March 16 coronavirus news

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2:53 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

MLB pushes back Opening Day indefinitely

Major League Baseball has announced that the opening of the 2020 season has been pushed back indefinitely.

MLB said the league is following the recommendation by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that no gatherings with 50 people or more take place for the next eight weeks to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Because of those recommendations, "the opening of the 2020 regular season will be pushed back in accordance with that guidance, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

MLB stated last Thursday that the season would be delayed at least two weeks.

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2:24 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Israel prepares convert 4 hotels to quarantine sites

Israel is preparing to open four hotels across the country as quarantines sites for confirmed cases of coronavirus, Minister of Defense Naftali Bennett announced Monday night. The hotels will be used to treat people exhibiting mild symptoms of the virus.

The first two hotels in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are expected to be ready for use as quarantine sites by Tuesday, the head of Israel’s Home Front Command told reporters in a conference call. The other two hotels — one in the north of the country and one in the south — will be ready by the end of the week, the Defense Minister said.

Each hotel is expected to hold up to 500 patients but capacity could be increased up to 2,000 in each hotel if necessary, Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai told reporters.

On Sunday, Bennett said in a news conference, “We have to tell the public the truth: we simply don’t know how many cases there are.”

“We currently do not have a vaccine for corona. The real vaccine is awareness, caring, and responsibility,” he added.

2:21 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Olympic boxing qualifiers in Europe and the Americas suspended due to coronavirus

The European, Americas and final world qualifying boxing tournaments for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been suspended due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Boxing Task Force (BTF) announced in a statement on Monday.

It said the European qualifiers, which have been taking place in London since Saturday and were due to run until March 24, would end after Monday’s evening session.

The European qualifiers, which featured athletes from over 60 countries, will now resume in May to allow participants to adjust their travel plans and return safely home “amid increasing global travel restrictions and quarantine measures.”

The statement added that the BTF will continue to evaluate the situation daily with the aim of completing the distribution of the remaining boxing quota places for the games in May and June.

Several Olympic qualifying events, including those for climbing, fencing and judo, have already been canceled or postponed with new dates for those events yet to be announced.

3:40 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

UK government will not legally enforce its new social distancing measures

The UK government will not enforce its new social distancing coronavirus measures with fines or legal threats because the UK is “a mature and grown up democracy where people understand the advice being given to them,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

“On powers, you may be amazed to know, this government already has tremendous powers in this field,” Johnson said.

He explained: “Don’t forget that other countries are in different stages in their movement up the curve. The crucial things is timeliness. Our interventions should be timely to have the maximum effect… when you come to more extreme measures like curfews and things we’ve seen in other countries, we’re keeping all things under review… we’re keeping school closures under review.”

The UK is not currently testing everyone with coronavirus symptoms, a strategy that has been questioned by experts.

The UK’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said they would "continue to scale up testing, but I think it’s important to realize the scale for testing which has been substantial, and we will continue to scale up from here.”

He said “the next level out” will be for healthcare workers and other critical workers with symptoms to be tested.

“People should be thinking of a minimum of weeks to months, people should realize we are in this for the long haul,” Whitty said, in regards to how long the new social distancing measures might last.

2:30 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Canada will deny entry to anyone who isn't a citizen or permanent resident

CTV Network
CTV Network

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the country will deny entry to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

"This measure will carve out some designated exceptions including for air crews, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens, and at this time, US citizens,” Trudeau said at a news conference in Ottawa.

2:32 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

More than 3,000 new coronavirus cases reported in Italy in the last 24 hours

A patient in a biocontainment unit is carried on a stretcher at the Columbus Covid 2 Hospital in Rome, Monday, March 16.
A patient in a biocontainment unit is carried on a stretcher at the Columbus Covid 2 Hospital in Rome, Monday, March 16. Andreas Solar/AFP/Getty Images

The Italian Civil Protection Authority reported a spike in new coronavirus cases today, with 3,233 new cases in the last 24 hours alone.  

Total cases in Italy now stands at 27,980, which includes current cases, recovered cases and deaths) 

At least 2,158 have died from coronavirus in Italy. That figure is up by 349 in the last 24 hours. 

2:11 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Trump tweets: "Cuomo has to do more"

President Trump tweeted about his “very good tele-conference” with the nation's governors but added that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has to “do more.”

CNN's Kaitlan Collins reported earlier that on the call Trump urged governors to try to secure additional medical equipment on their own without waiting for the federal government to intervene, though he did say they would try to help. 

2:11 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Airlines will request $50 billion assistance package

Getty Images
Getty Images

Airlines slammed by the coronavirus are requesting a package of aid from the US government that could amount to $50 billion, according to Airlines for America, the industry group, and two sources. 

The aid is requested in the form of loans, grants and tax relief. The ask includes up to $25 billion in grants for passenger air carriers and $4 billion in grants to cargo carriers, and the same amounts in loans or loan guarantees, Airlines for America outlined in a briefing document. 

“US carriers are in need of immediate assistance as the current economic environment is simply not sustainable,” the group said in a statement. “This is compounded by the fact that the crisis does not appear to have an end in sight.”

The aid package has been discussed with key lawmakers and staff, on Capitol Hill and the Trump administration, the sources said. The discussions were described as being at an early stage. But one source noted there is a growing recognition from the federal government that conditions “are getting very bad, very fast.”

The airline group predicted the seven US airlines it represents "run out of money completely sometime between June 30 and the end of the year." It predicted losses could be as high as $53 billion this year.

2:08 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

This Chinese billionaire will donate masks, test kits and protective gear to all countries in Africa 

Jack Ma, Chinese billionaire and co-founder of Alibaba, will donate 20,000 test kits, 100,000 masks, and 1,000 medical use protective suits and face shields to all 54 countries in Africa to help the continent fight the novel coronavirus.

Ma's foundation will also work with local medical institutions on the continent to provide online training material for coronavirus clinical treatments.

"The world cannot afford the unthinkable consequences of a COVID-19 pandemic in Africa," he said in a statement tweeted Monday.

Africa has so far confirmed more than 300 cases, Egypt being the hardest hit with 110 cases.  

The items will be delivered to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will oversee the distribution of the supplies to other African countries, Ma said.

On Friday, the billionaire founder of Alibaba said he would donate 500,000 coronavirus testing kits and one million face masks to the United States. He has also shared his plans to give to Europe as well as Iran.

"Now it is as if we were all living in the same forest on fire. As members of the global community, it will be irresponsible of us to sit on the fence, panic, ignore facts, or fail to act," Ma said.