March 20 coronavirus news

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8:45 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Staying at home and social distancing will continue for "at least several weeks," Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force at the White House, on March 17.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force at the White House, on March 17. Evan Vucci/AP

The top infectious disease expert in the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told NBC's "The Today Show" he thinks Americans will have to stay home and continue to social distance for several more weeks.

“If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks in other areas, it’s at least going to be several weeks,” Fauci said on Friday. “I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from, it’s going to be over. I don’t think there’s a chance of that, I think it’s going to be several weeks.”

Fauci also discussed the spread of the novel coronavirus with host Savannah Guthrie.

He said the best thing the US can do right now is to delay any elective surgeries to keep hospital beds and equipment available.

Guthrie asked if President Trump should invoke the Defense Production Act, and Fauci said the president “is very serious about doing everything we could possibly do.”

They will meet today, Fauci said, and he is sure that would come up in their discussions.

Guthrie asked if doctors going to the craft store to make their own medical equipment is considered the worst-case scenario.

“Obviously we are in a very difficult situation and we should be doing everything we can to mitigate that,” Fauci responded.

Regarding the anti-malaria drug Trump said could treat COVID-19, Fauci said they have heard anecdotally that the drugs work, but they have not been tested in controlled trials.

“So what we’re saying is that we want to make them more available, but in the context of a protocol of some sort, that would not only make them available but that we can get some information as to whether they’re safe and whether they really work,” Fauci said.

8:43 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

German global travel warning in place until end of April

Travelers walk through Munich International Airport on March 17, in Freising, Germany.
Travelers walk through Munich International Airport on March 17, in Freising, Germany. Andreas Gebert/Getty Images

Germany's worldwide travel warning, which was announced last week due to the coronavirus pandemic, will apply until the end of April, the country's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced Friday.

“Our warning against tourist travel abroad is valid until the end of April for the time being. It therefore includes the Easter holidays,” Maas wrote on Twitter.

8:38 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

New York City expected to run out of medical supplies in 2 to 3 weeks

Will Swanson, a Registered Nurse from Columbia University, picks up personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies at a New York State emergency operations incident command center in New Rochelle, New York, on March 17.
Will Swanson, a Registered Nurse from Columbia University, picks up personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies at a New York State emergency operations incident command center in New Rochelle, New York, on March 17. Mike Segar/Reuters

New York City needs 45 million surgical gowns, coveralls, gloves and face masks – known as personal protective equipment (PPE) – in April to ensure its healthcare system can deal with coronavirus-related issues, Avery Cohen, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, told CNN Friday morning.

This up from 25 million, as announced by de Blasio in a press conference late Thursday afternoon.

“We increased our ask,” Cohen said. “Things are constantly shifting and changing!”

8:37 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

UK asks 65,000 retired nurses and doctors to come back to work

An NHS sign points towards a coronavirus testing pod at Kings College Hospital in Camberwell, south London, on March 11.
An NHS sign points towards a coronavirus testing pod at Kings College Hospital in Camberwell, south London, on March 11. Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) has asked 65,000 nurses and doctors who retired in the last three years to return and help tackle the “greatest global health threat” in a century.

Medical personnel with up-to-date skills and experience, including retirees, will be surveyed on what type of role they could do. Those who join the “NHS army” will be given a full induction and online training to help them to hit the ground running, said the NHS in a statement released Thursday.

“As the health service gears up to deal with the greatest global health threat in its history, my message to former colleagues is ‘Your NHS Needs You,’” said Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England.

Final-year medical students and student nurses are also being offered the chance to take temporary roles on full pay to boost frontline capacity even further, the agency said.

Similar measures are being implemented in other European countries as thousands of medical students are being fast-tracked into early service in an attempt to boost health systems across the continent that are struggling to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

Read our full story on medical students being fast-tracked here.

8:34 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Russia supports virtual G20 summit on coronavirus

World leaders attend a family photo session at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in June 2019.
World leaders attend a family photo session at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in June 2019. Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool/Getty Images

Russia is in favor of convening a virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit on coronavirus next week, which would be “meaningful” for coordinating an international response to the pandemic, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“The technical parameters are being worked through diplomatic channels, the organization of video communications,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. “This will be our first experience doing this.”

Earlier this week, the Saudi Arabia G20 press office put forward plans to convene the summit.

Russia has had a relatively low number of reported coronavirus cases, with 199 confirmed, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters. 

Peskov downplayed reports in local media about shortages of masks and other equipment, saying there was enough protective equipment "for those who work with patients ... serve the population ... take tests ... [and] for those who meet passengers of aircraft and other vehicles arriving from dangerous countries.” 

The Kremlin spokesperson added there was “no need” for Russian President Vladimir Putin to take a coronavirus test, as he was feeling healthy and has continued his work.

“We are all in the same boat” when it comes to efforts by Russian and international scientists to work toward developing a vaccine, Peskov added.

8:31 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Infectious disease experts says two negative tests are needed after recovering from coronavirus

A nurse holds a coronavirus testing kit at a drive through station in Royal Oak, Michigan, on March 16.
A nurse holds a coronavirus testing kit at a drive through station in Royal Oak, Michigan, on March 16. Paul Sancya/AP

Two negative tests — taken 24 hours apart — are currently needed to “feel safe in going out into society” after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, but that may change as we learn more about the virus, according to an infectious disease expert.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained the possible shift during a live-streamed conversation with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“If you test positive, when is it OK to interact with others?” said Zuckerberg, relaying a viewer’s question.

Fauci responded that “strictly speaking, if you are positive, you have the virus in you. And the way you determined positive was you got a nasal swab in your nasopharynx and you cultured the virus.”

The “strict guideline” for going back out into society is two negative tests a day apart, Fauci said, to confirm that “you’re not shedding virus anymore, so you can feel free to go out.”

But “that might change,” Fauci said. “It may be more flexible, when we get a better feel for what the real bracket of time [is] of people shedding” the virus.

8:23 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Coronavirus deaths in Spain soar over 1,000

A member of Spain's UME (Military Emergency Unit) disinfects outside the Cabuenes hospital in Gijon, Spain on March 18.
A member of Spain's UME (Military Emergency Unit) disinfects outside the Cabuenes hospital in Gijon, Spain on March 18. Alvaro Fuente/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Deaths from Covid-19 in Spain hit 1,002 on Friday, an increase of 235 in the past day, according to a Spanish health ministry official.

There have now been 19,980 total cases recorded, said Fernando Simón, director of the Spanish Coordinating Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies, at a daily briefing.

The 16.5% increase in cases recorded (up 2,833) was slower than in previous days, but Simón warned that many factors affect the number of cases confirmed.

Some 1,141 of the recorded cases have been put into intensive care, Simón said. Some of the first people taken into intensive care are now being released, he added, though those numbers remain low.

Some 10,542 of the total recorded cases have been hospitalized, which is 52% of the total, Simón said.

On Thursday there had been 17,147 cases with 767 deaths.

8:16 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

A coronavirus recurrence is “conceivable” next season but its impact would be more modest, says Anthony Fauci

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks to the press outside the White House on March 12.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks to the press outside the White House on March 12. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Novel coronavirus may not recede completely at the end of this season but its impact will likely be more modest in a future wave, the top US infectious disease doctor said Thursday.

“Once we get by it, it is conceivable and maybe likely that when we get to the next season, we may see another blip of this, but it would really be different,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a live-streamed conversation with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The new coronavirus “spreads too efficiently” to disappear like SARS did, said Fauci.

That means that even after this coronavirus outbreak is suppressed, a recurrence is “likely -- not inevitable, but likely," he added.

The comments came after Zuckerberg asked about the likelihood of another coronavirus wave, either in the fall or later.

Fauci said that while it may happen, multiple factors would blunt the impact of future outbreaks.

First, “a certain percentage of the population will already have been immune, a bit of what we call herd immunity.”

This means more people -- after recovering from coronavirus -- would be protected against future infections.

And if a second wave comes, “we likely, by that time, will have tested a number of drugs,” Fauci added. “Hopefully some of them will be effective in treatment.”

Finally, “we hopefully, within a year to a year and a half, would have a vaccine,” Fauci said.

“So although we’re preparing, and maybe expecting for it to come back, it’s not going to come back in the same circumstances as it first came.”

8:12 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Taiwan reports largest single day increase in coronavirus cases

Members of Taiwan's military take part in a drill to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, in New Taipei City on March 14.
Members of Taiwan's military take part in a drill to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, in New Taipei City on March 14. Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Taiwan confirmed 27 new cases of coronavirus Friday in its largest single-day increase since the outbreak began.

Twenty-four of the new cases were imported from countries including the UK, the US, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and the Philippines, according to Taiwan's Center for Disease Control.

The spike in cases comes one day after Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen warned the "next 14 days will be a critical second stage in the epidemic response effort."

The new cases bring Taiwan's total number of cases to 135, including one death.