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States hit with medical shortages, UK lockdown could last six months

This is CNBC’s 24-hour blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. All times below are in Eastern time. This live blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks.

  • Global cases: More than 684,000
  • Global deaths: At least 32,000
  • United States cases: At least 124,600
  • United States deaths: At least 2,100

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

12:12 pm: UK lockdown must be lifted gradually, could last six months, medical official says

Britons may be subject to some form of lockdown measures for six months or longer, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries said, warning the country faces a second wave of coronavirus if they are lifted too quickly.

The government has said it will review in three weeks the lockdown steps it put in place last Monday. Harries said it is too soon to know if they have had the desired effect of reducing the peak of the spread of the virus in Britain.

“We must not then suddenly revert to our normal way of living, that would be quite dangerous. If we stop then all of our efforts will be wasted and we could potentially see a second peak,” Harries told a news conference. —Reuters

11:48 am: The US needs to have 2 weeks with ‘sustained reduction’ in daily cases before social distancing restrictions can be loosened, Gottlieb says

With the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. continuing to climb each day, it’s “too early” to lift COVID-19 mitigation measures, Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said.

“April is going to be a hard month,” Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Come May, “we’ll be able to contemplate lifting some of these measures, as we see the epidemic curve come down.”

Before social distancing restrictions can be loosened, the country needs to see 14 days of “sustained reductions” in the number of daily cases, Gottlieb said.

Another requirement, Gottlieb said, is having “the ability to test the population widely, so you can determine who has the infection and who doesn’t.”

By the end of this week, Gottlieb said the U.S. should have the ability to complete 750,000 tests a week, and “close to a million” by the following week. He added that the limitation on testing is a low supply of materials used to make test kits such as swabs and plastic components because the supply chain has been affected by the crisis.

The lifting of the aggressive social distancing measures will not be simultaneous around the country, Gottlieb said. A city like New York City could come down before other parts of the country, he said. –Cory Stieg

11:32 am: Rescue bill ‘may not be perfect,’ but should help get the Americans through the next ‘weeks and months,’ Kudlow says

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow acknowledged the difficulty of knowing if the Trump administration’s economic stimulus package will be enough to meet the needs of millions of people across the country struggling amid the pandemic.

A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment as restaurants, bars and other businesses shuttered across the country. The U.S. unemployment rate is likely to have already risen to 5.5%, a level not seen since 2015.

“It may not be perfect, but I think it’s going to give a tremendous amount of resources to get us through what we still believe is going to be a question of weeks and months,” Kudlow said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

President Trump signed the $2 trillion stimulus bill into law on Friday. The legislation is designed to provide relief to individuals, the health-care system and an entire corporate sector impacted by the outbreak.

Kudlow said that direct payments to individuals and funding for loans to small businesses will be made available within a week.

“It’s the largest mainstream financial assistance package in the history of the United States, so it’s hard to know if we could get everything, help everybody,” Kudlow said. —Emma Newburger

11:18 am: Mnuchin pledges ‘full transparency’ over $500 billion bailout to big business

The White House is providing “full transparency” over the coronavirus economic stimulus package that allocates $500 billion for loans to big business, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said.

The part of the $2 trillion stimulus bill that provides funding to distressed companies has been a major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats.

“We have full transparency in reporting what we’re doing to the American public,” Mnuchin said in an interview with Fox News.

After arguments over the bailout fund, Republicans agreed to add on a congressional oversight committee and inspector general to oversee how the money is allocated.

However, upon signing the bill Friday, Trump said he thinks the inspector General needs his permission in order to report back to Congress with information about loans and business recipients.

“I do not understand, and my administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the [the inspector general] to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision,” he wrote in a signing statement. –Emma Newburger

11:03 am: Facing testing supply shortage, Washington governor calls for mobilizing manufacturing base ‘like we did in World War II’

In Washington state, which has been dealing with the COVID-19 crisis the longest, there is “desperate need” for testing kits, Gov. Jay Inslee said.

“We simply don’t have materials to take the test itself,” Inslee told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

Citing materials like swabs, “we just do not have those simple things, that’s why we have to mobilize the entire manufacturing base of the United States like we did in World War II,” Inslee said.

Inslee said that he spoke to Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk, who offered help in getting ventilators. Musk pointed out that “we don’t necessarily have a shortage, we have a maldistribution of ventilators, where we have ventilators sitting in places where they’re not being used and aren’t going to states hit first, like New York, like Washington state, like California,” according to Inslee.

“This is where we need federal coordination to get the assets where they’re really needed,” Inslee said.

Inslee said he’s been in communication with the Army, FEMA and Vice President Mike Pence. “We’re not distracted by some of the noise out of the White House,” he said. –Cory Stieg

10:47 am: New Orleans could run out of ventilators, hospital beds by early April

A view of an empty street in the French Quarter amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on March 27, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Chris Graythen | Getty Images

New Orleans, which has emerged as a hot spot for the coronavirus health crisis in the U.S., could run out of ventilators and hospital beds by early April.

The outbreak’s current trajectory in the city puts it on pace for a shortfall of ventilators by April 4, and hospital beds by April 10, according to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

“Ventilators are the short-term, really big pressing issue we’re trying to solve for,” he said on “Meet The Press.” “Really difficult because every state is looking for these. There are only so many to be had.”

Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said her state’s numbers are “climbing exponentially.”

“We have hospitals that are already at capacity,” she said. “We’re running out of [personal protective equipment] as well.” —Greg Iacurci

10:29 am: Trump backed off quarantine for New York area after meeting with task force and governors, Mnuchin says

The White House coronavirus task force recommended a travel advisory for New York after meeting with the president on Saturday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

President Donald Trump backed off talk of imposing a quarantine on New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut on Saturday. He said he decided a quarantine wasn’t necessary after consulting with the White House task force and the states’ governors.

“The president did very seriously consider it,” Mnuchin said in an interview with Fox News. “The president wanted to consider all the options.”

The CDC is urging people from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to avoid nonessential travel for 14 days in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. —Emma Newburger

10:17 am: Could the presidential election be conducted by mail?

The coronavirus pandemic may push the U.S. to vote by mail in the November election, Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said.

“We may get there. I don’t want to go that far ahead, but that is possible,” the former vice president said on “Meet The Press.”

“We should look to all-mail ballots across the board to begin with because it’s an easier way for people to vote. But whether it’s required across all 50 states and territories, I’m not sure yet,” Biden said.

The Democrat also criticized President Donald Trump’s handling of the health crisis, saying he would manage the response by using the Defense Production Act to handle the shortfall of medical equipment like ventilators, masks, gowns and shields, and by starting discussions about another round of economic stimulus for Americans right away.

“The coronavirus is not the president’s fault,” Biden said. “But the slow response, the failure to get going right away, the inability to do the things that needed to be done quickly, they are things that can’t continue.” —Greg Iacurci

10:06 am: New York City medical supplies are running low, de Blasio warns

An NYPD police officer is seen wearing a protective face mask as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 27, 2020 in New York City.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

New York City must brace for “a long crisis” Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Sunday.

He said that except for ventilators, the city has enough medical supplies to get through the next week, de Blasio told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

“It feels like a wartime environment,” de Blasio said, referring to discussions with ER doctors. He compared the situation with the 1918 flu epidemic and the Great Depression.

The mayor said Thursday that New York City has 20,000 hospital beds, but will need three times that amount by May.

When asked about his comments two weeks ago encouraging New Yorkers to continue their normal lives, de Blasio said, “We shouldn’t be focusing, in my view, on looking back.” –Cory Stieg

9:53 am: Trump’s delay on dealing with coronavirus led to increased deaths, Pelosi charges

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized President Donald Trump’s behavior at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, calling it “deadly,” and saying his current delays in testing is costing lives.

“As the president fiddles, people are dying,” Pelosi told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

Pelosi quoted Trump as saying, “Just think, 20 days ago everything was great.”

“No,” Pelosi said. “Everything wasn’t great.” –Cory Stieg

9:42 am: Fauci warns against nonessential travel for New York region, says US could see up to 200,000 deaths

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

Sarah Silbiger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci is telling people in hot spots such as New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut to forgo nonessential travel for the time being, elaborating on the reason for the CDC’s travel advisory for the region.

“Just hold off,” Fauci told CNN’s State of the Union. “What you don’t want is people traveling from that area to other areas of the country and inadvertently and innocently infecting other people.”

Fauci’s warning comes after President Donald Trump backed off the idea of imposing an “enforceable” quarantine on the region. Fauci said he and other experts made it clear to Trump that a strong travel advisory would be better than a quarantine.

“You don’t want to get a point where you’re enforcing things that would create a bigger difficulty, morale and otherwise, when you could probably accomplish the same goal,” Fauci said. 

The infection rate in the New York City area now represents 56% of all new infections in the country, Fauci said. The U.S. could see up to 200,000 deaths and millions of infections, Fauci added, though he cautioned that nobody knows for certain. —Spencer Kimball

9:34 am: 2020 Detroit auto show canceled after venue chosen for field hospital

The 2020 Detroit auto show has been canceled as its venue will be used as a field hospital for the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

The event is the third large-scale auto show to be canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. The Geneva auto show was canceled last month, followed by a postponement of the New York International Auto Show, which was scheduled to begin next month, to late-August. —Michael Wayland

9:29 am: States quickly ramping up testing 

9:21 am: UK coronavirus death toll rises to 1,228 people

The number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the United Kingdom rose to 1,228, according to figures released on Sunday, an increase of 209.

The previous increase saw the death toll rise by 260 people. —Reuters

9:15 am: Chanel switches workshops to making face masks as coronavirus spreads

Empty Champs Elysees avenue is pictured on March 28, 2020 in Paris, France. The country has introduced fines for people caught violating its nationwide lockdown measures intended to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Pascal Le Segretain | Getty Images

 Luxury fashion group Chanel said it would launch the production of face masks to help bolster supplies in France, as the coronavirus sweeps across the country. 

Prototypes were being worked on and would roll off production lines once they received the approval of French authorities. 

On Saturday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said the government had ordered more than a billion face masks, mostly from China, to be supplied in the weeks and months ahead. 

France was using 40 million face masks per week, he said. Doctors, nursing home carers and police have complained of shortages. —Reuters

9:02 am: Iran’s president lashes out at criticism of country’s lagging response

Iran president Hassan Rouhani lashed out at criticism of the country’s lagging response to the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, saying the government has to weigh economic concerns as it takes measures to contain the pandemic.

Rouhani said authorities had to consider the effect of mass quarantine efforts on Iran’s beleaguered economy, which is under heavy U.S. sanctions. It’s a dilemma playing out across the globe, as leaders struggle to strike a balance between restricting human contact and keeping their economies from crashing.

Iran has 38,309 COVID-19 cases and 2,640 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“Health is a principle for us, but the production and security of society is also a principle for us,” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting. “We must put these principles together to reach a final decision.”

“This is not the time to gather followers,” he added. “This is not a time for political war.” —Associated Press

8:51 am: Relief Therapeutics, NeuroRx get FDA nod to start coronavirus trial

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has authorized the start of a mid-stage trial by U.S.-Israeli NeuroRx and Relief Therapeutics for the use of Aviptadil to treat Acute Respiratory Distress in coronavirus patients.

The companies said they are recruiting study sites and pharmacies to begin a phase 2 trial. The FDA issued a “study may proceed” letter 24 hours after their investigational new drug application.

Aviptadil is a patented form of Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide that has previously shown promise in treating Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), the companies said.

Coronavirus death is primarily caused by ARDS, in which severe inflammation causes the lungs to fill with fluid. —Reuters

8:35 am: New Jersey governor responds to CDC travel advisory for tri-state area

A view of the empty parking lot as the Westfield Garden State Plaza along with all New Jersey malls, is closed on March 18, 2020 in Paramus, New Jersey. New Jersey governor Phil Murphy ordered all New Jersey malls to close as of 8 P.M. last night amid concerns of the COVID-19 virus.

Elsa | Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the CDC travel advisory issued Saturday for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut “does not change the rules that have been established and in place for over a week now.”

Essential “frontline” employees such as those who work in health care and supermarkets are still permitted to get to and from their jobs.

The CDC advised residents of the tri-state area to stop nonessential domestic travel for 14 days in response to the coronavirus outbreak that has hit the New York City area particularly hard. There are more than 30,000 cases in New York City alone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“I encourage all New Jerseyans to continue practicing aggressive social distancing and take personal responsibility to help us get through this public health emergency,” Murphy said in a statement. —Chris Eudaily

8:24 am: Global cases near 700,000

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