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Dow Drops As U.S. Officials Warn Of Coronavirus Spread; Vulnerable House Democrats Fearful Possible Sanders Nomination Will Cost Them Their Seats. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired February 27, 2020 - 10:00   ET

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


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POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: It is the top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

Coronavirus is spreading and the numbers just stunning at this point. Looking at the markets, we're seeing the Dow down right now, more than 500 points, continuing last week's dive. Zero, that's what Goldman Sachs says U.S. companies should expect early this year due to no profit growth because of the economic fallout from the virus.

And the number one for a single coronavirus case in Northern California that is raising serious fears about the spread of the disease.

HARLOW: The patient in California did not travel to another country recently and did not knowingly come into contact with another infected patient. And that's what has everyone so worried because this means this could be the first case of a U.S. patient infected while out in their own community. You're going to hear this raise community spread a lot. That's what that means.

And now, a source tells us the president may have known some of the details of this case in California yesterday before he briefed everyone last night in that White House press conference.

Let's begin this hour with our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. You were there, you asked the president such important questions. We'll get to that in a moment. But talk about what this case in California really means.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is what we have been talking about for this time, this idea that could this virus become something that becomes more entrenched within a community and start to spread within a community.

I think we can show you the numbers here. We've looked at the numbers a few times now over the last few weeks. 14 patients where 12 of those patients were travel-related patients, they came back from an area where the virus was known to be spreading. Two of those patients were in close context, spouses of those original 12 patients. 45 patients came off that cruise ship.

But it's this last patient now that is raising all the concern. Because if in fact this patient had no relevant travel history, did not come in contact with a known infected person that does really mean that this virus is now starting to spread within the community, likely among asymptomatic people or people with minimal symptoms, possibly from a virus that is on a surface and somebody touched that surface. Regardless, it means that the virus is starting to spread within the community.

We obviously know that that's been happening in other areas around the world. It had not been documented in this country yet. But I will tell you, public health officials have been thinking that this wasn't a question of if, but when, and that now is the when.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Gupta, you were, of course, at the White House, as Poppy mentioned, yesterday. And you had -- you asked a question -- the president a direct question on how deadly this virus is. I want to play that for our viewers and why I want to ask you then if it was a satisfying response. Have a listen.

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GUPTA: Flu has a fatality ratio of about 0.1 percent.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Correct.

GUPTA: This has a fatality ration somewhere between 2 percent and 3 percent given that --

TRUMP: We don't know exactly what it is. And the flu is higher than that. The flue is much higher than that.

GUPTA: There are more people who get the flu. But this is spreading. It's going to spread maybe within communities. That's the expectation. Does that worry you? Because that seems to be what worries the American people.

TRUMP: No, because we're ready for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: As you heard there, first of all, he seemed to be confused about the actual numbers and the death rate from flu, which is what we're talking about, not just the general numbers, but the death rate. Did he answer the question directly and is he providing the best information about this to the American public?

GUPTA: Yes, no, it was a little confusing for exactly the reasons you mentioned, Jim. I mean, I don't think it was a satisfactory answer. And keep in mind, before that, he had just learned that flu kills tens of thousands of people a year. He did not realize that flu was that deadly in the United States as a starting point.

The point that we were trying to make, I was trying to make there, was that there're really two things that you look at with the pathogens, how transmissible is it, how deadly is it. I think the president is right when he compares this to flu in terms of it being very contagious, very transmissible. The difference is, with flu, 0.1 percent of people who get the flu infection die of it. And with coronavirus, based on the best studies that we have so far, it's closer to 2 percent. That's 20 fold higher. And I'm not sure he fully grasped that. That's why public health officials are paying so much attention to this.

HARLOW: That's a great point. And we've got some viewer questions, Sanjay, that people sent in that they want your answers on. That was one of them. Why is it more deadly than the flu?

Another one is, let's split up on this screen, this is full screen 11, guys, could it transmitted if another person touches the same item within a short period of time, meaning not even touching one another, but like if I pass my pen to someone else?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, the answer is yes.

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These viruses can live on surfaces. And some of the studies that have looked at this coronavirus and previous coronaviruses say they can live on surfaces and even up to days.

Having said that, I want to point that when you talk about the real spreading of this, it's typically still from sick people, sneezing, coughing, causing those respiratory droplets. It can occur from surfaces, it can occur from asymptomatic people, non-sick people. But the vast -- the biggest driver of spread is going to be sick people.

SCIUTTO: Here is another question from viewers, and it is a question I have as well. Do you think that the Chinese numbers are accurate? This, of course, relevant because early on, China was downplaying this and that may have had consequences.

GUPTA: Yes, look, I don't think they have been very transparent about this. We now know from the medical journals this outbreak started earlier than we originally were told by a couple of weeks and that the first patient that was diagnosed had no contact with that animal market that we heard so much about at the beginning of the year. Those are important facts.

The other thing is, look, there may be many more people out there who are carrying this virus who have no symptoms or minimal symptoms and never get tested. So the numbers that we hear, the 45,000 out of China specifically, maybe much higher, because people simply aren't getting tested.

HARLOW: Sanjay, thank you so much. We're glad you were there to press the president. We're glad you're there and you'll be here with us throughout all this. Thanks so much. GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

HARLOW: So the president appointed Vice President Mike Pence to oversee the administration's response, the handling of this outbreak. Today, Pence will lead his first task force meeting on the coronavirus.

SCIUTTO: Joining us now is CNN White House Correspondent John Harwood and Washington Bureau Chief for The Daily Beast, Jackie Kucinich.

John, let's talk for a moment about the president's response so far to this, the White House, the administration and so on. CNN's reporting is that early yesterday, the president was against appointing a czar, and by the evening, we have Vice President Pence. Is there a changing view in the White House and with this president as to how serious this is?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you have to make a distinction between what aides in the White House think and what the president thinks. And I think what we saw last night at that news conference was the president in front of all of us, we could all see it, struggling to accept the reality of the situation.

Maybe we'll take another $2.5 billion, maybe we'll take $4, maybe we'll take 8. Maybe it is like the flu, maybe it is easier, maybe it is harder, not accepting the mortality numbers that Sanjay correctly pointed out.

Maybe we'll have community spread, maybe we won't. It's not inevitable. Well, that was shown right after the news conference that we are going to have community spread. We have community spread. And what you have seen today and last night when Dow Futures fell while that press conference was going on is a no confidence vote from financial markets, who have got a lot of money on the line, in what the administration is doing.

You also have the president appointing Mike Pence, saying he's really good on health. We all remember that as governor of Indiana, he struggled to cope with a public health crisis on HIV, by delaying needle exchanges. That had real consequences in terms of lives lost.

So the administration has not gotten its act together. Alex Azar was struggling openly with Mike Pence at that news conference, saying, I'm still in charge of the task force. This afternoon, they're going to have a meeting of the task force at HHS on Azar's turf. How is Mike Pence going to handle that? That's another test for the administration.

HARLOW: Such important points, John. And, Jackie, Dana Bash made a really salient reminder I think for all of us that this administration has not yet faced real domestic crises that are not of its own making up until now.

And now you are looking at, by the way, intraday trading, the Dow is at correction territory, it's down 10 percent. We'll see if it closes there. But you're got a really possibility of an economic crisis, a possibility of a recession. Goldman Sachs says that this is a pandemic, and more importantly than the economy, a health crisis and potential pandemic in this country.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What this boils down to trust, not only trust in the president, but trust in institutions and trust that the institutions are giving the public the correct information on whether or not it upsets the president.

And there is fear among Democrats once Pence was appointed and because of the president's contradiction of his CDC director that was standing right next to him an hour after she -- after she said that they weren't -- that it really wasn't clear how this would progress, and the president saying that it wasn't inevitable.

Public health, as you point out, Poppy, should Trump the economy and should Trump politics. And with any luck, it does in this case.

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But, you know, with the president veering into politics and with an eye on the stock market, there is some concern. And this is why it is important for people to tell the truth.

SCIUTTO: You don't want public health to become a partisan issue.

John Harwood, the U.S. has declared public health emergency on this. It's imposed some travel restrictions. People coming back from China has obviously put some Americans returning from that cruise ship into quarantine.

I just wonder are there already steps, restrictions, et cetera, in the pipe line in case it gets worse that this administration would consider it that point, other kinds of travel restrictions? Of course, that depends on the progress of this going forward. But what kind of serious steps is the administration considering at this point?

HARWOOD: Well, as you say, Jim, that's condition-dependent. But the president hinted last night that there were more coming. He said, now it's not the right time to impose additional travel restrictions. But, again, one of the problems that we have here is that an administration that is depleted, it's not fully staffed, there are many open positions, the NSC position for coping with pandemics was eliminated by President Trump.

One of the oddest moments of that news conference last night was when the president was asked if he would reconsider the proposed cuts he has made to agencies like NIH and the CDC. And he said, no, I'm a business guy, I like to have people when I need them and so we don't want people sitting around, we can always hire them when we need them. That's not the case. That is not how effective government management works and markets are registering their reaction to that.

HARLOW: That, yes, and the fact that they had tasked NSC to oversee this, Jackie, and they don't have an NSC person dedicated to global health at this point. KUCINICH: I mean, global health prevention is a huge part of these outbreaks and being -- having a reactive strategy. That's going to be a part of it, of course, right?

But, again, the president can't -- has a tendency to try to bend reality to his will. In this case, when public health is on the line, you obviously don't want to panic anyone, but you want to keep -- want to have the information being the best information and the most truthful information going out to the American people at a time like this.

SCIUTTO: Yes, because it affects lives.

HARLOW: Sure. Yes.

HARWOOD: Just one more point before we go. It is not just the president. Remember, he has, for example, an acting Homeland Security secretary right now, not a permanent one, when that Homeland Security secretary was testifying on the Hill a couple of days ago, he was pressed by a Republican senator.

What's the mortality rate for coronavirus? And then he said, what's the mortality rate for influenza? He said they're about the same. Well, that is not true. As Sanjay pointed out, it's 20 times higher. And you have an evident lack of expertise within the administration.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, it's pretty basic facts you've got to have a handle on. And, John, Jackie, great to have both of you. And this, as we've been sitting there, the market has now gone down more than 600 points, about 2.3 percent. We'll continue to follow it.

The corona's outbreak escalating around the world, now on every continent except Antarctica. Leaders in one country are trying to stop the spread by closing every school there for a month.

HARLOW: Yes, we'll tell you where.

Also, Senator Sanders surging among 2020 voters but not among some of his colleagues on Capitol Hill, Democrats. New details on that ahead.

And a Democratic lawmaker from a crucial swing state called the latest Democratic debate this week an embarrassment. We'll ask her why.

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SCIUTTO: This morning, as the Bernie Sanders campaign surges, some of his colleagues on Capitol Hill are warning about the potential political fallout if he wins the nomination, in particularly on down ballot races.

CNN's Manu Raju has more reporting on all of this. He joins us now live from Capitol Hill.

Members of his own party saying he would not be good for the party in November.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I spoke to a number of House Democrats and Senate Democrats over the last several days along with my colleague, Alex Rogers. And it's pretty clear from a number of Democrats, particularly ones running in red states or districts that was the president who carried, that they are concerned that having a nominee, a Democratic socialist at the top of the ticket could cost them their seats.

Also, there is concerns from Senate Democrats, senator's colleagues, that his agenda, including single-payer healthcare system, including wiping away all student debt, including raising taxes, that could affect the middle class, that simply will not fly, according to Senate Democrats, even if the Democrats retake the Senate.

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REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): These are disastrous positions when you're going into working class areas. I'm talking white people, black people, brown people that are struggling to pay for their own healthcare. And so not to mention free this and free that and there's a lot of just -- I just think we're going to miss the middle of the electorate and I think it could be potentially disastrous.

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): You've got to explain how you're going to pay for all the great things you want.

I haven't seen Senator Sanders pay for Medicare-for-all, for free college education, for all of the things he suggested. They're all great aspirational goals. But you have to be realistic about how you're going to pay for it. You have to be realistic that you can actually achieve things, not just claim that these are things you want to try to achieve.

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RAJU: And, of course, this agenda that Bernie Sanders is talking about is fueling his campaign and his surge in his -- in the presidential race.

What the Democrats are saying is that even if you will become president, getting something through will be incredibly difficult. And today, guys, behind closed doors, the Democratic National Committee will be talking with House Democrats about all of this as the convention process, the delegate process, of course, those Democrats could have a say in choosing the nominee. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Echoes of 2016 inside the DNC. Manu Raju, thank you very much.

HARLOW: To talk about that and a lot more, I'm joined by Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan. Congresswoman Dingell, it's nice to have you here. And I know you don't like it when people ask you this question about Bernie Sanders, especially this week, I've seen your responses, but I wonder if you could respond to what we just heard from all of those fellow Democrats of yours in Congress that are freaked out about what a Bernie Sanders nomination might mean down ballot. I wonder what you think it might mean in the State of Michigan.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): I think everybody needs to take a deep breath. I think every single one of our candidates that are running for president right now are better than President Trump. They do not want to divide this country with fear and hatred. They know how to show leadership. They will fight for workmen and women.

I think they each need to -- as you led into me, I think the debate the other night was a total disgrace. They went in there trying to kill each other, headlines that were meant to destroy each other and they forgot who we are trying to beat in November.

But I'm just not going to get caught in this, oh, my Lord. I'm going to support who's ever the nominee and I'm going to work hard. Because I know that our nominee will be fighting for working men and women across this country.

HARLOW: You know, Congresswoman, you said that it was an embarrassment, the debate, for everyone, a circular firing squad. And you've said again and again, you keep reminding everyone, the president can win again. He can win again. Do you think the Democrats on that debate stage this week just helped the president?

DINGELL: I think that the president could not have helped but have been happy to watch that circular firing squad. And we need to remember, I know, people, these aren't false words. We've got law enforcement agencies that are serving under Trump that are warning all of us, Russia is trying to interfere with this election, we know that not only Russia, but China, are trying to divide us as a nation. Why are we giving them further ammunition to division? We got to show leadership that's going to pull us together.

And I was hearing someone else, one of the senators in his piece, talk to -- I don't even know who he was because I couldn't see it. But, quite frankly, those very people that he was talking about are the ones that don't have access to healthcare. I think this presidential election has confused people as to what Medicare-for-all is.

I think people forget the fact that we spend twice this much as any other nation, we're the only industrialized nation in the world that does not guarantee its workers healthcare, you want to talk straight economics, that our workers are competing -- not competing on a level playing field, because other countries pay for their healthcare, the businesses have to pay for their healthcare.

We have to have a factual conversation about healthcare, how we get that. But I'll tell you something, my father-in-law wrote social security. He was called a socialist back then. He introduced the first universal healthcare bill. He was called a communist and a socialist then. And when he tried -- he worked and actually we finally got Medicare in '65, the same thing was said. People like to use labels. Let's use facts. HARLOW: I agree wholeheartedly let's use facts. That to me sounds like you are pretty supportive of if not Bernie Sanders as the candidate of his policy when it comes to Medicare-for-all, am I right?

DINGELL: Look, I do not have a candidate. I think they're all good, strong candidates. And I'm going to endorse the nominee. But I am the co-chair of the Medicare-for-all. I think people are very confused about what it means.

I have union workers, I walked into a union hall this weekend and somebody said something that translated and I said that means you really mean are you going to take my healthcare away and am I going to have to pay more? e want them to be able to have the benefits we have. But they've got to go in and negotiate them every time there's a contract in. They're not sure that they're going to be as good as they were the time before. It's an economic issue.

HARLOW: Let's turn the corner now to another key issue that we're all thinking about a lot right now, and that is coronavirus. Because you question -- had some very important questions, pressing Secretary Azar on this just yesterday, specifically about the supply chain for pharmaceuticals, for medical supplies, so many of which come from China. Did you get sufficient answers to your questions on that front yesterday?

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DINGELL: So I want to be very clear that I think all of us need to not panic and remember there are very basic things and I'm going to this opportunity now, wash your hands frequently, go on and Google and learn how to wash them correctly.

But I am worried about the supply chain. I have been from the beginning. I've been one of the people following this coronavirus more closely than anybody. This is a short-term issue, not a long-term issue. 90 percent of our pharmaceutical drugs, at least the contents of it are made in China. We can't let that situation that brought light to a situation, we've got to get a change, we've got to make sure we've got sterile equipment, masks.

HARLOW: Yes, that doesn't come -- that doesn't rely on China's supply chain. I have 30 more seconds. Quickly, given Vice President Pence's history as governor dealing with a recent public health crisis in terms of HIV in Indiana, is he the best equipped to lead this effort at the White House?

DINGELL: You know what? I don't think is a time to take shots. I think this is a time for all of us to work together. Coronavirus is a potential threat. We've already have seen what it's done to other countries. We've got to work together. If they're not doing what they need to do, then we need to make sure they are doing what they need to do. But taking cheap shots at people right now is not the thing to do, working together is.

HARLOW: There you go. That's how you solve problems. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, thank you very, very much. DINGELL: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Interesting. The second Democratic lawmakers at this hour to refuse to criticize the president, saying, we've got to work together.

Well, fear around the world is growing over the rapid spread now of the coronavirus. This morning, Japan's prime minister taking a major step to curb the outbreak there. We'll have more on that and other news, next.

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