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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8:01 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

San Diego closes all parks, beaches and trails to prevent the spread of coronavirus

From CNN's Alexandra Meeks 

In response to numerous reports of gatherings at parks and beaches over the weekend, San Diego will move forward with the closure of all parks, beaches, boardwalks, city lakes and trails, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced at a news conference Monday. 

"It's time to protect each other," he said. "Physical distance is the key to beating this virus and that is why we're acting today. It is simply irresponsible to congregate and it is unfair to the rest of San Diego."

Faulconer went on to say that San Diego police officers will be permitted to enforce the new rules with fines.

8:21 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

A cruise ship with 42 sick people is headed for Florida

From CNN's Stephanie Gallman

42 people – 13 guests and 29 crew -- aboard Holland America’s “Zaandam” ship have reported experiencing flu-like symptoms, according to a release on the cruise line’s website.
42 people – 13 guests and 29 crew -- aboard Holland America’s “Zaandam” ship have reported experiencing flu-like symptoms, according to a release on the cruise line’s website. Holland America

Holland America’s Zaandam ship headed toward Florida is carrying 42 people — 13 guests and 29 crew — reporting flu-like symptoms.

“Since it is flu season, and COVID-19 testing is not available on board, it is difficult to determine the cause of these elevated cases at this time,” according to a statement from the cruise line's website.

The guests have been asked by the cruise line to remain in their staterooms until they have more information and as the ship sails north with the intention to arrive in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on March 30.   

Zaandam departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7,  prior to Holland America’s decision to suspend its global cruise operations for 30 days. The trip was scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. 

According to the statement, no one has been off the ship since March 14 after a stop in Puenta Arena, Chile, where guests were initially told they could disembark for flights, but then were not allowed.

There are a total of 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board the ship.

7:42 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

USA Gymnastics is "advocating for the postponement" of Summer Olympics

From CNN's David Close

The national governing body of gymnastics in the United States said the organization is “advocating for the postponement” of this summer’s Olympic Games.

In a tweet from the verified account of USA Gymnastics, the call to action states, “After considering the responses from athletes who participated in our survey & the 62% who were in favor of delaying the Games, we are adding our voice to the chorus advocating for postponement. We are grateful to have our athletes’ insight and input to guide this decision.”

7:32 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Trump says doctors have not endorsed easing federal guidelines

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump was pressed Monday about whether any of the doctors on the coronavirus task force have endorsed easing the federal guidelines.

Trump said the doctors had “not endorsed, but we talk together and I think they’re OK with it and I’m OK with it."

"But this could be a much bigger problem. This could create a much bigger problem than the problem that you start off with," he added.

Trump went on to repeat what he said earlier in the briefing that “we can do both” as in easing federal guidelines in some places to boost the economy, but still focus on certain hotspots.

7:23 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Trump acknowledges coronavirus likely to worsen: "Certainly this is going to be bad"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak 

President Trump acknowledged Monday the effects of coronavirus are likely to worsen.

"Certainly this is going to be bad,” Trump said, agreeing with remarks his surgeon general made earlier in the day predicting a deteriorating situation this week. 

“We’re trying to make it much much less bad," Trump went on. "Obviously the numbers are going to increase with time and then they're going to decrease.”

The President seemed to downplay the situation somewhat, indicating the flu presented a similarly poor outlook: “We have a lot of people dying from the flu,” he said.

He suggested the period of national self-isolation guidance would not last months as he looks to restart the American economy.

“I'm not looking at months, I'll tell you right now,” Trump said. “We’re going to open up our country.”

Trump repeatedly said the period of containment measures recommended by the federal government wouldn’t stretch to three or four months.

He wouldn’t put a firm timeline on when the recommendations on social distancing would end.

Watch here:

7:25 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Pence says patients can now swab themselves for coronavirus

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

Vials and swabs sit in bins at a coronavirus testing center in Newton, Massachusetts, on March 18.
Vials and swabs sit in bins at a coronavirus testing center in Newton, Massachusetts, on March 18. Adam Glanzman/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence said the Food and Drug Administration has approved self-collected samples for Covid-19 testing, which he said would reduce the strain on medical supplies and professionals.

Pence said he and President Trump had asked the FDA to pursue “less invasive methods of testing” after they both endured their own tests, which require deep nasal swabs.

“I’m pleased to report that self-collected swabs can now be collected in clinics and drive-through testing sites,” Pence said.

He said asking doctors to perform the swabs creates a “drain on personal protective equipment.” 

Medical professionals will still perform the actual tests on the swabs that patients take and hand in at health care facilities.

Watch here:

7:05 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Pence: More than 41,000 coronavirus tests in the US have come back positive

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

Vice President Mike Pence said during Monday's White House press briefing that 313,000 coronavirus tests having been completed with more than 41,000 tests having come back positive.

In the past, Pence noted the testing numbers he provides do not include community hospitals or community labs, but he did not make that disclaimer during the press briefing Monday.

He added all state and hospital labs are now required to report their coronavirus test numbers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We also reminded the governors today that all state laboratories, all hospital laboratories, are now required, by law, to report the results of coronavirus tests to the CDC,” Pence said.

6:49 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

New Mexico issues stay-at-home order

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham tweeted Monday that she instituting a “statewide stay-at-home instruction."

“All New Mexicans are instructed to stay at home except for outings essential to health, safety, and welfare,” Grisham tweeted.

The governor also declared that “all businesses except those deemed essential to public health, safety and well-being will be ordered closed,” she said.

“Our society must continue to operate – but in an extremely limited way,” she said.

6:42 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Trump issues executive order to prohibit hoarding of medical equipment

From CNN's Jason Hoffman and Daniella Diaz

President Trump outlined Monday an executive order he signed that will prohibit hoarding of medical equipment and supplies used for treating and preventing coronavirus.

The order will “prohibit the hoarding of vital medical equipment and supplies, such as hand sanitizers, face masks, and personal protective equipment," he said at the coronavirus task force briefing.

The executive order is also meant at preventing price gouging on critical health and medical resources.

Trump said that the Health and Human Services Department will designate certain items as “scarce” and it will be a crime to stockpile those items.

"Very simply, we'll not allow anyone to exploit the suffering of American citizens for their own profit,” Trump said.

Attorney General William Barr said the Department of Justice has seen some evidence of hoarding and price gouging on health and medical resources that were authorized under the Defense Production Act. 

Barr said the new executive order provides, “the authority to address, if it becomes necessary, hoarding that threatens the supply of those necessary health and medical resources.”

He also said this won't affect Americans who have stocked on toilet paper and other necessities.

"I want to stress that we're not talking about consumers or businesses stockpiling supplies for their own operations," he said at the briefing. "We're talking about people hoarding these goods and materials on an industrial scale for the purpose of manipulating the market and ultimately deriving windfall profits. If you have a big supply of toilet paper in your house, this is not something you have to worry about."