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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2:15 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks close during coronavirus outbreak

Old Faithful geyser erupts in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming on June 11, 2019
Old Faithful geyser erupts in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming on June 11, 2019 Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images

Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks will be closed to visitors until further notice during the coronavirus outbreak.

"The National Park Service listened to the concerns from our local partners and, based on current health guidance, temporarily closed the parks,” said Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly and Grand Teton Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail said in a statement.

They added: “We are committed to continued close coordination with our state and local partners as we progress through this closure period and are prepared when the timing is right to reopen as quickly and safely as possible.”  

2:08 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Trump says that he and coronavirus task force doctor "get along very well"

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

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


President Trump said Tuesday that he still has a good relationship with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the coronavirus task force member who leads the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. 

“We get along very well,” Trump said during a Fox News virtual town hall.

“I think it’s very good,” he said of his relationship with Fauci. “You would have heard about it if it wasn’t.”

Asked why Fauci wasn’t at the town hall today, Trump said, “You know, they have other things to do. And yesterday we weren’t really talking about what he’s an expert on. We were talking about other things.”

The President complained that when a task force member isn’t seen at a briefing or meeting, the press is quick to ask why they aren’t there.

“I respect all of these people. These are great people,” Trump said. He called Dr. Deborah Birx and Fauci “extraordinary.”

Earlier in the town hall, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams asserted that the President listens to his health experts, including Fauci, about the coronavirus.

2:06 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

There are now more than 49,000 coronavirus cases in the US

Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus in tents set up to triage possibly infected patients outside before they enter the main Emergency department area at St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx on Tuesday, March 24, in New York City.
Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus in tents set up to triage possibly infected patients outside before they enter the main Emergency department area at St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx on Tuesday, March 24, in New York City. Misha Friedman/Getty Images

According to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the United States through public health systems, there are at least 49,070 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States. 

At least 624 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.

2:00 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Virginia nurse says her hospital is "exceptionally chaotic"

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

N95 particulate respirator masks are arranged for a photograph at a Dealmed-Park Surgical supply facility in Lakewood, New Jersey, on Wednesday, March 11.
N95 particulate respirator masks are arranged for a photograph at a Dealmed-Park Surgical supply facility in Lakewood, New Jersey, on Wednesday, March 11. Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images/FILE

An emergency room nurse who works at a hospital in Virginia said the conditions at her hospital are “exceptionally chaotic.”

The nurse, who requested anonymity, said the rules about the personal protective equipment they are required to wear are changing “if not daily, hourly.” 

She said that nurses and doctors in her hospital who have auto-immune disorders and underlying conditions are being asked to wear the same protective equipment – one n95 mask for the entirety of their shift – as healthy nurses and doctors. She feels this is putting workers with underlying conditions at higher risk of contracting coronavirus. 

“I don’t think they are protecting their staff at all,” she said. “The staff that does have chronic illnesses are required to wear the same PPEs as those that are healthy.”

She said last week, hospital staff used N95 masks as they are supposed to be used, one time and then you throw them away. This week, they are using the N95 masks until they are soiled because they are running out of supplies.

She said they are seeing “60, 70, 80 patients” in one shift, “the majority of them have cough, fever, shortness of breath, and you are out there, and you have full garb and you have that one measly mask for all of those patients.” 

She feels like the hospital and the government were not prepared for the outbreak and the needs it would impose on hospitals.

“They should have been preparing when this outbreak happened in China,” she added.

In her emergency room, patients who potentially have Covid-19 are waiting in the same waiting room as people coming into the emergency room for other unrelated issues. This is where she believes the highest risk is for patients.

“I think they put a lot of people at risk. You have an elderly couple that is having chest pain sitting right next to someone who has a cough and flu… I think that’s extremely reckless,” she said

She also said they are not testing patients in her emergency room. If you are suspected to have Covid-19, you are separated into a room with other people who potentially have it. She said people are not getting tested unless they meet strict criteria, simply because there are not enough tests to test everyone who has the symptoms.

“On my shift, I think we tested 10 people yesterday when we should have tested probably 50 to 60 just to identify community spread,” she added.

She said she’s also putting her family at risk by being exposed to patients who potentially have Covid-19 every day. Her 18-year-old daughter is home from college for the rest of the semester since classes have been suspended. She said she has not hugged her daughter since this started, for fear she may pass anything on to her.

1:50 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Trump rails against New York governor for "complaining" about ventilators

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump suggested negotiators working on a stimulus bill are “doing pretty well” Tuesday, going on to rail against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for “complaining” as his state faces critical shortages of ventilators.

“I hear just from a few minutes ago that they’re doing well. It’s for the workers, it’s for the people of the country, and I hear they’re doing pretty well so we’ll see how it comes out,” Trump said of the bill.

Trump then referenced a New York Post opinion piece from former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, who wrote last week about public health officials in a 2015 task force: “In 2015, the state could have purchased the additional 16,000 needed ventilators for $36,000 apiece, or a total of $576 million.” 

“I watched Gov. Cuomo and he was very nice, we’re building him hospitals, we’re building him medical centers, and he was complaining about – we’re doing probably more, definitely more than anybody else and he was talking about the ventilators,” Trump said of Cuomo.

He continued:

“I’m not blaming him or anything else, but he shouldn’t be talking about us. He’s supposed to be buying his own ventilators. We’re gonna help. But if you think about Gov. Cuomo, we’re building him four hospitals, we’re building him four medical centers, we’re working very hard for the people of New York. We’re working along with him and then I watch him on the show complaining, and he could’ve had 16,000 that he could’ve had at a great price and he didn’t buy them.”

1:46 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Trump wants country "opened up and just raring to go by Easter"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Donald Trump speaks with Fox News Channel Anchor Bill Hemmer during a Fox News Channel virtual town hall, at the White House, Tuesday, March 24.
President Donald Trump speaks with Fox News Channel Anchor Bill Hemmer during a Fox News Channel virtual town hall, at the White House, Tuesday, March 24. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump said he wants the nation "opened up and just raring to go by Easter," a date just over two weeks away that few health experts believe will be sufficient in containing the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking during a Fox News town hall, Trump reiterated he was eager to see the nation return to normal, even as doctors warn the nation will see a massive spike in cases if Americans return to crowded workplaces or events.

"I give it two weeks," Trump said earlier in the town hall, suggesting he was ready to phase out his 15-day self-isolating guidelines when they expire. "I guess by Monday or Tuesday, it's about two weeks. We will assess at that time and give it more time if we need a little more time. We have to open this country up."

Despite announcing the new guidelines under the banner "The President's Coronavirus Guidelines for America," Trump seemed to distance himself from the practices during the town hall.

"Somehow, the word got out that this is the thing we are supposed to be doing," he said, noting the country had "never done a thing like this before." 

"But we had to do it. It's been very painful for our country and very destabilizing," he said.

As his advisers prepare options for returning the country to work, Trump suggested that Americans would still be able to exercise good health practices while still returning to normal.

"We have to go back to work much sooner than people thought. People can go back to work and they can also pass it on my practice good judgment," he said.

Trump again compared coronavirus to the flu and auto accidents, despite warnings from his health advisers that such analogies make little sense.

"We lose thousands and thousands of people to the flu. We don’t turn the country off," he said, adding: "We lose much more than that to automobile accidents."

Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci said comparing coronavirus to auto accidents was a "false equivalency" and said it was important to "face the fact" that coronavirus is more lethal than the flu.

1:45 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

UK government launches volunteer program to support health care workers

The UK government has launched a new volunteer program to support the country's National Health Service (NHS) and medical professionals on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced Tuesday during a news briefing at Downing Street. 

"The NHS Volunteer Responders is a new scheme set up so that people can come and help to make sure the NHS, and local services that are needed, get all the support they need," Hancock said. 

"We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers —people in the good health — for shopping and for the delivery of medicines," the Health Secretary added. 

Following an earlier call by the government for retired healthcare professionals to return to the NHS, Hancock confirmed that more than 10,000 people have so far responded and agreed to rejoin the health service. 

1:39 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

GOP senators urge Trump to listen to medical professionals before reopening economy

From CNN's Manu Raju

Republican senators told CNN that President Trump should listen to medical professionals before opening up economy.

Here's what they're saying:

  • Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst: “I think we need to be very cautious about that I want to make sure that we are putting the safety health and well-beings of Iowans, Americans, first. I think we do need to follow CDC guidelines and watch what our experts are saying. I would love to see the economy up and going as soon as possible, but lets make sure we’re taking care of people first.”
  • Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer: “I believe that we should be following the advice of medical professionals, we are able to see some help in the future I think this net week is going to be tough, hopefully I will be back in my state, we have 60 or I think 62 cases right now, I anticipate that is going to continue to grow, and we should be listening to medical professionals.”
1:35 p.m. ET, March 24, 2020

What athletes are saying about the postponement of Tokyo Games

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

Athletes from around the world reacted Tuesday with a mixture of relief, sadness and goodwill to the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Olympics have never been delayed in their 124-year modern history, though they were canceled altogether in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during World War I and World War II.

Here's how athletes are reacting:

  • Eliud Kipchoge, an Olympic marathon champion, tweeted praise for the “wise decision” to postpone the Games until 2021, adding that he looked forward “to come back to Japan to defend my Olympic title next year and witness a wonderful event.”
  • Lilly King, USA's double Olympic swimming Gold medallist from Rio 2016, opted for a short and simple message, writing on Instagram: “Just one more year to get better #Tokyo2020.”
  • Thomas Roehler, Germany's javelin gold medallist from the 2016 Olympic Games, also opted for brevity writing on Instagram: “Dreams are not cancelled, just postponed.”
  • Teddy Riner, a double Olympic super-heavyweight judo champion, offered an upbeat tone on Instagram writing: “See you in 2021, Tokyo. First, we have a more important fight to win," referring to stopping the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Elia Viviani, Italy's Olympic track cycling champion, agreed with the decision to postpone the Games, tweeting: “Today we are all struggling with a much bigger problem and although August still seems far away, the security for such a big event was very difficult. See you in 2021!”
  • Dina Asher Smith, Britain's 200m World champion, didn’t let the news dampen her spirits as she wrote on Instagram: “Same (Fire emoji), new dates. Stay at home and stay safe everyone.”
  • Katarina Johnson-Thompson, 2019 World Champion heptathlete, put the decision into perspective, tweeting: “Waited eight years for this, what's another one in the grand scheme of things? As an athlete, it's heartbreaking news about the Olympics being postponed until 2021, but it's for all the right reasons and the safety of everyone! Stay indoors!”
  • Dafne Schippers, a 2016 Olympic Games 200m Silver medallist, wrote on Instagram to say she was looking forward to competing in Tokyo this summer but "for now we have to look at the bigger picture and do whatever it takes to beat the Coronavirus.”