March 19 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 10:42 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020
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10:41 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here

10:23 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

CNN's Town hall has finished. Here's a quick recap

CNN's town hall on the coronavirus, addressing facts, fears, and medical guidance, has now finished. Here's what was discussed:

Vaccine trials: CNN medical analyst Dr. Celine Gounder, a clinical assistant professor of infectious diseases, said it is just the "very beginning" of a long process of research and studies.

Reinfection: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said while "there is no design study that has proven that you are 'protected'" from getting reinfected, "projecting what we know about viruses, I would say that there is a very good chance that you're protected."

Young people need to take pandemic seriously: "We are getting more and more information that someone can transmit even when they are asymptomatic. So in order to protect oneself, society and particularly the vulnerable people, we've really got to adhere to the physical separation," said Fauci.

Increased contact tracing can help save lives: Mike Ryan, director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Program said that, "it is possible to do contact tracing even under the most difficult circumstances, but it does require a real scale-up in public health capacity."

Assessing your own mental health: Psychologist and author Dr. Gretchen Schmelzer  likened the public's response to the coronavirus to the stages of grief, and encouraged people to find "coping strategies" to keep their stress levels down.

10:01 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

How do you assess and manage your own mental health?

Question: At CNN's coronavirus town hall Thursday, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta asked psychologist and author Dr. Gretchen Schmelzer about the best ways for people to manage and assess there own mental health, especially considering that for many, the pandemic is not a single traumatic even but rather a long period of significant change.

Answer: Schmelzer likened the public's response to the coronavirus to the stages of grief, and encouraged people to find "coping strategies" to keep their stress levels down.

"It's important that people allow themselves to cope the way they need to," she said. "This is essentially repeated trauma. This is going to go on for a while, and so people will adjust their behaviors. And they're going to have to unlearn some things when we come out of this."
10:04 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

BREAKING: California governor orders all 40 million residents to stay at home to limit outbreak

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

All 40 million residents in the state of California have been ordered to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The state is one of the worst affected in the US after Washington and New York. There are now 910 coronavirus cases in California, including 19 deaths.

New York has at least 5,298 cases, while Washington has at least 1,376 confirmed cases.

California is the most populous US state and is the country's largest state economy.


9:53 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Town hall: How should grandparents explain social distancing to their young grandchildren?

Question: Jackie Stephens, a 65-year-old grandmother with underlying health conditions from Idaho, wants to know how best to explain to her "timid, easily frightened" 3-year-old grandson that he can't come into physical contact with her.

Answer: Psychologist and author Dr. Gretchen Schmelzer recommended telling Stephens' grandson that "right now, grandma needs a special bubble."

"Young children can understand that there is a way to stay connected, even if they can't be be held," Schmelzer said, though she acknowledged it is "hard for both parties."

Schmelzer recommended talking and maybe reading stories to each other online through video messaging apps like Skype or Facetime.

She added that it's important the grandchildren "are still feeling the love."

"There's different ways of staying connected."

9:49 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Town hall: Will the Tokyo 2020 Olympics go ahead?

CNN Correspondent Will Ripley is joining the town hall from Tokyo, Japan -- where a debate is ongoing on the future of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

"In less than an hour the Olympic Torch is going to be arriving here in Japan. And officials continue to insist they're moving forward to host the Olympics on schedule at the end of July," Ripley said. "Can the world feel confident given, you know, we're seeing such limited testing here?"

Will the Olympics go ahead? The coming weeks will tell: "I have no reason to believe they're not making progress in Japan," said Mike Ryan, director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Program.

"And the Olympics is a major global event. And I think Japan still has hope the Olympics will happen, but that is going to be based on a risk management decision. And obviously the government of Japan will not make a decision to go ahead if there is danger to athletes, danger to spectators. And a lot of that will depend on how the disease evolves in the coming few weeks."


9:37 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

India prohibits export of masks and ventilators

From CNN's Vedika Sud in New Delhi

The Indian government has prohibited the export of masks, ventilators and raw textile materials for masks and coveralls.

India's Minister of Commerce, Piyush Goyal, confirmed the news in a tweet, and said the action has been taken in a "bid to utilize the nation’s resources for the well being of Indian citizens."

The news comes a day after the country issued fresh guidelines, banning all international commercial passenger flights from landing in India from March 22.

The directive will be in place for a week. 

What other measures is India taking? The Indian government is directing state governments to advise citizens above 65 and children below 10 to stay home. This excludes public representatives, medical professionals and government employees. 

States have also been requested to enforce work from home for private sector employees, except those working in emergency or essential services.

There are more than 190 confirmed cases in India and four deaths.


9:50 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Town hall: Increased contact tracing can help save lives in this crisis


CNN's Anderson Cooper and Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta speak to Mike Ryan, director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Program about the US' capacity to test for the coronavirus and do contact tracing.

Learning from Italy: "I think other countries really, really need to step up and learn the lessons that are being learned in Italy right now. We have to push this virus back. It's not just enough to do social distancing. It's good to have that, it's great to separate people, but we have to be able to go after the virus," Ryan said.

Tailoring responses: "You've got 50 states. You've got a different situation in each of those states. And you need to tailor the responses in each of those states. And if you've got a chance you need to go after the virus. And contact tracing and isolation of cases is still a strategy that can be used," Ryan said.

Question on problems with testing in US: "If you don't test people, you don't know they're positive. Therefore, they may be positive and you don't have time to contact trace them because you don't know they have it," Cooper said.

Need to identify cases: "It's really important we identify all confirmed cases. We need to test suspected cases. We need those cases to be isolated, and it is difficult in a very intense environment. It's difficult to do the kind of detailed contact tracing. In Ebola, at the peak of the outbreak, we were tracing 25,000 contacts a day in the middle of a war zone. It is possible to do contact tracing even under the most difficult circumstances, but it does require a real scale-up in public health capacity. And where that can be done and the virus can be pushed back, we can save lives," Ryan said.

9:45 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

People in San Francisco are heeding advice to stay home. It's different at a Georgia spring break hot spot


CNN's Dan Simon and Gary Tuchman joined the coronavirus town hall from San Francisco and Georgia's St. Simons Island.

Things were very different in the two locations.

The scene in San Francisco: "What police are looking for, is they want voluntary compliance. And I have to tell you, for the most part, they're getting it," Simon said.

The city's busiest districts and streets are very empty. People can go outside to get groceries or grab fresh air -- as some were seen doing behind Simon on the city's shoreline looking out toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

The scene in St. Simons: Things are much different in Georgia's beach towns, which are popular spring break destinations, according to Tuchman.

Bars and restaurants were still open tonight.

"The major partying will take place after 10-11 o'clock tonight. And the beaches, they are crowded," Tuchman said.

Tuchman said a minority of beachgoers were attempting to distance themselves, but most were not.

"It's not just college students. There were also families, children, and I saw many people in their 70s and 80s," he said.