March 27 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, James Griffiths, Steve George, Amy Woodyatt, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 8:04 a.m. ET, March 28, 2020
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6:24 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Social distancing was visibly absent at Oval Office bill signing

From CNN's Jason Hoffman, Manu Raju and Kevin Liptak

Erin Schaff/The New York Times/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Erin Schaff/The New York Times/Bloomberg/Getty Images

As President Trump signed the largest economic stimulus ever bill into law, social distancing was visibly absent. 

Fifteen people, including several Republican members of Congress, Trump’s Cabinet, and members of the coronavirus task force, were tightly packed behind the resolute desk in the Oval Office as Trump signed the CARES Act.

The close contact goes against guidelines from both the President and the entire medical community that says gatherings of more than 10 people should be avoided to help stop the spread of novel coronavirus. 

In addition to the large grouping, their ages could put them at greater risk.

According to a tabulation by CNN, the average age of the 16 people in the Oval Office was 65.8. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that anyone over 65 is at high-risk for suffering severe symptoms from exposure to the Covid-19 virus. 

Proper social distancing has been one of the most talked about ways people can work to slow the spread of coronavirus and the practice has been implemented to some extent at the White House. 

The number of reporters and correspondents allowed to cover White House briefings has been restricted to allow members of the press to sit far apart, and the number of people gathered on the podium behind the President during those briefings has dwindled in the last few days. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the two most visible medical professionals preaching social distancing, were both at the signing ceremony.

At the Capitol earlier Friday, lawmakers made a point to stand with some distance between them during their signing ceremony. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not hand out ceremonial pens, a common occurrence after passing important legislation, because of fears of spreading germs. 

However, back at the White House, Trump individually handed pens to many of the attendees after he signed the bill.

6:28 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

450 NYC inmates will be released by Friday night because of coronavirus concerns

From CNN's Laura Ly


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said 450 inmates will be released by Friday night in his city because of coronavirus concerns.

He also said that as of Thursday night, 375 inmates have been released.

CNN has previously reported that those eligible for release are city inmates convicted of misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, all with less than one year left on their sentence.

There are some inmates within that category with domestic violence or sexual offense charges that the city has determined they will not release at this time, de Blasio said.

6:09 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

There are now more than 100,000 coronavirus cases in the US

From CNN's Chuck Johnston


There are at least 100,013 cases of novel coronavirus in the United States, according to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the country through public health systems.

So far, 1,545 people have died in the United States from coronavirus. 

Today, there have been at least 359 new deaths reported. That is the most deaths reported in the US in a single day.

The total includes cases from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases.

6:06 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

There are more than 25,000 coronavirus cases in New York City, mayor says

Paramedics roll a stretcher with a patient to the Brooklyn Hospital Center emergency room on Friday, March 27.
Paramedics roll a stretcher with a patient to the Brooklyn Hospital Center emergency room on Friday, March 27. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

New York City currently has at least 25,573 cases of coronavirus, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Friday.

De Blasio said the city has enough supplies to last through next week, but added that they will likely need more supplies as soon.

The city has received 2,500 ventilators in the last week, but still needs 15,000 more, he said.

De Blasio also said supply deliveries to hospitals across the city are underway, with 20 trucks delivering these items:

  • One million surgical masks
  • 200,000 N95 masks
  • 50,000 face shields
  • 10,000 boxes of gloves
  • 40,000 isolation gowns

On Saturday, city trucks will be delivering 800,000 more N95 masks, and 2 million more surgical masks.

6:01 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Irish prime minister announces nationwide lockdown

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

The Republic of Ireland will enter a nationwide period of lockdown as part of new "radical" measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced Friday.

“With effect from midnight tonight, for a two week period until Easter Sunday, April 12, everybody must stay at home under all circumstances," Varadkar said.

The order limits travel for citizens and public and private gatherings.

Speaking during news conference on Friday evening, Varadkar confirmed that essential workers — including health and social care professionals — would be permitted to travel to and from work.

Members of the public, Varadkar continued, will also be allowed to leave their homes to purchase groceries and medicine; attend medical appointments; engage in brief, individual exercise; and for vital family reasons, such as providing care to children and the elderly. 

According to the Irish prime minister, all visits to hospitals and prisons will no longer be permissible, and public transport services will be limited to “essential workers" and those providing essential services.

5:49 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

New York congresswoman is "heartbroken and horrified" over Trump's handling of coronavirus

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Rep. Grace Meng shared her frustration over how President Trump is handling coronavirus with CNN on Friday.

The comments from the New York congresswoman were prompted by Trump's comments Thursday night questioning whether New York needed more ventilators.

"Day by day, I am just more and more heartbroken and horrified at the attitude toward which he is treating fellow Americans. I've been so angry for weeks because first we kept hearing weeks ago already from our health care practitioners that they didn't have the PPE that they needed. There has been more than advance notice to do what he needs to do to make sure that this is not happening and not worsening in the state of New York, but potentially in other states around the country as well," Meng said.

Meng's frustration was punctuated in a tweet she sent Friday after speaking to a nurse at Elmhurst Hospital in New York.

"A nurse at my elmhurst hospital who i don’t know just called me crying. She said they need vents but more so need doctors and also doctors who are ICU trained. She told me they cry everyday bc they know they’re gonna die. They’re begging. Please," Meng tweeted.

What is happening in New York: Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed Trump for his call to distribute federal ventilators the state had in storage as the two leaders' war of words over the coronavirus pandemic escalates.

Cuomo argued that the ventilators were stored in preparation for when New York hospitals exceed their capacity as the state has become the epicenter of the American coronavirus outbreak. 

Cuomo told CNN on Friday that Trump's assessment of the situation "incorrect and grossly uninformed."

"Of course we didn't — that's the whole point," Cuomo said. "The hospitals don't need them yet. The hospitals aren't at their apex. The hospitals have enough ventilators today, but their numbers are going up."

Cuomo added that his office was planning for a peak in cases "in about 21 days — that's when we need the 30,000 ventilators, not today."

Trump had earlier tweeted that New York should distribute the ventilators immediately. That statement came hours after Trump said in a Fox News interview that he doubted states calling for tens of thousands of ventilators would need them.

"Thousand of Federal Government (delivered) Ventilators found in New York storage," Trump tweeted Friday. "N.Y. must distribute NOW!"

5:34 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Montana reports its first coronavirus death

From CNN's Andy Rose

Montana is reporting its first coronavirus death, according to a statement from the Lincoln County Health Department.

Local officials say the victim was one of three Covid-19 cases confirmed in the county. All three of the county’s cases are believed to be related.

Montana is the 45th state to report at least one death due to coronavirus.

5:33 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Kansas is short on testing swabs and transportation for patients

From CNN's Alec Snyder

A medical worker administers a test for coronavirus at a drive-up testing center at GraceMed Health Clinic in Wichita, on Wednesday, March 25.
A medical worker administers a test for coronavirus at a drive-up testing center at GraceMed Health Clinic in Wichita, on Wednesday, March 25. Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle/AP

Kansas is short on testing swabs and transportation for patients, Kansas Secretary of Health Dr. Lee Norman said during a news conference on Friday.

Norman said he feels "relaxed" about dealing with the pandemic as the worst projections only has the state down 35 ICU beds.

Norman said he believes the peak will occur around April 24-28 and the state will see at least 900 cases.

5:24 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

New Mexico orders schools to remain closed for remainder of academic year

From CNN's Andy Rose

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks during a news conference on the floor of the state House of Representatives in Santa Fe, on Wednesday, March 18.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks during a news conference on the floor of the state House of Representatives in Santa Fe, on Wednesday, March 18. Morgan Lee/AP

New Mexico students will be staying home for the rest of the school year.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the new order on Friday.

“Keeping schools closed is one of the most important tools we have to support the social distancing that can help us reduce and mitigate the spread of the virus,” the governor said in a written statement. 

The governor said all schools will be required to find new ways to teach their students at home starting on April 6.

Grisham also ordered Friday that anyone traveling by air into New Mexico will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days immediately upon arrival. People will only be allowed to leave quarantine for medical care.