March 31 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Joshua Berlinger, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 9:48 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020
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4:33 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

California governor believes coronavirus peak will come mid-May

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Health Public Information Officer Shane Reichardt organizes medical equipment inside a field hospital in Indio, California, on March 29.
Health Public Information Officer Shane Reichardt organizes medical equipment inside a field hospital in Indio, California, on March 29. Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

Based on modeling in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom says the peak number of cases in hospitals throughout the state will come in mid-May.

Preparations for a potential surge of 50,000 needed hospital beds are underway with an expectation that about 10,000 of those beds will be in intensive care units, requiring ventilation support.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's Health and Human Services secretary, says the model takes into account how residents perform with physical distancing efforts across the state.

4:41 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Wisconsin is moving forward with primary next week despite coronavirus concerns

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Gov. Tony Evers declares a public health emergency on Thursday, March 12, in response to a growing number of cases coronavirus.
Gov. Tony Evers declares a public health emergency on Thursday, March 12, in response to a growing number of cases coronavirus. Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal/AP

Wisconsin is moving forward with plans to hold its primary election next Tuesday, creating a chaotic scenario that's left state and local election officials scrambling to hold a primary in the middle of a pandemic.

Wisconsin elections officials are trying to keep up as absentee ballots surge, poll workers drop out and supplies are in short demand a week away from a primary in which in-person voting is still set to proceed — despite Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' stay-at-home order and 1,351 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state as of this afternoon.

Other states with April primaries have postponed them or shifted those contests to vote-by-mail only.

But in Wisconsin, the governor has said he won't delay the election. Republicans who control the state legislature have enacted strict voter identification laws in recent years, meanwhile, are refusing Evers' request — made last week, 11 days before the election — to quickly enact a law that would send absentee ballots to every voter in the state. 

This has left some Wisconsin voters to decide between exercising their constitutional right to vote and their safety and local election officials searching for poll workers and supplies. And a last-minute flurry of lawsuits — five were filed in recent days — could still change the rules.

"The Wisconsin election will be like nothing anyone alive has ever experienced," said Ben Wikler, the chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. "Everyone involved in this election is scrambling to try to make democracy work in an impossible situation."
4:24 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Fauci says he might recommend wearing masks if it doesn't affect hospitals' supply

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he would "lean towards" recommending that the general public wear face masks "if we do not have the problem of taking away masks from the health care workers who need them.”

During a taping for tomorrow’s “Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction” podcast, Fauci told CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta that face masks would be a "subject of conversation" at a White House briefing later that day.

"Particularly now that we're getting some inklings that there's transmission of infection from an asymptomatic person who is not coughing, who is not sneezing, who just appears well. Well, then how do you think that's happening?" Fauci said. "It very well could be aerosol. Maybe not aerosol, you know, that goes on for hours. But even the slight aerosol in which you're talking to somebody. If that's the case, we should at least look at the data and try to make a decision about that.”

Despite a lack of conclusive evidence that masks prevent transmission of respiratory diseases, some experts have argued that non-medical fabric masks might make a dent in transmission risk.

Throughout the pandemic so far, the World Health Organization and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised against the general public's use of masks unless they are already sick.

"Something doesn't have to be 100% effective to be beneficial," Fauci said.

At yesterday's White House Task Force briefing, President Trump said, "We are not going to be wearing masks forever, but it could be for a short period of time after we get back into gear. I could see something like that happening for a period of time.” 


4:27 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

US stocks log disastrous first quarter

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

A woman walks past the New York Stock Exchange on March 19.
A woman walks past the New York Stock Exchange on March 19. Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

US stocks dropped sharply in the first three months of the year as worries about the global coronavirus pandemic and its impact on businesses and the economy grew.

Here's how the markets performed in the first quarter:

  • The Dow recorded its worst start to a year in history, down 23.2% for the quarter.
  • The S&P 500, meanwhile, logged its worst quarter since the final three months of 2008, down 20%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite’s downturn was more contained. The tech-heavy index recorded its worst quarter since the final months of 2018, falling 14.2%.

The final day of the quarter also ended with all three indexes in the red today.

The Dow closed 410 points, or 1.8% lower, and was down 13.7% for the month.

The S&P ended down 1.6%. It fell 12.5% in March.

It was the worst month since October 2008 for both indexes.

The Nasdaq Composite closed down nearly 1%, for a 10.1% monthly loss. It was its worst month since November 2008.

4:24 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Texas governor issues statewide stay-at-home order

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

A truck dives down a road in Deweyville, Texas on Sunday, March 29.
A truck dives down a road in Deweyville, Texas on Sunday, March 29. David J. Phillip/AP

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a state-wide executive order requiring all Texans to minimize non-essential gatherings and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.

The executive order called Essential Services and Activities Protocols is essentially a stay-at-home order aimed at minimizing the spread and transmission of Covid-19.

The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. local time on April 2 and will end on April 30, Abbott said.

4:13 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Texas reports 41 deaths from Covid-19

From CNN's Jessica King

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press conference today, “With heavy heart, I share with you that we have now lost 41 Texans to fatality connected with Covid-19.”

Gov. Abbott said that as of noon local time, 3,266 Texans have tested positive for coronavirus of the 42,922 who have taken the test, which he noted was “less than 10%.”

He added that 2.4% of the total hospital beds across Texas specifically delegated to Covid-19 were occupied, while the large remainder are vacant.

4:47 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Ann Taylor, Loft and Neiman Marcus furlough thousands of employees amid store closures

From CNN's Kate Trafecante and Jordan Valinksy

 Noam Galai/Getty Images
 Noam Galai/Getty Images

Retailers Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant and Neiman Marcus will furlough staff as the companies extend store closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ascena, the owner of Ann Taylor, Loft and Lane Bryant, announced Monday it made the "extremely difficult decision" to furlough all of its store associates and half of its corporate employees as it extends temporary store closures.

That amounts to roughly 45,000 employees, according to figures from a regulatory filing. The remaining corporate employees will have their salaries reduced by as much as 45%.

“Impacting our associates is one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to make as an organization," Ascena CEO Gary Muto said in a statement. 

Neiman Marcus also announced it will furlough a "large portion" of its roughly 14,000-strong workforce as it prolongs store closures through at least April 30. 

Neiman Marcus CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck said in a statement that he's not taking his salary during the time period and that is direct reports are also waiving a "significant amount" of their salaries.

"While these are the most difficult decisions to make, our focus is on ensuring our business is protected over the long-term so we can continue serving our associates and customers," van Raemdonck added.

Neiman Marcus and Ascena are the latest retailers to announce they would furlough the majority of their retail staff, following in the footsteps of Macy's, Kohl's, Gap and JCPenney. 

Hear more:

3:56 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Louisiana governor extends stay-at-home order for another month

From CNN's Jamiel Lynch

A view of an empty Bourbon Street in New Orleans on March 27.
A view of an empty Bourbon Street in New Orleans on March 27. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he will sign a proclamation later this week extending the state's stay-at-home order until April 30.

Since last Thursday, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals have doubled, and the number of patients on ventilators have doubled as well in that time frame, he said.

Today the state reported an additional 1,212 cases and 54 deaths, which Edwards called "sobering"

His proclamations will also limit funeral services to crowds of 10.

Edwards said that Region 1 — which includes New Orleans — could hit capacity on ventilators by Saturday and hospital space by April 7.

3:42 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

At least five states reporting over 1,000 new coronavirus cases Tuesday

From CNN’s Liz Stark, David Wright and Amanda Watts

At least five states are reporting more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, according to updates from each state's Department of Health or state officials.

Eight states increased by more than 600 cases.

At least 15 states have reported more than 200 new cases of coronavirus; they are: 

  1. New York: +9,298 cases
  2. New Jersey: +2,060 cases
  3. California: +1,169 cases
  4. Louisiana: +1,212 cases
  5. Michigan: +1,117 cases
  6. Georgia: +785 cases
  7. Pennsylvania: +756 cases
  8. Florida: +634 cases
  9. Tennessee: +405
  10. Texas: +389 cases
  11. Indiana: +373 cases
  12. Missouri: +296 cases
  13. Ohio: +266 cases
  14. Maryland: +247 cases
  15. Virginia: +230 cases