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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12:05 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Trump predicts economy will "pop" once country emerges from crisis

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump predicted a speedy economic recovery once the current coronavirus outbreak passes, saying he believed it could come quicker than some are predicting.

“It will pop,” Trump said, saying the administration was working to provide relief to affected industries and small businesses to ensure the country emerges from the crisis “with (a) prosperous and growing economy.”

Trump predicted victory against the virus in optimistic terms.

“We will be up here saying, well, we won. We'll say that. Sure as you're sitting there we'll say that. We are going to win,” he said. “I think we are going to win faster than people think, I hope.”

12:04 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

US Vice President Mike Pence urges construction companies to donate masks to hospitals

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

Vice President Mike Pence urged construction companies to donate construction-grade N95 masks to local hospitals and forego additional orders as the nation’s hospitals work to procure masks for healthcare workers.

“We would make one specific request, and that is we would urge construction companies to donate their inventory of N95 masks to your local hospital and forego additional orders of those industrial masks,” Pence said, adding, “Those industrial masks that they use on construction sites are perfectly acceptable for healthcare workers to be protected from a respiratory disease.”

He reiterated, “We’re asking construction companies that our President knows very well from his background, we’re asking them to donate to their local hospitals and also forego making additional orders.”

Pence also announced that the administration “spoke just yesterday with the leaders of every broadcast network in America that we’ll soon be unveiling a public service campaign using CDC guidelines.”

12:17 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Trump walks back criticism of New York governor, says he's doing a good job

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump appeared to walk back his Tuesday morning Twitter warning to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, telling reporters they had a productive call as New York faces coronavirus.

“There’s great, tremendous spirit. And I can say that for Republicans and Democrats. I could say that with respect to Gov. Cuomo. We had a great talk this morning. We’re both doing a really good job and we’re coordinating it and we agree: different states need different things,” Trump said, contradicting his morning tweet.

He continued, “I think we are right down the same track and it’s going to be very successful. New York has a pretty big problem - the number one hotspot, it’s no fault of anybody, just the way it is. But we’re working very closely together and also getting FEMA very much involved.”

He said that the administration is “dealing with the Army Corps of Engineers, should that be necessary,” adding that the Army Corps of Engineers is working on standby in some cases and are engaged in other

Trump concluded, “My conversation with Andrew Cuomo was a very productive one and a very good one and I appreciate that.”


11:56 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Trump lays out new testing authority for states, tele-health initiatives

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez 

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump laid out two new efforts being undertaken by his administration as part of the federal response to the spread of novel coronavirus in the US. 

First, Trump said the Food and Drug Administration announced, “groundbreaking new policies to further increase testing.”

“All states can now authorize tests developed and used within their borders in addition to the FDA,” Trump said.

Second, Trump said the administration would be expanding accessibility to tele-health services for individuals using Medicare. 

“Today we’re also announcing a dramatic expansion of our tele-health services. Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or video conference at no additional cost, including with commonly used services like FaceTime and Skype,” Trump said. “In addition, states have the authority to cover tele-health services for their medical patients.”

The President added that the administration “will not enforce applicable HIPAA penalties so that doctors can greatly expand care for their patients using tele-health.”

11:49 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

There are now more than 5,000 coronavirus cases in the US

There are at least 5,010 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 in the United States through US public health systems, there are 4,940 cases in 49 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases to 5,010. 

In total, 97 people have died. 

11:38 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Maryland will turn car inspection sites into drive-through testing centers, governor says

From CNN's Carma Hassan


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said all vehicle emissions inspection programs will cease operations on inspections.

He has instead directed the state's Health Department and the Department of Transportation to repurpose them into drive-through coronavirus testing centers across the state.

11:27 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Uber pool service suspended in both the United States and Canada

 From CNN’s Gregory Lemos

Ride-share giant Uber announced Monday it is suspending its pool option in both the United States and Canada as concerns over the spread of novel coronavirus continue to rise. 

"Our goal @uber is to help flatten the curve of community spread in the cities we serve," Uber Rides and Platform Vice President Andrew Macdonald tweeted.

Macdonald said Uber is taking other steps to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Uber sent an in-app messages to their customers asking them to only travel when necessary to "make sure rides are available for those who truly need them.

Uber is also asking its riders to practice good hygiene by washing their hands, sitting in the backseat, covering their mouth if they cough or sneeze, and rolling down a window for ventilation, according to Macdonald's tweet. 

Uber will continue operating its on-demand individual booking. Uber Eats will also remain open and has also announced measures to financially buoy local businesses and its drivers.

"While foot traffic may have temporarily declined, fixed costs for our restaurant partners remain constant, putting their finances front-and-center," Janelle Sallenave, Head of Uber Eats US & Canada, wrote in a statement.

More about Uber Eats: Uber Eats is waiving delivery fees, allowing customers to request food be left at their doorstep, providing free marketing on its app for restaurants, and has tighten its payment timeline from weekly to daily, Sallenave said. Uber Eats has also offered financial support to drivers and delivery personnel should they become infected with coronavirus.

Additionally, Uber Eats will has promised to deliver over 300,000 meals to health care workers and first responders.

"The coming weeks will be challenging for all of us," Sallenave wrote. "We are committed to working with our restaurant partners, government agencies, first responders, and communities at large to keep people safe and fed."

11:23 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Miami is closing all non-essential business due to coronavirus outbreak

Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images
Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The City of Miami, Florida, has issued an order on Tuesday mandating all entertainment and non-essential business establishments to close until further notice due to increased cases of community transmission in Florida, according to a news release from the city. 

The order which goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 17, applies to all alcohol service establishments that do not serve food, including bars, nightclubs and lounges.

Dine-in restaurants may sell food for takeout, delivery, and drive-thru on a two-hour basis. 

Entertainment venues including movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers are also impacted by the new order. 

11:18 a.m. ET, March 17, 2020

US airports are reporting millions fewer travelers compared to last year


Nearly 1 million fewer passengers passed through airport security checkpoints across the US on Friday, part of a steep drop-off in air travel over the past two weeks, data show. 

The Transportation Security Administration data found 957,000 fewer passengers that day compared with the equivalent day in 2019. It is the most recent day for which the throughput numbers are available.  

Overall in the past two weeks, nearly 5.2 million fewer people have passed through checkpoints than the year before.