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First Case Reported of Coronavirus Virus in U.S. Contracted by Community Spread; Fears of Coronavirus Spread Cause World Stock Markets to Falter; Dems Make Final Pitch Ahead of SC Primary & Super Tuesday; CDC Confirms First Coronavirus Case of "Unknown" Origin in U.S. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired February 27, 2020 - 08:00   ET



DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Getting a rideshare here, forget about the mints, forget about the water. It's all about getting a vehicle that has been sanitized. They advertise that. They say you have to have a mask on when you're there, and they offer you hand sanitizer. People are punching elevator buttons with their elbows.

We do know that some of these companies that we've talked to, we've talked to several CEOs here in Shanghai, are talking to U.S. companies, and they're trying to consult with hotel lines and several other different entities to explain different ways that they can set up protocol to make people feel easier when it comes to sanitizing their environment. They're talking to hotels about even getting rid of room service people to put up robots so as to keep some distance.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, my gosh. What you're describing, David, is just fascinating, and you've just illustrated it for all of us. Thank you very much for your reporting from there.

Thanks also to our international viewers for watching. For you CNN Newsroom is next. For our U.S. viewers, breaking news on the coronavirus spreading in the U.S. NEW DAY continues right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, February 27th. It is 8:00 in the east. And breaking overnight, a significant and troubling development in the coronavirus outbreak right here in the United States. We now have what appears to be the first person to catch the virus through what is called community spread. It means the patient did not travel to any high threat region or country or come in any known contact with someone else who was infected. It seems that he or she just caught it out there in the course of daily life in the United States. This means that the coronavirus might be circulating here undetected.

CAMEROTA: And John, all of this continues to rattle stock markets around the world. U.S. stock futures pointing down, very down, to another ugly day. Goldman Sachs just warned that a recession is possible in the United States if the coronavirus is not contained. It has been a weeklong bloodbath thus far on Wall Street with the Dow plunging more than 2,000 points. Stocks in Asia are also struggling to rebound.

But let's begin our breaking news coverage with CNN's Dan Simon. He is live in San Francisco with this new case. What are they telling you?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Alisyn. This case is remarkably different for two reasons, because the patient we're talking about here, he did not travel to a foreign country where this virus has been spreading, and he was not around anybody known to have the virus. So the source of the infection here is totally unknown.

Now perhaps at some point the CDC will be able to interview this patient further and try to get more information, but for now, we just don't know. We don't know if this means the virus is going to start spreading more quickly. I want you to listen to the doctor at the U.C. Davis Medical Center who has been talking to this patient. Take a look.


DR. DEAN BLUMBERG, INFECTIOUS DISEASES SPECIALIST U.C. DAVIS MEDICAL CENTER: We can't say that there's definitely more, but I think it's highly suggestive that if there's one, there's probably more than one. There's probably other people. That suggests that the virus is out there in the community, and 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. But that other person probably exposed other people, and you have to realize that this virus is so new that none of us have any immunity to it. So anybody who is exposed is at high risk of getting infected with this.


SIMON: One thing that is also concerning with respect to this patient is that the diagnosis took some time. It was actually delayed because the hospital was not able to perform this test as quickly as they wanted to. So that means that perhaps this patient was exposed to more people. We're talking about 60 cases now in the United States, 28 people in California. The majority of these cases, of course, coming from that cruise ship in Japan, but what happens from here, we just don't know. John and Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: Dan, thank you very much for all of that.

So coronavirus fears, as we've said, are really rattling markets around the world, and now we are nearing a troubling milestone. Chief business correspondent Christine Romans explains.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: We call these corrections when a market declines 10 percent from its most recent peak. And the FTSE, the London stock index, it has already done that. I want to just look at world markets. Tokyo down another two percent overnight. Hong Kong managed to barely stabilize. European shares all down hard again here. And look at futures in the U.S. if this holds here, you're talking

about that correction, that official stock market correction in the Dow, the opening bell, and if it holds throughout the day. Another 360 points here, 26,550. Nasdaq also projected to be lower here, and the S&P. So these are the numbers to watch for those of you who are into the nerdy correction world, 26,596. That would be an official correction in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The S&P 500 still above its 3,047. We'll show you those numbers where we are again right now.


A couple of things happening this morning. You talked about this community spread, this case in California. That has shaken confidence around the globe, really, because now we're seeing that for the first time here in the U.S. Also this morning, Goldman Sachs out with an exhaustive note, basically redoing its math for the year on what it expects companies to earn and the stock market to do. It expects no profit growth for American companies this year, no profit growth. That's what the stock market measures, right, profits of companies. It expects U.S. companies to lose money in the first half of the year because of the coronavirus. And if it is a pandemic, a prolonged pandemic, the worst case scenario you would see a recession in the U.S. Other big banks and economists are also downgrading their expectations for growth and the stock market this year, guys.

BERMAN: Just stay on that for one second, Romans. I just want to show on the screen here. That is the Dow futures, the markets open one hour and 25 minutes from now, and they're down 363 points. This is after those two horrible days. Yesterday was a down day and now this. Four days to get to a correction.

ROMANS: The S&P 500 is eight percent off of its highs, so it's very close to having this official correction. And the Dow is now -- the Dow is 30 stocks. The S&P is 500. So this is the one you really want to watch here. The Dow is the one that has the president's attention, but the S&P 500 is the broader gauge of stock market health. This is down eight percent from its peak.

And this Goldman Sachs note, it's forecasting another potential seven percent decline in the S&P before it's all said and done, and then a rebound into the end of the year. There are a lot of different forecasts about what could happen. No one, of course, knows for sure, but the coronavirus is now becoming kind of a feedback loop here. You have companies who have no clarity in how bad it will be and when their supply chains are going to improve, guys.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, keep us posted throughout the next hour and a half and what could be all day and even longer. Thank you so much for that.

It is clear that if the goal of the president with this news conference last night was to allay the fears of investors and markets around the world, and we know he's been concerned about that, it didn't work. Those figures on the screen Romans were just showing us are telling us that investors are still very much rattled. Joining us, CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman. She's a White House

correspondent for "The New York Times." And just so everyone knows, we're going to talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta coming up this hour. We'll talk to emergency response officials to get a sense of that. But we're also talking to Maggie now to get a little bit of the reporting on the political angle for what led up to this last night. Why'd the president walked out on that stage? Does the White House feel like it accomplished what it wanted to given that the markets are still concerned?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No. And look, John, I think the White House is not going to feel like they accomplished what they want to for several days until things calm down. The president had been very frustrated with the public messaging of this from his administration, but not for the reasons that people necessarily think. It's because there were experts who were saying one thing from the CDC, which was that there is this problem brewing, and then he was trying to tamp this down in his own comments.

And he keeps saying something that, as I understand it, is a misinterpretation of what he was told in a briefing, which was that viruses tend to decrease in numbers in terms of spread during warmer weather. He has taken that and he's put his own spin on it, which is it's going to stop by April. He's been telling people that for a while. He was very concerned when he was in India as he was watching the stock market fall. He was calling aides, wanting them to say something public that was going to try to quell the nerves. That obviously didn't happen or didn't happen to the degree he wanted.

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, had been pushing for some higher point person or different point person other than just HHS Secretary Alex Azar for a couple of days. So some people got what they wanted. But the message was not delivered entirely clearly by the president last night as to what this is supposed to accomplish. And if you are Mike Pence, you've been given a portfolio that is likely to have a less than positive outcome, at least for a while. Whether this then instills public confidence in the days going forward I think remains to be seen. But so far, we're not seeing a sign of that.

CAMEROTA: I was wondering that, Maggie. It seemed as though Vice President Pence might be set up for failure. I'm not saying intentionally, but how is he going to get his arms around this? At the moment, it's feeling this morning as though some game-changing things are happening just as Mike Pence steps into the role. Was he surprised that he was taking on this role?

HABERMAN: I think he knew that it was a possibility, but I think the president didn't make it official until late yesterday. And to the question about, did the president calm nerves? Remember that the president had White House press staff go out yesterday and say the reports by "Politico" and us at "The Times" that there may be some czar appointed were not true. OK, they're not literally calling it a czar, but a point person is generally known to mean the same thing at least in government parlance. And that is what they did. And it's not the press shop's fault. They did what they were told to do. But that doesn't instill confidence either in terms of the public's reaction. [08:10:00]

I think Mike Pence is taking this seriously. You're already seeing that he's putting some meeting on his schedule today to try to get his arms around it. But again, I just think that for whomever is in that role, the number of cases could -- and we don't know, right, we obviously hope that it doesn't turn out this way, but it could grow to a number that is much more significant than what the public has seen in this country so far. And that's just going to be an unpleasant load to bear.

The other thing we don't know is how much more we're going to hear from experts out of the administration. It seems like they're trying very hard to centralize this within the VP's staff, that everything is going to go through them. If we limit the number -- if they limit the number of scientists or experts or subject matter experts who are talking to the public about this, it's not clear that that's going to inspire confidence either.

BERMAN: We need to hear from the experts. And we have over the -- up until now.

HABERMAN: Whether that will continue, I think is the open question.

BERMAN: It really is, and that's of concern. Because it was Dr. Fauci yesterday morning right here on NEW DAY, the president said we're very close to a vaccine. Dr. Fauci is like, well, a year-and-a-half.

HABERMAN: The president, John, as we know, likes to try to will things into existence in terms of what he says and bend it to how he wants it to be. You're not going to bend a virus into submission. And so he keeps saying things that have -- or had kept saying things that were not in total concert with science. The public is going to pick up on that.

BERMAN: He's saying things that in some cases are wrong is another way of saying it. He had an exchange with Sanjay last night where Sanjay was pointing out that the mortality rate for the flu is about 0.1 percent. The mortality rate for coronavirus is two percent. It is 20 times more deadly, and the president of the United States, who just discovered that flu was deadly yesterday, he told us, told us, no, no, no, Sanjay, you're not right here. That's a problem. Again, you don't want to have people panicked. You just want people to get the information they need to behave the way they need to behave.

HABERMAN: We have talked many times on this show, and all of us more broadly as a press corps, about the need for credibility by the administration. Every administration has some official who has said something that isn't true at one time or another, but the sheer volume of things that are not true that have been said by this president and by some of his aides does not inspire credibility, and it's why they are being questioned on it at a time when they need it.

Most of the controversies this White House has dealt with have been of the president's making. Not all, but most. This one is not. And how you handle that is a moment where you want people to believe that they can trust what you're saying. And they have brought this on themselves that people question it.

CAMEROTA: Beyond the public health worries of people, obviously, the stock market. Christine Romans just explained a fairly dire morning, at least it looks like at the moment. And as you point out, Maggie, the president often bends --

HABERMAN: Tries to.

CAMEROTA: -- tries to bend reality to the rosier picture that he wants. He will not be comfortable with what we're seeing on the screen here.

HABERMAN: No, Alisyn, he won't. And this has been what he was concerned about for several days, watching the stock market get rattled. This is part of why, for weeks, now, one of the main reasons that he has tried to downplay the significance of this, because he has tethered his own belief in his reelection case to what the stock market looks like, and he knows that if there are economic concerns or if there's an economic downturn, that that could be really perilous for him in November. Public health crises are obviously about the public and about their health. And so the public is perhaps going to be less sympathetic about trying to minimize concerns around a public health threat when it is relating to a person's own reelection.

CAMEROTA: Maggie Haberman, thank you very much for sharing all of the reporting with us.

There's just two days to go now until South Carolina's primary, and Super Tuesday is then right around the corner. So we're going to discuss the final sprint to get votes. What does it look like?

BERMAN: It may not look like a sprint with the candidates we have in the race.

CAMEROTA: An amble.




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: How are the 2020 presidential candidates making their final pitches to voters in South Carolina ahead of Saturday's primary? Well, some of the candidates have already fanned out across the South today from the Carolinas to Texas.

Joining us now, chief political correspondent Dana Bash and CNN political director David Chalian.

Dana, what do these next 48 hours hold?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they hold the key to a lot, most importantly Joe Biden. Most of these candidates have made it very clear that no matter what happens in South Carolina, they're focused on Super Tuesday, the travel schedules between now and even Saturday kind of explain that. A lot of the candidates aren't even here. They're going to Super Tuesday states. But it is so critical for Joe Biden. I mean, it almost sounds like political conventional wisdom at this point. But in this particular case, it's because it happens to be very true.

And even the Biden campaign acknowledges that. He has to win, and in the words of Jim Clyburn who endorsed him yesterday, he doesn't have to -- he can't just win by one point. He has to win big in order to propel his candidacy beyond South Carolina to start really winning other big states.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What does that mean, win big, David, and how then can the vice president or could, hypothetically, he carry that forward when Super Tuesday is just three days away?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It is just three days away, John, but, remember, if he wins big here and let's call that a double- digit win, OK? As a big victory.

It will be, obviously, because of the support with African-American voters. As you know, they make up a majority of the electorate in South Carolina. And then, so look ahead to Super Tuesday a couple days away and there are a whole slew of states on Super Tuesday where the African-American vote can be really consequential inside the Democratic nominating electorate and Joe Biden then would feel a boost of confidence out of here to try and re-create that support in those states and collect a bunch of delegates.

I mean, this has been what they have pointed to for quite some time, that they were going to have to wait until this fourth state in the process which is a late time to sort of make a statement. If they're able to make such a statement that gets him back in this game this weekend and collect enough delegates on Tuesday to slow Bernie Sanders' momentum, we're going to have a new -- potentially, a new reality to the race.


CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, there could be many different new realities, Dana. Do -- are there still candidates who believe that Super Tuesday could be a game-changer for them? Beyond Biden?

BASH: Honestly, they all say so publicly. But the reality is, no. I mean, there's one person for whom Super Tuesday could be a game- changer. And that's Bernie Sanders. And that is a reality that is accepted across campaigns.

And when I say that, what I mean is that there is an expectation that because of the way the Democratic process works, it's proportional. It's not winner-take-all. That Bernie Sanders can gobble up enough delegates in these huge delegate-rich states on Super Tuesday -- Texas, California, for example, that he could be unstoppable after Super Tuesday. Not necessarily unstoppable to clinch the 1,991 needed to get the nomination, but unstoppable, meaning impossible to catch up with by somebody who is the second person behind him. And that is the real concern among campaigns in the so-called moderate

-- this is just a non-Bernie Sanders lane, and that is what the fear is among those who are really, really worried about Bernie Sanders being the Democratic nominee.

BERMAN: I was looking at the campaign schedule and I saw, David, that Bernie Sanders is going to both Massachusetts, the home state of Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Minnesota, the home state of Amy Klobuchar. And my reaction was, oh, no you're not.

I mean, what's going on there? What's he trying to affect?

CHALIAN: John, it's a really smart strategy on the part of Sanders. Try and go to their backyards of some of his opponents.

We asked in the town halls last night, you know, both Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren if their home states were must-wins for them. Amy Klobuchar predicted victory in Minnesota. Elizabeth Warren did not. I'm sure she hopes to do well, but she didn't want to sort of lay down that kind of marker.

Bernie Sanders could do quite well in both those states. And to Dana's point, does Bernie Sanders need to win either of those states? Perhaps not if he's building up this impenetrable delegate lead, if he overwhelms in California, this would just be for bragging rights and to diminish the ability for someone else like Klobuchar or Warren to be able to claim a flat-out victory and have momentum to move forward.

CAMEROTA: And then Bloomberg is the question mark, Dana, since he's not on the ballot in South Carolina. Since he has infused Super Tuesday with all of his cash, just what that's going to do on Tuesday?

BASH: Well, that's sort of goes to the first question, the first topic we were talking about here which is Joe Biden. And it is an unknown. I mean, as big a presence as Bloomberg has been in this campaign for the past month or so, it is a good reminder that he hasn't actually had to be on a ballot and prove his meddle when it comes to getting votes. And so that is going to be a question for him.

But again, a question if -- assuming that he is staying in this and he's going to keep using his millions and billions to do that, whether or not he's going to continue to, you know, pull the chair out from under Joe Biden, even if Joe Biden wins big here or just wins a little bit here in South Carolina, whether or not, if Michael Bloomberg is on the ballot, potentially taking votes away from Joe Biden, whether or not that could continue to splinter that non-Bernie Sanders vote and make it difficult for anybody who is not him to really compete.

BERMAN: Dana Bash and David Chalian. Can I thank both of you for the work you've done on the CNN town halls. They've been really extraordinary, really revealing and really different. So, great work by both of you and everyone involved. And I know there are going to be more.

BASH: Thank you. We're honored to be a part of it.

BERMAN: I'm sure there will be more, I should say. I haven't been told directly, but I would count on it.

Thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: They're the best.


CAMEROTA: OK, now to this. How has the U.S. government handled the coronavirus outbreak so far? And does this new unknown origin case in California change the strategy?

We're going to speak to a top national security expert about all of this, next.



BERMAN: All right. Breaking news: the CDC this morning investigating what could be the first case of community spread of coronavirus in the United States. This involves a patient in California who has not traveled out of the country and not been in contact with someone who did. It means the person just caught it out there in the course of daily life. And it means that coronavirus could be here in the United States undetected in some places.

This comes as the president did address the country last night in this rare press conference and announced that Mike Pence, the vice president, would be overseeing the U.S. response to the coronavirus situation.

Joining me now is CNN national security analyst, Lisa Monaco. She's a former homeland security adviser to President Obama and helped lead the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis in 2014.

Lisa, it's great to have you on. I just want to talk in broad terms. What does a government have to do? What is the most important thing for a government to do in a situation like this?

LISA MONACO, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, thanks, John. Look, the most important thing for our leadership to do is to communicate clearly and candidly about what we know about the virus and also importantly what we don't know. And to give people information about what they can do. What they should be doing.

And importantly, that information should be coming from experts. It's got to have credibility. It should be guided by facts and science.

The government's response to this crisis as to the Ebola crisis, something that really led and governed our actions in response to the Ebola crisis, was to have every policy step we took be guided by and led by science and facts and not by politics.

BERMAN: Communicate clearly and candidly.