March 20 coronavirus news
Mainland China reported 39 new cases of coronavirus -- all imported from overseas -- and three new deaths as of end of day Thursday, according to the country's National Health Commission.
This brings the death toll in mainland China to 3,248 and total confirmed cases to 80,967.
Thursday is the second day China has reported no increase in domestically transmitted coronavirus cases.
It is also the second day no new confirmed cases were reported in Hubei province, the epicenter of the pandemic.
Concerns over a so-called "second wave" of infections have increased in recent days as the number of imported cases -- linked to overseas travel -- have risen throughout Asia.
In China, authorities have escalated quarantine measures on international arrivals to avoid further outbreaks.
And in the capital, Beijing, all passengers arriving from overseas are now required to go into "collective quarantine at designated facilities." Beijing residents were previously allowed to quarantine themselves in their own homes.
California's governor has ordered all 40 million residents to stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus.
California is the most populous state in the US. It's also an economic powerhouse, home to the capital of the entertainment industry (Los Angeles) and the world's most important technology hub (Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area). The Central California Valley is one of the United States' most important bread baskets.
According to Forbes, California's economy is worth over $3 trillion. If it were a country, it would be the fifth-biggest economy in the world, after the US, China, Japan and Germany, and ahead of the United Kingdom and India.
Before California Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement, 21.3 million California residents were already under a "shelter in place" order.
“There's a recognition of our interdependence, that requires of this moment that we direct a statewide order for people to stay at home,” Newsom said, speaking of those who were already told to stay home.
“We were confident, we are confident, that the people, the state of California will ... do the right thing,” he added.
When does the order go into place? The order will go into effect today and will remain in place until further notice.
What's closed? Dine-in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and gyms will be shuttered. Public events are also banned
What will still be open? Gas stations, pharmacies, banks, food stores, and laundromats will still be open. Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.
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.
All 40 million residents in the state of California have been ordered to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The state is one of the worst affected in the US after Washington and New York. There are now 910 coronavirus cases in California, including 19 deaths.
New York has at least 5,298 cases, while Washington has at least 1,376 confirmed cases.
California is the most populous US state and is the country's largest state economy.
The Mexican and Israeli foreign ministers tweeted on Thursday that their respective nationals were on special flights exiting Peru.
Peru announced a sudden border closure on Sunday that left many foreigners stranded. Peru has 234 reported coronavirus cases and one confirmed death.
On Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz tweeted a video showing a cheering group of passengers, many wearing face masks, aboard a plane in Lima. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard retweeted Subsecretary Maximiliano Reyes Zúñiga, who wrote that a flight from Lima to Mexico City took off late on Thursday with 154 passengers aboard.
The situation for Americans: Meanwhile, Americans stranded in Peru have been calling on US authorities for help. A Google spreadsheet maintained by a user who says her father is among the passengers stranded in Peru currently has more than 1,600 entries for stranded Americans.
Here's what President Donald Trump said about the Americans currently stuck in Peru at a news conference on Thursday:
“We're trying to get them out. And, you know, they got caught. They were late with their flights. We gave them a period of time. They didn't make it, but we're looking to get them out with military, probably through the military.”
Another way out? However, information on the US Embassy in Lima’s website appears to suggest that private airline carriers could take the stranded Americans home. The Embassy published a link to an Avianca Airlines signup page for passengers in need of international flights and wrote that anyone interested in the offer “should respond immediately.” The Embassy also listed phone numbers for major airlines that operate flights between Peru and the United States.
American students stranded in Cusco, Peru told CNN on Thursday that they are eager for the US State Department to assist them in returning home.
“Bring us home,” student Erin Hill told CNN: “Thank you (State Department) for the work and hours you’re putting in. Everybody here wants to get home.”
The US State Department on Thursday issued a worldwide Level 4: Do Not Travel Advisory due the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Department of State advises US citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19,” the updated advisory said. “In countries where commercial departure options remain available, US citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period."
The advisory added: "US citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.”
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.