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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3:54 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Schumer says he believes stimulus package will include $150 billion for states and $130 billion for hospitals

From CNN's Phil Mattingly 

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

On a conference call with his caucus this afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed confidence to fellow Democrats that he had secured $150 billion for state and local stimulus fund and 130 billion dollars for hospitals, according a person familiar with the call.

More context: The Senate has been locked in long negotiations over the past couple days over a stimulus package that could cost in the ballpark of $2 trillion. Throughout the day, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle — as well as White House officials — have said they believe they're close to making a deal.

3:20 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

South Carolina schools will stay closed through April

From CNN's Stephanie Gallman

School in South Carolina will remain closed for the duration of the month of April, according to a joint statement released by Gov. Henry McMaster and Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. 

“Our dedicated teachers and school administrators have done a tremendous job in making it possible for our students to learn at home. We understand that the prospect of schools remaining closed for an extended period of time places stress and strain on parents and children. Rest assured, if there is any way to safely open our schools earlier, we will do that, but schools must remain closed to protect the health and safety of South Carolinians,” they said in the statement. 

The closure applies to K-12 schools as well as public colleges, universities and technical colleges. 

3:19 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Pentagon orders all elective surgeries and dental procedures postponed at military facilities

From CNN's Ryan Browne

The Pentagon has issued a memo to “immediately postpone all elective surgeries, invasive procedures and dental procedures” in order to free up medical facilities and equipment as it responds to the coronavirus outbreak.

“This action aligns with actions being taken across the nation to conserve vital healthcare resources during this public health emergency, to include bed space, personal protective equipment, supplies and medical personnel,” the memo said.

The order becomes effective on March 31 and is scheduled to last 60 days.

Procedures and surgeries designed to maintain deployability of active duty troops will be allowed to continue.

3:16 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

UK armed forces will deliver essential medical and personal protective equipment to health facilities 

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in London 

The British Armed Forces will begin delivering and distributing essential medical and personal protective equipment to National Health Service (NHS) facilities.

They have already delivered some 50,000 face masks to London's St Thomas' Hospital on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said in a statement.

"What you’ve seen today is a British Army convoy delivering Personal Protective Equipment right to the frontline of the nation’s response to the Coronavirus challenge. But this is more than just delivering masks — this is a demonstration the British Army is standing side by side with the NHS," Brigadier Phil Prosser said Tuesday. 

According to the MOD, a two-truck convoy arrived at the hospital early in the morning to deliver the masks after driving overnight from an army depot in Merseyside, some 200 miles away. 

“My normal role is to deliver combat supplies to combat forces in time of war — but we can respond to these challenges and it’s great to stand with our NHS colleagues as we get ready for the challenges ahead...there are some tough times ahead and the nation needs to rise together to respond to those times," Prosser added. 

In its statement, the MOD confirmed that military planners are currently advising the NHS on "logistical measures to ensure vital equipment gets to where it’s most needed," adding that the Army's Logistical Brigade Command has deployed planning staff to help develop a plan for "possible long-term commercial solutions" and further support. 

"More than 460 personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force will be ready to deliver the equipment to NHS facilities around England, while further personnel will deploy to a PPE warehouse to prepare the equipment for dispatch," the MOD said. 

"Personnel will deliver items to 242 NHS locations to help them cope with rising demands for equipment in response to the coronavirus outbreak," the statement added. 

3:15 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

More than 13% of Spanish coronavirus cases are health care workers

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Medical workers in Spain account for 13.6% of its total coronavirus cases, according to Fernando Simón, director of the Spanish Coordinating Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies at Spain’s Ministry of Health.

Health care workers account for 5,400 of the country’s 39,673 total cases, he said on Tuesday.

3:19 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Joe Biden: Trump should "stop talking and start listening to the medical experts"


Former Vice President and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said President Trump should "stop talking and start listening to the medical experts."

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

"Look, we all want the economy to open as rapidly as possible. The way to do that is let's take care of the medical side of this immediately," Biden said.

Biden said Trump is "not responsible for the coronavirus" but added the President is "responsible for the delay in taking the actions that need to be taken."


3:12 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

3 sailors aboard aircraft carrier test positive for coronavirus while at sea for 15 days

From CNN's Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne

The USS Theodore Roosevelt anchors off the coast of Gosport, England on March 23, 2015.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt anchors off the coast of Gosport, England on March 23, 2015. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/FILE

Three sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for coronavirus and have been flown to a military medical facility for treatment, the acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said Tuesday.

“Three cases of COVID19 have been identified among personnel currently deployed and underway on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, these are our first three cases of COVID19 on a ship that is deployed,“ Modly said.

“We’ve identified all those folks that they’ve had contact with and we are quantifying they as well,” he added.

It is the first reported case of coronavirus aboard a US Navy ship while it was at sea.

The carrier was last in port 15 days ago as part of a port visit to Vietnam. However, Navy officials would not say if the sailors were exposed to coronavirus while there, noting that multiple aircraft had flown to the carrier in the intervening period.

There are approximately 5,000 personnel on board the carrier.

3:05 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Georgia Republican urges Trump administration to temporarily ban exports of coronavirus medical supplies

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

A Georgia congressman is urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to temporarily ban exports of medical supplies related to coronavirus over concerns that private companies will send supplies to foreign countries instead of states seeking the same equipment. 

GOP Rep. Doug Collins sent a letter to Pompeo Tuesday saying that he has heard from state health officials that they are having trouble obtaining equipment because US companies are receiving an influx of European orders.

“I was informed by Northeast Georgia Health System that it faced uncertainty in the fulfillment of its recent purchase of high-speed testing equipment from a domestic company that is refusing any new customers because of a surge in orders from Europe,” Collins wrote in the letter, which was obtained by CNN. 

Collins, who is running for Senate against fellow Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, said he wanted the US government to “provide clear guidance that all production of necessary medical supplies must first be sent to purchasers in the United States until domestic demand has been satisfied,” adding that other countries have imposed limits on exports of medical supplies, too.

State officials across the country have warned about the difficulty of obtaining medical supplies, such as masks, gowns and ventilators, saying they are having to compete with other states, the federal government and foreign countries for orders. Several state officials, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have pressed President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to obtain the supplies that states need.

3:01 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to sell Democratic members on the Senate coronavirus bill

From CNN's Manu Raju

US Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi delivers a statement at the U.S. Capitol, Monday, March 23.
US Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi delivers a statement at the U.S. Capitol, Monday, March 23. Alex Wong/Getty Images)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team are trying to sell their caucus on the Senate plan, arguing it is a much improved version of earlier proposals even as some on the left gripe about reports of the emerging deal.

According to sources on an ongoing conference call with the House Democratic Caucus, Pelosi told her caucus the bill is an improvement from a few days ago, contending it has moved in a positive direction.

On the call, she argued that $500 billion fund for distressed industries, for instance, will now be overseen by a five-person panel, one of the sources said. This is a key point of contention within the House Democratic Caucus, even prompting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to tweet her concerns about the emerging deal earlier this afternoon. 

Pelosi said the bill is a "big advance," but contended it was "not everything we want," according to the source. 

Winning over the caucus is important because any member — Republican or Democrat — could object and demand House members return to Washington to vote in person if lawmakers don't cooperate and allow the vote to occur by unanimous consent or voice vote.

Also, on the call, Pelosi pointed that there would be $150 billion in funds for state and local governments and $130 billion for hospitals. She also said that Republicans would not agree to a 15% increase for food stamps and other nutritional programs, nor would they provide the money Democrats demanded to encourage states to adopt vote-by-mail programs.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, on the call, said there would be additional economic relief legislation as well — potentially two more.