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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2:53 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Macy's will temporarily close all stores in response to coronavirus

Scott Heins/Getty Images
Scott Heins/Getty Images

Department store Macy’s will be temporarily closing all stores by the end of business day today, according to a press release.

The closings include all Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bluemercury, Macy’s Backstage, Bloomingdales the Outlet and Market by Macy’s stores.

According to the release, the company will continue to use e-commerce platforms:

“We will work with government and health officials to assess when we will reopen our stores and safely bring our colleagues back to work,” said Jeff Gennette, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy’s, Inc.
2:20 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

The world's largest hotel chain is starting to furlough employees

From CNN’s Jordan Valinsky

Marriott International, the world's largest hotel chain, has started furloughing employees.

Tens of thousands of workers could be affected by the furloughs as demand dries up for travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

All levels of Marriott employees could be furloughed — from housekeepers to general managers. There won't be job cuts on the corporate level yet. The company has also begun shutting down some of its managed hotels. 

Marriott said in a statement to CNN Business that its business has been "experiencing significant drops in demand" at its hotels because of the pandemic and is "adjusting global operations accordingly."

 "We are working quickly to mitigate the impact to our business while also focusing on assisting our associates, our guests and our owners," a Marriott spokesperson said. "While the ultimate impact is difficult to predict at this time given the fluidity of the situation, we remain confident in our long-term prospects."

The Wall Street Journal was first to report the news, which Marriott confirmed.

The company employs 130,000 people in the US and intends to rehire many of the furloughed employees once the virus is contained.

2:16 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

New Jersey has 89 new cases of coronavirus

New Jersey confirms 89 new coronavirus cases, bringing the statewide total to 267, Gov. Phil Murphy just announced in an ongoing press conference.

2:15 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

New Mexico now has 20 confirmed cases

New Mexico public health officials now say the state has 20 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services website.

CNN has previously reported 18 cases of Coronavirus in the state.

2:14 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Vermont is changing the way it reports cases. There are now 10 cases in the state.

From CNN's Carma Hassan

Vermont will no longer report non-Vermont resident cases of the novel coronavirus, according to the state’s Department of Health spokesman Ben Truman.

Yesterday, the state was reporting 12 cases of coronavirus: 8 Vermont residents and 4 non-Vermont residents with coronavirus.

 Today, it is only reporting 10 cases of coronavirus among its residents.

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.