — but I'm telling you we have to get down on that rate of spread," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said he's talking to other governors about ideas for what can be closed. He said "whatever we come up with will be statewide rules" for New York. He said he's "hopeful" that can be done with "surrounding states."

11:00 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

New York governor: We have "no plan whatsoever" to quarantine New York City

Governor Cuomo makes a statement in Albany, New York, on Tuesday.
Governor Cuomo makes a statement in Albany, New York, on Tuesday. State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there are no plans to quarantine New York City, despite rumors and fears.

"We hear New York City is going to quarantine itself — that is not true," Cuomo said at a news conference, adding that cities would need to get state approval to make such orders.

"We have no interest whatsoever — and no plan whatsoever — to quarantine any city," he said.

Earlier today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is "absolutely considering" ordering the city's residents to shelter in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Right now we have taken a series of steps to reduce the number of people who are circulating around," he said. "But we're going to look at all other options, and it could get to that for sure."

10:32 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

US Senate leader says they won't adjourn until passing coronavirus bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves his office and walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on March 16.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves his office and walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on March 16. Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor that the Senate won’t adjourn until they build on what the House did in its coronavirus response package, talking about a need to go beyond what the House has done so far.

“The House of Representatives may have left town but the Senate is right here at work. We’re crafting the major legislation that the American people deserve in the face of this major challenge and it’s my intention that the Senate will not adjourn until we have passed significant and bold new steps above and beyond what the House has passed,” McConnell said, adding: “To help our strong nation and our strong underlying economy weather this storm.”

“Our health care system and our doctors, nurses and other frontline professionals are gearing up for what seems very likely to be the most significant nationwide challenge they have faced in generations,” McConnell added. “At every level this new challenge is testing our nation and its institutions”

What this is about: On Saturday, the House passed a coronavirus relief bill. The legislation will provide, according to Speaker of the aHouse Nancy Pelosi, "paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave." It will also expand federal funding for Medicaid "to support our local, state, tribal and territorial governments and health systems, so that they have the resources necessary to combat this crisis."