March 22 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Jenni Marsh, Rob Picheta, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 10:30 p.m. ET, March 22, 2020
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1:29 p.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Germany to ban gatherings of more than 2 people

From CNN’s Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

People sit outside at the East Side Gallery in Berlin on March 22.
People sit outside at the East Side Gallery in Berlin on March 22. Paul Zinken/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Germany has implemented a "contact ban" rather than a full nationwide lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, says German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

Merkel said in a press conference Sunday that the country would toughen measures and "reduce contact with people as much as possible."

"To that end, Germany will ban gatherings of more than two people," Merkel said.

Merkel extrapolated on the ban in a phone conversation between herself and the 16 German state premiers on Sunday, saying a contact ban will be implemented, meaning no more than two people would be allowed to interact with each other — with the exceptions of families and people living together.

Merkel said that "a minimum distance of 1.5 to 2 meters" should be adhered to and meetings in groups are now unacceptable and will be sanctioned if not adhered to. 

Further, Merkel added that restaurants, as well as hair salons, and tattoo shops will also be shut down.

Merkel said these measures would be in place for at least two weeks.

1:25 p.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Rural areas tell UK city-dwellers to stay away

From CNN's Rory Sullivan

A mobile home in Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands on Sunday.
A mobile home in Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands on Sunday.

People in the United Kingdom are being told to stay at home and to not travel to remote communities, amid growing worries in the regions over the spread of coronavirus. 

Fiona Hyslop, Scotland’s tourism secretary, told the BBC that tourists could “compromise the health” of people living in rural areas, including the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

Tourism businesses along one Scottish road, the A830 which runs from Fort William to Mallaig, have also urged people to stay away. 

The Road To The Isles group, which is made up of 100 tourism businesses along the route, said that “vital services” in the area are “struggling to cope with demand," according to PA Media news agency. 

The area has just one doctor and one ambulance serving an ageing population. In a statement on its website, Visit Scotland asked everyone “not to travel to or around Scotland.”

People were also discouraged from traveling to Cornwall, a county in western England. A joint statement issued by Cornwall Council and the tourism site Visit Cornwall on Friday urged people planning a trip to the county to “consider deferring their visit.”

Steve Double, the Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay in Cornwall, told Sky News on Saturday: “Please do not travel to Cornwall, we do not want to spread this virus any further.”

Elsewhere, Snowdonia National Park in Wales experienced its “busiest ever visitor day” on Saturday with people flouting guidance on social distancing, according to its website. 

“We are calling on the Prime Minister and the First Minister of Wales to provide stronger measures on unnecessary travel and social distancing, to ensure that we do not see a repeat of yesterday’s scenes across Snowdonia," Emyr Williams, chief executive of the Snowdonia National Park Authority, said in a statement on Sunday.
1:24 p.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Tennessee governor issues order restricting businesses

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks to the press on March 16.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks to the press on March 16. Mark Humphrey/AP

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has issued an executive order Sunday with sweeping changes to businesses in response to the coronavirus.

The issue prohibits gatherings of 10 or more and enacts restrictions on businesses.

Restaurants are ordered to only offer drive-thru, take out or delivery options and can sell alcohol by delivery or pick up to those over 21, a release from the governor's office said.

Gyms and other fitness facilities are closed until April 6 and encouraged to pursue digital programs, according to the release.

Nursing homes and other long term care facilities are no longer allowed to accept visitors unless they are essential to care, the release said. 

1:02 p.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Actress Rita Wilson raps to Naughty by Nature

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

from Instagram
from Instagram

Actress Rita Wilson continues to amaze and entertain followers while recovering from coronavirus.

Wilson posted a four-minute long video of herself rapping every word of Naughty by Nature's "Hip Hop Hooray."

"Quarantine Stir Crazy See it to believe it," Wilson said in the Instagram caption.

Watch Wilson's video:

1:01 p.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Greece to ban all non-essential movement starting Monday

From CNN’s Chris Liakos in London

A woman walks past the empty Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece, on March 16.
A woman walks past the empty Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece, on March 16. Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP via Getty Images

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has just announced in a televised statement a nationwide ban of non-essential movement to start Monday at 6 a.m. local time. 

Only people required to go to work, the supermarket, hospital or to see their doctors are permitted to go out, said the prime minister.

Mitsotakis also said offenders would be fined 150 Euros ($161.45).

Earlier on Sunday, the Greek Health Ministry announced 94 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the country’s total to 624. 

1:44 p.m. ET, March 22, 2020

New York reports 114 coronavirus-related deaths

From CNN's Sheena Jones and Melanie Schuman

New York has 15,168 confirmed Covid-19 cases across the state, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a press conference Sunday morning. 

So far, 114 people have died in New York from the disease, Cuomo added.

At least 61,401 people have been tested for the coronavirus across the state.  

Some context: On Saturday morning. New York State reported a total of about 12,260 coronavirus cases and 70 deaths.

1:16 p.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Russia is flying doctors and supplies to Italy to help with its coronavirus response

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow and Livia Borghese in Rome

A nurse stands next to a pre-triage tent outside a hospital in Cremona, near Milan.
A nurse stands next to a pre-triage tent outside a hospital in Cremona, near Milan.

Russia is sending equipment and teams of doctors to Italy, as the nation continues to battle its worsening coronavirus outbreak.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said Sunday it had started flying 100 doctors and virologists, along with disinfection equipment, to the country.

The first Il-76 aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces departed Sunday from Moscow’s Chkalovsky military airfield with Russian military specialists and equipment aboard, the Russian military said in a statement. 

Nine Il-76 transport aircraft, with military doctors, special vehicles for disinfecting and other medical equipment on board, will land today at the military airport of Pratica di Mare, the Italian defense ministry added. 

Some context: This news came a day after telephone conversations between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the defense ministers of both countries.

According to a Kremlin readout, Russia agreed to provide assistance on Italy’s request, including protective equipment, KAMAZ truck-mounted units used for disinfection, medical and other equipment.

“Italy is not alone in this challenge,” Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini said after speaking with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu by phone late Saturday, according to a readout. “I want to thank Russia for the help it is giving our country to overcome this emergency.”

The view from Russia: Putin’s move came in for some criticism at home. Russian officials have faced questions about shortages of protective equipment for medical workers, and the city of Moscow is scrambling to complete a medical facility for coronavirus patients.

Anastasia Vasilyeva, a doctor for Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny and leader of the Alliance of Doctors union, wrote a sardonic post on Twitter about Russia’s move to help Italy. 

“Is Putin our president at all?” she wrote. “We have a shortage of doctors, they do not have protective equipment, they are sewing masks from gauze. How many times have we asked them to be provided. And then he sends help to Italy. Does he not care about his country?”

Putin and Russian officials claim they have been proactive in combating the spread of coronavirus in Russia. The country’s coronavirus tracking headquarters says Russia has 367 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

12:43 p.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Florida to receive 2 million N95 masks this week

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

The state of Florida has 300,000 N95 masks and will be receiving 2 million more this week, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said during a Sunday press conference.

The masks will be distributed to healthcare facilities and workers in various state departments, Moskowitz said.

The division is setting up field hospitals in Broward and Miami-Dade counties to increase capacity. Each will be able to accommodate 250 people, according to Moskowitz. 

They have procured 3,000 beds, which includes ICU beds, in order to increase the capacity available to respond to the coronavirus, Moskowitz said.

There are also 300 nurses on standby and 300 medics with the National Guard available to respond as needed, Moskowitz said.

12:45 p.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Pelosi says no deal yet on stimulus bill, House Democrats will introduce their own

From CNN's Ted Barrett, Kristin Wilson and Lauren Fox

Speaker Pelosi speaks to the press on March 13.
Speaker Pelosi speaks to the press on March 13. Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi departed the a meeting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office and said there is no deal yet on the coronavirus economic stimulus bill, adding that the House will introduce its own bill — something that could significantly draw out the process to finalize the legislation.

Some context: The massive emergency aid package being negotiated on Capitol Hill has grown to roughly $2 trillion as bicameral, bipartisan leaders come together Sunday to try and clinch a final agreement, according to two people directly involved in the talks.