March 20 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Joshua Berlinger, Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Steve George and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:27 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020
105 Posts
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1:31 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Schumer: "At the moment, the McConnell bill is inadequate"

From CNN's From Ali Zaslav 

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that “at the moment, the McConnell bill is inadequate,” in remarks on the Senate floor Friday.

Schumer added that “We need to work with uncommon speed and make this next bill what it needs to be... Democrats are already at work with our Republican colleagues to get this done.”

Schumer said he spoke with President Trump earlier today and urged him to deploy the Defense Production Act among other things, to which he said, Trump agreed to do so.

“I spoke with President Trump about these five priorities. I mentioned them all and President Trump told me he was open to these ideas. In fact, the president explicitly told me he would oppose companies using bailout money on buybacks, even though such a prohibition is not in McConnell's bill. I also urged the President to immediately deploy the Defense Production Act and harness industry to get ventilators and other critically needed medical equipment to those who need it. He told me he would do so," Schumer said.

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

The proposal's formal rollout sets the stage for Republicans and Democrats to try to reach a bipartisan agreement to move a stimulus package forward as the virus continues to spread.

 

1:31 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

British pubs and restaurants asked to close due to coronavirus

From CNN's Tara John

Pool
Pool

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson instructed cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants to close on Friday "as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow,” in order to stem the tide of the coronavirus.

The closure also applies to “nightclubs, gyms, cinemas and leisure centers,” he added during his daily press conference.

Johnson said the measures will be reviewed each month to see if can be relaxed. “Some people may be tempted to go out and I say please don’t.” He said he was confident the "tide can be turned" but people need to stay away from one another.

It was not immediately clear if the Prime Minister’s instruction was backed by legal force.

1:07 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Pompeo says US will "use all the tools we can" to get US citizens abroad home

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would not say whether the US would use the military to get citizens home.

“We’re going to use all the tools we can,” he said when asked by CNN on Friday.

Some US citizens will return via commercial, private flights, as well as “some that will travel back other ways.”

Pompeo said he has been working with the Department of Defense and has been in touch with Defense Secretary Mark Esper on the matter, reiterating that this is a “whole of government effort.”

1:03 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

2 more TSA screeners in New York and Atlanta have tested positive

From CNN's Greg Wallace

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

Two more airport security screeners who worked shifts this week have been diagnosed with coronavirus, the Transportation Security Administration said Friday. 

One involves a screening officer who last worked on Monday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The other officer last worked in Terminal 4 at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport on Sunday.   

The TSA has now publicly reported 14 cases among its workforce. 

1:02 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Federal Aviation Administration says JFK tower has re-opened after it closed for cleaning

From CNN's Greg Wallace

Spencer Platt/Getty Images/FILE
Spencer Platt/Getty Images/FILE

The control tower at John F. Kennedy International Airport has reopened after it was closed for cleaning Friday after a worker was diagnosed with coronavirus, the Federal Aviation Administration said.  

“Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic controllers returned to the air traffic control tower at John F. Kennedy International Airport at 11:30 a.m. today, and they are handling flights from that location," the FAA said in a statement. "Early this morning, they relocated to an alternate site on airport property while an industrial cleaning company scrubbed the facility. We took this action as a precaution after an FAA technician assigned to the facility tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday."

The FAA added thats the tower cab, equipment room, administrative offices and elevators were all cleaned.

"The technician did not enter the tower cab when he was in the building briefly on Monday," the FAA said.

The airport remained open during the cleaning and air traffic controllers handled flights safely at all times from the alternate location, the FAA said.

1:02 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Trump thinks it's appropriate to attack a journalist during coronavirus crisis

From CNN's Betsy Klein

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked President Trump whether it was appropriate to attack a network correspondent during a coronavirus pandemic he described earlier this week as “wartime.”

“I do because I think Peter is — I dealt with Peter for a long time and I think Peter is not a good journalist when it comes to fairness,” Trump said.

Earlier in the briefing, Trump attacked NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander, who asked Trump his message to Americans who are scared.

Trump did not back down.

“The country has to understand that there is indeed, whether we like it or not… there’s a lot of really great news a journalism and a lot of fake news out there,” he said.

Watch:

 

12:49 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

3M doubled the amount of respirator masks it produced over last 2 months, company says

3M says it has doubled its global output of N95 respirator masks during the coronavirus outbreak.

According to a statement on Friday, the company has doubled the output of respirators to a rate of 1.1 billion per year, or nearly 100 million per month.

3M is also increasing investments in the US on an effort to expand its global capacity by over 30 percent in the next 12 months.

Mike Roman, 3M chairman and chief executive officer, said the company is mobilizing resources and output to help US healthcare workers.

“This pandemic is affecting us all, and we are doing all we can to support public health and especially our first-responders and those impacted by this global health crisis,” Romans said. 

According to the statement, the company is also receiving increasing reports of fraudulent and counterfeiting activities involving 3M.

12:55 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Vice President Pence says more masks and ventilators coming 

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

CNN
CNN

Vice President Mike Pence discussed the administration’s efforts to secure more masks for health care workers as well as more ventilators for sick Americans who may need treatment.

“We continue at the President’s direction to pursue every means to expand the supply of personal protective equipment,” Pence said.

“We have a policy of procuring, allocating — as well as conserving — the resources that we have in our system,” he said.

Pence teased a “a major procurement from the federal government of N95 masks” coming over the weekend.

He also highlighted “new alternatives to increase the supply of ventilators” in the US amid fears that the health care system does not have enough to keep alive the number of Americans likely to become seriously ill at the height of an outbreak.

Pence said part of those efforts involve a push to “free up other ventilators” in use in the system.

“We’ve literally identified tens of thousands of existing ventilators that can be retrofitted and converted” to help coronavirus patients Pence said. 

As part of the concerns about insufficient ventilators, Pence said “we want to continue to urge every American… postpone elective medical procedures.”

12:38 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Trump announces suspension of federally held student loan payments

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

President Trump announced that the Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing requirements for the current school year. Trump said this will be for all students, elementary through high school. 

"With many schools closed due to the virus, the department of education will not enforce standardized testing requirements, very importantly for students in elementary school through high school for the current year," Trump said. 

Trump also announced that interest will be temporarily waived on student loans and federally held student loan payments will be suspended for 60 days.

"We have also temporarily waived all interest on federally held student loans," he said at the daily Coronavirus press briefing. "Today secretary Devos directed borrowers to suspend loans and student loan payments without penalty for 60 days and if we need more we'll extend that period of time."