March 24 coronavirus news

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12:09 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Nearly a third of the world's population affected by coronavirus lockdowns

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy, Chandler Thornton, Manveena Suri, Victoria Eastwood and Joe Sutton

Once all of India goes into lockdown at midnight local time (2:30 p.m. ET), roughly 2.5 billion people worldwide will be affected by a partial or total lockdown, curfew or some restriction on their movement due to the coronavirus pandemic, CNN calculates.

That represents nearly one third of the world’s population.

  

12:20 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

There are now at least 48,000 coronavirus cases in the US

According to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the United States through US public health systems, there are at least 48,009 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States. 

At least 601 people have died.

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

12:04 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Trump and FEMA chief contradict each other on Defense Production Act

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Kristen Holmes

FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor
FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor CNN

President Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator contradicted each other within minutes this morning on whether the Defense Production Act is being used in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 8 a.m. ET, Trump tweeted, "The Defense Production Act is in full force, but haven't had to use it because no one has said NO! Millions of masks coming as back up to States."

Minutes later, FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor told CNN the administration will start wielding the powers in the Defense Production Act for 60,000 tests kits and "use the allocation portion of the DPA" starting today.

"Just a little while ago my team came in and we're actually going to use the DPA for first time today," Gaynor said.

In addition, FEMA will "insert some language into these mask contracts we have of 500 million masks," Gaynor said. "DPA language will be in that today."

Gaynor's comments caught top White House officials off guard. One said they did not know what Gaynor was referencing and was still trying to figure it out in the hours after he was on television.

More context: The Defense Production Act is a Korean War-era law that gives the government the authority to completely control the entire supply chain, from forcing companies to manufacture the critically needed items, to taking over distribution and allocation of those supplies.

States have said they need Trump to take over the distribution aspect because the current process forces the 50 states to compete with one another, the federal government and hospitals to obtain medical supplies.

Business leaders say there are too many unknowns and volunteered to do whatever is needed to steer clear of Trump using his powers.

On CNN today, Gaynor said the federal government wants to be "thoughtful about not upsetting the balance, making sure we that can get it out to the market and the federal government not consume it all."

"My current focus has been and will continue be to make sure we get critical supplies to those places around the country that need it the most. New York, New York City, Washington state and Los Angeles and California -- that is where we are focused. And we continue to focus on that throughout the day today and until we solve that supply problem," Gaynor said.

Gaynor came under scrutiny days earlier after an interview where he flatly declared Trump wasn't using the act, despite the president's inaccurate claims that he was. The President was irked that Gaynor could not give CNN an exact number or even a rough estimate of how many masks the federal government had on hand.

12:10 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

A stimulus deal could pass Congress today, negotiators signal

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

AP/FILE
AP/FILE

Top negotiators signaled on Tuesday that a bipartisan deal on a massive stimulus package to respond to the coronavirus crisis is imminent with all signs pointing to an agreement being locked in and approved by both chambers of Congress as early as later in the day.

Leaders in Congress and the Trump administration have been working for days to pass as quickly as possible a roughly $2 trillion economic stimulus package, which would include direct payments to taxpayers among hundreds of billions of dollars in other stimulus measures.

However objections from Democrats over accountability and process have prevented the legislation from advancing. But signs from leaders in both parties over the past several hours suggest that those differences are either addressed or very close to being settled — and that a final deal could move swiftly through Congress.

In an indication that a deal is nearly at hand, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this morning, "We are very close. We are close to a bill that takes our bold Republican framework, integrates further ideas from both parties and delivers huge progress."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi similarly signaled a deal would be finalized in the coming hours, saying today "there is real optimism that we could get something done in the next few hours," as last-minute negotiations continue.

Signs of a breakthrough come after days of drawn out and intense negotiations between congressional Republicans, Democrats and the Trump administration.

In a move that could resolve another sticking point, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has been negotiating the deal, has agreed to an inspector general and congressional overnight for a $500 billion fund proposed for distressed companies, a senior White House official told CNN.

CNN's Kristin Wilson and Jim Acosta contributed to this report

11:50 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

New York governor to FEMA: You pick the people who will die because of lack of federal resources

Sate of New York
Sate of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized the federal response to coronavirus, saying the Federal Emergency Management Agency sent the state 400 ventilators — but they need 30,000.

"FEMA says, 'we're sending 400 ventilators.' Really? What am I going to do with 400 ventilators, when I need 30,000?" Cuomo asked asked at a news conference.

"You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators," Cuomo added.

Throughout his news conference, Cuomo brought up the 400 ventilators New York recieved from FEMA.

"Four hundred ventilators? I need 30,000 ventilators. You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?" He said earlier. "What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000 ventilators? You're missing the magnitude of the problem, and the problem is defined by the magnitude."

11:43 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

New York should get priority for federal coronavirus resources, governor says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

State of New York
State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said federal coronavirus resources should be given to his state first and then be allocated to other states in the country.

New York is the most in need, he said, as there are now 25,000 coronavirus cases.

“What happens to New York is going to wind up happening to California and Washington state and Illinois; it's just a matter of time. We're just getting there first,” he said.

After the peak in New York passes, Cuomo says ventilators should be deployed to other states. 

“I will take personal responsibility for transporting the 20,000 ventilators anywhere in this country that they want once we are past our apex,” he says. "I'll send ventilators, I'll send health care workers, I'll send our professionals who dealt with it and who know all around the country. And that's how this should be done."

WATCH:

11:27 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

There are more than 25,000 coronavirus cases in New York, governor says

State of New York
State of New York

There are at least 25,665 cases across the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, underscoring his point that the federal government should send what it has in its ventilator stockpile to New York.

Cuomo noted that New York has the highest and the greatest rate of infection — but it’s only a matter of time it that apex moves to other parts of the countries.

11:21 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

New York is trying experimental procedure for ventilators: "We have no alternative"

State of New York
State of New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York's greatest critical need is ventilators to treat "people who will have acute needs" and those "under respiratory distress" from coronavirus.

He said the state has procured 7,000, but needs at a minimum another 30,000 — and he needs them in 14 days. Ventilators will "make the difference between life and death" for some patients, Cuomo said.

He said New York is "scouring the globe" for ventilators and has resorted to trying experimental procedure where they split the ventilators between two patients because "we have no alternative."

Cuomo said the only way we can obtain these ventilators is through the federal government. He went on to criticize President Trump for not enacting the Defense Production Act to ramp up the number of ventilators that can be made available to New York. To not use federal powers to get ventilators to New York is “inexplicable,” he said.

11:21 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

New York governor: "I will turn this state upside down" to find hospital beds

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

State of New York
State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state needs 140,000 beds for expected coronavirus patients.

Officials will consider using college dorms and hotels to meet the demand, he said. 

"I will turn this state upside down to get the number of beds we need, but we need the staff for those beds,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo added that he wants to enlist a backup reserve staff for health care workers, including retirees.