Return to Transcripts main page
California Monitoring 8,400 People for Coronavirus; CDC Issues New Rules on Coronavirus Testing; U.S. Stocks on Track for Worst Week Since 2008 Financial Crisis; Interview with Representative Donna Shalala (D-FL) about the latest on Coronavirus; Lawmakers in U.S. Briefed as Coronavirus Fears Grow; Florida Democrats Slam Sanders Over Castro Comments; Democrats Make Final Push Before Critical South Carolina Primary. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired February 28, 2020 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Friday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. We do begin again with breaking news this morning on the global impact of the coronavirus. It is just extraordinary. In Japan, it is official, all schools will be closed for a month starting Monday. Right now more than 900 people have been infected there. Nine have died. And there are concerns now about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Are they in jeopardy?
Turning to Iran, drastic measures to contain the virus that has killed more than 30 people there. Authorities shutting down schools and public gatherings, of course, including Friday prayer there.
SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, here's the thing. Amid all the accusations about politics coverage, et cetera, governments around the world are clearly taking this seriously. Saudi Arabia is now barring people from taking pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina. Millions of people a year do that. These are Islam's holiest sites. It is an historic and an unprecedented move there.
And in Italy, a stunning image. Pro soccer teams playing in front of empty stadiums.
SCIUTTO: As fears grow over the virus. 650 people now infected in that country, 17 people have died there. They just don't want all those people in close proximity to each other.
SCIUTTO: Here in the U.S., California health officials are worried that the coronavirus is spreading after the first case of unknown origin in the U.S. was confirmed there in California. HARLOW: California has 33 confirmed cases of the virus. Governor Gavin
Newsom says more than 8,000 people who flew into California on regular domestic flights are also being monitored for any signs of infection.
Let's begin this hour with Stephanie Elam. She joins us live in Sacramento this morning.
And Step, that is thousands of people interacting every day with the general public. How great is the concern now in terms of the potential spread of this virus there?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, well, Poppy, when you talk to officials they'll tell you that this is something that they saw coming because they know how diseases work in general. But when you take a look at the one woman here in Solano County, one county over from where I am in Sacramento, they are saying that they have now enacted a proclamation of local emergency so that they can identify anybody, screen anybody, and then keep monitoring those people.
This is the same county where the planes have been coming back from China, repatriating Americans from parts that were contaminated that we know had an outbreak there. So there was some concern that perhaps this woman got it through any contact with Travis Air Force Base. Officials, however, are saying that is not the case. They still do not know how this woman was able to contract coronavirus. They are working very hard to try to figure that out -- Jim and Poppy.
SCIUTTO: So, Stephanie, we're hearing a number that caught our attention today. California monitoring now hundreds of people potentially who may have come into contact with this person just to see if it's gone beyond. Is that out of an abundance of caution? Is there evidence that it's gone beyond that small group today?
ELAM: Well, what we do know is that she was in her community for a few days before going to the hospital in her community in Vacaville for three days and then transferred by ambulance here to UC Davis Medical Center. So they are saying there are dozens of people who are hospital workers who came in contact with that woman but less than 100. Some of them are quarantined. Some are isolated. Some are staying at home and are self-monitoring their symptoms.
Her family is also quarantined as well because she was, obviously, in close proximity with them as well. So they are concerned about looking at these people and anyone in the community that she could have come in contact before she actually went to the hospital to get help. When she started to see that her condition was getting worse, when doctors started to see that, that's when they transferred here to the UC Medical Center, and that's when they found out they needed to do this test.
That's when they found out that she had coronavirus. So still a lot of questions there. And not getting all the clarity, but at least notifying people who did come in contact with her.
HARLOW: Stephanie Elam, thank you so much for being there and for that reporting.
Meantime, a whistleblower at the Department of Health and Human Services says more than a dozen people who were exposed to the first Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China were exposed without the protective gear or the proper training, Jim.
SCIUTTO: We're joined now by Dr. Waleed Javaid, he's director of Infection Prevention and Control at Mount Sinai Downtown.
Doctor, so good to have you on this morning. Listen, our focus here is on getting the most accurate and immediate information out to our viewers here who are concerned about this.
So, first, let's start with the simplest question. Where can people get the best information about the spread of this virus in their community and what they should do about it?
DR. WALEED JAVAID, DIRECTOR OF INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL, MOUNT SINAI DOWNTOWN: Thank you for having me and thank you for asking this question. The best source, really, is at this time CDC, WHO, the state and local health departments actually in different states actually have Web sites available that one can look at and find information that's more reasonable and informative for general public.
HARLOW: With the WHO, the World Health Organization, warning just this morning, Doctor, that this has a real potential to be a pandemic, like on the precipice of it. What should every parent, every person at home right now be buying, doing and not doing?
JAVAID: So I think keeping ourselves healthy, as healthy as possible, protected as much as possible and keeping our health care up to date as much as possible is I think three most important things. Making sure we are vaccinated. Making sure we keep washing our hands. And making sure we -- if we have illnesses like diabetes and others, we are optimized.
HARLOW: What about masks? For example. I went to three pharmacies yesterday to try to buy masks for my family, and I couldn't find them. Do I need them?
JAVAID: That's again, very good question. So for general public there is no benefit to using masks. There is a lot of -- a lot of (INAUDIBLE) behind using masks in health care and that's because of our close proximity to the very ill. But for general public, wearing masks is not going to be beneficial.
JAVAID: And secondarily, when we are taking the mask off, we're actually contaminating our hands. Again, washing our hands is going to be important in those cases as well.
HARLOW: OK. SCIUTTO: Doctor, the sad fact is that like so many issues now, people
are attempting to politicize it and say that information is coming from quarters of the society, et cetera. But again, I want you to focus on what we know. The president has said, and I'm quoting from him directly, "It's going to disappear." Do we know that?
JAVAID: So, we don't know if it's going to disappear or if it is not going to disappear. We have seen seasonalities in these illnesses, including coronavirus, so there is a hope, if you will, that it might. But we are going to be prepared if it doesn't.
HARLOW: Dr. Waleed Javaid, we appreciate your time. We know how busy you guys are. Thank you for coming in and for that important information.
JAVAID: Thank you for having me.
HARLOW: Of course.
SCIUTTO: For sure. And that's what we're going to do. We're going to focus on bringing you the best information we have as soon as we have it.
Let's look now at the global economic effects of this because those are becoming very real. And I'm sure you at home have been watching your 401(k), et cetera, this morning. U.S. stocks on track for the worst week since the 2008 financial crisis which is a remarkable comparison.
HARLOW: It is. Minutes from now the market will open. Stocks set to fall again on fear about the spread of the virus and what it could become. This follows the worst single-day point drop in history. Point drop, not percentage drop. That matters.
HARLOW: So let's get to our business -- chief business correspondent Christine Romans.
Romans, what are we looking at here for the end of the week?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, struggling still. I mean, this has been a really ugly week for investors. And you still see unease around the globe. I mean, you had Asian markets closed the week sharply lower. You had European markets opened up sharply lower. You have stock index futures still down here. So it's still this same feeling in the markets.
And just -- I have to say, the magnitude of the move lower, the velocity of this move lower has really caught a lot of people by surprise. In just six days, you have a correction in the S&P 500. That's the fastest correction in something like 70 years. So usually it doesn't happen so quickly. You've got basically seven months of gains for the Dow wiped out in just a few days here, some 3200 points.
So you are seeing -- remember when the coronavirus began as a story, you still had stocks hitting record highs. So investors are just now coming to grips that companies are saying, this is real. This matters. It's going to affect their business. It's going to affect their earnings.
ROMANS: And that's what we're seeing here.
SCIUTTO: That's the thing, Christine, I want to focus on because this is not a feeling -- certainly feeling, sentiment factors into the markets, but markets are looking at hard data, are they not?
SCIUTTO: Slowdown in the economy in China. The second largest in the world.
SCIUTTO: And then slowdown in earnings for U.S. companies as a result.
ROMANS: And even as it looks like maybe the infection rate in China may have peaked it is now spreading around the rest of the world. Look, Microsoft, United Airlines, Diageo, Danone, the owner of British Airways. I could go on and on.
The companies who've either withdrawn their guidance, saying, I can't even tell investors what kind of money we're going to have to make this year, what we're going to -- what kind of clarity we're going to have because we don't know what's going to happen, or they're already outright warning on hits to their sales and --
ROMANS: And hits to their supply chains. This is a very globalized supply system around the world. China out of the game, even partially for a few weeks, has ripple effects that could last all the way to Christmas.
SCIUTTO: Yes. And listen, you've noted this, Poppy has noticed this. Sometimes markets overshoot the mark.
SCIUTTO: Sometimes they undershoot the mark. We should be prepared for that.
Christine romans, we know you're going to stay on top of it.
Still to come this hour, a group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill has just in the last few moments been briefed on the deadly coronavirus. We're going to speak to someone who was in that briefing and bring you the latest information.
SCIUTTO: Members of the House were just briefed on the deadly coronavirus as fears of the effects of it heighten around the world.
Joining me now Democratic congresswoman from Florida, Donna Shalala. We should note, she was also the secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton. Certainly an enormous amount of expertise on this kind of thing.
Congresswoman, thanks for taking the time this morning.
REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): You're welcome, Jim.
SCIUTTO: So first, tell us what you learned from the briefing. What were the headlines in your view?
SHALALA: The headlines were that the administration is moving very quickly to get tests in place to make sure that we have the resources to identify where the virus is spreading in the United States. Let me say that this administration and the previous administrations have world class scientist physicians. The best people in the world to deal with this crisis work for the United States government.
And the fact that it's now being coordinated by the vice president out of the White House, I happen to think it's a good thing. Even though the president stepped all over the message the other day. I don't know what it is about politicians. They have to get in front of the camera, he said something the opposite of what scientists have said. It will spread.
There's no question about that. And we have the capacity to put people into the hospitals, to put them in isolation, if necessary. Many people will be isolated in their own homes. But there's no question that it's going to spread.
SCIUTTO: OK --
SHALALA: We're trying to get our tests in place. We're making sure that in the budget that we're working on with the Republicans, we're going to have the resources that --
SCIUTTO: OK --
SHALALA: These scientists need.
SCIUTTO: So, you're saying that despite the somewhat muddied message, I suppose you call it, from the White House, that in terms of actual action and resources, you say the administration is doing what's necessary?
SHALALA: Well, with the Congress. The Congress is going to provide the administration with resources. Remember, the administration cut the budgets of CDC and HHS. We're not going to just restore those budgets, but we're going to give them the kind of supplemental budgets they need to handle this crisis. But that's --
SCIUTTO: OK --
SHALALA: The problem. We -- the problem is that every time we have a crisis, we have to give them supplemental resources as opposed to building this infrastructure so it's sustained over a long period of time.
SCIUTTO: OK, let's get to that because I want to show on the screen some of the proposed cuts by this administration to the CDC. Around the world, reduction in the budget, cut to hospital preparedness program, cut to staff as well. Now you're saying, and again, these are proposed cuts.
You're saying that there's bipartisan agreement in Congress to stand in the way of those cuts in effect and get the money where it needs to be?
SHALALA: Well, there's bipartisan agreement that we're not going to accept those cuts, and we're going to put supplemental money in to handle the crisis.
SCIUTTO: Right --
SHALALA: Look, we've got to get over these criticisms and pull together because this crisis requires both Democrats and Republicans to stand together --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
SHALALA: And to fund our governments. And I mean state and local governments appropriately.
SCIUTTO: You heard the president, and you referenced them to some degree, just quickly here, that the president will in his words, quote, "disappear", putting a -- you might say rosy, a rosy spin on the situation now. Is that a helpful message in the midst of this early response?
SHALALA: It's not -- the problem is, it's not accurate. We have to have a balanced message, and it's got to be carefully coordinated.
SCIUTTO: Yes --
SHALALA: The administration is just starting to do that. I'm a big fan of the deputy that they just appointed, Deborah Birx. Colonel Birx has been running the PEPFAR Program, the big eight's program for three --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
SHALALA: Previous administrations. She's first rate. And they're going to pull things together. I think we have to be --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
SHALALA: Supportive of any administration that has to deal with anything this large. And we can criticize their budgets, but, frankly, we just have to fix it.
SCIUTTO: Yes, and PEPFAR, you mentioned, listen, enormous effect, U.S. investment abroad that saved -- I mean, folks credit it for saving millions of lives. I want to get on the 2020 race, particularly, something you know well, given your district in Florida here. You're familiar with Bernie Sanders' comments praising Fidel Castro.
You called on Sanders to, quote, "talk to your constituents before praising a murderous tyrant." Do comments like that from Sanders threaten Democrats' ability to win Florida in 2020?
SHALALA: Absolutely. It's not only his comments on the Castro regime, but also on Maduro in Venezuela. He seems totally insensitive. It's not just about politics. It's about the accuracy of statements, about murderous dictators and while he tried to offset it a little bit, it puts -- it puts -- it not only puts us at risk, but it puts the whole country at risk when we have a presidential candidate that has good things to say about murderous dictators.
SCIUTTO: Yes, listen, I've been to Cuba a number of times, I've spoken to folks who challenged the government, it doesn't end well for them. Congressman, Donna Shalala, pleasure to have you on the program this morning.
SHALALA: Thank you.
HARLOW: Yes, great voice to hear from especially right now --
SCIUTTO: And you know, Poppy, it's interesting. You and I have spoken to Democratic lawmakers over the last several days, a consistent --
HARLOW: Yes --
SCIUTTO: Message there saying, we've got to work together as a country, as parties --
HARLOW: Yes --
SCIUTTO: And a deliberate effort, it seems, not to take --
HARLOW: Yes --
SCIUTTO: Shots at the president. It's notable.
HARLOW: Which is different than a number of the Democrats running for president --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
HARLOW: Taking shots at him and the administration's efforts on this, and we'll get into it more later. But the importance between proposed budget cuts, NIH and CDC versus an actuality of what happened or didn't happen, right, is also important -- SCIUTTO: Yes --
HARLOW: In all of this. Great interview, so let's dig deeper on the 2020 race for the White House. Democrats making their final push before their next critical tests, the South Carolina primary. Let's bring in Keith Boykin; former Clinton White House aide and Joseph Bustos; political reporter for "The State"; a newspaper of course there in the critical state of South Carolina.
Good morning to you, Joseph, let me just begin with you because you were there at Bernie Sanders' rally at Wofford College in Spartanburg. Tell me about the vibe there because he just -- he had a disastrous performance in the primary there when he was running against Hillary Clinton. And it just seems so different this time.
JOSEPH BUSTOS, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE STATE: Yes, his crowd last night was more than 1,900 people in Wofford College, it was packed, they were loud. They were cheering for him all night long when he was speaking for about 45 minutes. It was the upstate part of South Carolina. It's a place that is a little more white, so there's -- it's a part of the state that might be more supportive of him. And it's also near North Carolina which votes on Super Tuesday.
SCIUTTO: Keith, let me ask you a question, and I don't want to get ahead of ourselves here. South Carolina is important, we're going to get a lot of the information out of how voters go tomorrow there, particularly on Joe Biden's candidacy, but very soon after, you're going to have Super Tuesday. And Joe Biden, despite his strength in South Carolina has something of an interesting strategy because he is not invested much in those Super Tuesday states.
Kind of relying on a strong performance in South Carolina to lift, you know -- lift the tide, the Biden tide in -- on the Super Tuesday states. Is that a workable strategy?
KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Well, I don't know if I'd call it a strategy as much as a necessity. The reality is, he doesn't have the money to invest in those big Super Tuesday states like California and Texas where it takes a heck of a lot of resources to be able to buy air time on television, radio. And so, he's got to have a big bounce out of South Carolina in order to propel him into the Super Tuesday states.
But those are only a few days away. Those are on Tuesday.
SCIUTTO: Yes --
HARLOW: Yes --
SCIUTTO: And South Carolina is on Saturday. So the question is whether -- even if Biden does really well, will it be enough to sort of --
HARLOW: Yes -- SCIUTTO: Break through and give him momentum in just a few days'
HARLOW: That -- and Joseph, Keith made the point earlier, and just to build on what he said about why it's so important for Joe Biden's camp that he doesn't only win, but that he wins big time, right? And we heard Clyburn -- Congressman Clyburn say that to our colleague, Wolf Blitzer as well that he wants to see not just a 10 or 11-point win, but a 15 or 16-point win to propel him, right? Is it not just a win Joe Biden --
BUSTOS: Yes --
BUSTOS: I think he may -- they may be looking for a result similar to what Bernie Sanders got in Nevada because with some of those Super Tuesday states, there are many southern states in those that will be voting. But there's also California and Texas where Bernie Sanders is looking to do well, which also has a lot more delegates.
SCIUTTO: Keith, of course, as you know, there are members of the Democratic Party, party leadership who are concerned about Sanders as the front-runner. "The New York times" reported earlier this week that they -- some at least, are willing to risk interparty damage to stop a Sanders nomination. I have to say, rings familiar back to 2016, right, and that caused deep divisions within the party. Is this a smart response?
BOYKIN: No, I don't think it's a smart response. The Democratic Party should let the process unfold. It's not the time to be talking about stopping Bernie Sanders or stopping any candidate. But letting the voters decide who they want to pick to be their -- to be their nominee. I don't think it's a good idea for the former president or for any other person in the party, this house speaker or the unpledged delegates to try to put their -- put their fingers on the scale while we still have a process ongoing.
The question is, why panic right now? There's an orderly process. We've only had three states that have voted right now. We haven't even had -- we haven't even had more than -- we've only had 4 percent of the delegates decided. Less than 4 percent of the delegates decided. And you need 1,991 in order to win the nomination. So, if you have a candidate you have faith in, why not put your money and your investment and your time and energy supporting that candidate instead of tearing down another candidate.
SCIUTTO: Keith Boykin, Joseph Bustos, good to have you both, we'll see what the voters do tomorrow. We'll take your advice and watch to see what the voters decide tomorrow.
BUSTOS: Thank you. HARLOW: All right, bracing for the bell. Stocks on track for the worst week since the financial crisis. We'll take you live to the Stock Exchange next.
HARLOW: There's the opening bell on Wall Street. The market seconds away from opening.