Return to Transcripts main page


Democrats Blast Trumps Response To Coronavirus Outbreak; First Coronavirus Case Of Unknown Origin Confirmed In The U.S.; Democrats Fan Out Across South Carolina, Super Tuesday States As Clock Ticks. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired February 27, 2020 - 14:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

Growing fears about the coronavirus, where it will go next? Who is it risk? And what officials can do to contain it? It is certainly rattling nerves worldwide at this hour.

The Dow plunging triple digits -- wow, look at that dump 640 points here as is the NASDAQ and S&P 500, all head toward their worst weeks since the financial crisis.

And the markets are under pressure. Several new developments unfold here in the United States, you have 60 cases now have been confirmed, including that one California patient who the C.D.C. says maybe the first case where the virus was transmitted without traveling to affected countries or being exposed to another known patient. We'll get into that in a second.

Also, the rapid spread of the virus abroad prompting several countries to take extraordinary action.

Nearly all of Iran's neighboring countries have closed their borders or imposed travel restrictions with the country.

In Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced the closure of all schools for roughly a month. And the spiking cases in Japan and South Korea and Italy has prompted the T.S.A. to consider expanding health screenings at airports.

Right now, only passengers who are flying in from China are undergoing those screenings.

All of this as the White House update on the U.S. response causes confusion after President Trump contradicted health officials on everything from the timing of a vaccine to whether we will see a surge in cases.


DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Our aggressive containment strategy here in the United States has been working and is responsible for the low levels of cases that we have so far. However, we do expect more cases.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think it's -- I don't think it's inevitable. I think that there's a chance that it could get worse. There is as a chance it could get fairly substantially worse, but nothing's inevitable.


BALDWIN: President Trump's remarks prompted this reaction from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Unfortunately, up until now, the Trump administration has mounted opaque and often chaotic response to this outbreak.

We're coming close to a bipartisan agreement, and the Congress says how we can go forward with a number -- that is a good start. We don't know how much we will need, hopefully, not so much more because prevention will work.

But nonetheless, we have to be ready to do what we need to do.


BALDWIN: And as we watch the markets reacting to this virus, there is this grim warning from a Wall Street giant. Goldman Sachs today is warning that U.S. companies will likely generate zero profit growth this year because of the spread of the coronavirus.

So with me now, Richard Quest, CNN's business editor-at-large is with me now. And first, just your reaction to this dire predictions from Goldman.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: It's extremely sobering because the number they were looking at before was six percent earnings growth off the back of last year, which was pretty awful, only one percent.

So this is a real life classic indication that this is not only going to probably get worse, but also the tentacles through the various sectors of the economy, travel and aviation, obviously, hospitality, but now we've got automobiles. We've got food production.

Anywhere where there is either just in time supply from China, or indeed now a slowdown from other economies, such as Asia, such as Italy, South Korea, and the like. So it's multiplying, and it's expanding.

BALDWIN: What about you mentioned air travel, it's already dramatically changing, you know, flights, cancellations. Talk to me about that.

QUEST: So we've already got widespread -- pretty much universal cancellations of flights to China from Western Airlines. Hong Kong still has very limited capacity. So those flights are gone because nobody was on them anyway.

Other flights out of Asia and in around Asia are down up to 30, 50, 75 percent. So you've had in the last 24 hours, KLM Airlines -- KLM Air France, Air France KLM and Lufthansa both announcing draconian measures. Staff freezing, no hiring, not taking on flight attendants, putting aircraft on the ground.

Lufthansa has 13 aircraft that it no longer needs that it's storing on the ground. This will not take long before other airlines, the British Airways of this world, then you're going to start looking at the U.S. carriers who are slightly protected by this vast domestic network. But they've been growing internationally.

So they're going to have to start cutting their European and Asia routes, too. This is going to get much worse, it's believed.

BALDWIN: I had Mark Zandi sitting in that seat yesterday and he had made news this week because he was saying this is all looking more and more likely to a recession. This is all happening now. Recession soon. You're shaking your head.

QUEST: We're a long way from a U.S. recession here. A global recession, unlikely.

I don't know anybody yet who is forecasting a U.S. or global recession on the back of this.


QUEST: Now, could we -- could it -- and the reason, look, the reason you're seeing the market down 600 points, and the reason you're saying it was down 960 points this morning was because of what I'm going to say next.

If this continues and gets worse, if China doesn't grow at four percent, but actually grows at three percent, if Italy's growth, well falls into recession, and the European Union, which is teetering there anyway, falls into recession, then you are talking about a U.S. recession at the moment, but that's a sort of at the moment. That's the sort of media speak that the President doesn't like to hear.

And at the moment, I would say a global or U.S. recession is not likely, unless things get much worse, but it is a feeding machine. And nearly 3,000 down on the Dow, the worst week since 2008. That will factor into general economic data, if it lasts any longer, that can be avoided.

BALDWIN: Richard Quest, thank you very much. On the health side of all of this, let me bring in CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.

And Elizabeth, you have more details on this California patient who officials say could be an example of what they're referring to as community spread. Explain A, what that means, and B, what do we know about this patient? ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, this

is a real turning point today with this case at UC Davis. Let's take a look at the U.S. cases that have been going on thus far.

When you look at these cases that are on this map, these people all have something in common. Either they were travelers to China or on the Diamond Princess cruise, or they were in close contact with the traveler, actually so close, they were actually married. So either they had traveled or they were married to someone who had traveled.

This UC Davis case, that's not the situation. This person has coronavirus and they had not traveled to a coronavirus hotspot and they didn't -- weren't in contact that they knew of with anyone who had coronavirus.

So let's look at what happened at UC Davis. This patient shows up at the hospital on February 19th. The patient had been sick for a while with pneumonia, and so UC Davis rightly so asked the C.D.C. to test and the C.D.C. did not immediately test.

The C.D.C. did not agree to test until about four days later, and then it took about another four days to get those results. So you might ask why? Why would they delay it? The reason is because the C.D.C. has been focused on travelers or contacts of travelers, they're getting lots of demands for testing and this did not fit the criteria.

This person hadn't traveled or wasn't in contact with a traveler. This really gets to the heart of the issue, which is that there's been just not enough testing available at C.D.C. and Atlanta has been doing the testing. That's changing. More labs are coming online now.

But up until now, it's been pretty much C.D.C. in Atlanta.

BALDWIN: OK, Elizabeth, thank you. I know there's so many questions on testing.

Let me bring in this doctor, Dr. Myron Cohen. He's Director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. So, Dr. Cohen, thank you so much for joining me.

And let's jump back to this this concept of community spread, right? I mean, the question on so many minds is, how could this patient -- how could you get coronavirus if you don't travel to a nation in which there is coronavirus and you presumably don't know anyone who's had it?

DR. MYRON COHEN, DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE FOR GLOBAL HEALTH AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA, CHAPEL HILL: I think the obvious suggestion is that there's someone in Northern California with coronavirus, whether it's symptomatic or asymptomatic, that was able to transmit the virus to what we're going to call this the index case, the person with new infection in Northern California.

So, there have to be -- there almost certainly have to be two people involved. It is possible, we think that coronavirus primarily is through respiratory spread.

A tremendous amount of work has been done looking at the efficiency by which it spread respiratorily. It's possible -- I heard one of your commentators earlier talking about contamination of an environmental surface. That's possible, but much less likely than a respiratory spread.

BALDWIN: So with this case with this patient, and there's still a lot of variables, right, unknown variables, does this mean we're in a new phase? And because of that, will that force officials to rethink how they test? How they respond?

M. COHEN: Yes, I think that this is an emerging pathogen. This COVID- 19, the coronavirus, it's a new pathogen. And the most important thing for us to do and which we are trying to do now is to learn the rules that govern this. What does that mean?

There are rules that govern transmission and the efficiency of transmission and when transmission can and cannot occur. And then there are rules that govern what the infection will do.

As many of your commentators have already said, about 80 percent of the people have mild infection and a smaller number have got a severe infection. So there are reasons why most people have mild infection, some get more severe infection. So we're really trying to learn the rules.

And if you looked at other emerging pathogens, I worked a lot in HIV. It took us 20 years to understand many of the rules that govern HIV. We've had about 20 days to understand COVID-19 and it's been terrific, by the way.


M. COHEN: I think the scientific capacity that's been applied to the problem. There's like an article every hour trying to answer the questions you're asking.

BALDWIN: In terms of what's happening, we're grateful for that. Thank goodness, all of these brilliant scientific minds. There was that delay of several days as Elizabeth was just pointing out, you know, from the time that that patient was admitted to the time that he or she was tested for coronavirus, and UC Davis Medical Center where this patient is being treated said "Since the patient did not fit the existing C.D.C. criteria for COVID-19, a test was not immediately administered." Is that concerning at all to you?

M. COHEN: Yes, I again, this is a dynamic situation. The test that's available, people are trying the scientists are trying to understand the exact validity of the test as they develop it and improve it as rapidly as possible.

This is a test of the virus itself. And in order to develop the test and distributed as it will happen soon, it takes some time, and I think this will -- I believe this case in Davis will speed up the process by which this kind of testing is available nationwide. BALDWIN: What about hospitals? Because I know the C.D.C. is advising

Americans to be prepared for significant disruption to their lives. How are our nation's hospitals preparing? What are they doing right now?

M. COHEN: I can speak for the University of North Carolina, where I work and we're taking -- we have terrific commitment in preparation.

For example, every person who now checks in for medical care is asked about their travel history, whether they have a cough, and questions of that nature, and our system that is prepared in a particular way to respond to an affirmative answer.

So I think most hospitals, most medical centers are doing the same thing.

But you've raised a really big concern, and that is, we have to avoid being overwhelmed. Should this spread, no one can predict this spread, we need to be prepared to take care of the sickest patients effectively. And so we're trying to prepare for that right now. And I think the preparations are going well.

I'm sure most hospitals and medical centers are doing what we're doing.

BALDWIN: OK. Dr. Myron Cohen in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Thank you, sir, very much.

Let's shift gears and talk 2020. The South Carolina primary is considered a must win for Joe Biden. And then he faces an even tougher battle, Super Tuesday. We'll talk to the party leader who calls the Biden campaign in his state the least organized of them all.

Plus, Mike Bloomberg moments ago releasing information about his heart health, what it reveals and what he is calling on one of his rivals to do.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll be right back.



BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The next couple of days are crucial in the 2020 presidential campaign. This Saturday, South Carolina votes offering a pivotal showdown between Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, and then just three days later, it is Super Tuesday. It is 14 states go to the polls all the way from Maine to California, Minnesota to Texas.

In all, Super Tuesday tees up a whopping 1,357 delegates. That is a third of the total delegates in the Democratic primary and just for comparison, South Carolina offers up 54.

That is why candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Mike Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar are not even scheduled to be in South Carolina today. Senator Sanders will be there tonight, but he is also campaigning in North Carolina and Virginia.

Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer are all staying put in South Carolina today.

And Joe Biden is all in on South Carolina, a make or break state to be sure after he lagged in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. But is he counting too much on one state with just as we mentioned, 54 delegates? His campaign is being roundly criticized in some of those Super Tuesday states who are just not showing up.

Today's "New York Times" quotes the heads of various state Democratic Parties like the chair of the party in Texas, who said this, "Bernie has a ground game because he naturally has a ground game. Bloomberg has funded a ground game. Elizabeth Warren has a ground game because she started organizing in Texas a long time ago."

But regarding Joe Biden, "I haven't seen anything other than the events he's had in Texas."

With me now Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party. And Michael, thank you for being with me. You were quoted in this same article and you said this, "Arkansas was in my opinion, going to be a default Biden state. He hasn't been here. Of all the campaigns, the least organized in Arkansas is Biden." What's the evidence? What makes you say he is the least organized in Arkansas?

MICHAEL JOHN GRAY, CHAIRMAN, ARKANSAS DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Just the people aren't hearing from him, Brooke. The candidates that have been in the state, Senator Klobuchar has been here twice. Senator Warren is coming in this weekend. Senator Sanders has been here. Mr. Bloomberg is making his third or fourth trip here.'

I know that last night, Mayor Buttigieg had surrogates in the state and there's some great Arkansan supporting the former Vice President, but we're just not seeing the presence that we're seeing now with the other campaigns.

BALDWIN: Have you or folks within the party, have you heard from Team Biden?

GRAY: We've heard sporadically from Team Biden early, and then we've heard from some people on the ground, but not a real -- not a real plan and not a real constant contact with the Biden camp, no.

BALDWIN: Might it be that they're just putting all eggs in the South Carolina basket because they want the Big Mo, right momentum coming out of South Carolina to then already do well in states like Arkansas. They just really need that win.


GRAY: So I think that's right. They want you guys talking about how he exceeded expectations in South Carolina and now onto Super Tuesday, but I think what it does is it just points out the problems we're having in the Democratic Party right now.

There's a whole branch that is worried about maybe the party going too far to the left. But the people that are doing the organizing and doing the work are the people that may be a little bit farther left than what Vice President Biden or some of the other candidates are and those people aren't doing the work to organize like the leftwing of the parties do.

BALDWIN: Are you worried about that?

GRAY: It's a tightrope to walk. You definitely appreciate and enjoy the energy coming from -- listen, all of these candidates are progressive. We're using this label, but they're definitely progressive, especially compared to the regressive leadership we have in Washington right now.

But it is worrisome to say the energy to the extremes in here and moderate voters be a little bit timid about it, but not seeing the candidates that are labeled as moderates doing the work to do the organization to get the voters out.

BALDWIN: One big concern among Democrats is that the House of Representatives will truly be at risk if Senator Bernie Sanders becomes the nominee. Do you think the House would be at risk?

GRAY: I think if you're talking about seats in swing states or Democrats narrowly winning or we have a chance, I think that definitely puts them back in play for the Republicans. States that we picked up in solid blue sites, I don't think Senator Sanders at the top of the ticket affects them as much.

BALDWIN: Last question, do you think folks in Arkansas will hold it against Joe Biden that he has so far been not around, not present as much or the two million absentee ballots, you know, who have already been cast for Super Tuesday, maybe they've already gone Team Biden.

GRAY: I don't think they'll hold it against the former Vice President. But I think what you're saying is there is a discussion around other candidates -- Mayor Bloomberg, Mayor Pete -- Mayor Buttigieg and Senators Klobuchar and Warren because Biden hasn't had such the presence here.

You can't turn on a device in Arkansas without seeing an ad for Mayor Bloomberg.

BALDWIN: Michael John Gray. Thank you for your insight. Good to have you on.

GRAY: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Just ahead here on CNN, the powerful moment when Joe Biden spoke about finding his purpose after losing his son.

And much more on this coronavirus outbreak. We will answer your questions about how to prepare and hear why Democrats are so upset with the President for his response, and who put in charge. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BALDWIN: As the White House tries to calm any panic about the potential outbreak of coronavirus in this country, Democrats are really displeased with the President's response saying he is downplaying the seriousness of the threat. Case in point. Listen to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today.


PELOSI: Unfortunately, up until now, the Trump administration has mounted opaque and often chaotic response to this outbreak.

The Trump budget calls for slashing almost $700 million from the Center for Disease Control, and this was the budget which came out after we knew about the coronavirus threat.

And now it continues to devalue our health needs by ransacking other public health needs whether it's the Ebola fund or others, so that was up until now.


BALDWIN: Let's go to Capitol Hill, to our congressional reporter Lauren Fox, and Lauren, we obviously heard a bit of it there from Speaker Pelosi. But what are some of the specific areas where Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer are disagreeing with this administration's response?

LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS U.S. CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, I think the core issue, Brooke is the fact that Democrats feel like the President publicly is not being completely honest about the potential risk to the public, that instead he is putting his concerns about the economy and the markets, first and foremost, and not basically going out and saying exactly what C.D.C. officials and H.H.S. officials are telling members on Capitol Hill behind closed doors. That is one of the main frustrations.

The other one is the fact that the administration didn't know that this crisis was emerging and they waited until this week to send up that supplemental spending request.

Now the good news that Democrats are highlighting and Republicans are highlighting is that lawmakers on Capitol Hill and their aides on the Appropriations Committee are really taking a step back from partisanship. They've been able to negotiate and try to find a middle ground somewhere between that $8.5 billion that Chuck Schumer suggested yesterday, and that $2.5 billion that the Trump administration suggested earlier this week.

So lawmakers and appropriations aides, they're working very hard, and I'm told they're consulting with H.H.S. officials about how much it will actually cost to contain the coronavirus both locally and at a national level, Brooke, so that is one bright spot up here on Capitol Hill. But certainly, a cause for concern from Democrats up here as well.

BALDWIN: Yes. So there's the political piece of all of this and of course, the health. Lauren, thank you.

Coming up, next. We've got a doctor on standby. She'll answer a bunch of your questions on the coronavirus from how to prepare, whether it's safe to receive packages from China. We've got you covered.

Plus, some new developments when it comes to health on the campaign trail. Former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg releasing new information about his heart condition and he is calling on senator Bernie Sanders to do the same.