Latest developments in coronavirus pandemic for March 15, 2020

LIVE BLOG:  FOX5NY is updating this blog with the latest developments on the coronavirus outbreak so you can get the information in one spot.

10:04 PM:  New York City orders all bars and restaurants to close except for take-out and delivery service.

9:30 PM:  Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders sought in Sunday's Democratic debate to cast themselves as best-positioned to lead the nation through a global pandemic, with Biden pledging to deploy the military to help with recovery efforts and Sanders using the crisis to pitch his long-sought overhaul of the country's health care system.

7:58 PM: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced on Sunday the closure of schools, and mass gatherings, events with 50 or more people will be canceled, including conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings and other types of assemblies.

7:56 PM: With millions of children home from school over the next couple weeks, Scholastic has put together a website to keep students busy and learning.

7:50 PM: All of the Brooklyn Public Library branches will be closed until at least March 31. 

7:49 PM: The CDC is now recommending that for the next eight weeks, organizers cancel or postpone gatherings of 50 or more people throughout the U.S. 

7:45 PM: The first dose of a potential COVID-19 vaccine will be administered Monday, according to a government official. 

7:29 PM: Starbucks has announced that beginning on Sunday all of its North American stores will switch to a `to go' model for at least two weeks because of the coronavirus.

6:22 PM: Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has announced that all public schools in the state will be closed beginning Tuesday, March 17 through at least March 31. 

6:20 PM: President Donald Trump on Sunday called on Americans to cease hoarding groceries and other supplies.

“You don't have to buy so much," Trump said at a news conference. "Take it easy. Just relax.”

6:03 PM: California Governor Gavin Newsom has called for the closure of all bars and wineries in the state and said all restaurants should reduce capacity by half and provide enough space social distancing.

5:47 PM: New York City has announced that it will be beginning a crackdown on businesses not abiding by the 50 percent occupancy rule.

5:46 PM: Senior centers in New York City will be closed and turned into feeding centers, focused on ‘grab-and-go’ meals and delivering food to seniors. 

5:45 PM: The special election for Queens Borough President, scheduled for March 24 has been canceled. 

5:44 PM: De Blasio said he will sign an executive order to require all hospitals in New York City to cancel elective surgeries. 

5:43 PM: Mayor Bill de Blasio announces that there a total of 329 COVID-19 cases and five total deaths in New York City due to Coronavirus.

5:37 PM: Mayor De Blasio says that remote learning for NYC public school students will begin on Monday, March 23, for students from grades K-12.

5:35 PM: Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that as of Monday, public schools in New York City are closed, and will remain closed until Monday, April 20. 

5:26 PM: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that schools in New York City will close early this week, in hopes of curbing the spread of coronavirus and sending over 1.1 million children home. Schools in Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties will also close for two weeks beginning Monday.

5:12 PM: The Federal Reserve has cut interest rates to nearly 0 percent and announced it would purchase more Treasury securities to encourage lending to try to offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

4:52 PM: Spain's government announced Saturday that it is placing tight restrictions on movements and closing restaurants and other establishments in the nation of 46 million people as part of a two-week state of emergency to fight the sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

4:34 PM: The Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, and Kings are working with the Staples Center to establish a fund that will provide compensation for wages lost by employees who were scheduled to work at suspended sporting events through the end of the NBA and NHL seasons.

4:22 PM: Governor Andrew Cuomo joined local leaders in New York City in calling for New York City’s schools to be closed in response to the coronavirus outbreak during a conference call on Sunday afternoon.

4:17 PM: George Gresham, the President of 1199SEIU, the nation's largest healthcare union has joined the chorus calling for Mayor Bill de Blasio close New York City's public schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

4:10 PM: Phil Scott, the governor of Vermont, has ordered that schools in Vermont be closed no later than Wednesday to stem the coronavirus outbreak, as public health officials anounced the total number of cases in the state rose to eight. 

4:00 PM: Queen Elizabeth II has left Buckingham Palace over coronavirus fears in the United Kingdom. So far, 21 people have died in the UK and the number of confirmed cases has jumped from 342 to 1,140. 

3:40 PM: Receipts totaled about $56 million in U.S. and Canada theaters, according to studio estimates Sunday. Not since September 2000 has weekend box office revenue been so low, according to data firm Comscore, when $54.5 million in tickets were sold on a quiet weekend. More people went to the movies the weekend after Sept. 11, 2001.

3:11 PM: A minor leaguer for the New York Yankees has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first known player affiliated with Major League Baseball to contract COVID-19.

3:01 PM: The Academy Country Music Awards has been delayed from its April 5 date amid the breakout of coronavirus.

2:56 PM: Governor Phil Murphy has announced that all New Jersey water companies have voluntarily agreed to suspend shut-offs during the COVID-19 emergency. He is also asking for the federal government to open a Special Enrollment Period in the state to allow uninsured and underinsured residents to enroll in health coverage through the federal health insurance exchange. 

2:49 PM: A collection of the Golden State Warriors ownership, players and coaches have pledged to donate $1 million to a disaster relief fund created by the Warriors Community Foundation as the coronavirus forced the suspension of the NBA season last week.

2:35 PM: The government of Ireland is asking all pubs and bars to close beginning Sunday through at least the 29th of March. 

2:30 PM: Governor Phil Murphy has announced that New Jersey has received 31 new positive coronavirus test results since Saturday, bringing the statewide total to 98.

2:13 PM: Governor Cuomo tweeted that beginning Monday, all non-essential State employees on Rockland and Westchester County, along with ones in New York City and Long Island are being asked to work from home. 

2:04 PM: Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has announced the first positive coronavirus case in the city. 

1:55 PM: The number of COVID-19 cases in Italy has surged higher again, with 3,590 more cases reported in a 24-hour period, nearly 100 more than the day before. The additional infections reported Sunday represent the country's biggest day-to-day increase. Italy’s Civil Protection chief Angelo Borrelli announced the latest number of cases, bringing the total number of people with the new coronavirus to 24,747. The number of deaths increased by 368 to 1,809.

1:41 PM: Steve Bellone has announced that all schools in Suffolk County will be closed for two weeks, beginning Monday, March 16. 

1:23 PM: Cuomo: 137 people are currently hospitalized due to coronavirus, with 65 patients in the ICU and 46 patients intubated. New York will need thousands more hospital beds and ventilators to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

1:12 PM: Governor Cuomo says he is asking bars, restaurants and gymnasiums in New York City to voluntarily close. 

1:10 PM: Fast-food chain Taco Bell has announced that it's taking steps to close dining areas, and will operate only through drive-thru and delivery options.

1:06 PM: The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles will be moving to appointment-only, in order to reduce crowds. 

1:02 PM: Gov. Cuomo is calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to be mobilized to help fight coronavirus by equipping more facilities to serve as medical centers.

12:57 PM: Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that there are 729 positive cases of coronavirus in New York State, the most in the nation, with 69 new cases. There have been three coronavirus-related deaths, including a 79-year-old woman who had multiple, major underlying issues. 137 people are currently hospitalized, with 65 patients in the ICU and 46 patients intubated. 

12:52 PM: Governor Cuomo says it is up to localities to decide whether or not to close schools. 

12:46 PM: Governor Cuomo says he is asking private businesses across the state to aggressively consider voluntary closings or having employees work from home. The state may consider mandatory actions in the future.

12:40 PM: Cuomo: “We are looking at a new war that no-one has seen before. We have never fought a virus like this before.”

12:39 PM: Governor Andrew Cuomo says the most important thing to fight coronavirus is to “flatten the curve” and prevent the state’s healthcare systems from being overwhelmed. 

12:18 PM: New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson has issued a statement calling for a shutdown of non-essential services in New York City, including bars and restaurants. 

12:11 PM: Two more positive cases of coronavirus have been found in Hoboken. One patient is said to be a man in his 30s, and the other is a man in his 40s. Both are currently in self-isolation at home and are expected to recover. 

12:03 PM: Officials in New Jersey say they are considering a statewide curfew to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

11:35 AM: New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said on Twitter that he is calling for a shutdown of bars, restaurants, movie theaters and schools in New York City, with only essential services remaining open.

11:19 AM:  The Vatican's Holy Week ceremonies will go ahead but without any public attendance as Italy tries to contain the coronavirus outbreak, the Holy See said Sunday.

11:04 AM:  Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee says, “I strongly urge all Queens families, in no uncertain terms, to keep all children home away from school this week."

11:01 AM:  Spain says deaths from the coronavirus have more than doubled in a day to 288, infections near 8,000.

10:59 AM:  The official who is leading Iran's response to the new coronavirus acknowledged Sunday that the pandemic could overwhelm health facilities in his country, which is battling the worst outbreak in the Middle East while under heavy U.S. sanctions.
   Iran's Health Ministry reported another 113 deaths, bringing the country's total death toll to 724, with nearly 14,000 confirmed cases. It was the biggest single-day jump in fatalities since the virus was first reported in the country.

10:50 AM:   NIke joins a growing list of retail store chains that will close.

10:48 AM:  Nassau County officials say tap water is safe to drink in coronavirus outbreak.

10:45 AM:  Home evictions are on hold in Nassau County.

10:43 AM:  Nassau County will work with school districts for a grab-and-go meal program for students in the reduced and free-lunch program.

10:40  AM:  90 confirmed cases in Nassau County.  18 are hospitalized.  2 are in critical condition.  All public schools in Nassau County will close for two weeks starting on Monday.

10:28 AM:  The New York City Council has suspended all hearings, meetings, and other events as a precaution to avoid the spread of the coronavirus but Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday that he's still reluctant to shut down schools as other major U.S. cities have, despite pressure from teachers to do so.

9:03 AM:  Thousands of police officers and army troops started sealing the Philippines' densely populated capital on Sunday at the start of one of Southeast Asia’s most drastic containment moves against the new coronavirus.

8:43 AM:  The mayor of Teaneck, New Jersey is asking all residents to self-quarantine after a new cluster of coronavirus cases was discovered.

8:14 AM: Iran says coronavirus has killed another 113 people, raising the overall death toll to 724 amid over 13,900 confirmed cases.

8:08 AM:  Hoboken is ordering all bars to close and restaurants are no longer allowed to serve food except for takeout and delivery.

8:05 AM:  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed Sunday to work closely over the new coronavirus outbreak during their telephone conversation, the Japanese government said.

(Link to March 14 blog)