March 24 coronavirus news

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9:28 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

US sees deadliest day with 160 deaths

There are at least 52,976 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States and 704 people have died, according to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the US through public health systems.

There have already been 163 deaths reported today, according to a tally by CNN, making this the deadliest day in the US since the coronavirus pandemic began.

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

This post was updated to reflect the most recent figures.

9:05 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Nevada governor prohibits public gatherings of 10 or more people

Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun/AP/File
Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun/AP/File

A new emergency order from Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak prohibits people from gathering in groups of 10 or more due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Social distancing is our number one defense to defeat this virus,” Sisolak said in a Tuesday evening press conference.

The order does not apply to private homes or essential services. 

It comes as Sisolak says the state is still struggling to determine how many people have been affected by Covid-19. 

"Nevada has submitted four requests for Covid-19 testing components,” the governor said. “We have received zero shipments for Covid-19 testing components.”

8:49 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

FEMA obtains test kits from private market

Patrick Semansky/AP/File
Patrick Semansky/AP/File

Hours after Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Pete Gaynor told CNN the administration will start wielding the powers in the Defense Production Act for 60,000 tests kits and "use the allocation portion of the DPA,” FEMA press secretary Lizzie Litzow said the agency was able to procure the kits from the private market.

"At the last minute we were able to procure the test kits from the private market without evoking the DPA,” Litzow said in a statement Monday evening.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump and Gaynor contradicted each other on whether the Defense Production Act was being used in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 8 a.m. Tuesday, Trump tweeted, "The Defense Production Act is in full force, but haven't had to use it because no one has said NO! Millions of masks coming as back up to States." 

Minutes later, Gaynor told CNN the administration was going to use the law.

"Just a little while ago my team came in and we're actually going to use the DPA for first time today," Gaynor said. In addition, FEMA will "insert some language into these mask contracts we have of 500 million masks," Gaynor said. "DPA language will be in that today."

Trump suggested at Tuesday’s afternoon briefing that his recent authorization of the DPA serves as enough “leverage” to compel companies to produce medical supplies without invoking the act to force them to start up production. 

 

8:33 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Nevada's primary election will be conducted entirely by mail

The Nevada primary scheduled for June 9 will go ahead as scheduled, but will be conducted only with absentee ballots, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske announced Tuesday evening. This decision does not affect the results of Nevada’s presidential caucus that took place in February. 

The state said all active registered voters will automatically receive a ballot in the mail. Voters can either mail in their ballot or drop it off at a designated location in each county. 

Every county will have at least one poll worker in at least one location to accommodate voters who registered too late to receive an absentee ballot. Mail-in ballots can be postmarked by Election Day, but must be received by election officials within the following seven days to be counted.

8:37 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

More than half of New Orleans' emergency medical workers are under quarantine, mayor says

More half of New Orleans' medical emergency services personnel is under quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city’s mayor told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Tuesday. 

With New Orleans hospitalizations expected to exceed their capacity in 11 days, according to the Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she is looking for the federal government’s major disaster declaration to get a long-awaited relief.

“We're looking for that declaration to be approved so that it can unlock the much needed resources that our first responders need on the ground. For example, my EMS department, over 50% of my people are now on quarantine. And so while we've unlocked additional resources at the state level, the state can no longer go on without federal assistance at this time,” Cantrell said.

There have been at least 375 cases of coronavirus and 26 deaths in New Orleans so far, the mayor said.

8:23 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Universal Orlando and Universal Hollywood resorts extend closures until April 19

Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images/File
Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images/File

Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Hollywood Resort announced Tuesday that they will extend their closures until April 19, according to both resorts’ websites. 

A Disney Global Parks and Consumer Products spokesperson told CNN that Disney has not officially announced any extension of closures at this time.

8:16 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Australia bans overseas travel and extends social restrictions

Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images
Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Australia banned overseas travel and extended social restrictions in order to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Tuesday.

The decision to ban overseas travel is aligned with Australia's upgraded "Level 4: do not travel" and comes under the Biosecurity Act of 2015, Morrison said.

"We will be living with this virus for at least six months" Morrison warned, stating further that, "The highest priority should be placed on social isolation measures." 

To that effect, the Australian prime minister unveiled stricter social distancing measures that include weddings with a maximum attendance of no more than five people and funerals with no more than 10 people, with one person per 4 square metre (or at least 6 feet apart).

Australia reported a jump of 429 new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus on Wednesday, taking the national tally to 2,252 cases of which eight have died, according to the country's Department of Health. 

7:56 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Chicago Police Department has 6 cases of coronavirus

Chicago Police Department has six confirmed Covid-19 cases, Supt. Charlie Beck announced Tuesday.

"Two of these cases came from the same facility. And two of the officers are hospitalized," he said.

"In order to keep officers safe, we have distributed over 12,000 protective gear kits to the district," Beck added

As for law enforcement since Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order last week, Beck said, "We have issued zero citations and zero arrests for violations of the health order. We have also seen significant evidence that Chicago is staying home."

Beck also said that 911 calls are down 30% this month. 

7:49 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Alabama NICU nurse tests positive for coronavirus. Now a baby is in isolation.

Courtesy Waltman Family
Courtesy Waltman Family

Brandon Waltman went to visit his newborn baby girl in the neonatal intensive care unit of an Alabama hospital Monday night. His daughter Emmarie Grace Waltman has been in NICU at the University of South Alabama Women’s Hospital for the past month, but last night, he was told she had been moved to a different part of the hospital.

Waltman said he was told Emmarie was taken to a different room because a nurse tested positive for coronavirus and is being isolated as a precaution. After watching the news about the spread of the virus over the last few weeks, Waltman said he wasn’t surprised.

“I felt like it was inevitable,” he told CNN. Born February 20, Emmarie was in the NICU for issues associated with feeding, her father said.

Now he and his wife can only visit Emmarie one at a time in a low pressure room in order to prevent any potential spread of coronavirus.

"It's rough. But today is about pushing so some of this doesn't happen again to her or God forbid anybody else," he told CNN

Gary Mans, an associate vice president for Marketing and Communications at USA Health, said in a statement that a staff member within the health system had tested positive, but declined to say in which department. 

Waltman said he is anxious to get his daughter home to Mississippi to quarantine together as a family, but he isn’t sure when Emmarie will be released. The family’s home is about an hour away from the hospital.

He said his daughter isn’t showing any symptoms of Covid-19 and he hopes it’ll stay that way.

“I don't think she's going to test positive,” he said. “She's one of the, probably the biggest and the healthiest babies in the NICU.”