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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10:54 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Scientists working on $25 coronavirus test

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh

Scientists at Oxford University have developed a 30-minute test for COVID-19, which can be done anywhere. The raw materials for it cost about $25.

A team at the Engineering Science Laboratory, working with partner medics in China had an 8 week head-start on developing the test, which uses a mix of chemicals and enzymes which turn from pink to yellow in color in the presence of the virus.

The test has a huge advantage in both its speed, but also because the chemicals only need to be kept at 65°C (or 150°F) for half an hour, which can be done easily in any hospital, or even eventually at home.

While there are hurdles ahead, the test may be able to complete clinical trials in the coming days.

"We have 3 things to do," Professor Zhengfang Cui, who led the team, said. "The first is to get clinical trials. We just started those here at Oxford University Hospital. The second thing is regulatory approval, which is based on the number of tests done.

"The third is to get industry partners to implement large scale manufacture. For that, we need clean rooms and manufacturing facilities. And then we can roll out he product," Zhenfang said, adding that he hoped the steps can be completed in 2 to 4 weeks.


10:49 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Massachusetts is closing all non-essential businesses

Empty roads are seen during in Dorchester, Massachusetts on Sunday, March 22.
Empty roads are seen during in Dorchester, Massachusetts on Sunday, March 22. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced today that the state is closing non-essential businesses. The order goes into effect on Tuesday at noon.

Businesses that are exempt include grocery stores, gas stations and medical suppliers. Mass transit will still run, the governor said.

Baker is advising people to stay at home, but he is not ordering it. 

“Due to evolving spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, Governor Baker has directed the Department of Public Health to issue a stay at home advisory outlining self-isolation and social distancing protocols. Residents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary activities during this two-week time period,” his administration said in a press release.

Baker said the state wants 3 million items of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care providers and is getting some via donation.

10:40 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Treasury Secretary on Senate coronavirus legislation: "We are going to get this done today"

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin just left top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer’s office, saying that he and Schumer “knocked off a bunch of things on the list” and “we are going to get this done today.”

Democrats blocked movement on a massive stimulus package last night, injecting fresh uncertainty over whether and when lawmakers will reach a bipartisan deal to deliver relief.

Mnuchin said he hasn’t spoken to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this morning, but did have two calls with President Trump. 

He also admonished reporters to "social distance."

Here's a log of Mnuchin's exchange with reporters:

Mnuchin: "We're going to get this done today. Everybody is working very hard, so we look forward to a big vote today."
Reporter: Did Schumer accept your proposal?
Mnuchin: "We knocked off a bunch of things on the list already and we're closing out issues."
Reporter: When do you expect to have a final agreement?
Mnuchin: "As fast as we can. You guys got to social distance."
Reporter: Did you get a chance to talk Speaker Pelosi yet?
Mnuchin: "We have not spoken to Speaker Pelosi this morning we just got off two calls with the President though. Thank you."
10:36 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

US senator with coronavirus is isolating at home

From CNN's Manu Raju

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks on the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 18.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks on the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 18. Senate Television/AP

Sen. Rand Paul is at home in Kentucky, his office tells CNN. He drove himself home from Washington.

Paul is the first US senator to test positive for coronavirus. A statement from Paul's office posted to his Twitter account Sunday said he was "feeling fine" and was "tested out of an abundance of caution."

But some senators and aides are angry at Paul for not doing more to self-quarantine earlier and for potentially exposing senators to the coronavirus.

Paul attended a major black-tie social event in Louisville, Kentucky, two weeks ago where several attendees have subsequently tested positive, including the wife of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

10:14 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

There are now at least 34,000 coronavirus cases in the US

According to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the United States through US public health systems, there are at least 34,407 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States. 414 people have died.

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

10:13 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Indian states impose complete lockdowns, affecting most of country’s 1.3 billion population

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi

Xavier Galiana/AFP/Getty Images
Xavier Galiana/AFP/Getty Images

Nineteen out of India’s total 28 states and nine union territories have ordered a complete lockdown in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus. 

Six states and union territories have issued a full lockdown only in certain districts, while three states/union territories have imposed partial restrictions to promote social distancing, said the country’s Junior Health Secretary Lav Agarwal at a press conference on Monday.

In states that have imposed a complete lockdown, only essential services will be operational. These water, electricity, health services, fire services, groceries and municipal services.

All shops, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, offices, markets and places of worship will be closed and interstate buses and metros will be suspended. Construction activity will also be on a halt during this period.

The 19 states/union territories that have implemented a total lockdown are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

This covers some of the biggest cities in the 1.3 billion-strong nation, including the capital New Delhi, the financial hub of Mumbai, the tech cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad as well as Pune and Kolkata.

In Delhi and Mumbai, gatherings of more than five and four people respectively are prohibited and will be a chargeable offense.

In a tweet posted by the Press Information Bureau (PIB), the Cabinet Secretary has written letters to State Chief Secretaries “highlighting that states must monitor situation 24x7, additional restrictions if necessary may be imposed, all current restrictions must be enforced strongly and all violations should be met with legal action.”

The lockdown will be in place until March 31.

10:04 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

GE Aviation will lay off 10% of its US workforce

From CNN’s Matt Egan filing for Business

Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

General Electric announced on Monday that its GE Aviation unit will cut 10% of its US workforce to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The rapid contraction of air travel has resulted in a significant reduction in demand as commercial airlines suspend routes and ground large percentages of their fleets,” said Larry Culp, CEO of General Electric. 

GE CEO Larry Culp said he will forgo his full salary for the rest of 2020. GE also announced that David Joyce, CEO of GE Aviation, will forgo half his salary starting on April 1.

10:00 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Trump is itching to scale back social distancing after 15 days, aides say

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Donald Trump arrives to deliver the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus at the White House on  Sunday, March 22.
US President Donald Trump arrives to deliver the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus at the White House on Sunday, March 22. Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

Another week of self-isolating — or, for many Americans, mandatory lockdowns — will raise more questions for President Trump on how long the coronavirus mitigation measures will last and whether they are worth the economic pain.

Aides say Trump is itching for the guidelines to be eased at the end of the 15 day period, but realistically there are few health experts who think that’s enough time to know whether the measures he announced last week will suffice. 

The dynamic has led to a robust internal debate over how best to balance the actual health of the country — with potentially hundreds of thousands of lives at stake — with its economic health.

Some of Trump’s allies have continued to publicly suggest the measures announced by the White House last week were too stringent and have caused unnecessary economic pain. Many of his conservative allies circulated a Wall Street Journal editorial from last week, which questioned whether the shutdown was worth the trade off of a shuttered economy.

That has helped fuel growing opposition among some of Trump’s advisers to an extended lockdown. 

Officials aren’t sure where Trump will ultimately land after 15 days — and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, will continue to act as a critical voice behind the scenes. 

Trump was initially resistant to Fauci’s recommendations that he take steps to encourage social distancing during the first go-around, people familiar with the deliberations said. The President remains unconvinced it was the fight decision. And there are people around him who aren’t exactly reinforcing Fauci’s message, including some of his economic advisers.

An open question is whether Trump is willing to blow off Fauci once the economic picture becomes clearer. Meanwhile, Fauci has been vocal in his disagreements with Trump — Including interviews openly discussing his role in correcting the president’s false or misleading statements. 

9:38 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

US stocks open lower, despite Fed's stimulus

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

US stocks kicked off in the red on Monday, despite the Federal Reserve’s significant new stimulus measures aimed at keeping the US economy functioning.

The Fed action had turned stock futures green in premarket trading.

Here's where things stand now: 

  • The Dow opened 1.7%, or 330 points, lower
  • The S&P 500 opened down 1.7%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.7%.