March 23 coronavirus news

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

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

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 

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

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.

 

4:08 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Kansas will limit gatherings to 10 people

Kansas will issue an executive order tomorrow morning limiting mass gatherings to 10 people, Gov. Laura Kelly announced in a press conference on Monday. 

Kansas has a total of 82 coronavirus cases, with two deaths in the state.

4:05 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Clothing and textile manufacturers will deliver face masks to US government this week

A group of clothing and textile manufacturers, including Hanes, are planning to deliver their first shipments of three-ply face masks to the federal government by midweek to help health care workers respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

The largest US yarn spinner, Parkdale Inc., and six other companies planned to begin production of the masks on Monday, according to the National Council of Textile Organizations.

The group aims to make up to 10 million masks a week in the US and Central America about a month from now. The coalition of companies, which also includes Fruit of the Loom, Los Angeles Apparel and American Giant, worked with the White House to set up the increased production, the industry group's statement said. 

The masks will be sent directly to the federal government, a spokesperson for Hanes said.

 

4:04 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Plastic surgeons asked to donate equipment and stop elective surgeries

Plastic surgeons in the United States are being asked to donate their masks, ventilators and other medical supplies and equipment to the nation's coronavirus response efforts.

The White House's Covid-19 Task Force and the Federal Emergency Management Agency  plan to route those donated supplies and equipment to hospitals or other temporary medical facilities in need, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons announced on Saturday.

The announcement was made after the group last week had asked plastic surgeons to cease elective surgeries or any nonessential services due to increased risks.

According to a statement from the group's president, Dr. Lynn Jeffers, the "White House was in direct contact with ASPS leadership to expand the scope of our clearinghouse and potentially facilitate distribution of supplies and equipment nationwide by the Federal Emergency Management Agency."

"Delineating the location of ventilators outside of hospitals is the first urgent need. Hospitals are already facing ventilator shortages and ventilator manufacturing will not meet this need in time," Jeffers said in the statement. "This is urgent, and the need is now."
4:01 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Malaria drug will be one of the treatment options in coronavirus clinical trial, WHO officials say

A packet of Nivaquine tablets containing chloroquine, a commonly used malaria drug.
A packet of Nivaquine tablets containing chloroquine, a commonly used malaria drug. Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

World Health Organization officials said that chloroquine, a drug typically used to treat malaria, will be one option included in a large, global clinical trial evaluating potential coronavirus treatment.

“There’s some indications that it could be useful but there are no clear-cut studies that have been rigorously done to either prove or disprove that chloroquine is effective,” WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said during a call with reporters on Monday.

This comes after the announcement President Trump made last week that the US Food and Drug Administration approved the “very powerful” drug chloroquine to treat coronavirus and that there were “very, very encouraging early results.”

The FDA later tempered the President's remarks regarding chloroquine as an approved treatment, noting larger studies are needed to draw conclusions.

Currently there are no treatments — including chloroquine —that have proven safe and effective against Covid-19, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a separate press briefing on Monday.

“There is a desperate need for effective therapeutics. There is currently no treatment that has been proven to be effective against Covid-19,” Tedros said on Monday.

WHO announced last week that it had organized the SOLIDARITY trial to examine potential treatment options for Covid-19 — chloroquine being one of them.

“We understand that this situation is very complex. Everybody, including President Trump, is trying to identify treatments that could help their people. And I think everybody is interested in further exploring the potential of chloroquine, so we are,” said Dr. Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo, a medical officer at WHO's Department of Immunization Vaccines and Biologicals.

Even without clinical evidence, some patients with Covid-19 are already taking chloroquine, but there could be harm in that too, Swaminathan said. Over the weekend, three people in Nigeria overdosed on the drug, which can cause seizures, nausea, vomiting, deafness, vision changes and low blood pressure.

“We have no knowledge that it’s going to benefit anyone,” Swaminathan said. “It is a really important point to focus our efforts on generating the evidence which could then be used to treat people properly and effectively.”

 

4:06 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

US vice president asks governors to identify devices that could be converted into ventilators

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

Vice President Mike Pence there may be an opportunity to increase the current ventilator supply in American hospitals by converting devices used by anesthesiologists.

Pence said his team told governors on a call today, “that when the President engaged leaders of a number of medical associations, we determined that the devices that are used by anesthesiologists could be easily converted to ventilators that could be used for people struggling with the coronavirus.” 

Pence, who was speaking from Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, said that the FDA has “issued guidance on the changing of a vent in that piece of equipment.”

“And so we directed all of our governors today to survey all of their outpatient clinics to identify what we believe are tens of thousands of these devices which could add to our nation’s resources for ventilators for people that might be severely impacted by the coronavirus,” Pence continued.

Pence said the option received a “strong response” from governors on the call. 

3:43 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pause mortgages for property owners as long as they don’t evict tenants

The US Federal Housing Finance Agency is working to protect renters in multi-family properties during the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the US economy.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will grant owners of multi-family properties who are "negatively affected by the coronavirus national emergency" forbearance of mortgage payments — as long as they don't evict renters who are unable to pay because of the coronavirus impact.

“Renters should not have to worry about being evicted from their home, and property owners should not have to worry about losing their building, due to the coronavirus," said FHFA director Mark Calabria in a statement.