March 17 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Jack Guy, CNN

Updated 0220 GMT (1020 HKT) March 18, 2020
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2:25 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Price tag for response package now $1 trillion, source says

From CNN's Manu Raju

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is pitching senators on a first wave of checks to Americans worth $250 billion, a source familiar tells CNN.

If the economy needs it, Mnuchin is proposing, there would be a second wave several weeks later, according to the source.

The source also says the price tag for the response package is now $1 trillion, although this is an estimate and could change. 


2:06 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

There are now more than 5,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US

From CNN's Amanda Watts

There are at least 5,139 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to the state and local health agencies, governments and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are 70 cases from repatriated citizens, per the CDC.

According to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested through US public health systems, there are 5,069 cases in 49 states, the District of Columbia and US territories. That brings the total number of coronavirus cases to 5,139. 

In total, 97 people have died. 

West Virginia remains the only state not reporting any cases. 

1:53 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Massachusetts governor: "We are not planning any shelter-in-place orders"

Massachusetts Gov. Baker denied rumors that a shelter-in-place order could go into effect across the state.

“Let me be clear: We are not planning any shelter in place orders,” he told reporters in a press conference this afternoon.

“In times of crisis, it’s imperative that people get their news from legitimate places, and sometimes that’s not from your friends’ friends’ friends’ neighbor," he added.

Nearly seven million people living in a wide swath of Northern California, including Silicon Valley, are currently under a "shelter-in-place order."

Earlier today, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state wasn't considering similar orders either.

1:47 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Britain unveils $400 billion economic package for struggling businesses

From CNN's Rob Picheta in London

The British government has promised to provide £330 billion ($400bn) in loans and guarantees to businesses, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to act like he is leading a “wartime government” and do “whatever it takes to support our economy.”

Business rates will be put on hold for a year, the chancellor Rishi Sunak added at a daily coronavirus press conference on Tuesday evening, and mortgage lenders will also offer a three month “mortgage holiday” for those struggling due to coronavirus.

Sunak added that he will talk with the UK's transport secretary to discuss an economic package for airlines and airports, which are struggling around the world as sweeping travel restrictions are put in place.

The finance minister said the pandemic has caused an “economic emergency” as well as a public health one, and Johnson added that, in addition to the “extreme” measures previously announced, “we may well have to go further and faster in the coming days.”

Johnson advised Britons to avoid pubs, restaurants and theaters, and said they should limit social contact on Monday. Earlier on Tuesday, the government also advised against non-essential foreign travel.  

But some have questioned why Britain has been slower to enact more draconian restrictions, as many European nations have.

Sunak said pubs, bars and theaters with insurance that cover pandemics will be allowed to make insurance claims against their policy. For those that aren’t covered, there will be a £25,000 cash grant per business to help “bridge this period” for the likes of shops, music venues and theaters. 

But he did not go as far as countries such as France, which earlier this week waived utility bills and rents for citizens struggling during the crisis.

1:57 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

UK may need to go "further and faster" in the coming days, prime minister says

From CNN’s Sarah Dean and Lauren Kent

Matt Dunham/Pool/AP
Matt Dunham/Pool/AP

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the UK may need to go “further and faster” in the coming days to battle coronavirus

Speaking during his daily address to the nation from Downing Street alongside Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, Johnson said: “Yes, this enemy can be deadly, but it is also beatable and we know how to beat it… if we follow scientific advice.”

“We have the resolve and resources to win the fight,” Johnson said. 

1:43 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Florida bans groups of 10 or more from beaches

Chris O'Meara/AP
Chris O'Meara/AP

Florida is barring groups of 10 or more people from beaches, Gov. Ron DeSantis said today. This was in response to recent spring break crowds on beaches in the state.

This follows US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The governor added that a six-foot distance should be maintained between groups. 

While the decision on whether or not to close beaches is being left with local governments, DeSantis says, "It's our hope that these new restrictions will reduce the ability of folks to congregate in large numbers."

1:28 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Somalia confirms first coronavirus case 

From CNN's Radina Gigova

 Somalia has confirmed the country's first coronavirus case, according to the Ministry of Health. 

The person is a Somali citizen who tested positive for the virus in the capital Mogadishu, the ministry announced.

"We commend all medical practitioners across the globe working hard to counter the #CoronavirusPandemic," Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo wrote on his Twitter on Monday.  

"I urge everyone to support all efforts and recommended medical measures to slow the spread of #COVID19 and keep the numbers low," Farmajo also wrote. 

1:16 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

CNN's Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction podcast is sharing stories of Americans who tested positive

What does it feel like when someone contracts COVID-19 and is under quarantine?

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta shares the stories of two Americans who tested positive in today's episode of the Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction podcast.

You can listen to the latest episode here.

1:02 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Fauci says we won't know if the curve if flattening "for several weeks or maybe longer"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The National Institutes of Health's Dr. Anthony Fauci provided an explanation for why we might not know whether we’re actually flattening the curve for several weeks of containment and mitigation measures. 

Fauci said that because the curve of those who have the virus will certainly continue to go up, it will be hard to tell immediately whether those measure are having an effect.

“It probably would be several weeks or maybe longer before we know whether we had an effect. And maybe, at the end of the day, we’ll see a curve that would’ve been way, way up. But I wouldn’t, like, put us to task every few days. ‘Well wait a minute, it’s going up, is it working or not?’ That would be really misleading if we do that,” he said.