March 24 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 1:09 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020
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6:16 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Trump says his authorization of the Defense Production Act serves as "leverage"

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez 

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump suggested Tuesday that his recent authorization of the Defense Production Act serves as enough “leverage” to compel companies to produce medical supplies without invoking the act to force them to start up production.

“Private companies are heeding our call to produce medical equipment and supplies because they know that we will not hesitate to invoke the DPA in order to get them to do what they have to do,” Trump said during a White House press briefing. “It’s called leverage. … The threat of it being there is great leverage. Companies are doing as we ask, even better than that.”

Trump continued: “We didn’t have to exercise or utilize the DPA in any way. The fact that we have it helps but we didn’t have to and for the most part we won’t have to.”

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."

6:27 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Spain requests NATO assistance to tackle coronavirus pandemic 

From CNN's Ingrid Formanek in Madrid 

Members of Spain's Military Emergency Unit wait outside the Palacio de Hielo ice rink in Madrid, Spain, on March 24.
Members of Spain's Military Emergency Unit wait outside the Palacio de Hielo ice rink in Madrid, Spain, on March 24. Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

The Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) has received a formal request from Spain's Ministry of Defense for international humanitarian assistance, NATO confirmed Monday in a statement, highlighting both medical and personal protective equipment as key areas of demand for Spain's armed forces, who are supporting the country's response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

"The Armed Forces of Spain request international assistance in their response to the global pandemic of the coronavirus COVID-19. The Armed Forces of Spain are acting in favour of civil population to mitigate the virus spread," NATO said in its statement. 

"In order to prevent the spread of the virus in the military units of the Armed Forces of Spain and in the civil population, international partners are asked to provide assistance to the Ministry of [Defense] of Spain in supplying humanitarian assistance," the statement added. 

Equipment including 1.5 million surgical masks, 500,000 Covid-19 rapid tests, 450,000 respirators, and some 500 mechanic ventilators were outlined in the request submitted by the Spanish Ministry of Defense. 

The request comes as the number of health care workers in Spain contracting the deadly virus continues to rise, with medical workers accounting for approximately 13.6% of the country's total coronavirus cases, according to Fernando Simón, director of the Spanish Coordinating Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies. 

6:02 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

More than 52,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the US

From CNN's Jamiel Lynch

There are at least 52,381 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the United States through US public health systems. At least 680 people have died.

At least 139 deaths were reported Tuesday, according to a tally by CNN, making this the deadliest day in the United States.

The total includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases.

 

6:15 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Trump: Goal is to open up the country "as we near the end of our historic battle with the invisible enemy"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump began Tuesday’s coronavirus task force briefing reiterating his goal to ease social distancing guidelines around Easter. 

“Ultimately, the goal is to ease the guidelines and open things up to very large sections of our country as we near the end of our historic battle with the invisible enemy. Been going for a while, but we’ll win, we’ll win,” Trump said.

His remarks on nearing the end come as health officials, including Surgeon General Jerome Adams, sound the alarm that the virus is going to get much worse in the US before it gets better.

Trump said his team is “working very hard” to make an Easter timeline a reality, saying he “will be meeting with a lot of people to see if that can be done.”

“What a great timeline that would be. My first priority is always the health and safety of the American people. I want everyone to understand that we are continuing to evaluate the data. We’re working with the task force and making decisions based on what is best for the interest of our fantastic country,” he said.

Watch:

5:51 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Congress unlikely to give stimulus deal final approval tonight

From CNN's Manu Raju

With the time slipping as senators and the White House continue to negotiate the final bill language of the $2 trillion stimulus, it's growing increasingly unlikely that both chambers of Congress can give final approval to the plan tonight.

A senior Democratic aide said that it's unlikely the House can approve the Senate deal tonight. That's because lawmakers will need time to review the details of the bill and may need to hold another conference call to discuss the elements of the Senate plan.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to ensure that her caucus is in line because they need full cooperation to bring the bill to the floor so it can be approved by either voice vote or unanimous consent — so members don't have to return to Washington and vote in person.

Similarly, a GOP Senate aide that with the time slipping and bill text still being drafted, it's unlikely the Senate will vote tonight.

7:30 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

A person in Kentucky tested positive for Covid-19 after attending a coronavirus party, governor said

From CNN's Sheena Jones and Stephanie Gallman

Matt Stone/Courier Journal/Imagn
Matt Stone/Courier Journal/Imagn

A person attended a coronavirus party in Kentucky and then tested positive for the virus, Gov. Andy Beshear said at a news conference Tuesday.

The governor said he hopes he doesn’t have to speak about this incident again and reminded himself to forgive the person who attended the party.

"This is one that makes me mad,” the governor said, discouraging the action. “We have to be much better than that.” 

Bashear later said the “coronavirus party” was a group of “young adults” who intentionally got together, “thinking they were invincible" and purposely defying the state’s guidance to practice social distancing. 

Beshear stopped short of naming the county where the patient is from or where the party took place, not wanting to identify the person who “made a mistake.” 

At least 163 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Kentucky, the governor said.

5:50 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

How Illinois is preparing for possible surge of coronavirus cases

From CNN's Raja Razek

Illinois' Governor J.B. Pritzker, speaking at a news conference Tuesday, said the state is looking into whether closed hospitals could reopen to help with coronavirus response efforts.

"In a worst-case scenario surge, the state would turn existing hospitals into almost entirely Covid-19 response hospitals, moving non-Covid patients to other hospitals," the governor said.

Pritzker went on to explain the distinction between a standard hospital bed and a bed for patient with Covid-19. He said the number one difference is a ventilator.

5:13 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

54% of US population will be ordered to stay at home by midweek

From CNN's Devon M. Sayers

At least 13 states and 16 municipalities have ordered 148,577,262 people or 45% of the US population to stay home as a result of the pandemic, according to data compiled by CNN using US Census population estimates. 

At least five additional states and nine municipalities will have orders going into effect later this week. 

When all orders take effect 176,385,537 people will be affected by the order, or 54% of the US population. 

The US Census Bureau estimates the population at 328,239,523.

5:06 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

New York City will release 300 inmates immediately over coronavirus concerns

From CNN's Laura Ly

New York City will move to release 300 city inmates immediately due to Covid-19 concerns, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

All of those eligible for release are city inmates convicted of misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, all with less than one year left on their sentence, de Blasio said.

De Blasio noted that there are some inmates within that category with domestic violence or sexual offense charges that the city has determined they will not release at this time.

There are an additional 100 inmates that are awaiting trial that would require action from district attorneys, so the city will work with their offices to determine whether any of those inmates can be released, de Blasio said.

An additional 700 inmates who are “technical parole violators” will also be under consideration for release, and the city will work with state authorities on those ongoing conversations, de Blasio said.

New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea commented on the decision to release inmates at Tuesday’s news conference, saying the decision was very difficult, but that he was in agreement with the mayor and that the decision was based on a desire to be realist and humane.