March 18 coronavirus news

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1:19 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

First cases of coronavirus in the federal prison system identified

Two federal Bureau of Prisons employees have tested positive for coronavirus, according to Sue Allison, an agency spokesperson.

The tests came back in the past 24 hours and represent the first known cases of the virus in the federal prison system, according to the BOP. No inmates have yet tested positive. 

One staffer worked at a medium security prison in Berlin, New Hampshire. The other worked at an administrative facility in Grand Prairie, Texas, according to Allison. Their identities and positions were not provided. 

The BOP has notified local health officials and is doing a risk assessment internally to determine who might have been exposed to the infected workers, Allison said. 

 

 

1:16 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Stock trading has resumed

Stocks resumed trading at 1:11 p.m. ET, after the New York Stock Exchange halted activity for 15 minutes following a 7% drop in the S&P 500.

The S&P was down 7.2% upon the reopen.

The Dow fell 8.1%, or 1,710 points. The Nasdaq Composite was down 6.5%.

1:12 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Trump says airline industry is "number one" in terms of needing monetary relief

President Trump discussed the devastating effect coronavirus has had against the airline industry and how the US is engaged in "war" against this pandemic.

"Well, there are certain industries that people know. I mean, airlines would be number one, if you look at what's going on. They go from having the best year they've ever had to having no passengers because of what we've had to do in order to win this war. It's a war. So you know, basically, what many of the industries are. What we want to do is we want to make sure they all stay together so that after the war is won, we can immediately go right back up to where we were and even beyond," Trump said.

An industry in peril: Global airlines stand to lose $113 billion in sales if the coronavirus continues to spread, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The losses would be similar to those experienced by the aviation industry during the global financial crisis of 2008, IATA warned as it dramatically increased its estimate of the damage caused by the outbreak. It said airlines could lose 19% of their business if the virus isn't contained soon.

Hear the moment:

1:08 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Trump: Young people are "feeling invincible," but should "heed the advice"

President Trump was asked about Dr. Deborah Birx's warning regarding millennial coronavirus and his message to many of his own young, conservative supporters who may be heeding his earlier advice downplaying the seriousness of coronavirus. 

He claimed his earlier comments were “to be calm.”

“I do want people to be calm,” he said.

But, he added, “I hope they just listen to what we’ve been saying over the last period of time. We don’t want them gathering, and I see that they do gather including on beaches, and including in restaurants, young people. They don’t realize that — they’re feeling invincible, I don’t know if you felt invincible when you were young. But they don’t realize that they could be carrying lots of bad things home to their grandmother and grandfather and even their parents,” he said.

He continued, “So we want them to heed the advice… and I do believe it’s getting through.”

Asked again about those who aren’t following that advice, he reiterated, “Heed the advice, heed the advice, I just said.”

1:03 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Trump confirms planning to block asylum seekers at southern border

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump confirmed he's planning to bar asylum seekers and other undocumented immigrants from crossing the US southern border in a bid to to prevent spread of coronavirus. 

"The answer's yes," Trump said when asked if he was planning to take that step, which he said would come "very soon, probably today."

CNN reported on Tuesday that officials are working on a plan to deny entry to all asylum seekers. That may include a plan to return all illegal border crossers without due process.

Trump said he wasn't planning to close the southern border but "we are invoking a certain provision that will allow us great latitude as to what we do."

Asked about his closure of the US northern border to all but essential travel, he defined "essential" as "medical" and other areas.

"We have military working together. We have industry working together. And again, it's not affecting trade. So, things like that," he said.

1:01 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Stock trading has been halted

The New York Stock Exchange has halted stock trading for 15 minutes after the S&P 500 fell 7% on Wednesday afternoon

1:01 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Trump can't say why professional athletes have access to coronavirus testing

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump wasn’t able to say when asked Wednesday why many non-symptomatic professional athletes have had access to coronavirus testing while many sick Americans don’t.

“You'd have to ask them that question,” Trump said.

“Should that happen?” the reporter followed up 

Trump responded, “No, I wouldn’t say so, but perhaps that’s been the story of life.”

12:59 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

World Health Organization study underway to test and compare coronavirus treatment approaches

The World Health Organization announced in a press briefing in Geneva on Wednesday that it has organized a study to examine various untested coronavirus treatments. 

"WHO and its partners are therefore organizing a study in many countries in which some of these untested treatments are compared with each other," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during the briefing. "This large, international study is designed to generate the robust data we need, to show which treatments are the most effective."

Tedros added: "We have called this study the SOLIDARITY trial. The SOLIDARITY trial provides simplified procedures to enable even hospitals that have been overloaded to participate. Many countries have already confirmed that they will join the SOLIDARITY trial — Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand — and I trust many more will join."

12:59 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Dow erases all its gains since Trump took office

The Trump stock rally, which at its peak a month ago was robust and seemingly unending, has completely evaporated.

The Dow briefly fell more than 1,500 points on Tuesday, bringing the index below 19,732 points. That was the Dow's closing level on January 19, 2017, the day before Trump took office.

The S&P 500 is still above its Trump inauguration level, but it is moving closer to wiping out all of Trump's stock market gains as well. The index, which is the broadest measure of Wall Street, was down 6.3% in the early afternoon on Tuesday.

Global equities have been hit hard by the worries about the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, which has by now infected more than 7,000 people in the United States.

Economists predict recessions for both individual countries and the world economy this year as the pandemic dealt both a supply and demand shock to commerce. That said, expectations for a sharp rebound for the economy and the stock market towards the second half of the year are high.