March 26 coronavirus news

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1:56 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

China will ban most foreigners from entering country

China will close its borders to most foreigners starting Saturday, the government announced Thursday, amid continued concerns over rising imported cases of novel coronavirus.

Foreign nationals currently holding Chinese visas or residency permits will be temporarily banned from entering the country until further notice, according to a statement from the foreign ministry and the national immigration authority.

The government is also suspending all visa-free transit and visa-on-landing programs. People holding diplomatic passports are exempted from the new rule. 

Foreign nationals who must visit China out of necessity need to apply for new visas, and holders of Chinese visas issued after Thursday will be allowed into the country, the statement added.

1:42 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Federal courts in Newark close after several employees test positive for coronavirus

Federal courthouses in Newark, New Jersey, will be closed through April 6 because "several" federal employees who work there have tested positive for Covid-19, according to a judge's order.

"No one will be permitted to enter the building during this closure with the exception of authorized cleaning personnel," the order reads in part.

The order, which went into effect Thursday, does not apply to other federal courthouses in New Jersey, and electronic filing is still available.

"The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey otherwise remains open for official business," the order reads in part.

1:44 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Indy 500 rescheduled to August

General view of the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
General view of the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Clive Rose/Getty Images

The Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race has been moved from May 24 to August 23 due to the coronavirus outbreak, officials announced today.

"Memorial Day weekend has always provided Indianapolis 500 fans an opportunity to honor the men and women who have fought and sacrificed for our nation's freedom...This August, we'll also have a unique and powerful opportunity to honor the contributions and heroism of the doctors, nurses, first responders and National Guard members serving on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19," Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said in a statement.
1:37 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

US attorney general directs federal prison system to increase home confinement for some inmates

Attorney General William Barr directed leaders of the federal prison system to increase the use of home confinement for certain inmates as the number of cases of coronavirus in the nation’s corrections system continues to multiply.

At a news conference Thursday in Washington, D.C., Barr told reporters that he had sent a memo to the Bureau of Prisons, telling officials there to increase the use of the program, which will likely see some older and especially vulnerable inmates released from prison early.

Barr said the measure was being done to try to “control the spread of this infection.” 

Six inmates and four Bureau of Prisons employees had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Wednesday, as the Bureau of Prisons continued to implement strict measures to stave off the spread of the virus, including a ban on most visitors and a two-week quarantine for all new inmates entering a facility.

It was not immediately clear what inmates among the more than 175,000 in federal custody will be eligible for the expanded early release and home confinement program.

Barr said that he had asked the Bureau of Prisons last week to assess if it was possible to expand the use of home confinement “particularly for older prisoners who had served substantial parts of their sentence and no longer posed a threat and may have underlying conditions that make them particularly vulnerable.”

1:35 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Louisiana sees a spike of more than 500 cases in one day

Medical personnel work at a drive-thru coronavirus testing station on March 17 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Medical personnel work at a drive-thru coronavirus testing station on March 17 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Louisiana has reported an additional 510 positive cases of Covid-19 and an additional 18 deaths since Wednesday. 

Currently, there are at least 2,305 cases of coronavirus and 83 deaths in the state.

According to the state Department of Health, 676 patients are in hospitals and 239 are on ventilators.

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday said the state could run out of ventilators by early April in Orleans Parish, one of the hardest hit areas. 

1:33 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Italy records increase in new coronavirus cases

Doctors tend to Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit of San Matteo Hospital, in Pavia, Italy, on March 26.
Doctors tend to Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit of San Matteo Hospital, in Pavia, Italy, on March 26. Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP

Italy reported an increase of 4,492 cases of coronavirus in the past day, bringing the total of active cases to at least 62,013.

There were at least 662 fatalities in the past 24 hours, raising the total to at least 8,165 deaths.

1:26 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

US Army says field hospital in New York City will be ready Monday

Army field hospitals deploying to New York will be ready to treat non-coronavirus patients at the Javits Center beginning Monday, according to Army Chief of Staff General James McConville.

The Army will bring 284 beds to New York. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is also bringing additional beds.

1:22 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Here's how the final vote on the stimulus bill will play out

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks with reporters during her weekly press conference at the US Capitol on March 26.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks with reporters during her weekly press conference at the US Capitol on March 26. Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy both made clear today they want the $2 trillion stimulus bill to be approved by their chamber Friday by voice vote. That would ensure that most House members would not have to return to Washington.

But if any member requests a recorded vote, then House members would have to return at a later date to cast a roll call vote. So far, at least two members, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Thomas Massie, have not ruled out requesting a recorded vote.

What happens next: House GOP leaders plan to walk through the stimulus bill with their members on a 1:30 p.m. conference call today, according to a Republican source.

House Democratic leaders will have their own caucus call at 3 p.m., according to a Democratic source.

These calls will be important to ensure leaders have cooperation from their rank-and-file to allow the bill to pass by voice vote Friday morning — rather than requiring all members to come back to vote in person.

How the vote will happen: On Friday, the House will convene at 9 a.m. Then there will be time for a debate, equally divided between the two sides. And then they will proceed to a voice vote. Once the presiding officer says the "ayes" have it, the bill will be passed — unless a member requests a recorded vote.

It's unclear how many members will show for Friday's debate and voice vote — it can be very few, or it can be a lot, there is no requirement.

Also, at his news conference today, McCarthy made clear the House will look different than it usually does in order to promote social distancing. He said the members won't sit next each other, they'll alter where the members stand, and staff will be cleaning as members come and go. He also said that members will have to enter one designated door and leave out the other.

1:19 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Honduras announces first coronavirus death

Honduras’ health ministry announced on Thursday the country’s first novel coronavirus-related death.

The patient was a 60-year-old man with a history of heart disease, the health ministry said in a statement. He died Wednesday night.

The man tested positive for Covid-19 on March 19 after he checked himself into a hospital because he had trouble breathing, the ministry added.

During his stay, he developed pneumonia, which caused respiratory failure and lead to a cardiac arrest.

There are at least 52 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Honduras, the health ministry said.