Coronavirus live updates: NY, Illinois governors warn states are competing for supplies, Its a Wild West

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 311,000
  • Global deaths: At least 13,407
  • U.S. cases: At least 26,747
  • U.S. deaths: At least 340

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

The coronavirus pandemic is shutting down entire countries across the world, causing a significant decline in air pollution in major cities as heads of state implement stricter quarantines and travel restrictions.

The unintended air pollution declines from the virus outbreak are just temporary, experts say.

But the pandemic’s unintended climate impact offers a glimpse into how countries and corporations are equipped to handle the slower-moving but destructive climate change crisis. So far, researchers warn that the world is ill-prepared. 

“As for the environmental benefits we see from the slowdown of day-to-day life and economic activity in terms of improving air quality and other slight benefits, it’s a good sign that our ecosystems are somewhat resilient if we don’t completely destroy them,” said Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and founder of the Pacific Institute in Berkeley, California. “But it would be nice if we could improve our environment without having to cripple our economy,” he added. —Emma Newburger

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s asked the federal government to nationalize the purchase of medical equipment and has signed off on several locations to build temporary hospitals to treat coronavirus patients across the state, which is the hardest hit in the U.S.

Cuomo said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will build temporary hospitals in Stony Brook, Westbury, Westchester, New York, and the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, which will contain four federal hospitals with 250 beds each.

New York state is also running a clinical trial beginning Tuesday of a treatment regimen of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, two drugs that doctors in Africa and elsewhere say they’ve seen good results in fighting the virus.

Cuomo said the federal government needs to nationalize the purchase of needed medical supplies, adding that the shortage of personal protective gear like masks and life-saving equipment like respirators is leading to price gouging. Masks that used to cost 85 cents are now $7, “why because I’m competing against other states,” he said. —Dawn Kopecki

Merck said it will supply New York City with a half-million masks to address the severe shortage of health-care supplies.

“In response to the urgent need for personal protective equipment for health-care workers and other front-line responders battling the COVID-19 pandemic,” the drugmaker will be providing 500,000 masks, a company spokesperson told CNBC.

Merck specified that the masks are surgical masks, not N95 respirators. —Meg Tirrell

Companies should keep as many people employed and on payroll as possible amid the pandemic, former White House economic advisor Gary Cohn said. He said that the economy will eventually bounce back and people should be able to return to work immediately rather than having to go through the re-hiring process.
 
“It would be a shame if we let people go, terminated them, put them on unemployment and then had to try to rehire them once we restarted the economy,” Cohn said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
 
The coronavirus crisis will likely result in layoffs on a scale that the U.S. has never seen before, with Bank of America forecasting that as of next week a total of 3 million people will have filed for unemployment. The numbers are expected to be so bad that the Trump administration has asked state officials to delay releasing precise figures.
Financing packages to help the economy recover from the pandemic would be worth $4 trillion, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday. Part of that would include efforts between the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to provide liquidity to businesses. —Emma Newburger

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/22/coronavirus-live-updates-feds-bullard-calls-shutdown-massive-investment-in-public-health.html

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