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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12:46 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Trump says Japan's prime minister has not made a decision about the Olympics

President Trump said he discussed the possibility of canceling the Olympics with other world leaders on a call recently, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who is hosting the event.

Trump deferred to Abe on whether the Olympics will go on as planned this summer.

"We'd live with his decision," Trump said, referring to Abe.

He added that Abe "has told us he has not made a decision."

12:42 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Trump on possibility of losing jobs: "I don't think anyone believes that's going to happen"

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump was asked about comments made days ago by his former head economist Kevin Hassett who said that the US could lose 1 million jobs in March because of the coronavirus outbreak. Trump said he disagreed with Hassett's comments.

"I don't think anyone believes that's going to happen," he said.

The President continued by saying that if the US can get "this thing wrapped up and finished earlier" he thinks it could work out "nicely" for the economy.

12:39 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Pence says "the private sector" will provide enough medical equipment

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Vice President Mike Pence stressed “the private sector” will help get more medical supplies to hospitals across the country, but there’s widespread skepticism that will be enough.

“We continue to work with healthcare providers and businesses to identify more supplies, much more importantly across the private sector,” he said.

Companies have now increased “by tens of millions” their production of N95 masks, according to the vice president.

“On the subject of ventilators,” he continued, “we are working with healthcare providers around America and suppliers we literally identified tens of thousands ventilators can be converted to treat patients.”

“We are remaining confident that we'll have the ventilators that we need as the coronavirus makes its way across America,” he assured.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that should the virus become "very severe" 38 million people will need medical care, and 9.6 million people will need hospitalization. Of those, an estimated 2.9 million people will need to be admitted to intensive care units, easily overwhelming the nation's current capacity.

12:36 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Trump says it's the responsibility of state governors to get medical supplies out

From CNN's Kevin Liptak 

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump said governors should be responsible for ensuring medical workers have sufficient supplies for combatting coronavirus, saying he stopped short of utilizing the Defense Production Act because he believes it’s a state role.

"Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work,” Trump said. “The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items, and then shipping. We're not a shipping clerk.”

Trump said governors should also be responsible for testing, and claimed no one could have predicted the need for ventilators.

“Nobody in their wildest dreams would have thought we would need tens of thousands of ventilators,” Trump said.

Asked when he would put the Defense Production Act into use, he said he’d know shortly.

“We don't want to do it as it happens but before it happens. We'll know a lot the next two or three days,” he said.

12:33 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Trump says Carnival Cruise will provide ships for medical use

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Trump announced Thursday that he spoke with Carnival Cruise chairman Micky Arison, who has said he will make some ships from his fleet available to complement the work of US Navy hospital ships.

“This morning, I spoke with Micky Arison of Carnival Cruise Lines and he’s going to make ships available. So in addition to the big medical ships that you have coming, if we need ships with lots of rooms, they’ll be docked at New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco, different places,” he said.
12:29 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Pence says "tens of thousands" of Americans are being tested daily 

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, said that “tens of thousands” of tests are being conducted across the country daily, and testing centers are now required by law to report those test numbers.

“Because of the public private partnership that the President initiated several weeks ago, tens and thousands of tests are being performed every day,” Pence said at a Thursday press briefing at the White House.

In addition, he said, “state and private labs are now required by law to report all coronavirus testing directly to the CDC, which will give the American public and our research timely and important information.”

More context: The administration has come under increasing criticism in recent days for being unable to say how many people in the United States have been tested.  

Still, Pence encouraged only those with symptoms to get tested, despite the possibility of asymptomatic spread. “It is important for every American to remember, if you don't have symptoms, you don't need the test,” he said.


3:06 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

What we know about the antimalarial drug that Trump mentioned today

From CNN Health’s Minali Nigam, Michael Nedelman and Nadia Kounang

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump said the antimalarial drug chloroquine and its analog hydroxychloroquine would soon be made 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.

The drug, generally considered to be safe for most patients, can have side effects including seizures, nausea, vomiting, deafness, vision changes and low blood pressure.

Some more context: When asked about chloroquine last month, Dr. Janet Diaz of the World Health Organization said "there is no proof that that is an effective treatment at this time. We recommend that therapeutics be tested under ethically approved clinical trials to show efficacy and safety." 

At the time, Diaz said the drugs that were being prioritized by WHO's research and development efforts were antivirals.

Trump also mentioned an antiviral drug, remdesivir, which is the focus of clinical trials in China and the US.

Remdesivir is an experimental antiviral that appears to work against a range of very different virus families, including coronaviruses and Ebola. The drug is already being tested at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in adults diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.

12:26 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

There are now over 10,500 coronavirus cases in US

There are at least 10,502 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to the state and local health agencies, governments and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC, there are 70 cases from repatriated citizens. According to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the United States through US public health systems, there are 10,432 cases in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and other US territories, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases to 10,502. 

In total, 158 people have died. 

12:25 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Trump: "This is uncharted territory"

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump called the impact that the coronavirus has had on American society "uncharted territory" during a news conference Thursday.

"This is uncharted territory, as you know. We think have ideas. Does it help to say what the ideas are. I would hope very soon we pull together as a nation. People are for the most part ... doing what they are supposed to be doing," Trump said.

Trump added: "People are listening and really doing a great job. This country is an amazing country. I think we are up to 141 different countries right now. So it's very uncharted territory."