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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2:15 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Pennsylvania adds more counties to stay-at-home order

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

State of Pennsylvania
State of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has added seven additional counties to the stay-at-home order, making it now 33, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said at a press conference today.

The stay-at-home order for the counties is in effect until April 30.

The state currently has 4,843 coronavirus cases and 63 deaths.

2:14 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Additional US troops will shore up US-Mexico border crossings

From CNN's Ryan Browne

The Pentagon on Monday approved a Department of Homeland Security request for additional personnel on the southern border to help DHS cope with potential coronavirus related issues, a US defense official told CNN.

The number of additional troops is expected to be about 540. The US military personnel will be performing similar missions to those currently being performed by forces on the US-Mexico border.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration limited nonessential travel on the US-Mexico border.

2:46 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Louisiana pastor who led 1,000-person service charged with violating state's order on large gatherings

From CNN's Jamiel Lynch

WVLA
WVLA

Mark Anthony Spell, pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Central, Louisiana, was charged today with six counts of violating the governor's executive order not to hold gatherings larger than 50 people, the Central Police Department announced in a statement on Facebook.

On Sunday, Spell said his church in Baton Rouge drew about 1,000 people to its services, in part by busing people in from across five parishes.

"Mr. Spell will have his day in court where he will be held responsible for his reckless and irresponsible decisions that endangered the health of his congregation and our community. This is not an issue over religious liberty, and it’s not about politics. We are facing a public health crisis and expect our community’s leaders to set a positive example and follow the law," the police department said in its statement.

Some context: This is not the first instance of someone getting charged for violating the order. Over the weekend, New Orleans police charged the organizer and bandleader of a second line after a funeral in the city. 

CNN has reached out to Spell and the district attorney for comment. 

Watch:

2:15 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

French coronavirus death total rises to 3,523, according to Ministry of Health

From Ya Chun Wang and Benjamin Berteau in Paris

France has recorded another 499 coronavirus deaths — the highest increase in number within 24 hours so far — bringing the total to 3,523, Jérôme Salomon, general director of the Ministry of Health, announced at a press conference Tuesday.

The number of coronavirus cases in the country has increased by 7,578 since Monday, bringing the total to 52,128.

There are 5,565 people with serious coronavirus cases in intensive care.

1:54 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

JCPenney furloughs a majority of its hourly employees

From CNN's Jordan Valinsky

Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

JCPenney is the latest major retailer to furlough thousands of employees, joining Macy's, Kohl's and the Gap. 

The department store said it has made the "difficult decision to temporarily furlough the majority of store hourly associates."

JCPenney also said a "significant portion" of its corporate employees will also be placed on leave. The company had about 90,000 employees as of February 1.

Affected employees will continue to receive the company-provided healthcare.

"At JCPenney, we are making tough, prudent decisions to protect both the safety of our associates and the future of our company," CEO Jill Soltau said.

The company also said its stores remained closed. However, its website is still operational for orders.

1:42 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Former tennis champion Patrick McEnroe tests positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Homero DeLaFuente

Patrick McEnroe/Twiiter
Patrick McEnroe/Twiiter

Patrick McEnroe, the 16-time men's doubles champion and current ESPN tennis broadcaster, confirmed he has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. 

The 53-year-old former US Davis Cup captain broke the news of his positive test in a video posted on Twitter saying he first started feeling mild symptoms around 10 to 11 days ago. 

McEnroe, the younger brother of eight-time major champion John McEnroe, said he was tested at a drive-through in upstate New York and received the positive results on Tuesday.  

"The good news is I feel fine. My symptoms have passed," said the former champ adding, "I feel 100 percent."

Patrick McEnroe added: "We've been on full quarantine, our entire house now, for well over two weeks. I encourage everyone to do the same. Let's get this thing. Let's nail this thing. I'm an example of someone who has been able to fight through it. I'm doing absolutely fine. Thoughts and prayers to people who are struggling with this." 

1:31 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Rhode Island governor says the state does not have enough hospital beds

From CNN's Carma Hassan

WJAR
WJAR

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced at a news conference today that four more people have died from the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to eight.

She said the state has 86 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases to 488.  

“We’re in a rapid spread phase of the virus,” Raimondo said. “I’m going to be very clear about this. Right now, in this country, we do not have enough ventilators to meet our needs. We do not have enough masks and respirators and goggles to meet our needs. In the state of Rhode Island, we do not have enough hospital beds. That’s a fact. That’s a brutal fact, it’s a fact."

The governor said she needs everyone to stay at home and to practice social distancing to “buy a little time to ready the system.”

“More testing, more beds, more ventilators, more doctors,” she said.

1:18 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

There are at least 177,308 coronavirus cases in the US

A person wears protective equipment at a coronavirus testing site for first responders on Monday, March 30, in Los Angeles.
A person wears protective equipment at a coronavirus testing site for first responders on Monday, March 30, in Los Angeles. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

There are at least 177,308 cases of coronavirus in the US and 3,538 people have died in the country from coronavirus, according to CNN Health's tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the country through its public health systems.

The total includes cases from all 50 states, Washington, DC, and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases. 

Hawaii and Wyoming are not reporting any deaths from coronavirus.  

For the most up-to-date US numbers compiled by CNN, please check this map, which automatically refreshes every 10 minutes.

12:57 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Spain expands measures to ease the economic impact of coronavirus

From CNN's Ingrid Formanek and Mia Alberti

A man dressed in protective gear carries out disinfection works in a street in Vigo, Spain, on Tuesday, March 31.
A man dressed in protective gear carries out disinfection works in a street in Vigo, Spain, on Tuesday, March 31. Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images

The Spanish government has announced a new set of measures to further help independent workers, small companies and those most vulnerable during the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The measures aim to "guarantee, more than ever, that people do not lose their constitutional right to housing," said Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias, during a press conference today. 

The measures include...

  • Extending rental contracts
  • Suspending evictions for six months from the start of the state of emergency

For those having issues paying rent, the government is pledging to give up to 900€ — or $988 — a month for those expenses, and it says it will cover any debts related to rent payments for those in vulnerable situations. 

The government has also banned companies from cutting water, electricity or gas supplies.

As for independent workers and small companies, the government will allow a delay in social security payments and will give up to 440€ (or $483) a month to those who lost their jobs during the state of emergency or are not entitled to unemployment welfare. The refinancing or suspension of debt payments for the tourism industry for up to a year is also among the measures.

The new measures will help 500,000 families, Iglesias said.