March 26 coronavirus news

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9:19 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Bill Gates calls the level of social isolation we're seeing "super painful" and a "top priority"

Bill Gates believes social distancing is crucially important in reducing the spread of coronavirus.

The Microsoft founder and philanthropist shared his thoughts about social isolation Thursday night during CNN's coronavirus town hall.

"It is super painful to drive this very high degree of social isolation I call shutdown. The middle course really isn't there because it's hard to say, oh, go back to the theater for a week maybe or maybe not you'll be infected or infecting people," Gates said.
"Until we get the certainty we've hit these low numbers, you know, I doubt even if you told people that they should be buying new houses and cars and hanging out in restaurants, I doubt they're going to want to do that. People want to protect older people."
9:18 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Bill Gates: "We have not peaked" and the US needs more lockdowns

CNN
CNN

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates joined CNN's global town hall to speak about the coronavirus pandemic and what needs to be done.

He's been warning about the risks of a pandemic for years. Back in 2015, during a TED Talk, he warned that the greatest threat we face isn't nuclear war, but a pandemic.

Since then, he has called for more funding in pandemic preparation, vaccine and diagnostic development, and simulation training -- but "not much has happened."

"This is kind of the nightmare scenario," he said of the coronavirus pandemic.

Other countries have done better than the US: The countries hard hit by SARS in 2003, like those in Asia, "are the ones that have done best in this epidemic because they acted when the number of cases were still very, very small," Gates said.

The US response, in contrast, has been slow and chaotic, he added. We might be better off now if we had "behaved a little bit like the countries that have done the best on this one."

And it's not over yet. "We have not peaked," he warned, calling for more dramatic lockdowns to prevent further infections and deaths.

"Basically the whole country needs to do what was done in the part of China where they had these infections," he added.

Watch:

9:03 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

R. Kelly's lawyers want him released from prison due to coronavirus concerns

Antonio Perez/Pool/Getty Images/File
Antonio Perez/Pool/Getty Images/File

R. Kelly’s attorneys have filed a motion asking for the singer to be released on bond because, they argue, Kelly is within the group that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has categorized as "most-at-risk for contracting COVID-19."

"The health risk to Mr. Kelly, because of his age and because of the multiple surgeries he has undergone -- including a recent surgery while incarcerated -- coupled with the conditions at the MCC (Metropolitan Correctional Center) as described below, necessitates his temporary release on bail until this pandemic has ended," his lawyers said in a statement.

Kelly’s lawyers say that if bond were granted, he would be placed on home incarceration and would be electronically monitored.

The singer is currently being detained at the Chicago MCC where he is awaiting trial for multiple sexual abuse charges.

8:58 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Here's how you should be washing your hands during the coronavirus pandemic

Getting underneath the finger nails is an important part of thorough hand-washing needed to stave off coronavirus, according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta who provided viewers a tutorial Thursday night during CNN's coronavirus town hall.

One of the other important details Gupta shared was making sure every wash lasts as long as it would take to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice, he said.

Watch:

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

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

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?

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

CNN
CNN

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."

Watch:

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.