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
127 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:49 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

5 Chicago hotels will house coronavirus patients

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

The city of Chicago has partnered with five hotels to house some quarantined people and isolated coronavirus patients, as well as others who need assistance.

This establishes a capacity of more than 1,000 patients by Tuesday and likely 2,000 by the end of the week, thereby relieving the burden on Chicago hospitals and allowing them to focus their critical beds on those patients that need acute care.

Hotel operations staff will be properly trained for this situation and will not directly interact with quarantined guests — that will be the responsibility of public health employees, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a news conference on Monday.

Lightfoot said she plans on working up an agreement with Metro South Medical Center in Blue Island, Illinois, to utilize its currently vacant hospital facility, which will open up an additional 200 rooms that will become available starting this Thursday.

The mayor said Chicago created its plan based on what worked in other countries to respond to immediate medical needs where it is necessary to isolate and quarantine individuals who are at risk to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Three Chicago YMCA locations and other city-wide organizations are "stepping up to support individuals experiencing homelessness" by opening up their doors to the at risk homeless community in Chicago, Mayor Lightfoot said. The mayor pointed out that the homeless population are particularly at risk due to the social distancing required to best combat the spread of coronavirus and as a result Chicago shelters are facing new challenges related to space and capacity. 

2:44 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Canada is reporting a significant spike in coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Canada reported a significant increase in Covid-19 cases, especially in its largest provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

Most recent data collected from each province indicates at least 2,000 cases with 23 deaths. On Monday alone, new cases spiked by nearly a third. 

Canadian officials say they have now tested more than 100,000 people and will be able to test as many as 10,000 people per day.

Ontario and Quebec tightened business and travel restrictions with an order for all nonessential businesses to close by Tuesday.

“We must slow community spread through relenting social distancing. A key reason we want to delay and flatten the epidemic curve is to buy time for research and innovation to occur,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer during a news conference Monday.

2:42 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Netherlands bans all public gatherings until June 1

From CNN’s Mick Krever in London

The Dutch Justice Minister announced Monday that the government will ban all public gatherings in the Netherlands until June 1, removing the previous limit of 100 people and extending previously announced measures. 

Ferdinand Grapperhaus, Minister of Justice and Security, also said that the government is empowering mayors to fine people or businesses who disregard the rules.

“If we want to control the coronavirus, we have no other choice,” Grapperhaus said at a news conference.

He said that there would be an exception for some funerals and church weddings, and young children would still be able to play together outside. 

“We are going to make it possible as part of the emergency ordinance for mayors to determine that hefty fines be applied for violating the rules that we are establishing, for example for stores that do not adhere to the door policy, but also for people that do not stay a meter and half apart and form groups," Grapperhaus said.

“And I can assure you that these are hefty fines for the Netherlands and by Dutch standards.”

2:39 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Virginia will close schools for the rest of the academic year

From CNN's Stephanie Gallman

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced today that he will close schools in the state for the rest of the academic year. 

3:31 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

US vice president: FEMA is "the hub" for coronavirus efforts

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

Vice President Mike Pence speaks as he leads a video teleconference with governors about the coronavirus during a trip to FEMA on Monday, March 23, in Washington.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks as he leads a video teleconference with governors about the coronavirus during a trip to FEMA on Monday, March 23, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

Vice President Mike Pence told the nation's governors today that Federal Emergency Management Agency "is now the hub of all our efforts” when it comes to helping the states combat coronavirus.

Pence said the effort to fight coronavirus should be “locally executed, state managed and federally supported.”

Pence, who is at FEMA headquarters leading a teleconference with the governors, said he hopes the actions taken by President Trump to activate the National Guard in three states, deploy field hospitals and deploy more personal protective equipment, “gives each of you confidence that we are going to do whatever it takes to make sure that our states and your courageous local health officials have the support that you need to meet this moment.” 

Pence said that Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the vice president's coronavirus task force, would be discussing new breakthroughs on data so states can better focus their resources to the point of the need, and also how states can expand the capacity of ventilators going forward. 

2:35 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

South Africa will go under lockdown for 3 weeks over coronavirus

From CNN's Max Ramsay in London

South Africa will enforce a three-week lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, the country's President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address Monday. 

The lockdown will start at midnight on March 26 and end at midnight on April 16, Ramaphosa said.

During this time, "all South Africans will have to stay at home," Ramaphosa said. People who are exempted from the order include emergency and security services and those involved in critical services like food production and banking.

"Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strict circumstances," the President said, including to seek medical care and buy food.

He said the lockdown "is necessary to disrupt the chain of transmission" and that it would "save lives of hundreds of thousands of our people."

Defense forces will be deployed to support police to ensure the measures are followed, Ramaphosa added.


2:30 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Hospitals across Oklahoma have 9 days worth of personal protective equipment

From CNN’s Maria Cartaya

Hospitals in Oklahoma have 9.3 days worth on average of personal protective equipment on hand to treat patients and potential coronavirus patients, according to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's office.  

The Governor’s Solution Task Force has a heat map that labels hospitals in three categories based on their available supply, Stitt’s chief of communications Charlie Hannema told CNN.

The task force has also established a tiered system to ensure highest priority sites are supplemented to maintain adequate inventory.

2:24 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

US Defense Secretary says military "can't meet everybody's needs"

From CNN's Ryan Browne


US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he has heard from 10 governors requesting field hospitals from the military, but he “can’t meet everybody’s needs” with what the military has in their inventory.   

“I’ve spoken with 7, 8, 9, 10 governors so far each one of them has had requests for field hospitals, those who have been along the coastline have talked about the need for ships so we clearly can’t meet everybody’s needs with what we have in our inventory so we rely on FEMA to do the assessment, validation and then the prioritization,” he said.

Esper said he looks at the use of military field hospitals as a way to bridge a gap in needs. 

“How I foresee our hospitals being used is during the early stages of the pandemic, the virus hitting a city where they’re still trying to ramp up capability, bed space, we can come in for a short period of time, for a few weeks to provide that capacity until they get either gyms converted, hotels converted, college dorms converted, all those things that the Corps of Engineers is working on right now," he said.

2:19 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Senate fails to advance coronavirus aid bill

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Manu Raju

Senate TV
Senate TV

Senate Democrats on Monday blocked advancing a coronavirus economic stimulus bill when a procedural vote failed to get to the 60 votes needed to pass.

It was the second time in two days Democrats blocked the measure as talks over the giant bill continue.

The vote tally was 49-46 with a largely party line vote. Sen. Doug Jones, a moderate Democrat who is up for re-election in Alabama, joined Republicans in voting for the bill.

After the vote, Jones told CNN off camera that he was “embarrassed” by the political games both sides are playing.

Senate Democrats lined up against the measure – just as they did yesterday when the first attempted procedural vote failed – as they argue that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should not be holding what they have called “arbitrary” votes while negotiators are still attempting to reach a bipartisan deal.

The failed vote is sure to incense Republicans, who have been criticizing Democrats all morning and accusing them of holding up efforts to move the package forward, and ratchet up tensions as lawmakers continue to hold talks on a stimulus package.