March 25 coronavirus news
More than half the population of the United States has been ordered to stay at home as states ramp up efforts to contain the novel coronavirus.
The situation now: At least 15 states and 30 municipalities have ordered more than 166 million people, or 51% of the US population to stay home, according to data compiled by CNN using US Census population estimates.
What's next: At least two additional states and five municipalities will have orders going into effect later this week for their full population.
The total: When all orders take effect, more than 180 million people will be impacted by the orders, or 55% of the US population.
The White House and Senate leaders struck a major deal early Wednesday morning over a $2-trillion package to provide a jolt to an economy struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.
The deal caps days of marathon negotiations that produced one of the most expensive and far-reaching measures in the history of Congress.
"Ladies and gentleman, we are done," White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland said right before 1 a.m. ET. "We have a deal."
Negotiations have spanned around the clock since last Friday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to take to the floor to announce that a deal had been reached on the proposal.
The full details have yet to be released.
But over the past 24 hours, the elements of the proposal have come into sharper focus, with $250 billion set aside for direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.
Pakistan will suspend all domestic flights from Thursday until April 2, in an attempt to combat the spread of Covid-19, according to government officials.
Passenger train services will be suspended immediately until March 31.
Pakistan has reported 972 cases and seven deaths from the coronavirus, according to the country’s health ministry.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a rescue and stimulus package worth about 1.13 trillion rupees ($7 billion), aimed at supporting various sectors of society and the economy during the pandemic.
Demand for coronavirus tests at some US commercial labs continues to exceed capacity, even as millions of tests have become available. Test turnaround times range from 24 hours to a week or more, according to labs contacted by CNN.
Quest Diagnostics: One of the largest US clinical laboratories said current turnaround time for coronavirus tests is on average four to five days, from the time of specimen pickup to the time results are delivered, though some results may not be provided for about a week.
“Although we are rapidly expanding testing capacity, demand for the testing is growing faster, and we cannot accommodate everyone who wants testing and meet tight turnaround time expectations,” Quest said in a statement.
TriCore Reference Laboratories: The New Mexico-based lab said its turnaround time is about five days.
Eurofins: A spokesperson for laboratory network Eurofins said its labs are running up to 5,000 tests a day, many in 24 hours, but also said, “due to the backlog, unprecedented demand, pressures on our supply chain, and shipping delays … our turnaround time has been pushed beyond what we normally experience. At most, we are looking at results in 72 hours.”
BioReference Laboratories: While there had been a backlog in its facilities, the company said it has cleared it within a week of making their testing for Covid-19 available and cut its turnaround time to 24 hours for inpatients and 48 to 72 hours for the general public.
Dr. Alex Greninger, an assistant professor at the University of Washington's Department of Laboratory Medicine, said unprecedented demand is the driving factor of such wait times for test results.
Faster delivery of tests is critical to conserve personal protective equipment, he said.
“It’s not just about testing but about getting results in a clinically actionable time frame. The faster you get results, the less protective equipment you use and the quicker you can get a patient properly isolated,” Greninger said.
With less than four months to go until the scheduled start of the Olympic Games on July 24, the fanfare around Tokyo 2020 had been well underway.
Tokyo was already covered with posters and fliers, hotels to house tourists were ready to receive guests and new venues like the Olympic stadium had been built. Tickets had been selling quickly among residents, too.
But then the coronavirus pandemic accelerated around the world.
Doubts set in: Nearly 70% of people in Japan did not expect the Games to be held as scheduled, according to a Kyodo News survey conducted last week.
This film predicted it: As speculation mounted over the Games' fate, a scene from the iconic 1988 anime film “Akira,” which spookily predicted not only Tokyo 2020, but that it would be canceled, trended online.
Postponement announced: A growing chorus of teams and athletes called for the Games to be postponed. That announcement finally came on Tuesday, when IOC president Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the Games’ postponement to 2021. They agreed to keep the name as Tokyo 2020 and said the Olympic flame would stay in Japan.
Unprecedented: The Olympics have never been rescheduled in peacetime. In 1916, 1940 and 1944, the Games were canceled because of world wars.
Questions remain: Japan must now prepare for the mammoth task of rescheduling the Olympics, but it is unclear who would cover the additional costs arising from the Games’ postponement.
Australia’s national identity is largely shaped by its geography. The land and people are, as the country’s national anthem states, “girt by sea” -- protected from the trials and tribulations of the outside world by oceans and distance.
The novel coronavirus pandemic, however, is perhaps the greatest challenge to that theory Australia has faced, unprecedented in the history of the world’s only continent-country.
By cutting off international flights, Australia has effectively lifted the drawbridge and isolated itself from the rest of the world.
To date, more than 2,300 people have been infected there, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government also established widespread restrictions on social gatherings, shutting bars, gyms and movie theaters and restricting restaurants to delivery or take out.
“There are many challenges we are facing now, which we’ve already discussed. But there are going to be many more and some of them yet haven’t even revealed themselves as to what the nature of those challenges are going to be,” Morrison said Wednesday.
“What as a government we’ve been seeking to do is put in place the right advice, the right structures, the right disciplines, the right processes, to ensure that we can make the best possible decisions that can stick and will ensure that we can best manage this crisis.”
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has spoken with President Donald Trump in a phone call about the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games.
"Prime Minister Abe explained about the one-year postponement for the safety and security for the athletes, and the agreement of having the Olympics by end of 2021 summer," said Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who spoke to the media following the 40-minute call.
"President Trump repeatedly mentioned the postponement was wise and excellent decisions. Both leaders confirmed close cooperation for the Tokyo Olympics to be held in complete form as the proof (of) human beings' victory in the fight against the coronavirus," Suga said.
Abe and Trump also spoke about cooperation for the development of a medical cure for the coronavirus.
With stores closed, runway shows canceled and global supply chains disrupted, much of the fashion industry has been rendered idle by the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, designers, luxury labels and fashion conglomerates are all stepping up to help overcome shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) in some of the hardest-hit countries.
In the US, where health officials have warned that stockpiles of medical equipment may be insufficient despite manufacturers ramping up production, some medical workers have been forced to reuse masks between patients and even make their own.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo took his appeal for assistance in the country's worst-hit state to Twitter, writing: "We need companies to be creative to supply the crucial gear our healthcare workers need."
His call was answered with offers to retool production and put sewing teams and unused resources to good use.
One of the first to respond was designer and "Project Runway" alumni, Christian Siriano. "If @NYGovCuomo says we need masks my team will help make some," he tweeted. "I have a full sewing team still on staff working from home that can help."
Just days after his online exchange with Cuomo, the designer posted a video of face mask production already underway.
A US Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator (FEMA) employee has tested positive for coronavirus, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.
FEMA is leading the federal operations for the coronavirus response on behalf of the White House task force, which is headed by Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence and other task force members were in the FEMA headquarters building in Washington around the same time as the infected employee, the spokesperson said.
However, FEMA said the employee did not come within six feet of the vice president or any other taskforce principal “for any period of time.”
"All areas visited by the vice president and other task force members were disinfected prior to their visits," the spokesperson said.