March 25 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Ivana Kottasová and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 9:34 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020
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5:34 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

FDA commissioner warns against self-medicating with chloroquine used in fish tanks

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

The commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn, is warning against self-medicating with any form of chloroquine phosphate unless prescribed by a doctor. 

While the anti-malaria drug chloroquine has been touted by President Trump as a potential treatment for coronavirus, an Arizona man died this week after taking a form of the substance used in aquariums.

“The chloroquine phosphate used for treating aquarium fish is not the same as the FDA-approved chloroquine being studied as a possible treatment for #COVID19,” Hahn said in a series of tweets Wednesday. “We want to warn consumers that this product [is] sold to treat parasites in aquarium fish and may have adverse effects, including serious illness or death, when taken by people.”

Hahn said that there is currently “no FDA-approved treatment” for Covid-19, and he said that chloroquine should only be taken if prescribed by a health care provider and obtained from legitimate sources.

“Some people and companies are trying to profit from the pandemic by selling unproven/illegally marketed products claiming to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent #COVID19,” Hahn said, adding that “these have NOT been evaluated by FDA for safety and effectiveness & might be dangerous to you and your family.”

There is limited evidence, partly from studies on human cells, that chloroquine – or its closely-related analogue, hydroxychloroquine – could have antiviral effects.

Doctors in China, France, the US and other countries have used the drug experimentally in Covid-19 patients, but there is not yet sufficient clinical evidence that it's effective in humans.

5:31 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

National Hockey League postpones draft

From CNN's Jill Martin

The National Hockey League has announced the postponements of the 2020 NHL scouting combine, the 2020 NHL draft and the 2020 NHL awards. 

"The National Hockey League today announced the postponements of the 2020 NHL Scouting Combine, the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Awards, and the 2020 NHL Draft, which were originally scheduled for June 1-6 in Buffalo, N.Y., June 18 in Las Vegas, and June 26-27 in Montreal, respectively, due to the ongoing uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus," the organization said in a statement. "The location, timing and format of the 2020 NHL Draft (and Draft Lottery) will be announced when details are finalized."

Around the sports world: NASCAR has postponed races in its national circuits through May 3, The 146th Kentucky Derby will be postponed until September 5 and the the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) canceled its Division I basketball tournament.

One of the first organizations to take action in response to the coronavirus was the National Basketball Association which suspended its season after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach agreed Tuesday to postpone the Olympics until 2021.

The IOC has been facing mounting pressure to delay the Games, which were originally scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9, amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

5:43 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

New Orleans could run out of ventilators by early April, governor says

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, speaking at a news conference Wednesday, said a region of the state, which includes Orleans Parish, could run out of ventilators by early April.

"So we're trying to acquire ventilators anywhere we can, whether it's through the federal government, finding vendors. We actually distributed another 100 today," Edwards later told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We actually need a 1,000 more just in the New Orleans area."

He continued: "So this is a big challenge. We're doing everything that we can. We are obviously asking for help from wherever we can get it."

"To the extent the federal government can facilitate the allotment, the allocation of more resources to Louisiana, we would certainly accept that and be grateful. But we know that this is a challenge because we're not the only ones asks. Every state is asking for the same things."

By the numbers: Edwards said the state has received about 100,000 N95 masks to date, and added that Apple CEO Tim Cook is donating 100,000 M95 masks to the state soon.


5:27 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

NYU offers medical students early graduation to become doctors

From CNN Health’s Minali Nigam and Gina Yu


New York University is offering its senior medical students the option to graduate early and begin working as resident doctors amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

“In response to the growing spread of Covid-19, and in response to Governor Cuomo’s directive to get more physicians into the health system more quickly, NYU Grossman School of Medicine and NYU have agreed to permit early graduation for its medical students, pending approval from the New York State Department of Education, Middle States and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME),” a spokesperson for NYU told CNN in an email.

Senior medical students at NYU received an email about the decision on Tuesday night.

“With the growing spread of Covid-19, our hospitals (are) inundated with patients, and our colleagues on the front lines working extra-long hours, we are still short-staffed in emergency and internal medicine,” the school’s deans said in the email.  

NYU administrators are currently gauging student interest with a survey and waiting approval from state and education boards.

Medical schools in Italy and the United Kingdom have already given the option to fast-track students into doctors. 

By the numbers: New York has been hit hard by the virus, with over 30,000 cases statewide and 285 deaths.  

5:12 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Coronavirus testing has tripled in California

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Cars line up at a coronavirus testing facility in Hayward, California, on March 24.
Cars line up at a coronavirus testing facility in Hayward, California, on March 24. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

With additional commercial and private labs coming online, the number of Californians getting tested for coronavirus has tripled.

About 66,800 tests have been completed so far, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said, about 39,000 more than Tuesday.

Results are still pending on more than 10,000 coronavirus tests, the governor said. As officials work to procure more, one company is promising results in just 10 minutes, another in 45 minutes.

A task force is working to vet those companies to ensure the state is not being taken advantage of, Newsom said.

4:59 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Missouri governor asks Trump for major disaster declaration

From CNN's Andy Rose

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is asking President Trump to issue a major disaster declaration for the entire state due to coronavirus.

Parson hopes a declaration like this would "provide federal assistance for state and local Covid-19 pandemic preparedness and emergency response efforts," the governor's office said in a news release.

"Although it is still developing, it's already clear Covid-19 will have a more sweeping impact across the entire state than any other disaster we have dealt with in our lifetime," Parson said Wednesday afternoon in a press conference. 

Missouri has been in a state of emergency since March 13. There are eight confirmed deaths in the state due to coronavirus.


5:18 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

State Department is now tracking 50,000 Americans who might seek help getting back to the US

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Travelers wait in line for a charter flight back to the United States at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala on Monday, March 23.
Travelers wait in line for a charter flight back to the United States at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala on Monday, March 23. Moises Castillo/AP

The State Department is tracking 50,000 Americans who might seek assistance in returning to the US, the head of the State Department’s repatriation task force said Wednesday. A dramatic increase from an estimated 13,500 Americans on Monday.

“At the moment we are keeping a running tally of the number of US citizens we estimate will seek our help in returning to the United States. This number changes daily, hourly,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Consular Affairs Ian Brownlee said on a call with reporters. 

The number is more than triple the figure the State Department was tracking just two days ago. On Monday, a senior State Department official said they were looking at approximately 13,500 Americans abroad who were seeking US assistance.

Brownlee, who heads the Department’s repatriation task force, said Wednesday that they had repatriated “over 9,000 people from some 28 countries.”

“We're planning on another 66 flights over the next nine days or so,” he said. “We have some 9.000 people scheduled – identified for those flights and we hope to move those numbers up.”

5:04 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

California has distributed more than 24 million N95 masks

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Al Bello/Getty Images
Al Bello/Getty Images

California has distributed 24.5 million N95 masks and has placed orders for another 100 million more, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced at a news conference Wednesday. 

“That is a significant number, but is still insignificant to meet our needs,” Newsom said.

Some context: Describing the "Herculean effort" underway, the governor said it is taking shape and noted that British billionaire Richard Branson has committed to a 747 airplane, and that Elon Musk has given 1,225 ventilators.

5:29 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

New Orleans mayor puts out a call for hospital scrubs

From CNN's Kay Jones

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is asking for "clean scrubs" because she said Tulane Hospital is running low on supplies.

In a series of tweets, she asked the community for donations of “matched sets of green cotton surgical scrubs.”

Cantrell said the donations, which are going to a group called “Supplies for Saints,” will be for health care workers on the frontlines of the epidemic.

Refuting the mayor's tweets, Tulane Hospital told CNN an attempt to sanitize scrubs may have been misinterpreted.

"Tulane Health System currently has an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to meet patient demands, and that includes scrubs," the hospital said.

"A recent process change to distribution of scrubs may have been misinterpreted. We recently asked all hospital colleagues to turn in scrubs before leaving the facility to ensure all scrubs are appropriately cleaned. The industrial cleaners used by our hospitals are rated to eliminate all infectious bugs on the items – a claim most home washers can’t make. This process was not implemented due to a shortage of scrubs, but to ensure the safety of our staff and patients."