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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10:50 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

San Francisco is living under shelter in place orders. Here's what's still allowed.

Empty cable cars are seen in San Francisco, California, on Monday.
Empty cable cars are seen in San Francisco, California, on Monday. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

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

Along with San Francisco, residents in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Marin, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties, along with the City of Berkeley are being required to stay home, per an order from Health Officers of those jurisdictions

In San Francisco, city officials ordered residents to remain in place at their homes except for essential activities, essential business and essential government functions.

The city government of San Fransisco said the following activities are essential and exempt from the orders:

Essential Activities (exemptions to the shelter in place order) include:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as getting food and supplies, pet food and getting supplies necessary for staying at home
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running provided that you maintain at least six feet of social distancing;
  • Performing work providing essential services at an Essential Business or Essential Government function, including work in health care work, child care and at grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • Caring for a family member in another household;
  • Caring for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
11:00 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

New York governor says "it's possible we will be doing more dramatic closings" of businesses

State of New York
State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said "it's possible we will be doing more dramatic closings" on top of closing bars, restaurants, and schools to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

He added that those orders won't be happening today. He said it might mean they have to "continue to close down things — such as businesses."

"We're not there yet — but I'm telling you we have to get down on that rate of spread," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said he's talking to other governors about ideas for what can be closed. He said "whatever we come up with will be statewide rules" for New York. He said he's "hopeful" that can be done with "surrounding states."

11:00 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

New York governor: We have "no plan whatsoever" to quarantine New York City

Governor Cuomo makes a statement in Albany, New York, on Tuesday.
Governor Cuomo makes a statement in Albany, New York, on Tuesday. State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there are no plans to quarantine New York City, despite rumors and fears.

"We hear New York City is going to quarantine itself — that is not true," Cuomo said at a news conference, adding that cities would need to get state approval to make such orders.

"We have no interest whatsoever — and no plan whatsoever — to quarantine any city," he said.

Earlier today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is "absolutely considering" ordering the city's residents to shelter in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Right now we have taken a series of steps to reduce the number of people who are circulating around," he said. "But we're going to look at all other options, and it could get to that for sure."

10:32 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

US Senate leader says they won't adjourn until passing coronavirus bill

From Clare Foran and Manu Raju 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves his office and walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on March 16.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves his office and walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on March 16. Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor that the Senate won’t adjourn until they build on what the House did in its coronavirus response package, talking about a need to go beyond what the House has done so far.

“The House of Representatives may have left town but the Senate is right here at work. We’re crafting the major legislation that the American people deserve in the face of this major challenge and it’s my intention that the Senate will not adjourn until we have passed significant and bold new steps above and beyond what the House has passed,” McConnell said, adding: “To help our strong nation and our strong underlying economy weather this storm.”

“Our health care system and our doctors, nurses and other frontline professionals are gearing up for what seems very likely to be the most significant nationwide challenge they have faced in generations,” McConnell added. “At every level this new challenge is testing our nation and its institutions”

What this is about: On Saturday, the House passed a coronavirus relief bill. The legislation will provide, according to Speaker of the aHouse Nancy Pelosi, "paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave." It will also expand federal funding for Medicaid "to support our local, state, tribal and territorial governments and health systems, so that they have the resources necessary to combat this crisis."

10:25 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Queen Elizabeth's schedule changes "as a precaution"

From CNN’s Max Foster

Queen Elizabeth II attends the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London, England, on March 9.
Queen Elizabeth II attends the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London, England, on March 9. Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Buckingham Palace is making a number of changes to Queen Elizabeth’s schedule “as a sensible precaution and for practical reasons in the current circumstances,” according to a statement Tuesday.

Several events "with large numbers of people due to have been attended by The Queen, and other Members of the Royal Family" have been canceled or postponed.                                                                     

"The annual Maundy Service at St George’s Chapel on 9th April will not go ahead. Three Garden Parties hosted by The Queen, due to be held at Buckingham Palace in May, will now not take place. Guests already invited to these Garden Parties will be asked to attend in 2021. Two additional Garden Parties given for the Not Forgotten Association and the National Trust will also not take place. Investitures will be rearranged to later dates," the statement said.

The Queen will moved to Windsor Castle for the Easter period on Thursday — a week earlier than scheduled. She'll stay there until after Easter, the statement said.

 

10:24 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Israel tells people to avoid leaving their homes and public transportation

From CNN’s Michael Schwartz and Oren Liebermann

An elderly couple wear face masks as they shop at a food market in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Tuesday.
An elderly couple wear face masks as they shop at a food market in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Tuesday. Credit: Oded Balilty/AP

Israel’s Ministry of Health has instructed people to avoid leaving the home unless absolutely necessary and to avoid public transportation entirely if possible.

The new instructions bring Israel one step closer to a full lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet enforced such stringent limitations.

The new instructions also encourage Israelis not to travel to meet with family members but instead to catch up over the phone or through video calls.

“These are not simple instructions,” said Ministry of Health Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov in a video posted on Twitter with the latest instructions. “We ask you to reduce as much as possible the number of times you leave your home. It is possible that anywhere you go, there could be someone who is sick [with coronavirus] who could infect you. It is possible that you are sick and you still don’t know, and you could infect someone else.”

“We may be about to enter a difficult period with the coronavirus. Our ability to succeed depends on your conduct and ours.”

President Reuven Rivlin urged Israelis to heed the latest instructions for the health of the country.

“We must not turn these days into leisure days,” he said in a video statement, continuing, “I hear that our beaches and our hiking trails are bursting. The danger is real! Let me ask you again to follow the instructions with regard to distancing, and to refrain from gatherings. This is a real danger.”

10:21 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Atlanta airport closes two domestic terminal checkpoints due to "declining demand"

From CNN's Tina Burnside and Amanda Watts 

A Delta airplane sits at the International Terminal at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on March 16.
A Delta airplane sits at the International Terminal at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on March 16. Credit: Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP

Hartsfield Jackson International Airport has temporarily closed the north and south domestic terminal checkpoints due to "declining demand," according to airport spokesperson, Elise Durham. 

Passengers at the world's busiest airport are being directed to the Main checkpoint until further notice. 

10:00 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Brooklyn will stop prosecuting "low-level offenses that don't jeopardize public safety"

From CNN's Erica Orden 

The Brooklyn, New York, district attorney's office says it will stop prosecuting “low-level offenses that don’t jeopardize public safety.”

Brooklyn district attorney Eric Gonzalez also says he is asking public defenders to tell the office about clients in pre-trial detention who are vulnerable to infection “and who we should consider releasing during this crisis.”

9:59 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Vail Resorts will close for the rest of the season

Skiers descend down a ski run at a Vail Resorts location in Vail, Colorado, in March 2018.
Skiers descend down a ski run at a Vail Resorts location in Vail, Colorado, in March 2018. Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Popular resort operator Vail Resorts said all of its North American resorts and retail stores will remain closed for the remainder of the winter ski season amidst the continued challenges associated with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement.

The company previously announced it was closing March 15-22, but now has chose to extend closures for 37 of its ski resorts located around the world.  

The company will consider reopening Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, Heavenly Mountain Resort in Lake Tahoe and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia in late April/early May, dependent on weather and coronavirus situations, according to the statement.