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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9:45 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Stocks tumble again

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Mark Lennihan/AP
Mark Lennihan/AP

US stocks tumbled at Wednesday’s open, erasing the gains from the prior day’s rebound.

Here's how things look right now:

  • The S&P 500 opened 5.4% lower. If the index falls 7%, trading will be halted for 15 minutes.
  • The Dow opened 6%, or 1,275 points, lower.
  • The Nasdaq Composite was down 5.7%.

9:39 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

New York City mayor plans to bring up "shelter-in-place" order with governor today

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on NBC's Today Show, “I think an honest conversation about shelter-in-place has to happen,” noting the decision “can only be made with the State of New York,” adding he will be speaking with the New York governor later today.

When asked if he will recommend to the governor that the city do a shelter-in-place while the city faces a growing coronavirus pandemic, de Blasio said he is “almost” to that point – saying “we have a little more to make sense of” first, including how to get people food and medicine, “but it has to be considered seriously starting today.” 

Some context: On a local radio program today, de Blasio said his shelter-in-place comments Tuesday were intended to "mentally, emotionally, humanly prepare people for something that well might be happening soon," but he added that he doesn't accept media accounts that he and the governor are arguing over this. He reiterated that the city and state are working closely together.

Yesterday after earlier comments from the mayor on the potentiality of a decision on a possible shelter-in-place, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said "any blanket quarantine or shelter in place policy would require state action and as the governor has said, there is no consideration of that for any locality at this time."

9:34 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

United Arab Emirates temporarily bans citizens from traveling abroad

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

The skyline of Dubai seen on March 18.
The skyline of Dubai seen on March 18. Karim SahibK/AFP/Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates has temporarily banned all its citizens from traveling abroad during the coronavirus pandemic, state news agency WAM said. 

The decision has been made to “protect” nationals from the coronavirus spread and the cancellation of flights, WAM said quoting the ministry of foreign affairs.

The UAE has 113 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins.

9:28 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

New York City mayor says city will "undoubtedly" top 1,000 coronavirus cases today

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on NBC’s "Today Show" this morning that there are 923 coronavirus cases in New York City.

"We’re going to top 1,000 today undoubtedly,” he said.

“We’re going to be at 10,000 not so long from now,” De Blasio added.
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."