March 16 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:14 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020
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4:39 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Pennsylvania closes all state liquor stores indefinitely

All Pennsylvania state liquor stores and licensee service centers will close indefinitely tomorrow at 9 p.m. ET, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced.

“This was a tremendously difficult decision to make, and we understand the disruption our store closures will have on consumers and licensees across the commonwealth,” Board Chairman Tim Holden said in a statement.

Holden continued:

“But in these uncertain and unprecedented times, the public health crisis and mitigation effort must take priority over the sale of wine and spirits, as the health and safety of our employees and communities is paramount.”

The liquor control board handles all beverage alcohol distribution in Pennsylvania, operating nearly 600 wine and spirits stores statewide. It licenses 20,000 alcohol producers, retailers, and handlers, according to the statement.

4:29 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

A CDC employee was diagnosed with novel coronavirus

From CNN’s Michael Nedelman

CNN
CNN

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced its first employee diagnosed with novel coronavirus, according to a statement.

The agency, which is leading the national public health response to the pandemic, said the employee who tested positive is in "good condition and is isolated to prevent spread of infection to others."  

The infection was confirmed by CDC's own lab testing. 

The agency specified that the employee was not involved in its response to the outbreak, nor have they been on the premises since March 6 — at which time they did not have any symptoms. Other employees in the same unit are working remotely while their office undergoes deep cleaning, the statement added.

The CDC said it is not sharing further details about this case, or other potential cases down the line, due to privacy concerns.

On March 9, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters the agency that no one of the "more than 1,500 people who have worked on this response so far" had tested positive for the virus.

4:27 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Boeing asks employees to work from home, but says it will still build planes

From CNN's Chris Isidore

Boeing said Monday it is directing employees who are able to perform their work from home to telecommute until further notice — but that won't stop it from building planes.

The company did not say how many employees will continue to report to work to build planes. But it said it has enhanced cleaning procedures in work spaces, common areas and on high-touch surfaces in its assembly plants.

"We’re assessing the safety of all of our sites and their alignment with local, state and national government guidance as we continuously monitor this evolving situation," said Boeing's statement.

Washington state is one of the areas of the United States with the most severe outbreaks of the disease.

The company had 161,000 employees as of Dec. 31, according to a company filing. About 35,000 are members of the Machinists union, and they are primarily involved building planes.

There are about 18,000 technical and engineering employees who are also represented by a union, and while some of them may be able to work from home, others are needed on the assembly line to oversee construction. The company also has a nonunion assembly plant in South Carolina.

4:24 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Sudan closes its borders due to coronavirus concerns

From Yassir Abdullah in Khartoum and Nima Elbagir in London

Sudan has closed its borders, sealing of all sea ports, land crossings and airports, Mohamed Al-Faki Suleiman, spokesperson for Sudan's Transitional Sovereign Council, said in a press statement. 

The Council has formed an executive committee to put in place measures to further prevent the entry coronavirus into the country and has declared a state of medical emergency.

"The first undertaking by the committee is hereby to close all ports, airports and land crossings, with the exception of trips that carry aid and technical and humanitarian support and scheduled air freight flights," Suleiman said.

The Council also laid out all the necessary measures to receive citizens stranded in land crossings and prepare places for them to go into quarantine.

Elsewhere in Africa, Eritrea has issued travel bans and Kenya has denied entry to anyone traveling to Kenya "from any country with reported Coronavirus cases."

 

4:22 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Trump says he would give himself a 10 for his coronavirus response 

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

President Trump gave himself a 10 when asked how he would grade his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

He also praised the professionals who work on the coronavirus task force.

Trump went on to criticize the testing system he inherited calling it “obsolete.”

When asked if the buck stops with him, Trump said “yeah normally” but once again discussed things that took place in 2009 and 2011.

In his Rose Garden address on Friday, Trump said, “No, I don’t take responsibility at all” for the delay in coronavirus testing.

4:20 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Trump says delaying elections is "unnecessary"

From CNN's Sarah Westwood 

President Trump said he did not advise states to postpone primary elections, calling the delays “unnecessary” shortly after Ohio’s Republican governor called for the postponement of Tuesday's primary election. 

“Well I’d leave that up to the states. It’s a big thing, postponing an election,” Trump said at a coronavirus task briefing.“It goes to the heart of what we’re all about.”

Trump said states could conduct elections safely by “spreading people out.” 

“They have lots of room in lots of electoral places,” Trump said.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said earlier Monday that he would like to see the primary on Tuesday delayed because the election could not be conducted in accordance with US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing guidelines.

Previously, Louisiana and Georgia announced they would postpone their primaries. 

“I think postponing elections is not a very good thing,” Trump said. “I think postponing is unnecessary.”

4:15 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Dow records worst point drop in history

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

It was another ugly day for US stocks. The Dow recorded its worst one-day point drop in history and its worst performance on a percentage basis since October 19, 1987, also known as “Black Monday."

Stocks fell to session-lows in the final hour of trading, President Trump suggested fighting the outbreak could last until July or August.

 Here's where things stand:

  • The S&P 500 finished down nearly 12%.
  • The Dow closed 2,999 points, or 12.9%, lower.
  • The Nasdaq Composite ended down 12.3%.
4:04 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Trump suggests there may have been mixup in communications over whether he'd get coronavirus test

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez  

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump on Monday suggested there may have been a mix-up in communications at the White House over his recent coronavirus test.

Trump said he took the test “late Friday night,” but didn’t specify whether he took it before or after White House doctors issued a memo saying the President did not need to take a test.

“I had no symptoms whatsoever, so the doctor said, ‘You had no symptoms so we don’t see any reason (to get a test).’ But when I did the press conference on Friday everybody was going crazy,” Trump said in the White House briefing room, referring to questions from the press after being exposed to individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus.

“So very late on Friday night I did the test and he may have put out, or the doctor may have put out something … I don’t know what time the letter went out, maybe it was put up by somebody else. But the results came back, I believe, the following day and we tested negative,” Trump said.

CNN previously reported that the White House medical doctor released a memo Friday at midnight saying that Trump remains without symptoms for coronavirus and quarantine is not necessary. During a news conference earlier Friday, Trump had said he would likely get tested for coronavirus.

4:04 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Trump sees potential recession as result of coronavirus

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

The United States “may” be heading toward recession, President Trump says, his first acknowledgment of a potentially dire consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Well, it may be,” Trump said when asked if the US economy was heading toward a recession.

“We're not thinking in terms of recession,” Trump went on, saying his focus was fighting the virus itself.

He said once the disease is contained, there would be a “tremendous surge” in the economy as a result of “pent-up demand.”

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