Live Updates

March 22 coronavirus news

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What you need to know

  • The global outlook: More than 335,000 people have contracted the novel coronavirus and at least 14,641 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
  • Threat of severe economic downturn: A global recession is looming as businesses down tools and send workers home to stop the spread of the virus.
  • US death toll rises: More than 400 people have died from the virus in the United States, according to CNN’s tally of cases.
  • Have a question or a story about coronavirusShare it here.
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For the first time, Japan's Prime Minister says postponing the Olympics is a possibility

Speaking to lawmakers on Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said postponing the 2020 Summer Olympics is a possibility.

This is the first time Abe has changed his staunch public position that the Olympics will start July 24 as scheduled.

In recent days, a growing number of countries and athletes have called for the games to be postponed, while Canada said today it will not send any teams.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) responded Sunday, saying a final decision on postponement will be made within four weeks, due to the vast complexities of rescheduling a massive global sporting event like the Olympics.

“The IOC’s decision is along the lines of what I said before, of holding the event in its complete form. If that becomes difficult – and thinking first about the health of the athletes – we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games,” Abe said, speaking at the budget committee in Japan’s upper house of parliament.

Canada will not send athletes to Tokyo Olympics

Canada won’t be sending teams to the Olympics this year.

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) are also calling for the games to be postponed by one year.

“While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the committee said in a statement.

DC to use National Guard to help prevent cherry blossom crowds in nation's capital

Pedestrians walk around the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, to view the city's famous cherry blossoms in full bloom on March 21.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Sunday that she is ordering the Washington, DC, National Guard to work with police to restrict pedestrian access to areas where crowds have been flocking to view the cherry blossoms, which are in peak bloom, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.

The mayor says the road closures and restrictions around the Tidal Basin, including the Jefferson Memorial, “will continue until further notice to ensure social distancing and prevent further community transmission of COVID-19.”

The National Cherry Blossom Festival would have taken place from March 20 to April 12, but restrictions and stay-at-home orders across the country to most of the festival being canceled.

As a result, the festival tweeted they opened a virtual tour for those wanting to see the cherry blossoms.

Italy is requesting US military support for coronavirus battle

The government of Italy has made a direct appeal to Defense Secretary Mark Esper for US military aid in combating coronavirus, according to a US defense official.

Specifically, Italy’s defense minister has asked Esper for critical medical equipment like masks and ventilators as Italy has nearly 60,000 confirmed cases and has had more than 5,000 deaths. The Italian government has requested that US military personnel stationed in Italy assist Italian authorities by providing medical personnel and field hospitals in support of Italian troops already responding to the crisis there.

Esper recently made the Defense Department’s stockpile of masks and ventilators available to civilian hospitals in the US to help respond to the pandemic. The military has activated units capable of constructing field hospitals to help relieve the burden on civilian hospitals.

The Italian plea for assistance from its NATO ally comes as the Russian military has made a very public effort to provide the Italians with assistance, using military aircraft to fly in medical personnel and equipment.

Olympic gold medalist with coronavirus says its 'by far the worst virus I have ever endured'

Retired South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh, the 2012 Olympic 100-meter breaststroke champion, says he has coronavirus.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, the 31-year-old discussed dealing with the illness, calling it “by far the worst virus I have ever endured.”

Van der Burgh retired from swimming in 2018.

The International Olympic Committee’s executive board said Sunday it is considering postponing – but not canceling – this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo because of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Trump approves California disaster declaration

President Donald Trump approved California’s request for a disaster declaration Sunday, according to a White House news release.

The declaration means the state can receive federal assistance to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts to areas affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the release said. It also provides federal funding for crisis counseling for all those affected in California.

President Trump says he is considering an executive order freeing elderly nonviolent federal prisoners

President Donald Trump said Sunday he is considering an executive order to free elderly “totally nonviolent” federal prisoners.

“We have been asked about that, and we’re going to take a look at it. It’s a bit of a problem. But when we talk about totally nonviolent, we’re talking about these are totally nonviolent prisoners, we’re actually looking at that, yes,” Trump told reporters at a White House news conference.

Several states, including California, New York, Ohio and Texas, and New York City have started releasing low-level offenders as well as those who are elderly or sick because of the virus.

Ecuador coronavirus deaths increase

The number of coronavirus deaths in Ecuador doubled between Saturday and Sunday, according the country’s health ministry.

The ministry reported 14 coronavirus deaths Sunday, up from seven Saturday.

Ecuador’s health ministry reported the number of positive cases more than tripled in a one-week span. On Sunday, the health ministry reported 789 confirmed cases of the virus. At the beginning of the week, the government had reported 58 confirmed cases.

United Arab Emirates suspend all inbound and outbound passenger flights for two weeks

Medical equipment and coronavirus testing kits provided by the World Health Organization are transported at Dubai World Central airport in Dubai on March 2.

The United Arab Emirates suspended all inbound and outbound passenger flights and “the transit of airline passengers” in the UAE for two weeks to combat the spread of coronavirus, according to the UAE’s state-run news agency WAM.

The decision will take effect in 48 hours, WAM reported.

Saudi Arabia orders daily curfew

Saudi Arabia has ordered a daily curfew between 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time beginning Monday, according to Saudi state-run SPA news.

The curfew is scheduled to last for 21 days and came directly from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, SPA said in its report.

Security, health, water, electricity, trash collection and media sectors are excluded from the curfew, according to SPA.

Saudi Arabia says it is taking these measures to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Philadelphia announces stay-at-home order

A pedestrian walks past Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Monday, March 16.

Pennsylvania’s largest city announced a stay-at-home order Sunday, prohibiting “all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit,” according to a press release from the Philadelphia mayor’s office.

The order will go into effect Monday at 8 a.m.

Essential personal activities, such as obtaining essential goods and services, seeking medical attention, caring for family members in another household, or reporting to a job at an essential business, are exempt from the restriction.

Two Chicago police officers test positive for coronavirus

Two Chicago Police Department officers have tested positive for coronavirus, according to city police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. 

In a statement on his Twitter account, Guglielmi says that “both officers are in good spirits & all cases appear separate and distinct from one another.”

Chicago police are working closely with the city’s health department to “implement best possible infection controls for affected officers & areas,” Guglielmi said.

The total number of Chicago police officers who have tested positive is now three, according to Officer Steve Rusanov.

23 dead in prison riots in Colombia prompted by coronavirus fears, Ministry of Justice says

Nationwide prison riots in Colombia prompted by coronavirus fears have left at least 23 inmates dead and 83 injured, the country’s Ministry of Justice said on Sunday

“I have to inform you that last night there was a massive and criminal escape attempt at the La Modelo prison and revolts at different penitentiary centers in the country,” she said. 

The escape attempt at Bogota’s La Modelo prison, one of the country’s largest and most overpopulated prisons, resulted in the reported 23 dead and 83 injured Cabello said. 

“There were no escapes,” said Cabello, adding, “Nor was there was a sanitary problem that could have prompted this plan and these revolts.”

Cabello said as of Sunday, there are zero inmates or prison personnel who have tested positive for coronavirus or who have been isolated because of coronavirus.

Earlier Sunday, Colombian President Ivan Duque said security forces and prison authorities are responding to “disorders in different parts of the country.”

President Trump outlines aid to three major US coronavirus hot spots

President Donald Trump outlined on Sunday the aid being sent to New York, Washington and California, the three major hot spots of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

He announced federal medical stations that will be delivered within the next 48 hours:

  • Four large federal medical stations with 1,000 beds to New York
  • Eight large federal medical stations with 2,000 beds to California
  • Three large and four small federal medical stations with 1,000 beds total to Washington

 Trump outlined the specific number of items being sent to New York and Washington.

 Supplies sent to New York as of March 19:

  • 186,416 N95 respirators
  • 444,000 O-78 surgical masks
  • 84,560 face shields
  • 68,944 surgical masks
  • 352 coveralls
  • 245,486 gloves

 Supplies sent to Washington as of “about 3 days ago:”

  • 369,000 N-95 respirators
  • 575,406 surgical masks
  • 63,788 face shields
  • 107,850 surgical gowns
  • 240,376 gloves

McDonald's will close all restaurants in the UK and Ireland on Monday

A customer orders from a self-service kiosk at a McDonald's in Milton Keynes, England, on March 20.

All McDonald’s restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland will close at 7 p.m. Monday, according to a statement from Paul Pomroy, McDonald’s UK and Ireland CEO.

“Over the last 24 hours, it has become clear that maintaining safe social distancing whilst operating busy takeaway and Drive Thru restaurants is increasingly difficult,” Pomroy said. “We have not taken this decision lightly and know that our restaurants have been playing an important role in the community providing hundreds of thousands of free drinks to frontline health and social workers and emergency services personnel.”

Pomroy thanked the 135,000 employees for “adapting so quickly to a constantly evolving work environment, taking every step to keep our customers, couriers and teams safe and looking after each other so very well.”

It was unclear when the restaurants would reopen.

Procedural Senate vote fails to move ahead with stimulus amid Democratic opposition

A key procedural vote to advance a massive stimulus package failed Sunday afternoon as Senate Democrats lined up against it.

The vote was 47-47. Lawmakers needed to clear a 60-vote threshold to succeed.

Democrats have been expressing concerns over the legislation as it stands throughout the day as talks continue and the vote, originally set for 3 p.m. ET, was delayed until 6 p.m. as Democrats dug in against it and to allow for more time for negotiations.

A final bipartisan deal to respond to the devastating toll the spread of coronavirus has not yet been reached, but talks are expected to continue.

Senators were voting instead on a shell bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is using as a placeholder until a final deal is reached.

Federal disaster declaration issued for Washington

The White House approved a request by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee for a federal disaster declaration Sunday, Inslee said in a tweet Sunday.

Inslee asked for the declaration in a letter to President Trump Friday to unlock a host of additional federal assistance programs for Washington residents affected by coronavirus, according to a statement from Inslee’s office.

“We appreciate that the federal government has recognized the severity of the public health emergency in Washington state by declaring a major disaster and taking the first step toward additional assistance for Washingtonians,” Inslee said. “However, today’s declaration does not unlock many forms of federal assistance we have requested to help workers and families who are badly hurting. We will continue working with our federal partners to deliver the full suite of disaster assistance that is sorely needed in our state, such as expanded unemployment benefits for workers who lose their paychecks as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.”

The declaration grants the state’s request for assistance with crisis counseling and training to address the impact of the outbreak on the mental health of affected Washingtonians, Inslee’s statement read. Other disaster assistance programs requested in Inslee’s letter remain under review by the White House, the statement read, including expanded unemployment assistance and basic food benefits.