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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9:25 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

JetBlue announces schedule cuts, calls financial losses "stunning"

From CNN’s Greg Wallace

Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

JetBlue announced today that it will make a 40% cut to its schedule as it weathers damage to the aviation industry from the coronavirus. 

The company called the financial losses “stunning."

“Last year on a typical day in March we took in about $22 million from bookings and ancillary fees. Throughout this March, our sales have fallen sharply and in the last several days we have taken in an average of less than $4 million per day while also issuing over $20 million per day of credits to customers for canceled bookings," JetBlue said.

The company said some executives will take a 50% pay cut.  

9:21 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Justice Department closes more immigration courts, postpones hearings due to coronavirus

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

This Nov. 6, 2019 file photo shows the U.S. Courthouse in Seattle. Seattle's immigration court will be closed until April 10.
This Nov. 6, 2019 file photo shows the U.S. Courthouse in Seattle. Seattle's immigration court will be closed until April 10. Elaine Thompson/AP/FILE

The Justice Department announced overnight that it's closing an additional 10 immigration courts, spread out across the country, through April 10 as the novel coronavirus has spread to all 50 states.

It is also postponing all hearings of cases of immigrants who are not in detention. Immigration courts also paused those hearings last year during the US government shutdown.

Government agencies, businesses, and organizations have changed their daily operations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, requiring employees to stay home and closing offices to the public. Despite administration guidelines to decrease the number of people at gatherings, immigration courts stayed open.

On Tuesday, for example, the San Francisco immigration court was open, despite a shelter-in-place order in the area.

Some context: The Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Justice Department agency that oversees the nation's immigration courts, has made incremental changes to court operations in recent days, often late at night, frustrating immigration judges and lawyers who have urged the agency to close courts altogether. 

9:15 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

White House postpones state dinner for Spanish royals

From CNN's Kate Bennett

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The White House postponed the expected third state dinner of the Trump administration due to concerns over the coronavirus.

A statement released by White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham says the April 21 official state visit of Spain's King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia has been postponed in its entirety. 

"President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump look forward to welcoming Their Majesties to the United States and the White House in the near future. The United States will continue to work with Spain and all of our European partners to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," Grisham said, adding that postponing will allow both countries to "devote their full resources and attention to the COVID-19 response."

The King and Queen's visit was first announced by the White House in February in a statement that said the US first couple would welcome the royals to "reaffirm our commitments to stand together to address today's shared global challenges."

9:08 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

UK prime minister to announce decision on schools "imminently"

From CNN's Nada Bashir

Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes questions at the House of Commons in London, on March 18.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes questions at the House of Commons in London, on March 18. House of Commons

Speaking in the House of Commons on today, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a decision on the operation of the country's schools should be expected "imminently."

This follows Monday's announcement of new restrictions and measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

"The house should expect further decisions to be taken imminently on schools and how to make sure that we square the circle both on making sure we stop the spread of the disease, but also making sure that we relieve, as much as we can, pressure on the NHS," Johnson told lawmakers during Prime Minister's Questions. 

Johnson also paid "tribute" to the teachers and staff who have kept "our schools going throughout this difficult crisis so far."

Some context: On Monday, Johnson urged the public to stop all non-essential contact with others and stop all unnecessary travel as part of the government's new measures to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK. 

8:57 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

US surgeon general warns of continuing blood shortages

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams called on healthy Americans to donate blood.

"You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement," Adams said this morning on NBC.

Adams' comments come after the American Red Cross announced on Tuesday that it is facing a "severe blood shortage" due to an "unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations" in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Such cancellations have resulted in about 86,000 fewer blood donations, according to the American Red Cross.

"As a nation, this is a time where we must take care of one another including those most vulnerable among us in hospitals,” Gail McGovern, president and chief executive officer of the American Red Cross, said in Tuesday's announcement.  

McGovern added: “One of the most important things people can do right now during this public health emergency is to give blood. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible. We understand why people may be hesitant to come out for a blood drive but want to reassure the public that blood donation is a safe process, and that we have put additional precautions in place at our blood drives to protect the health of safety of our donors and staff."

8:55 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Nigeria bans entry for people from 13 countries due to coronavirus

From CNN's Stephanie Busari in Lagos

Health officials screen passengers at Murtala International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, on March 2.
Health officials screen passengers at Murtala International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, on March 2. Benson Ibeabuchi/AFP/Getty Images

The government of Nigeria is restricting entry into the country for travelers from countries with more than 1,000 cases of novel coronavirus domestically, the presidential task force announced on its Twitter account.

The restriction will apply to travelers from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, the United States, Norway, UK, Netherlands and Switzerland. 

"The federal government of Nigeria has also suspended the issuance of visa on arrival to travelers from these countries. All travelers returning from these countries prior to the restriction will be in supervised self-isolation, monitored by NCDC and Port Health Services," the tweet read.

 The restriction will take effect starting on March 20 and will be in place until further notice. 

8:44 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

US surgeon general: "We should be acting as if we have the virus"

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks during a press briefing about the coronavirus in Washington, DC, on March 14.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks during a press briefing about the coronavirus in Washington, DC, on March 14. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Whether you test positive or negative for the novel coronavirus, "we should be acting as if we have the virus," US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said on NBC this morning.

Speaking to the importance of following mitigation measures during the current coronavirus outbreak, Adams said that any person who feels sick should stay home — and testing negative for the virus should not change that.

"If we do those three things — making sure we’re cleaning our surfaces, making sure we’re washing our hands, and making sure we’re staying six feet away from people — that’s how we will most protect ourselves from this disease," Adams said today.

Adams added: "You should not change your approach to mitigation measures based on a positive or a negative test. You could test negative and still be early in the incubation period and still spread coronavirus."

Earlier this week: During a White House briefing yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence noted that while testing for the novel coronavirus is becoming more widely available, the actions of people in the United States should take remain the same, even if they can’t get a test.

“You don’t need the results of testing to know what you should do,” Pence said, urging everyone in the country to follow the principles in the Trump administration’s 15-day plan to slow new infections in the US.

The plan, announced Monday, offers more stringent recommendations about staying home and avoiding groups of 10 people or more, among other things.

8:47 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

West Virginia senator: "We have no testing, we are not prepared"

From CNN's Carma Hassan

Sen. Joe Manchin speaks to the media after a briefing on the coronavirus outbreak on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on March 12.
Sen. Joe Manchin speaks to the media after a briefing on the coronavirus outbreak on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on March 12. Alex Wong/Getty Images

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin told CNN this morning that he was worried as they were waiting for the state’s first case of coronavirus because he didn’t want people to be “lulled into a false sense of security.”

The state is now reporting one case of the novel coronavirus.

Manchin said the state’s population is vulnerable because they have older people as well as people with respiratory issues and diabetes. 

“I thought it was just carnage waiting to happen, I wanted to make sure that people understood that they shouldn’t get a false sense of security,” Manchin said.

“What we did, they didn’t test, John,” Manchin said to CNN's John Berman. “Up until a couple days ago we only had 40 tests done, now I think we are at 130 or so, but with that being said, John we have no testing, we are not prepared, people think that we are immune from this.”

Manchin said he spoke to Vice President Mike Pence and told him they need the testing kits and supplies, such as personal protection for first responders and health care workers.

“When it hits my state – and it has hit – it’s going to be absolutely catastrophic,” Manchin said.

8:50 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

China to send 100,000 coronavirus testing kits to the Philippines

From Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

Motorists queue at a health checkpoint on the outskirts of Manila, Philippines, on March 16.
Motorists queue at a health checkpoint on the outskirts of Manila, Philippines, on March 16. Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

China is sending 100,000 novel coronavirus test kits and other essential medical supplies to the Philippines to assist the country "in fighting the epidemic," according to Philippines Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

"China will send 100,000 testing kits; 10,000 N95 masks; PPEs 10,000 ; surgical masks 100,000," Locsin said in a tweet posted on Wednesday.

The announcement came after Locsin spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila said that the they have been "closely coordinating with the Department of Health to ensure a speedy receiving of the aforesaid donations so as to contribute to the Philippine Government's efforts in fighting the epidemic and benefit the Filipinos as soon as possible."

The numbers: The Philippines currently has 202 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus including 17 deaths.