March 23 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 9:46 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020
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5:07 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Army field hospitals will arrive in NYC and Seattle within the next "72 hours or less"

From CNN's Barbara Starr

Within the next “72 hours or less,” New York and Seattle should expect Army field hospitals to arrive in their cities by truck and start setting up, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley told a group of reporters Monday.

Each hospital has 248 beds of which 48 are ICU beds.

The mobile hospitals also each come with 11 ventilators. Several mobile military medical facilities are on “prepare to deploy” orders, but these two are expected to be among the first to go.

5:40 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

UK's Boris Johnson imposed a lockdown today — but what took him so long?

Analysis from CNN's Luke McGee

Boris Johnson has just imposed the most stringent social restrictions on the British public since the end of the World War II.

With immediate effect, the public is being instructed by the prime minister to stay at home. The only exceptions are: shopping for basic necessities; one form of exercise a day; any medical need; and, for the designated key workers, traveling to and from work. If they don't follow the rules, police will have the power to enforce the rules by dispersing gatherings and fines. 

The move comes after weeks of criticism that the Johnson has not taken the coronavirus outbreak seriously enough, as Britain's European counterparts had moved faster and harder. In fact, even after this latest announcement, the UK's response is still behind countries like Germany, France and Italy. 

What's taken him so long? Johnson is not naturally comfortable with removing anyone's personal liberties. Throughout his career, Johnson has been disparaging about ideas of the "nanny state" and disdainful of the political instincts of those who use the state to tell the public what to do.

In a 2004 newspaper column, Johnson wrote of a proposed smoking ban: "We should have the common sense to listen to others before we presume to act in their interests." Mocking those who were in favor of the ban, he wrote: "Next thing, I said, you'll be wanting to ban drink in order to remove any temptation to get drunk, or ban cars, to avoid ever being tempted to drive too fast…" 

Johnson's reluctance to tell others what to do goes beyond gags about drinks. In the same column, he made reference to the Iraq war — and attacked the government of the time (now the opposition Labour party) who "decided, from a position of such ignorance, that the best way to help Iraq was to kill so many of its people."

This stuff runs deep for Johnson. He has spent decades honing his image as a liberal Conservative who believes people should be free to live their lives how they wish. It is a seam which has run through his entire professional career: from editing magazines to running the official Brexit campaign. Johnson has for years defined his political views as driven by personal liberty. 

It might go some way to explaining why the new rules might be a little less drastic than they initially sound. Yes, the police can break up gatherings of people and impose fines, but no mention of detention (which would be defensible under human rights law). And the rules will be reviewed in three weeks, the prime minister's advisers were keen to remind journalists. 

Yes, these measures are a big deal for the UK, as it slowly comes to terms with how serious this crisis really is. But Johnson will hope that the message towards the end of his address, "no Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this," will have reached the audience at home. And his team will be crossing their fingers that whenever these measures are lifted, it's remembered that this was done with the heaviest of hearts. 

5:00 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

South Carolina limits gatherings of 3 or more people

From CNN’s Stephanie Gallman in Atlanta

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced Monday the signing of an executive order in the state that would allow law enforcement officers to prohibit and disperse gatherings of three or more people if they feel the gathering is a threat to public health.

Police “would know it when they see it,” he said of such gatherings. The order would not apply to businesses or workplaces, McMaster said. 

At least five people have died of coronavirus in South Carolina, according to the Department of Health.

5:52 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

UK announces lockdown


PA Video/PA Images/Getty Images
PA Video/PA Images/Getty Images

The British Prime Minister has ordered the UK to lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. 

Calling the virus the “biggest threat” the UK has faced in decades, Boris Johnson said people across the country must “stay home” in order to halt the growth of Covid-19 and protect the health care system. 

“Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope; because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses,” Johnson said in a televised address. 

People will be allowed to leave their homes for limited purposes:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • One form of exercise a day — for example a run, walk, or cycle — alone or with members of your household
  • Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • Traveling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home. 

“If you don’t follow the rules, the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings,” he said. The measures will be in place for three weeks and then will be reviewed.

Watch here:

4:38 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

US Supreme Court justices are holding meetings via teleconference

From CNN's Ariane De Vogue

John Roberts was the only US Supreme Court justice present in the conference room last Friday as the justices “met” for their regular meeting to discuss pending cases.

The other eight justices participated via a teleconference, said Kathy Arberg, the Court's public information officer.

It was Roberts’ idea “in accordance with the Center of Disease Control’s guidance on social distancing" for the other justices to work from home, Arberg said. It’s likely that when the justices meet again next Friday, they will continue the same pattern.

The news comes as the Court is making changes to grapple with the pandemic.

On Monday, for the first time in a decade, the court released opinions for an argued case without sitting on the bench. They also postponed oral arguments for the next two weeks — something the court has not done since 1918.

4:34 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Trump signs order to prevent hoarding and price gouging

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

President Trump has signed an executive order “to prevent hoarding & price gouging of supplies needed in our war against the #Coronavirus,” according to a tweet from White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham. 

She included what appears to be a White House photo of the President flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General William Barr. 

Reporters were not told about the Oval Office signing prior to the tweet and have no way to independently verify the picture was taken at today's event. 

4:32 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Ban on unnecessary surgeries and procedures includes abortion, Texas attorney general says

From CNN’s Ashley Killough

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday that the governor's order to postpone "all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary" includes abortions 

Paxton said in a statement that the ban applies to "all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary, including routine dermatological, ophthalmological, and dental procedures, as well as most scheduled healthcare procedures that are not immediately medically necessary such as orthopedic surgeries or any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother."

The statement notes that "failure to comply with an executive order issued by the governor related to the COVID-19 disaster can result in penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time."

4:23 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

UEFA Champions League Final postponed 

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

All the UEFA Club Finals, including the Champions League Final, have been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak.

UEFA said that decisions about rearranging the affected matches will be made in "due course."

All the matches were scheduled for May. 

4:11 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Stocks close lower on Monday

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

US stocks ended in the red on Monday, after the Senate failed for a second time to vote through the coronavirus economic relief package.

A slew of new stimulus measures from the Federal Reserve provided a boost to premarket trading, but it didn’t help stocks end the regular trading day higher.

  • The Dow finished down 3%, or 583 points. 
  • The S&P 500 closed down 2.9%. The index has now erased all of the gains accumulated under the Trump administration. 
  • The Nasdaq Composite finished 0.3% lower.