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
206 Posts
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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.


9:55 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

The Daytime Emmy Awards have been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Javi Morgado

The 2020 Daytime Emmy Awards are canceled, according to a release from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

The Academy's chairman Terry O’Reilly announced the decision in a letter to members, saying: “Today, I am writing to let you know that we have made the hard decision to cancel this year’s Daytime EMMY Awards.” 

O’Reilly said his team is “working on alternative ideas to celebrate those who would normally have received their EMMYs.”

The awards were due to be held in June.

9:25 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

The US state of Illinois plans to test more than 2,000 people a day

Nam Y. Huh/AP
Nam Y. Huh/AP

The state of Illinois can now test more than 1,000 people a day for coronavirus, the state's governor J.B. Pritzker said in a press conference Thursday afternoon.

In a few days, they'll be able to do more than 2,000, he said.

As the state’s testing abilities grow, the governor expects the case count will continue to grow. “The tests are only discovering people who have the virus,” Pritzker said.

More than 420 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the state, and four have died.

Addressing what he called “rumors," Pritzker said, “essential services will not close, interstates, highways and bridges will stay open.”

“Grocery stories, pharmacies and gas stations will continue to operate,” he said. “We will never shut these services down.” 

9:27 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Mexico's ambassador to the US is in self-quarantine

From CNN's From Jennifer Hansler

Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images/File
Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images/File

The Mexican ambassador to the US, Martha Barcena, said Thursday that she was self-quarantining after meeting with Republican congressman Mario Diaz-Balart last week.

This week, Diaz Balart became one of the first members of Congress to test positive for coronavirus.

Barcena said she took the Covid-19 test today and feels fine.


9:15 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

We're about an hour into CNN's coronavirus town hall. Tune in here

CNN's town hall on the coronavirus, addressing facts, fears, and medical guidance, is just over halfway through -- it will run until 10 p.m. ET.

We're covering the town hall here with live updates -- but you can also stream it live.

Where can I watch it?

The town hall will air exclusively on CNN, CNN International,, across mobile devices via CNN's apps for iOS and Android, via CNNgo apps, and on Facebook.

9:30 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

The executive director of the World Food Programme says he has been diagnosed with coronavirus

Gregorio Borgia/AP/File
Gregorio Borgia/AP/File

The executive director of the United Nations' World Food Programme says he has coronavirus.

David Beasley tweeted a statement confirming the diagnosis.

"I began feeling unwell this past weekend after returning to my home in the United States from an official visit to Canada and I took an early decision to go into self-quarantine, five days ago," he said in the statement.
"So far, my symptoms have been relatively light, and I am in good spirits. I am lucky to be close to my family and I have access to excellent medical support."

He said he was tracing back who he may have had contact with before he was aware of his infection.

Life must go on and the World Food Programme must continue to do the work that makes all of us so proud as we bring food assistance to the many millions across the world who depend on us for help. I have a strong team of leaders around me and I have an incredible team of staff members in more than 80 countries around the globe. I am certain that you will continue to step up and do what needs to be done while I recover.