March 24 coronavirus news

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1:46 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Trump wants country "opened up and just raring to go by Easter"

President Donald Trump speaks with Fox News Channel Anchor Bill Hemmer during a Fox News Channel virtual town hall, at the White House, Tuesday, March 24.
President Donald Trump speaks with Fox News Channel Anchor Bill Hemmer during a Fox News Channel virtual town hall, at the White House, Tuesday, March 24. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump said he wants the nation "opened up and just raring to go by Easter," a date just over two weeks away that few health experts believe will be sufficient in containing the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking during a Fox News town hall, Trump reiterated he was eager to see the nation return to normal, even as doctors warn the nation will see a massive spike in cases if Americans return to crowded workplaces or events.

"I give it two weeks," Trump said earlier in the town hall, suggesting he was ready to phase out his 15-day self-isolating guidelines when they expire. "I guess by Monday or Tuesday, it's about two weeks. We will assess at that time and give it more time if we need a little more time. We have to open this country up."

Despite announcing the new guidelines under the banner "The President's Coronavirus Guidelines for America," Trump seemed to distance himself from the practices during the town hall.

"Somehow, the word got out that this is the thing we are supposed to be doing," he said, noting the country had "never done a thing like this before." 

"But we had to do it. It's been very painful for our country and very destabilizing," he said.

As his advisers prepare options for returning the country to work, Trump suggested that Americans would still be able to exercise good health practices while still returning to normal.

"We have to go back to work much sooner than people thought. People can go back to work and they can also pass it on my practice good judgment," he said.

Trump again compared coronavirus to the flu and auto accidents, despite warnings from his health advisers that such analogies make little sense.

"We lose thousands and thousands of people to the flu. We don’t turn the country off," he said, adding: "We lose much more than that to automobile accidents."

Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci said comparing coronavirus to auto accidents was a "false equivalency" and said it was important to "face the fact" that coronavirus is more lethal than the flu.

1:45 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

UK government launches volunteer program to support health care workers

The UK government has launched a new volunteer program to support the country's National Health Service (NHS) and medical professionals on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced Tuesday during a news briefing at Downing Street. 

"The NHS Volunteer Responders is a new scheme set up so that people can come and help to make sure the NHS, and local services that are needed, get all the support they need," Hancock said. 

"We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers —people in the good health — for shopping and for the delivery of medicines," the Health Secretary added. 

Following an earlier call by the government for retired healthcare professionals to return to the NHS, Hancock confirmed that more than 10,000 people have so far responded and agreed to rejoin the health service. 

1:39 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

GOP senators urge Trump to listen to medical professionals before reopening economy

Republican senators told CNN that President Trump should listen to medical professionals before opening up economy.

Here's what they're saying:

  • Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst: “I think we need to be very cautious about that I want to make sure that we are putting the safety health and well-beings of Iowans, Americans, first. I think we do need to follow CDC guidelines and watch what our experts are saying. I would love to see the economy up and going as soon as possible, but lets make sure we’re taking care of people first.”
  • Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer: “I believe that we should be following the advice of medical professionals, we are able to see some help in the future I think this net week is going to be tough, hopefully I will be back in my state, we have 60 or I think 62 cases right now, I anticipate that is going to continue to grow, and we should be listening to medical professionals.”
1:35 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

What athletes are saying about the postponement of Tokyo Games

Athletes from around the world reacted Tuesday with a mixture of relief, sadness and goodwill to the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Olympics have never been delayed in their 124-year modern history, though they were canceled altogether in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during World War I and World War II.

Here's how athletes are reacting:

  • Eliud Kipchoge, an Olympic marathon champion, tweeted praise for the “wise decision” to postpone the Games until 2021, adding that he looked forward “to come back to Japan to defend my Olympic title next year and witness a wonderful event.”
  • Lilly King, USA's double Olympic swimming Gold medallist from Rio 2016, opted for a short and simple message, writing on Instagram: “Just one more year to get better #Tokyo2020.”
  • Thomas Roehler, Germany's javelin gold medallist from the 2016 Olympic Games, also opted for brevity writing on Instagram: “Dreams are not cancelled, just postponed.”
  • Teddy Riner, a double Olympic super-heavyweight judo champion, offered an upbeat tone on Instagram writing: “See you in 2021, Tokyo. First, we have a more important fight to win," referring to stopping the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Elia Viviani, Italy's Olympic track cycling champion, agreed with the decision to postpone the Games, tweeting: “Today we are all struggling with a much bigger problem and although August still seems far away, the security for such a big event was very difficult. See you in 2021!”
  • Dina Asher Smith, Britain's 200m World champion, didn’t let the news dampen her spirits as she wrote on Instagram: “Same (Fire emoji), new dates. Stay at home and stay safe everyone.”
  • Katarina Johnson-Thompson, 2019 World Champion heptathlete, put the decision into perspective, tweeting: “Waited eight years for this, what's another one in the grand scheme of things? As an athlete, it's heartbreaking news about the Olympics being postponed until 2021, but it's for all the right reasons and the safety of everyone! Stay indoors!”
  • Dafne Schippers, a 2016 Olympic Games 200m Silver medallist, wrote on Instagram to say she was looking forward to competing in Tokyo this summer but "for now we have to look at the bigger picture and do whatever it takes to beat the Coronavirus.”

 

1:38 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Pence announces 4,000 ventilators will be shipped to New York

President Donald Trump speaks with Vice President Mike Pence as they arrive for a Fox News Channel virtual town hall, at the White House, Tuesday, March 24.
President Donald Trump speaks with Vice President Mike Pence as they arrive for a Fox News Channel virtual town hall, at the White House, Tuesday, March 24. Evan Vucci/AP

Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency shipped 2,000 ventilators from the national stockpile to New York state earlier Tuesday with another shipment of 2,000 ventilators expected Wednesday.

“I was so pleased to confirm that earlier today, FEMA, from the national stockpile, shipped 2,000 ventilators to the state of New York. And tomorrow, there will be another 2,000 ventilators shipped from the national stockpile,” Pence said during a Fox News town hall.

Pence said earlier during the town hall that the national stockpile “has some 20,000 ventilators,” and that the hardest-hit American communities had been prioritized. 

What this is about: At a news conference today, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the state has procured 7,000 ventilators but needs an additional 30,000 for coronavirus treatment.

1:31 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Trump says he "canceled" coronavirus deal with Congress last night

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump said during Tuesday’s virtual town hall on Fox News that he “canceled” a stimulus deal with Democrats last night.

“I canceled the deal last night. I said I’m not going to sign that deal because (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi came in and put a lot of things in the deal that had nothing to do with the workers, that had to do with an agenda that they’ve been trying to get passed for 10 years,” Trump said in the Rose Garden of the White House. “I told … a lot of people there’s no way I’m signing that deal.”

The President said Republican Sens. John Kennedy, Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham also spoke to him to advise him not to get onboard with the deal.

“All of the sudden they start throwing all of the little Green New Deal stuff in,” Trump said of Democrats’ additions to the stimulus proposal. He said they wanted assurances on what board rooms would look like, on green energy, windmills and oil.

More context: After another marathon day of negotiations, Congress failed to make a deal Monday to pass a massive stimulus package to respond to the economic fallout of the coronavirus. But leaders emerged from late-night meetings in the Capitol optimistic that a deal could be struck Tuesday despite tweets from Trump trashing the deal and baselessly accusing Democrats of siding with "the virus."

Throughout the day today, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — including Senate leadership — have said that they are close on making a deal.

1:22 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

GOP senator says Republicans are "feeling good" about the coronavirus bill

Carolyn Kaster/AP/FILE
Carolyn Kaster/AP/FILE

The key Senate GOP negotiators on the economic stimulus bill to respond to coronavirus were summoned about an ago hour to the Strom Thurmond Room, near Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office to “get a full update” about the emerging agreement, according to Sen. Marco Rubio. 

“My understanding from the other negotiators is they are all feeling good about how it's turning out. The most important thing is that we do something today,” said Rubio, who chairs the Small Business Committee and played a key role shaping the small business components of the bill. “Today has to be the day we to deliver something. We really do. The country can't afford another day like yesterday this meeting to close the deal.”

An aide to another participant said the briefing was called by McConnell. 

It could not be immediately determined from aides if the White House negotiating team was in the room but they were spotted entering McConnell’s office which leads to the Strom Thurmond Room. 

Asked if this meeting was called to close the deal, Rubio replied: “They haven’t told us that but I don’t know why else we would be meeting. “

1:15 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Italy coronavirus death toll rises by 743 in last day

Italy has reported an increase in deaths of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.

Another 743 people have died as a result of coronavirus. That is an increase from Monday, which had been the second day of a downward trend. 

At least 6,820 people have died in Italy so far. There are at least 69,176 confirmed case of coronavirus in the country.

1:22 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

US has potential to be next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, WHO spokesperson says

As coronavirus cases continue to rise in the United States, the nation has "potential" to become the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Margaret Harris, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, said during a call with reporters on Tuesday. 

Harris was asked directly: "Do you see the United States going on to become the epicenter of this outbreak, overtaking Europe?"

In response Harris said, "We are now seeing a very large acceleration in the numbers of cases from the United States — so it does have that potential. We cannot say that that is the case yet, but it does have that potential."

Earlier in the call, Harris said that the majority of the world's latest Covid-19 cases have been in European countries and the United States.

"The main drivers of the outbreak remain Europe, but also the US. So 85% of cases that have been reported in the last 24 hours have come from the European region and the US," Harris said on Tuesday. 

"A lot of countries are now taking very strong measures to distance people, to really quarantine entire societies, and these have been shown to be an important way of slowing down this spread of the virus and buying some time," Harris said. "But to defeat the virus, to stop it, countries also need very aggressive targeted tactics, testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every person known to be ill and also tracing and quarantining and finding every close contact."

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