March 27 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, James Griffiths, Steve George, Amy Woodyatt, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 8:04 a.m. ET, March 28, 2020
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9:30 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here.

9:10 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Biden says people who have lost loved ones to coronavirus should "seek help, talk to people"

Former Vice President got visibly emotional Friday night when discussing how hard it is to not be there for loved ones dying from coronavirus.

Biden referenced his personal history of losing his wife, children and parents.

"My message is, God love you. You know, I've lost a couple children, I've lost a wife and it is incredibly difficult to go through and it's harder to go through when you haven't had an opportunity to be with the person while they're dying. My mom, my dad I was able to be with them and lie in bed with them as they took their last breath. My son I was able to do that. My deceased wife I was not able to do that. I was not able to be there. And it makes a gigantic difference for people," Biden said during CNN's town hall.

He continued: "And seek help. Seek help afterwards. Seek help, talk to people who have been through it so they know, they know they can tell you that you can get through it. You really can. It's possible. But, boy, it is so, so, so hard. That's one of the cruelest, cruelest things that's happening."

Biden closed out the town hall by encouraging anyone struggling with loss to contact his campaign.



9:03 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

FDA authorizes 15-minute coronavirus test

From CNN’s Arman Azad

Federal health officials on Friday green-lit a point-of-care coronavirus test that can provide results in less than 15 minutes, using the same technology that powers some rapid flu tests.

Teased by Vice President Mike Pence in a Thursday press briefing, the new diagnostic could accelerate testing in the United States, allowing for rapid results in doctors’ offices. But shortages of critical equipment used to collect patient specimens, such as masks and swabs, could blunt its impact.

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the test for emergency use, signaling that federal regulators were satisfied with the test’s validation data and believe its benefits outweigh any risks, such as false positives or negatives.

The test’s maker, Abbott, said it expects to deliver 50,000 tests per day beginning next week. The technology behind the test looks for genes that are present in the virus, similar to PCR tests already on the market.

The platform used to run the test weighs less than 7 pounds, according to Abbott, and could be deployed “where testing is needed most,” such as at coronavirus hotspots.

More on this: Last week, the FDA authorized another rapid test – one from molecular diagnostics company Cepheid, which provides results in about 45 minutes. Most laboratory tests for the coronavirus take anywhere from a few hours to days to receive results. 

All FDA-authorized tests, however, require samples from patients – and health care facilities say they’re facing shortages of critical supplies needed to collect specimens. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued guidance allowing some patients to collect their own nasal swabs in health care facilities, which could reduce the amount of protective equipment needed for health care workers.

But some jurisdictions, such as New York City, have said that patients with coronavirus-like illness should stay home – saying that is “safer for the patients and health care workers” and doesn’t change the treatment patients receive.


8:57 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Biden: "No one should be evicted during this period"

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Joe Biden said he would freeze rent for the next three months and forgive the payments missed amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Freeze it and forgive it so that you’re able to stay in that place,” the former vice president said in a CNN town hall Friday night. 

Biden implied there could be conditions -- noting that enhanced unemployment insurance replacing lost income up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 cash payments approved by Congress this week could replace the income of some people who have lost their jobs, and “then in fact that would take care of it.” 

Then, Biden added: “There should be a rent freeze. No one should be evicted during this period -- period.” 

Today in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a freeze on eviction enforcement and legal proceedings related to coronavirus through May 31.


9:12 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Biden worries that small business will get left behind by stimulus 

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Joe Biden praised the $2 trillion stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump today, but worried that the largest emergency aid package in US history might not be enough to save the small businesses ravaged by the crisis.

“Small businesses need help now. And so we have to make sure you're in a position to be able to get the kind of immediate aid that's available to you under this new legislation,” Biden said, adding that a lot of it would come down to Trump’s ability and desire to pull the right levers. “It's about management. How it gets out the door from the federal government and the White House.”

Biden said the provision in the bill that blocks executives from buying back stock was a good step in assuring that those who need the help get it, but pushed for additional government action if banks don’t start pumping out capital.

“We have to make sure the small business loans you get and/or the low-interest loans you get. They are in a position where we're going to say to the banks you got to get them out the door. As you know, they're not very good at getting out the door the small business loans,” Biden said. 

The former vice president also suggested that, should banks fail to recapitalize those businesses, the White House should consider finding some executive authority – “another version of the Defense Production Act” -- as a way, he said, to “keep the economy in better shape than anything else we're doing.”


8:52 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Biden: "We are seeing the soul of America now"

From CNN's Maeve Reston

Joe Biden has run for president essentially promising to be the nation’s healer-in-chief. He argued during CNN’s coronavirus town hall that America is showing a spirit of togetherness that he hopes will extend well beyond the crisis.

“We are seeing the soul of America now. Take a look at what is happening, everywhere you look, you see people reaching out to help people,” Biden said. “This is an incredible nation. The American people are generous, decent, good, fair, bright, and it makes you so proud to be an American. What I think we should be looking at is how we extend this kind of reaching out to others that exists today, as we move into recovery, into the health recovery and economic recovery. Because it is who we are. We are an incredible people.”

Biden offered an example of a kindergarten teacher in North Carolina who drove from home to home of her students, beeping her horn so they would come out and wave from the driveway for a moment. He said it took her several hours to get through the neighborhood, but she’s continuing to do it. Biden, who advanced an initiative to try to beat cancer, said his wife Jill is helping to put together a network to offer support for patients who are dealing with their cancer diagnoses and get through chemotherapy.

“I am so proud, and it sounds corny, but I am proud to be an American,” Biden said.


8:50 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Biden: "There is no distinction" between mental and physical health problems

From CNN's Dan Merica

Joe Biden said Friday that he believes there is “no distinction” between the physical and mental health problems that stem from coronavirus, acknowledging the increasing rates of anxiety and depression as the country uses social isolation to combat the spreading virus.

“First of all, we have to deal with the stigma,” Biden said. “There is no distinction between a mental health problem and a physical health problem. They are both health problems and there should be absolute parity. Insurance companies should have to cover both equally.”

Biden said he has heard not only about the anxiety that comes from being forced to stay home for long stretches of time, but also the “fear of going into the operating room or the physical fear of pulling someone out of a burning car that, in fact, may also have had the virus.”

The comment stemmed from a question clinical psychologist and professor from Chicago, who asked the former vice president about the mental health impact of being socially isolated as the country fights coronavirus.

Biden also said, as president, he would force insurance companies to cover physical and mental health equally and “open a significant number of mental health clinics” in rural America.

“In most rural areas, there's still the same problems as every other area but they don't have these clinics available to them,” Biden said, “so I double the number of mental health clinics that exist.”

And, lastly, Biden said he would increase spending on early childhood education because teachers and social workers can “pick up the early signs of distress among students.”


8:42 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

More than 101,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in the US

John Minchillo/AP
John Minchillo/AP

There are at least 101,242 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the United States through US public health systems.

At least 1,588 people have died in the US from coronavirus. 

Today there have been at least 402 new deaths reported. That is the most deaths reported in the US in a single day. The previous single day high of deaths reported in the US came yesterday. There were 253 deaths reported yesterday.

The total includes cases from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases.

8:38 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Biden: Congress should pass law covering all coronavirus-related health expenses

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Joe Biden said the House and Senate should expand on the stimulus deal Congress approved this week to cover all Americans’ coronavirus-related health care expenses. 

“Anything related to the cost of the coronavirus health care should be free, paid for out of the federal funds,” Biden said in a CNN town hall Friday night. 

His comment came as he addressed questions about health expenses amid the pandemic. Biden called on President Donald Trump and Republican state attorneys general to drop their lawsuit challenging Obamacare, through which millions of Americans have health insurance. 

He also said he has proposed a plan that would provide coverage through a “public option” to anyone who loses their jobs as a result of a struggling economy. 

“But in the meantime, with regard to this virus, you should not have to pay anything for the cost of the virus,” Biden said.