March 23 coronavirus news

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

UK prime minister says Olympics organizers "should look at canceling" 2020 Games

From CNN’s Luke McGee

Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images
Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

The organizers of the 2020 Olympics "should look at canceling," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said Monday. 

“We want the International Olympic Committee to make a definitive decision soon to bring clarity to all of those involved," the spokesperson told political reporters.

The spokesperson expressed concern about the “significant uncertainty” Olympics hopefuls are facing now, adding “Their health and safety, alongside that of sports fans and officials due to work at the Games, must be absolutely paramount.”

9:32 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

All professional football in Spain postponed indefinitely due to coronavirus pandemic

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

All professional football in Spain has been postponed until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and La Liga said in a joint statement on Monday.

Professional football in the country had initially been postponed for two weeks in March with a view to resuming the domestic season on April 3. 

However a joint monitoring commission between the two bodies agreed to postpone all professional competitions until the Spanish government considered they could start again “without creating any health risk.”

More context: On Monday, Spain’s Health Ministry announced that the total number of cases registered in the country had risen to 33,089 — 4,517 more than Sunday. The number of deaths was now at 2,182, or 462 more than Sunday.

9:35 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Germany has so far brought back 120,000 citizens who were stranded abroad

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the German government has chartered planes to bring back citizens who had been stranded abroad.

So far, 120,000 Germans have been brought back, Maas said.

9:34 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

US Treasury Secretary asks small businesses not to lay off employees

From CNN's Betsy Klein 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talks to reporters at the White House, Friday, March 13.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talks to reporters at the White House, Friday, March 13. Evan Vucci/AP/FILE

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin pleaded with small businesses to not fire their employees as he appeared via phone on Fox Business this morning.

"All small businesses: We will have an immediate mechanism. That’s close to 50% of the US economy for workers. We are encouraging small businesses, make sure you hire people back. If you haven’t let people go, don’t let people go, because we are providing you necessary liquidity and we’re going to get that money out fast," he said. 

He claimed that some "new drugs" have been approved to fight coronavirus when asked if there would need to be a second stimulus if this lasts beyond 10 to 12 weeks. 

"I’m very hopeful that we’re going to kill this virus in that time period, if not shorter. I spoke to the President last night. I know he is very pleased with the medical professionals and then some of these new drugs that have been approved. This legislation prepares us for what I would say, the 10 to 12 week period, but I hope we don’t need to last that long. And for whatever reason, this turns out that it’s gonna last longer, we will go back to Congress," he said. 

He outlined how the current legislation will provide liquidity for small businesses and said it needs to be passed "ASAP."

9:26 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

India to ground domestic commercial flights

From CNN’s Vedika Sud in New Delhi

Planes are seen parked at Mumbai airport, on  Saturday, March 21, in Mumbai, India.
Planes are seen parked at Mumbai airport, on Saturday, March 21, in Mumbai, India. Satish Bate/Hindustan Times via Getty Images/FILE

Domestic commercial airlines in India will stop operations starting Wednesday, according to a press release from India’s Civil Aviation Ministry.

“Airlines have to plan operations to land at their destination before 23:59 hours on 24/3/2020”, the statement reads.

The restrictions do not apply to cargo-only flights.

9:16 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Spain's ICU cases are slowing, bringing "some hope," health official says

From CNN's Mia Alberti

Two health workers stand outside La Paz hospital in Madrid on March 23.
Two health workers stand outside La Paz hospital in Madrid on March 23. Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images

The number of patients in ICU due to coronavirus has dropped from 15% to 13% in the last few days, health officials in Spain said on Monday.

Although the decrease is "small," it "gives some hope the problem is being contained," said Fernando Simón, director of the Spanish Coordinating Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies.

Simón said another "uplifting number" was the number of patients discharged — 3,355 — which now represents 10% of all cases. 

He also gave some insight into the profile of those who have died from the virus: 87% were older than 70 years old, "which was expected and goes in line with our country's normal mortality rate". 

"We know all groups can be affected, but the most affected one are the elderly with more than 70 years of age, which we expected", he said.

 

9:14 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

New York City hospitals will only get through this week without more supplies, mayor says

New York City hospitals will only be able to get through “this week” before they start getting “to a point where people can’t be saved,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day” Monday morning.

“In our public hospitals, our 11 public hospitals right now, this week, I can only guarantee you right now, John, that we can get through this week with the equipment and supplies we have. That's the blunt reality," de Blasio said.

He added: "If we don't get some relief quickly, and I can count, John, I literally want to see hundreds of ventilators, I want to see first hundreds of thousands and millions of masks, if that doesn't come in starting this week, we will get to a point where people can't be saved who could have been saved."

More than 34,300 Americans have been infected with coronavirus across all 50 states, and at least 414 people have died. Almost half all US cases — 16,887 — are in New York state.

It's shocking to have to say this. Even just a few days ago, I thought we could get safely into April. It's moving so fast right now, that I can't even say that anymore,” de Blasio said.

“If we don't get ventilators this week, we are going to start losing lives we could have saved. I can't be blunter than that," he said.

Last week they mayor’s office said New York City needs 45 million surgical gowns, coveralls, gloves, and face masks – known as personal protective equipment (PPE) – provided early in April to ensure its healthcare system can deal with coronavirus-related issues.

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