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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11:53 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Trump says antimalarial will soon be available to treat coronavirus

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump says he’s pushed the Food and Drug Administration to eliminate barriers to getting therapeutics for coronavirus to patients.

He said a drug currently used as an antimalarial — hydroxychloroquine — would be made available almost immediately to treat coronavirus.

"It’s been around for a long time, so we know if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody,” Trump told reporters at the White House today.

Trump said it was a common drug and would soon be available for “prescribed use” on coronavirus. He called it a “game-changer."

"We have to remove every barrier or a lot of barriers that were unnecessary and they’ve done that to get the rapid deployment of safe, effective treatments and we think we have some good answers,” Trump said.
12:04 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Trump: We are developing vaccine as "fast as it can possibly be done"

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump spoke at lengths moments ago about the developments that are underway to produce a coronavirus vaccine.

"So we slashed red tape to develop vaccines and therapies as fast as it can possibly be done, long before anybody else was even thinking about doing this. As you know, earlier this week we began the first clinical trial of a vaccine candidate for the virus," Trump said from the White House.

Trump went on to discuss the clinical trials underway for new coronavirus therapies and "scaling these to allow many more Americans to access different drugs that have shown really good promise."

"We've had some really good promise. We will do so in a way that lets us continue to collect the data to know when," Trump said.

Trump added: "We have a couple that we're in really good shape on. And that's for immediate delivery. Immediate, like as fast as we can get it. The FDA has also approved compassionate use for a significant number of patients."

Trump also said the FDA is reviewing usage of drugs that are approved abroad or those approved here for other uses.


11:51 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Domino's wants to hire 10,000 employees as eating habits shift during coronavirus pandemic

From CNN’s Jordan Valinsky

Scott Olson/Getty Images/FILE
Scott Olson/Getty Images/FILE

Domino's Pizza is looking to hire up to 10,000 workers as people shift their eating habits to takeout or delivery amid restrictions surrounding the growing coronavirus pandemic.

The pizza chain is looking to hire for several positions in its stores and factories, including chefs, customer service representatives and managers.

"Our corporate and franchise stores want to make sure they're not only feeding people, but also providing opportunity to those looking for work at this time, especially those in the heavily impacted restaurant industry," CEO Richard Allison said in a press release.

Domino's (DPZ) stock is one of the few bright spots in the volatile stock market. Shares are up 10% Thursday and have climbed more than 7% this year.

11:31 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Prince Albert II of Monaco tests positive for coronavirus

From Benjamin Berteau in Paris

Prince Albert II of Monaco has tested positive for COVID-19, a palace spokesperson told CNN.

His health status is not worrying, the spokesperson added.

11:27 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

US State Department is preparing to raise travel advisory to highest level: DO NOT TRAVEL

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

The State Department is preparing to raise its travel advisory worldwide to Level 4: Do Not Travel – the highest level — in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Four sources told CNN that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had approved a Level 4 advisory. 

Late last Wednesday, the advisory was raised globally to Level 3: Reconsider Travel “due to the global impact of COVID-19.”

Politico was the first to report the heightened advisory level. CNN has reached out to the State Department for comment. 

Another source told CNN that the move would be aimed at curtailing Americans’ travel abroad and to get those who are traveling to come home.

12:01 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Olympic Committee board member calls for postponement of Tokyo games

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London and Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images
Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) board member Kaori Yamaguchi has called for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed because athletes are unable to prepare adequately as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, she told the Nikkei newspaper.

Yamaguchi, who won a Judo bronze medal at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, said she plans to raise this point at a JOC Board Meeting scheduled for March 27.

"The Olympics should not be held in a situation people in the world can’t enjoy," Yamaguchi said.

"As far as I can tell, athletes in the United States and Europe are unable to train as normal and finish their qualifying matches. That makes it impossible for them to appear well prepared at the start, with all the associated risks," Yamaguchi said.

Some context: Yamaguchi’s comments come after International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Hayley Wickenheiser on Tuesday called the decision to proceed with the Games “insensitive and irresponsible.”

Wickenheiser, who competed for Canada in five Winter Olympic Games in Ice Hockey and at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Softball, wrote in a statement on Twitter: "This crisis is bigger than even the Olympics […] Athletes can't train. Attendees can't travel plan."

The IOC and Tokyo 2020 Organizers have repeatedly insisted that the games will run as scheduled in Japan’s capital from July 24 to Aug. 9.

11:28 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

New York governor: "There is no quarantine plan for New York City"

State of New York
State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo attempted to assuage concerns this morning by saying "there is no quarantine plan for New York City" as it relates to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo went on to discuss New Rochelle, which is in Westchester County. As of Wednesday morning, 538 of the more than 2,380 cases in New York state were in Westchester County.

"My containment plan in new Rochelle didn't contain anyone. It was a bad word. It meant to contain the virus. You could come and go in new Rochelle, schools were closed, large gatherings were closed. But there was no quarantine containment. Well, you called out the National Guard. I called out the National Guard to help with food delivery and cleaning surfaces," Cuomo said.

Some context: On Tuesday, Cuomo dismissed the possibility of an imminent shelter-in-place order after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to prepare for the measure.

De Blasio told New Yorkers to prepare for the possibility within the next two days.

"I think New Yorkers should be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter in place order," de Blasio, a Democrat, said during a press briefing about coronavirus. "It has not happened yet but it is definitely a possibility at this point. I believe that decision should be made in the next 48 hours, and it's a very, a very difficult decision."

However, a shelter-in-place order would have to be approved by Gov. Cuomo.


11:14 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

NY Federal Reserve to pump in another $10 billion today — this time to buy mortgage bonds

From CNN’s Matt Egan

The New York Federal Reserve continues to point a firehose of liquidity at clogged-up financial markets.

The NY Fed just announced it will purchase another $10 billion of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) on Thursday via two separate operations.

The cash injections, according to the NY Fed, are aimed at tackling "highly unusual disruptions" in the mortgage bond market linked to the coronavirus outbreak.

The $10 billion is part of the $200 billion in mortgage bonds the Fed promised on Sunday to buy as it relaunched quantitative easing, or QE.

And this is on top of the flurry of overnight repo operations that are aimed at unclogging short-term funding markets.

And the NY Fed made clear its MBS may only be beginning.

The statement said the NY Fed "stands ready" to buy even more mortgage bonds if it's needed to keep markets operating smoothly.

11:19 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

New York governor announces 90-day mortgage relief

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

Sate of New York
Sate of New York

To alleviate some of the financial hardships New Yorkers are experiencing due to the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a 90-day mortgage relief for homeowners across the state.

“We’re not exempting people from the mortgage payments, we’re just adjusting the mortgage to include those payments on the backend,” he said.

According to Cuomo, this mortgage relief includes:

  • Waive mortgage payments based on financial hardship
  • No negative reporting to credit bureaus
  • Grace period for load modification
  • No late payment fees or online payment fees
  • Postponing or suspending foreclosures