March 18 coronavirus news

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9:46 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Trump confirms US-Canada border will be closed to non-essential traffic

From CNN's Betsy Klein 

President Trump confirmed on Twitter that Canada and the US will close their border to non-essential traffic. 

"We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!" Trump wrote on Twitter. 

Read Trump's tweet:

9:47 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Scotland and Wales to close schools, possibly through summer

Scotland and Wales became the first countries in the United Kingdom to announce school closures, saying schools would close at the end of Friday for the Easter holiday and indicating they may not reopen for summer. 

"It is now inevitable" that schools and nurseries will close, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Wednesday. "My planning assumption now is that schools will close to pupils at the end of this week and I wanted today to give parents notice of that now."

“From next week, schools will have a new purpose. They will help support those most in need, including people involved in the immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak,” according to a statement from Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams.

Schools in England and Northern Ireland, the other nations in the UK, remain open for now.

Schools in the Republic of Ireland have been closed.

9:45 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Stocks tumble again

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Mark Lennihan/AP
Mark Lennihan/AP

US stocks tumbled at Wednesday’s open, erasing the gains from the prior day’s rebound.

Here's how things look right now:

  • The S&P 500 opened 5.4% lower. If the index falls 7%, trading will be halted for 15 minutes.
  • The Dow opened 6%, or 1,275 points, lower.
  • The Nasdaq Composite was down 5.7%.

9:39 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

New York City mayor plans to bring up "shelter-in-place" order with governor today

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on NBC's Today Show, “I think an honest conversation about shelter-in-place has to happen,” noting the decision “can only be made with the State of New York,” adding he will be speaking with the New York governor later today.

When asked if he will recommend to the governor that the city do a shelter-in-place while the city faces a growing coronavirus pandemic, de Blasio said he is “almost” to that point – saying “we have a little more to make sense of” first, including how to get people food and medicine, “but it has to be considered seriously starting today.” 

Some context: On a local radio program today, de Blasio said his shelter-in-place comments Tuesday were intended to "mentally, emotionally, humanly prepare people for something that well might be happening soon," but he added that he doesn't accept media accounts that he and the governor are arguing over this. He reiterated that the city and state are working closely together.

Yesterday after earlier comments from the mayor on the potentiality of a decision on a possible shelter-in-place, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said "any blanket quarantine or shelter in place policy would require state action and as the governor has said, there is no consideration of that for any locality at this time."

9:34 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

United Arab Emirates temporarily bans citizens from traveling abroad

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

The skyline of Dubai seen on March 18.
The skyline of Dubai seen on March 18. Karim SahibK/AFP/Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates has temporarily banned all its citizens from traveling abroad during the coronavirus pandemic, state news agency WAM said. 

The decision has been made to “protect” nationals from the coronavirus spread and the cancellation of flights, WAM said quoting the ministry of foreign affairs.

The UAE has 113 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins.

9:28 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

New York City mayor says city will "undoubtedly" top 1,000 coronavirus cases today

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on NBC’s "Today Show" this morning that there are 923 coronavirus cases in New York City.

"We’re going to top 1,000 today undoubtedly,” he said.

“We’re going to be at 10,000 not so long from now,” De Blasio added.
9:25 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

JetBlue announces schedule cuts, calls financial losses "stunning"

From CNN’s Greg Wallace

Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

JetBlue announced today that it will make a 40% cut to its schedule as it weathers damage to the aviation industry from the coronavirus. 

The company called the financial losses “stunning."

“Last year on a typical day in March we took in about $22 million from bookings and ancillary fees. Throughout this March, our sales have fallen sharply and in the last several days we have taken in an average of less than $4 million per day while also issuing over $20 million per day of credits to customers for canceled bookings," JetBlue said.

The company said some executives will take a 50% pay cut.  

9:21 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Justice Department closes more immigration courts, postpones hearings due to coronavirus

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

This Nov. 6, 2019 file photo shows the U.S. Courthouse in Seattle. Seattle's immigration court will be closed until April 10.
This Nov. 6, 2019 file photo shows the U.S. Courthouse in Seattle. Seattle's immigration court will be closed until April 10. Elaine Thompson/AP/FILE

The Justice Department announced overnight that it's closing an additional 10 immigration courts, spread out across the country, through April 10 as the novel coronavirus has spread to all 50 states.

It is also postponing all hearings of cases of immigrants who are not in detention. Immigration courts also paused those hearings last year during the US government shutdown.

Government agencies, businesses, and organizations have changed their daily operations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, requiring employees to stay home and closing offices to the public. Despite administration guidelines to decrease the number of people at gatherings, immigration courts stayed open.

On Tuesday, for example, the San Francisco immigration court was open, despite a shelter-in-place order in the area.

Some context: The Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Justice Department agency that oversees the nation's immigration courts, has made incremental changes to court operations in recent days, often late at night, frustrating immigration judges and lawyers who have urged the agency to close courts altogether. 

9:15 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

White House postpones state dinner for Spanish royals

From CNN's Kate Bennett

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The White House postponed the expected third state dinner of the Trump administration due to concerns over the coronavirus.

A statement released by White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham says the April 21 official state visit of Spain's King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia has been postponed in its entirety. 

"President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump look forward to welcoming Their Majesties to the United States and the White House in the near future. The United States will continue to work with Spain and all of our European partners to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," Grisham said, adding that postponing will allow both countries to "devote their full resources and attention to the COVID-19 response."

The King and Queen's visit was first announced by the White House in February in a statement that said the US first couple would welcome the royals to "reaffirm our commitments to stand together to address today's shared global challenges."