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New U.S. Coronavirus Case Has Unknown Origin; Democratic Candidates Discuss Coronavirus; Coronavirus Outbreak a Concern for Olympic Organizers. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired February 27, 2020 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: An alarming new development from coronavirus on U.S. soil.


A new case with no known source. The president attempting to ease concerns about the virus by blaming Democrats.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Thursday, February 27th. It's 5:00 a.m. in New York.

The biggest fear of coronavirus is all we simply do not know, including the ways it can spread. Now that worry has come to American soil.

A person in Solano County, California, that's near Sacramento, diagnosed with novel coronavirus, might be the first example of what's called community spread. That's where the patient had no direct contact with someone known to have the virus. That patient was hospitalized a week ago at U.C.-Davis but was not initially tested.

Here's an infectious disease specialist from the hospital.


DR. DEAN BLUMBERG, CHIEF OF PEDIATRIC INFECTIOUS DISEASE, UC DAVIS MEDICAL CENTER: We can't say it's definitely more I bullet I think it's highly suggestive if there's one there's probably more than one, there's probably other people. That means pretty much that everybody is at risk. We don't know who might be carrying it. We don't know who we could get it from.


ROMANS: President Trump held a rare White House briefing, the first in months, to announce he's putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the coronavirus response.

Now, that raised immediate concern that politics are ahead of public health here. It's also more than a little ironic. In 2014, Mr. Trump tweeted it was a total joke President Obama had named an Ebola czar with zero medical experience. Pence has zero medical experience and was also criticized as governor of Indiana for ignoring the advice of his state health officials during an outbreak of HIV.

JARRETT: The president says the risk to Americans remains very low. He was asked about his stance from just days ago he did not expect coronavirus to spread in the U.S. contradicting CDC experts.


REPORTER: Just of course in the last couple of minutes you have disputed some of what the officials that are working in your administration behind you have said about the risk of coronavirus and its spread. Do you trust your health officials to give you the information or do you trust your instincts more?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think I have. They said it could be worse and I've said it could be worse, too. I also think -- no, I don't think it's inevitable.


JARRETT: Although Trump said the vice president is in charge, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stressed he's still in charge of the Coronavirus Government Task Force. So even the question of who is in charge is a bit muddled right now in a midst of an effort to inspire confidence.

ROMANS: No doubt the president trying to ease concerns in an election year, but a victory lap claiming everything's under control could look premature. His experts are correcting with more sobering forecasts.

CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, was at the White House briefing. He has more for us.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Laura, as you know, the news around coronavirus changes every day. Let me quickly show you the numbers here in the United States.

Take a look at that last line. One exposure that is unknown. That means no known relevant travel history and no particular exposure to somebody who's known to be sick.

So this is a bit of a question mark, and we've got to pay attention to that one at the bottom of the screen there again because that patient -- you know, we've got to figure out where they specifically got exposed and if there's no clear answer on that, it might mean that this patient represents the first example of community spread of the virus.

It has not happened in the United States as of yet, but it's been the big question mark. I want to tell you, you know, I was at this press conference with the president yesterday and he said it's not inevitable that this would happen. At the same time folks from the CDC have been saying it's not a question of if but when.

Lots of ground covered in that news conference yesterday. I was there. I want to you to listen just for a second to this exchange I had with the president.

The flu as a fatality ratio of about 0.1 percent.

TRUMP: Correct.

GUPTA: This has a fatality ratio between 2, 3 percent.


TRUMP: We don't know exactly the number, and the flu is higher than that, the flu is much higher than that.

GUPTA: This is spreading -- it's going to spread in urban communities, that's the expectation. Does that -- does that worry you because that seems to be what worries the American people (ph)--

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

GUPTA: Now, the reason that came up is because the president has been likening this coronavirus to flu. And in some ways he's right. I mean, the transmissibility, the contagiousness, there does seem to be similarities between the coronavirus and flu.

What is different and this is point I was making and I think needs to be made is that with the data that we have now, the fatality ratio with flu is 0.1 percent, meaning 0.1 percent of people who contract the flu will die, whereas with coronavirus with what we know now that fatality ratio is closer to 2 percent. So, that's 20 times higher.

So it's the same transmissibility but significantly more lethal, that's a problem, and what's the public health officials are paying attention to.


ROMANS: So glad we have Sanjay on the case here. Look, markets around the world remain rattled.


Asian shares closed mixed. European stocks have opened lower again. More than 1-1/2 percent declines across Europe.

In futures in the United States, U.S. stock index futures, I mean, really wobbling all night. That press conference did not inspire confidence in investors around the world. Dow futures leaning lower here.

Stocks struggled Wednesday as investors assessed the spread of the virus. They closed mixed overall. The Dow down 123 points. That's a fifth day lower in a row. The S&P closed slightly lower. The Nasdaq mostly tech stocks had a very small gain there. Now, instead of inspiring confidence, President Trump pointed fingers.


REPORTER: Are financial markets overreacting here?

TRUMP: I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates standing on that stage making fools out of themselves.


ROMANS: OK, so there was a debate on Tuesday night. The Dow lost almost 2,000 points on Monday and Tuesday before the debate. The president's time line completely wrong here.

Now, Moody's says global car sales are expected to drop 2.5 percent this year. The outbreak weighs on demand and disrupts supply chains. That has nothing to do with Democrats.

The virus is also sending shock waves to the oil market. Crude prices fell another 2 percent. The idea of world that runs on oil would need less of it was the crisis spread. That could mean lower gas prices for consumers, and that, of course, would be a silver lining heading into the summer.

JARRETT: So how is China likely to respond to President Trump's efforts to fight coronavirus?

CNN's David Culver is live in Shanghai for us.

David, it was interesting at the White House briefing yesterday, President Trump went out of his way to praise President Xi's response.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I noticed that, Laura. And here's what's interesting. You get the sense here that Chinese officials are going to be watching this all play out and say we told you so, we told you this was going to happen to the U.S. in particular. Just go back 2-1/2 weeks and I was going to the Chinese response to when the U.S. issued that travel ban against China.

It was a ban that really led to several other countries following suit and doing the same. Essentially mainland China, 1.4 billion people has become globally imposed quarantine. I mean, it's isolated from the rest of the world in many ways is China is hurting because of it. Economically, they feel like they are really struggling to restart. Even in business beacons like here in Shanghai.

And yet the president stood by his move to essentially issue that travel ban saying even at that press conference that you referenced this was a good thing, it's been effective and he was happy it went forward. And yet there are reparations to doing that, mainly economic ones. So, you look at where the stock market is right now, and that's something that he even in a tweet yesterday, the U.S. president, putting out it was the media that was to blame for panicking the market by speaking about too many problems about the coronavirus. But China had suggested over and over that this was going to be the

outcome if you put that travel ban that there would be economic impact. In fact, the way they put it was that this is globalized world and that these countries are interlinked, that the destinies of all countries rely on one another, that's what China said 2 1/2 weeks ago. So, you know they're looking at this and suggesting that this is something that they called for and this is now the result.

Going forward, though, there is some glimmer of hope here, Laura. We heard from one of it top respiratory experts. He's a leading scientist here, has a strong reputation for his work on SARS, and he suggests that this epidemic here will be under control by the end of April. Now, his words carry some weight because he also predicted the peak of this virus to be mid-February and it seemed to hit that mark.

So there is some hope now coming from the leading scientists here but, nonetheless, you look at this back and forth between Chinese officials and what the U.S. is doing and you're thinking they perhaps saw this coming.

JARRETT: Yes, mid-April will certainly be welcome to all the people suffering. It's something President Trump has said before but the evidence for that had seemed to be mixed.

David, thanks so much. Good to see you.

ROMANS: All right. So, medicine, schools, jobs, what you and your family need to know about coronavirus.



ROMANS: Because of the coronavirus outbreak a growing number of American universities are now canceling their study abroad programs, all of them in Florence, Italy, South Korea and China. And the Department of Homeland Security is recommending everyone in the U.S. have a two week supply of water and food on hand and necessary over- the-counter medications.

If your child is sick it's important to keep them home from school to protect other students. The CDC warns widespread transmission of this virus could lead to mass absences, maybe closures at schools, child care centers and other places where people gather. Americans are urged to talk to your employer about working from home if necessary.

JARRETT: Oversees, South Korea confirmed 505 new cases. That's more cases that China announced so far today. Japan's prime minister just announced all schools will close starting Monday for a month.

Coronavirus has now spread to every continent except Antarctica. Brazil announcing its first case Wednesday, the first in South America.

ROMANS: Democratic presidential candidates talked about the outbreak during CNN's town halls in South Carolina. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'd insist China allow our scientists in to make a hard determination of how it started, where it's from, how far along it is because that is not happening now and that should be, we should be allowed to do that and they should want us to do that because we have genuine experts who know how to confront these things.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Number one, he fired the pandemic team two years ago. Number two, he's been defunding Centers for Disease Control, so we don't have the experts in place that we need. Bottom line is we are not ready for this kind of thing and the president is not a scientist is a nice way to phrase it, doesn't seem to believe in science.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When the president addressed this, he didn't do it with the CDC, that I think that's important because I believe in science. But I also think as we look at diseases and how they spread we have to think ahead.


ROMANS: Now, there were some political headlines made. Michael Bloomberg says he will support any Democratic nominee including frontrunner Bernie Sanders despite warning Sanders would lose to President Trump.

Joe Biden says Trump would be escorted out of the White House if he loses but refuses to concede.

Biden also got an emotional endorsement from Congressman James Clyburn, the highest ranking black member of Congress known as the godfather of South Carolina Democratic politics.

Meantime, Senator Elizabeth Warren dismissed any chance she would drop out of the race soon. She says she's in as long as no candidate reaches a majority of delegates to clench the nomination.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The way I see this is you write the rules before you know where everybody stands and then you stick with those rules. So, for me, Bernie had a big hand in writing these rules, I didn't write them.


ROMANS: All right. The field is dispersing today. Some are focused on South Carolina. Others are looking to Super Tuesday states like North Carolina and Texas.

JARRETT: All right. Coming up an NHL star speaking for the first time since collapsing on the bench. Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report", next.



ROMANS: The fate of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is in doubt here amid concerns of the coronavirus.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy.


The worldwide impact of the coronavirus outbreak just continues to hit hard. But Tokyo 2020 organizers say the show will go on. Next month's Olympic torch relay scheduled to go ahead as plan but the organizing committee is considering scaling down a bit to decrease the risk of infection.

There is still concern about the game themselves set to begin on July 24th. One senior member of the International Olympic Committee Dick Pound told CNN that preparations for the Summer Games are going ahead as planned for now.


DICK POUND, SENIOR MEMBER, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: There are a number of ranges there. Could they be postponed for a few months, could they be postponed for a year, would they have to be canceled altogether, could they be dispersed in parcels around the world? And it's not that we're not anywhere near that kind of a decision-making process.


SCHOLES: Now, Pound estimated they're going to have to make a decision when the games are about 2 to 3 months out. The Olympics have only been canceled due to wartime. The IOC says they're going to rely on the World Health Organization when making a decision.

All right, hockey player Jay Bouwmeester says his future still isn't clear following a cardiac episode during a game. The St. Louis Blues defenseman spoke to the media for the first time yesterday since collapsing on the bench earlier this month and Bouwmeester says he doesn't remember much about that moment but recalls how chilling it was.


JAY BOUWMEESTER, ST. LOUIS BLUES DEFENSEMAN: It all came pretty suddenly. Everything up to that point was normal and hadn't been sick or had much going on, so really it was completely out of the blue.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: Yes, since that scary moment, Bouwmeester had a device implanted in his chest to maintain his heart's rhythm and Bouwmeester is definitely out the rest of this season, Christine. He's 36 years old and still hasn't made a decision for the rest of his hockey career, but it might be time to think about the next phase of his life.

ROMANS: Glad he's all right.

All right. Thanks so much for that, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: What's coming up, Laura?

JARRETT: All right, Christine.

We could be in the midst of realizing one of the worst fears of coronavirus. A new case in the U.S. with an unknown origin. Experts say it's an indication the virus may be spreading domestically and we don't know it.



ROMANS: Police this morning searching for a motive after a worker at the Molson Coors complex in Milwaukee opened fire and killed five employees before taking his own life. More than 1,000 people were working at the facility and corporate offices and two breweries when shots were heard.

Now, workers than began receiving texts and e-mail warnings from the company about an active shooter.


GAVIN HATTERSLEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MOLSON COORS: We're a family here at Molson Coors in Milwaukee, and this is an unthinkable tragedy for us. All across Milwaukee and Wisconsin, there are folks there are associated in some way with our employees at Molson Coors, and I'd ask you to stay close with them and particularly the families of those who lost their lives today.


ROMANS: None of the victims have been publicly identified yet. A prayer vigil will be held tonight at the Ridge Community Church, about 10 miles from the Molson Coors Complex.

JARRETT: Lynching would finally be a federal hate crime under a bill passed yesterday by the House, 410-4. The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act is named for the 14-year-old brutally murdered in Mississippi back in 1955. Congress has tried and failed to make lynching a federal crime for more than a hundred years. One independent and three Republicans voted against the legislation. President Trump is expected to sign it.

EARLY START continues right now.


JARRETT: An alarming new development for coronavirus on U.S. soil, a new case with no known source. The president is trying to ease concerns about the virus by blaming Democrats and expressing some surprise about the flu.

Good morning. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

You know, the biggest fear of coronavirus is what we don't know, including the ways it can spread. Now that worry has come to American soil. A person in Solano County, California, near Sacramento, diagnosed with coronavirus. This might be the first example what's called community spread. That's where the patient had no direct contact with someone known to have the virus.

The patient was hospitalized a week ago at UC-Davis.