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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1:50 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Bayer donates 3 million tablets of investigational coronavirus drug Resochin to the US

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard and Michael Nedelman

As federal agencies continue to investigate possible treatment options for the novel coronavirus, pharmaceutical company Bayer announced on Thursday that it is donating 3 million tablets of its antimalarial drug chloroquine phosphate to the US government. 

Sharing details first with CNN, Bayer said in a statement that chloroquine phosphate, sold under the name Resochin, originally has been indicated for the prevention and treatment of malaria, but also appears to have “broad spectrum antiviral properties” and effects on the body’s immune response.

“New data from initial preclinical and evolving clinical research conducted in China, while limited, shows potential for the use of Resochin in treating patients with COVID-19 infection,” the statement said.

“Bayer in recent days has been in talks with the White House, HHS, CDC, and the FDA, offering any assistance we can provide with a focus on donating Resochin to help in the government's efforts to combat the virus. Currently not approved for use in the United States, Bayer is working with appropriate agencies on an Emergency Use Authorization for the drug's use in the U.S,” the statement said. “Bayer thanks the Trump administration for moving quickly to enable this donation and will continue to work closely with the administration to support its efforts in the fight against COVID-19.”

Earlier Thursday: President Trump said the antimalarial drug chloroquine and its analog hydroxychloroquine would be available with a prescription to treat the novel coronavirus.

Early evidence from human cells suggests that chloroquine — which is used to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases — may have some activity against the novel coronavirus. 

Doctors in China, the US and other countries have used the drug experimentally in COVID-19 patients, but there is not yet sufficient clinical evidence that it's effective in humans. 

1:51 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

UK coronavirus death toll rises to 137

From CNN’s Livvy Doherty in London

Another 29 people in England have died of coronavirus, bringing the total deaths in the UK to 137, the National Health Service England said in a statement Thursday.

The patients were between 47 and 96 years old and had underlying health conditions.

Six people in Scotland, two people in Wales and one person in Northern Ireland have died of coronavirus.

1:57 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Miami-Dade County mayor closes businesses, parks, beaches and recreational facilities

From CNN's Erika Henry


Mayor of Miami-Dade County Carlos A. Gimenez signed emergency orders closing all parks and beaches Thursday morning. 

Gimenez went on to say that it applied to all publicly owned and privately run parks, beaches and recreational facilities under Miami-Dade’s jurisdiction. 

He also signed an emergency order closing all non-essential retail and commercial establishments in the county by 9 p.m. Thursday, including casinos. 

The mayor went on to say that he reached out to the Miccosukee Tribe, as Miami-Dade does not have jurisdiction over casinos run by tribes. Other non-essential establishments that must close by 9 p.m. include shops, beauty salons, spas and nail studios, sporting goods stores, book stores, jewelry stores and malls.

“I know that it must be frustrating that every day we have new closures, but it is necessary," Gimenez said.

The mayor emphasized that grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and gas stations would remain open. Restaurant kitchens will remain open for pick-up and delivery only. 

"Everyone should practice social distancing when going about their business at these stores," Gimenez said.

Medical facilities, doctor offices, banks, child and adult day care centers will remain open “at this time," the mayor said. Gimenez also said that construction sites and hardware stores and pet supply stores can remain open.

1:46 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Oklahoma reports first coronavirus death

From CNN's CNN's Melissa Alonso and Brad Parks

Oklahoma health officials announced Thursday that the state's first coronavirus death is a man in his 50s from Tulsa County.

There are 44 cases of coronavirus in state, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said in a statement.

"There continues to be a shortage of complete testing kits, delaying the availability of test results. Due to this critically low supply, OSDH is working with health care providers to prioritize test completion for vulnerable populations," the statement said. 
1:41 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

TJMaxx and Marshals closing all stores globally due to coronavirus outbreak 

From CNN's Richard Davis

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The parent company of retail stores TJMaxx and Marshals announced on Thursday that it is temporarily closing all stores globally to “prevent the further spread of this virus.”

Ernie Herrman, CEO and president of TJX Companies, wrote in a letter that the company is also temporarily closing its online business platforms as well all as its distribution centers and offices.

During closures, the company plans to pay all store, distribution and office associates.

“We thank our customers for shopping our stores and e-commerce sites and look forward to serving you again in the near future,” Herrman said.

1:35 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Indiana will close schools until at least May 1

From CNN's Carma Hassan

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the state would be closing schools until May 1.

“As we get nearer to May 1, we may have to close permanently,” he said.

There are 56 cases of novel coronavirus in Indiana. Of those cases, two deaths have been reported.

1:48 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

American Airlines will ground about half its fleet next month

From CNN’s Joshua Replogle and Greg Wallace

Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

American Airlines is grounding nearly half of its fleet and canceling 55,000 flights next month, according to an internal message sent to employees obtained by CNN.

The airline also expects “demand to fall even more before it gets better," the message stated.

The striking numbers in an internal email from American Airlines President Robert Isom include a reduction of international flights by 75% and domestic flights by 30% in April, “with plans to reduce it even further in May.”

The message said American would park 130 wide body and 320 narrow body planes. The airline has told regulators that its core fleet includes 942 aircraft.

The airline, which is the world's largest, also said it is continuing efforts to reduce the number of employees it pays, by expanding voluntary leave programs and “offering an early out” to employees with at least 15 years of service.

“With minimal operations, we need a smaller staff,” Isom wrote. 

The note did not disclose any furloughs or layoffs, and the airline has declined to comment on whether it is considering such cuts.

2:06 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Italy surpasses China in number of coronavirus deaths

From CNN's Mia Alberti, Nicola Ruotolo and Valentina Di Donato

Health workers provide first Aird in front of Sant'Orsola Hospital  on Wednesday, March 18, in Bologna, Italy.
Health workers provide first Aird in front of Sant'Orsola Hospital on Wednesday, March 18, in Bologna, Italy. Massimo Cavallari/Getty Images

Italy has just surpassed China for the most number of deaths related to COVID-19.

The total number of cases in the country rose to 41,035 on Thursday, which includes 5,322 new cases, the Italian Civil Protection Agency said at a news conference.

The number of deaths in Italy has reached 3,405. Italy has become the deadliest center of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The current number of deaths in China stands at 3,242, according to the World Health Organization.

1:12 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Chinese coronavirus experts warn northern Italy's lockdown measures are not enough

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London and Nicola Ruotolo in Rome

Sun Shuopeng, left, Vice President of China's Red Cross leaves the Red Cross headquarters in Rome after a press conference on Friday, March 13.
Sun Shuopeng, left, Vice President of China's Red Cross leaves the Red Cross headquarters in Rome after a press conference on Friday, March 13. Alessandra Tarantino/AP

The coronavirus measures in place in the hard hit Lombardy region of northern Italy are “not strict enough,” according to Chinese medical experts helping the country deal with the crisis.

The situation in Lombardy right now "is similar to what we experienced two months ago in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of COVID-19," the Chinese Red Cross vice president, Sun Shuopeng, said Thursday in a press conference in Milan, Italy.

"In the city of Wuhan after one month since the adoption of the lockdown policy, we see a decreasing trend from the peak of the disease," Sun Shuopeng said. "Here in Milan, the hardest hit area by COVID-19, there isn't a very strict lockdown: public transportation is still working and people are still moving around, you're still having dinners and parties in the hotels and you're not wearing masks. We need every citizen to be involved in the fight of COVID-19 and follow this policy.” 

He advised Italians to stop all “economic activities and cut the mobility of people.”

Everyone should just stay at home, he added.