March 11 coronavirus news

By Veronica Rocha, Fernando Alfonso III, Joshua Berlinger, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020
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7:12 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Italy to close all shops and venues across the country

From CNN's Valentina Di Donato in Rome

A waiter closes a pizza shop in Rome, on Wednesday, March 11.
A waiter closes a pizza shop in Rome, on Wednesday, March 11. Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Italy will close all restaurants, bars and shops across the country in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Wednesday.

Only pharmacies and supermarkets will be allowed to remain open, Conte added.

Restaurants will be allowed to be operational for food deliveries, but companies will be required to implement remote working for all jobs, except those that require physical presence, Conte added.

More on this: Italy recorded a jump of 2,313 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with the total tally now at 12,462, the country's Civil Protection Agency said.

5:36 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

US State Department employees suspended from non-essential travel due to coronavirus

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler

US State Department employees have been suspended from all non-essential travel due to the coronavirus outbreak, a State Department official and two other sources familiar told CNN.

One source said that a cable went out to all missions worldwide informing them that only mission critical travel is recommended and that diplomatic posts and State Department bureaus need to report travel.

Another source explained that the criteria for “mission critical” varies from country to country and it’s up to the chief of mission to interpret it. Previously planned trips by top State Department employees were postponed due to this new guidance, the State Department official said. 

The official said that the State Department does not have any cases of coronavirus among its employees, but the department is preparing for that day to come.

Part of that preparation was a note sent to employees last week telling them to make sure their telework agreements were up to date.

If an employee at the main State Department building in Washington comes down with the virus, the plan would be to clear out the whole office, send everyone in the office home to self-quarantine and deep clean the office, the State Department official said.

Right now they do not plan to shut down the entire building if there is just one case but they would reassess if the outbreak spread at all, the official said.


5:28 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

4 new coronavirus deaths reported in Washington state's King County

From CNN's Andy Rose

The health department of King County, Washington, says it has confirmed four more deaths due to the novel coronavirus today. The department is also reporting 44 additional positive test results. 

Three of the four new deaths reported were residents of the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. The fourth person was a patient at Redmond Care and Rehab. Three of the four people who died were in their 90s, according to the health department. 

The new results raise the number of coronavirus cases in Washington state to 325. The statewide death toll is 28.

5:20 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Late night shows will go without audiences because of coronavirus

From CNN’s Frank Pallotta

Some of the most popular late night shows, including CBS' "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" and "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon are pulling their audiences because of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

Citing an abundance of caution over the spread of the novel coronavirus, New York-based late night shows "Late Night with Seth Meyers," HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" and TBS' "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" will begin to tape their broadcasts without a live studio audience.

"The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority," NBC said in a statement, adding that "as a precautionary measure" the "Tonight Show" and "Late Night" will suspend live audiences starting on Monday, March 16.

"The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," which is the highest-rated show in late night, said in a statement that there has not been any "specific developments at The Ed Sullivan Theater to cause concern for audiences with plans to attend the show tonight, tomorrow, or who have attended in recent weeks."

The decision to go without an audience was made in regard to the virus and "the uncertainty of the situation for future weeks" as coronavirus continues to spread around the world.

5:12 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

US House races to complete coronavirus relief package by Thursday, lawmakers say

From CNN's Manu Raju

House Democratic members said there is no price tag yet on the coronavirus relief bill that will be voted on by the chamber on Thursday.

Text of the legislation will be released soon and the House Rules Committee will vote to approve the rule for floor debate tonight.

The bill details many of the items that was laid out by Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this week. That includes ensuring everyone has access to testing, including undocumented immigrants, paid leave and food stamp assistance.

“We’re focused right now on the health and well-being of every day Americans, of the American people. We want to put families first," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, said this afternoon.

He continued: "We’ve got to find common ground with the White House and the Senate to provide necessary relief given the economic trauma will result from the manner in which the coronavirus has been mismanaged by the White House."

5:01 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Joe Biden's campaign rallies in Chicago and Miami will now be "virtual events"

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

Joe Biden’s rallies scheduled for Friday in Chicago and on Monday in Miami will now be “virtual events,” according to a campaign statement.

The campaign said it consulted with elected officials in Illinois and Florida before announcing its decision.

"As a result of those conversations and at the request of elected officials in Illinois and Florida, we will no longer hold large crowd events on Friday and Monday in those states," the campaign said in a statement.

"Tomorrow, Vice President Biden will deliver remarks on the coronavirus pandemic, Friday’s and Monday’s events will become virtual events, and the campaign will make announcements about additional details on the format and timing of the virtual events and on future events in the coming days," the campaign said.
5:40 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

US travel restrictions on Europe "is under discussion," official says

From CNN's Evan Perez and Kevin Liptak

Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said that coronavirus travel restrictions for Europe are under discussion. 

“The question is a live question, congressman, about how to treat Europe as a whole. You’ve seen Department of State and CDC warnings go up. That is not to the level of using legal authorities to block travel yet, but it is under discussion," he told lawmakers Wednesday. 

Cuccinelli pointed out that Europe presents a "unique problem," because the Schengen zone — the European countries that do not have internal borders and allow people to move between them freely — creates a region "they don't have border for the purposes of travel."

He questioned whether it "even makes sense" to treat Italy as a unitary entity. 


4:55 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

NCAA recommends that March Madness be played without spectators

From CNN's David Close

The National College Athletic Association (NCAA) has announced that the organization is recommending that upcoming sporting events should be held without spectators.

“We recommend against sporting events open to the public. We do believe sport events can take place with only essential personnel and limited family attendance,” the NCAA said.

The NCAA Division 1 Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments will be played as planned. The first games to tip for March Madness will be on March 17.

Here's the NCAA's full statement:

The NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the United States, and behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for slowing the spread of this disease. This is especially important because mildly symptomatic individuals can transmit COVID-19. Given these considerations, coupled with a more unfavorable outcome of COVID-19 in older adults – especially those with underlying chronic medical conditions – we recommend against sporting events open to the public. We do believe sport events can take place with only essential personnel and limited family attendance, and this protects our players, employees, and fans.
4:51 p.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Austria to close schools because of coronavirus fears

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt

Schools in Austria will be closed until April because of the spread of coronavirus, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Wednesday.

For children in secondary school, classes will be canceled next Monday and taught online.

"There will be no more lessons in these schools. Lessons ... will continue by digital means," Kurz said in a joint news conference with officials including the education minister Heinz Fassmann, according to Austria's state broadcaster ORF. 

Primary schools will suspend classes next week. However, the government will provide childcare, if no other alternative is available for parents. Kurz said that the government does not want grandparents, who are considered high risk for coronavirus, to take over childcare duties. Children in kindergarten should also stay at home if possible. 

Austria's education ministry has launched an educational hotline. The hotline is "intended to support parents, pupils and teachers in accessing work materials and information on existing online learning platforms in the event of classroom cancellation,'' according to the website.