March 24 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 1:09 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020
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6:45 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Two infants in San Diego test positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Alexandra Meeks

Two infants in San Diego have tested positive for coronavirus, Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten announced at a news conference Tuesday.

This is the first time San Diego County has reported cases of infants less than one year of age, Wooten confirmed.

"Things are likely to get worse before they get better," Wooten said. "We do not believe the local wave of COVID-19 cases has crested yet."
6:55 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Liberty University lets 1,900 students return to campus during the coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin and Christina Zdanowicz

Students mingle on the campus lawn at Liberty University in 2018.
Students mingle on the campus lawn at Liberty University in 2018. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images

About 1,900 students returned to Liberty University, a private evangelical Christian university, in Lynchburg, Virginia, a spokesperson confirmed to CNN on Tuesday.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. and other leaders discussed whether to extend spring break and "risk students having a longer time to become exposed to the virus," the school said in a statement. It decided it was safer to bring the students back to campus.

"During Spring Break, Falwell and his executive leadership team began meeting every afternoon to determine the measures that needed to be taken for all programs to go online and for students to be able to return to their dorms and use the campus dining services that they paid for," the statement said.

Falwell's decision to bring students back to campus flies against the guidance provided by state officials and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statewide order Monday to help slow down the spread of coronavirus. The order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and goes into effect just before midnight on Tuesday.

The order also closes nonessential businesses and shuts down all K-12 schools for the rest of the academic year.

6:56 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Top US health expert says he emphasized being "very flexible" on a date to Trump

From CNN's Allie Malloy 

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told reporters that while he met with President Trump in the Oval Office Tuesday he emphasized the need to be “flexible” in determining a date for a bounce back, following Trump’s comments that he may relax guidelines by Easter Sunday.

“We just had a conversation with the President in the Oval Office. You can look at a date but you gotta be very flexible,” Fauci told reporters when asked what he thought of Trump’s timeline.

He also said that parts of the country may be OK by Easter but added other places that are worsening.

“Obviously no one is going to want to tone down things when you see things going on like in NYC," Fauci said.

He also spoke about the need to get more data through testing.

“We need to put a light on those dark spots," Fauci said.


6:47 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

New York City will close streets to create outdoor space for residents

From CNN's Laura Ly

Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

New York City will initiate a pilot program of closing two streets per borough for outdoor exercise and for people to get fresh air, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

The city is aiming to get these sites closed to traffic and open to New York City residents by Thursday. Every site will have authorities who will enforce social distancing policies, de Blasio said. 

For now, playgrounds and parks remain open in the city, but the city is working with state and local officials to maximize education and enforcement.

The city will continue to monitor the situation until Saturday evening, at which point they will decide whether residents are adhering to social distancing policies well enough, or if they need to close playgrounds for the foreseeable future.

Citi Bike will also over a free 30-day membership for “essential workers,” de Blasio said.

6:44 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Trump says a "big part" of Dow surge today was due to his work on getting country "open as soon possible"

From CNN's Allie Malloy

Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump said that a “big part” of the stock market and the Dow’s surge today was due to his work to get the country “open as soon possible” as well as the potential deal reached on the Hill.

“This is very encouraging and I think part of the reason is looking what is close to being passed and I think a very big part of it is they see that we want to get our country open as soon as possible. They see we’re working very hard on that. That’s a very big factor I think in today’s historic gain,” Trump told reporters in the briefing room on Tuesday.

US stocks ended in the green on Tuesday, recouping all of Monday’s losses as investors grew optimistic about the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

“The legislation developed in the Senate is the first step to restoring confidence and stability to America’s economy,” Trump added.

Trump also mistakenly claimed that today was the biggest one day gain for the Dow in history. In reality, it was the biggest one day gain for the Dow since 1933. 


7:02 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Anyone who was in New York should self-quarantine, White House coronavirus official says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

The administration remains “deeply concerned about New York City and the New York metro area,” Dr. Deborah Birx said Tuesday, providing additional information on the hotspot and urging anyone who may have left the area to self-quarantine. 

“About 56% of all the cases in the United States are coming out of that metro area and 60% of all the new cases are coming out of the metro New York Area and 31% of the people succumbing to this disease,” Birx said at Tuesday’s press briefing. 

“It means, because they are still at the 31% mortality compared to the other regions of the country, that we can have a huge impact if we unite together. This means that, as in all places, they have to be following the presidential guidelines … and this will be critical,” she said. 

Birx sounded an alarm for any New Yorkers who may have left the region for other parts of the country in recent days.

“To everyone who has left New York over the last few days, because of the rate of the number of cases, you may have been exposed before you left New York and I think like Gov. DeSantis has put out today, everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to others. No matter where they have gone whether it’s Florida or North Carolina or out to the far reaches of Long Island,” she said.

Birx said they are “starting to see new cases across Long Island: That suggest people have left the city.”

She explained that the self-quarantine should be timed based on 14 days after they left the New York area.

President Trump wouldn’t say whether he gave New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo a heads-up that guidance for New Yorkers to self-quarantine was coming Tuesday. 

“We’re talking to them about it,” Trump said as he left the briefing room, in response to a question from CNN's Kaitlan Collins. 


6:16 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Trump says his authorization of the Defense Production Act serves as "leverage"

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez 

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump suggested Tuesday that his recent authorization of the Defense Production Act serves as enough “leverage” to compel companies to produce medical supplies without invoking the act to force them to start up production.

“Private companies are heeding our call to produce medical equipment and supplies because they know that we will not hesitate to invoke the DPA in order to get them to do what they have to do,” Trump said during a White House press briefing. “It’s called leverage. … The threat of it being there is great leverage. Companies are doing as we ask, even better than that.”

Trump continued: “We didn’t have to exercise or utilize the DPA in any way. The fact that we have it helps but we didn’t have to and for the most part we won’t have to.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency describes the act as "the primary source of presidential authorities to expedite and expand the supply of resources from the US industrial base to support military, energy, space and homeland security programs."

6:27 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Spain requests NATO assistance to tackle coronavirus pandemic 

From CNN's Ingrid Formanek in Madrid 

Members of Spain's Military Emergency Unit wait outside the Palacio de Hielo ice rink in Madrid, Spain, on March 24.
Members of Spain's Military Emergency Unit wait outside the Palacio de Hielo ice rink in Madrid, Spain, on March 24. Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

The Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) has received a formal request from Spain's Ministry of Defense for international humanitarian assistance, NATO confirmed Monday in a statement, highlighting both medical and personal protective equipment as key areas of demand for Spain's armed forces, who are supporting the country's response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

"The Armed Forces of Spain request international assistance in their response to the global pandemic of the coronavirus COVID-19. The Armed Forces of Spain are acting in favour of civil population to mitigate the virus spread," NATO said in its statement. 

"In order to prevent the spread of the virus in the military units of the Armed Forces of Spain and in the civil population, international partners are asked to provide assistance to the Ministry of [Defense] of Spain in supplying humanitarian assistance," the statement added. 

Equipment including 1.5 million surgical masks, 500,000 Covid-19 rapid tests, 450,000 respirators, and some 500 mechanic ventilators were outlined in the request submitted by the Spanish Ministry of Defense. 

The request comes as the number of health care workers in Spain contracting the deadly virus continues to rise, with medical workers accounting for approximately 13.6% of the country's total coronavirus cases, according to Fernando Simón, director of the Spanish Coordinating Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies. 

6:02 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

More than 52,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the US

From CNN's Jamiel Lynch

There are at least 52,381 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the United States through US public health systems. At least 680 people have died.

At least 139 deaths were reported Tuesday, according to a tally by CNN, making this the deadliest day in the United States.

The total includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases.