March 15 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Jenni Marsh, Ivana Kottasová and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 0222 GMT (1022 HKT) March 16, 2020
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2:25 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

German company working on coronavirus vaccine denies Trump is trying to acquire its scientists

From CNN’s Nadine Schmidt, Claudia Otto and Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

Sebastian Gollnow/Picture Alliance via Getty Images
Sebastian Gollnow/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A German company working to develop a coronavirus vaccine is denying a report in a German newspaper that President Trump is trying to lure German scientists working on an experimental coronavirus vaccine to the US.

German company CureVac, working to develop mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine, did not deny being in touch with Trump or the US government, but did reject rumors of an acquisition in a statement issued on Sunday. 

The self-described clinical state biopharmaceutical company said: “…internal efforts are focused on the development of a coronavirus vaccine with the goal to reach, help and to protect people and patients worldwide. As a consequence, the company is in contact with especially CEPI and many other organizations and authorities worldwide, however abstains from commenting on speculations and rejects allegations about offers for acquisition of the company or its technology.”

The story first emerged earlier Sunday when German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag reported that Trump was trying to lure CureVac with "large sums," also saying Trump was working to acquire the vaccine but “only for the US”, citing anonymous German federal government sources.  

The report reads: ''The US president is allegedly offering the company a large sum of money to secure their work exclusively. Trump would do anything to get a vaccine for the US. ‘But only for the United States,’ according to the federal government.''

Germany’s Health Ministry responding to a CNN question about the German newspaper report said: "The federal government is very interested in the fact that vaccines and active substances against the novel corona virus are also being developed in Germany and Europe. In this regard, the federal government is in intensive exchange with the company CureVac."

3:47 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Germany to restrict border access

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

Germany will initiate border controls at borders with France, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced at a Sunday press conference.

Border crossings will be restricted except for cross-border work commuters and cargo transports, Seehofer said.

2:03 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Kenya imposes travel restrictions

From CNN's David McKenzie in Johannesburg

A health worker wearing protective gear in Ongata Rongai, Kenya, disinfects the minibus on March 14 in which the first Kenyan patient of the COVID-19 travelled.
A health worker wearing protective gear in Ongata Rongai, Kenya, disinfects the minibus on March 14 in which the first Kenyan patient of the COVID-19 travelled. Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images

Kenya's government announced new travel restrictions Sunday after confirming two more cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the country's total cases to three.

The government is denying anyone traveling to Kenya "from any country with reported coronavirus cases," according to a press release from Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta's office. 

"Only Kenyan citizens, and any foreigners with valid residence permits will be allowed to come in provided they proceed on self quarantine or to a government designated quarantine facility," the press release read.

These new measures will take effect in the next two days and will remain in place for the next 30 days, according to the press release. 

The government is also shutting down all of Kenya's schools beginning Monday and encouraging most employees to work from home. The president also advised citizens to avoid crowds and gatherings.  

Kenya is also advising for citizens to use "cashless transactions," to reduce risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

1:54 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Former Intelligence Committee counsel says he has tested positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Kevin Bohn

Daniel Goldman testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in December 2019.
Daniel Goldman testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in December 2019. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who played a major role in the impeachment proceedings, has tested positive for the coronavirus and is recovering, according to a tweet he sent. 

Goldman was counsel to the Intelligence Committee and a fixture on television during President Trump’s impeachment hearings.

"My #COVID19 test came back positive. I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support. It means a lot to my family and me. I am almost back to 100%. I’m lucky enough not to fall in the vulnerable category and, for me, it was just like the flu," Goldman tweeted.

Read Goldman's tweet:

1:59 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

What the US military could and couldn't do in the fight against coronavirus

From CNN's Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr

Members of the New York Army National Guard and U.S. Air Force prepare to hand out food to residents at a distribution station outside New Rochelle High School in New Rochelle, New York, on March 12.
Members of the New York Army National Guard and U.S. Air Force prepare to hand out food to residents at a distribution station outside New Rochelle High School in New Rochelle, New York, on March 12. Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Many pundits and politicians have been asking why the US military isn't doing more to help combat the spread of the coronavirus in the US.

On Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on President Trump to mobilize the military to help deal with the outbreak. This follows after former Vice President Joe Biden said the Department of Defense should be planning to deploy. 

"The Department of Defense should be planning now, should have been planning to prepare for the potential deployment of the resources provided, medical facility capacity and logistic support that only they can do," Biden said Thursday.

Defense officials say their first priority is maintaining the health, welfare and "readiness" of the 1.36 million members of the active duty military, as well as the 800,000 members of the National Guard and Reservists in addition to some 730,000 civilian employees in the Department of Defense.

And while some National Guard units have been involved in helping with logistics and planning at the state level, the US military's capacity to provide medical support is limited.

By the numbers: There are 51 military hospitals compared to some 6,000 civilian hospitals nationwide, according to one US defense official, meaning the US military has only about 1% of the nation's hospital capacity. 

Military hospitals admit some 200,000 patients annually as compared to civilian hospitals which admit about 36 million. 

2:05 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Customs and Border Protection commissioner calls long wait times "unacceptable"

From CNN's Kevin Bohn

Acting U.S. Customs And Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan speaks at a press conference in November 2019.
Acting U.S. Customs And Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan speaks at a press conference in November 2019. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan issued a statement saying the “wait times experienced yesterday at some locations were unacceptable.”

Morgan said CBP continually adjusts resources “in real times as needed and we will continue to do so."

“With this national emergency, there will unfortunately be times of disruption and increased processing times for travelers. CBP is working around the clock to minimize these inconveniences," Morgan added.
1:44 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Low-cost airlines to suspend and reduce flights to Spain

From CNN’s Duarte Mendonca in London

The airport of Palma de Mallorca in Spain is almost empty on March 15.
The airport of Palma de Mallorca in Spain is almost empty on March 15. Clara Margais/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Ryanair and Easyjet, two low-cost airlines, will cancel or reduce flights to and from Spain as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.

British low-cost airline Easyjet will suspend all flights to Spain from March 17 onwards, the company tweeted.

"We’re flying a full Spanish schedule on 15th & 16th March to help get people home but unfortunately will need to cancel flights from 17th onwards", the tweet said.

Irish low-cost airline Ryanair will not suspend, but rather reduce flights to and from Spain starting Monday, according to a statement tweeted by the company.

“In response to the decision of the Spanish government to “lock down” the entire country to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Ryanair Group Airlines (including Buzz and Lauda) has been forced to severely reduce flights to/from Spain, the Balearic Island and Canary Island from 24:00 Sun 15 Mar until 24:00 Thurs 19 March," the statement said. 

Some context: Both announcements come after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a 15-day state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic.

 

2:21 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Chef José Andrés closes all Washington, DC, restaurants due to coronavirus

From CNN's Gregory Clary

Chef José Andrés in 2019.
Chef José Andrés in 2019. Shannon Finney/Getty Images

Chef José Andrés is closing all of his restaurants around Washington, DC, but says some will open as, “Community Kitchens to offer to-go lunches for those who need a meal,” according to a series of tweets he sent today.

Andrés went on to say those kitchens will expand across the country in the coming days and weeks.

Andrés is known for opening kitchens in times of disaster, like when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017.

Read some of Andrés' tweets:

1:16 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Academy of Country Music Awards postponed

From CNN's Steve Forrest and Shawn Nottingham

The Academy of Country Music Awards scheduled for April 5 in Las Vegas has been postponed, according to a news release from the organization.

The awards show, originally scheduled to air on CBS, will now happen in September.

An exact date has yet to be determined. Health and safety concerns given the current coronavirus outbreak were cited as the reason for postponing the event.