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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10:54 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

India delays first phase of census because of coronavirus

From CNN's Akanksha Sharma

India, the world's second most populated country after China, is delaying the first phase of the national census as well as the National Population Register (NPR) due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed via an official Twitter account for Census of India 2021.

Both the first phase of census and the NPR were initially meant to be carried out from April 1 to September 30.

On Tuesday night, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi ordered a 21-day nationwide lockdown starting at midnight Wednesday. The Ministry of Home Affairs cited that lockdown and said both the first phase of census and NPR will be delayed until further notice

India conducts the census once every decade. The first census was in 1872, when India was under British rule.

The exercise is essentially a population headcount which serves as a primary source for a variety of statistics on the country's demography, literacy, migration, mortality, economy and culture.

The NPR has been a contentious. Back in 2018 its publication in India's northeast border state of Assam left the names of almost 4 million people off the controversial registry list, effectively casting a shadow over their citizenship.

10:59 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Acting Navy secretary: Hospital ship will "hopefully" reach New York early next week 

From CNN's Michael Conte

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly Pool

The acting Navy secretary said the hospital ship USNS Comfort would reach New York “hopefully… by the early part of next week” after the Defense Department “accelerated” their deployment plan.

“We had been originally looking at April 3, but in all likelihood, she’s going to be getting underway this weekend,” said Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly to reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday. “I’m actually going to be going down there to the ship either tomorrow or Saturday. So sometime after that she’ll be leaving.”

The Comfort had not been expected to depart for weeks as it was undergoing maintenance in Virginia.


10:59 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

BBC will stop streaming shows in ultra HD to cut the strain on the UK’s internet

From CNN’s Hadas Gold in London

Carl Court/Getty Images/FILE
Carl Court/Getty Images/FILE

BBC will stop streaming shows in ultra high definition as part of efforts to reduce strain on the internet, the British public service broadcaster said Thursday.

“As a precautionary measure, we will no longer make programmes on BBC iPlayer available in Ultra High-Definition. We will keep the situation under review and are in contact with the relevant organisations to determine if and when further action might be required," a spokesperson told CNN. 

Other streaming services — like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube — have also reduced the quality of their streams in Europe after requests by EU officials as part of measures to make sure everyone can get online during the coronavirus pandemic.

The spokesperson added that the network's iPlayer already streams at different video quality levels, adapting to the amount of bandwidth available and the device being used. 

10:46 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

White House adviser on record jobless claims: "This is totally expected"

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/FILE

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro called record unemployment numbers “expected” Thursday morning, shortly after it was announced that jobless claims soared to a seasonally adjusted 3.28 million in the week ending March 21, according to the Department of Labor. 

“This is totally expected,” Navarro said during an interview with Fox News, “because the whole strategy of President Trump is to basically get social distancing so we can combat the virus.”

The Trump adviser said that the administration had “put public health above economics in the very short run.”

“This is expected,” Navarro repeated, “and we should accept the news because we’re doing what we need to do to combat the virus.”

The administration is doing “everything we possibly can to deal both with the public health emergency and the economic crisis,” he added. 

“We just have to be like the British, I guess, in World War II, a stiff upper lip and fight this virus,” Navarro counseled.  

10:42 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Spanish health official says they're in a "phase of stabilization"

From Al Goodman and Ingrid Formanek in Spain and Max Ramsay in London

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa holds a briefing about the daily figures related to the coronavirus in Madrid on Thursday, March 26.
Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa holds a briefing about the daily figures related to the coronavirus in Madrid on Thursday, March 26. Chema Moya/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa said analysis of recent data from Spain indicated a “phase of stabilization” in the trend of diagnoses, speaking at a session of parliament today.

Top Spanish health official Fernando Simón also tentatively noted signs of a peak in the data, answering a question from CNN in the government’s daily coronavirus briefing. 

Taking into account the delay in the data from the time of transmission and then getting symptoms and being diagnosed, Simón said “the rate of increase is stabalizing”.

“It’s an indicator that the peak of the curve with respect to the total diagnoses is approaching,” Simón said — though he noted they would have to continue to monitor the data to confirm this.

Some context: Health officials had said they expected to see a peak in the rate of increase of infections Spain this week. However, there had been little signs of this on Wednesday when Spain’s death toll overtook China’s.

10:20 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

New Jersey governor says the state is "desperately short" on medical equipment

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says the state has 4,400 positive tests and 62 deaths. The numbers are up because of community spread and because testing facilities are open, he said.

“We are all in on stay at home,” the governor told local radio program Hot 97 Ebro in the Morning.

“There is hope on the horizon we just don’t know when that is, but hope for the best but prepare for the worst let’s not be fooling each other right now,” he said. “This is a war.”

On federal help, Murphy said “I need him, I need the Vice President, we need the federal government, we need the White House.”

The White House team for the most part has been “good” to deal with, Murphy said. The White House helped approve standing up four field hospitals that the Army Corps and FEMA are setting up for the state, he added.

He said the state is “desperately short” of Personal protective equipment noting the government has already given 2 installments “ but we need a lot more.”

With regards to Trump's optimism about being able to slowly open up around April 12, Murphy said, “I'll be the happiest guy in New Jersey, maybe in America, if that’s the case but I sadly think the data is suggesting to us we’re not going to be there.”

He said of the stimulus package “it’s a big deal” adding but “it’s not everything”

“We’re hemorrhaging money as a state, because we’re at the front lines helping folks who are sick out of work small businesses etc," he said.
10:15 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

US Border Patrol supervisor tests positive for coronavirus

From CNN’s Nick Valencia

A supervisor at the Laredo North Border Patrol station has tested positive for coronavirus, and “at least 15 other agents” were sent home to self-quarantine on safety leave after potentially being exposed to the disease, according to a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Union. 

The supervisor worked for the K-9 at the Laredo North Station, according to union Vice President Hector Garza. The agents are not being identified to protect their identities, Garza said.

According to the union, the “spouse of a supervising agent in Laredo“ tested positive for the virus first earlier this week. The supervisor worked “a whole shift” on March 23, before receiving news of their spouse’s test and going home to quarantine, Garza said.

CNN reached out repeatedly to Laredo Sector for comment over the course of the last three days. Sarah Melendez, a spokeswoman for the local Laredo border patrol sector told CNN, “Everything dealing with Covid-19 is being handled at the HQ level. They have your inquiry.”

More context: The National Union told CNN earlier this week that Laredo sector management “did call some [of the 15 agents] to notify them” of their possible exposure to coronavirus. On Tuesday evening, Garza posted a message on the local union’s Facebook page asking for anyone to who believes they may have been exposed to the virus to come forward and get tested. 

CNN has not heard back from Border Patrol with a statement about the incident. CBP, in general, has declined to confirm cases among its employees, unlike other DHS components such as the TSA.

10:08 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Ford aims to restart production at some North American plants

From CNN’s Peter Valdes-Dapena

An employee works on the line at the Ford Motor Co. Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.
An employee works on the line at the Ford Motor Co. Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Sean Proctor/Bloomberg/Getty Images/FILE

Ford Motor announced on Thursday that it will restart production "at key North American plants."

According to a news release, the company will introduce additional safety measures to protect workers as they reopen as soon as April 6.

Some background: Last week, Ford announced that that all of its factories would close for two weeks in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement following Ford’s announcement, the United Auto Workers union said that they are “reviewing with great concern and caution today’s announcement.”

Jim Cain, spokesperson for General Motors, tells CNN that the situation was still fluid and that GMdoesn’t have “firm return to work dates at this time,” according to a statement.

Vanessa Yurkevich contributed to this report

10:01 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

US Treasury Secretary says unemployment numbers are "not relevant"

Drew Angerer/Getty Images/FILE
Drew Angerer/Getty Images/FILE

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin dismissed news of 3.28 million jobless claims this week, calling the numbers "not relevant" and touting the stimulus package passed last night by the Senate. 

"I just think these numbers right now are not relevant, and, you know, whether they’re bigger or smaller in the short term. Obviously there are people who have jobless claims, and again, the good thing about this bill is the President is protecting these people, so you know, now with these plans, small businesses, hopefully will be able to hire back a lot of those people. Last week they didn’t know if they had any protections, they didn’t have any cash, they had no choice," he said during a call-in appearance on CNBC. 

Mnuchin continued: "Now with this bill passed by Congress, there are protections. And as I said, hopefully these workers will be rehired, but between these three programs it protects all American workers. And by the way, you know, lots of big, big companies do continue to hire for obviously grocery stores, pharmacies, you know, delivery services. These companies are on overtime, so I know they are hiring people as fast as they can."