March 26 coronavirus news

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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.

1:15 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

There are more than 1,600 coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania

Medical workers perform a coronavirus test on driver at the Temple University Ambler campus in Ambler, Pennsylvania on March 25.
Medical workers perform a coronavirus test on driver at the Temple University Ambler campus in Ambler, Pennsylvania on March 25. Matt Rourke/AP

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is now reporting at least 1,687 cases of coronavirus in the state. Of those cases, 16 people have died.

A quarter of the cases are in Philadelphia County.

1:09 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic will likely be around "for 12 to 18 months," Harvard doctor says

The coronavirus pandemic may not go away in just a few weeks or so, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said during a Facebook Live Q&A on Thursday.

"This is not a virus that goes away in two weeks or four weeks or six weeks. We are going to be living with this, in one form or another, for 12 to 18 months if we are lucky," Jha said, referring to how long some health officials have predicted it would take to develop a vaccine. 

"Once we have a vaccine that’s effective and widely deployed we can bring the pandemic to an end," Jha said. "Until that time, we are going to continue to have to confront and deal with the virus."

Scientists around the world have been working on developing vaccines that are effective against the novel coronavirus and there are dozens in development.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general for the World Health Organization, said in February that a vaccine for the novel coronavirus could take 12 to 18 months.

Just last week, a vaccine trial in the United States announced that its first patient had received a dose.

CNN reported last week that a 100-page federal plan on how to tackle the coronavirus pandemic showed the Trump administration is making contingency plans for a pandemic that could stretch up to "18 months or longer" and could include "multiple waves of illness."

1:05 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

More than 4,000 prisoners in Ethiopia pardoned to help prevent coronavirus spread

Ethiopia's President Sahle-Work Zewde speaks during the World Economic Forum Africa meeting on September 4, 2019, in Cape Town.
Ethiopia's President Sahle-Work Zewde speaks during the World Economic Forum Africa meeting on September 4, 2019, in Cape Town. Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images

Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde has granted pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners in efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Sahle-Work Zewde announced the order in a tweet on Wednesday and said it would help prevent overcrowding in prisons.

The directive only covers those given a maximum sentence of three years for minor crimes and those who were about to be released from jail, she said.

There are 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ethiopia, according to the World Health Organization on Wednesday.

Authorities in the nation have put in place a raft of measures including the closure of all borders except to those bringing in essential goods to contain the virus. The government has directed security officials to monitor and enforce a ban on large gatherings and overcrowded public transport to ensure social distancing.

12:50 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Canada and US in discussions about placing American troops along border, Trudeau says

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that the US is requesting American troops be placed within 20 miles of the US-Canada border to help with border surveillance, especially at irregular crossings.

Trudeau indicated his government did not believe that was necessary at this time, but that talks were ongoing.

“Canada and the United States have the longest un-militarized border in the world and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way. We have been in discussions with the United States on this,” Trudeau said during a news conference outside his Ottawa home where he remains in quarantine.
12:42 p.m. ET, March 26, 2020

Chicago beaches are closed, official says

WLS
WLS

Chicago's Lakefront Trail and the city's beaches have been closed to public access, according to Alderman Harry Osterman, who represents the 48th Ward, one of Chicago's lakefront districts. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot yesterday urged individuals going to the Lakefront Trail to exercise, and not to congregate in large groups, or she would be forced to close the area. 

"This order has been put in place to ensure social distancing between individuals and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19," Osterman said in a statement. 

Lightfoot is expected to speak at a daily coronavirus briefing this afternoon.