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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3:51 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

At least 100 people in the US have died from coronavirus

From CNN's Amanda Watts

At least 100 people have died from novel coronavirus across the United States, according to a tally by CNN.

There are at least 5,359 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.

According to the CDC there are 70 cases from repatriated citizens. According to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested through US public health systems, there are 5,289 cases in 49 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases to 5,359. 

West Virginia remains the only state not reporting any cases. 

3:41 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

European Union agrees to close external borders for 30 days

From CNN’s Sarah Dean

European leaders have decided to ban non-essential travel to the European Union for 30 days, President of the European Council Charles Michel announced today, saying it is a measure "to limit the spread of the virus globally".

The decision was first announced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel following a video conference with EU heads of state. 

“All the member states have taken very strong measures to reduce movement, to reduce travel… and also to take the pressure of health services,” Michel said. “Health is going to be key – everything is going to turn around that in the coming days.”

In a joint press conference alongside Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a “big topic” of discussion was the internal blockages with the movement of goods inside the EU.

“We have a lot of traffic jams… we need these goods,” she urged, adding there was approval from member states for so-called fast track lanes to get goods flowing. 

4:13 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

US Defense Department is giving 5 million face masks to health officials

From CNN's Ryan Browne

File photo of N95 face masks
File photo of N95 face masks Eva Hamback/AFP/Getty Images 

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper says the Defense Department will make five 5 million N95 masks available to the United States Department of Health and Human Services for distribution.  

The Defense Department is is also prepared to distribute up to 2,000 “deployable ventilators” as needed.

Esper added officials are considering activating National Guard and reserve units "to assist states with planning, logistics, and medical support as needed."

3:20 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Trump administration suggests salary cap for checks to Americans

From CNN's Manu Raju and Lauren Fox 

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

CNN has learned that the Trump administration is looking to set a cap on individuals eligible for the cash benefit.

What the threshold would be is still under consideration, but likely individuals would need to make below $100,000 perhaps the benefit could be capped for anyone making more than $75,000. 

What this is about: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at the White House this morning that the Trump administration is working to send money directly to Americans in a bid to curb the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” he said, adding that the administration was looking at ways to provide the checks within the next two weeks.

3:14 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

What it's like at the Geneva Airport

From CNN's Dominic Rech

Photos from Geneva Airport reveal an eerily quiet scene.

One British passenger captured what he described as feeling “a little apocalyptic,” as he arrived at the transit hub in Switzerland ahead of his flight back to the UK. 

“Everything bar two cafes are shut, no lounges open, no duty free. Face masks on every few people. Can tell people just want to stay away from each other and get home. It’s super unusual vibes… there aren’t really any staff around, bar security people," he said.

In one piece of video, announcements telling passengers to “keep a certain distance from each other” is being played, while no passengers actually seem to be in sight.


3:24 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

National Guard deployed in 22 states to help with coronavirus

From CNN's Ryan Browne

Colorado National Guard members assist the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment during a free, drive-up testing site for coronavirus in the parking lot of the Denver Coliseum on March 14.
Colorado National Guard members assist the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment during a free, drive-up testing site for coronavirus in the parking lot of the Denver Coliseum on March 14. Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post/Getty Images

More than 1,560 Air and Army National Guard members are now supporting the response to the coronavirus pandemic across 22 states.  

Their missions include "response planners; support to medical testing facilities; response liaisons and support to state Emergency Operations Centers; support to healthcare professionals; logistics support; assisting with disinfecting/cleaning of common public spaces; providing transportation support for health care providers; collecting and delivering samples; and assisting with sample administration," the National Guard said in a statement.

3:02 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

European Commission President hopes vaccine will be on the market "before autumn"

From CNN’s Sarah Dean

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hopes there will be a coronavirus vaccine on the market "perhaps before autumn."

The €80 million EU boost of financial support to Germany-based research company CureVac to scale up development and production of vaccinations "could save lives in Europe as well as around the world," von der Leyen said.

3:11 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Treasury secretary: "We have put a proposal on the table that would inject $1 trillion into the economy"

From CNN's Manu Raju

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirms CNN reporting on a proposal to inject money into the US economy.

"We have put a proposal on the table that would inject a trillion into the economy," he said.

Mnuchin said Congress can worry about deficits at a "different time."

He would not go into if he wants the Senate to pass the House bill unchanged, saying conversations are continuing on that.

2:50 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

North Carolina's bars and restaurants limited to takeout and delivery orders only

From CNN's Lindsay Benson 

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the state's bars and restaurants will be closed to sit-down service, and limited to only takeout or delivery orders, starting today at 5 p.m. ET.

Cooper also said he will be, "taking down some of the barriers to unemployment benefits, in response to this unprecedented health crisis."

The state has a total of 40 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with no deaths at the time of Cooper's statement this afternoon.