March 24 coronavirus news

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2:58 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Coronavirus cases are spiking in these US states right now

From CNN's Matthew Hilk

New York state is soaring in coronavirus case numbers, higher and faster than anywhere in America, with more than 25,000 cases and at least 210 deaths by Tuesday — and case totals are doubling every few days.

But in recent days, numbers in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida and Georgia are also spiking fast, according to CNN's state-by-state county of positive Covid-19 cases reported by state and local health departments.

Here's where things stand now:

  • Michigan rose from just 65 cases about week ago to 1,328 on Tuesday afternoon, including 15 deaths.
  • Louisiana, which reported no cases until mid-March, topped the 1,000-mark and has seen more than 500 new cases reported just since the weekend, with 1,388 cases and 46 deaths by Tuesday afternoon.
  • Pennsylvania saw a spike of more than 200 cases overnight, bringing the total to 851 cases statewide on Tuesday. Of those cases, seven people have died.
  • Florida and Georgia — two states where leaders have faced criticism for being slow to enact restrictions — both crossed the 1,000-case threshold over the weekend and continue to rise in cases at a rate of at least 20% each day. As of Tuesday afternoon, Florida recorded 1,324 cases and 17 deaths, while Georgia reported 1,026 cases and 32 fatalities.
  • Indiana went from a handful of cases about a week ago to 365 Tuesday afternoon.

Remember: To be sure, while these are notable recent spikes, the states with the consistently largest total number of cases are New York, Washington, and California. It’s just that in recent days, the rates of increase in Washington and California are not quite as high. Washington and California were also home to the nation’s earliest recorded outbreaks.

2:51 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Vatican continues activity after 4 positive cases of coronavirus

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

A woman,walks past the empty Saint Peter's square on Sunday, March 22, 2020 at the Vatican.
A woman,walks past the empty Saint Peter's square on Sunday, March 22, 2020 at the Vatican. Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

The Vatican has confirmed the first coronavirus infections in the city state.

The cases include one office staffer "and two museum employees,” Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"The four people had been placed in isolation as a precaution before they tested positive to the test and their isolation has lasted beyond 14 days. At the moment, they are either in care in Italian hospitals or in home isolation," he said.

Nevertheless, the Vatican has decided not to suspend its activities, instead limiting staff numbers and "encouraging remote work as much as possible," according to their press office.

2:48 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Owner of NBA and NHL teams apologizes and reverses pay cuts for staff

From CNN's David Close

Adam Hunger/AP/FILE
Adam Hunger/AP/FILE

The owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils is apologizing for initiating a 20% pay cut for salaried employees of the teams and is now reversing the decision.

Josh Harris, one of the founders of Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment group, says he got the employee pay-cut "wrong" — a move originally disclosed on Monday — and today is retracting it. 

Harris said in a statement today, "it’s clear that was the wrong decision...to our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong." Harris continued by saying all employees will be paid their full salaries. 

2:48 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

The US has more than 50,000 coronavirus cases

There are at least 50,076 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 646 people have died.

There have already been over 100 deaths reported today due to coronavirus, according to a tally by CNN.

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

 

2:37 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

US Treasury Secretary still optimistic there will be a stimulus package deal today

From CNN's Manu Raju, Ted Barrett and Kristin Wilson

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin moves from one meeting to another as he continues negotiations on a $2 trillion economic stimulus in response to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, March 24.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin moves from one meeting to another as he continues negotiations on a $2 trillion economic stimulus in response to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, March 24. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he still hopes to reach a Senate deal on a coronavirus stimulus plan today.

“I would just say we’re trying to finalize all the documents. Going through a lot of complicated issues and we’re making a lot of progress," he said as he went from one meeting to another moments ago.

“Again we’re trying to get a deal as quick as we get a deal. So, I hope it’s tonight. Absolutely. Still think we can get there," he said when asked if there would be a deal tonight. 

Where things stand now: Pressure has been intensifying for days on the Senate to pass a massive stimulus package to respond to the economic fallout of the coronavirus, but yesterday came and went without much action.

After four straight days of marathon negotiations, the Trump administration and senators again failed to secure an agreement on a roughly $2 trillion plan to provide a jolt to the economy and give aid to hard-hit workers and industries.

Leaders emerged from late-night meetings in the Capitol optimistic that a deal could be struck today.

2:32 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Canada's Trudeau says he may impose further border restrictions with US

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP
Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he and his officials will "shift our posture," if necessary, when it comes to stricter border controls with the United States. 

“We are braced for a broad range of scenarios, we have put contingency plans for next steps depending on what trajectory the virus takes in Canada or indeed around the world," said Trudeau during his daily news conference outside his Ottawa home where he remains in quarantine.

"We are looking at a broad range of things nothing is off the table but we will respond every step of the way with the necessary actions," he said.

Border states including Washington and New York have become Covid-19 hotspots and Canadian officials are becoming more concerned about community spread as hundreds of thousands of Canadians return to the country from the US and beyond.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it has tested more than 120,000 Canadians to date and there’s an almost equal mix of travel-related and community spread cases across the country. Canada now has at least 2,500 cases of the virus, with cases spiking by at least 25% Tuesday alone. Canada has reported 25 deaths.

2:34 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

New York City Fire Department says 51 members test positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Sonia Moghe

FDNY
FDNY

Fifty-one members of the New York City Fire Department have tested positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, according to department spokesperson Jim Long.

The members include firefighters, as well as emergency medical service personnel and other workers.

Long said five people have been hospitalized.

2:24 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

France will launch financial aid package to stem spread of coronavirus to developing nations

From Ya Chun Wang in Paris 

The French government will launch a new financial aid package in order to stem the spread of coronavirus to developing nations, with a particular focus on countries within Africa, France's Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tuesday. 

"We will mobilize a financial package of assistance to prevent the epidemic from spreading to regions or subcontinents, which today are not contaminated but tomorrow could be a new risk for us," Le Drian told lawmakers in the French National Assembly. 

"International cooperation and support must absolutely be given to the most vulnerable of the third-world countries, because they are going to need it very quickly," the Foreign Minister added, highlighting Africa as particular area of concern. 

2:24 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Sierra Leone declares 12-month state of "public health emergency"

From CNN’s Bukola Adebayo in Lagos

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio declared a 12-month state of “public health emergency” starting Tuesday in the West African nation to prevent the spread of coronavirus. It has yet to report a case.

Bio, in a televised address to the nation, expressed concerns about the rapid spread of the virus, warning that it could send Sierra Leone into “a state of emergency.”

The country was at the center of the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak that ended with more than 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths.

The President said the coronavirus pandemic poses “enormous” health and economic challenge to citizens and the country’s health facilities and it has become necessary for the government to take critical steps to protect its citizens. He offered no immediate details on what those steps would be during the address.

Bio did say the announcement is not a lockdown and warned against hoarding and hiking of goods and services in the country.

“This is not a lockdown and nobody must use this as an excuse to hoard goods, hike prices, or engage in acts of lawlessness. This public emergency is not meant to make the lives of Sierra Leoneans difficult or unbearable,” he said.

Bio said the government would deploy police and country’s security forces to ensure that citizens comply with public health directives in the country.

“We believe that the actions that we take as a government, will have an impact on the well-being of our beloved nation,” the President said.

Sierra Leone had banned overseas travel for public officials last week and prohibited gathering of more than 100 people as a precautionary measure against the virus.