March 18 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan, Steve George, Angela Dewan and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:37 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020
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12:20 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

New York governor says state needs 50,000 more hospital beds

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated the virus should peak in 45 days and is again asking for up to 110,000 beds with current capacity of 53,000 beds.

Cuomo met yesterday with all hospital administrators to identify up 50,000 new beds. The state will waive Department of Health regulations which include the space in a given room and how many beds are in it.

The state has a current capacity of 3,000 ventilators, but Cuomo wants 37,000 ICU units and he equated an ICU bed to a ventilator given the setup.

“That’s our main issue,” Cuomo said, adding, “That’s a projection and projections can change.”

The state needs more current and reserve staff and the state is reaching out to retired nurses and doctors as well as medical and nursing schools to build up reserve capacity.

How this may work: In order to get new hospital beds, the state is looking to convert facilities and move people who are currently in hospital beds to a converted facility for a lower level of care should the case apply.

Reiterating the needs for a federal partnership, the governor said the state cannot do it on its own.

”We are very ambitious, very aggressive,” but “Know what we cannot do. Know your limitations," Cuomo said.

Hear the announcement:

11:55 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

US reports more than 7,000 coronavirus cases

From CNN's Amanda Watts

There are at least 7,111 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to the state and local health agencies and governments and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC, there are 70 cases from repatriated citizens. And according to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the United States through public health systems, there are 7,041 cases in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and other U.S. territories, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases to 7,111.

In total, 117 people have died. 

11:52 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

New York governor orders non-essential businesses to keep 50% of staff at home

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new mandatory order for non-essential businesses that says they can have no more than 50 percent of workforce report for work outside the home. He is doing this by executive order.

11:52 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Chile's president declares 90-day state of emergency amid coronavirus concerns

From CNN’s Sharif Paget in Atlanta

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera declared a 90-day state of emergency today amid growing coronavirus concerns.

During a televised speech from La Moneda presidential palace, Piñera said the measure was being put in place in order to curb the spread of the virus and that it would go into effect at midnight Thursday (11 p.m. ET Wednesday).

Piñera said the decision will allow the government to restrict public gatherings, transit and implement curfews if need be. 

The president added the government will also take measures to protect supply chains for medicines and food.

Chilean health officials said the country has registered 238 cases of the virus and no deaths.

11:45 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

New York has tested more than 14,000 people, governor says

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that more than 14,000 people have been tested for coronavirus in the state of New York.

There are 2,382 total cases of coronavirus in New York state with 1,008 new positive cases.

“The numbers are going up. Hence the increased actions to reduce the spread, the density reduction,” Cuomo said.

There are 549 people currently hospitalized in the city.

11:40 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

US Food and Drug Administration says coronavirus pandemic could impact other clinical trials

From CNN's Mallory Simon

The US Food and Drug Administration says that clinical trials for medical products including drugs, devices and biological products might be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Challenges may arise, for example, from quarantines, site closures, travel limitations, interruptions to the supply chain for the investigational product, or other considerations if site personnel or trial subjects become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” the FDA said in a statement. “These challenges may lead to difficulties in conducting the clinical trials.”

In industry guidance issued Wednesday, the FDA acknowledged that there may need to be modifications to protocol which may depend on the nature of the disease, the design of the trial and where the trial is being done. Any changes should be done while “maintaining compliance with good clinical practice and minimizing risks to trial integrity,” the FDA says.

Those conducting trials may look at alternative methods for assessments, such as phone or virtual visits, as well as additional safety monitoring for trial participants. 

“The FDA released this guidance to emphasize that at all times, patients’ safety should continue to be at the forefront of considerations,” said Dr. Anand Shah, FDA deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs. “We want to support the continuance of these clinical trials in compliance with good clinical practice and minimizing risks to trial integrity, while also safeguarding the health and well-being of study participants.”

11:41 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Trump is sending a hospital ship to New York, governor says

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today at a news conference that the federal government will be dispatching the USNS Comfort hospital ship to New York to assist with the health care capacity.

Cuomo said it would be docked in New York City harbor.

Cuomo called this an "extraordinary step" because the Comfort is "literally a floating hospital."

The President and Cuomo are also discussing the possibility of the federal government putting up mobile hospitals in New York to help with capacity, the governor said.

Cuomo said that New York needs to increase its hospital bed capacity by 50,000 to meet the potential need to care for coronavirus cases.

11:38 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Schumer: "We must make sure that we prioritize public health and workers over corporate bailouts"

From CNN's Clare Foran

Senate TV
Senate TV

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer talked about what Senate Democrats want in the next phase of economic stimulus relief today.

The New York lawmaker said “Democrats are proposing a Marshall Plan for our public health infrastructure. The sooner we act on it the better."

“We must make sure that we prioritize public health and workers over corporate bailouts,” Schumer said.

On the Republican proposals for direct cash payments to Americans, Schumer said, “This is not a time for small thinking. This is not a time for small measures. This is a time to be bold, to be aggressive …. $1,000 goes by pretty quickly if you’re unemployed. In contrast, expanded unemployment insurance, beefed up unemployment insurance covers you for a much longer time and would provide a much bigger safety net.”

Schumer added: “If we’re going to provide direct payments, they need to be bigger, more frequent, more targeted. Millionaires shouldn’t get them."

11:35 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Canadian prime minister announces $82 billion COVID-19 economic aid package

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos

CTV Network
CTV Network

Speaking on the heels of President Trump's announcement the US-Canadian border will be closed for tourism and recreation, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new and significant economic measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Speaking from Rideau Cottage today, Trudeau said the Canadian government is focused on people who are not getting what they need during this outbreak can still buy groceries and supporting businesses who are experiencing slowdowns.

Trudeau announced $27 billion in direct support to workers and businesses and an additional $55 billion "to meet liquidity needs of Canadian businesses and households through tax deferrals to help stabilize the economy."

This $82 billion in support represents more than 3% of Canadian GDP, according to Trudeau.

Trudeau said his government is introducing "The Emergency Care Benefit," which will provide money every two weeks for up to 14 weeks for workers who have to stay home due to COVID-19. This money is available to Canadians who have fallen ill, placed in quarantined, have to isolate, or take care of someone with the virus.