March 23 coronavirus news

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11:49 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

New York governor says all hospitals must increase bed capacity by 50%

 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an emergency order to hospitals to increase their bed capacity by 50%.

"You must increase your capacity by 50%," he said in an ongoing press conference in Albany.

“I think it’s unreasonable to say to every hospital basically, ‘double your capacity.’ I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say, ‘try to reach 100% increase’ but you must reach a 50% increase,'" he said.

Cuomo also confirmed that the state will build four emergency hospitals with the help of the federal government to deal with the need for increased hospital capacity due to the coronavirus outbreak. He called this "a big deal."

Cuomo was complimentary of the President in helping make that happen. "President Trump did deliver yesterday," Cuomo said.

He added: "That's government working, that's government working quickly, and I thank him for it."

Watch more:

11:37 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

New York governor: "We're doing more testing than anyone"

State of New York
State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is now testing 16,000 people a day for coronavirus.

That's up from 1,000 a day 10 days ago.

"How much is that? That's more than any other state in the United States is testing," Cuomo said. He added that South Korea — the "gold standard" of testing — tests 20,000 people a day, but their population is about double of New York state.

See the moment:

11:27 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

New York governor says there's "density control" issues in New York City

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this morning that the "greatest density control issue" in the state is in New York City.

He said he wants a plan today for how the city is going to reduce the density of people and wants it to focus on young people.

Watch more:

11:34 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

At least 23 Italian doctors have died in coronavirus epidemic

Medical workers wait by an ambulance outside a sports center where an intensive care unit was set up, near the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, on Monday, March 23.
Medical workers wait by an ambulance outside a sports center where an intensive care unit was set up, near the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, on Monday, March 23. Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

The number of doctors who have died in Italy since the coronavirus epidemic began has risen to 23, the Italian federation of doctors said today.

Unfortunately, the sad list of doctors who fell during the Covid-19 epidemic is getting longer. And while the official data of infected health workers increases, released every evening by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, many doctors die suddenly, even if the cause of death is not directly attributable to the virus," the federation says in a statement on its website.

Some 19 of the 23 deceased doctors worked in the Lombardy region, the worst affected by coronavirus. The other four worked in Naples (South Italy), Emilia Romagna (north Italy) and Marche (central Italy).

Some 4,824 health workers have been infected by coronavirus, according to the latest report by the institute published on Sunday.

11:05 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Amy Klobuchar's husband has coronavirus

John Bessler, Sen. Amy Klobuchar's husband, is seen on Friday, October 18, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
John Bessler, Sen. Amy Klobuchar's husband, is seen on Friday, October 18, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/AP/FILE

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said her husband has tested positive for coronavirus.

"I have news that many Americans are facing right now: my husband John has the coronavirus. We just got the test results at 7 a.m. this morning," Klobuchar wrote in a Medium post.

The Democratic senator and former 2020 presidential candidate said that her husband has been "cut off from all visitors" and that she will also not see him during this time, but that she and her daughter "are constantly calling and texting and emailing."

"We love him very much and pray for his recovery. He is exhausted and sick but a very strong and resilient person," she wrote. Her husband was admitted to a Virginia hospital, she wrote, and now has pneumonia "and is on oxygen, but not a ventilator."

Klobuchar said that she and her husband have not been in the same place over the last two weeks and because "I am outside the 14-day period for getting sick, my doctor has advised me not to get a test."

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

Scientists working on $25 coronavirus test

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.

Watch:

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"

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

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.