Coronavirus live updates: CVS to hire 50,000, Surgeon General issues ominous warning

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

  • Global cases: More than 343,421
  • Global deaths: At least 14,790
  • US cases: At least 35,224 
  • US deaths: At least 471

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

10:19 am: CVS Health looking to fill 50,000 jobs to meet demand

CVS Health said it plans to immediately fill 50,000 jobs across the U.S. to keep up with a demand for over-the-counter medicines, prescriptions, and other items during the coronavirus outbreak.

In a news release, CVS called it “the most ambitious hiring drive in the company’s history.”

The major pharmacy chain said it needs more store associates, home delivery drivers, distribution center employees and customer service professionals for part-time, full-time and temporary roles. CVS will use virtual job fairs, virtual interviews and tech-enabled job tryouts to find the right candidates, according to a news release. —Melissa Repko

9:57 am: GE Aviation plans to cut 10% of its US workforce because of lack of work

General Electric’s aviation unit, which makes some of the world’s most commonly used aircraft engines, said it is laying 10% of its U.S. workers — about 2,600 people — as coronavirus hurts demand.

Aviation has been hit especially hard by the virus, which has decimated air travel demand and prompted airlines including Delta, United, and others around the world to park hundreds of planes and defer deliveries of new aircraft in an attempt to save cash.

GE’s CEO Larry Culp said he would forgo his salary for the rest of the year, following similar moves by airline executives at airlines and at one of the industrial conglomerate’s biggest customers for new engines: Boeing. —Leslie Josephs

9:53 am: In tweet storm, Trump touts suspect ‘cure’ and potential easing of guidelines to boost economy

President Donald Trump unleashed a barrage of posts on Twitter spreading conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, at one point promoting a dubious article that suggested a miracle cure was at hand.

“They should take a SERIOUS LOOK at this…” Chuck Callesto wrote in the tweet posted to the president’s account, with a link to a story with the headline “REPORT: French Doctor Reports 100 % Cure Rate Using Malaria Drug to Treat Corona Virus.”

There is no known cure or treatment for coronavirus, though scammers have sought to cash in on the panic it has caused. —Tucker Higgins

9:49 am: Fashion retailer H&M weighs tens of thousands of job cuts

General view of the closed H&M store, at Avenue des Champs Elysees, in the 8th quarter of Paris, as the city imposes emergency measures to combat the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, on March 16, 2020 in Paris, France.

Edward Berthelot | Getty Images

Fast-fashion retailer H&M said it is weighing laying off tens of thousands of workers worldwide temporarily, as it works through interruptions to its business from the coronavirus pandemic.

The company also announced it has canceled its dividend proposal.

H&M, which is headquartered in Sweden and is one of the biggest apparel retailers in the world, has for the time being shuttered all of its stores in its several of its largest markets, including Germany and the U.S. All stores in the U.K. closed as of this past weekend.

As of Monday morning, the company said a total of 3,441 of its 5,062 stores worldwide are closed, “which together with subdued demand in the markets that are still open, has had a significant negative impact on sales so far in March.” —Lauren Thomas

9:45 am: GOP Sen. Pat Toomey: New Fed action shows why the stalled bill is ‘so essential’

Sen. Patrick Toomey said the Federal Reserve’s latest round of emergency action underscores the importance of the coronavirus relief legislation being negotiated in the Senate.

“The Fed is not allowed to lose money. That’s why our legislation is so essential,” the Pennsylvania Republican told CNBC. “The point is to provide the liquidity to get through this terrible moment,” Toomey said of the Senate legislation. —Kevin Stankiewicz

9:42 am: Surgeon General has virus warning: ‘This week, it’s going to get bad’

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams warned the coronavirus outbreak will worsen this week and said that people across the country are not taking the threat seriously enough, NBC News reported.

“I want America to understand this week, it’s going to get bad,” Adams said in an interview on the “TODAY” show.

The disease is spreading, he said, because many people — especially young people — are not abiding by guidance to stay at home and practice social distancing. —NBC News

9:20 am: Starbucks hikes pay by $3 an hour

The signage of Starbucks Reserve is seen on the cups as a barista makes drip coffee at its new flagship store in Beijing, China June 30, 2018. 

Jason Lee | Reuters

Starbucks baristas who continue to work will receive an extra $3 per hour for shifts through April 19.

The company on Friday closed most of its company-operated cafes across the U.S. and Canada, moving to drive-thru and delivery service only. Employees who are not working will receive catastrophe pay through April 19.

The global coffee chain joins Target, Whole Foods, and Amazon in offering extra pay to its workers during the crisis. —Amelia Lucas

9:17 am: Rep. Ben McAdams hospitalized after positive test

Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, who tested positive last week for the disease caused by the coronavirus, said Sunday night that he has been hospitalized since Friday because of “severe shortness of breath,” NBC News reported.

McAdams said in a statement that he experienced worsening symptoms Friday evening and he called the hotline for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. He said he was told to go to the hospital.

“I was admitted and have been receiving oxygen as I struggled to maintain my blood oxygen at appropriate levels. I am now off oxygen and feeling relatively better and expect to be released as soon as the doctor determines it is appropriate,” he said in a statement posted on his Twitter account. 

McAdams said his experience has shown him “how critical it is to follow the advice of the CDC and the Utah Department of Health in order to stop the spread of this virus.” —NBC News

9:04 am: Ken Langone blasts Washington, calls for passage of relief package

Ken Langone, chairman of one of the nation’s premier hospitals, warned both political parties to “redeem themselves” and pass a coronavirus stimulus package right away.

“To our people in Washington: Get off your asses! There’ll be plenty of time to argue philosophy and points of view. Right now, we need a bad transfusion in America. And they better get it done and better get it done today,'” said the billionaire chairman of the board of the NYU Langone Medical Center.

Langone, a political conservative who helped start Home Depot and founded of investment firm Invemed Associates, said the American people are closely watching what Washington does. —Matthew J. Belvedere

8:49 am: Global cases top 350,000, death toll passes 15,000 as pandemic takes hold

Medical take a patient’s coronavirus test during a trial run for a new FEMA drive-thru coronavirus testing clinic at CVS at 720 Boston Turnpike in Shrewsbury, MA on March 19, 2020.

John Thlumacki | Boston Globe | Getty Images

COVID-19 has now infected more than 350,536 people, according to Johns Hopkins University, and killed at least 15,328 people.

Global cases have more than doubled in the past week, according to the World Health Organization, and worldwide deaths have nearly tripled.

Outside of China, where the virus emerged in December, Italy has the most confirmed cases with nearly 60,000. —Will Feuer

8:29 am: The Fed just pledged asset purchases with no limit to support markets

The Federal Reserve said it will launch a barrage of programs aimed at helping markets function more efficiently in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Among the initiatives is a commitment to continue its asset purchasing program “in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions and the economy.”

Others include an unspecified lending program for Main Street businesses and the Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility implemented during the financial crisis. There will be a program worth $300 billion “supporting the flow of credit” to employers consumers and businesses and two facilities set up to provide credit to large employers. —Jeff Cox

7:55 am: Broad testing across the US could be months away, Roche CEO says

Broad testing of every American, symptoms or not, could still be “weeks if not months” away, according to Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche, which has developed a coronavirus test being used in the U.S.

Schwan said his company has rolled out about 400,000 test kits over the past week. The kits are being used in every state, he said. Schwan added that U.S. testing capacity is still too low. “Demand continues to be much higher than supply,” he said. —Will Feuer

7:05 am: Cisco commits $225 million as Silicon Valley initiates investment blitz

7 am: Spain reports 462 new deaths, taking total fatalities to 2,182

A tourist wearing a protective mask takes a selfie outside the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona on March 11, 2020 after Spain banned all air traffic from Italy, closed schools and blocked fans from football matches after being caught off-guard by a near tripling of coronavirus infections in less than 48 hours.

Lluis Gene | AFP | Getty Images

Spain’s health ministry confirmed 462 deaths overnight, bringing the country’s total number of COVID-19 fatalities nationwide to 2,182.

Spain has reported the fourth-highest number of infections worldwide to date, according to Johns Hopkins University, behind China, Italy and the U.S., respectively. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced Sunday his intention to extend the country’s state of emergency by 15 days. —Sam Meredith

6:58 am: Top US health official says it’s ‘premature’ to say if the US has failed

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks as US President Donald Trump listens during the daily press briefing on the Coronavirus pandemic situation at the White House on March 17, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

The battle against the coronavirus pandemic is like “the fog of war,” top U.S. health official Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with Science magazine. He said it was “premature” to assess whether the U.S. plan has failed or not.

Fauci, who director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been on the front line of the government response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“It’s almost like the fog of war. After the war is over, you then look back and say, ‘Wow, this plan, as great as it was, didn’t quite work once they started that throwing hand grenades at us,'” Fauci said. —Weizhen Tan

5:10 am: Poland urges International Olympics Committee to delay Tokyo 2020 Games

People wearing protective face masks, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, are seen next to the Olympic rings in front of the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo, Japan, February 26, 2020.

Athit Perawongmetha | Reuters

Poland’s representatives are calling on the International Olympics Committee to delay the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The request comes less than 24 hours after the IOC said it would step up its planning of the event to safeguard the health of everyone involved. The Olympic Games are scheduled for July 24 through to Aug. 9, with the Paralympic Games set to run from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6.

Canada has said it will not send teams to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, saying “nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community.” —Sam Meredith

4:30 am: European markets tumble; Stoxx 600 down 4.5%

European markets traded lower as the coronavirus outbreak continues to take its toll on the international community and financial markets. The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 4.5% shortly after the opening bell, with industrials plunging 6% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slid deep into negative territory. —Holly Ellyatt

3:50 am: Hong Kong to ban all tourists

A security guard wearing protective gear checks the temperature of the visitor at the entrance of Accident & Emergency at Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong, China, on Feb. 4, 2020.

Bloomberg

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