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
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2:20 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Trump says he's preparing new social distancing guidelines in letter to governors

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Donald Trump listens during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on March 24.
US President Donald Trump listens during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on March 24. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump told US governors on Thursday his administration was preparing to issue new social distancing guidelines based on geographic risk factors.

In a letter, Trump said new coronavirus testing capabilities would allow his administration to identify "high-risk, medium risk and low-risk" counties.

New guidelines will help governors and other state policymakers decide on "maintaining, increasing or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place," Trump wrote.

Watch:

2:01 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

There are now more than 500,000 coronavirus cases around the world

From CNN's Jonny Hallam

Medics take care of a coronavirus patient upon his arrival from Italy to a hospital in Dresden, Germany, on March 26.
Medics take care of a coronavirus patient upon his arrival from Italy to a hospital in Dresden, Germany, on March 26. Matthias Rietschel/Pool via AP

There are now more than 500,000 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus globally , according to Johns Hopkins University.

As of 1:54 p.m. ET, the totally number of confirmed cases stands at 510,108.

2:03 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Los Angeles hospital official says supplies are day to day

From CNN’s Stephanie Elam

As the coronavirus pandemic grows, hospital supplies at Southern California’s Cedars-Sinai Health Systems are day to day, according to the hospital's chief operating officer.

“It is hard to estimate because we are consuming more than we would baseline,” Dr. Jeff Smith told CNN.

Cedars-Sinai typically treats more than a million patients each year in more than 40 locations throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

Smith said that Cedars-Sinai continues to receive supplies but the supply chain is irregular. They are obtaining personal protective equipment from multiple sources – manufacturers, local and federal caches. 

“The challenge is that there are so many unknown variables,” Smith said speaking about the ratio of patients to supply. He said this is not the way he would want things because it is “day by day.”

Some context: Currently, Cedars-Sinai is seeing an increase in the volume of patients presumed and confirmed positive. “Several dozen” patients have now turned positive, Smith said.

Cedars-Sinai currently has enough ventilators for their patients in intensive care.

As for capacity, Cedars-Sinai has more than 200 open beds including in the ICUs. The hospital system is making plans to care for patients in less conventional spaces, including recovery units and other areas of the hospital.

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

China will ban most foreigners from entering country

From CNN's Steven Jiang in Beijing

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

From CNN's Sarah Jorgensen

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

From CNN's David Close

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

From CNN's David Shortell

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

From CNN's Jamiel Lynch

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

From Nicola Ruotolo in Rome

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.