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Evacuated Americans from Quarantined Ship Arrive in U.S.; Evacuated Americans Share Video of Journey Home; Dems Take Aim at Bloomberg as He Rises in National Polls. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired February 17, 2020 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:59:38]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, February 17, 6 a.m. here in New York and John Berman is off. Jim Sciutto joins me here. Great to have you here.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Great to be here.

CAMEROTA: We have a busy show, because we do begin with breaking news for you. Two charter planes with more than 300 Americans from that quarantined cruise ship in Japan have now arrived in the United States. Fourteen Americans on board those flights have tested positive for coronavirus. They were permitted to get on the planes in a special isolation chamber to try to prevent the virus from spreading. No word on if that will be effective.

All the passengers now face another two weeks of quarantine here in the U.S. So we have exclusive video for you from inside those planes.

SCIUTTO: This is spreading very quickly, despite all those measures. Also breaking overnight, Japan has confirmed 99 new cases of coronavirus on that cruise ship, raising questions about whether the quarantine is working at all.

And now public health officials are scrambling to determine whether passengers on another cruise ship, this one docked off Cambodia, were also exposed to the virus after an 83-year-old American tested positive -- and this is key -- days after disembarking. That ship was believed to be virus-free, and over a thousand passengers were allowed to leave it.

We have this breaking story covered from every angle. Let's begin, though, with Lucy Kafanov, live at Travis Air Force Base in California. That's where one of the planes landed overnight, and I suppose those passengers are looking at two weeks there.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Jim. That's right. For more than 300 American citizens who had been trapped on that Diamond Princess cruise ship, the nightmare is nearly over.

The second charter plane touched down at the -- the Texas military base less than an hour ago. The first one landing right here at the Travis Air Force Base around 11 p.m. local time.

But here's the rub: 46 passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship had tested positive for the coronavirus. Those guys and -- women and men were not allowed to board the evacuation flights. Instead, they're confined to Japanese hospitals.

And yet, as you mentioned in the introductions, we're learning that 14 passengers who arrived overnight here in the U.S. -- in the United States tested positive.

How exactly did this happen? Well, that's not clear. The State Department says that all people were tested two to three days ago for the virus. It appears that authorities learned of the 14 new infections after those infected passengers were removed from the ship. They were in process of being taken to the evacuation planes. The decision was then made to allow them to board, to allow them to go home. But they were housed, as you mentioned, on the plane in a separate area to keep that disease from spreading.

We're also hearing that none of them were displaying symptoms, despite testing positive.

All of the passengers will now be recovering in quarantine for two weeks on the two military bases. And this is just in time, guys. We are now learning that 99 new people had tested positive for coronavirus on board the Diamond Princess, bringing the total number of infected passengers to 456. That is more than 10 percent of the population on board.

I'm sure the Americans who had landed down here in the United States are relieved to be off that ship -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes. For a lot of them, it will be their second two-week quarantine. Lucy Kafanov, thanks very much.

The last two weeks in quarantine have been agonizing for so many on board that cruise ship in Japan. Several hundred Americans have now made their journey back to the U.S. overnight, but they shared video of their trip exclusively with CNN. It gives you a vision inside these kind of floating prisons.

CNN's Will Ripley joining us from Yokohama, Japan, with more.

I mean, the conditions there were really rough. They were confined to quarters on board, weren't they?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there are a lot of things frustrating for passengers, Jim. The lack of information, the hours of delays, which frankly, now that we know that there were patients who tested positive after being taken off the ship, it may explain why people had to sit on buses for hours and hours before being taken to the airport. It was a long, arduous journey, and the ordeal is not over yet.

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RIPLEY (voice-over): Daybreak in Yokohama, Japan. The final day on the Diamond Princess for more than 300 Americans evacuated by the U.S. government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a converted cargo 747. So there's less insulation than a regular passenger jet. So bring extra layers so you can stay warm for you.

RIPLEY: American health officials try to prepare passengers for a long, uncomfortable journey. A journey Karey Maniscalco from Utah is reluctant to take. She and her husband already endured nearly two weeks of quarantine on the cruise ship.

KAREY MANISCALCO, DIAMOND PRINCESS PASSENGER: I didn't like that answer.

RIPLEY: Now, they're about to do it all over again at a California military base.

MANISCALCO: They have sent over a dozen emails assuring us that there would not be an additional quarantine. And they just told us that we'd be re-quarantined for 14 more days. I've just lost a whole month of my life.

RIPLEY: She's angry at the U.S. government, angry they waited so long to evacuate the American passengers.

Others, like Gaye Quarter (ph) from Florida, are grateful.

GAYE QUARTER (PH), DIAMOND PRINCESS PASSENGER: And I want to go somewhere where I can feel safe. And I just want to thank President Trump and the U.S. government. There's been a lot of silence on this, and now we know the silence has been putting together a brilliant plan.

[06:05:06]

RIPLEY: Executing that plan will take nearly ten hours, even though the airport is just a 20-minute drive from the ship.

MANISCALCO: The buses are starting to line up.

RIPLEY: Once they get on, there's no getting off, not even to go to the bathroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best I can do is go find out where a bathroom is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go find out.

RIPLEY: As the hours drag on, this health worker tries to break the tension.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you call a witch on the beach? A sandwich.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.

RIPLEY: Passengers are beginning to feel like the joke is on them.

MANISCALCO: We're just waiting. I don't really know what we're waiting for, but we are waiting indefinitely.

RIPLEY: Finally, they're allowed off the bus --

MANISCALCO: Woo-hoo!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

RIPLEY: -- and onto the tarmac, boarding two converted 747 cargo planes. The cabin best described as bare bones: no windows, makeshift toilets, temporary seats.

MANISCALCO: This is first class, baby. First class.

RIPLEY: Lack of luxury aside, Maniscalco feels anxious.

MANISCALCO: It's not good conditions. No one on here has had their temperature taken by the federal government or any government, for that matter. So we're all in really closed, tight quarters. Everybody's sitting next to each other. I have a girl sitting here in just a minute. It seems dangerous and not safe.

RIPLEY: The U.S. government says they are safe, even though 14 passengers who tested positive for coronavirus are allowed on the flight, all showing no symptoms. They're put in a specialized containment area, isolated from the other passengers.

Just after daybreak, both planes finally take off. A long, sleepless night followed by a ten-hour flight.

Now they've arrived in California and Texas. One ordeal ends, another begins.

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RIPLEY: Just got a text message from Karey, the woman who we featured in that story. And she says, yes, everybody is frazzled and cranky and tired. But she praised the way they were treated once they arrived in California. She says it was like a well-oiled machine.

Hopefully, this is the start of a less excruciating ordeal than what these people have been going through for the last couple of weeks.

CAMEROTA: Let's hope so, Will. And I know we'll have you back on in the program in just a minute to talk about how confusing this is for everyone here, trying to understand how this is spreading so rapidly and what they're doing about it. Thank you for that reporting.

So the number of confirmed coronavirus cases on that cruise ship in Japan has nearly doubled. How is that happening? And does that mean the quarantine is not working? More on the efforts to contain the outbreak around the world.

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[06:11:55]

CAMEROTA: We do have some breaking news, because two planes transporting more than 300 Americans from that quarantined cruise ship off of Japan have just landed in California and Texas. It turns out 14 Americans on board those flights have tested positive for coronavirus, but they were still allowed to make the trip.

Joining us now is Will Ripley, also CNN international correspondent David Culver. They have both been covering the coronavirus for weeks.

Will, I don't understand the thinking here. Wasn't the point of the quarantine on that ship off the coast of Japan to contain the virus? And so now that 14 people who have tested positive for the virus have just landed on -- back in the United States mainland, it's not -- that didn't work.

RIPLEY: This is a textbook example of the conflicting information, the confusion, the frustration that people are feeling on the ground here, Alisyn.

I'm -- my heart goes out to Kent and Rebecca Frasure from Oregon. I mean, she wanted desperately to get on that flight with her husband. Because they thought, at least if they're going to be in quarantine, they might as well do it together in the United States.

But she emailed the U.S. embassy, and she got an email back saying, Sorry. You tested positive. Nobody who is positive is allowed on this flight. Period.

And she was devastated. She was in tears when I spoke with her.

And so when she learned that 14 other passengers did get on the flight, I mean, imagine how that feels. And then when her husband, Kent, asked the CDC when they came knocking on his door in the cruise ship, you know, did he want to get on the flight or not? He had to tell them no. And then he said, What's the plan for the rest of us? The more than two dozen Americans who remain here and their families, who have tested positive, family members that elected not to get on the flight.

And the answer he was given, Sorry. We don't know.

That is just -- just a continuation of a really frustrating and difficult situation.

SCIUTTO: I mean, listen, it raises questions not just about the Japan quarantine but whether the quarantines are working, what that says about the virus.

David, you've been covering this in China from the beginning. These cruise ships are a tiny slice of the world reaction to this. A tiny slice of the population that's been exposed to this. You're in China. China is shutting down entire regions of the country to try to control the spread of this. Is that working?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're talking hundreds of millions of people, Jim. And this containment is growing more and more extreme.

I mean, we talk about the epicenter, the city of Wuhan. We talk about Hubei province as a whole. I mean, what they're doing now is even limiting people from leaving their homes. They're essentially sealing off the community. Imagine being told you can't come out of your house at all. It used to be once every three days, one person of the house. They've even restricted it further, and they're saying, We'll bring the basic necessities to you.

The question of, if it's working, this containment factor, I mean, we're still seeing the numbers go up in some cases. Certainly, the death toll is certainly rising, it seems, with each passing day. It's -- it's difficult to say.

But one thing you can say for certain is that it's changing life here, not only within those lockdown zones within the Hubei province but outside of that. Here in Shanghai, I mean, look behind me. The lights are on, but it feels like no one's home. It is a very, very desperate situation for a lot of people across this country who are struggling to come back to a sense of normalcy and, let alone, feel safe that they're not going to contract this virus.

[06:15:08]

SCIUTTO: It has huge economic implications, too.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

SCIUTTO: World's second largest economy essentially coming to a halt here. Got to watch this closely.

CAMEROTA: When you look at the streets there, I mean, they are empty, instead of a teeming metropolis that we normally see.

CULVER: Yes.

CAMEROTA: But Will -- Will, if we look at that quarantined ship, right, as a microcosm of what's happening in some communities, OK, if we can. I don't even know if it's applicable, but if we do, Lucy Kafanov, our correspondent, just reported that there are 99 new cases, OK, on this ship of the coronavirus. I think that she said the total, that means, is up to 456.

I know you've been in constant touch with people on board that ship. Why is it spreading there? Aren't people staying in their cabins? How is it getting from passenger to passenger?

RIPLEY: Nobody knows. A hundred and sixty-nine new cases in the last 24 hours, because keep in mind, it was Saturday, 67 cases; Sunday, 70 cases; today, 99. The numbers keep going up.

And, OK, yes, a lot of these people are asymptomatic. Out of the 99, 70 of them are not showing symptoms. They all have to go to the hospital, go into quarantine, just like Rebecca who we've been following from Utah.

But the question is are these new infections? Is it just that these people weren't showing any symptoms at all? And those who were, did they just not want to report them? Did they maybe have a little tickle in their throat, or a cough, or a slight fever, but they didn't want the disruption of notifying health authorities? We don't know the answers.

We don't know if they're being exposed during that very short window of time that they can go out on deck every couple of days. Because they have to stand six feet apart from each other and wear masks.

But clearly, whatever is happening on the ship, whatever quarantine measures are taking effect, either they're not working or we're just now learning that there were actually a tremendously larger number of people on the ship infected, and we just didn't know about it because the Japanese government wasn't testing them. They have just now started the process of testing everybody on the ship.

Because as of, you know, tomorrow or the next day, they're going to be able to process a thousand test kits a day. But for the first two weeks of this crisis, they could only process 300 test kits a day. So they weren't testing everybody on the ship. And I think that explains why the United States, Canada, South Korea, Australia, all of these countries, Italy, are now following suit and trying to get their citizens off the boat as quickly as possible.

SCIUTTO: Those are just cruise ships. So think planes, trains, buses, right? I mean, it's a global economy. This stuff moves very quickly.

David, China, real questions about == they're trying to keep a lid on this early on, a lid on the information. How about now? Are we confident that the numbers that are coming out of China, 70,000-some- odd confirmed global cases. Are we confident that China is being up front about how far this has spread at this point? That they're sharing that information with countries like the U.S.?

CULVER: Jim, I think internationally now, there are so many eyes on this country and how it's being handled. Quite frankly, it's all we have to rely on. I mean, they're the only ones providing data. They're the only ones providing numbers. You can't really look to another source here, so you have to trust that what you're getting is transparent. And that now that they have so many eyes on them, they feel like they have to live up to providing as much data and as much material that will help bring this to an end and help contain this as quickly as possible.

And you also have to realize that they want this to end quickly, too. I mean, they have become part of this globally-imposed quarantine. This country is isolated from the rest of the world in many respects. Flights to and from mainland China, we've reported they have completely stopped, for the most part, with the exception of most of the Chinese flights that are still flying. But there is a real impact that they're starting to feel well beyond

the health impact. And that is, you know, the financial and the economics. Here in Shanghai, you see it. It is -- it is bizarre to be walking around the streets here.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Literally have never seen that. Shut down the second largest economy in the world.

CAMEROTA: I know. It's -- all the video, it's remarkable. And your reporting. Thank you so much, Will and David. We will check back with you.

SCIUTTO: Watch this space, for sure.

Mike Bloomberg, he's not competing in Nevada. But his Democratic rivals are already taking aim at the billionaire who is now rising in the polls. We're going to discuss, coming up.

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[06:23:34]

SCIUTTO: Welcome back. A big turnout among Democrats in Nevada as early voting began this weekend for the state's presidential caucuses, now just five days away. Candidates stumping across Nevada, making their pitch while targeting one rival who isn't even on the ballot there but is rising in the polls. Certainly, spending a lot of money, as well.

CNN's M.J. Lee has more.

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the third contest for the 2020 Democratic candidates takes place this Saturday in Nevada. A number of the presidential hopefuls spent this final weekend making their closing pitches to voters.

And more than 18,000 Democrats showed up for the first day of early voting in Nevada.

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LEE (voice-over): The Democratic presidential candidates crisscrossed Nevada, uniting over an emerging rival who isn't even competing in this week's contest.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's a lot to talk about Michael Bloomberg.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've got news for Mr. Bloomberg, and that is the American people are sick and tired of billionaires buying elections.

LEE: Michael Bloomberg under fire as he continues to catapult in national polls, despite never appearing on a debate stage.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know I'm not able to beat him on the airwaves, but I can beat him on the debate stage. Because I believe my argument for my candidacy is so much stronger.

LEE: The former New York City mayor focusing on Super Tuesday states, already spending over $400 million on advertisements nationally. Bloomberg's rivals quickly attacking his past controversial policies like Stop and Frisk.

BIDEN: Sixty billion dollars can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can't erase your record.

[06:25:06]

LEE: Bloomberg once again issuing an apology at an event in Virginia.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is one approach that I deeply regret: the use of a police practice called Stop and Frisk. I defended it for too long, I think, because I didn't understand the unintended pain it caused to young black and brown kids and to their families.

LEE: But for Bernie Sanders, that's not enough.

SANDERS: We will not create the energy and excitement we need to defeat Donald Trump if that candidate pursued, advocated for, and enacted racist policies like Stop and Frisk.

LEE: Fresh off his victory in New Hampshire, Sanders also facing harsh criticism.

KLOBUCHAR: I'm the only one on that debate stage, When asked do you have a problem with a socialist leading the Democratic ticket, that I said yes. And that is despite the fact that Bernie and I are friends.

LEE: Democratic delegate leader Pete Buttigieg acknowledging he has some work to do in diverse states like Nevada.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a process of earning trust with voters who have every reason to be skeptical, who have often felt taken for granted by the Democratic Party. And so I am not going to take any vote for granted.

LEE: Former Vice President Joe Biden banking on minority voters after struggling in the first two states.

BIDEN: I have overwhelming support from minorities. I have overwhelming support from -- you can't win, you can't take it for granted. I'm the only one who has the record and has the background and has the support. They know me. They know who I am.

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LEE: And needless to say that Nevada Democratic Party has one giant priority right now: avoiding the disastrous results that plagued the Iowa Democratic Party on their election night -- Alisyn and Jim.

CAMEROTA: That would be good, but they're not sure that they're going to be able to avoid that. SCIUTTO: Show -- show you can count the votes. Basic step.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But I man, at the moment, people don't feel that confident --

SCIUTTO: I know. No, not at all.

CAMEROTA: -- based on what we just endured in Iowa.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

CAMEROTA: M.J., thank you very much.

So will Michael Bloomberg be on the debate stage this week? And how would the other candidates handle that? That's next.

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