March 23 coronavirus news

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2:42 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Netherlands bans all public gatherings until June 1

From CNN’s Mick Krever in London

The Dutch Justice Minister announced Monday that the government will ban all public gatherings in the Netherlands until June 1, removing the previous limit of 100 people and extending previously announced measures. 

Ferdinand Grapperhaus, Minister of Justice and Security, also said that the government is empowering mayors to fine people or businesses who disregard the rules.

“If we want to control the coronavirus, we have no other choice,” Grapperhaus said at a news conference.

He said that there would be an exception for some funerals and church weddings, and young children would still be able to play together outside. 

“We are going to make it possible as part of the emergency ordinance for mayors to determine that hefty fines be applied for violating the rules that we are establishing, for example for stores that do not adhere to the door policy, but also for people that do not stay a meter and half apart and form groups," Grapperhaus said.

“And I can assure you that these are hefty fines for the Netherlands and by Dutch standards.”

2:39 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Virginia will close schools for the rest of the academic year

From CNN's Stephanie Gallman

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced today that he will close schools in the state for the rest of the academic year. 

3:31 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

US vice president: FEMA is "the hub" for coronavirus efforts

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

Vice President Mike Pence speaks as he leads a video teleconference with governors about the coronavirus during a trip to FEMA on Monday, March 23, in Washington.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks as he leads a video teleconference with governors about the coronavirus during a trip to FEMA on Monday, March 23, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

Vice President Mike Pence told the nation's governors today that Federal Emergency Management Agency "is now the hub of all our efforts” when it comes to helping the states combat coronavirus.

Pence said the effort to fight coronavirus should be “locally executed, state managed and federally supported.”

Pence, who is at FEMA headquarters leading a teleconference with the governors, said he hopes the actions taken by President Trump to activate the National Guard in three states, deploy field hospitals and deploy more personal protective equipment, “gives each of you confidence that we are going to do whatever it takes to make sure that our states and your courageous local health officials have the support that you need to meet this moment.” 

Pence said that Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the vice president's coronavirus task force, would be discussing new breakthroughs on data so states can better focus their resources to the point of the need, and also how states can expand the capacity of ventilators going forward. 

2:35 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

South Africa will go under lockdown for 3 weeks over coronavirus

From CNN's Max Ramsay in London

South Africa will enforce a three-week lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, the country's President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address Monday. 

The lockdown will start at midnight on March 26 and end at midnight on April 16, Ramaphosa said.

During this time, "all South Africans will have to stay at home," Ramaphosa said. People who are exempted from the order include emergency and security services and those involved in critical services like food production and banking.

"Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strict circumstances," the President said, including to seek medical care and buy food.

He said the lockdown "is necessary to disrupt the chain of transmission" and that it would "save lives of hundreds of thousands of our people."

Defense forces will be deployed to support police to ensure the measures are followed, Ramaphosa added.

 

2:30 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Hospitals across Oklahoma have 9 days worth of personal protective equipment

From CNN’s Maria Cartaya

Hospitals in Oklahoma have 9.3 days worth on average of personal protective equipment on hand to treat patients and potential coronavirus patients, according to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's office.  

The Governor’s Solution Task Force has a heat map that labels hospitals in three categories based on their available supply, Stitt’s chief of communications Charlie Hannema told CNN.

The task force has also established a tiered system to ensure highest priority sites are supplemented to maintain adequate inventory.

2:24 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

US Defense Secretary says military "can't meet everybody's needs"

From CNN's Ryan Browne

Pool
Pool

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he has heard from 10 governors requesting field hospitals from the military, but he “can’t meet everybody’s needs” with what the military has in their inventory.   

“I’ve spoken with 7, 8, 9, 10 governors so far each one of them has had requests for field hospitals, those who have been along the coastline have talked about the need for ships so we clearly can’t meet everybody’s needs with what we have in our inventory so we rely on FEMA to do the assessment, validation and then the prioritization,” he said.

Esper said he looks at the use of military field hospitals as a way to bridge a gap in needs. 

“How I foresee our hospitals being used is during the early stages of the pandemic, the virus hitting a city where they’re still trying to ramp up capability, bed space, we can come in for a short period of time, for a few weeks to provide that capacity until they get either gyms converted, hotels converted, college dorms converted, all those things that the Corps of Engineers is working on right now," he said.

2:19 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Senate fails to advance coronavirus aid bill

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Manu Raju

Senate TV
Senate TV

Senate Democrats on Monday blocked advancing a coronavirus economic stimulus bill when a procedural vote failed to get to the 60 votes needed to pass.

It was the second time in two days Democrats blocked the measure as talks over the giant bill continue.

The vote tally was 49-46 with a largely party line vote. Sen. Doug Jones, a moderate Democrat who is up for re-election in Alabama, joined Republicans in voting for the bill.

After the vote, Jones told CNN off camera that he was “embarrassed” by the political games both sides are playing.

Senate Democrats lined up against the measure – just as they did yesterday when the first attempted procedural vote failed – as they argue that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should not be holding what they have called “arbitrary” votes while negotiators are still attempting to reach a bipartisan deal.

The failed vote is sure to incense Republicans, who have been criticizing Democrats all morning and accusing them of holding up efforts to move the package forward, and ratchet up tensions as lawmakers continue to hold talks on a stimulus package. 

2:11 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Britain advises all UK nationals abroad to return now

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has advised all British travelers abroad to return now.

In a statement, Raab warned international travel is becoming highly limited with the further closure of air routes, land borders and domestic restrictions introduced daily.

“We are strongly urging UK travellers overseas to return home now where and while there are still commercial routes to do so. Around the world, more airlines are suspending flights and more airports are closing, some without any notice. Where commercial routes don’t exist, our staff are working round the clock to give advice and support to UK nationals. If you are on holiday abroad the time to come home is now while you still can," he said.

The UK government is working with airlines to keep routes open and is calling for international action to keep air routes open for a sufficient period of time to enable international travelers to return on commercial flights.

2:14 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Seattle hospital monitoring nearly 300 potential coronavirus patients remotely

From CNN's Sonia Moghe

Providence St. Joseph’s Health in Seattle, Washington, is currently monitoring 279 Covid-19 positive and presumptive positive patients remotely from their homes.

It’s helping free up hundreds of beds, and reducing exposure for health care workers to possible cases, and patients who may not end up having Covid-19 to the virus, the hospital said.

Patients, who test positive, or are currently awaiting their test results, are sent home with a thermometer and a pulse oximeter, which helps check oxygen levels and heart rate, said Hargobind Khurana, medical director of the hospital's telehealth services. They input their temperature, oxygen level and heart rate into the app. Their vitals are monitored and an automated system checks in every few hours to make sure their symptoms are not worsening.

“The majority of the patients do not require hospital admissions. There’s a percentage of people who require high level care, supplemental oxygen. There’s a small percentage who’d require ICU care. About three-fourths of patients who have the disease can be monitored at home,” Khurana said.