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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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.

11:31 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Here's the coronavirus situation in the US

A nurse holds a swab to take a sample at a drive up coronavirus testing station at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle on March 13.
A nurse holds a swab to take a sample at a drive up coronavirus testing station at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle on March 13. Ted S. Warren/AP

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic in the United States:

Cases: There are at least 3,485 cases of the novel coronavirus across 49 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, according to state and local health agencies, governments and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In total, 65 people have died from the novel coronavirus.

Pence to announce new guidelines: US Vice President Pence said new guidelines will be released Monday regarding potential curfews or closures of locations such as restaurants.

Parts of Las Vegas strip shuts down: Several resorts and casinos, including Wynn and MGM, will close in an effort to create social distancing. Caesars Entertainment said all live ticketed performances would be suspended beginning Sunday night.

Navy ship case: A sailor serving aboard the USS Boxer received a presumptive positive coronavirus test, the first case of a sailor aboard a Navy ship, according to a US Navy news release.

Canceling events: The CDC recommends canceling or postponing events involving more than 50 people for eight weeks throughout the US. Several states and cities have enacted social distancing measures, such as closing or reducing capacity of restaurants, cafes and bars.

School closures: Schools have now been closed in 32 states, as well as Los Angeles and New York City.

Fed cuts interest rates: The Federal Reserve cut the target interest rate to zero on Sunday to help the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the measures were "essential to contain the outbreak," but will "take a toll on the economy in the near term."

More testing labs: Vice President Pence announced that “more than 2,000 labs” will have high-speed testing capacity by Monday. Adm. Brett Giroir with the US Public Health Service said there would be 1.9 million tests available this week across the 2,000 labs.  

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

US states adopt social distancing measures in effort to contain coronavirus spread

People eat at a nearly empty bar and restaurant in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
People eat at a nearly empty bar and restaurant in Los Angeles on Sunday night. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Several US states and cities have announced widespread mandatory closures as part of attempts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington and Pennsylvania are temporarily closing restaurants and bars, with some exceptions, while schools are closed in Schools have now been closed in 32 states as well as Los Angeles and New York City.

New York announced earlier tonight that it would be closing all theaters and concert halls and only allowing takeaway food from restaurants.

On its official Twitter account, the Baltimore City Health Department posted a simple but stark reminder of why social distancing is important amid the coronavirus pandemic.

11:06 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

New York to shutter theaters and nightclubs amid coronavirus pandemic

People read a notification at the Lyric Theatre that Broadway productions have been suspended on March 12, in New York City.
People read a notification at the Lyric Theatre that Broadway productions have been suspended on March 12, in New York City. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced tonight he will sign an executive order on Monday shutting down much of the city's famous nightlife.

In a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus in New York, all nightclubs, movie theaters and concert venues will be ordered shut, De Blasio said in a statement.

He added that all restaurants, bars and cafes would be limited to "food take-out and delivery."

The order will go into effect from Tuesday at 9 a.m.

It comes as the state of Pennsylvania has ordered all restaurants and bars to close their dine-in facilities in five counties from Monday for 14 days, according to a news release from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. 

Businesses that offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service may continue to do so, but eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is temporarily prohibited.

10:54 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

China industrial output and investment plummet amid coronavirus pandemic

From CNN Business Laura He in Hong Kong

Fresh data coming out of China 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.

Industrial output also fell 13.5% during the same period, while fixed asset investment plunged 24.5%, both widely missing estimates.

10:56 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

More than half of coronavirus cases in France under intensive care are below the age of 60

More than half of France's 300 coronavirus patients in intensive care are under the age of 60, according to the head of the country's national health agency.

“We have counted this evening 300 serious cases in intensive care. We have serious cases also amid adults and let me remind you that more than 50% of people in intensive care are under 60," Jerome Salomon said at a news conference on Saturday.

Salomon did not specify the age range of those under 60.

As of Sunday, French health authorities said there are 5,423 confirmed cases in the country, with 127 deaths reported.

That is an increase of 29 deaths and more that 1,300 cases from the day before, according to health authorities.

10:44 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Guatemala announces first coronavirus death

An 85-year-old man with pre-existing health issues has become the first person in Guatemala to die of the novel coronavirus, according to a statement released Sunday by the health ministry.  

The victim had entered the country from Madrid in February. According to the ministry, there is one confirmed case of coronavirus in Guatemala.

10:34 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Just joining us? Here's the latest on the coronavirus

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic:

The numbers: As of Sunday afternoon in Geneva, the World Health Organization was reporting at least 153,648 cases worldwide. A separate tally by Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases reported by the WHO and additional sources, estimates that number may now be around 167,000, with over 6,400 deaths.

More cases outside China than inside: Mainland China reported 16 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 14 new deaths as of Sunday, bringing the country's total number of cases to 80,860. There are now more cases outside of mainland China than there are inside.

Italy cases spike: Italy on Sunday announced 368 new fatalities in just 24 hours, bringing the total death toll in the country to 1,809. The total number of cases there reached 24,747, with an increase of 3,590 new cases recorded in 24 hours, according to the country's Civil Protection Department.

Fed cuts rates: In a bold, emergency action to support the economy during the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Reserve announced it would cut its target interest rate to zero. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the measures were "essential to contain the outbreak," but will "take a toll on the economy in the near term."

US emergency measures: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends canceling or postponing events involving more than 50 people for eight weeks as US cases rise past 3,400. Some 29 states have announced school closures and several states are ordering bars and restaurants to close.

Travel restrictions: More countries are enacting border or travel restrictions. Lebanon announced a two-week lockdown, closing its airport, borders and ports, and people there are obligated to stay in their homes. The UK is advising against “all but essential travel to the USA." Iraq is restricting movement in Baghdad for nearly a week, Colombia will block entry for all non-residents and require residents who enter the country to self-isolate for 14 days, and Germany is restricting border access with France, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg. Mexico is asking citizens to avoid non-essential travel, and the Czech Republic is shutting down public services to prevent the virus spreading.

Asia measures: Singapore will impose a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine for new visitors traveling from several East Asian countries, Switzerland and the UK. Hong Kong is urging its citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to Ireland, the UK and US. The Philippines has suspended land, sea and air transport in the Metro Manila area, limited the number of people entering the capital, shut schools and banned mass gatherings.

Africa action: South Africa has declared a national disaster and announced travel restrictions to combat Covid-19. Kenya's government announced new travel restrictions after confirming two more cases. Morocco has suspended all international flights to and from its territory “until further notice.”  

10:39 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

United Airlines to cut flight capacity by 50% in April and May

From CNN's Greg Wallace 

A United Airlines plane sits parked at a gate at San Francisco International Airport on March 6 in California.
A United Airlines plane sits parked at a gate at San Francisco International Airport on March 6 in California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In a letter to employees, United Airlines says it will slash its capacity by half in April and May due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus crisis.

"Tomorrow, we will announce an approximately 50% cut in capacity for April and May. We also now expect these deep cuts to extend into the summer travel period," the letter states.

The company also says it is in discussions with the union about reducing payroll expenses.

"While it's now clear that this is going to painful for our people, we promise that you are at the very top of our priority list. We are working night and day on support and ideas to keep as much pay as we possibly can flowing to you -- even if gets worse from here and demand temporarily plummets to zero," the letter explains.

The letter says corporate officers will have their pay cut by 50%.