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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3:59 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Los Angeles sheriff orders all gun stores shut down, and instructs deputies to enforce closures

From CNN's Alexandra Meeks 

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva  Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images/FILE

Gun stores in Los Angeles have been declared a nonessential business and have been forced to close, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement Tuesday.

Villanueva also announced the department will add 1,300 deputies to beef up patrols.

"There are hundreds of businesses which, through no fault of their own, do not fall under the Governor’s definition of critical infrastructure," the sheriff said. "As a result, I have instructed my deputies to enforce closures of businesses which have disregarded the Governor’s order (gun stores, strip clubs, and other non-designated businesses)."

This directive comes after reports that gun stores in Los Angeles have seen an increase in sales due to coronavirus concerns.

3:58 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Joe Biden coughed into his hand on live TV and was quickly corrected


While appearing on CNN via teleconference, former Vice President Joe Biden coughed into his hand — and Jake Tapper immediately corrected his technique.

"You know, you're supposed to cough into your elbow," Tapper said, noting he learned about the method while covering the Obama administration.

"Actually that's true," Biden said. "But fortunately I'm alone in my home, but that's okay. I agree. You're right."

"It's kind of old school, to do it with your hand. Do it into your elbow, you're supposed to do it," Tapper added.

Biden, who is 77 years old, said he's been following health care and government officials' advice on social distancing and is staying home.

"I've been staying in place, not going out, not gathering at events," he said.

Biden said he has no symptoms of coronavirus so he hasn't been tested for it.

Watch the moment:

3:47 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Georgia health system asks other hospitals for assistance because it's "quickly reaching a critical mass"

 From CNN’s Angela Barajas

Phoebe Putney Health System, in southwest Georgia, is now reporting roughly a third of the deaths in the state. 

CEO Scott Steiner said in a statement that the hospital system is "quickly reaching a critical mass."

Steiner went on to say the health system's main hospital “has been more severely impacted by COVID-19 than any other hospital in Georgia, and our entire health system is one of the hardest hit in the state."

Phoebe Putney Health System has asked other hospitals to take in its Covid-19 and non-COVID patients.

"Several hospitals that currently are not being severely impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency have agreed to accept patients from our main hospital to free up capacity for our ever-growing number of COVID-19 patients," a Putney spokesperson said.

The hospital is currently awaiting the results of more than 1,000 people who were tested for coronavirus. 

3:44 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

French local authority bans sale of alcohol during coronavirus emergency measures

From Ya Chun Wang in Paris 

Aisne, a region in northern France, has banned the sale of alcohol while emergency measures due to coronavirus are in place.

The ban has been put in place over an increasing risk of domestic violence due to restriction of movement, local police said on Tuesday.

“As intra-family violence is often associated with excessive alcohol consumption, a regulation measure to take-away sales of alcoholic beverages until March 31st had been decided,” police said a statement.

This announcement came after Minister of Interior Christophe Castaner stressed police effort to crack down on domestic violence cases.

3:54 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Schumer says he believes stimulus package will include $150 billion for states and $130 billion for hospitals

From CNN's Phil Mattingly 

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

On a conference call with his caucus this afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed confidence to fellow Democrats that he had secured $150 billion for state and local stimulus fund and 130 billion dollars for hospitals, according a person familiar with the call.

More context: The Senate has been locked in long negotiations over the past couple days over a stimulus package that could cost in the ballpark of $2 trillion. Throughout the day, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle — as well as White House officials — have said they believe they're close to making a deal.

3:20 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

South Carolina schools will stay closed through April

From CNN's Stephanie Gallman

School in South Carolina will remain closed for the duration of the month of April, according to a joint statement released by Gov. Henry McMaster and Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. 

“Our dedicated teachers and school administrators have done a tremendous job in making it possible for our students to learn at home. We understand that the prospect of schools remaining closed for an extended period of time places stress and strain on parents and children. Rest assured, if there is any way to safely open our schools earlier, we will do that, but schools must remain closed to protect the health and safety of South Carolinians,” they said in the statement. 

The closure applies to K-12 schools as well as public colleges, universities and technical colleges. 

3:19 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Pentagon orders all elective surgeries and dental procedures postponed at military facilities

From CNN's Ryan Browne

The Pentagon has issued a memo to “immediately postpone all elective surgeries, invasive procedures and dental procedures” in order to free up medical facilities and equipment as it responds to the coronavirus outbreak.

“This action aligns with actions being taken across the nation to conserve vital healthcare resources during this public health emergency, to include bed space, personal protective equipment, supplies and medical personnel,” the memo said.

The order becomes effective on March 31 and is scheduled to last 60 days.

Procedures and surgeries designed to maintain deployability of active duty troops will be allowed to continue.

3:16 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

UK armed forces will deliver essential medical and personal protective equipment to health facilities 

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in London 

The British Armed Forces will begin delivering and distributing essential medical and personal protective equipment to National Health Service (NHS) facilities.

They have already delivered some 50,000 face masks to London's St Thomas' Hospital on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said in a statement.

"What you’ve seen today is a British Army convoy delivering Personal Protective Equipment right to the frontline of the nation’s response to the Coronavirus challenge. But this is more than just delivering masks — this is a demonstration the British Army is standing side by side with the NHS," Brigadier Phil Prosser said Tuesday. 

According to the MOD, a two-truck convoy arrived at the hospital early in the morning to deliver the masks after driving overnight from an army depot in Merseyside, some 200 miles away. 

“My normal role is to deliver combat supplies to combat forces in time of war — but we can respond to these challenges and it’s great to stand with our NHS colleagues as we get ready for the challenges ahead...there are some tough times ahead and the nation needs to rise together to respond to those times," Prosser added. 

In its statement, the MOD confirmed that military planners are currently advising the NHS on "logistical measures to ensure vital equipment gets to where it’s most needed," adding that the Army's Logistical Brigade Command has deployed planning staff to help develop a plan for "possible long-term commercial solutions" and further support. 

"More than 460 personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force will be ready to deliver the equipment to NHS facilities around England, while further personnel will deploy to a PPE warehouse to prepare the equipment for dispatch," the MOD said. 

"Personnel will deliver items to 242 NHS locations to help them cope with rising demands for equipment in response to the coronavirus outbreak," the statement added. 

3:15 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

More than 13% of Spanish coronavirus cases are health care workers

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Medical workers in Spain account for 13.6% of its total coronavirus cases, according to Fernando Simón, director of the Spanish Coordinating Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies at Spain’s Ministry of Health.

Health care workers account for 5,400 of the country’s 39,673 total cases, he said on Tuesday.