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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11:25 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Nearly 1,200 NYPD employees have coronavirus. About 15% of the department is out sick.

From CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz

Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

As of Tuesday morning, 1,193 employees of the New York Police Department — 1,048 uniformed members and 145 civilian members — have tested positive for coronavirus, a law enforcement source tells CNN. 

About 15% of the force — 5,674 members of the department — is out sick, according to the source.

As of Monday evening, 5,199 uniformed members of the NYPD, which is 14.4% of the Department’s uniformed workforce, were out sick, according to a statement released by the NYPD.

11:23 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Southwest cuts flight schedule by 40% from May 3 to June 5

From CNN's Chris Isidore

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images/FILE


Southwest Airlines will cut its schedule by 40% between May 3 and June 5 in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The airline said the cuts addressed lower passenger demand, operational disruptions and suspension of international service, according to a news release.

“The overall demand for travel remains fluid during this ongoing pandemic and we continue to evaluate further reductions,” the company said. 
11:23 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Indiana reports 14 more coronavirus deaths

From CNN’s Liz Stark

Indiana saw a spike of 373 new cases of coronavirus, including 14 additional deaths, the state Department of Health is reporting.

The Indiana State Department of Health is now reporting 2,159 cases of Covid-19 total. Of those, at least 49 people have died. 


11:18 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

There are now at least 162,168 coronavirus cases in the US

According to CNN Health's tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the United States through US public health systems, there are at least 162,168 cases of coronavirus in the US. 

At least 3,040 people have died in the US from coronavirus. 

The total includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases. Hawaii and Wyoming are not reporting a death from coronavirus. 

11:08 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

German scientists have developed a coronavirus testing method that could increase test capacity tenfold

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

German scientists have developed a method that could dramatically increase the capacity to test for coronavirus, the Science Ministry of the German State of Hessen says.

The new method allows for several samples to be evaluated at once, the Ministry wrote in a press release, adding that this will allow for an “increase in the test capacity in Germany from about 40,000 tests per day to about 200,000 to 400,000 tests per day without any loss of quality in the diagnostics.”

Normally, the various swabs taken during currents tests from the mouth and nose area and all separately evaluated. With the new method, scientists put several of the probes into a single, special solution and test them with the so-called PCR method, which directly detects the SARS-CoV-2 genome. If the total result is negative, then it is clear that the separate swabs are all negative, the press release says and adds, “if the result is positive, then all the swabs have to be evaluated separately.”

11:08 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

London IKEA will house a coronavirus testing facility 

From CNN’s Nada Bashir in London

Britain's NHS workers wait in their cars to be tested for COVID-19 at a drive-in facility set up in the car park of an IKEA store in Wembley, north-west London on Tuesday, March 31.
Britain's NHS workers wait in their cars to be tested for COVID-19 at a drive-in facility set up in the car park of an IKEA store in Wembley, north-west London on Tuesday, March 31. Isabel Infates/AFP/Getty Images

A new coronavirus testing facility for National Health Service (NHS) staff is to be established within an IKEA in North London, an IKEA spokesperson confirmed to CNN Tuesday.

"We’re enormously proud of the NHS and proud to be able to offer Wembley as an additional medical facility," IKEA’s spokesperson said in a statement, later confirming to CNN that the new site would be available only to NHS staff.

"We have also responded to requests from Intensive Care Units and doctors across the country by delivering tens of thousands of our disposable paper tape measures, to help them continue their amazing care for their patients,” the statement continued, adding that IKEA has so far donated food to local hospitals, food banks and shelters "to provide some immediate relief" to those in need.

The announcement comes just days after IKEA launched a new €26 million fund to be used across 30 countries, "prioritizing the needs of high-risk groups and those leading relief efforts" in the fight against COVID-19.

11:07 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

The UAE opens drive-through coronavirus screening facility

From Nada Altaher in Abu Dhabi

Salem Omar woke up with a sore throat on Tuesday morning, so he put on his traditional white Emirati thob and headed straight to the United Arab Emirates’ latest Covid-19 testing facility: a drive-through. 

Instructions blasted through a designated FM radio channel while doctors and nurses whizzed around in scrubs and face-masks, taking nose swabs, printing labels, and stacking up samples to send to a nearby lab.

“In order to ensure my safety and the kids and the family, I decided I would come and do the test as to avoid any risk to other people,” says Omar.

Just 24 hours later, the results would be sent to him via text message.

The UAE is the fifth country in the world to set up drive-through Covid-19 testing, part of an intensive drive to carry out mass screenings for the virus.

The oil-rich state has the second-highest testing density globally. It is screening some 22,900 cases per million people and has conducted over 220,000 tests overall, according to the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP).

In just the last week, the UAE more than tripled its purchase of testing kits – from 30,000 to 100,000 – from Seegene, one of its main South Korean suppliers, according to Jeehoon Park, the company’s Middle East Executive Director.

The UAE was the first country in the Middle East to report a confirmed case of Covid-19. As of March 31 the UAE has registered 664 cases and four deaths from the pandemic, according to MOHAP.

10:45 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

At least 66 doctors in Italy have died during coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Nicola Ruotolo

Five more doctors have died in Italy from coronavirus, the Italian Federation of doctors said on Tuesday.

There have now been at least 66 deaths of doctors since the outbreak in Italy started. 

At least 8,956 health care workers have been infected with Covid-19. That’s an increase of more that 500 cases in the past few days.

10:40 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Consumer confidence falls to near 3-year low during coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Anneken Tappe

Consumer confidence in March was a mix of good news and bad news.

The Conference Board's consumer confidence index for March came in at 120 points and beat economist’s expectations of 110 points. That's the good news.

The bad news: It was the lowest level for the index since July 2017. The index had been at 132.6 in February.

The short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions dropped to 88.2 points from 108.1 points in February.

"The intensification of Covid-19 and extreme volatility in the financial markets have increased uncertainty about the outlook for the economy and jobs. March’s decline in confidence is more in line with a severe contraction – rather than a temporary shock – and further declines are sure to follow,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.