March 26 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Emma Reynolds and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 10:52 PM ET, Thu March 26, 2020
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7:42 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

US now has most reported coronavirus cases in the world

From CNN's Chuck Johnston

David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP
David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

The United States now has more coronavirus cases reported than any other country in the world. 

According to CNN reporting, there are now at least 81,836 coronavirus cases reported in the United States.

China is currently reporting 81,782 cases, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University.

Italy is third globally in total reported coronavirus cases with 80,589 cases.

These numbers are changing constantly. Both the totals and the rank order of countries could change at any time.

The US, Italy and China will vary on the per-capita rate of cases due to their vast differences in population.  

7:10 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

American Airlines calls economic stimulus bill "much-needed relief"

From CNN's Kate Trafecante

Matt York/AP
Matt York/AP

American Airlines calls the new economic stimulus bill "much-needed relief" for the company as the airline deals with a drop in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to employees obtained by CNN, CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom say the legislation "will provide additional stability for our team members ― the heart of our company — as we continue to weather this storm."

The airline industry is seeking $50 billion in federal help as it fights for survival during a stunning decline in worldwide travel. 

American says it's cutting costs as demand dries up, and that includes pay cuts for executives. Starting in April, Isom and other senior officers will forgo 50% of their pay.  

Parker, who is paid entirely in stock, has seen a nearly 50% pay cut, according to the company.

American Airline's stock is down more than 44% this year.

6:58 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Number of patients on ventilators "more than doubled" in past three days, NYC doctor says

From CNN's Sonia Moghe

Dr. Craig Smith, chair of the department of surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, said the number of patients on ventilators at his hospital “more than doubled” in the past three days.

“We have not exhausted our existing supply of ventilators but if we keep doubling every three days, we might,” Smith wrote.

Smith said the increase is placing pressure on ICU capacity, and that operating rooms have been converted to ICUs, and an entire 36-bed floor has been renovated to be converted to ICU space.

Smith said a call went out yesterday for doctors to volunteer to staff ICUs and within a few hours, 20 surgeons volunteered.

7:06 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Montana governor issues stay-at-home order

From CNN's Andy Rose

Patrick Semansky/AP
Patrick Semansky/AP

Montana is the latest state to order all of its citizens to stay home except for essential work and limited outdoor activities. 

The order goes into effect on March 28.

"With 90 cases in our state today... we have to do more to curtail the spread of this virus," Gov. Steve Bullock said at a news conference Thursday to announce his emergency order.

“I'd rather be accused of overreacting than to have our health care system overwhelmed,” Bullock added at the briefing in Helena. “In order to have a healthy economy, we need to have a health population.”

7:05 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Chicago and Detroit could be new coronavirus hotspots, public health expert says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Jason Hoffman 

Paul Sancya/AP
Paul Sancya/AP

Chicago and Detroit are demonstrating a concerning spread of coronavirus, Dr. Deborah Birx said at Thursday’s White House briefing.

“We are concerned about certain counties” that have seen increased spreading of the virus, Birx said, naming Wayne County, Michigan, (home to Detroit) and Cook County, Illinois, (home of Chicago) as examples.

She said those locations were showing a “more rapid increase” of spread.

Forty percent of the country has “extraordinarily low rates” of coronavirus, Birx said. And 55% of all cases are in the New York and New Jersey area, she said. 

Birx also noted that 19 states currently have fewer than 200 cases, noting those states have been conducting tests, and that the low numbers are not because those states have not been testing. 

“There is no reality on the ground that 60-70% of Americans will get infected in the next 8-12 weeks," Birx said.

Despite multiple daily reports of shortages of supplies like personal protective equipment and the growing need for ventilators at hospitals nationwide, Birx insisted that most areas will have access to hospital beds or ventilators if they need them. 

“To say that to the American people to make the implication that when they need a hospital bed it’s not going to be there, or when they need that ventilator it’s not going to be there, we don't have an evidence of that right now," Birx said. “And it's our job collectively to assure the American people of that. It’s our collective job to make sure that doesn't happen.”
6:50 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Trump says he doesn't "know" what steps are being taken to stop hate crimes against Asian Americans

From CNN's Allie Malloy and Maegan Vazquez 

President Trump, when asked what steps he is taking to stop hate crimes against Asian Americans, said he didn’t “know” and added that “all I know is Asian Americans are doing fantastically well.” 

“I don’t know,” Trump initially said when asked what steps he was taking but added that his tweet earlier in the week “was a very important tweet to me, and I didn’t like some things I was hearing.” 

“To me, Asian Americans are a great part of our country,” Trump said Thursday in the briefing room.

Trump also said of Asian Americans; “I’m very close to them. They’re doing fantastically well. I think they appreciate the job we’re doing."

On Tuesday, Trump said that he had decided to pull back from associating the novel coronavirus with China, which he had previously done by calling it the "China virus" or the "Chinese virus."

"Look, everyone knows it came out of China, but I decided we shouldn't make any more of a big deal out of it," Trump told Fox News. "I think I've made a big deal. I think people understand it." 

The President said he didn't regret using the terms to describe the virus and defended his past adoption of the terms by referencing other infectious diseases that are named after where they originate.

"It came from China," he said. 

When the virus was officially named, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that "having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing."

Separately, Trump said he would be speaking with China's President Xi Jinping Thursday evening. 

6:38 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Trump says he's open to pushing cruise line owners to register in the US in order to get economic relief

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

President Trump warmed up to the concept of having cruise companies register in the US and pay US taxes in order to receive relief from the federal government for the economic impact of the novel coronavirus. 

Many cruise lines are incorporated overseas, meaning the lines can avoid many US federal taxes, and US labor laws. 

Royal Caribbean's global headquarters are in Miami but the corporation is incorporated in Liberia, while Carnival Cruise Lines is incorporated in Panama. Their ships also fly the flags of those countries meaning employees working on board can be paid far less than US minimum wages.

“I do like the concept of perhaps coming in and registering here, coming into the United States. You know it’s very difficult to make a loan to a company when they’re based in a different country,” Trump said Thursday in the White House briefing room, before adding that the industry employs a large number of Americans at domestic ports.

Trump said his administration would “maybe really look at that very seriously.”

6:33 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Trump says he will speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping tonight

From CNN's Sarah Westwood and Kevin Liptak 

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Donald Trump said he will speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday night about coronavirus.

He suggested the administration does not believe all the data coming out of China — despite his previous praise of how Xi has handled the outbreak.

Asked about projections that the US could overtake China in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, Trump said, “I think it’s a tribute to our testing.”

“Number one, you don’t know what the numbers are in China,” Trump said.

He added that he would be speaking to Xi later Thursday.

“I’m sure you’re not able to tell what China is testing or not testing,” he added. “I think that’s a little hard.”


7:09 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

US sees record number of coronavirus deaths today

From CNN's Chuck Johnston

At least 237 additional coronavirus deaths were recorded on Thursday across the United States, according to CNN's reporting.

This marks the deadliest day for reporting of US cases, according to CNN.

On Wednesday, there were 233 total death cases reported during the full day, CNN reported.

In total, there are at least 1,175 deaths from the coronavirus in the United States.