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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12:51 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Los Angeles closes bars, nightclubs and restaurants to stop coronavirus spread

From CNN's Alta Spells

Patrons sit outside a bar along the Venice Beach Boardwalk on Sunday in Los Angeles.
Patrons sit outside a bar along the Venice Beach Boardwalk on Sunday in Los Angeles. Marcio Jose Sanchez

Los Angeles has become the latest major US city to enforce social distancing by closing down large parts of its entertainment industry.

From midnight Sunday, all bars, nightclubs and restaurants will be closed until March 31, the city's mayor Eric Garcetti announced in a public address.

Restaurants and retail facilities are still allowed to offer drive-through, delivery and takeout services, Garcetti said.

"My first priority as your mayor is to protect you," Garcetti said in his address.

New York and Las Vegas both announced major closures of their entertainment industries on Sunday, with New York mayor Bill De Blasio temporarily closing restaurants, nightclubs and concert venues.

Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington and Pennsylvania have all issued similar orders to protect citizens during the coronavirus pandemic.

12:42 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Michigan confirms 20 new cases of coronavirus, bringing state total to 53

A Detroit woman with no history of international travel or confirmed contact with an infected patient is one of 20 new cases of coronavirus reported in Michigan Sunday.

The new cases bring the statewide total to 53, according to a news release from state officials. 

The cases include:

  • Three men in Washtenaw County, all with a history of international travel.
  • A boy in Oakland County with contact with a person with the virus.
  • Two men in Macomb County with no travel or contact reported.
  • A man in Kent County with a history of domestic travel.

There are now more than 3,400 confirmed or presumptive positive cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States.

12:32 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

China's central bank injects billions of dollars into financial system 

From CNN Business's Laure He in Hong Kong

People's Bank of China building in Beijing on October 28, 2017.
People's Bank of China building in Beijing on October 28, 2017. Shutterstock

The People's Bank of China on Monday pumped 100 billion yuan ($14.3 billion) into the financial system by offering one-year medium-term lending facility (MLF) loans to banks.

On Friday, the central bank announced it would cut the amount of cash banks need to hold as reserves by 50 basis points, injecting around 550 billion yuan ($78.6 billion) into the economy. The RRR cut took effect on Monday.

The PBOC also said it would take other measures to lower borrowing costs to protect the economy that has been damaged by the coronavirus outbreak.

It comes as fresh data from China today showed the economy has been hit harder than expected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Retail sales plunged 20.5% in the January-to-February period from a year earlier, much worse than the forecast 0.8% rise by analysts polled by Reuters, according to the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

12:26 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

US Customs and Border Protection announces increased staffing amid long lines at airports

Travelers wait to go through customs at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on March 15.
Travelers wait to go through customs at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on March 15. Michael Sadler via AP

US airports were packed with travelers and expats returning from around the world over the weekend, causing long queues amid enhanced health screenings.

Travelers complained that they are being made to wait for hours in close quarters at US airports to get screened for coronavirus.

Passengers arriving at Dallas, Chicago and New York all described long lines and confusion. At one New York airport, two travelers said they were alarmed when officials suggested they should share pens to fill out customs and medical forms.

In a statement Sunday night, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said wait times for travelers returning from Europe should now decrease after more staff were brought in at major airports.

“In order to address long processing times, CBP has engaged all local federal partners and stakeholders to develop operational plans at the 13 funneling airports to determine the most efficient and safe process flow for the traveling public," the statement said.

He said that screening process logistics had also been "refined."

"Implementing these measures helped reduce the wait times," he said.

12:18 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Japanese school kids telegraduate on Minecraft

From CNN’s Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo

Every March, Japanese school kids look forward to their graduation ceremonies and taking the next step in their lives.

But this year, as many Japanese schools have been closed for more than two weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak, some kids have had to come up with a more inventive way of celebrating the end of the school year.

A group of elementary school kids opted to hold a graduation ceremony themselves on Minecraft. 

In a post that quickly went viral, Japanese Twitter users commented on the ingenious way in which the kids’ telegraduation ceremony allowed them to avoid physical contact but be together in one place -- virtually.

“It was great to see him (my son) enjoying himself and having fun with his friends while doing this,” Twitter user @backyennew told CNN. 
“This experiment showed that the game world can function like a playground or a gymnasium for kids.”

12:14 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Peru closes borders, orders mandatory self-quarantine over coronavirus

From CNN's Jackie Castillo in Atlanta

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra issued a nationwide state of emergency Sunday during a televised news conference, to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Vizcarra said the state of emergency will last 15 days. He ordered people to stay home and self-quarantine to help slow the spread of coronavirus and guaranteed sufficient food and medicine for all Peruvians during this time of crisis.

The president also announced the closure of all borders.

As of Sunday, Peru has 71 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

12:10 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

US Peace Corps suspends all operations worldwide and announces evacuation of volunteers

From CNN's Daniel Allman

The US Peace Corps has decided to temporarily suspend all operations around the world and evacuate its volunteers as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.

"As COVID-19 continues to spread and international travel becomes more and more challenging by the day, we are acting now to safeguard your well-being and prevent a situation where volunteers are unable to leave their host countries," the group said in a statement published Sunday.

The Peace Corps had already evacuated volunteers from China and Mongolia following the outbreak at the beginning of the year.

Peace Corps director Jody Olsen said in the statement that she understood the evacuations would be "difficult, emotionally draining" experiences.

"Ensuring your health, safety and security is the highest priority of the Peace Corps," she said.

Since 1961, the Peace Corps have sent volunteers from the US to more than 141 countries worldwide to provide technical assistance on social and development projects.

11:58 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Here's where coronavirus cases have been reported in the US

From CNN's Christina Maxouris and Steve Almasy

A doctor and a nurse converse before testing patients for coronavirus at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle on March 13.
A doctor and a nurse converse before testing patients for coronavirus at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle on March 13. John Moore/Getty Images

There are at least 3,485 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to state and local health agencies, governments and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 65 deaths have been reported.

Only West Virginia has yet to report any cases -- every other state has at least one infection.

These are the worst affected states:

  • Washington: 769 cases, 42 deaths
  • New York: 729 cases, 3 deaths
  • California: 371 cases, 6 deaths
  • Massachusetts: 164 cases
  • Colarado: 131 cases, 1 death
  • Florida: 115 cases, 4 deaths

Read a full breakdown of the US cases here.

11:51 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Cruise ships are being left stranded at sea as coronavirus spreads

From CNN's Christina Zdanowicz

View of the Silver Explorer cruise ship in Castro, Chile, on March 15.
View of the Silver Explorer cruise ship in Castro, Chile, on March 15. Alvaro Vidal/AFP/Getty Images

Several cruise ships are stranded at sea, some with confirmed coronavirus cases onboard, as the pandemic expands around the globe.

Some ships have been denied port, leaving them to anchor off the coast of a country. Other cruises have docked with quarantined passengers aboard.

Three cruise ships have confirmed cases of coronavirus on board: the MS Braemar, Silver Shadow and Silver Explorer.

  • The MS Braemar has at least five confirmed coronavirus cases, four passengers and one crew member, and is frantically searching for a place to dock after it was refused several ports of entry in the Caribbean.
  • On the Silver Shadow, a Canadian passenger tested positive for coronavirus Saturday. The ship is currently docked off the port of Recife in Brazil, according to Brazil's state news agency Agencia Brasil.
  • Meanwhile an 83-year-old British passenger on the Silver Explorer, which is docked in Castro, Chile, tested positive for the virus Saturday, Chile's Health Minister Jaime Manalich said during a news conference in Santiago.

Hundreds of people contracted the virus during the quarantine of the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan in February, several of whom have died. For a time, the ship had the largest concentration of cases outside of mainland China, where the pandemic began.

Read more about the cruise ship cases here.