March 26 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Emma Reynolds and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0252 GMT (1052 HKT) March 27, 2020
170 Posts
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6:50 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Trump says he doesn't "know" what steps are being taken to stop hate crimes against Asian Americans

From CNN's Allie Malloy and Maegan Vazquez 

President Trump, when asked what steps he is taking to stop hate crimes against Asian Americans, said he didn’t “know” and added that “all I know is Asian Americans are doing fantastically well.” 

“I don’t know,” Trump initially said when asked what steps he was taking but added that his tweet earlier in the week “was a very important tweet to me, and I didn’t like some things I was hearing.” 

“To me, Asian Americans are a great part of our country,” Trump said Thursday in the briefing room.

Trump also said of Asian Americans; “I’m very close to them. They’re doing fantastically well. I think they appreciate the job we’re doing."

On Tuesday, Trump said that he had decided to pull back from associating the novel coronavirus with China, which he had previously done by calling it the "China virus" or the "Chinese virus."

"Look, everyone knows it came out of China, but I decided we shouldn't make any more of a big deal out of it," Trump told Fox News. "I think I've made a big deal. I think people understand it." 

The President said he didn't regret using the terms to describe the virus and defended his past adoption of the terms by referencing other infectious diseases that are named after where they originate.

"It came from China," he said. 

When the virus was officially named, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that "having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing."

Separately, Trump said he would be speaking with China's President Xi Jinping Thursday evening. 

6:38 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Trump says he's open to pushing cruise line owners to register in the US in order to get economic relief

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

President Trump warmed up to the concept of having cruise companies register in the US and pay US taxes in order to receive relief from the federal government for the economic impact of the novel coronavirus. 

Many cruise lines are incorporated overseas, meaning the lines can avoid many US federal taxes, and US labor laws. 

Royal Caribbean's global headquarters are in Miami but the corporation is incorporated in Liberia, while Carnival Cruise Lines is incorporated in Panama. Their ships also fly the flags of those countries meaning employees working on board can be paid far less than US minimum wages.

“I do like the concept of perhaps coming in and registering here, coming into the United States. You know it’s very difficult to make a loan to a company when they’re based in a different country,” Trump said Thursday in the White House briefing room, before adding that the industry employs a large number of Americans at domestic ports.

Trump said his administration would “maybe really look at that very seriously.”

6:33 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Trump says he will speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping tonight

From CNN's Sarah Westwood and Kevin Liptak 

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Donald Trump said he will speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday night about coronavirus.

He suggested the administration does not believe all the data coming out of China — despite his previous praise of how Xi has handled the outbreak.

Asked about projections that the US could overtake China in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, Trump said, “I think it’s a tribute to our testing.”

“Number one, you don’t know what the numbers are in China,” Trump said.

He added that he would be speaking to Xi later Thursday.

“I’m sure you’re not able to tell what China is testing or not testing,” he added. “I think that’s a little hard.”


7:09 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

US sees record number of coronavirus deaths today

From CNN's Chuck Johnston

At least 237 additional coronavirus deaths were recorded on Thursday across the United States, according to CNN's reporting.

This marks the deadliest day for reporting of US cases, according to CNN.

On Wednesday, there were 233 total death cases reported during the full day, CNN reported.

In total, there are at least 1,175 deaths from the coronavirus in the United States.

6:04 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Trump: "We have to start the process pretty soon" on getting the country back to work

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

President Trump repeatedly stressed that the US “has to go back to work” but noted that people should still practice social distancing as best they can.

Trump during a news conference Thursday that he is “hearing it loud and clear from everybody” that people want to go back to work.

“We may take sections of the country, we may take large sections of our country that aren’t so seriously affected and do it that way, but we have to start the process pretty soon," Trump said.

Trump also said more information will come early next week in terms of his plans. 

Some context: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said Wednesday night "You don't make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline," when asked how long the novel coronavirus could affect daily life in the US.  

"You've got to be realistic," Fauci told CNN Wednesday.

6:01 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Trump thanks Senate for unanimously passing economic relief package

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump thanked both Democrats and Republicans for unanimously passing the $2 trillion stimulus package in the Senate.

“I am profoundly grateful that both parties came together to provide relief for American workers and families in this hour of need," Trump said Thursday.

Trump went on to say that he hoped the House of Representatives passes the bill without delay. Trump said he believes there is tremendous support for the package in the House, but noted there could be “one grandstander” who votes against the stimulus package.


5:54 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

US overtakes Italy in total coronavirus cases

From CNN's Chuck Johnston

The United States now has more coronavirus cases reported than Italy.

The US now has at least 80,837 coronavirus cases, according to CNN reporting. Italy has reported at least 80,589 coronavirus cases.

China still leads the global number of reported coronavirus cases with 81,782 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

5:57 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Trump says Navy hospital ship expected to deploy to New York City on Saturday

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump has announced that the USNS Comfort will deploy to New York City on Saturday, which is three weeks ahead of schedule.

Trump made the announcement Thursday afternoon during a coronavirus press briefing.

“The USNS Comfort — which is incredible actually when you see it inside — will be underway to New York City on Saturday,” Trump said.

“So it’s going to be leaving on Saturday rather than 3 weeks from now,” Trump said. “They did the maintenance quickly.”

“I told the governor 20 minutes ago, Gov. Cuomo, that the ship will be arriving at New York Harbor on Monday,” Trump added.

Trump said he would travel to Norfolk to “kiss it goodbye.”

The ship is currently in Virginia, the President said.

5:58 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Pentagon awards $15 million contract to retrofit Javits Center into a hospital

From CNN's Ryan Browne

Staff/AFP/Getty Images
Staff/AFP/Getty Images

The Pentagon announced Thursday that it has awarded a $15 million contract to the operators of the Javits Center to convert the facility into a hospital by April 9 to help alleviate the burden the coronavirus is placing on civilian hospital infrastructure. 

This is separate than the field hospitals being set up this weekend in New York.

“New York Convention Center Operating Corp., New York, New York, was awarded a $15,250,000 firm-fixed-price contract to retrofit the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center into an alternate care facility,” the Pentagon contract announcement said.

The announcement said that the work is expected to be completed by April 9.

The US Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the contract which is being funded via “ Fiscal 2020 defense emergency response funds.”

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said this earlier this week that he anticipates the field hospitals being used to temporarily alleviate the strain on civilian hospitals in order to allow the US Army Corps of Engineers to retrofit hotels, convention centers and college dormitories into makeshift hospitals.

“How I foresee our hospitals being used is during the early stages of the pandemic, the virus hitting a city where they're still trying to ramp up capability, bed space, we can come in for a short period of time, for a few weeks to provide that capacity until they get either gyms converted, hotels converted, college dorms converted, all those things that the Corps of Engineers is working on right now," Esper said.