March 22 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Jenni Marsh, Rob Picheta, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 10:30 p.m. ET, March 22, 2020
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10:52 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

French doctor dies from coronavirus

From Barbara Wojazer in Paris

The first doctor to die from coronavirus in France was a 67-year old-emergency doctor at the Compiègne hospital, the city’s Mayor Philippe Marini told French broadcaster BFM on Sunday.

The doctor, Jean-Jacques Razafindranazy, had worked at Compiègne hospital since 2013, the mayor added in a Facebook post.

Marini paid tribute to Razafindranazy, who he described as “a great doctor, a respected man who was appreciated by his whole team."

The mayor also called for “all inhabitants of Compiegne to show their support to our healthcare personnel and express their final thoughts for doctor Razafindranazy by observing a minute of silence on Monday at midday."

10:45 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Michigan governor: "Lives will be lost because we weren’t prepared"

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces the state's first two cases of coronavirus on March 10.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces the state's first two cases of coronavirus on March 10. David Eggert/AP

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the federal government’s initial response to the coronavirus outbreak could have disastrous consequences, according to an interview she did on ABC Sunday morning.

“Had the federal government really started focusing when it became clear that the whole world was going to be confronting this, we would be in a stronger position right now,” Whitmer said. “That’s an issue I’m not going to belabor because I’ve got to keep solving problems, and I would like the federal government to be a partner, and I can’t afford to have a fight with the White House.”

Whitmer also said there will be time for review actions and decision-making after the crisis has passed.

“At some point we’re going to have to analyze where the all the failures were, and we’re going to have to make decisions based on what happened and what didn’t happen,” Whitmer continued. “Lives will be lost because we weren’t prepared, our economy will struggle longer because we didn’t take this seriously as early enough as a country, and there will be consequences of that, but right now, I’ve got to solve problems, and I need the federal government to help me to make sure that I’ve got what we need for our frontline providers in particular, but also ventilators for people who are going to suffer.”

10:30 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

NYC mayor: "We're about 10 days away now from seeing widespread shortages" of supplies


Mayor Bill de Blasio described a dire situation in New York City this morning on CNN as hospital supplies needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic run low.

"We're about 10 days away now from seeing widespread shortages of ventilators, surgical masks, the things necessary to keep a hospital system running. We have seen next to nothing from the federal government at this point. We have seen — we've made this plea publicly, privately, letters, phone calls, very — very little has arrived," de Blasio said. "The military has not been mobilized. The Defense Production Act has not been utilized in any way I can see. Not just for New York City, New York state, for a lot of the country, it feels like we're on our own at this point. We're not seeing action from the federal government."

De Blasio said April is going to be worse than March regarding the Covid-19 outbreak in New York.

“If we don’t get more ventilators in the next 10-days people will die,” de Blasio said.

He went on to urge the President Trump to sign an order to mobilize the military to distribute ventilators and to have manufactures making ventilators at maximum production.  

The Defense Production Act: The Federal Emergency Management Agency describes the act as "the primary source of presidential authorities to expedite and expand the supply of resources from the US industrial base to support military, energy, space and homeland security programs."

An executive order issued Wednesday afternoon indicated that the President will use the act to obtain "health and medical resources needed to respond to the spread of Covid-19, including personal protective equipment and ventilators."

The order also states that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar may consult with other agency heads to determine "the proper nationwide priorities and allocation of all health and medical resources, including controlling the distribution of such materials ... in the civilian market, for responding to the spread of Covid-19 within the United States."

10:33 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Stimulus package now at $2 trillion as leaders race to clinch agreement today

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The massive emergency aid package being negotiated on Capitol Hill has grown to roughly $2 trillion as bicameral, bipartisan leaders are set to come together to try and clinch a final agreement, according to two people directly involved in the talks.

The fate of a the final proposal will be in the hands of the four congressional leaders and Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin, all of whom will gather in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Sunday.

The scale of the package – which has grown by over a trillion dollars over the course of several days and by more than $500 billion just during Saturday’s negotiations alone, the people said – underscore the recognition of the urgency brought on by the accelerating spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has all but shuttered the American economy over the last week.

Behind the scenes: Republicans staff worked through the night – some in the office past 3 a.m., people told CNN – to draft the legislative language to reflect the status of the negotiations between the four bipartisan working groups that have been cloistered in closed Senate hearing rooms for hours over the course of an urgent last few days.

Republicans have expressed optimism that a deal is in the offing, but there are still a handful of hurdles that have kept Democratic negotiators from fully signing on.

That said, lawmakers on both sides acknowledge that a deal is imperative as soon as possible, with a procedural vote to move forward on the package set for Sunday afternoon and a final vote to pass any agreement set for as soon as Monday.

10:08 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Treasury secretary is optimistic on stimulus bill for coronavirus relief

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks to the press on March 13.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks to the press on March 13. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that lawmakers have a "fundamental understanding" that a deal has been reached to pass a massive stimulus bill to a staggering economy reeling from the coronavirus as soon as Monday.

"I do think it will get done. We've been working around the clock in the Senate with Republicans and Democrats. I've been speaking to (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell, (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer, the (House) Speaker and I think we have a fundamental understanding and we look forward to wrapping it up today," said Mnuchin, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."

Mnuchin explained that the bill, which could cost trillions, has several components: small business retention loans, which will give small business two weeks of cash flow to retain their employees and keep up with overhead; direct deposits, which would be approximately $3,000 for the average family of four; enhanced unemployment insurance, which was a sticking point in the talks; and a "significant package" of $4 trillion in liquidity, working with the Fed, to support the economy and broad-based lending programs.

Mnuchin said the bill is structured based on a 10-to-12 week scenario, and that if in 10 weeks coronavirus is still ravaging the country, the administration would return to Congress to ask for more.

9:55 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Illinois governor says states are competing against each other for coronavirus supplies

From CNN's Dominic Torres


Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker complained that states are competing against each other for key supplies and there needs to be more federal coordination on these goods, he said in an interview with on CNN's “State of the Union” Sunday.

As a result, everyone is competing against each other jurisdictions are paying higher prices, Pritzker said.

“We need millions of masks and hundreds of thousands of gowns and gloves and the rest. And unfortunately, we're getting still just a fraction of that. So we're out on the open market, competing for these items that we so badly need and we're succeeding in some ways. but we still need more,” Pritzker said.
9:09 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Coronavirus is speeding up the death of local newsrooms

From CNN’s Kerry Flynn

The Detroit Metro Times started the year on a celebratory note, having reached its 40th anniversary. This week, its staff was slashed from 16 to eight employees after its parent company Euclid Media Group announced layoffs across its seven newspapers as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the country, crippling businesses in its wake.

Music editor Jerilyn Jordan was told in a conference call on Wednesday that she was one of the remaining employees but staying on would mean a 10% pay cut. 

"Everything changed in a week," Jordan told CNN Business. "For a minute, I could comfortably glide into work and know that I had some concert announcements to post. But then it became writing about cancellations and postponements and rescheduling. Now that's come to a halt because guess what? Let's just assume everything was f**king canceled." 

With local events canceled and restaurants and bars shuttering to crack down on the gathering of large crowds, local newsrooms have not only had to change their coverage. They have also lost out on crucial ad revenue and places to distribute their print products.

These changes have an outsized effect on alt-weeklies which rely heavily on advertising from events and local businesses.

"I think I'm a fairly good salesperson, but to be able to convince someone to run an ad for an event they're not having is beyond my capabilities," Jeff vonKaenel, president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno told CNN Business. "Now businesses where I normally distribute papers are closed so it's not going to work. There was essentially no revenue stream and no effective way to get out the paper."

8:32 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Unemployment rate quadruples in Israel

From Amir Tal in Jerusalem 

Unemployment in Israel surged to 16.5%, the country's Employment Service said in a statement Sunday morning, up from around 4% before the coronavirus outbreak began.

More than 500,000 workers registered for unemployment benefits with the Employment Service in March alone.

The Employment Service noted that the rate of registration has slowed, but it cautioned that this may simply be the end of the first major round of layoffs from the tourism industry. As the economic slowdown hits other sectors of the economy, the rate of registration may increase again, officials warned. 

8:30 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

French doctor dies from coronavirus

From Barbara Wojazer in Paris

A doctor in France died from coronavirus on Saturday night, the country’s health minister Olivier Véran has announced.

The minister added: “This is a first, as far as I know.”

Medical professionals in France have been battling a rising number of coronavirus cases. The number currently stands at 12,475, with 450 confirmed deaths.

Véran did not give any details about the deceased.