Health and Science

NY Gov balks at federal quarantine talk, CDC warns on chloroquine

The coverage on this live blog has ended — but for up-to-the-minute coverage on the coronavirus, visit the live blog from CNBC's Asia-Pacific team.

  • Global cases: At least 659,367
  • Global deaths: At least 30,475
  • U.S. cases: At least 121,117
  • U.S. deaths: At least 2,010

All data above is provided by Johns Hopkins University.

9 pm: Trump won't seek quarantine on NY, NJ, CT

President Donald Trump said he will not seek to impose a quarantine on New York, New Jersey and certain parts of Connecticut, after floating the idea earlier in the day as way to contain the coronavirus from spreading out of hot spots where the disease has taken a particularly heavy toll. 

Trump said he decided a quarantine wasn't necessary after consulting with the White House task force and the governors of the three states. He has asked the Centers for Disease Control to issue a strong travel advisory, which will be administered by the governors in consultation with the federal government. —Spencer Kimball

6:35 pm: NY Gov. Cuomo balks at Trump's talk of a tri-state lockdown

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday he does not believe President Donald Trump has the authority to impose a quarantine on New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Cuomo, in an interview with CNN, said that preventing people from moving in and out of the tri-state would amount to a federally imposed lockdown, which he believes is illegal

Cuomo suggested he could sue if the administration did follow through. "I've sued the federal government a number of times over the years. I do not believe it's going to come to that on this," he said. —Spencer Kimball

5:35 pm: Saudi Arabia extends suspension of flights, work indefinitely

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it was extending indefinitely the suspension of international passenger flights and workplace attendance in both public and private sectors among efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Domestic flights, trains, buses and taxis also remain suspended, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. —Reuters

4:50 pm: CDC warns against misusing chloroquine

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated guidance on Saturday that warns consumers against ingesting chloroquine phosphate to try to cure or prevent the COVID-19.

Clinicians and public health officials should discourage the public from misusing chloroquine phosphate, without a prescription and supervision from a heath care provider, the CDC said in a statement.

The CDC issued its new guidance after two individuals who consumed non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate, a chemical for aquarium use that is sold in stores and online, became seriously ill. One of the two people died shortly after arrival to the hospital.

"At this time, there are no routinely available pharmaceutical products that are FDA-approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19," the CDC said. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

4:30 pm: Zaandam cruise passengers to transfer to another ship

Hundreds of passengers on a cruise ship where four people have died and over 130 others have influenza-like symptoms, including at least two with the coronavirus, will be transferred to a sister ship, Panamanian authorities said on Saturday. 

Some 401 asymptomatic passengers will be transferred from cruise operator Holland America Line's 781-foot  MS Zaandam vessel to the Rotterdam, a sister ship. Holland America, which is owned by Carnival Corp, said on Friday the Zaandam, previously on a South American cruise, was trying to transit the Panama Canal and make its way to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But Panama's government denied it access to the canal for sanitary reasons, leaving passengers and crew wondering when they would get home.

There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board the Zaandam, as well as four doctors and four nurses, the cruise operator has said. —Reuters

4:10 pm: France's prime minister warns that the next 2 weeks will be toughest yet

The next two weeks will be the toughest yet in the fight against coronavirus in France, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe warned on Saturday as his government raced to add intensive care beds and source protective gear.

The outbreak initially took hold in eastern France, where hospitals have become overwhelmed, and has been spreading west. Doctors in the greater Paris region have warned their intensive care units will be full by the end of the weekend.

"We are fighting a battle that will take time," Philippe said in a televised address. "The first two weeks of April will be harder than the two we have just lived through." —Reuters

3:50 pm: California governor to tour a ventilator refurbishing site

California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to visit a ventilator refurbishing site in Sunnyvale, California, on Saturday afternoon. Bloom Energy recently partnered with the state to turn its production facility into a ventilator refurbishing site so that California can put to use ventilators that had been kept in storage. 

The move comes as states are grappling with a shortage of life-saving medical supplies such as ventilators and N95 masks. —Elisabeth Butler Cordova

3:35 pm: City streets around the world stand deserted

A near-deserted Regent Street in London, England, on March 26, 2020. According to the latest daily figures a total of 578 people have so far died across the UK after testing positive for the covid-19 coronavirus.
David Cliff | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Governments around the world have ordered much of the world's population to stay at home, creating eerily empty scenes on typically bustling city streets. From New Orleans' French Quarter to Paris's Champs-Elysees, the deserted tourist hotspots shows how the pandemic is quieting the world's typical economic rhythms. —Adam Jeffery

2:40 pm: Spain's government will pay non-essential workers, but they'll have to make up the time

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Saturday that all non-essential workers must stay at home for two weeks, the latest government measure in the fight against coronavirus.

He said workers would receive their usual salaries but would have to make up lost hours at a later date.

The measure would last from March 30 to April 9. —Reuters

2:28 pm: Social workers complain that NYC hospital was slow to protect employees

Social workers at NYU Langone Health in Manhattan say that hospital leaders drug their feet in protecting workers from both exposure to coronavirus and in preventing the workers' spread of the virus. 

Among the employees' biggest complaints was the insistence by management that they continue coming into work instead of having them do their jobs remotely. The workers also complained about a lack of personal protective equipment, unsafe practices for clocking into shifts and lack of adequate work space to avoid coming into close contact with colleagues. —Dan Mangan

2:15 pm: France is buying 1 billion face masks, mostly from China

France has ordered more than 1 billion face masks, the vast majority from China, the country's health minister said on Saturday, as the government scrambles to build up its supplies with the coronavirus outbreak showing no sign of easing.

Health Minister Olivier Veran said France was using 40 million face masks weekly as it battles the pandemic and currently has three weeks worth of supplies. —Reuters

1:20 pm: Trump considering quarantine for NY, NJ and parts of CT

President Donald Trump said Saturday that he's considering placing a short-term quarantine on New York, New Jersey and certain parts of Connecticut as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread. 

"I'm thinking about that right now. We might not have to do it but there's a possibility that sometime today we'll do a quarantine," Trump told reporters at the White House Saturday. "Short-term, two week on New York, probably New Jersey and certain parts of Connecticut." 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he has not discussed a quarantine with the president. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

12:07 pm: Paris fashion weeks canceled

Organizers have canceled the men's and haute couture fashion weeks in Paris because of the coronavirus outbreak, organizers said.

"In light of the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic worldwide, strong decisions are required to ensure the safety and health of (fashion) houses, their employees and everyone working in our industry," the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode said in a statement.

The events were due to take place in late June and early July. The federation said it was working on possible alternatives. —Reuters

11:58 am: Shellshocked Spain reports record 832 new deaths

Two workers transport a coffin at La Almudena cemetery on March 26, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. Spain plans to continue its quarantine measures at least through April 11.
Carlos Alvarez | Getty Images

Spain's coronavirus fatalities rose by a record 832 people overnight to 5,690 as hospitals and morgues were overwhelmed and a police chief fought back tears announcing a colleague's death. Second only to Italy in fatalities, Spain also saw infections rise to 72,248 from 64,059 the day before.

As Spain prepared to enter its third week of lockdown, an unused public building known as "the doughnut" was the latest to be turned into a makeshift morgue after a city ice rink last week, Spanish media including El Pais newspaper reported.

Civil Guard chief Jose Manuel Santiago became emotional as he paid homage to the head of his organization's rapid action group, who died of the coronavirus on Friday. —Reuters

11:36 am: The US economy has come to a standstill, satellite imagery shows

Satellite imagery combined with alternative data gives a stark look at the U.S. situation during the coronavirus pandemic. These sources are pretty much all that is available at the moment to track the scope of the economic damage since most official statistics tracking the slowdown have not yet been released.

Airplanes are parked on unused runways, the busiest highways are empty during rush hour times, resorts have become ghost towns, ports are seeing sharp drops in shipping activity, and more.

The drop in U.S. consumer and business activity is apparent in satellite imagery collected by companies like Maxar Technologies, Planet Labs, ICEYE and Orbital Insight. —Michael Sheetz

11:22 am: Pentagon to accelerate process for National Guard funding

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has authorized an accelerated process for providing funding to the National Guard being used by states in efforts to combat the coronavirus, the Pentagon said.

In a statement, the Pentagon said Esper had sent a letter to each governor on Friday when the authorization was made. It said there were a number of conditions that would have to be met before the authorization.

"This authorization enables your timely use of the National Guard to save lives and protect public health and safety," the letter said, according to the Pentagon statement. —Reuters

11:12 am: NYC nurses plead for protective gear to fight virus outbreak

Nurse Hannah Sutherland adjusts her personal protective equipment (PPE) while awaiting new patients at a drive-thru coronavirus testing station at Cummings Park on March 23, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut.
John Moore | Getty Images

Nurses battling New York's coronavirus outbreak made anguished pleas for more protective equipment, saying officials' claims of adequate supplies are falling short of reality. At a news conference outside city-run Jacobi Hospital, nurses called for more masks and other gear to safeguard themselves against the virus that has so far sickened more than 44,000 people and killed over 500 in New York state, mostly in the city.

At least one health care worker, Mount Sinai West assistant nursing manager Kious Kelly, 36, has died of the virus. Others also have fallen ill around the metropolitan region. Jacobi nurses said managers at the Bronx hospital have been rationing protective equipment, making them unable to change out the high-end particle-filtering masks known as N95s as often as they should.

City officials have insisted there's enough protective equipment for roughly the next week, though they're worried for the weeks after. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city delivered 200,000 N95 masks to hospitals Friday, with 800,000 more to come Saturday, along with loads of less-protective surgical masks and other gear. —Associated Press

11:09 am: US, Italy, and China continue to have highest number of cases worldwide

10:40 am: App brings New York singles together through blind speed video-dating

Single New York millennials have started doing blind, speed dates over video calls as a way to maintain their dating lives amid the stay-at-home order put in place due to the coronavirus.

These blind quarantine dates are coordinated through a project called "NYC Virtual Dating: Catch Feelings, Not COVID."

Each date takes place via a FaceTime or WhatsApp video call, and daters have just 15 minutes with their match before the date is over. —Salvador Rodriguez

10:39 am: Russia to close its borders starting on March 30

Russia will close its borders starting on March 30 in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, a government order published on Saturday said. The measure will come into force at all vehicle, rail and pedestrian checkpoints, and apply to Russia's maritime borders, the government said. It will not apply to Russian diplomats and the drivers of freight trucks, among others. The country, which has already grounded all international flights, has reported 1,264 coronavirus cases. —Reuters

10:30 am: UK coronavirus death toll rises to 1,019, up 260 in one day

Military vehicles cross Westminster Bridge after members of the 101 Logistic Brigade delivered a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas' hospital on March 24, 2020 in London, England.
Leon Neal | Getty Images

Britain said 1,019 people had died after testing positive for coronavirus by 1700 GMT on Friday, a rise of 260 on the total 24 hours earlier.

The number of people testing positive for the virus was 17,089 as of 0900 GMT on Saturday, compared with an officially corrected number of 14,543 on Friday. —Reuters

10:26 am: Irish banks processing over 28,000 mortgage breaks

Ireland's banks are processing more than 28,000 mortgage breaks for customers whose incomes have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, the head of the lenders' representative body said.

"From late last night, 28,000 breaks had been given or were in the process of being given. That's an extraordinarily large number," Banking & Payments Federation Ireland CEO Brian Hayes told national broadcaster RTE. Ireland's five retail banks agreed last week to implement a loan repayment break of up to three months for those affected.

Hayes said the 7,000 average inquiries a day since then had fallen slightly after the government announced this week that it would pay 70% of income for impacted workers. —Reuters

10:16 am: Trump pushes back on congressional oversight for $500 billion bailout fund

President Donald Trump on Friday wrote in a signing statement accompanying the $2 trillion stimulus bill that he believes the inspector general overseeing a $500 billion relief fund for businesses will not have as much regulatory power as Democrats had sought.

Trump said in a signing statement accompanying the bill that he believes the Inspector General who will oversee that fund will need his permission for certain parts over its regulatory authority. 

"The president's statement is indicative of the difference between Democrats and Republicans when it came to this bill," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Friday about the language.

"It's not a surprise to anyone," she said of Trump's signing language. "But Congress will exercise its oversight — and we will have our panel appointed by the House to, in real-time, make sure we know where those funds are being expended." —Lauren Hirsch

10:12 am: 'Officers are scared out there' — Coronavirus slams US police

A view of police officers wearing mask in front of Target Department Store amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on March 24, 2020 in New York City.
John Nacion | NurPhoto | Getty Images

An increasing number of police departments around the country are watching their ranks get sick as the number of coronavirus cases explodes across the U.S. The growing tally raises questions about how laws can and should be enforced during the pandemic, and about how departments will hold up as the virus spreads among those whose work puts them at increased risk of infection.

"I don't think it's too far to say that officers are scared out there," said Sgt. Manny Ramirez, president of Fort Worth Police Officers Association.

Nearly 690 officers and civilian employees at police departments and sheriff's offices around the country have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an Associated Press survey this week of over 40 law enforcement agencies, mostly in major cities. The number of those in isolation as they await test results is far higher in many places. —Associated Press

10:03 am: Outbreak hits already struggling US farmers: 'We've stopped saying it can't get worse'

The coronavirus pandemic has sent U.S. farmers into a panic after it further drove down crop and livestock prices and raised concerns about labor shortages on farms.

Farm trade groups are lobbying the Trump administration to give financial aid for farmers enduring price drops, as well as timely visas for seasonal workers from Mexico who will pick crops on U.S. farms this year.

"We were hoping for something good this year, but this virus has stopped all our markets," said Iowa farmer Robb Ewoldt. —Emma Newburger

9:57 am: Testing is finally on the rise

9:54 am: Quarantines lead to a massive drop in air pollution

As coronavirus quickly spreads around the world, it's forcing people to stay put, and wreaking havoc on the economy. Millions are either out of a job or working from home. Factories are shuttering, and with mandates to stay inside becoming the new norm, people aren't driving or flying.

All this has led to an enormous decline in air pollution, which kills a total of 4.2 million people every year, and over 1 million in China alone. The last two months have seen a huge uptick in air quality, especially in hard-hit areas like Wuhan and Northern Italy, as well as a number of metropolitan areas throughout the U.S.

While experts caution against viewing these numbers as a cost-benefit calculation around pandemics, some climate scientists hope that they will help shed a light on the massive environmental impact of our everyday habits and economic activities, potentially leading to some positive change after the crisis subsides. —Katie Brigham

9:49 am: Banks say they're providing financial relief, but customers find the offers misleading

A sign hangs above the entrance to a Bank of America branch in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson

Bank of America is one of many financial institutions that have reached out to customers to help provide relief in the event of hardship caused by the coronavirus outbreak. But social media has been flooded recently with complaints from customers who say that when they reached out to their banks for help, they found the "relief" was not what they expected

For its part, Bank of America told CNBC Make It that each client situation is unique, and it's handling requests on a case-by-case basis. —Megan Leonhardt

9:30 am: Philippines reports 14 new coronavirus deaths, 272 infections

The Philippine health ministry reported 14 new coronavirus deaths and 272 additional cases, marking the country's single largest daily increase in fatalities and infections.

The latest information brought total infections in the Philippines to 1,075 and deaths to 68, the health ministry said, adding that four patients have recovered, bringing the total to 35. —Reuters

9:27 am: Japan Prime Minister Abe says his country is at a critical stage

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the country is at a critical stage in dealing with coronavirus infections but not at a point to declare a state of emergency. He said Japan has managed to keep clusters under control by carefully following infection routes. But the initial strategy is now having difficulty, with a rise of infections that are no longer traceable — an early sign of infection explosion.

Abe said once there is infection overshoot, "our strategy of slowing down the peak of the infections will instantly fall apart." He added, "under the current situation, we are just barely holding up. But I understand we are standing on the edge."

Abe convened a taskforce Thursday, the day after Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike made a stay-at-home request to its 14 million residents after seeing a spike in the number of new cases of the COVID-19 to 41. —Associated Press

9:16 am: How the United States fell dangerously behind in testing

Medical personnel from Riverside University Health Systems hospitals administer a coronavirus test to an individual during drive-thru testing in the parking lot of Diamond Stadium in California.
Photo by Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images

The deadly coronavirus pandemic has stopped the world in its tracks, and exposed a weak spot in U.S. preparedness for a public health emergency.

Experts say aggressive diagnostic testing is essential in order to learn where and how an epidemic spreads. But in the critical first weeks of the outbreak in the U.S., one problem after another prevented doctors, clinics and labs around the country from testing enough people.

Patients in America were being sent home as hospitals limited their use of tests to conserve supply, while other countries like South Korea found a way to test hundreds of thousands of people quickly.

Now, the U.S. is months behind in understanding the true scope of the virus. Testing capacity is finally ramping up, but is it too late?Arielle Berger, Jordan Smith

How the United States fell behind countries like South Korea in coronavirus testing
How US fell behind in coronavirus testing

9:14 am: Getting married in the age of coronavirus

Thousands of Americans have had to cancel their weddings as states made the decision to limit group gatherings and the world has shifted to social distancing as a way of life. Couples around the country are considering options around canceling or postponing weddings because of quarantines.

The postponements and cancellations have rocked the wedding industry, causing layoffs and a backlogged 2021 season. Some couples still want to plan celebrations on their wedding date and have turned to Zoom to celebrate with friends. —Alex Sherman

9:09 am: India plans to turn some idled trains into isolation wards

India said it was planning to turn some railway coaches into isolation wards for patients with coronavirus, as authorities scramble to prepare the country's health infrastructure for an expected surge in cases.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the country's 1.3 billion people this week to stay indoors for three weeks in the world's biggest lockdown, seeking to curb the spread of the illness.

India's network of trains, the country's lifeblood, has been idled. One train coach has been turned into a prototype quarantine facility, state-owned Indian Railways said in a statement on Saturday. Once they get clearance, the plan is for each of India's railway zones to convert 10 coaches into such wards every week, the company added. Indian Railways has 16 zones, according to its website. —Reuters

Read CNBC's coverage from CNBC's Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Global cases surge past 600,000, Spain infections exceed 72,000, Iran reports 2,500 deaths