March 12 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Sheena McKenzie and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0206 GMT (1006 HKT) March 13, 2020
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2:12 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

New Jersey governor recommends cancellation of large public events

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in 2019.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in 2019. Lars Niki/Getty Images for 2019 Montclair Film Festival

 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Thursday his office is recommending canceling all public gatherings of 250 people or more, including concerts, sporting events, and parades.

“These measures are being taken as part of our coordinated response to the continued outbreak and to aggressively mitigate the spread of the virus,” his office said in a statement.

 

3:31 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

As bars and restaurants in Italy close, so too does a way of life

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Hada Messia in Rome

For Lorenzo Vanni, Thursday was truly historic — it was the first day in 53 years his bar-restaurant in Rome, called Vanni, didn’t serve a single drink or meal. 

In the district of Prati, just next to Vatican City, Vanni has every year stayed open on Christmas Day, January 1 and even Ferragosto, a day when just about everyone leaves the city to celebrate the Feast of Assumption. 

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday night expanded already heavy restrictions to include bars, restaurants and shops, now forced to close their doors as the country tries to slow its coronavirus infection rate.  

Vanni in Rome, closed for its first day in 53 years under Italy's coronavirus lockdown.
Vanni in Rome, closed for its first day in 53 years under Italy's coronavirus lockdown. Hada Messia

“Today in Rome the atmosphere is surreal. It's strange, like in a movie. I am stunned, incredulous. It has never happened before,” Vanni said. 

“During a war, for example, you hear planes flying over your head, but now the enemy is invisible."

He says he's very worried about its employees. "It's a total disaster for workers.”

Vanni was founded by Lorenzo grandfather in 1929 and has moved locations several times, finding its current spot in 1967.

With pride, he described Vanni is a Roman landmark "where people meet and chat, socialize — it’s a point of reference in the neighborhood.”

"People called me this morning asking me where they will eat from now on,” he said.

"My main concern are the employees, their families and mine of course. Now we have to think about how to buy supplies and the state must put everyone in a position to do so."

He is asking the government to offer businesses like his tax relief.

“Otherwise it will condemn companies to certain closure."

Vanni found its current spot in 1967.
Vanni found its current spot in 1967. Hada Messia

2:08 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

More than 313,000 US public school students will be out of classes

From CNN’s Chuck Johnston, Chris Boyette, Andie Garcia and James Froio

School districts in at least four states have announced long-term school closures for K-12 public school students amounting to at least 313,901 students who will be out of their schools over the coming days.

Here's a breakdown of the closures:

  • This afternoon, officials in Connecticut announced long-term closures for Stamford and New Haven Public Schools — two of the larger public school districts in the state. There are approximately 37,000 total students that attend the two school districts in total.
  • In Washington state, at least eight school districts have announced long-term school closures effecting at least 128,174 students. Seattle Public Schools, Lake Washington School District, and Shoreline School District all begin their long-term closures today. Snohomish County School District, Edmonds School District, Riverview School District, and Bellevue School District announce closures in the coming days. Northshore School District begin online instruction earlier this week.
  • In Tennessee, Shelby County School District announced this morning a long-term closure beginning Friday that will effect at least 100,000 students in their school district.
  • In New York, three schools in the New Rochelle School District are closed through March 25: New Rochelle High School, Albert Leonard Middle School and William B. Ward Elementary School.
3:31 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Delta suspends flights on 7 European routes

Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Delta airlines announced flights along seven European routes will suspend after they return to the US on Friday. The airline also said it will continue “to evaluate additional schedule adjustments based on customer demand.”

The routes are:

  • Cincinnati-Paris
  • Indianapolis-Paris
  • Orlando-Amsterdam
  • Portland-Amsterdam
  • Raleigh/Durham-Paris
  • Salt Lake City-Amsterdam
  • Salt Lake City-Paris

Delta has also capped fares and waived change fees on flights from or through Europe and the UK through May.

2:03 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Trump and Pence "had almost no interactions" with Brazilian official with coronavirus, White House says

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had "had almost no interaction" with a Brazilian government aide who tested positive for coronavirus, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

She added that they "do not require being tested at this time"

“As stated before, the White House Medical Unit and the United States Secret Service has been working closely with various agencies to ensure every precaution is taken to keep the First & Second Families, and all White House staff healthy," she said. "To reiterate CDC guidelines, there is currently no indication to test patients without symptoms, and only people with prolonged close exposure to confirmed positive cases should self-quarantine."

Grisham added: “We are monitoring the situation closely and will update everyone as we get more information.”

1:54 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

NASCAR will race without fans

From CNN's David Close

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

NASCAR has announced that races will go on as planned but without fans.

The series is racing at the Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend.

"At this time, NASCAR will hold its race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway without fans in attendance. These events will be restricted to competitors, crews, officials and other necessary personnel to conduct the race. We will work with public health officials as we determine future scheduling beyond these events," NASCAR said in a statement.
1:40 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

NHL suspends season effective immediately

From CNN's David Close

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The National Hockey League (NHL) Commissioner Gary Bettman has announced the suspension of the current season effective immediately.

Bettman acknowledged the NBA’s suspension by stating, “following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.”

1:38 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Does donated blood get screened for coronavirus?

Your coronavirus questions, answered

At least 4.5 million Americans need donated blood every year, but this is the first time novel coronavirus has been a concern in the nation's blood supply.

Here's what the AABB, formerly the American Association of Blood Banks, has said about coronavirus:

"Individuals are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 through the blood donation process or via a blood transfusion since respiratory viruses are generally not known to be transmitted by donation or transfusion."
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to report that there have been no reported or suspected cases of transfusion-transmitted COVID-19 to date."
"In addition, no cases of transfusion-transmission were ever reported for the other two coronaviruses that emerged during the past two decades (SARS, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, and MERS-CoV, which causes Mideast Respiratory Syndrome)."

The AABB said routine screening measures are already in place to prevent anyone with clinical respiratory infections from donating blood.

But there is one big concern involving blood donations and coronavirus: the possibility that fewer people will come out to donate.

"If the outbreak of coronavirus continues to spread, additional challenges may arise, which could potentially reduce the number of eligible donors," the AABB said.

1:42 p.m. ET, March 12, 2020

The US Senate will be in session next week, McConnell says

From CNN's Lauren Fox, Phil Mattingly and Manu Raju on Capitol Hill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bump elbows as they attend a lunch with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Capitol Hill on March 12.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bump elbows as they attend a lunch with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Capitol Hill on March 12. Susan Walsh/AP

The US Senate will be in session next week and will not go on a previously scheduled recess, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Thursday.  

"The Senate will be in session next week," McConnell wrote on Twitter. "I am glad talks are ongoing between the Administration and Speaker Pelosi. I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong."

This comes as Republican senators up for reelection did not want to go home without passing an economic relief bill. Many Republicans believed that they would be in an untenable position politically if Democrats in the House passed their own bill and the Senate left town without acting.