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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2:55 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Connecticut postpones presidential primary to June 2

From CNN's Adam Levy

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced Thursday that he is moving the presidential primary to June 2. 

The state was originally scheduled to hold its presidential primary on April 28.

In a tweet about the move, Lamont said, “In coordination with other states and our Secretary of the State, and in an effort to carry out Democracy while keeping public health a top priority, I have decided to move our presidential primary to June 2nd. I will provide more information later today.”

Denise Merrill, Connecticut’s Secretary of State, wrote in a series of tweets that, “Moving the primary date is a good first step, and will give... our local election officials more time to prepare. Changing an election date is not something we do lightly – it’s a recognition of the severity & nature of this crisis, and more steps may be necessary to guarantee that every CT voter has an opportunity to cast their ballot.”

2:44 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Actor Daniel Dae Kim says he's tested positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Megan Thomas

Daniel Dae Kim, a prolific actor best known for his work in the television series "Hawaii 5-0" and "Lost," said he's tested positive for COVID-19.

"Looks like I’ll be ok, but I wanted share my journey with you in the hopes that you find it informative or helpful," he wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday. 

Kim also shared a 10-minute video about his experience and said his test results came back Wednesday.

"Hope you all stay safe, calm, and above all, healthy," Kim wrote.

See his post:

2:30 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Americans eager for emergency relief will be forced to wait on Congress

From CNN's Manu Raju

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images 
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to move a massive $1 trillion economic stimulus bill at “warp” speed. But on Capitol Hill, warp speed isn’t that simple and could mean more than a week before relief comes.

There are many legislative hurdles and ample policy differences that lawmakers still have to iron out.

That’s left Republican and Democratic leaders uncertain how quickly a bill can pass Congress, meaning getting a final measure to President Trump’s desk next week is currently the most optimistic assessment, at best.

That means industries and workers now under siege from the damaging economic crisis will be forced to wait for the legislative sausage-making to work its course. And once the bill is eventually passed, it will take time to get implemented, including proposed payments to workers who have been displaced because of the unprecedented impact of the novel coronavirus.

While Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked congressional leaders for a bill to be completed by Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democratic lawmakers that is an unrealistic timeframe, according to a source familiar with her remarks.

Pelosi pointed to the last round of talks with the Trump administration that continued to drag on over the emergency relief package that was just signed into law, the source said.

Republicans in the Senate seem to share a similar assessment.

“A lot of it depends on how quickly things can come together through the weekend,” said Sen. John Thune, the Senate majority whip and a South Dakota Republican. “But then we are going to start the negotiations with the Democrats. And we got a number of our members who will be involved in that and hopefully through the weekend we can bring some closure to it through the weekend and early next week.”
2:20 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Puerto Rico governor asks FAA to restrict and redirect flights to the island

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

Governor of Puerto Rico
Governor of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez Garced is requesting that the Federal Aviation Administration restrict and redirect flights to the island, Vazquez said at a press conference Thursday.

"Many countries have closed off their borders because it's the way to contain community spread," she said. "It's severe but I think we can" work with the FAA on this."

There are five travel-related cases of coronavirus on the island, three were cruise passengers and two flew-in from abroad, the governor said. A sixth case was reported from a veteran's hospital on the island.

"If we can redirect all flights to enter through the international airport," for example, the island can "centralize" screenings, the governor said.

"It's not a complete cut-off," Vazquez added.

Puerto Rican officials are scheduled to speak to FAA officials on Friday, she said.

"We'll see what the concerns are or if there are any alternatives they can offer to our request," says Vazquez.

2:09 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Coronavirus is impacting US military operations overseas

From CNN's Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr

The coronavirus is impacting US military operations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan as measures to prevent its spread have led to major changes in both theaters.

In Iraq, the US-led training effort aimed at combating ISIS has been suspended “for 60 days as a precaution due to the global pandemic,” the United Kingdom Defense Ministry announced Thursday.

The UK, one of the larger contributors to the coalition in Iraq, also said that it would be returning some of its personnel back to the UK due to the pause.

Similarly, the US-led international coalition in Afghanistan has implemented a series of restrictions in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including “temporarily” pausing the movement of personnel movement into Afghanistan and delaying the return of some service members. 

Such actions could complicate US plans to drawdown its forces level in Afghanistan to 8,600, a key aspect of the US-Taliban agreement that was signed late last month.

“In some cases these measures will necessitate some service members remaining beyond their scheduled departure dates,” Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

Some more background: US Army Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesperson for US Forces Afghanistan, said in a tweet Wednesday that while the command was instituting screening and testing protocols to reduce the risk to personnel, he added that "we continue to execute the ordered drawdown to 8,600."

2:04 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

American Airlines takes a $1 billion loan "to strengthen our balance sheet"

From CNN's Greg Wallace and Joshua Replogle

Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images
Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

American Airlines CEO has told employees that the airline has taken out a $1 billion loan “to strengthen our balance sheet,” according to an email sent to employees obtained by CNN.

"Doug remains in Washington, DC, along with other airline CEOs, making the case for an aid package. Team member needs and our future are at the forefront of his motivation as he does this work, and more information will be coming soon," the aid request stated while referring to CEO Doug Parker.

Earlier today: American Airlines said it was grounding nearly half of its fleet and canceling 55,000 flights next month, according to an internal message sent to employees obtained by CNN.

The airline also expects “demand to fall even more before it gets better," the message stated.

The striking numbers in an internal email from American Airlines President Robert Isom include a reduction of international flights by 75% and domestic flights by 30% in April, “with plans to reduce it even further in May.”

1:50 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Bayer donates 3 million tablets of investigational coronavirus drug Resochin to the US

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard and Michael Nedelman

As federal agencies continue to investigate possible treatment options for the novel coronavirus, pharmaceutical company Bayer announced on Thursday that it is donating 3 million tablets of its antimalarial drug chloroquine phosphate to the US government. 

Sharing details first with CNN, Bayer said in a statement that chloroquine phosphate, sold under the name Resochin, originally has been indicated for the prevention and treatment of malaria, but also appears to have “broad spectrum antiviral properties” and effects on the body’s immune response.

“New data from initial preclinical and evolving clinical research conducted in China, while limited, shows potential for the use of Resochin in treating patients with COVID-19 infection,” the statement said.

“Bayer in recent days has been in talks with the White House, HHS, CDC, and the FDA, offering any assistance we can provide with a focus on donating Resochin to help in the government's efforts to combat the virus. Currently not approved for use in the United States, Bayer is working with appropriate agencies on an Emergency Use Authorization for the drug's use in the U.S,” the statement said. “Bayer thanks the Trump administration for moving quickly to enable this donation and will continue to work closely with the administration to support its efforts in the fight against COVID-19.”

Earlier Thursday: President Trump said the antimalarial drug chloroquine and its analog hydroxychloroquine would be available with a prescription to treat the novel coronavirus.

Early evidence from human cells suggests that chloroquine — which is used to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases — may have some activity against the novel coronavirus. 

Doctors in China, the US and other countries have used the drug experimentally in COVID-19 patients, but there is not yet sufficient clinical evidence that it's effective in humans. 

1:51 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

UK coronavirus death toll rises to 137

From CNN’s Livvy Doherty in London

Another 29 people in England have died of coronavirus, bringing the total deaths in the UK to 137, the National Health Service England said in a statement Thursday.

The patients were between 47 and 96 years old and had underlying health conditions.

Six people in Scotland, two people in Wales and one person in Northern Ireland have died of coronavirus.

1:57 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Miami-Dade County mayor closes businesses, parks, beaches and recreational facilities

From CNN's Erika Henry


Mayor of Miami-Dade County Carlos A. Gimenez signed emergency orders closing all parks and beaches Thursday morning. 

Gimenez went on to say that it applied to all publicly owned and privately run parks, beaches and recreational facilities under Miami-Dade’s jurisdiction. 

He also signed an emergency order closing all non-essential retail and commercial establishments in the county by 9 p.m. Thursday, including casinos. 

The mayor went on to say that he reached out to the Miccosukee Tribe, as Miami-Dade does not have jurisdiction over casinos run by tribes. Other non-essential establishments that must close by 9 p.m. include shops, beauty salons, spas and nail studios, sporting goods stores, book stores, jewelry stores and malls.

“I know that it must be frustrating that every day we have new closures, but it is necessary," Gimenez said.

The mayor emphasized that grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and gas stations would remain open. Restaurant kitchens will remain open for pick-up and delivery only. 

"Everyone should practice social distancing when going about their business at these stores," Gimenez said.

Medical facilities, doctor offices, banks, child and adult day care centers will remain open “at this time," the mayor said. Gimenez also said that construction sites and hardware stores and pet supply stores can remain open.