March 19 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 10:42 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020
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6:28 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

California governor projects "56% of state's population will be infected" in the next 8 weeks

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Rich Pedroncelli/Pool/AP
Rich Pedroncelli/Pool/AP

California Gov. Gavin Newsom described in letter to President Trump on Thursday the impact coronavirus will have on the state and its residents.

“We project that roughly 56% of our state’s population – 25.5 million people – will be infected with the virus over an eight-week period,” he said.

He asked that the US Navy’s Mercy Hospital Ship be stationed at the port of Los Angeles. Defense officials tell CNN the ship will head to the Seattle area in the next five to 10 days. The final destination could always change depending on civilian needs, an official cautioned.

Newsom said the hospital ship “will help decompress the health care system to allow the Los Angeles region to ensure that it has the ability to address critical acute care needs.”


6:07 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton acknowledges coronavirus recovery

From CNN's David Close

Chris Graythen/Getty Images/File
Chris Graythen/Getty Images/File

Sean Payton, the head coach of the NFL's New Orleans Saints, has acknowledged that he is recovering from coronavirus. 

He thanked people on Twitter for "the well wishes" after ESPN posted an interview with the Super Bowl-winning coach where he disclosed the diagnosis.

Payton told ESPN that he started to feel unwell this past Sunday and was tested Monday. He says he is self-isolating at home and feeling fatigued, but is not experiencing a fever or cough.

"This is not just about social distancing," Payton told ESPN. "It's shutting down here for a week to two weeks. If people understand the curve, and understand the bump, we can easily work together as a country to reduce it. Take a minute to understand what the experts are saying. It's not complicated to do what they're asking of us. Just that type of small investment by every one of us will have a dramatic impact.

6:09 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

A sheriff's office in Colorado is releasing some inmates early due to the coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Alta Spells

Eligible inmates who have served at least 50% of their sentence and meet all other early release requirements will be released early, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office in Colorado.

The law enforcement agency tweeted that they will begin the early releases Thursday and continue with daily releases "until the risk of Covid-19 spread if mitigated."

According to the tweet, none of the inmates or employees have tested positive for novel coronavirus.

The Sheriff's Office went on to say they are initiating the process because reducing the jail population will reduce the risk of exposure. 

6:01 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Niger reports first coronavirus case

Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images/File
Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images/File

Niger's president Issoufou Mahamadou announced the country's first case of coronavirus Thursday.

In a tweet, he urged everyone to stay calm and respect all measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.

5:54 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

South Carolina governor asks hospitals to restrict visitors 

From CNN's Dave Alsup

Meg Kinnard/AP/File
Meg Kinnard/AP/File

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is asking hospitals and medical facilities to restrict visitations except for end-of-life patients. 

He went to say that visitors are asking for gowns, gloves and masks.

There are at least 81 cases of coronavirus in South Carolina, according to the state's epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell.

5:38 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

McConnell introduces sweeping $1 trillion emergency aid proposal

From CNN's Phil Mattingly and Manu Raju

Susan Walsh/AP
Susan Walsh/AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just introduced a sweeping, $1 trillion emergency economic aid proposal in response to coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal would include direct payments to Americans under a certain income threshold, $200 billion in loans to airlines and distressed industry sectors, and $300 in forgivable bridge loans for small businesses. 

The proposal, a draft of which was obtained by CNN, underscores the scale of the economic crisis now facing individuals and businesses across the country amid the accelerating pandemic and addresses bolstering health care resources, student loans and aid, business tax provisions and temporary authority. 

The proposal, however, is just an opening bid as the Senate attempts to address the coronavirus outbreak. It was drafted by Senate Republicans and the Trump administration, with no input from Democrats.

At the heart of the proposal is hundreds of billions of dollars directed toward “recovery rebates” of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples beneath a certain income threshold.

The proposal also includes $300 billion to be used for loans to small businesses, however structured, as well as private nonprivate organizations.

The program would be structured so businesses could take out loans from banks and lenders that would be guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. Those loans must be used, according to the proposal, for to pay salaries, mortgage payments, other debt obligations and payroll support including paid sick, medical and family leave, as well as health care benefits.

5:41 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Airline trade group says industry needs "immediate" financial assistance to protect 11 million jobs

From CNN's Kate Trafecante

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

A trade group representing the largest US airlines is asking Congress and the Trump administration to work together and quickly implement financial aid to protect millions of airline jobs.

In a letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Airlines for America said its speaking on behalf of 11 million workers the industry either directly represents or supports.

"The rapid spread of COVID-19 and the government- and business-imposed restrictions on air travel are having never-before seen impacts on U.S. aviation and our employees,” the trade group said. “The breadth and immediacy of the need to act cannot be overstated. It is urgent and unprecedented.”

Airlines for America represents the biggest US airline carriers, including American Airlines, Delta, United and Southwest.

5:50 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Pentagon prepares to deploy two active duty Army mobile hospital units

From CNN's Barbara Starr

AFP/Getty Images/File
AFP/Getty Images/File

Two active duty Army mobile hospital units have received "prepare to deploy” orders, according to Army Chief of Staff General James McConville.

This type of order is an early signal to military units to be ready to deploy, although final orders could still change. The units would be sent to still-to-be determined areas where additional medical beds are needed to treat non-infectious patients, so civilian hospitals can focus on those with coronavirus. 

The units receiving the orders are the 47th Combat Support Hospital based at Joint-Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state which has seen a significant virus outbreak, and the 586th Field Hospital at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Both units typically deploy with hundreds of troops, including full surgical and trauma care capability.

In recent years these types of units have made repeated deployments to warzones. It’s not clear yet, if these units deploy, what types of manning levels and medical expertise they will utilize. The Pentagon has said as they deploy medical units it wants to ensure military bases still have sufficient medical care, and if reservists are called up that local communities are not impacted.

5:48 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Bolsonaro's son blames Chinese "dictatorship" for global coronavirus spread

From CNN’s Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo

One of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s son set off a war of words Thursday, after calling the Chinese government a “dictatorship” that purposely hid the severity of coronavirus.

Eduardo Bolsonaro, a congressional lawmaker for the state of Sao Paulo, wrote on Twitter: “Once again, a dictatorship chose to hide something serious instead of exposing the reality, which could have saved countless lives. China is to blame and freedom is the solution.”

The Chinese embassy in Brazil responded to Eduardo Bolsonaro via Twitter Wednesday, saying his comments “sounded familiar” and were “extremely irresponsible.”

“Your words are extremely irresponsible. They sound familiar, like an imitation of those of your dear friends. You must have caught a mental virus upon your return from Miami, which is infecting the friendship between our people.”

President Bolsonaro and Eduardo Bolsonaro were both part of a delegation that visited US President Trump in Mar-a-Lago almost two weeks ago.

China is Brazil’s biggest trading partner, but Bolsonaro has made it clear that he considers Trump his main international ally.