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
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4:06 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Italy announces 627 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours 

From CNN's Mia Alberti in Lisbon and Nicola Ruotolo in Rome

The number of coronavirus cases in Italy has reached 47,021, the Italian Civil Protection Agency said Friday. 

There have been 627 coronavirus-related deaths in 24 hours.

So far, 4,032 people in Italy have died from the disease.

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect the correct number of total confirmed cases in Italy.

1:33 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

World Health Organization to young people: "You are not invincible"

From CNN’s Amanda Watts and Jacqueline Howard


The World Health Organization has issued a stark warning to young people during the novel coronavirus pandemic who believe their age may protect them from the disease.

"Today, I have a message for young people: You are not invincible. This coronavirus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

Tedros said he is grateful so many young people are, “spreading the word and not the virus” adding, “every day, we are learning more about this coronavirus and the disease it causes. One of the things we are learning is that although older people are the hardest hit, younger people are not spared.”

"Data from many countries clearly show that people under 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization,” Tedros said.

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


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.



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.