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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4:46 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

California's largest mall closed after employee tests positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Sarah Moon

California’s largest mall South Coast Plaza is now closed after an employee from the Christian Louboutin boutique tested positive for coronavirus, the mall said in a post on Instagram.

The mall in Costa Mesa is closed for 14 days from today and plans to reopen on March 31.

Restaurants will be open for delivery services and catering.

South Coast Plaza is the largest mall on the West Coast with over 250 boutiques and 30 restaurants. The luxury shopping mall is located in Orange County.


4:41 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

China's coronavirus lockdown curbs deadly pollution

From CNN's Ivana Kottasova

The drastic measures enforced by China during the coronavirus outbreak have slashed deadly air pollution, potentially saving the lives of tens of thousands of people, according to a Stanford University researcher.

Marshall Burke, an assistant professor at Stanford's Department of Earth System Science, said the better air quality could have saved between 50,000 and 75,000 people from dying prematurely.

"The reductions in air pollution in China caused by this economic disruption likely saved twenty times more lives in China than have currently been lost due to infection with the virus in that country," Burke wrote on G-Feed, a site run by a group of scientists researching the relationship between society and the environment.

The scientist quantified the improved air quality in four Chinese cities and, using data gathered around the 2008 Beijing Olympics when Chinese authorities implemented strict pollution controls on industry and transportation, calculated the estimated improvement in premature deaths for children under 5 and people over 70.

Burke calculated that the two months of cleaner air has saved the lives of between 1,400 and 4,000 kids under 5 and 51,700 to 73,000 adults over 70 in China.

He said that while the cleaner air likely saved lives, the broader disruption caused by COVID-19 could cause many additional deaths that are not directly attributable to being infected with the virus. 

"Does this mean pandemics are good for health? No," he said. "Instead it means that the way our economies operate absent pandemics has massive hidden health costs, and it takes a pandemic to help see that."

4:34 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Four Brooklyn Nets players test positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Homero De La Fuente

The Brooklyn Nets announced on Tuesday that four players on the team had tested positive for coronavirus.

One of the them shows symptoms, while the other three are asymptomatic, according to a statement from the team.

"The organization is currently notifying anyone who has had known contact with the players, including recent opponents, and is working closely with state and local health authorities on reporting," the team said.

The NBA season was suspended last week after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

Before the Nets announced four players had tested there had been three other players that had tested positive, Gobert and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz and an unnamed player on the Detroit Pistons. 

4:23 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Montenegro confirms first two coronavirus cases

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Montenegro has confirmed the first two coronavirus cases for the country, Prime Minister Duško Marković announced Tuesday.

In order to protect citizens from the spread of coronavirus, public transportation including buses and rail is suspended, the operation of indoor and outdoor sports and recreational facilities and swimming pools is prohibited, the government said in a statement on Tuesday.

Hair and beauty salons will also be closed, according to the statement.

The government is recommending weddings be postponed and advises burials to be held in a narrow family circle.

Shops should also dedicate the first two hours of opening to the elderly and persons with disabilities, the government said.

5:01 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Stocks stage rebound after one of the ugliest days

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

US stocks finished higher on Tuesday, staging a rebound after one of the ugliest days on record for the market in the prior session.

The Trump administration outlined measures to combat the coronavirus fallout, including a proposed $1 trillion economic response package, that were deemed positive by investors.

Here's where things stand:

  • The Dow closed up 5.2%, or 1,049 points, higher. 
  • The S&P 500 rose nearly 6%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite finished 6.2% higher.

As stocks settle after the trading day, levels might still change slightly.


3:58 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Spain will distribute more than 1 million face masks

From CNN's Lauren Kent and Mia Alberti

Spanish authorities have begun distributing more than one million surgical masks across the country.

The Ministry of Health, in a statement, said an airplane carrying 500,000 masks arrived from Shanghai, China, on Tuesday. 

The masks "were donated and will be distributed in the next few hours," the statement read. "Besides that, between Monday and Tuesday, the government has distributed some other 546,000 masks."

The Ministry said the biggest number of masks will be sent to the capital, Madrid, "because it's also the region with the biggest number of positive cases."

4:18 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Study says novel coronavirus can last on surfaces for up to 3 days

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Kevin Hagen/AP
Kevin Hagen/AP

The details of a study that found the novel coronavirus could remain on contaminated plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to three days has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine as a correspondence to the editor.

The study — funded by the National Institutes of Health — was posted online last week. 

For the study, researchers compared the "surface stability" of the novel coronavirus with that of the SARS-CoV-1 virus, which sparked the SARS epidemic that started in 2002.

The researchers found that the novel coronavirus could be detected on... 

  • Copper for up to four hours
  • Cardboard for up to 24 hours 
  • Plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours.

Also, the coronavirus could linger in aerosols — the suspension of tiny particles or droplets in the air — for up to three hours, according to the study.

SARS-CoV-2 — the name of the novel coronavirus — and SARS-CoV-1 “was similar to that of SARS-CoV-1 under the experimental circumstances tested," the researchers wrote in the study. 

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses common among animals. In rare cases, they are what scientists call zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans. Researchers have estimated that coronaviruses can linger on surfaces from just hours to more than a week.

A study published last month in The Journal of Hospital Infection found that human coronaviruses, such as SARS, have been found to persist on inanimate surfaces — including metal, glass or plastic surfaces — for as long as nine days if that surface had not been disinfected. 

Researchers continue to investigate just how long the novel coronavirus can linger on surfaces and even in the air, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, World Health Organization infectious disease epidemiologist, said during a media briefing on Monday.  

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.