March 19 coronavirus news

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10:06 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

2 TSA screeners at JFK airport test positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Greg Wallace

Joe Raedle/Getty Images/FILE
Joe Raedle/Getty Images/FILE

The Transportation Security Administration said two baggage screening officers at JFK airport have tested positive for coronavirus. 

One screener last worked on March 13 in Terminal 5 in the checked baggage room. The second screener last worked on March 12 in Terminal 4 in the checked baggage room.

This brings a total of 12 TSA officers who have tested positive.

At least one passenger with confirmed coronavirus case took a JetBlue flight out of JFK on March 11. A second passenger deplaned from a Delta flight on March 16, and after boarding, learned he or she had been exposed to a coronavirus case. It is unclear whether the workers contracted the cases at work or elsewhere.

10:11 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Economist says if everyone stays home for 6 months, it's like a "Great Depression"

From CNN’s Poppy Harlow and Haley Draznin

Kevin Hassett
Kevin Hassett CNN

Former Trump administration economist Kevin Hassett says the April jobs report will be “the worst jobs number you ever saw.”

In an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Thursday, Hassett said that if everyone stays home for six months, “it is like a Great Depression.”

Watch:

9:50 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Alabama's Gulf Shores beaches to close due to COVID-19 outbreak

From CNN's Tina Burnside

Orange Beach, Alabama
Orange Beach, Alabama Shutterstock

Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft announced via video Thursday morning that the Gulf Shores beaches will close due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Effective 7 a.m. tomorrow, all public beaches in Gulf Shores will close with a tentative reopen date of Monday, April 6. Additionally, we will be requesting the Baldwin County Commission, Town of Dauphin Island, and City of Orange Beach join us in asking Gov. Kay Ivey to close all Alabama beaches for the same time frame," Craft said.

A state of local emergency was declared for Gulf Shores on Thursday.

9:38 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

CDC loosens guidelines to allow medical experts exposed to COVID-19 to keep working

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has loosened its guidelines to allow health care workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 to continue working as long as they wear a mask, according to CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

"This is a huge concern, John, because this is how you potentially increase the spread, at least not slow down the spread," Gupta said to CNN's John Berman this morning.

Within the guidelines, the CDC says bandanas and scarves could be used in place of a mask, Gupta said. The reason for these guidelines is due to a lack of personal protective equipment and not enough health care workers, Gupta said.

Watch Gupta's remarks below:

9:34 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

1 Iranian dies from coronavirus every 10 minutes, health ministry says

From CNN's Ramin Mostaghim, Nada AlTaher, Sara Mazloumsaki and Sugam Pokharel

People carry the coffin of a coronavirus victim at Beheshte Masoumeh Cemetery in Qom, Iran on March 17.
People carry the coffin of a coronavirus victim at Beheshte Masoumeh Cemetery in Qom, Iran on March 17. Credit: Fatemah Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a tweet today that every 10 minutes, one Iranian is killed by the coronavirus. Every hour, at least 50 Iranian are infected.

Iran’s Health Ministry confirmed 149 new deaths from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, raising the overall death toll to 1,284 on Thursday. This is the country's highest spike in death toll over a 24-hour period since the coronavirus outbreak began. 

There were additional 1,046 confirmed cases of coronavirus bringing the total to 18,407, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi said.

9:12 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Beijing urges local police to withdraw "reprimand" of whistleblower Wuhan doctor

From CNN’s Steven Jiang in Beijing

A portrait of Dr. Li Wenliang is left at Li's hospital in Wuhan on February 7, following his death.
A portrait of Dr. Li Wenliang is left at Li's hospital in Wuhan on February 7, following his death. Getty Images

The Chinese government on Thursday announced the result of its investigation into issues related to Dr. Li Wenliang, the ophthalmologist who was reprimanded by police in Wuhan for trying to warn others about the coronavirus — and whose death from the virus on Feb. 7 sparked nationwide outrage.

The national authorities confirmed that the 34-year-old Li, who worked at a hospital in Wuhan, re-posted internal government documents on the emerging outbreak on Dec. 30 in a social media group chat and warned others not to go outside.

Local police in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, subsequently summoned Li on Jan. 3 and issued him a formal reprimand.

The government investigators also said that Li received proper treatment once he became ill, and all medical procedures were approved by him or his family.

The authorities concluded that local police's reprimand of Li was “inappropriate” based on improper application of law and that it should be rectified. The government investigators urged local police to withdraw its reprimand and hold relevant personnel accountable.

9:06 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

US-led coalition in Afghanistan halts troop movement due to coronavirus

From CNN's Ryan Browne

US soldiers look out over hillsides during a visit of General Scott Miller at the Afghan National Army (ANA) checkpoint in the Nerkh district of Afghanistan's Wardak province, in June 2019.
US soldiers look out over hillsides during a visit of General Scott Miller at the Afghan National Army (ANA) checkpoint in the Nerkh district of Afghanistan's Wardak province, in June 2019. Thomas Watkins/AFP/Getty Images

The US-led international coalition in Afghanistan has implemented a series of restrictions in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, including “temporarily” pausing the movement of personnel movement into Afghanistan and delaying the return of some service members.

“In some cases these measures will necessitate some service members remaining beyond their scheduled departure dates,” Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan said in a statement.

“As of March 19, 21 Resolute Support personnel exhibiting flu-like symptoms are in isolation and receiving medical care,” the statement said, referring to the official name of the international coalition operation.

The statement said that because there are no testing facilities in Afghanistan, tests are being performed at a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, or at other civilian locations.

Additionally “1,500 multi-national service members, civilians and contractors who have arrived in theater within the past week are living in screening facilities prior to onward movement.”

Miller said that this was due to an “Abundance of caution, not because they are sick.”

He also said that access to bases had been restricted and that while efforts to train and advise local Afghan forces continue there has been a push to conduct meetings via “technical means” as opposed to in person.

 

8:55 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

British government has no plans to restrict travel in and out of London

From Luke McGee and Schams Elwazer in London

A commuter boards an underground train during rush-hour in London, England, on March 18.
A commuter boards an underground train during rush-hour in London, England, on March 18. Leon Neal/Getty Images

The British government currently has no plans to restrict travel in and out of London or to close down the capital’s underground tube service, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman told reporters Thursday.

Transport for London (TFL) said Wednesday that it had plans to close “until further notice” up to 40 tube stations that do not interchange with other lines.

Johnson is meeting Thursday with London mayor Sadiq Khan to discuss plans for the capital, according to City Hall.

The meeting comes amid widespread speculation and concern that London could be placed under lockdown.

All the nations of the UK announced school closures starting this weekend “until further notice." Politicians are suggesting that schools might not resume during this academic year.

8:53 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

80% of people in Madrid will get COVID-19, official says

From Laura Perez Maestro

A worker cleans the pavement of Plaza Mayor square in Madrid, Spain, on March 18.
A worker cleans the pavement of Plaza Mayor square in Madrid, Spain, on March 18. Manu Fernandez/AP

Eight out of ten people in the Spanish capital will get COVID-19, according to the president of the Region of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso.

“They will have mild symptoms,” she said, but added that "it will be a problem" for the vulnerable population, which is around 15% of people.

"This virus has been in Spain for a longer time and is going to spread to practically everyone, and in most, it will not leave lasting marks. But the problem is the vulnerable population," said Díaz Asuyo in an interview on Spanish radio.

She called the disease "lethal" for elderly people with pre-existing conditions, and said that in 24 or 48 hours "it can end the life of a person who is in the vulnerable population group."

As a result of this, the region of Madrid has sought to "save time," unify healthcare in the public and private sectors, and convert "normal beds into ICU beds."

Some 580 beds in these critical units are occupied, Díaz Asuyo said, and the Ministry of Health plans to facilitate "new rapid tests" to detect coronavirus this weekend.