March 18 coronavirus news

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4:51 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Portugal declares state of emergency over coronavirus

From CNN's Mia Alberti in Lisbon

Portugal has declared a state of emergency, which will take effect at midnight (8 p.m. ET on Wednesday) and will last for 15 days.

The Portuguese president announced the decision in a national address on Wednesday.

The decision gives the government more powers to restrict rights, access funds and set minimum public services, among others. Any practical measures will only be decided, announced and put into place after an extraordinary cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday. However, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said during a news conference that "democracy won't be suspended."

The country was a dictatorship for decades, with democracy being restored in 1974.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called the COVID-19 pandemic "a true war," which will bring true challenges to the country's "way of life and economy. 

Rebelo de Sousa also praised the behavior of Portuguese citizens, "who have been exemplary in imposing a self-quarantine," which reflects "a country that has lived through everything."

By the numbers: Portugal currently has 642 cases of coronavirus, including two deaths.

4:33 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

French officials urge citizens to save protective masks for health care workers

From CNN’s Barbara Wojazer in Paris

French citizens were urged to keep protective masks for health care workers and to support the strained health care system at a news conference on Wednesday.

National health agency director Jerome Salomon noted that "there was no shortage," but said there are tensions around masks, which have become a "rare resource."

Salomon further warned that “it is only with a strict discipline and the complete mobilization of all citizens that we will able to protect one another and support health workforce that is at the frontline of the fight against coronavirus.”

People were also urged to continue donating blood, following an alert from the French blood agency saying that current reserves of red blood cells are sufficient for “less than 15 days” and reserves of blood platelets are sufficient for “less than three days.”

9:24 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Over 50% of New Jersey coronavirus patients are hospitalized

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

News 12 New Jersey LLC
News 12 New Jersey LLC

There are coronavirus cases in most New Jersey counties, and more than 50% of these patients are hospitalized, according to state officials.

Most of the patients are between 5 and 95 years old. Officials said two women in their 60s with underlying health conditions are the latest patients to die of coronavirus.

Of New Jersey's 21 counties, 18 have reported cases of the virus, with the largest number of cases concentrated in Bergen County, which has 113, officials said.

4:26 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Connecticut reports first coronavirus death

At least one person has died from COVID-19 in Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Wednesday. 

This is the first death in the state, Lamont said in a tweet. The patient, a man in his 80s, died after being recently admitted to Danbury Hospital, he said.. 

4:22 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Michigan announces first coronavirus death

From CNN's Rebekah Riess

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 18.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 18. WDIV

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday the state’s first death as a result of novel coronavirus.

The governor expressed sympathy for the family of the man who passed away Wednesday.

There are now a total of 80 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state.

4:45 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Senate passes coronavirus relief legislation

From CNN's Clare Foran and Ted Barrett 

The Senate just passed the House-passed coronavirus relief legislation that includes provisions for free testing for COVID-19 and paid emergency leave.

The measure will now go to President Trump for his signature. Trump expressed support for the package last week, paving the way for a broad bipartisan vote in the House.

The final tally was 90-8. The “no” votes were Sens. Marsha Blackburn, Jim Inhofe, James Lankford, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ben Sasse, Tim Scott and Ron Johnson.

Passage will also allow the Senate to devote its full attention to passing the next relief package in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Some background: McConnell and other Senate Republicans had been critical of the House-passed legislation, but emphasized that it is urgent to get relief to the American people amid the coronavirus crisis. McConnell reiterated today that he will not adjourn the Senate until it passes what lawmakers are describing as a "phase three" economic stimulus package in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

After an initial vote last week, the House approved a set of changes to the legislation on Monday, clearing the path for the Senate to take it up this week.

Watch:

4:12 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

The Dow closes below 20,000

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

US stocks erased the prior session's gains and closed lower on Wednesday.

The Dow closed below 20,000 total points for the first time since 2017. It was down 6.3%, or 1,338 points, on the day.

During the afternoon, the index fell so much that it erased all of the gains accumulated under the Trump administration — though it closed slightly above that key level.

The S&P 500 is also edging closer to falling below its January 2017 level. The index finished down 5.2%.

The Nasdaq Composite closed down 4.7%.

Trading was briefly halted in the early afternoon after the S&P fell 7%, triggering the New York Stock Exchange's circuit breaker.

As stocks settle after the trading day, levels might still change slightly.

 

 

4:09 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

More than 12,000 flights have been canceled today worldwide

From CNN’s Aaron Cooper

A traveler looks at canceled flights on a schedule board, some due to the coronavirus, at the Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 18.
A traveler looks at canceled flights on a schedule board, some due to the coronavirus, at the Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 18. Eugene Hoshiko/AP

There are 12,094 cancelations worldwide today, according to Flight Aware.

Flight Aware is continuously updating its data — here's where cancellations stand at this moment: 

  • Total worldwide cancellations today: 12,094
  • Total cancellations within, into, or out of the United States today: 2,511
4:00 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus deaths in Italy happen "8 days" after first symptoms appear on average

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

Two beds are seen during a tour for the media of ICU positions for coronavirus patients inside the private clinic Istituto Clinico Casalpalocco Covid 3 hospital, in Casalpalocco, on the outskirts of Rome, Wednesday, March 18.
Two beds are seen during a tour for the media of ICU positions for coronavirus patients inside the private clinic Istituto Clinico Casalpalocco Covid 3 hospital, in Casalpalocco, on the outskirts of Rome, Wednesday, March 18. Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP

On average, COVID-19 fatalities in Italy are happening "eight days" after patients show first symptoms, according to a report by the Italian government. The findings are based on data up to March 17 and only on the outbreak in Italy.

The document published by the Italian National Health Institute details that, on average, it takes four days from when patients show first symptoms until they are hospitalized and four more days until they die.

The median average age of Italian deceased is 80.5 years old, while the median average for those infected is 63, the report says.

Women only make up 30% of the total dead and their median average age at the time of death is higher than men, at 83.6 years old.        

The government also found that most people had two or three existing pathologies prior to being infected with the coronavirus. Among those, high blood pressure was the most common, followed by heart problems and diabetes.

As for the most common complications developed because of the virus, respiratory failure was the leading one, happening in 97.2% of the cases. Liver and heart failure were the second and third most common complications.

Watch: