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
165 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
7:36 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

DC's Metro system discouraging riders from visiting cherry blossoms this weekend

From CNN's Joe Ruiz

Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

An annual tradition for both Washingtonians and tourists are to see the cherry blossoms bloom every Spring.

But the threat of spreading coronavirus has prompted the city's public transit system to take additional steps to its already altered scheduled to discourage people from using the public transportation system to go see them during peak bloom.

Trains will be running on a 30-minute operating schedule, and buses will operate on a Sunday schedule, system officials announced in a Friday statement.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority also reminded riders two of its stations — Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery — close to the Tidal Basin where much of the cherry blossoms bloom will remain closed.

Of course, people continue to show up and look at the bloom, including somebody who broke one of the fragile trees, according to the National Park Service.

Organizers of the National Cherry Blossom Festival had already announced last week it would be canceling its annual event due to the coronavirus outbreak.

For people who are stuck in the nation's capital or otherwise can't get to DC, the National Mall has a webcam to view the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin.

7:22 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

FDA cracks down on fake coronavirus tests, preventions and treatments

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

The US Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it is closely watching the market and will take appropriate action against firms claiming to offer fraudulent coronavirus tests, preventions and treatments. 

The FDA said it is starting to see unauthorized home tests being marketed by some companies. The FDA has not authorized any home test, although the agency said it is working with test developers to create one. 

The FDA said it has already sent warning letters to companies that were selling and promoting coronavirus related items that were fakes. The agency said it is also stepping up enforcement at ports of entry, including at international mail facilities. In a separate investigation, US Customs and Border Protection services seized fake test kits at the Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday.

“Fraudulent health claims, tests, and products can pose serious health risks,” the FDA statement said. “They may keep some patients from seeking care or delay necessary medical treatment.”
7:24 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

There are more than 18,000 cases of coronavirus in the US

From CNN's Allison Flexner

David J. Phillip/AP
David J. Phillip/AP

There are 18,170 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, and 241 people have died of the virus, according to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the United States through US public health systems. 

The total includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases. 

7:21 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Cuba will close its borders to combat the spread of coronavirus

From CNN's Patrick Oppmann in Havana and Tatiana Arias in Atlanta

Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images
Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel announced on Friday that the country will be closing its borders to everyone attempting to enter the island, with the exception of residents of the communist-run island.

The measure will go into effect on Tuesday and will last 30 days, the President said during a live televised address to the nation.

Commerce would still continue with other countries. However, tourism will no longer be permitted for at least 30 days, and all foreign visitors who are not residents need to depart the island, Diaz-Canel said.

Cuban health authorities have reported 21 cases of coronavirus and one death.

7:18 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Yosemite National Park closed until further notice

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images/File
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images/File

Yosemite National Park in California is now closed until further notice.

Visitors are not permitted inside the park, and the closure will be enforced around the clock, according to the National Park Service.

Most national parks have announced facility closures, but this is the first full closure of a park. 

The NPS attributes the closure to a request from the local health department.

Known for its towering granite cliffs, Yosemite is one of the country’s most treasured national parks. Established in 1890, it was the country’s third national park.

7:05 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

More men than women in Italy are dying from coronavirus, says White House's response coordinator

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse/AP
Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse/AP

New numbers from the Covid-19 outbreak in Italy show more men are dying from the virus than women, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator told CNN.

“This new data about the male-female ratio is really quite striking,” Dr. Deborah Birx told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Friday evening.

“From age 50 on, almost twice as many men are dying as women. So that really makes us really have to look into that and understand that, and really, just having the knowledge of that helps us in the United States so we can be very specific in talking to the American people about who to protect and how to protect them,” she said.

Birx stressed the importance of underlying and pre-existing medical conditions when it comes to coronavirus infections.

“In Italy, again, most of the individuals who succumb to this disease had three other prior existing medical conditions,” she said.

7:01 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Epidemiologists deploying to investigate multiple coronavirus cases in SW Georgia county

From CNN's Jessica Jordan

Epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health are being deployed to Albany in southwest Georgia to investigate multiple cases in the area, the health department said in a statement.

Dougherty County, where Albany is located, has 38 cases of coronavirus with six confirmed deaths, the statement said.

The team of experts will focus on investigations at Phoebe Putney Hospital and long-term care facilities in the area, according to the statement.

Albany is about 90 miles north of Tallahassee, Florida.

6:53 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Trump Organization closes parts of Mar-a-Lago due to coronavirus

From CNN's Betsy Klein and Kate Bennett

Joe Raedle/Getty Images/File
Joe Raedle/Getty Images/File

Parts of President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort have closed, a member tells CNN.

Club members have been getting daily briefings via email this week. The latest email, sent on Friday, said the main house, spa, and gym are closed. 

The beach club is open, but serving at half capacity, according to the member.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all beaches in Palm Beach County to close, although it’s unclear if that applies to private beaches and whether there will be a new update Saturday to reflect that information.

Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, a separate resort where the President often golfs, remains open.

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization would not confirm that Mar-a-Lago was affected, but said in a statement, “various facilities are temporarily closed given local, state and federal mandates.

"We anxiously await the day when this pandemic is over and our world-class facilities can reopen," the statement said.

6:50 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Alabama's governor activates its national guard

Gov. Kay Ivey has authorized the activation of up to 100 Alabama National Guardsmen on an as needed basis in response to novel coronavirus, a statement from her office said.

The activation was done as a preparedness measure, the statement read, and that the guard had no "determined need for formal assistance" right now.

“I want to ensure Alabamians that our National Guard stands ready to be part of this team effort to combat this invisible enemy," Ivey said in the statement. “My administration has been given clear instructions to do everything possible to ensure the continuity of government while being flexible and responsible to the needs of our state."