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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7:27 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Several airports want to close in wake of pandemic

From CNN's Geneva Sands

The Federal Aviation Administration has received several requests from federally-funded airports, asking to close and restrict airport access, according to the agency. 

The FAA generally does not allow closure of airports that receive federal funds and any request must be approved by the agency.

The agency is reviewing requests from Puerto Rico and Tangier, Virginia, an island town located in the Chesapeake Bay.

Earlier Thursday, CNN reported that Puerto Rico's governor, Wanda Vazquez Garced, wanted to redirect all flights to enter through the international airport to centralize screenings. "It's severe but I think we can" work with the FAA on this, she said.

According to the FAA, Vázquez and the Puerto Rico Ports Authority submitted proposals to restrict airport access and close airports in Puerto Rico. Additionally, the town of Tangier, in Virginia, wants FAA approval to close Tangier Island Airport. 

7:24 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Bank of America allows borrowers to pause mortgage, credit card payments during coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Rob McClean

Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images/File
Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images/File

Bank of America announced Thursday it will allow customers experiencing financial hardship due to coronavirus to defer payments on mortgages and credit cards, among other measures.

"We’re going to continue to provide convenient access to the important services they count on, and the additional assistance and support they need during this difficult period," Dean Athanasia, president of consumer and small business at Bank of America, said in a statement.

Bank of America said it will work on a "case-by-case basis" to allow its customers to pause payments on credit cards and mortgages, as well as small business and auto loans. The bank added that deferred payments won't negatively affect customers' credit scores, but that borrowers will need to make those payments eventually.

7:28 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

More than 13,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the US

From CNN's Allison Flexner

A person is taken on a stretcher into the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston after being tested for Covid-19 on Thursday.
A person is taken on a stretcher into the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston after being tested for Covid-19 on Thursday. David J. Phillip/AP

There are at least 13,133 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 13,063 cases in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and other US territories, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases to 13,133. 

In total, 193 people have died. 


7:41 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

A third of all Californians have been told to shelter in place

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

California Street, usually filled with San Francisco's iconic cable cars, is seen mostly empty on Tuesday.
California Street, usually filled with San Francisco's iconic cable cars, is seen mostly empty on Tuesday. Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

About one-third of California’s 39 million residents have been told to shelter in place as part of an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Sacramento County on Thursday ordered 1.5 million residents to shelter in place at midnight.

Even Humboldt County, which reported one case of coronavirus, also urged its residents to stay home. Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich announced the shelter-in-place order, which starts at midnight and is expected to last until at least April 9.  

Under these orders, people may leave homes only for essential work or errands like buying groceries or medicine.

Sacramento and Humboldt counties joins a growing list of California communities that have already issued shelter-in-place orders to residents.


6:51 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

US Customs and Border Patrol intercepts prohibited medical test kits at Chicago O'Hare

From CNN's Dave Alsup

US Customs and Border Patrol officers at Chicago's O'Hare Airport intercepted packages at mail facility containing illegal medical test kits from the United Kingdom, some designed to test for Covid-19.

According to a news release, the shipments contained testing kits for "various viruses and diseases including Covid-19," but that not all the parcels contained Covid-19 test kits.

Groups of test kits had "generally one Covid-19 kit within groups of alleged test kits for meningitis, IVF, MRSA" and "salmonella." CBP turned the parcels over to the US Food and Drug Administration.

7:07 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

The G7 will no longer be at Camp David. It will now be a video conference.

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump has made the G7 a video teleconference and canceled the Camp David venue, according to White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere.

“In order for each country to focus all of its resources on responding to the health and economic challenges of COVID-19 and at President Trump’s direction, National Economic Council Director and U.S. Sherpa for the 2020 G7 Larry Kudlow has informed his Sherpa colleagues that the G7 Leaders’ Summit the U.S. was set to host in June at Camp David will now be done by video-teleconference."

Deere continued: "The White House also informed the other G7 members that in order to continue close coordination, the President will convene the Leaders’ via video teleconference in April and May just as he did this week.” 

6:46 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

"Spring Break's done," says Florida's governor

From CNN's Denise Royal

Chris O'Meara/AP
Chris O'Meara/AP

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he issued an order Thursday morning to limit gatherings on beaches to no more than 10.

"So what you've see now is a lot of the sheriff's departments have instituted protocols … Cocoa Beach, major spring break destination went down 70% since my order. And so, I think that's a more prudent approach to do social distancing," the Republican governor said.

The governor also wants Spring Break vacationers to know that the party is over.

“Since I issued my directive, anybody who's put that in place, spring break’s done. Any place to go for bars and all this done. They don't have a place to go.”

DeSantis added that he spoke to the US surgeon general recently about social distancing. He doesn’t want people living in the Sunshine State to stay inside all day if they feel fine.

“They [medical experts] want you to social distance, of course, but they actually encourage people to get fresh air. They just don't want you congregating in big groups. And so, if you have a Floridian that, you know, goes walks their dogs like a married couple on the beach, as long as you're not within six feet of each other, they view that. And, you know, that's a healthy thing. And so, I think it's important to allow that if the local communities want to do it, to be to be able to do it," he said.
6:39 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Governors express concern over lack of medical supplies in meeting with Trump

From CNN's Jason Hoffman, Nikki Carvajal and Kevin Liptak

Evan Vucci/Pool/Getty Images
Evan Vucci/Pool/Getty Images

States need more medical and testing supplies.

That was the message from governors around the country to President Trump on Thursday, as they met with members of the coronavirus task force. The President, who at times appeared frustrated, spoke with governors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

Many of the governors, like Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, said their main worry is that there is not enough personal protection equipment available in their states — like masks, disposable gowns, and other supplies. 

Trump told Murphy that the states should be working to get whatever equipment they need on their own, but the federal government would help if it could.

“Try what you can — do the best you can to get what you can actually get,” Trump said.

Addressing some of the concerns about access to necessary medical equipment, Vice President Mike Pence told governors to immediately "take inventory of your medical supply needs."

He said the federal government would work with any state "in the middle of critical response" to "get you what you need."

But he said other states should go through the normal routes to obtain medical equipment from the marketplace, even as hospital workers raise concerns about shortages.

"Other states, you need to talk to your healthcare leaders, providers and make sure that they are going to the supply chain and we encourage you to pull them together today to emphasize that point," Pence said.

Days after the President insisted access to testing wasn’t an issue, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker pressed the task force over the amount of available coronavirus tests that would be provided to his state. Pritzker said that Illinois did not have enough equipment to properly conduct tests. He said those were being “monopolized” by the drive-through sites the federal government was operating. Members of the administration said that wasn’t true.

Other state leaders said that even when they did get test kits, there were problems with how they were being distributed. Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota told the group that she spent weeks requesting testing supplies, only to have them go to a lab in her state that wasn’t approved to operate by the Food and Drug Administration. 

“So they received what I was trying to get for two weeks when they’re not even approved, not even up and running,” she told the President.

She said she had even started asking other states for help. As she voiced her frustration and confusion over how it happened, the President cut her off. “Alright. We got it. Thanks Kris,” he said, as the governor continued to speak.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who the President had snapped his fingers at as Noem spoke, jumped in to answer. He said the hospital “probably bought them on the open market."

“After this call we’ll get on with you to make sure you’re getting what you need,” Azar said. The governor tried to make further requests, but her connection cut out before she could finish. 

The President offered little feedback to the governors, choosing instead to leave much of the substance of the meeting to Pence, Azar and other members of the task force. 

6:37 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020

3 members of the Philadelphia 76ers organization test positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Jillian Martin

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images/File
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images/File

The Philadelphia 76ers announced Thursday that three members of its organization have tested positive for COVID-19.

"Three individuals have received positive test results for COVID-19. All other tests results are currently negative. We have reported this information to state and local health authorities as required," the team's statement said.

"Pursuant to CDC guidelines, the individuals are in self-isolation and will be monitored closely by medical professionals. The health of our players, staff, fans and community is paramount, and we continue to be guided by medical experts at this time."

The organization did not identify the three members.