Return to Transcripts main page
Countries Around The World Take Drastic Measures Amid Crisis; Democrats Make Final Push Before Critical South Carolina Primary; 2,800 Dead, 83,000+ Coronavirus Cases Around The World. Aired 10- 10:30a ET
Aired February 28, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Top of the hour, good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Jim Sciutto.
The deadly coronavirus is spreading. We're working to bring you all the latest most accurate information. Countries around the world are now taking serious measures in the fight to contain it. Let's look at some of them.
In Japan, schools have been asked to close for a month, starting Monday. In Iran, a religious tradition, Friday prayers, brought to a screeching halt, this after the virus has killed more than 30 people there.
HARLOW: Saudi Arabia is now barring people from taking pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina. Of course, millions of people go to Islam's holiest sites. In Italy, authorities quarantining off areas where tens of thousands of people actually live.
Here at home in the United States, a free fall continuing on Wall Street, the Dow facing a fifth straight day of declines, down almost another thousand points today.
SCIUTTO: It's remarkable as you watch those numbers, because earlier, the Futures were pointing to a much smaller drop. Of course, things could turn on a dime there. But let's look at the hard facts.
The World Health Organization is giving an update on the situation now. We're going to monitor that. We're going to bring you all the news and all the advice you can use as we get it.
But let's begin with CNN International Correspondent Frederik Pleitgen.
Fred, you're in Europe. You also cover Iran a lot. Look at the whole region if you can for us, perhaps beginning with Iran where authorities are taking this threat very seriously. FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They certainly are. Europe, Middle East region, Iran certainly is one of those hotbeds for the coronavirus, if you will, Jim. You guys were just talking about the death toll in Iran, which is now
at 34 currently.
And in Iran, you've just mentioned that the Friday prayers have been canceled. But get this, the country's vice president has now come down with the coronavirus. And this vice president was actually in a cabinet meeting with Hassan Rouhani, with the president, and all the other ministers just a couple of days ago. So you can see that the virus there certainly has reached the top levels of Iran's government. And also just over the course of 24 hours, they have confirmed well over another additional 100 cases. They're now currently at 388.
Now, here in Europe, virus continues to spread on the continent as well. Italy really remains very much the hotbed there now at about 650 confirmed cases. And they also have about 17 dead there. And you guys mentioned, they have local quarantines, which is pretty large areas that are being quarantined there. They call those the red zones, where people are not being let in and out, as they're obviously trying to contain the virus from spreading any further.
Nevertheless, over the past couple of hours, about 24 hours, we have had new cases in new countries here in Europe, which has been remarkable. Spain has had a lot of new cases, France has had a lot of new cases. There is first cases also now in the Baltic countries, way up in the north. So you can really see how the coronavirus is spreading throughout the European continent.
And then finally, where I am right now, here in Germany, I actually just finished watching a press conference by sort of Germany's version of the Center for Disease Control and they're saying they have confirmed an additional 27 cases here in Germany. What they're doing in this Country is, on the one hand, they're trying to quarantine areas where they have had cases, but the same time they also say a very important thing is being honest with the public, by frankly telling, them take this seriously, but don't panic as well, guys.
HARLOW: Fred, thank you for that reporting. It's amazing what is happening in just a few days around the world.
Here in the U.S., California and health officials are worried that the coronavirus is spreading after this woman with no known travel history to anywhere infected recently and no known exposure to those with the virus came down with it. The state now has 33 cases. 8,400 people who flew into California on regular domestic flights are being monitored as well for this.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Those numbers are just remarkable. And, listen, as we're talking, Poppy, the market now passed that thousand point drop yet again. We're joined now by Lenny Bernstein, Health and Medicine Reporter for The Washington Post, and CNN's Stephanie Elam, she's in Sacramento, California. So, Stephanie, when you hear that the State of California is monitoring 8,400 people for possible contact with the coronavirus case here, that's a remarkable number. How serious are they about that? Is that out of an abundance of caution or is this what you got to do in these circumstances?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it's probably a combination of both, Jim and Poppy, when you take a look at this. This coming from the governor himself, Gavin Newsom, saying that they're monitoring these 8,400 plus people throughout the state and 49 different jurisdictions throughout the state, watching them because they came back from points of concern, is the way that he put it.
Many of these people just taking commercial flights that may have been coming back from Asia and looking just to make sure nothing happened, so looking at this 14-day window, obviously, and that is what has so many people concerned. And they just want to know make sure everybody is fine, because it helps to trace back where things could have started.
That is the issue with this woman who was here at U.C. Davis. They don't know how she got it. I know people have been asking this question a lot because they know Solano County, where this woman was from, is also where Travis Air Force Base is, where those repatriated Americans, some of them, have been landing at the Air Force Base there, being treated there. That is something that officials here are ruling out. They're saying that she had no reason to come in contact with anyone who is at Travis Air Force Base being treated for coronavirus, so still trying to figure out.
However, there were a few days that she was out and about in her community before she went to the hospital in Vacaville, just in the next county over, and then was transferred by ambulance here. So what we do know now is that her family is in quarantine and that the hospital has gone through and looked at all of the hospital workers and has looked to see who may have had any contact with her and they're saying that there are dozens of hospital workers who may have come in contact with her but, but less than 100. Those people are either being isolated, quarantined or examined, self-monitoring at home, not working right now, so that they can make sure that they're not infected.
But, Jim, watching that 14-day period, which we are already well into right now, so that's part of the reason why we have seen some changes around here. But, overall, they're saying they are locking things down here during this proclamation of a local emergency.
HARLOW: Stephanie, thank you.
Lenny, to you. You have an important piece all about this, what's going on in California this morning. And I just want you to listen to a doctor, this is in Solano County, yesterday, explaining why this one woman -- you know, why it was days before she was actually tested for this. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. BELA MATYAS, PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIAL, SOLANO COUNTY HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES: At some point the patient became ill enough to warrant testing for coronavirus and the result came back positive. It is, again, worth noting that the patient wasn't tested prior to that because they weren't severely ill enough and they had no connection to any of the known risk factors for coronavirus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: So now, Lenny, I mean, is anyone with symptoms there being tested? Because I know there is only some 12 labs across the country in addition to the CDC that can even process the testing.
LENNY BERNSTEIN, HEALTH AND MEDICINE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, that's true. So until yesterday, the criteria for testing someone was quite simple and quite narrow, if they had been to china, or if they had any confirmed contact with someone who was known to have a case. That has come under very fierce criticism as being too narrow to catch the case, the virus in the case of a woman like a woman from Solano County.
So, yesterday, the CDC widened the criteria to include a lot more countries. Now, if you come back from South Korea, if you come back from Italy, you now meet the criteria for them to test you.
The other problem, as you mentioned, is the tests haven't been working. So the ones that they sent out around the country have been returned because they're no good, so they have to get new ones out there and they have to do it immediately.
SCIUTTO: Lenny, if I could ask you, because there are a lot of questions now about the speed and breadth of the country's response to this so far. So, to be clear, we had Donna Shalala on, Democratic congresswoman, former HHS secretary herself in the Clinton administration, said, listen, the administration is taking this very seriously, they're taking the steps that are necessary.
From your perch there, what more needs to be done or are those steps so people at home can feel comfortable being taken right now?
BERNSTEIN: Well, testing is number one. We have sort of gone over that. Those tests have to work. And they have to be given to a lot more people. I say this not to scare people, but it is very likely that there is community spread in other parts of the country and we just don't know about it. The woman in Solano County is the canary in the coal mine. It's the first one we have come upon. But this is a highly infectious disease. It's very he likely that someone has brought it back to another part of the United States and another part of the United States and we're going to find that out. That's not reason to panic. That's reason to prepare. And we just don't know yet what we don't know. And that's what the CDC keeps telling us. We will likely have more community spread in the United States, we just haven't found it yet. SCIUTTO: Yes. Words to the wise, as you just said there, Lenny, not to panic, to prepare.
And we'll just try to bring everybody all the best information we have.
Stephanie Elam, thanks so much, Lenny Bernstein, Health and Medicine for The Washington Post, you very much.
U.S. markets, listen, we have been watching it plunging for the fifth straight day. For a while, there below -- it was another thousand point drop. I mean, these things don't just happen every day, and now we're having it several days, this is just one day after the market lost 1,100 points.
Julia Chatterley, Poppy, is following this all for us.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, FIRST MOVE: Hey, great to be with you. I'm going to use your word, actually, you said we should be preparing rather than panicking. It's panic. It's uncertainty that's driving these markets. To your point, we're moving further into correction territory here, which means we're down more than 10 percent from recent highs. And I think it's the sheer speed that we've done this. Remember, six trading sessions, we have gone from talking about record highs for these markets, to now being in correction territory. We're no longer saying that investors are complacent about the coronavirus risks and what it means, but the problem is we just can't gauge what those risks are. And that's what investors are saying. That's the message I think that markets are sending at this moment.
At some point, the conversation will turn and we'll say, look, we have more than priced it, now we're overreacting to the risk over there. But I am not seeing that in these markets yet. And you can see, again, the price action today remains incredibly nervous.
The discussions I am having too with people is where is the leadership? Now, the conversation is turning to is it about leaders of countries coming forward and say, we're going to take action. Does central banks, like the Federal Reserve, perhaps even this weekend step forward and say, look, we'll stand ready, Could they even cut rates? There are so many questions being asked here, guys.
But I also think context for people that are invested in these markets is important. If you fast-forward one year from some of the biggest events that we have seen, the crash of 1987, Brexit, in fact, too, the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, These markets tend to be 20, 30, 40 percent higher. It doesn't help today, but that us a thing to remember when we're seeing this kind of pressure. Jim, Poppy?
HARLOW: Julia, thank you. Such an important perspective. We'll keep it all in mind. We'll keep an eye on the market, of course, the politics. It is crunch time for the Democratic candidates making their final pitches before voters, one day before the critical South Carolina primary. SCIUTTO: And a mystery in Montana. Families are fighting for answers after dozens of native American women and girls, dozens, that's right, have disappeared there.
SCIUTTO: We're just one day away from the South Carolina primary, 2020 Democrats making their final Pitches there and, of course, just a few days away from Super Tuesday states.
HARLOW: We can't believe how fast it is all coming.
SCIUTTO: It's March.
HARLOW: I know. Bakari Sellers, former South Carolina State Representative, and Jamie Lovegrove, Political Reporter for The Post and and Courier there in South Carolina, good to have you guys.
Let me begin with not the frontrunner but someone I'm very interested to see what the numbers are tomorrow, Jamie, that is Mayor Buttigieg, and what it would take for him in terms of getting a percentage of the African-American vote to call it success, because that's his real hang-up.
JAMIE LOVEGROVE, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE POST AND COURIER: Yes, it has been very difficult for him and it's going to create some serious complications down the road at this point. He is in Charleston this morning, and one of my colleagues who was there reports that there are lines around the block waiting to get into to see him. So he certainly does have some support, but a lot of the Buttigieg events that I have gone to around South Carolina have had very white crowds. And so he's not necessarily reaching the groups that he wants to.
He has made a concerted effort, I'll point that out, and more of an effort than, say Amy Klobuchar, for example, who has been lagging far behind. The issue is that it's just very hard to peel away some of these voters from Joe Biden who they have known for so many years, who they trust, and to get them to go for a new name, a new face who they have just heard of for the first time. So that's really the struggle that he has faced here.
SCIUTTO: Bakari, how important is South Carolina for Joe Biden?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's very important. It is the end all, be all. I don't like the term firewall, but I think this is going to be more of a springboard. If you look at the history of South Carolina in the Democratic primaries for president, it has been that springboard. I mean, most famously was with Barack Obama, how it catapulted him into Super Tuesday.
There are a lot of states in Super Tuesday that have an electorate that look like South Carolina. So I think if Joe Biden is able to do well on tomorrow, that would help him out immensely on Tuesday. HARLOW: I think the question becomes, Jamie, how well, again, somewhat of a question, does Biden have to do? Because you heard the majority whip, Jim Clyburn, say on this network, he doesn't want just a 10 or 11-point, you know, win for Biden, he wants like 15, 16 to propel him, right, for Biden, am I right? It is not just about winning, it is about how much he wins by if he can pull it off.
LOVEGROVE: That's absolutely right. He needs to send a resounding message to the rest of the field, and the rest of the country that the case that he has been making for the last month or two that he has the support of African-American voters is correct. That's what he has said after that disappointing finish in Iowa, after the disappointing finish in New Hampshire, is let's wait until we get more diverse states.
So he's got to prove that that case is accurate and he's got to send a message heading into Super Tuesday.
And, you know, one other point just in terms of the way that this is going to play out on Saturday night, if he is winning big, it's more likely we're going to be able to call the race earlier in the night. That's going to mean more folks are paying attention to the results, it is going to mean he can get a potentially bigger bounce. It's hard to get that momentum in just three days between Saturday and Super Tuesday, but he is going to need to get a big win to send a message to the country here.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Just ask Pete Buttigieg about losing momentum after the days it took to get to Iowa numbers finalized.
Let's talk, Bakari, about Bernie Sanders, because beyond South Carolina, as you look to Super Tuesday, he's still very much a frontrunner. But there are genuine concerns within his own party about him as a national candidate.
I want to play some sound. I spoke to Donna Shalala, Democratic congresswoman, of course, from Florida, formerly of the Clinton Administration, about Sanders' comments about Fidel Castro and the effects. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Do comments like that from Sanders threaten Democrats' ability to win Florida in 2020?
REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): Absolutely. It's not only his comments on the Castro regime, but also 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: That's a Democrat, to Bernie Sanders, puts us the party at risk, the country at risk. Opposition within the party to him is severe.
SELLERS: Yes, it's strong. The headwinds are very strong because of comments like that. I don't think we want to be litigating on a debate stage with Donald Trump the virtues of a dictator. I don't think we want to going back to 1959 trying to point out a literacy program which -- what senator Sanders actually left out was filled with propaganda.
I speak to our colleague, Ana Navarro, all the time about the Socialistas and her growing up in South America and the oppressive state she and her family fled. And for me it's a learning experience. It's empathy, learning from these various cultures and their experiences and something that Bernie Sanders refuses to acknowledge.
I think that before we crown Bernie Sanders the king of the party though, we need to realize that it is a huge likelihood that he's going to get swept throughout the south. It's hard to go to a contested convention where an entire portion of the country will reject you, not only that, but Florida looks like a huge delegate haul to offset some of the losses that Joe Biden may have.
HARLOW: Very quickly, before we go, what are you thinking in terms of turnout for tomorrow, Jamie? I mean, in 2016, it was half, really, of what it was in 2008. What's tomorrow going to look like?
LOVEGROVE: Well, that is the big question, and not just the size of it but sot of the racial demographics of it too. In 2008, it was actually 55 percent African-American, in 2016, 61 percent. And it's less that the African-American turnout is really variable, it is more that the white turnout is variable. Have any of these candidates really brought any new voters to this process? That's the argument Bernie Sanders was making last night in Spartanburg where I was, was that he is going to inspire the largest voter turnout in South Carolina history. Of course, the question is who are those voters going to show up for.
I think we will certainly have a bigger turnout than 2016. I would be surprised if it's quite as passionate as it was in 2008 when Barack Obama was on the ballots. But a lot of folks that I talked to are very engaged at this point and I think it's going to be one for the history books.
HARLOW: Well, we know you'll have a busy weekend at work, you probably, Bakari. Thank you, guys. We appreciate it.
SELLERS: Thank you.
HARLOW: Vice President Mike Pence is now in charge of the U.S. response to the coronavirus. Critics are wondering though if messaging from the office can be completely trusted. The political impact of this crisis is next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:25:00]
HARLOW: 8,300, more than 8,300 cases of coronavirus around the world as we sit here today, more than 2,800 of them fatal. As the virus spreads, the political fallout, it grows as well.
SCIUTTO: Let's bring in CNN Editor at Large Chris Cillizza and Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash.
Dana, I want to get to the administration's response here, particularly the messaging. You have it now all under the vice president's office, even saying someone like Anthony Fauci who runs the National Institutes of Health Specialty Center on Infectious Diseases to run comments through him.
Now, I can see the argument for the administration speaking with one voice here. That's the positive side. But we also know the way this administration often covers -- colors the facts to its advantage. What are we seeing here? Which of those two things?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, what we can say is that Anthony Fauci himself told members of Congress just this morning that he is not being gagged, that he is not being -- that his comments aren't being colored or anything of that nature that he is able to say what he needs to say as the lead public health official.
But what is also true is that people like him and other public health officials have to get -- sign off from the vice president's office before -