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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8:52 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

At least 82,079 coronavirus cases in the US, 1,195 deaths

From CNN's Chuck Johnston

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

According to CNN Health’s tally of US cases, there are at least 82,079 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States. Some 1,195 people have died.

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

8:51 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Will there be relief for independent contractors under stimulus package?

Your questions, answered

The $2 billion stimulus bill does include financial relief for independent contractors, according to CNN's Richard Quest.

Quest discussed the details of the stimulus package Thursday night during CNN's coronavirus town hall. The discussion was prompted by a question from viewer Cheryl O'Brien.

"Yes, in general, during the period individuals who operate under a sole partnership or as an independent contractor shall be eligible for a covered loan. Now, it’s not a grant, it’s a loan. From what I’ve been hearing, people trying to get in touch with authorities, it’s a lot of bureaucracy getting through. But yes, Cheryl, sole proprietors and independent contractors are covered as if they were employees," Quest said.
9:18 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

The economy should be recovered and running by next year, says CNN business editor


The US economy and markets worldwide have been slammed by the coronavirus pandemic, with people halting work, businesses closing, and certain industries like aviation and food service hit particularly hard.

The economy is in recession— but it's temporary, and will recover, said CNN anchor and business editor Richard Quest on CNN's ongoing town hall.

In 2008, the national recession lasted all four quarters — "but we don't expect anything like that this time round for the simple reason that the economy has been artificially stopped and it will be started up again hopefully in the second quarter at some point," Quest said. "By Q3, you should be seeing a recovery."

He warned that tens of thousands of businesses may fail in the coming quarters — but recovery will return.

"But for most people in work, when their companies restart, they will be taken back in again. The economy will get back up and running again. I think by next year, by the beginning of next year, you'll be looking at good growth," he said.
9:16 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

We don't have enough data and don't know when this pandemic will end, warns top health expert

D Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, joined CNN's town hall tonight to address the coronavirus pandemic.

He also answered questions from viewers concerned about the outbreak.

Here are some of those questions and his responses:

Q: Why is the President suggesting a pullback when numbers are rising so rapidly?

"I think what the President was trying to do, he was making an aspirational projection to give people some hope," Fauci said.
"When you have a situation when the cases today compared to tomorrow is increased dramatically and then the next day is increased dramatically, that's no time to pull back. That's when you have to hunker down, nail down, mitigate, mitigate, mitigate, get the people taken care of."

Q: At what point will we have a better idea of a timeline for the US?

We have a lot more information now than just a few weeks ago, said Fauci — but there's still one thing that makes it difficult to tell where the pandemic will go and how long it will last in the US.
This is the relative percentage of asymptomatic infection — and it "influences everything," Fauci said. It influences transmission, contact tracing, and the measures that the authorities need to take. That's why the most important thing to do now is to conduct widespread testing and collect more data.
The contact tracing and testing we're doing isn't enough at the moment, he warned. "It needs to be ratcheted up ... we've got to do it better than we are now."


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

Spain transforms ice skating rink into state-run morgue to help with rise in coronavirus deaths

Manu Fernandez/AP
Manu Fernandez/AP

Spain reached a grim milestone this week with more than 4,000 coronavirus-related deaths reported. This spike has resulted in the country transforming an ice skating rink into a makeshift morgue to help relieve the pressure on hospitals and medical facilities, according to CNN's Scott McLean.

McLean shared this insight during CNN's coronavirus town hall Thursday evening.

"The reason that this ice rink started to be used in the first place is because the city state-run funeral service stopped picking up the bodies of coronavirus patients because they said they didn’t have enough protective equipment," McLean said.
"Now the issue is more that there simply isn’t enough space in the city morgues to store all of these bodies given the backlog of bodies waiting to be buried or cremated so they have to come somewhere, and obviously this ice rink is a suitable place for them. The problem is particularly acute here, because more than half of all the coronavirus deaths in this country have been here in Madrid."

Over the past 24 hours, McLean said Spain has reported 650 deaths. That brings the total to more than 4,300, according to the Johns Hopkins tally.

8:27 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

What the pandemic looks like in mainland China

Getty Images
Getty Images

The pandemic began in mainland China last December — but now, the country is seeing close to zero new local transmissions each day, as the situation worsens elsewhere around the world.

The country is beginning to lift travel restrictions and strict lockdowns that have been in place for months — but people are still cautious.

"As you start to ease restrictions ... you're going to have people moving around starting to resume life," said CNN's International Correspondent David Culver.

"Will that cause numbers to go back up? It is something they're mindful of here. Even the residents we've spoken with have quite frankly told us as soon as the gates open, so to speak, they are in no rush to get out of their homes after 70-plus days of lockdown."

As the pandemic hits the US and Europe particularly hard, there are also rising fears in China of a second wave of imported cases from overseas, similar to the one being seen in Hong Kong.

"That's why they have now essentially banned all foreign travelers into mainland China," Culver said. "You go back a few weeks, it was the rest of the world that was really concerned with travelers coming from China. Now it's China really worried about travelers coming from every other country."

8:14 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Venezuela announces first death from coronavirus

From journalist Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota, Colombia

Venezuela has confirmed the first death due to novel coronavirus in the country, according to a televised statement by Vice President Delcy Rodriguez on Thursday.

The victim was a 47-year-old male that passed in the northern state of Aragua, Rodriguez said.

Venezuela has confirmed 107 cases of coronavirus. Neighboring Colombia has 491 cases and six deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The worst outbreak in South America is in Brazil, which has confirmed 2,985 cases and 77 deaths.

8:13 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Lawmakers are returning to Washington D.C. tomorrow in anticipation of a Friday stimulus package vote

From CNN's Manu Raju

Many members of the US House of Congress are scrambling to book flights and return to Washington amid concerns that they could be forced to show up in person and vote on the stimulus, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

The fear is that one member could prevent the House from approving the bill by voice vote, forcing them instead to cast a roll-call vote in person. That has angered many members worried about traveling during the public health emergency.

On a conference call with Democratic members today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that if they are unable to pass the bill by voice vote Friday, then they would have a roll call vote Friday on final passage, according to three sources on the call.

Several members told CNN there was ample confusion since House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer previously indicated to members that any roll-call vote would occur Saturday instead.

That means members who want to cast a vote on the historic measure need to show up tomorrow to have their position recorded.

On Capitol Hill, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie is viewed as the most likely member to try to force the vote, after indicating publicly his reservations for letting the bill pass by voice. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CNN Wednesday she might force a recorded vote, but Democrats don’t believe she will.

Neither Massie nor Ocasio-Cortez responded to requests for comment Thursday.

8:04 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

At least 24 states reported over 100 new cases today

From CNN's Chuck Johnston

Mary Altaffer/AP
Mary Altaffer/AP

At least 24 states reported over 100 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, as the US overtook China and Italy to have more confirmed infections than anywhere else in the world.

The worst outbreak continues to be in New York, which reported at least 6,447 new cases. That was followed by New Jersey, with 2,492, and Washington state with 627 new cases. Illinois confirmed 673 new cases, Massachusetts 579, and Michigan 561.

Full list of states reporting over 100 cases today:

  • New York 6,447
  • New Jersey 2,492
  • Washington 627
  • Illinois 673
  • Massachusetts 579
  • Michigan 561
  • Pennsylvania 560
  • Louisiana 510
  • California 471
  • Texas 422
  • Florida 378
  • Colorado 344
  • Tennessee 173
  • Indiana 168
  • Ohio 163
  • Maryland 157
  • Missouri 146
  • Georgia 138
  • Connecticut 137
  • North Carolina 132
  • Wisconsin 122
  • Alabama 120
  • Mississippi 108
  • Arizona 107