March 17 coronavirus news

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9:12 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Treasury Secretary warns US could see 20% unemployment rate due to coronavirus, source says

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned Republican senators Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic could drive up US unemployment to 20%, a Republican Senate source told CNN.

Mnuchin's comments came as he urged Republican senators to act on economic stimulus measures totaling $1 trillion designed to avert that kind of worst case scenario.

In the same meeting, Mnuchin also said he is concerned the economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic could be worse than the 2008 financial crisis, the source said.

Mnuchin's comments, which were first reported by Bloomberg News, come amid a rising sense of urgency at the White House and on Capitol Hill to confront the increasingly serious threat of the coronavirus pandemic — on both the public health and economic fronts.

Watch: Mnuchin says this is not the time to worry about the deficit

7:26 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

UN Security Council cancels all meetings this week

United Nations Security Council meetings this week at the UN have been canceled, the Ambassador of China, who is the Security Council President, announced.

Discussions at the UN continue this week, however, and the UN remains open for diplomats and media.

7:14 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Spanish football club Espanyol announces 6 cases of coronavirus

Spanish La Liga club RCD Espanyol de Barcelona, known as Espanyol for short, announced that six members of the team have tested positive for COVID-19, some first team players and some team staff.

The team reported that all are experiencing mild symptoms and following medical recommendations.

7:05 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Here's the CDC's coronavirus guidance for pregnant health care workers

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its website Tuesday to add information for pregnant health care professionals about the novel coronavirus and to post tips for disinfecting homes where people are sick with the virus.

The CDC said pregnant health care personnel should follow the same risk assessment and infection control guidelines around coronavirus patients as other health care workers, but the agency also said it does not have information on adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with COVID-19. 

“Information on COVID-19 in pregnancy is very limited; facilities may want to consider limiting exposure of pregnant HCP to patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, especially during higher risk procedures (e.g., aerosol-generating procedures) if feasible based on staffing availability,” it said.

The agency also added new information on its website on about disinfecting the home if someone is sick. The guidance says to wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect, and urges cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, such as tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs and cabinet handles every day.

 

7:00 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Turkey confirms first coronavirus death

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced the country’s first coronavirus death during a televised news conference Tuesday.

The infected patient was an 89-year-old man, the health minister said. 

As of Tuesday, Turkey has a total of 98 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

 

7:37 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Dunkin' moving to drive-through and carry-out services

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Dunkin’ announced Tuesday that it is limiting services to drive-through and carry-out only in US locations in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement from the company's CEO.

Hours will also be reduced, and access to seating and tables from dining and patio areas has been removed, Dave Hoffmann, CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, said in the statement.

According to the statement, Dunkin’ increased its standards on the frequency of handwashing and cleaning procedures, including disinfecting high-use surfaces and high-traffic areas.

“Rest assured, we are committed to providing a safe, secure experience at Dunkin’ — offering you something familiar and welcoming amid so much change,” Hoffmann said in the statement.

Read more about Dunkin's efforts below:

6:53 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Pentagon prepares to ready Navy hospital ships to support coronavirus response

US Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy in central Vietnam in 2018.
US Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy in central Vietnam in 2018. Linh Pham/AFP/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is preparing to sign orders that could lead to the deployment of both of the US Navy’s hospital ships and a mobile hospital facility, according to two defense officials.

The two hospital ships are the USNS Mercy, currently in port in San Diego, and the USNS Comfort in Norfolk where it is undergoing maintenance. The third element that is part of the expected so-called “warning order” is a Navy Expeditionary Medical Facility, which is a mobile field hospital that has full resuscitation and emergency stabilizing surgical capability.         

According to the Navy website, an EMF is “designed to be assembled and operational in 10 days,” as a self-sustaining medical facility.      

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday referred to the hospital ships noting, “We have already given orders to the Navy a few days ago to lean forward in terms of getting them ready to deploy. They provide capabilities.”

A warning order from Milley will then formalize the process and lead to decisions on calling up to active duty troops or other medical care organizations to operate the ships. Activating the EMF could lead to Seabees being called to build the hospital.  

But a limiting factor remain on how all of the medical needs for ships and hospital get manned.

“All of those doctors and nurses either come from our medical treatment facilities or they come from the Reserves which means civilians and so what we have go to be very conscious of and careful of as we call up these units and use them to support the states that we aren’t robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Esper said. “What I don’t want to do is take reservists from a hospital where they are needed just to put them on a ship somewhere else where they are needed so we have to be very conscious of that.”

Esper said he had spoken to several governors about that very challenge.

6:33 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Two more California counties ask residents to shelter in place

Monterey and San Benito counties in Northern California are asking residents to shelter in place.

What we know about the orders:

  • Monterey County: The order begins at midnight on Wednesday and will last for three weeks until April 8, the county tweeted. 
  • San Benito County: The order starts midnight on Wednesday until April 7.

The counties join seven others in the Bay Area that have ordered its residents to shelter in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Those counties include Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz.

6:24 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

PGA TOUR cancels 4 more tournaments

The PGA TOUR is canceling four additional tournaments, the group announced in a statement Tuesday.

That brings the total to eight canceled PGA events and three postponed events, including The Masters and the PGA Championship.

The next PGA TOUR event that has not yet been impacted by coronavirus is the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth Texas, which begins May 21.