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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5:33 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Federal Reserve will cut target interest rate to zero

From CNN’s David Goldman

On March 3, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell announced a half percentage point interest rate cut.
On March 3, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell announced a half percentage point interest rate cut. Mark Makela/Getty Images

In a bold, emergency action to support the economy during the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Reserve on Sunday announced it would cut its target interest rate to zero.

The last time the Fed cut rates to zero was during the global financial crisis just over a decade ago.

President Donald Trump, who has been very critical of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, praised the move as "great for our country."

"That brings us in line with what other countries are," Trump said. "They actually have negative rates, but look, we got it down to potentially zero, so that's a big step and I'm very happy they did it." 

5:39 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Princess Cruises says passenger tests negative for coronavirus

From CNN's Larry Register and Taylor Barnes

A passenger aboard the Golden Princess has tested negative for coronavirus, according to an email from Princess Cruises to CNN.

The passenger who tested negative had previously been on an international flight with another passenger who tested positive for the infection, according to the email from the cruise line's media department.

The Golden Princess sits anchored off the coast of New Zealand on Sunday, March 15.
The Golden Princess sits anchored off the coast of New Zealand on Sunday, March 15. Mark Baker/AP

Passengers on the cruise ship docked in a New Zealand harbor were not being allowed to disembark, as three people aboard have been quarantined by the ship's doctor, according to the Canterbury District Health Board.

One of the quarantined passengers had coronavirus symptoms and was being treated as a suspected case. The two others had been in contact with a confirmed case in the past two weeks, said the health board.

The Golden Princess remains anchored at Akaroa Harbor with "guests staying on board to enable New Zealand health authorities to conduct a precautionary health test on a guest who had travelled to Australia on an international flight from Los Angeles." 

The Golden Princess departed from its Melbourne home port on March 10 and was to have completed a 13-night New Zealand itinerary.

5:07 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Los Angeles mayor: 'Gathering in big groups puts lives at risk'

From CNN's Saba Hamedy

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Twitter he needs everyone "to stay home as much as possible, avoid being in crowds, practice social distancing."

Let me be very clear: gathering in big groups puts lives at risk," Garcetti tweeted.

The mayor said everyone is a first responder "in this crisis."

"I know this doesn’t feel normal and it’s hard to change our habits," he tweeted. "This is a difficult time and it’s putting a strain on our families, our communities, our businesses. There are other ways you can support local shops: buy a gift card over the phone, get takeout, order online. We can support local business and practice social distancing."

4:42 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Ireland calls on pubs to close and asks people not to participate in any parties

From CNN’s Jackie Castillo 

The Republic of Ireland’s government is calling for all pubs — including hotel bars — to close to halt the spread of coronavirus, the country’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Twitter.

The Irish government also urged that people not organize or participate in any parties in private houses or other venues that would put other people's health at risk.

The closure will take effect Sunday through at least March 29.

4:48 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Boston mayor declares public health emergency, mandates that bars and restaurants reduce capacity by 50%

From CNN's Laura Ly

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Sunday that he was declaring a public health emergency to allow the city to deploy all resources necessary to fight coronavirus.

Walsh said the city will require all bars and restaurants to reduce their capacity by 50% by removing and spreading out tables. These establishments cannot allow lines to form outside and must close by 11 p.m.

Any violations will result in an automatic shutdown for 30 days. The restriction on hours does not apply to delivery or takeout services, Walsh said, adding the city is encouraging the use of delivery services to support small businesses.

All Boston Public Schools will close starting Tuesday, Walsh said. Families will be able to pick up packaged meal options for their children every day and more food access is being worked on through city agencies and their non-profit partners, Walsh said. The city is talking with childcare providers and is working on plans for childcare going forward.

Students will be provided printed learning materials to use at home. Such materials will also be made available online and the city is working with internet providers to offer free and low-cost internet access to families in need, Walsh said.

 

4:56 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Illinois governor orders bars and restaurants to close

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

Bartenders make drinks at the I.W. Harper cocktail bar in Chicago, Illinois, on February 15. Gov. J.B. Pritzker is ordering all bars and restaurants to close to the public beginning Monday night until March 30
Bartenders make drinks at the I.W. Harper cocktail bar in Chicago, Illinois, on February 15. Gov. J.B. Pritzker is ordering all bars and restaurants to close to the public beginning Monday night until March 30 Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is ordering all bars and restaurants to close to the public beginning Monday night until March 30, he said at a press briefing Sunday. 

State officials are working with restaurant owners and food delivery services to coordinate so restaurants can keep kitchens open for food delivery. Pritzker is allowing for drive-through and curbside pickup at restaurants as well.   

4:58 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Iraqi government restricts movement in Baghdad for nearly a week

From CNN’s Aqeel Najim and Raja Razek 

Baghdad will be under a curfew starting Tuesday from 11 p.m. local time through March 23, 11 p.m. local time, according to the prime minister's office.

Under the curfew, people are not allowed to leave their houses for nearly a week. Security personnel, health workers, authorized media and diplomats are not included in the restriction, according to the statement from the prime minister's office. The government says it will allow for commercial movement of goods and food.

Separately, flights are suspended from Tuesday until March 24, according to the statement. On Saturday, Iraq’s Border Ports Commission extending the suspension of commercial trade through its land borders with Iran and Kuwait effective Sunday "until further notice."

 

 

4:50 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

Germany now has more than 4,800 coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Nadine Schmidt and Claudia Otto

The number of positive coronavirus cases in Germany has risen to 4,838 as of Sunday, according to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s agency for disease control. 

Included in that number are 12 deaths due to coronavirus, the disease control agency said.

4:47 p.m. ET, March 15, 2020

All Ohio restaurants and bars ordered to close at 9 p.m. with only carryout and delivery available

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian 

Starting Sunday, all bars and restaurants in Ohio will close daily at 9 p.m. Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton will be signing an order Sunday to put the rule into effect. How long the order will be in effect is unclear at this time.

Carryout food is still allowed and encouraged, and restaurants can stay open to prepare carryout food, Gov. Mike DeWine said. DeWine said at a Sunday press conference that "this social distancing is absolutely, vitally important" due to the contagiousness of the coronavirus.