March 26 coronavirus news

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7:50 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Hilton furloughs much of its corporate staff

From CNN's Cristina Alesci

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Hilton, one of the largest US hotel brands, announced Thursday much of its corporate staff will have reduced schedules or be furloughed up to 90 days, according to a statement.

CNN reported earlier that the company’s corporate staff was bracing for the announcement.

Furloughed employees will maintain health benefits and will also be eligible for unemployment benefits, according the statement.

The company also announced a pay cut of 50% for its executive committee.

It’s unclear how many employees this impacts. In total, the company had about 60,000 direct US employees at end of last year. However, that number represents both corporate staff and workers at its properties. The company already started furloughing that latter group of employees.

CNN has reached out to Hilton for more details.

7:52 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

US aircraft carrier now has 25 confirmed cases of coronavirus

From CNN's Barbara Starr, Ryan Browne and Michael Conte

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

There are now 25 sailors who have tested positive for coronavirus aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Navy official has confirmed to CNN. 

The Navy says they expect there to be additional positive tests among the crew, with one official telling CNN there could possibly be “dozens” of new cases that emerge.

A second official said if there is a large number of additional cases, the Defense Department would be unlikely to publicly specify how many of the Navy’s overall cases are members of the crew, out of concerns that adversaries China or North Korea could see the ship as vulnerable.

Despite the outbreak, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said in a statement, "We are confident that our aggressive response will keep USS Theodore Roosevelt able to respond to any crisis in the region."

Earlier in the day, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly had said there were "several" more cases onboard the ship, but did not give a specific number.

"We are in the process now of testing 100% of the crew of that ship to ensure that we're able to contain whatever spread might've occurred," Modly told reporters at the Pentagon at a briefing Thursday morning.

There are approximately 5,000 personnel onboard the carrier.

Some context: The Roosevelt is in the process of pulling into Guam, according to Modly. "No one on the crew will be allowed to leave anywhere into Guam, other than on pier side," he said.

The ship was last in port in Vietnam more than two weeks ago. It is not clear where the sailors initially contracted the virus. The Navy is now in the process of flying all personnel off the ship.

7:30 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Los Angeles County needs face shields

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Plastic face shields are the only personal protective item currently out of stock in Los Angeles County, according to Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly.

“The stockpile has been distributed, those supplies come in on a daily basis," she added about the city's personal protective equipment.

There are 208 open ICU beds in Los Angeles County, Ghaly said. More efforts are being made to increase bed capacity – all hospitals have ability to surge capacity.

As for ventilators, currently 830 are available with approximately 200 more nearly available. Those units are either being serviced for proper use or are in the process of distribution.

7:47 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

UK police given new powers to enforce coronavirusstay-at-home measures

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Peter Summers/Getty Images
Peter Summers/Getty Images

British police have been given new powers to enforce a stay-at-home order, including arresting people in violation, the UK Home Office said on Thursday. 

According to the Home Office, police can first instruct people to go home, leave an area or disperse; and issue citations and fines.

Those who do not pay a fine could be taken to court.

“If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them where deemed proportionate and necessary,” the statement said.

 

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.”