March 20 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Joshua Berlinger, Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Steve George and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:27 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020
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11:38 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

New York governor mandates all non-essential workers must stay home

State of New York
State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo just announced that 100% of non-essential workers should stay home. Only essential businesses will be functioning.

Cuomo is calling it "New York state on pause."

"We need everyone to be safe, otherwise no one can be safe," Cuomo said.

"This is the most drastic action we can take," Cuomo said.


11:20 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

New York governor: "Ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state is in dire need of ventilators to battle coronavirus, calling ventilators "the key piece of equipment."

"If you are a regulated health facility, we are asking you by order of the Department of Health to make that ventilator available. We will purchase it from you. You could lend it to us. But we need ventilators," Cuomo said.

He said that anyone in possession of ventilators that can be sold or loaned to New York should contact the state Department of Health.

"We need those ventilators. The ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II."

11:21 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

New York governor calls on medical students, retired medical professionals to help

State of New York
State of New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on retired medical professionals and medical school students to help with the growing number of infected people visiting New York hospitals.

Cuomo said this personnel is necessary because hospitals have been instructed to operate at "maximum capacity."

"We want to know from each hospital how many beds can you get in your hospital. We're waiving the department of health and DFS regulations about space, et cetera. This would be for short-term emergency basis, but we want to plan from every hospital, if you use every available space how many beds can you get in the hospital. And we started that a few weeks ago, but that is now coming to a critical point. With more beds, you need more staff. So we're going to nursing schools, medical schools, asking retired doctors and nurses to come back into service," Cuomo said.
11:17 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

New York governor: We will pay premium price for medial protective equipment

State of New York
State of New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said manufacturers of masks, ventilators and other medical protective equipment should contact his office, and he will pay a premi

"If you are a business that doesn't manufacture these exact items, but if you have equipment and personnel and you believe that you could manufacture these items. They're not complicated, a mask is not a complicated item to make. A PPE gown is not a complicated item. Gloves, nitrile gloves are not a complicated item. If you will make them, we will give you funding to do it," Cuomo said.


More context: Earlier today, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said on CNN that New York City will run out of medical supplies in 2 to 3 weeks.

Ventilators are the greatest need, according to Cuomo.

11:00 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

American Heart Association offers advice for heart attack and stroke survivors amid pandemic

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

During the current coronavirus pandemic, it is "more important than ever" for heart attack and stroke survivors to reduce the risk of another event and "avoid busy hospitals," the American Heart Association said in a statement Friday.

"Based on current information, it appears elderly people with coronary heart disease or hypertension are more likely to be infected and to develop more severe symptoms. Stroke survivors may face increased risk for complications if they get Covid-19," the statement said.

The AHA noted that after a heart attack or stroke, as many as 1 in 4 survivors will have another one. To prevent a heart attack or stroke, the AHA offered these tips:

  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • Manage your risk factors by quitting smoking, eating healthy, staying active
  • Keep any follow-up appointments with your doctor and see if virtual visits are possible
  • Participate in a cardiac rehab program virtually
  • Get support from loved ones as needed when you feel overwhelmed, scared or confused
11:01 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

National Spelling Bee postpones annual competition

From CNN's David Close

Students fill the stage during the second round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on  May 28, 2019 in National Harbor, Maryland.
Students fill the stage during the second round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 28, 2019 in National Harbor, Maryland. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/FILE

Organizers of the Scripps National Spelling Bee have suspended the annual event due to the on-going coronavirus threat.

The competition that pits over 500 spellers, all of whom are 15 years-old or younger but have not passed eighth grade, was set to start on May 24 in Oxon Hill, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC.

Scripps said in statement it would attempt to reschedule the 93rd competition later this year.

What happened last year: The competition featured an epic ending with eight co-champions.

After 20 rounds and a run of 47 correct words, Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhatankar, Abhijay Kodali, Christopher Serrao, and Rohan Raja were all crowned winners.

10:58 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Marriott to furlough most associates at its headquarters

From CNN’s Jordan Valinsky


Marriott's furloughs, which previously were only for its hotel workers, are now hitting the corporate level.

The world's largest hotel chain confirmed to CNN Business that it's moving to shortened work weeks at its corporate headquarters and it's putting many of its employees on temporary leaves that could last as long as three months. 

The changes will "impact most associates" at the Bethesda, Maryland-based company, a spokesperson said.

Marriott shares are up 22% in early trading because of hopes of a stimulus package from the US government.

10:51 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Here's how the CEO of Kraft Heinz is addressing price gouging

Miguel Patricio, CEO of Kraft Heinz
Miguel Patricio, CEO of Kraft Heinz CNN

Miguel Patricio, CEO of Kraft Heinz, told CNN moments ago that his company is addressing price gouging by trying to keep grocery store shelves stocked.

"We are finding solutions to increase productivity so we can keep or avoid the shelves being empty. I'll give you an example. We stopped producing some of the SKUs to concentrate on products that have high rotation so we can increase the productivity of our plants to do that. Of course we communicate daily with our customers and grocery companies," Patricio told CNN.

What other companies are doing to address this: Amazon has removed more than 530,000 listings from its marketplace and suspended 2,500 US sellers for coronavirus-related price gouging, the company told a US senator on March 6.

The company is also working with state attorneys general to prosecute “the worst offenders,” it told Sen. Ed Markey in a letter.

The disclosure comes as demand spikes — both online and off — for supplies including face masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning products. CVS and Walgreens have warned of possible shortages.

In its letter, Amazon said it is using a mix of "automated and manual methods” to identify cases of price gouging. 


10:44 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Trump administration expected to announce plans to halt non-essential travel on US-Mexico border

By CNN's Priscilla Alvarez, Betsy Klein and Jennifer Hansler

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. CNN

The Trump administration is expected to announce details Friday on plans to halt non-essential travel on the US-Mexico border in an effort to limit travel amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

“We’re working with both our Canadian partners as well as our Mexican partners, limiting nonessential travel across that border,” Wolf told reporters Friday. “We want to make sure cargo continues, trade continues, healthcare workers continue to be able to traverse that border. But tourism, some recreational activities need to stop during this crisis.”

Wolf told reporters that more details on a southern border non-essential closure will be announced later Friday. 

The expected action on the southern border appears similar to the one taken on the US border with Canada and marks the latest move by the administration to seal off the United States as coronavirus continues to spread. 

Some context: Over recent weeks, Trump has joined countries across the globe in introducing a slate of travel restrictions, which extend from China to Europe's Schengen Area to the United Kingdom and Ireland, over coronavirus concerns.

In a span of a few days, Trump has also moved to largely shutter the US land borders.