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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2:50 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.

2:46 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

New Jersey will close all indoor shopping malls and amusement parks starting at 8 p.m.

New Jersey will close all indoor shopping malls, amusement parks and amusement centers across the state at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday.

They will remain closed "until the current emergency ends," Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Restaurants located inside the mall with their own independent entrances fall under the same regulations announced yesterday, which permit takeout services only.

Outside of indoor malls, other businesses specifically ordered to shut down, or the restaurants and bars that have to adhere to takeout policies, “all other non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses may remain open until 8 p.m. if they abide by our social distancing guidelines,” he said.

"The steps we’re taking may lead to short-term pain for 9 million of us living a different sort of lifestyle, it is for good reason."
2:43 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

NYC will be able to run up to 5,000 tests per day by Thursday

New York City will have the ability to administer 5,000 tests per day by Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said today.

The city’s public health-care system is forming a private partnership that will allow the public care system to run these tests. 

The results will take one to two days.

Calling it a "huge increase in testing capacity," the focus will be on those who are currently hospitalized and those who are medically in danger. 

2:41 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

There has been a 40% decrease in travel through Atlanta's airport

From CNN’s Angela Barajas and Nick Valencia 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said today that passenger traffic at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is down 40%.

Airport officials are screening passengers on flights arriving from international destinations before they disembark.

A TSA agent who had tested positive fro COVID-19 is now in quarantine. 

2:39 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Italy now has more than 31,000 confirmed cases

From CNN's Nicola Ruotolo in Rome and Mia Alberti in London

Italy announced 3,526 new cases of the novel coronavirus today, bringing the country's total to 31,506, according to Angelo Borreli, chief of the Italian Civil Protection Department.

There were also 345 more deaths recorded today, bringing the total number of coronavirus deaths in Italy to 2,503, Borrelli said. 

Here's what else Borrelli said:

  • 192 more people recovered from the virus Tuesday. 
  • There are 1,108 people in isolation with light or no symptoms
  • 2,060 are in intensive care (10% of the cases)
2:37 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Airports are concerned about ability to pay debts and fund ongoing projects 

From CNN's Geneva Sands

US airports are seeking $10 billion in immediate relief from Congress to help maintain ongoing operations, while continuing to pay for projects and service debt, according to the American Association of Airport Executives. 

“I want to make clear that I'm not suggesting that airports are going to shut down,” said Joel Bacon, AAE Executive Vice President, Government & Public Affairs. “What we are worried about is the ability to meet ongoing operational concerns and to pay for ongoing projects and existing debt.”

There's a “high level of concern" amongst airports about the ability of airlines to weather the storm, Bacon said. Therefore the association is working to be as supportive as possible to the relief request from the airlines. 

The airport association is calling on Congress for a relief package that includes funds for both airports and airlines. There is a “symbiotic and interdependent” relationship between the two industries, Bacon said. 

Airports collect fees from airline passengers and as the number of travelers continue to drop, the airports anticipate significant revenue loss.

The industry is estimating a 40% reduction in revenue at airports, which translates into roughly $10 billion — the request for the administration and Congress for relief. 

Bacon said the proposal was “well received” on the Hill, but things remain fluid. 

2:34 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Florida's governor issues statewide executive order on bars, beaches and restaurants

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis just issued an executive order to reduce crowds in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and beaches in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Here's how it breaks down, according to the governor's press release:

  • Bars and nightclubs: They are closed for the next 30 days.
  • Beaches: All parties accessing public beaches in the state of Florida must follow the CDC guidance by limiting their gatherings to no more than 10 people.
  • Restaurants: They will now be required to limit customer entry to 50% capacity. Seating must be staggered and limited to ensure guests are separated by a distance of at least six feet, in accordance with CDC guidelines. Restaurants are encouraged to remain open and expand take-out and delivery services.
2:33 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Disney postpones Marvel's 'Black Widow' due to coronavirus outbreak

From CNN’s Frank Pallotta

Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

"Black Widow," the new Marvel film starring Scarlett Johansson, has been postponed. The film was set to hit theaters on May 1. 

The company did not give a new release date for the film. 

Disney also announced that it would be delaying "The Personal History of David Copperfield," which was set to open on May 8, and "The Woman in the Window," which was scheduled to hit theaters on May 15.

The company did not say when it would release those films.

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.