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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10:28 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Fauci: We see "glimmers" that social distancing is working

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said social distancing measures appear to be working — but stressed that the coronavirus pandemic is still a very serious situation. 

“We’re starting to see glimmers that that is actually having some dampening effect,” Fauci told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

Fauci cautioned that the US hasn’t seen a turnaround in cases yet, but is hopeful that efforts to push mitigation is possibly slowing the rate. 

“What we're starting to see right now is just the inklings. And I don't want to put too much stock on it, because you don't want to get overconfident, you just want to keep pushing in what you're doing. You're starting to see that the daily increases are not in that steep incline, they're starting to be able to possibly flatten out,” Fauci says.

WATCH:

10:08 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Fired Amazon worker who led coronavirus protest says he intends to file a complaint

From CNN’s Brian Fung

Workers at Amazon's fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York, gather outside to protest work conditions in the company's warehouse,on Monday, March 30.
Workers at Amazon's fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York, gather outside to protest work conditions in the company's warehouse,on Monday, March 30. Bebeto Matthews/AP

Christian Smalls, the Amazon warehouse employee who was fired on Monday after leading a worker walkout, told CNN he intends to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over his termination. 

Smalls did not give a timeframe for the complaint, saying his first priority is to persuade local government officials to force Amazon to shut down the Staten Island facility where multiple employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

“All I can say is, legal action will be taken in due time,” Smalls told CNN.

Amazon has said Smalls was fired because he attended Monday’s worker protest despite being under quarantine. 

"Mr. Smalls was found to have had close contact with a diagnosed associate with a confirmed case of Covid-19 and was asked to remain home with pay for 14 days, which is a measure we're taking at sites around the world," said Amazon spokesperson Kristen Kish in a statement Monday night. "Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came onsite today, March 30, putting the teams at risk."

Smalls has argued he is being singled out for punishment and that the protest was intended to pressure Amazon to close the facility for deep cleaning. 

9:57 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

New Orleans is preparing for a "significant amount of deaths," official says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

A New Orleans official said the city is readying for an uptick in coronavirus-related deaths. There are currently 1,480 coronavirus cases and 86 deaths in New Orleans.

In a community of about 400,000 people, the Louisiana city is tracking at about 5% mortality rate, Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said.

“That’s high. And our population has a higher rate of underlying health conditions. We're preparing for a significant amount of hospitalizations and unfortunately, a corresponding significant amount of deaths,” Arnold said.

He added that he thinks the stay-at-home mandate is still working and is necessary to flatten the curve in coronavirus cases. He said 1,000 beds in the convention center will be ready by the end of the week to free up space in hospitals for the expected surge in coronavirus patients.

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9:57 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Fed launches another emergency program to aid foreign central banks during pandemic

From CNN’s Matt Egan

The U.S. Federal Reserve building in Washington, on March 23.
The U.S. Federal Reserve building in Washington, on March 23. Liu Jie/Xinhua/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve is opening up another avenue for stressed-out foreign central banks to get access to US dollars during the coronavirus crisis.

The new emergency program, announced today, is part of the Fed's sweeping efforts to keep credit flowing to American businesses and households despite the severe economic shock inflicted by the pandemic.

The US central bank said the new temporary repurchase agreement (repo) facility will let foreign central banks swap US Treasuries for US dollars. Those greenbacks can then be transferred to local banks in need of cash.

The Fed said the new program, set to launch April 6, would mostly be used "only in unusual circumstances such as those prevailing at present."

The goal is to lower the need for foreign central banks to dump US Treasuries in fire sales, which can disrupt markets and cause yields to rise. And that in turn lifts borrowing costs on everything from mortgages to credit cards.

Demand for the US dollar, the world's preeminent currency, has spiked during the crisis.

In response, the Fed promised to provide cheap dollars to foreign central banks through liquidity swap lines. The Fed expanded that facility to Australia, Brazil and Mexico.

9:46 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

US stocks open lower following yesterday's gains

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

pencer Platt/Getty Images/FILE
pencer Platt/Getty Images/FILE

US stocks opened modestly lower on Tuesday, following the prior session’s gains. Stocks have been up for four of the past five trading days.

Here's where things opened:

  • The Dow opened down 0.4%, or 90 points.
  • The S&P 500 kicked off 0.4% lower.
  • The Nasdaq Composite opened down 0.4% as well.

You can follow live updates from the markets here.

9:32 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

UNICEF donates supplies to help Spain fight coronavirus

A health worker wearing personal protective equipment pushes a patient on a stretcher at a hospital in Leganes, Spain, on March 26. JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)
A health worker wearing personal protective equipment pushes a patient on a stretcher at a hospital in Leganes, Spain, on March 26. JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images) Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

UNICEF is donating a range of medical and protective gear to help Spain’s health system fight Covid-19, according to a tweet from UNICEF Spain.

The organization says it is providing 400,000 masks, 100,000 coronavirus test kits, 1,000 personal protection kits and alcohol-based sanitizing gels.

9:23 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Paris Orly airport will stop commercial flights today

From CNN's Fanny Bobille

An empty Terminal 4 at Orly Airport is seen on March 29, in Orly, France.
An empty Terminal 4 at Orly Airport is seen on March 29, in Orly, France. Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images

Paris Orly airport will stop commercial flights today at 5 p.m. ET (which is 11 p.m. local time) according to the Chief Executive Officer of Orly Airport, Augustin de Romanet.

Speaking on RTL, a French radio station, Romanet said that Orly was “confining but not closing Orly airport.” He continued by saying that the airport would remain open for “medical flights, special flights, government flights and aircraft diversions.” 

This is the first time that Orly has closed since it opened in 1961.

9:29 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Maryland governor says people who violate stay-at-home order could face jail time

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan CNN

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a stay-at-home order for his state that went into effect at 8 p.m. ET on Monday night. Violating the order carries a penalty of up to a year in jail or a fine not to exceed $5,000.  

Hogan said it was “one of the last tools in our arsenal,” telling CNN’s John Berman that “we've reached the point where we believe it's necessary to further get people off the streets so we can continue to save thousands of lives.” 

The Republican governor said the federal government and every individual states are aware they need more supplies and coronavirus testing — and coordination is key. 

“Without the tests, we really are flying blind,” he says.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has predicted up to 200,000 deaths from coronavirus. Hogan said he's been listening to both Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx.

 “I think Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci are the ones telling us the truth about the numbers,” he says. “If you just think about it for a moment, 200,000 deaths would be…twice as many deaths as we lost in the Vietnam War and the Korean War added together. And we're talking about over a very short period of time. So it's just devastating.”

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8:52 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Indonesia declares public health emergency over coronavirus pandemic

From Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, left, inspects medical equipment at a hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 23.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, left, inspects medical equipment at a hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 23. Hafidz Mubarak A/Pool/AP

Indonesian President Joko Widodo declared a national public health emergency today during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"To overcome the impact of the outbreak, I have decided in a cabinet meeting that the option we chose was a large-scale social restriction," he said during a news conference.

The country's Ministry of Health will coordinate with regional leaders to implement social distancing measures, according to state-run Antara News Agency.

Widodo also announced that all Indonesian citizens who have recently traveled home from abroad will be required to undergo a 14-day period of self-isolation, Antara reported.

"If they exhibit no symptoms (of coronavirus), they can return to their hometowns," he said. "Shortly after arriving in their hometowns, they must maintain high discipline to conduct self-isolation."

Earlier today, Indonesia banned most foreign visitors from entering or transiting through the country.