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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8:16 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

US reports more than 2,700 new coronavirus cases during 24-hour period

States across the US have reported 2,760 new cases of novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours, according to a tally by CNN.

On Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. ET, CNN was reporting at least 6,138 cases with 112 deaths. On Thursday morning at 6 a.m. ET, CNN had tallied at least 8,898 cases with 149 deaths; an increase of 2,760 cases and 37 deaths. 

A week ago on March 12, CNN was reporting 1,274 cases and 38 deaths. Two weeks ago on March 5, CNN had counted 161 cases and 11 deaths.

Members of the White House Task Force and public health officials have warned the number of cases in the US will increase as more testing is completed. 


8:12 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

New York restaurant group lays off around 2,000 people after "near complete elimination of revenue"

From CNN’s Alicia Wallace

The high-profile New York restaurant group which runs the city's Union Square Cafe is slashing its workforce by 80% and laying off around 2,000 people in the wake of coronavirus-related closures. 

The cuts are a result of "a near complete elimination of revenue," Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) said in a statement. 

"We have laid off more people today that we probably hired in the first 20-25 years we were in business. I cannot believe those words have just come out of my mouth," USHG Chief Executive Danny Meyer said in an emotional video message to staff.

USHG Chief Executive Danny Meyer attends the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, in Sun Valley, Idaho, in July 2019.
USHG Chief Executive Danny Meyer attends the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, in Sun Valley, Idaho, in July 2019. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The company operates restaurants and event businesses in New York, Las Vegas, Washington DC and other cities. Meyer opened Union Square Cafe in 1985.

"The reality is that we've had to make drastic and previously unimaginable choices for how we conduct business just to protect our team and our communities ... in doing so, our revenues have been decimated, and the foundation of our business has been seriously tested," he said in a statement.

Meyer will forgo his salary and members of the executive team will take pay cuts, which will go into an employee relief fund with other donations. 

"The goal is to rehire as many of those people as soon as possible, when health and business conditions permit," USHG said in the announcement.

Industry insiders have warned that the temporary closures of restaurants and bars across the US could devastate the industry. The National Restaurant Association said restaurants will need $325 billion from the government to help workers and employers.

Read the full story here

8:06 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

France gets 30 million masks for health workers as lockdown looks set to be extended

From CNN's Ya Chun Wang and Fanny Bobille in Paris and Niamh Kennedy in London

A picture shows a box of protective face masks at a hospital in Paris on March 13.
A picture shows a box of protective face masks at a hospital in Paris on March 13. Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images)

France has received 30 million protective face masks to help healthcare workers treat patients infected by the coronavirus, French Minister for Health Olivier Véran said Thursday. 

He advised against use by the general public, and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe reiterated that face masks were "useless" for day-to-day protection and deprived healthcare workers who needed them.

Meanwhile, the French lockdown that began this week is likely to last beyond the forecast two weeks, according to Geneviève Chêne, the director general of Public Health France.

Chêne told French radio station FranceInfo on Thursday that France should start to see "a major slowdown within two to four weeks” but that the primary objective remained the conservation of the healthcare system. She said that it was “likely to be necessary to extend the confinement so that this slowdown is sufficient." 

French President Emmanuel Macron announced lockdown plans in a televised address on Monday evening.

From Tuesday midday local time, residents were instructed to stay at home. Those who wish to leave their home must carry a signed copy of a government-approved certificate permitting certain activities such as buying groceries or visiting the sick.

8:03 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

More than 200 communities told to isolate in Austria

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin 

A police officer is seen at a roadblock near St Anton following the imposition of a quarantine due to the coronavirus on March 14, near Landeck, Austria.
A police officer is seen at a roadblock near St Anton following the imposition of a quarantine due to the coronavirus on March 14, near Landeck, Austria. Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images

Officials in the Austrian province of Tyrol have ordered 279 communities to isolate themselves and go into quarantine as an extension of federal lockdown measures.  

"We have to prevent with all our strength conditions like what we are seeing now in Italy...we are issuing a quarantine order for all 279 Tyrolean communities," Governor Guenther Platter announced Wednesday evening in a statement shared on Facebook. 

Platter said that members of the public would only be allowed to leave their villages or towns if necessary to cover basic needs, provide services of general interest or travel to work. 

"If there is a doctor, a pharmacy, a grocery store and a bank in the village, then the community may not be left for these purposes. What is not allowed, for example, is to go to another village if there is a grocery store in your own village," Platter added. 

According to Austria's Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health Care and Consumer Protection, the western province has reported 437 cases -- out of Austria's total 1,843 -- as of Thursday morning.

The order for the popular tourist region follows previous quarantine measures imposed on ski resorts across Austria -- including Ischgl and St Anton -- which had been identified by authorities as hotspots for the spread of the coronavirus.

7:55 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Do you have cabin fever? Here's what you can do about it

By CNN's Kristen Rogers

While our abilities to go to work and participate in activities outside the home are under restriction, initial discomfort may quickly result in "cabin fever."

Cabin fever is not like a psychological disorder, but the feelings associated with it are.

It involves a range of negative feelings and distress related to restricted movement: irritability, boredom, some hopelessness, restlessness and difficulty concentrating. 

Your personality is a major factor in how quickly you develop these kinds of emotions. If you're more extroverted and not used to being at home, you're probably more prone to feeling this way and may feel it instantly. Those who see quarantine as a way to clean, pay bills, organize their closet or pursue a new hobby might take longer to reach cabin fever, if they ever do.

Whichever group you belong to, there are various ways you can ease the tension:

  • Establish a routine
  • Mix up your space 
  • Stay physically and mentally active
  • Connect with others .. but find time to separate, too
  • Embrace discomfort

Read the full article here

7:40 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Netflix urged to slow streaming to stop the internet from breaking

From CNN’s Hadas Gold


The European Union is urging Netflix and other streaming platforms to stop showing video in high definition to prevent the internet from breaking because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

With so many countries on lockdowns to fight the spread of the virus, hundreds of millions working from home and even more children out of school, EU officials are concerned about the strain on internet bandwidth.

European Commissioner Thierry Breton tweeted Wednesday evening that he had spoken with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Breton called on viewers and companies to "#SwitchtoStandard definition when HD is not necessary" to secure internet access for all.

A Netflix spokesperson told CNN Business that Hastings and Breton will speak again on Thursday, and said it already adjusts streaming quality and tries to minimize bandwidth consumption. 

"Commissioner Breton is right to highlight the importance of ensuring that the internet continues to run smoothly during this critical time," the Netflix spokesperson said. "We've been focused on network efficiency for many years, including providing our open connect service for free to telecommunications companies."

Facebook on Wednesday acknowledged that the effects of the pandemic were stretching it to the limit. In a call with reporters, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook was facing "big surges" in use as the coronavirus forces millions to stay home. 

He described the increase in demand as "well beyond" the annual spike usually seen on New Year's Eve. Voice and video calls on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, in particular, are more than double usual levels. 

7:17 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Trump embraces fight with "invisible enemy" only days after dismissing the virus

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

It's a stunning reversal President Donald Trump would like Americans to forget.

Only days after dismissing the coronavirus threat as a distraction, he's now assumed the title of a resolute war time president fighting an "invisible enemy" while promising to rally the nation behind him in pursuit of "total victory."

Trump's new posture is in response to a crisis that is worsening by the hour and appears to be partly designed to cover up the administration's failures in distributing testing kits that might have helped authorities slow the virus' advance.

But his somber rhetoric is already being undermined by his own actions. He's casting doubt over whether he will actually implement a move to invoke the Defense Production Act, which could speed the production of badly needed ventilators, masks and other supplies for hospital workers.

And it turns out the announcement that hospital ships will be deployed to New York and a forthcoming West Coast destination will happen more slowly than initially thought -- it could take weeks before the vessels are ready, said Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

A war against coronavirus: Trump's war metaphor also suggests a willingness of the populace to allow some infringements of hard won civil liberties in extreme circumstances -- as is happening with self-isolating right now.

But the concept of a wartime presidency also brings political and personal expectations of the commander-in-chief himself and may require a significant refashioning of Trump's divisive political method.

Read the full analysis here:

7:01 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Hong Kong facing new wave of health issues related to imported coronavirus cases

From CNN's Alex Lin and Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

A traveler wearing a protective suit walks with luggage through the arrivals hall of Hong Kong International Airport on March 18.
A traveler wearing a protective suit walks with luggage through the arrivals hall of Hong Kong International Airport on March 18. Justin Chin/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Hong Kong is facing a resurgence of health issues related to imported coronavirus cases as it confirmed 16 new cases, bringing its total to 208.

In a news conference on Thursday, Dr. Chuang Shui-kwan of the Center for Health Protection said most of the new cases had recently arrived in Hong Kong from countries including Spain, the UK, Italy and the US. She said that the new cases included business people and students returning from overseas.

Dr. Chui Tak-yi of the Food and Health Department said that Hong Kong was facing a new wave of public health issues related to imported cases. He added that officials are expecting a rise in cases in the days to come.

He added that over the past two weeks, 92% of new cases recorded in the city were imported cases.

Of the 208 confirmed cases, 91 patients are still receiving treatment in hospitals including one patients who is in critical condition according to Dr. Linda Yu of the Hospital Authority. 

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

The entire Georgia state legislature has been asked to self-quarantine after a senator tested positive

The Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Georgia. Shutterstock

All legislature members in the US state of Georgia, along with their staff, are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days after a senator was confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Sen. Brandon Beach has tested positive, the Georgia House said in a statement.

Meanwhile, two members of the US Congress have tested positive for the virus -- Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.

Several other Congress members in different states have also announced self-quarantines after coming in contact with McAdams or Diaz-Balart.