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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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%. 

10:23 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

The majority of coronavirus cases have now been outside of mainland China

From CNN Health’s Michael Nedelman and Arman Azad

There have now been more reported cases of the novel coronavirus outside of mainland China than inside, according to numbers from the World Health Organization and public health agencies tracked by CNN.

While China, the early epicenter of the outbreak, has still had more confirmed infections than any other country -- over 80,000 -- cases in several other countries have surged in recent days.

Italy now has more than 24,000 cases, while Iran has almost 14,000, and Spain has at least 7,000.

On February 26, the WHO reported for the first time that the majority of new cases per day had come from outside of China.

The trend has continued as newly confirmed cases in China have dwindled in recent days, while other countries have discovered thousands of new infections – including the United States, which has now reported more than 3,400 cases.

10:03 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

US coronavirus cases now above 3,400, death toll rises to 65

There are at least 3,482 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.

According to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the United States through US public health systems, there are now cases in 49 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories.

In total, 65 people have died from the novel coronavirus in the US.

At this stage, West Virginia is the only state yet to report a case of coronavirus.  

9:54 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Parts of the Las Vegas strip are shutting down due to coronavirus

An exterior view shows MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday.
An exterior view shows MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Las Vegas strip is feeling the effects of coronavirus as a number of resorts and casinos close in an effort to create social distancing.

Wynn Resorts has announced it will close its Wynn Las Vegas and Encore properties beginning on Tuesday and continuing for two weeks.

MGM Resorts will close its properties, announcing casino operations will close on Monday and properties will close on Tuesday.

Caesars Entertainment announced on their verified Twitter account that all live ticketed performance would be suspended beginning Sunday night.

These are the latest in a series of high profile closures in the US amid the coronavirus pandemic, including Broadway theaters and Disney theme parks.

9:55 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Panama will limit entry into the country to residents and citizens, President says

From CNN’s Patrick Oppmann and Jackie Castillo

Only citizens and residents of Panama will be able to enter the country starting Sunday, Panamanian President Nito Cortizo announced in a tweet.

Panamanian travelers and residents allowed entry will have to complete a 14-day period of home quarantine to combat the spread of coronavirus nationwide, he said.

9:43 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

US federal government agencies asked to offer "maximum telework flexibilities" around DC

From CNN’s Sara Murray

The US government has called on federal agencies to "assertively safeguard the health and safety of their workforce" by allowing for the ability to telework wherever possible.

In an update from the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) today, agencies were told to "offer maximum telework flexibilities to all current telework eligible employees."

The OMB said the decision was being made “in light of the evolving situation concerning the corona virus and the National Capitol Region (NCR) experiencing community transmission."
It added that all efforts must also be made to "(remain) open to serve the American people and conduct mission critical functions."

There are now 16 confirmed or presumptive confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Washington DC.

9:31 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

First US Navy sailor tests positive for virus aboard ship

From CNN’s Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr

The USS Boxer during an amphibious exercise in the East Sea between Japan and South Korea in a file photo from March 8, 2016.
The USS Boxer during an amphibious exercise in the East Sea between Japan and South Korea in a file photo from March 8, 2016. Seaman Craig Z. Rodarte/US Navy via Getty Images

A sailor serving aboard the amphibious assault ship 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.

Personnel that the individual immediately identified having close contact with have been notified and are in self-isolation at their residences, the release said.

“The individual is currently quarantined at home in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines,” the release said. “Personnel that the individual immediately identified having close contact with have been notified and are in self-isolation at their residences. None of them is aboard the ship currently.”

Earlier on Sunday, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar announced in statement that a second Marine stationed at the base in California has tested positive for coronavirus. 

The air station is conducting an investigation to determine who may have had contact with the Marine and notify them of the situation. The Marine was placed into isolation in a barracks room at the base designated for quarantine, the statement said.

9:21 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

CDC recommends canceling or postponing events involving more than 50 people for eight weeks

From CNN's Ben Tinker

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published interim guidance Sunday recommending "that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States."

"Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populationshand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual," the CDC's guidance said.

The CDC's recommendation does not apply to "day to day operations of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning or businesses."

"This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus. This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials," the CDC said.

9:21 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Vice President Pence says new guidelines on curfews and social distancing to come Monday

From Jason Hoffman and Nicky Robertson

Vice President Pence said there will be new guidelines released Monday morning regarding potential curfews or closures of such locations as restaurants.

Pence said those guidelines are being vetted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for now, the federal government is deferring to decisions made by state and local governments.

"What my health care team, some of the best people in the world, tell me very regularly is that it's very important that you follow the data, you make decisions based on the circumstances that are taking place in that community," Pence said.