March 25 coronavirus news

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8:35 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Alaska Airlines cutting flight schedule by 70%

From CNN's Andy Rose

An Alaska Airlines Airbus 320 takes off from Los Angeles International Airport on February 6, 2020.
An Alaska Airlines Airbus 320 takes off from Los Angeles International Airport on February 6, 2020. Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images

Alaska Airlines – which is based in Seattle and primarily serves the Pacific Northwest – is announcing it will cut its flight schedule by 70% for at least the next two months.

In a statement, the company says demand for its flights has fallen by more than 80%, forcing dramatic reductions. 

Alaska Airlines says it is cutting contract and temporary jobs and suspending annual pay increases. The airline also is offering employees the opportunity to take a voluntarily leave of absence. Those who accept would not be paid a salary, but would keep their health and travel benefits.

Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden will forgo his pay through September 30, as will president Ben Minicucci, according to the airline. Additional pay cuts will be made in the executive ranks — all the way down to vice president level — and the board of directors will receive no pay. 

The moves are being made as the company actively lobbies the federal government to pass a relief package for the airline industry. 

“We are ultimately optimistic about the future of our great airline,” Tilden said in a statement. “But it is clear that we are and will be under severe financial pressure for the foreseeable future and that is why these actions are essential.”
8:11 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

US Army calls on medical retirees to help with coronavirus response

From CNN's Oliver Janney and Ryan Browne

The US Army has reached out to retired medical personnel to possibly volunteer to support the coronavirus response effort. 

In an email obtained by CNN, the Army called upon retired personnel on Wednesday looking for “voluntary recall of retired soldiers” with specific medical specialties. 

“We need to hear from you STAT!” the Army said.

The Army is asking for help from retired soldiers qualified in these specialties: “60F: Critical Care Officer; 60N: Anesthesiologist; 66F: Nurse Anesthetist; 66S: Critical Care Nurse; 66P: Nurse Practitioner; 66T: ER Nurse; 68V: Respiratory Specialist; 68W: Medic.”

A spokesperson for the Army said they’re “gauging the availability and capabilities of our retired career medical personnel to potentially assist with Covid-19 pandemic response efforts if needed.” 

The spokesperson made clear they do not want to interfere in any civilian medical needs, stating, “This information request will no way interfere with any care they may be providing to their communities, it is for future planning purposes only, and is completely voluntary."

“These extraordinary challenges require equally extraordinary solutions and that's why we're turning to you — trusted professionals capable of operating under constantly changing conditions. When the Nation called — you answered, and now, that call may come again," the email to retirees said.
8:37 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Marine who works inside Pentagon tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Barbara Starr

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday a Marine who works inside the building has tested positive for Covid-19.

A defense official said the last time the Marine, an officer, was in the Pentagon was March 13. He began self-isolation on March 15. He works in the plans, policy and operations office of Marine Corps headquarters.

This is the first military person based at the Pentagon to test positive.

“A marine stationed at the Pentagon tested positive for Covid-19 on March 24. Per U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines, the Marine is in isolation at his home and will undergo further assessment by health professionals," the Marines said in a statement. "The Marine followed official guidance by isolating himself when his spouse began to show symptoms. Once he became ill, he contacted his assigned medical facility. His workspace has been cleaned by a Pentagon response team and a thorough contact investigation is underway to mitigate risk and preserve the health of our Marines, civilians, and families.”

Separately, a staff who works in the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center is awaiting test results, a second defense official confirmed.

It's not immediately clear when the person was last in the command center and what part of that complex they work in.  

Defense One was first to report both cases.

8:00 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Boeing could receive billions from stimulus package

From CNN's Gregory Wallace and Phil Mattingly

Boeing, which recently asked lawmakers for a massive financial aid package to prop up its industry, could qualify for a special $17 billion slice of the proposed $2 trillion stimulus package.

It's not clear, however, whether the company would actually take the funds.

The aerospace giant is among the companies that would qualify for the government-backed loans reserved "for businesses critical to maintaining national security," and the only one that has made it clear that it needs the assistance.

The company is intricately linked to both the US government and the nation's economy. It is the country's largest exporter, is a major government contractor, and consistently ranks among the top 10 companies lobbying federal officials, with millions spent annually.

The company has also come under scrutiny from lawmakers and the Federal Aviation Administration after two fatal 737 MAX crashes killed 346 people and internal documents showed the company mocked and belittled its regulators. 

Some context: Boeing said last week that "a minimum of $60 billion" in public and private loans is necessary "to manage the pressure on the aviation sector and the economy as a whole."

It said it would share "much of any liquidity support to Boeing" with its vast network of suppliers.

7:45 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Pelosi is already thinking about a fourth coronavirus relief package, sources say

From CNN's Manu Raju 

On a series of conference calls with House Democrats today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear she is already thinking about the substance of the fourth coronavirus relief package that Congress will have to pass to respond to the crisis, according to sources on the calls.

She is making clear to her members who are disappointed that the pending stimulus bill did not include enough of their priorities that they will have a chance to add those provisions in the fourth package, the source said. 

The comments come as Pelosi told CNN tonight that she does not think the current $2 trillion stimulus bill will help keep the economy afloat beyond a few months.

"I don't think we have enough to go the three months," she told CNN.

7:45 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

New York City hospital sets up makeshift morgues to prepare for coronavirus deaths

From CNN’s Brynn Gingras, Elizabeth Joseph, Priscilla Alvarez and Mark Morales

Workers and military personnel build a makeshift morgue outside of Bellevue Hospital on March 25
Workers and military personnel build a makeshift morgue outside of Bellevue Hospital on March 25 Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

At New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, a makeshift morgue including tents and refrigerated trucks is being set up in preparation for what may be a surge in the need for autopsies.

"We're in a public health crisis, and the city has declared a state of emergency. As part of that declaration, agencies like OCME have enacted emergency contingency plans to help prepare for every possible outcome,” New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said in a statement to CNN.

A similar plan was utilized after September 11 attacks. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has a request from New York and other states for assistance in mortuary operations. 

“FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) has received requests for HHS Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORT) from the States of Hawaii, New York, and North Carolina. These requests are currently in the review and approval process,” a FEMA spokesperson told CNN. 

New York City has longstanding contracts with companies to also provide refrigerated trucks to store bodies, but that plan has not been put in to effect just yet. If and when it is, those trucks would likely be stationed at various locations including makeshift hospitals such as the Javits Center.

CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield contributed to this report.

8:35 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it's important to "recognize the good" in the stimulus package

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democrats that it's important to "recognize the good" in the $2 trillion stimulus package that's aimed at providing a jolt to an economy struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation, if it passes Congress, would be the largest emergency aid package in US history. Pelosi appeared on Wednesday to be sending a message to progressives in her caucus who are criticizing the bill.

"What is important is for us to recognize the good that is in the bill, appreciate it for what it does. Don't judge it for what it doesn't because we have more bills to come," the California Democrat told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room."

"At the start of all this we had two bills, which were about emergencies ... and the emergency isn't over, but the focus was on those two bills. Now we're mitigating for the damage of it all to the health and to the livelihood of the American people. That is in this bill. And then we will go forward for recovery. Emergency, mitigation, recovery," she said.

Watch:

8:26 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

US hotels were mostly empty last week, new data shows

From CNN's Aaron Cooper

Alex Menendez/Getty Images
Alex Menendez/Getty Images

New data shows nearly 70% of the hotel rooms in the United States were vacant last week, according to data and analytics group STR. 

That national occupancy rate is a 56% decline from the same week last year. The average occupied room cost is about $93, also down from last year. 

The San Francisco area and New York recorded the worst declines, with less than 17% of hotel rooms in both cities occupied, according to STR. That represents an 80% decrease from this time last year.

Many hotels across the country have closed entirely. One example, The Boston Harbor Hotel, a luxury property in downtown Boston, closed last Saturday, according to its website, and hopes to reopen May 18.

8:29 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

The future of Wimbledon tennis tournament remains in question

From CNN's Jill Martin

An aerial photograph of the No.1 court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
An aerial photograph of the No.1 court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. David Goddard/Getty Images

An emergency meeting of the All England Lawn Tennis Club Main Board (AELTC) is scheduled for next week to discuss the future of Wimbledon, the group announced in a statement on Wednesday.

Playing the event behind closed doors has been ruled out, and “postponement is not without significant risk and difficulty” because of the grass surface used, according to the statement.

Wimbledon is current scheduled to begin June 29.