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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6:00 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Trump warns of "very painful two weeks" ahead in US

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump warned the nation that everyone will be facing a “very very rough two weeks” in the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead. We're going to go through a very tough two weeks,” Trump said at the daily coronavirus task force briefing on Tuesday. 

He says he hopes after that the country might see some “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Trump added: “And then hopefully, as the experts are predicting, as I think a lot of us are predicting, after having studied it so hard, we're going to start seeing some real light at the end of the tunnel, but this is going to be a very painful, very, very painful two weeks."

5:54 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Trump says the federal government is holding back almost 10,000 ventilators

From CNN's Matthew Hoye

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump said that there are almost 10,000 ventilators being “held back” from distribution because “the surge is coming.”

“We also are holding back quite a bit. We have almost 10,000 ventilators that we have ready to go. We have to hold them back, because the surge is coming and it's coming pretty strong and we want to be able to immediately move it into place without going and taking it, so we're ready to go," Trump said.

Trump previously said he thinks it would be difficult to get equipment back from states and redistributed once they have been issued to hospitals. 

5:53 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Louisiana pastor says church doors will be open on Sunday despite charges

From CNN's Jamiel Lynch

People arrive for church services at the Life Tabernacle Church on Sunday, March 29.
People arrive for church services at the Life Tabernacle Church on Sunday, March 29. Gerald Herbert/AP

Mark Anthony Spell, pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Central, Louisiana, told CNN the doors to his church will be open on Sunday, despite charges Tuesday for violating the governor's executive order.

Spell said that opening the church is no more risk than the hundreds of people going and shopping at stores.

When asked why he will not follow the governor's mandate, Spell said: "We have a mandate from the word of the Lord to assemble together. The first amendment says that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the exercise of religion."

Spell said that officers came to him today and read him his rights. They did not arrest him. He said he was asked to stop having services and he told them that he would not stop.

"We aren't breaking any laws," Spell said. "The doors to the church will be open on Sunday."

5:30 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

There are at least 770 new US coronavirus deaths reported in single day

From CNN's Dave Alsup

There have been at least 770 new coronavirus deaths reported in the US on Tuesday, according to a count from CNN Health.

This is the most reported deaths in the United States in a single day since the coronavirus outbreak.

There have been a total of 3,774 deaths reported in the US since the outbreak. 

5:26 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Canada spending $1.4 billion for medical supplies

From CNN’s Paula Newton in Ottawa

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the challenge facing nearly every world leader right now, finding live-saving medical supplies that are dwindling around the globe.

"We know that the demand for critical equipment and supplies will grow in the coming weeks, so we need a sustainable, stable supply of these products," Trudeau said during his daily press conference in Ottawa. "And that means making them at home and we're optimistic that they will be available in the coming weeks.”

The Canadian government is spending $1.4 billion to “support diagnostic testing and to purchase ventilators and protective personal equipment, including for bulk purchases with provinces and territories.

Personal protective equipment includes things like more masks and face shields, gowns, and hand sanitizer.” said a written statement released to CNN.

Government officials characterized it as one of the most broad-based and aggressive procurement processes in Canadian history.


5:26 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Small business owners can apply for loans from $349 billion Payroll Protection Program starting Friday

From CNN's Vivian Salama

David Bramante, the owner of West Newton Theatre in Newton, Massachusetts, stands in the doorway of the theater on March 27. Bramante had to close the theatre due to the coronavirus pandemic.
David Bramante, the owner of West Newton Theatre in Newton, Massachusetts, stands in the doorway of the theater on March 27. Bramante had to close the theatre due to the coronavirus pandemic. Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Small business owners will be able to apply for loans to weather the economic downturn set off by Covid-19 on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning Friday as part of the newly-passed stimulus package.

The Payroll Protection Program aims to provide $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses, to help them maintain employee payroll, make rent or interest payments on their mortgages, pay utilities or cover other overhead costs, according to administration officials. Businesses are expected to receive their checks within three weeks of applying, administration officials said. 

Borrowers will be charged 0.5% interest as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to offer funding to small businesses so they continue operating during the current slowdown, according to the Treasury Department.

The new legislation also provides a “generous” processing fee that’s paid by the government for facilitating these loans to incentivized banks and other lenders to issue the loans, administration officials said Tuesday.

Administration officials hope that the loans will help small businesses meet payroll and cover overhead, provide incentives for larger businesses to keep employees on the payroll, provide enhanced unemployment insurance for workers who are laid off and protect distressed industries that are critical for the country’s national and economic security. 

All loan payments will be deferred for six months and receive a 100% guarantee from the Small Business Administration. 

5:19 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Planned Parenthood will comply with Indiana's order to cancel all elective or non-urgent procedures, including abortions

From CNN's Rob Frehse

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky said they would comply with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive order to postpone or cancel all elective or non-urgent procedures, including abortions, to conserve medical equipment.

Holcomb said Tuesday that he would leave it up to a doctor to determine if postponing or cancelling any of those procedures would cause harm to the patient.

“Any and all medical expertise and PPE first needs to go toward defeating Covid-19 in this window and the sooner the better for all of us,” he said. 

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky CEO Chris Charbonneau said they would comply with the governor’s directive but noted that their top priority is “ensuring that every person can continue accessing essential health care, including abortions.”

“As Hoosiers do their part during this COVID-19 pandemic, Planned Parenthood is doing our part to conserve needed resources and protect the health and safety of our patients and staff. Together, we’ll meet this challenge, no matter what,” Charbonneau said in a statement to CNN.
5:05 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

First Los Angeles County health care worker dies of coronavirus

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Los Angeles County has lost its first health care worker to coronavirus.

The health care worker was under the age of 60, county Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced in a press conference.

“To the family of the health care worker who died of Covid-19, I want to express on behalf of the entire county family, our sympathy to your family and our gratitude to this person who gave everything for the health of our community,” Ferrer said.

At least 10 people have died of the virus in Los Angeles County in the past day, Ferrer announced, and an additional 548 new cases have been confirmed. The total number of cases in Los Angeles County now stands at 3,011.

In just a week, the number of positive cases has tripled. Likely, that’s reflective of testing capacity, which has also tripled, according to Ferrer.

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

Chicago offers $100 million in low-interest loans to support small businesses

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on Tuesday that the city will be providing $100 million in low-interest loans through Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund to support the city's small businesses that are losing revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The fund was set up to provide immediate stopgap relief to thousands of small businesses in Chicago.

“We know that our business owners and entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury to wait for federal support which is why with the Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund, we are putting money directly into the hands of our small businesses now so that they can weather this storm,” Lightfoot said.

Some background: The Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund was created last week through an up to $50 million in capital commitment from the Catalyst Fund to be determined by the board, a $25 million grant from the City of Chicago, as well as $10 million from Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group, $1 million from Fifth Third, $250,000 from Clayco and $15 million from additional private funding sources.