March 23 coronavirus news

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8:36 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Children's hospital in Chicago cancels mobile testing site due to lack of materials

From CNN's Jasmine Wright 

One of Chicago’s leading children’s hospitals had to scrap plans to host a mobile testing site, which was scheduled Tuesday on the city’s north side after it said both of its vendors weren’t able to fill orders for testing supplies.

It’s another example of how difficult it can be to get tested for Covid-19.

Julie Pesch, spokesperson for Lurie’s Children’s Hospital, told CNN the site was designed to be for pediatric patients not admitted to the hospital who are experiencing symptoms of the virus.

The hospital was hoping to alleviate an onslaught of pressure both its hospital and individual pediatricians across the city are facing. But because of the high demand for testing and a lack of testing supplies like nasal swabs, those plans were cut short on Friday. 

“Our normal operational process is to hold 2-4 days of supply on a product like this. Last week (March 16) when we went to purchase an elevated quantity, due to the Covid-19 needs, we were informed by both our primary and secondary vendors that they were not able to fill orders,” Pesch said 

The hospital was hoping parents with an appointment would be able to get a child tested every 15 minutes. But now the hospital says sick patients will need to go through their regular pediatricians for testing.

The lack of supplies to launch such an effort “is a big deal,” Pesch said. “The more testing that we can do, that means the less children that we have in the emergency department, in the pediatrician's office. That means we don’t have to use as much PPE. That is the main message that we’re trying to get across.”

“Other hospitals are in the same situation,” said Danny Chun, spokesperson for the Illinois Health and Hospital Association. The lack of testing supplies remain a problem, he added.

The Advocate Aurora Health hospital system announced Friday that it was suspending a similar program that had already launched because of the national shortage of test kit supplies.

8:25 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

US Army Fort Jackson confirms two positive coronavirus cases 

From Raja Razek and Allison Rampley

A Fort Jackson, South Carolina, officer and a soldier have both tested positive for Covid-19, according to a statement Monday. 

Both service members are in isolation and receiving the necessary medical care, and the Fort Jackson Public Health Team is working to identify anyone else who may have been exposed to the virus, according to the statement from Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr. 

Following the announcement of the two cases, Fort Jackson tweeted to visitors, urging them "to plan ahead and to expect delays at Gates 1, 2, and 4" as "the Department of the Army Security Guards are conducting a general health & welfare assessment, including a temperature check, of everyone entering Fort Jackson."

8:55 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Melania Trump tested for coronavirus

From CNN's Sarah Westwood and Kate Bennett 

Carolyn Kaster/AP
Carolyn Kaster/AP

First lady Melania Trump has been tested for coronavirus and is doing fine, President Trump said at Monday's briefing.

This is the first time the President confirmed his wife was also tested for Covid-19.

The President, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence have all been tested for coronavirus, and all were negative.

“The first lady was tested on the same night as President Trump was tested, out of an abundance of caution. The test was negative,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told CNN. Both Trumps were tested at the White House on March 13.

8:01 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

San Diego closes all parks, beaches and trails to prevent the spread of coronavirus

From CNN's Alexandra Meeks 

In response to numerous reports of gatherings at parks and beaches over the weekend, San Diego will move forward with the closure of all parks, beaches, boardwalks, city lakes and trails, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced at a news conference Monday. 

"It's time to protect each other," he said. "Physical distance is the key to beating this virus and that is why we're acting today. It is simply irresponsible to congregate and it is unfair to the rest of San Diego."

Faulconer went on to say that San Diego police officers will be permitted to enforce the new rules with fines.

8:21 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

A cruise ship with 42 sick people is headed for Florida

From CNN's Stephanie Gallman

42 people – 13 guests and 29 crew -- aboard Holland America’s “Zaandam” ship have reported experiencing flu-like symptoms, according to a release on the cruise line’s website.
42 people – 13 guests and 29 crew -- aboard Holland America’s “Zaandam” ship have reported experiencing flu-like symptoms, according to a release on the cruise line’s website. Holland America

Holland America’s Zaandam ship headed toward Florida is carrying 42 people — 13 guests and 29 crew — reporting flu-like symptoms.

“Since it is flu season, and COVID-19 testing is not available on board, it is difficult to determine the cause of these elevated cases at this time,” according to a statement from the cruise line's website.

The guests have been asked by the cruise line to remain in their staterooms until they have more information and as the ship sails north with the intention to arrive in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on March 30.   

Zaandam departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7,  prior to Holland America’s decision to suspend its global cruise operations for 30 days. The trip was scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. 

According to the statement, no one has been off the ship since March 14 after a stop in Puenta Arena, Chile, where guests were initially told they could disembark for flights, but then were not allowed.

There are a total of 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board the ship.

7:42 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

USA Gymnastics is "advocating for the postponement" of Summer Olympics

From CNN's David Close

The national governing body of gymnastics in the United States said the organization is “advocating for the postponement” of this summer’s Olympic Games.

In a tweet from the verified account of USA Gymnastics, the call to action states, “After considering the responses from athletes who participated in our survey & the 62% who were in favor of delaying the Games, we are adding our voice to the chorus advocating for postponement. We are grateful to have our athletes’ insight and input to guide this decision.”

7:32 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Trump says doctors have not endorsed easing federal guidelines

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump was pressed Monday about whether any of the doctors on the coronavirus task force have endorsed easing the federal guidelines.

Trump said the doctors had “not endorsed, but we talk together and I think they’re OK with it and I’m OK with it."

"But this could be a much bigger problem. This could create a much bigger problem than the problem that you start off with," he added.

Trump went on to repeat what he said earlier in the briefing that “we can do both” as in easing federal guidelines in some places to boost the economy, but still focus on certain hotspots.

7:23 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Trump acknowledges coronavirus likely to worsen: "Certainly this is going to be bad"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak 

President Trump acknowledged Monday the effects of coronavirus are likely to worsen.

"Certainly this is going to be bad,” Trump said, agreeing with remarks his surgeon general made earlier in the day predicting a deteriorating situation this week. 

“We’re trying to make it much much less bad," Trump went on. "Obviously the numbers are going to increase with time and then they're going to decrease.”

The President seemed to downplay the situation somewhat, indicating the flu presented a similarly poor outlook: “We have a lot of people dying from the flu,” he said.

He suggested the period of national self-isolation guidance would not last months as he looks to restart the American economy.

“I'm not looking at months, I'll tell you right now,” Trump said. “We’re going to open up our country.”

Trump repeatedly said the period of containment measures recommended by the federal government wouldn’t stretch to three or four months.

He wouldn’t put a firm timeline on when the recommendations on social distancing would end.

Watch here:

7:25 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Pence says patients can now swab themselves for coronavirus

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

Vials and swabs sit in bins at a coronavirus testing center in Newton, Massachusetts, on March 18.
Vials and swabs sit in bins at a coronavirus testing center in Newton, Massachusetts, on March 18. Adam Glanzman/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence said the Food and Drug Administration has approved self-collected samples for Covid-19 testing, which he said would reduce the strain on medical supplies and professionals.

Pence said he and President Trump had asked the FDA to pursue “less invasive methods of testing” after they both endured their own tests, which require deep nasal swabs.

“I’m pleased to report that self-collected swabs can now be collected in clinics and drive-through testing sites,” Pence said.

He said asking doctors to perform the swabs creates a “drain on personal protective equipment.” 

Medical professionals will still perform the actual tests on the swabs that patients take and hand in at health care facilities.

Watch here: