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March 26 coronavirus news

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9:11 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Coronavirus crisis has swept away a decade of economic expansion

A pedestrian walks by a 'closed' sign on the door of a restaurant on March 17, in San Francisco, California.
A pedestrian walks by a 'closed' sign on the door of a restaurant on March 17, in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A record number of Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week, as businesses shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  

Initial jobless claims soared to a seasonally adjusted 3.28 million in the week ended March 21, according to the Department of Labor. That is the highest number of initial jobless claims in history, since the Department of Labor started tracking the data in 1967.

Before coronavirus fears began affecting the US economy, it was powering ahead at historic rates.

The bottom line: This crisis has swept away the complacency of a decade of economic expansion and perpetually rising stock markets.

9:19 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Doctor describes what we can't see on TV: "The sickest patients are terrifying"

Esther Choo, emergency physician and health care advocate
Esther Choo, emergency physician and health care advocate CNN

We see the daily counts of coronavirus cases and deaths, the long lines for tests, and the White House briefings where the President pretends the situation is not dire.

But we're not able to see inside the emergency rooms and intensive care units where this invisible demon is being fought.

We're not able to see the front lines. Or the full extent of the human suffering. We only hear about the battle through the testimonies of doctors and nurses; though the pleas of governors and mayors; and through interviews with patients who are well enough to call in via Skype.

Does this distort the public's understanding of the virus? Does the lack of visibility make it hard for some folks to process how serious this pandemic is? 

CNN asked Esther Choo, emergency physician and health care advocate who started the #GetMePPE hashtag last week.

Here's what she said via text:

"This whole thing has been hampered by its abstractness. I mean, half the interviews on TV that I've seen are totally well people pissed they didn't get tested." But they're not the real faces of this pandemic -- the hospitalized patients are. "The truth is, the sickest patients are terrifying," Choo said. "They are air hungry, dropping their oxygen, confused, distressed. We can never show that. But it is terrifying."

Choo put it this way:

"What would the zombie apocalypse be like if we only had verbal descriptions of zombies, but could never show them?"

HIPAA restrictions and media ethics issues both stand in the way of having cameras in hospital corridors. So this crisis challenges reporters to get creative.

9:11 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

City of Miami imposes a curfew

The Miami City passed a curfew during a virtual commission meeting. The curfew starts Friday and will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time.

The exceptions to the curfew are going or coming from work, a medical emergency and walking a dog within 250 feet of your home.

The curfew motion passed unanimously 5 – 0.

 

9:05 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

More than 100 Boston hospital employees test positive for coronavirus

Massachusetts General Hospital is pictured in Boston, on March 14.
Massachusetts General Hospital is pictured in Boston, on March 14. Michael Dwyer/AP

More than 100 employees at three Boston hospitals have tested positive for coronavirus

  • Boston Medical Center said 15 employees have tested positive for the virus. 
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital has 45 employees that have tested positive, Brigham Health Media Relations Associate Serena Bronda told CNN.
  • Massachusetts General Hospital has 41 employees who have tested positive, though Senior Public Affairs Officer Terri Ogan told CNN the hospital believes most contracted the virus somewhere other than the hospital. 
8:50 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

London hospitals experience "continuous tsunami" of coronavirus patients

A member of the ambulance service leads a patient (not pictured) into an ambulance at St Thomas' Hospital in London on March 24.
A member of the ambulance service leads a patient (not pictured) into an ambulance at St Thomas' Hospital in London on March 24. Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Hospitals in London are experiencing a “continuous tsunami” of coronavirus patients, according to a group that represents Britain's hospitals, ambulance services and community health services.

Speaking to BBC Radio today, National Health Service Providers CEO Chris Hopson said London hospitals had increased critical care capacity by between five and seven times in the past couple of weeks to cope with the extra need.

But Hopson said hospitals in London were struggling to meet the “explosion of demand" because of "the number of patients that are arriving and the speed at which they’re arriving and how ill they are."

He added:

“They talk about wave after wave after wave. A word that’s often used to me is a sort of continuous tsunami.”

Meanwhile, Dyson — a company best known for its hand dryers and vacuum cleaners — has received an order from the UK government for 10,000 ventilators to support efforts by the country's health service to treat coronavirus patients.

8:46 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Dalai Lama will donate food and medicine during India's coronavirus outbreak

The Dalai Lama speaks in Dharamshala, India, in March 2019.
The Dalai Lama speaks in Dharamshala, India, in March 2019. Pallava Bagla/Corbis/Getty Images

The Dalai Lama on today announced he will donate "essential supplies like food and medicine for the poor and needy members of the community” as India locks down to contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

His office said in a statement that he had written to the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, the northern Indian state where Dharamsala — the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile — is located, to express his support.

“Since Himachal Pradesh has been my home for almost 60 years,” the Tibetan spiritual leader wrote, “I naturally feel an affinity for its people.” 

The Dalai Lama expressed "confidence" that the steps being taken by the Narendra Modi government "will be effective in containing the spread of the virus." The amount of the donation was not disclosed, as per usual practice. 

The Dalai Lama on February 12 canceled all his public engagements “until further notice” after his doctors advised him to because of the outbreak, according to a statement from the Dalai Lama’s office, as well as from his personal secretary who spoke to CNN. 

Meanwhile, the Delhi government will give online passes to people provide essential services so they can operate around the clock, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said today.

The Delhi government has also given the green light to online food delivery services to continue working across the city. Employers of online food delivery services need to provide identification cards to all their workers and following that, they will be allowed to continue working in the city, Kejriwal added.

India yesterday started unprecedented 21-day bid to stop the coronavirus pandemic in its tracks with a nationwide lockdown. The country has 681 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far with 13 deaths, according to the latest John Hopkins University data. 

8:44 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

3.3 million unemployment claims filed in the US last week

A record number of Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week, as businesses shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  

Initial jobless claims soared to a seasonally adjusted 3.28 million in the week ended March 21, according to the Department of Labor. 

That is the highest number of initial jobless claims in history, since the Department of Labor started tracking the data in 1967. The previous high was 695,000 claims filed in the week ending October 2, 1982. 

Last week's jump marked a massive increase from a revised 282,000 claims in the prior week. Prior to the pandemic, initial claims had been hovering in the low 200,000s each week, reflecting a strong job market.

Watch:

8:42 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Nine European leaders call for greater joint EU action on coronavirus, including "corona bonds"

European Union flags are seen outside the European Commission on March 2, in Brussels, Belgium.
European Union flags are seen outside the European Commission on March 2, in Brussels, Belgium. Leon Neal/Getty Images

Nine European leaders have sent a letter to the European Union calling for joint action to tackle the coronavirus.

The leaders — including President Emmanuel Macron of France, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and the leaders of Spain, Ireland and Belgium — called for shared guidelines on ending any restrictions to avoid re-importing the virus.

The leaders also pledged their support for preserving the single market of the European Union. They called for the EU to work on a common debt instrument to allow all EU countries to raise money on the same basis. European leaders are due to hold a video conference today to discuss the crisis.

Remember: This common debt, which is being called a corona bond by many in the markets, is controversial within the EU because it is seen as transferring money from wealthier members to countries with lots of debt. It has always been resisted by EU members such as Germany, Finland and the Netherlands.

8:31 a.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Lebanon extends measures to fight coronavirus until April 12

Lebanese state security patrol the capital, Beirut, during a lockdown on March 25.
Lebanese state security patrol the capital, Beirut, during a lockdown on March 25. Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images

Lebanon has extended its “General Mobilization” measures until April 12, according to the Secretary General of the Lebanese Supreme Defense Council.

The measures, originally announced on March 15, included...

  • Banning all public and private gatherings
  • The closure of all private commercial companies, except for food production related ones
  • The closure of all government departments except for security and health services
  • Instructions for people to stay in their homes unless there is an “extreme necessity” to leave them

The measures were originally supposed to end at midnight on March 29.

A number of countries are now extending their measures to control the spread of the virus. Spain on Sunday said it could extend its state of emergency, which began on March 13 and was supposed to end on March 28, for 14 days. Iran has extended its countrywide lockdown through April 11.