March 21 coronavirus news

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9:16 p.m. ET, March 21, 2020

US workers may get "unemployment insurance on steroids"

The United State's emergency stimulus package will help the workers hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Schumer told CNN’s Wolf Blizter on The Situation Room on Saturday night that a tentpole of the stimulus package was putting “workers first” by giving them “unemployment insurance on steroids.” 

“If you can’t work because your business is closed for all the obvious reasons, you will get your full pay from the federal government and unemployment insurance on steroids will cover all workers," Schumer said.
"It will cover part-time workers, workers who are independent, it will cover the freelancers, and you will be able to stay on this for four months."

Under this scheme, Schumer noted that workers would be “furloughed by their employer so that you can go back to work.” 

About 75 million residents of Connecticut, Illinois, New York and California have been ordered to remain at home to slow the spread of coronavirus.

9:12 p.m. ET, March 21, 2020

US Department of Justice proposes denying visas to people who test positive for coronavirus

From CNN’s Jeremy Herb

The United States Department of Justice is petitioning Congress to change the law to deny asylum or visas to people who test positive for the coronavirus, according to a document obtained by CNN.

CNN previously reported that the Trump administration was trying to block asylum seekers, citing the virus. The State Department temporarily stopped processing routine visas at all embassies and consulates on Friday.

The Department of Justice has submitted a multitude of legislative proposals to Congress in order to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the judicial system, according to a document obtained by CNN.

Those include:

  • Requesting the suspension of the statute of limitations while the country is in a state of emergency;
  • Using video teleconferencing for preliminary court hearings;
  • Priority virus testing for federal agents.

DOJ has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.

9:10 p.m. ET, March 21, 2020

United Airlines slashed international flights. Now it's bringing some of them back

From CNN's Greg Wallace

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

United Airlines is bringing back some of its international flights just one day after making significant international flight schedule cuts.

On Friday, United said it was slashing its April international schedule by 95%. However, on Saturday evening, the airline said it “knows some people around the globe are displaced and still need to get home” and will be adding some capacity back to its schedules. 

The changes mean the airline will operate at about 90% international capacity, it said. 

"This remains a fluid situation, but United continues to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world, especially in these challenging times," the company said in a press release.

8:52 p.m. ET, March 21, 2020

US Vice President Mike Pence has tested negative for coronavirus

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

United States Vice President Mike Pence and his wife have tested negative for coronavirus, his spokeswoman announced Saturday evening.

“Pleased to report that the Covid-19 test results came back negative for both Vice President @Mike_Pence and Second Lady @KarenPence," his spokesperson tweeted.

Pence announced he and his wife would be tested Saturday afternoon after a staff member at his office tested positive for coronavirus.

8:46 p.m. ET, March 21, 2020

Bolivians should be at home "24 hours a day," the country's interim president says

From CNN’s Taylor Barnes in Atlanta.

Bolivia has announced a nationwide, 14-day "total quarantine" starting Sunday, according to Bolivian state media agency ABI.

The country's interim president, Jeanine Áñez, said Bolivians should “be at home 24 hours a day” and that only one person per family can leave at a time to go shopping. Public and private transport will be suspended.

Still operating: Pharmacies, hospitals and health centers will remain open as normal, she said. Permits will be given to employees in sectors that remain open.

Questions over election: On Saturday, the Bolivian electoral tribunal issued a notice on its website saying that the quarantine order impedes the body from carrying out preparatory activities ahead of May 3 elections.

The tribunal said that political groups and authorities should work together to decide on a “new date” that takes into account “scientific evaluations based on serious estimates about the probably evolution of the pandemic.”

An interim government has ruled Bolivia since former President Evo Morales fled the country following allegations of fraud in an October vote that would have given him a fourth term in office. Morales has said he was the victim of a coup.

8:29 p.m. ET, March 21, 2020

Apple is donating millions of industrial masks

Apple is donating 2 million masks to health professionals in the US and Europe.  

Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed the news in a tweet.

The company has also temporarily closed all of its stores outside of greater China and committed $15 million to helping with the worldwide recovery from novel coronavirus.

8:11 p.m. ET, March 21, 2020

Federal Bureau of Prisons reports first coronavirus case

From CNN’s David Shortell

The exterior of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The exterior of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York. Kathy Willens/AP

An inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn has tested posted for the coronavirus, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

This is the first known case of an inmate detained in the federal prison system to contract the virus.

The inmate initially complained about chest pains and was taken to local hospital, where he was tested for coronavirus, according to a news release from the Bureau of Prisons.

On March 20, 2020, he was discharged back to MDC Brooklyn and immediately placed in isolation. Today, the BOP was notified his test results for COVID-19 were positive," the release said.

Two Bureau of Prison staff members, one at Leavenworth, Kansas, and another in Grand Prairie, Texas, tested positive for the virus and are the only known staff members to be infected at this point.

7:52 p.m. ET, March 21, 2020

US Embassy in Peru says it is arranging charter flights

From CNN’s Michael Callahan and Jennifer Hansler

The US Embassy in Lima said Saturday it "is coordinating closely with the Peruvian Government on all options for US citizens to depart the country and are arranging charter aircraft," an alert from the embassy said Saturday.

"A flight of 264 American citizens departed Lima for Washington, DC on March 20, and the Embassy understands that LATAM flight 2488 departed Lima for Miami today with over 175 U.S. citizens," the embassy said in an alert. "Please stay attuned to U.S. Embassy messaging as we continue to arrange for more flights over the coming days. These flights will be subject to reimbursement."
7:59 p.m. ET, March 21, 2020

Kuwait to impose 11-hour curfew following 'non-compliance' with health instructions

From CNN’s Ruba Alhenawi and Taylor Barnes 

Kuwaiti Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh announced an 11-hour curfew from 5 p.m. Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday (local time), according to the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

Al-Saleh said the government was "forced" to impose the partial curfew due to "non-compliance with the Ministry of Health's instructions to stay indoors."