March 19 coronavirus news
About one-third of California’s 39 million residents have been told to shelter in place as part of an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Sacramento County on Thursday ordered 1.5 million residents to shelter in place at midnight.
Even Humboldt County, which reported one case of coronavirus, also urged its residents to stay home. Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich announced the shelter-in-place order, which starts at midnight and is expected to last until at least April 9.
Under these orders, people may leave homes only for essential work or errands like buying groceries or medicine.
Sacramento and Humboldt counties joins a growing list of California communities that have already issued shelter-in-place orders to residents.
US Customs and Border Patrol officers at Chicago's O'Hare Airport intercepted packages at mail facility containing illegal medical test kits from the United Kingdom, some designed to test for Covid-19.
According to a news release, the shipments contained testing kits for "various viruses and diseases including Covid-19," but that not all the parcels contained Covid-19 test kits.
Groups of test kits had "generally one Covid-19 kit within groups of alleged test kits for meningitis, IVF, MRSA" and "salmonella." CBP turned the parcels over to the US Food and Drug Administration.
President Trump has made the G7 a video teleconference and canceled the Camp David venue, according to White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere.
“In order for each country to focus all of its resources on responding to the health and economic challenges of COVID-19 and at President Trump’s direction, National Economic Council Director and U.S. Sherpa for the 2020 G7 Larry Kudlow has informed his Sherpa colleagues that the G7 Leaders’ Summit the U.S. was set to host in June at Camp David will now be done by video-teleconference."
Deere continued: "The White House also informed the other G7 members that in order to continue close coordination, the President will convene the Leaders’ via video teleconference in April and May just as he did this week.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he issued an order Thursday morning to limit gatherings on beaches to no more than 10.
"So what you've see now is a lot of the sheriff's departments have instituted protocols … Cocoa Beach, major spring break destination went down 70% since my order. And so, I think that's a more prudent approach to do social distancing," the Republican governor said.
The governor also wants Spring Break vacationers to know that the party is over.
“Since I issued my directive, anybody who's put that in place, spring break’s done. Any place to go for bars and all this done. They don't have a place to go.”
DeSantis added that he spoke to the US surgeon general recently about social distancing. He doesn’t want people living in the Sunshine State to stay inside all day if they feel fine.
“They [medical experts] want you to social distance, of course, but they actually encourage people to get fresh air. They just don't want you congregating in big groups. And so, if you have a Floridian that, you know, goes walks their dogs like a married couple on the beach, as long as you're not within six feet of each other, they view that. And, you know, that's a healthy thing. And so, I think it's important to allow that if the local communities want to do it, to be to be able to do it," he said.
States need more medical and testing supplies.
That was the message from governors around the country to President Trump on Thursday, as they met with members of the coronavirus task force. The President, who at times appeared frustrated, spoke with governors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters in Washington, DC.
Many of the governors, like Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, said their main worry is that there is not enough personal protection equipment available in their states — like masks, disposable gowns, and other supplies.
Trump told Murphy that the states should be working to get whatever equipment they need on their own, but the federal government would help if it could.
“Try what you can — do the best you can to get what you can actually get,” Trump said.
Addressing some of the concerns about access to necessary medical equipment, Vice President Mike Pence told governors to immediately "take inventory of your medical supply needs."
He said the federal government would work with any state "in the middle of critical response" to "get you what you need."
But he said other states should go through the normal routes to obtain medical equipment from the marketplace, even as hospital workers raise concerns about shortages.
"Other states, you need to talk to your healthcare leaders, providers and make sure that they are going to the supply chain and we encourage you to pull them together today to emphasize that point," Pence said.
Days after the President insisted access to testing wasn’t an issue, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker pressed the task force over the amount of available coronavirus tests that would be provided to his state. Pritzker said that Illinois did not have enough equipment to properly conduct tests. He said those were being “monopolized” by the drive-through sites the federal government was operating. Members of the administration said that wasn’t true.
Other state leaders said that even when they did get test kits, there were problems with how they were being distributed. Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota told the group that she spent weeks requesting testing supplies, only to have them go to a lab in her state that wasn’t approved to operate by the Food and Drug Administration.
“So they received what I was trying to get for two weeks when they’re not even approved, not even up and running,” she told the President.
She said she had even started asking other states for help. As she voiced her frustration and confusion over how it happened, the President cut her off. “Alright. We got it. Thanks Kris,” he said, as the governor continued to speak.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who the President had snapped his fingers at as Noem spoke, jumped in to answer. He said the hospital “probably bought them on the open market."
“After this call we’ll get on with you to make sure you’re getting what you need,” Azar said. The governor tried to make further requests, but her connection cut out before she could finish.
The President offered little feedback to the governors, choosing instead to leave much of the substance of the meeting to Pence, Azar and other members of the task force.
The Philadelphia 76ers announced Thursday that three members of its organization have tested positive for COVID-19.
"Three individuals have received positive test results for COVID-19. All other tests results are currently negative. We have reported this information to state and local health authorities as required," the team's statement said.
"Pursuant to CDC guidelines, the individuals are in self-isolation and will be monitored closely by medical professionals. The health of our players, staff, fans and community is paramount, and we continue to be guided by medical experts at this time."
The organization did not identify the three members.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is two to three weeks away from running out of medical supplies.
According to De Blasio, the city needs these items:
- 3 million N95 masks
- 50 million surgical masks
- 15,000 ventilators
- 25 million each of personal protective equipment, surgical gowns, coveralls, gloves and face masks
“I said very clearly that for the month of March, we have the supplies that we need, the city has very strong reserves of the kind of supplies that I talked about. ... It is going into April that I’m worried about. I don’t have the perfect day for you, we’re assessing all the time but it is a day, two weeks from now or three weeks from now where we must, by then, have had a very substantial resupply. So I think the simple way to think about it, is that the federal government has, essentially, two weeks to get us major resupply or the people of New York City are going to be in much greater danger.”
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.”
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.