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EARLY START

Global Markets Still Struggling to Shake Off Fears of Coronavirus; Mike Pence Takes Over the Response to Coronavirus Crisis; Iran Struggling to Contain Coronavirus; Joe Biden Looks to South Carolina to Boos Campaign; Unfolding Humanitarian Disaster in Idlib. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 28, 2020 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:30:00]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look at Asian markets, they have closed now, and they had closed down sharply. European markets are now open for their Friday trading session. More than 4 percent declines.

These are big one-day declines in Europe. There are corrections around the world in stock markets, and the bad mood extending here to the U.S. A quick look at futures here. 2.5 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It was another reckoning on Wall Street. All three major averages fell into what we call a correction, dropping more than 10 percent from their recent high.

When you measure pain on Wall Street, first it's a correction, then it's a bear market. That's 20 percent. And then a crash comes somewhere later. We had hit that first threshold of pain here. The Dow fell 1,191 points, its worst one-day point drop in history. But perspective here. A 4.4 percent decline in one day doesn't rank in the top 20 list of worst declines percentage wise because of how strong the stock market rally has been over the past decade.

All right, the S&P and the Nasdaq yesterday both fell more than 4 percent. All three averages are on track for their worst weekly percentage drops since the Great Recession back in October 2008.

A strong economy of course, a strong stock market central to the president's re-election message. Monday -- Monday he tweeted stock market starting to look very good to me as the stock market was declining. Investors from that moment have only been losing money. Wednesday's news conference did not inspire confidence either. Stocks continued to fall.

Take a look at this. The Dow is still up 40 percent since the 2016 election. But 36 percent of that trump rally has vanished this week. A third -- more than a third of the Trump rally gone. Trump often uses the stock market as his personal scorecard.

But as stocks decline and recession fears mount, Goldman Sachs warns, quote, "If the coronavirus epidemic materially affects U.S. economic growth, it may increase the likelihood of Democratic victory in the 2020 election."

JARRETT: This morning there are growing concerns about the coronavirus spreading in the U.S. And now a whistleblower at the Department of Health and Human Services claims more than a dozen workers who received the first Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China were not properly trained and lacked proper protective gear. President Trump, meanwhile, seems to be depending on the passage of time as his best weapon against the virus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's going to disappear one day. It's like a miracle. It will disappear. And from our shores we've -- you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We'll see what happens. Nobody really knows.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Vice President Mike Pence insists the risk of coronavirus spreading in the U.S. remains low because of President Trump's, quote, "decisive action." That decisive action includes the president praising himself on Twitter and blaming Democrats and his impeachment for the virus fallout.

Kaitlan Collins is at the White House for us with more.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura and Christine, the vice president has been tapped as the new face of the administration's response to the coronavirus. And you really saw that on full display yesterday as he was leading that briefing alongside the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, of course, who is still technically the chairman of the task force on this.

But Pence made clear that for the chain of command, he is going to be the one leading the response on this. And his office is also trying to take the lead on at least public statements from this because we're now being told by several sources that from now on out any officials who want to either appear on television or make a statement about coronavirus will first have to clear it through Pence's office.

Now Pence had been facing criticism for the way he handled, of course, the HIV outbreak when he was governor of Indiana and he seems to be trying to calm some of those fears by picking a State Department specialist to help him as he's leading the response to this. She is, of course, a physician and that is someone who is going to be helping him with this.

But the question is even as they are continuing to add more medical experts to the team, you're continuing to see President Trump downplay this virus, essentially saying that he does not believe it's going to be spreading in the United States, though we know that CDC officials have said it is not a question of if but when the coronavirus outbreak is going to spread here.

So there are still major questions facing this administration. Travel restrictions are still being weighed. We're still talking to people at the State Department. And, of course, the president himself has still got his eye on the markets and what the numbers are looking like.

ROMANS: Kaitlan Collins, the numbers don't look very good here this morning either, so we'll continue to watch that. You can see that at the right hand of your screen.

The Northern California patient infected with coronavirus from an unknown source is in tough shape here. California Congressman John Garamendi tells CNN the woman is in serious condition. She has been intubated to help her breathe. Solano County health officials say her family members are in isolation, awaiting test results. Dozens of health care workers exposed to the patient have been identified and sent home from work to be monitored for symptoms.

JARRETT: The patient is being treated at UC Davis Medical Center, not far from Travis Air Force Base where coronavirus evacuees were flown from China.

[04:35:03]

But California Governor Gavin Newsom says commercial air travel may also be a factor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Thousands and thousands of other people have come in on more traditional flights through the state of California. Some 8400-plus are currently being monitored with 49 local jurisdictions doing those protocols and monitoring as it relates to more traditional commercial flights that came in from points of concern and potential points of contact, particularly in Asia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: The U.S. now faces its first coronavirus-related medication shortage. So far the specific drug and reason for this shortage is unknown, but the U.S. relies heavily on Chinese-made drug ingredients.

ROMANS: Meantime, the CDC is warning of far-reaching effects if the virus spreads widely in the U.S. It could affect schools, childcare centers, and public gatherings like concerts and sporting events. It could also overtax the medical system and affect critical infrastructure like EMS, the transportation industry, and law enforcement.

JARRETT: At this point fears of a coronavirus pandemic are growing. There are more than 83,000 confirmed cases worldwide and nearly 2900 deaths. A total of 53 countries outside of mainland China are now reporting cases of coronavirus, up from just 29 this time last week. The World Health Organization says Italy, Iran, and South Korea are at decisive points in their responses.

ROMANS: The U.S. Navy has ordered all ships that have visited countries in the Pacific region to, in effect, self-quarantine, remaining at sea for two weeks. Disney is closing its Tokyo theme parks for two weeks as the outbreak in Japan escalates and schools there are closed. Upcoming Green Day concerts in Asia have been postponed and the popular K-pop band BTS is canceling shows in South Korea that were expected to draw more than 200,000 people.

JARRETT: The number of coronavirus cases in Iran is climbing rapidly, nearly doubling in just a matter of days. Officially at least 245 people have contracted the virus, 26 people have died. That makes Iran the fourth worst hit country outside of mainland China. The government struggling to contain the disease and the health of the border in the Middle East may be resting on its success.

CNN's Ramin Mostaghim is standing by in Tehran for us. How are you this morning?

RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, CNN JOURNALIST: Good. So far so good but the news from home, a CNN source tells that the severity of the contractions of the coronavirus is one more hospital has been quarantined fully for more patients suffering from coronavirus.

It's called Imam Reza Hospital. And from here and there we hear the number of the positive in provincial towns are increasing so the number of positives is more than 250. But officially speaking only the dead number is 26. Still 26, no more update.

But the problem is that because of that, it's predicted that many hundreds, many thousands may be undiagnosed and undetected coronavirus contractors and disease patients. So we can expect another outbreak of the coronavirus, positive cases across the country. So far economically speaking coronavirus has overshadowed the bad business days because a few weeks before the Iranian new year starting March 21st now hustle and bustle in the grand bazaar, in downtown so business is back.

Consuming goods is not -- I mean, they're sold. And the shop peoples are not selling well, so (INAUDIBLE) back business days, though we can say coronavirus has taken costly tolls on the Iranian economy which has already been suffering from heavy sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.

JARRETT: All right, Ramin, thank you so much for that.

ROMANS: All right, 39 minutes past the hour. A humanitarian disaster in Syria exacerbated with a deadly attack against Turkish soldiers that could deepen this conflict.

CNN goes live to Turkey next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:43:48]

ROMANS: All right, everything is on the line for former vice president Joe Biden in tomorrow's South Carolina primary. Biden needs a jolt ahead of Super Tuesday where a third of the delegates are awarded. But he says he's focused on the long game.

CNN's Arlette Saenz spoke with Biden in South Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): After three straight losses Joe Biden is now banking on a state he's called his firewall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to win?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. All right, because South Carolina is the trajectory towards winning the Democratic nomination.

SAENZ: The former vice president betting his longtime ties to South Carolina and its African-American community will pay off. A new Monmouth University poll shows Biden with a double-digit lead over his rivals here with a backing of 45 percent of black voters who made up a majority of the Democratic primary electorate in 2016.

TOMI GREENE, BIDEN SUPPORTER/SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: He understands people. He's dealt with death. He's dealt with single parenting. You know, he really feels people and expect what we as black people feels at times.

SAENZ: Days before the primary Biden picking up a key endorsement from Congressman Jim Clyburn who says the former vice president needs to win by a substantial margin.

[04:45:09]

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): One point may be a win but I don't think it's the propeller that we need. I want to see a much bigger victory than that.

SAENZ: After South Carolina a quick turn to Super Tuesday three days later.

(On camera): A lot of your rivals are already spending time on the ground campaigning in those Super Tuesday states. They are outspending you on the air waves. How do you plan to catch up with them in these three days before them?

BIDEN: I can't catch up with the money. I -- you know, I don't have Steyer's money. I don't have the billion dollars he has or I don't have the money that Bloomberg has. But just since the debate we've raised $2 million online so we've had the best run we've had and I think we do here -- do well here, we'll be able to compete across the board in terms of the money we need to be able to compete.

SAENZ (voice-over): Biden predicting he could win in states like North Carolina and Texas.

BIDEN: I think, you know, the good news for me is the vast majority of people in those states think they know me. I've been around. And they know my record and they know that I am pretty straight with what I tell them I'm going to do. So I feel good about it.

SAENZ (on camera): After South Carolina the contest quickly shifts to Super Tuesday. And some of Biden's rivals have already spent time on the ground in those states campaigning this week. Biden will hit five of those states before Super Tuesday including California and Texas, but ultimately he is hoping for a win here in South Carolina to push him into Super Tuesday and beyond.

Arlette Saenz, CNN, Conway, South Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, thank you, Arlette.

Tonight President Trump hosted a keep America great rally in North Charleston, South Carolina. So far he has held his own rallies ahead of each Democratic contest.

JARRETT: What may be the last chapter of the Syrian civil war now being rewritten with Turkey caught in the middle. At least 33 Turkish soldiers killed by an attack by Syrian government forces in Idlib Province, the last territory held by rebels fighting the Assad regime. The attack could spark open warfare with Russia backing the Assad regime against Turkey, a NATO member.

Meantime, millions of civilians are suffering and we need to warn you some of what you're about to see is going to be graphic.

CNN's Arwa Damon is back from covering the growing humanitarian disaster. She joins us live from Istanbul.

Arwa, you've been doing such great reporting. What's the latest?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, this escalation between Turkey and the Syrian regime is very dramatic. Look, Turkey has not suffered these kinds of casualties from a single strike since the 1990s. And all of this is really causing the situation there, which was already dreadful, to unravel significantly. And as we know caught in the middle of it, the civilian population who are absolutely terrified.

Yes, this report is difficult to watch, but it is at the same time important that we not forget what the civilians are going through.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON (voice-over): Moments earlier the children were playing in the schoolyard. It was around 4:00 p.m. when the strike came in. But they weren't there because classes had just let out but rather because that school like many others had been converted into a shelter.

The man walks around the corner and speaks to a woman who says she has shrapnel in her foot. Not all survive that strike or the nine others that hit schools in Idlib Province that same day. Many that had been housing those fleeing the violence elsewhere.

Heba (PH), a media activist, walks through the school, the classrooms converted into living spaces. "We think we are safe but then the war planes come and take everything from us," she says. Russia has rejected calls for a cease-fire stating that would be a

capitulation to terrorists. And yet the Russian and Syrian regime bombardment of Idlib has hardly been confined to the front lines or the armed groups, but rather systematically targeting the civilian population, forcing even more people to flee and now intensifying attacks on Idlib City itself.

On the edge of a small cluster of tents not far from Turkey's closed border, one extended family moved underground into a man-made cave originally dug out to shelter cows and goats. They do not have enough money to buy a tent.

[04:50:01]

There are around 45 of them living here like this after spending days shoveling out feces and filth. "When the kids sleep we women take turns looking over them to make sure there are no snakes or scorpions," Ibrahim (PH) says. "They're scared, it's miserable, but where else to go?"

Half the children are sick. They are barely able to get medicine. There's no heat inside the cave. Food is cooked outdoors where the children warm themselves. All they yearn for is their home, days without fear. A concept that seems so foreign, a distant dream for the millions trapped in Idlib in a war that from the onset had no rules, no real front lines and where safety is little more than a shattered illusion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON: And Laura, the Russians have so far been rejecting all calls for a cease-fire saying that that would be a capitulation to terrorists as you heard there. Talks between the Russians and the Turks are still ongoing or at least they were up until those strikes that took place yesterday. But they still have not stopped the onslaught against the civilian population. And right now there is widespread fear about what direction this already devastating situation in Idlib is going to go in.

JARRETT: Arwa, thank you so much for bringing the reality of what life is like on the ground there.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:56:57]

ROMANS: Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Global markets still struggling over the coronavirus. Those are big losses in Asian markets. By the time they close European markets open sharply lower here, and the bad mood extending to U.S. stock index futures down another 2 percent. You have corrections, technical in markets around the world. Yesterday the damage report for yesterday the Dow fell 1,191 points. That was the worst one-day point drop in history. The S&P and the Nasdaq both fell more than 4 percent. Those are huge

one-day moves. Stocks are on track for their worst week since the financial crisis. More on all this in just a few moments.

Multiple industries are feeling the weight of the global outbreak. Facebook is canceling F8, its biggest event, because of concerns over the coronavirus. That event was supposed to take place in early May. Now not all tech events are canceled. South by Southwest still set to take place in Austin next month.

The virus is affecting how the world does business. Nestle, the world's largest food company, is telling its employees do not travel internationally for business until the middle of March. Marriott has seen a drop in demand for hotel rooms in China. Marriott has big exposure to Asia and its China is its top international market.

Amazon is cracking down on price gouging as the cost of facemasks spikes online. Reuters reports Amazon has removed tens of thousands of deals from sellers it accused of charging customers unfair prices.

One more note, yesterday we reported the facial recognition company Clearview AI said its entire customer list was hacked. That is correct, but our banner unfortunately erroneously said the company lost, quote, "billions of photos." The company says the customer list was stolen, not the photos. We apologize for that error.

JARRETT: A jungle cruise at Disney World's Magic Kingdom turned into a ride scare when the boat suddenly started taking on water. A passenger who was on board Thursday said the boat went from floating to sunk in about a minute. A Disney spokesperson says everyone was able to get off the boat safely and there were no injuries. The jungle cruise river is about five feet deep. The ride is a fan favorite and one of the park's most iconic attractions.

ROMANS: It is pay back literally. Texas teacher Stacey Bailee was suspended after a parent complained about her, quote, "promoting a homosexual agenda." Why? Bailee showed students a picture of her future wife. Now a federal judge ruled her suspension was unconstitutional and she has been awarded a $100,000 settlement from the Mansfield Independent School District. The district will also provide mandatory training on LGBTQ issues and counseling for staff in its schools.

JARRETT: Thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your day. For our U.S. viewers EARLY START continues right now.

ROMANS: Global markets just cannot shake the coronavirus. The biggest single-day drop in the history of the Dow looking like another rough start on Wall Street. How will the president try to stop the bleeding?

JARRETT: And will the firewall hold? The fate of Joe Biden's campaign hinges on tomorrow's primary in South Carolina.

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett. ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, February 28th. It is

5:00 a.m. in the East and global stock markets are ending the week exactly where they began, struggling over the risk of the coronavirus. A terrible week for stocks.

Look at Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai. You have corrections around the world. Stocks there in Asia closed lower again and then opening for the Friday session. European shares are sharply lower.

The bad mood extending to U.S. futures down again this morning. It was a reckoning on Wall Street. All three major average falling into what we call a correction, dropping more than 10 percent from their recent high. The Dow fell 1,191 points. You know, that's the worst one-day point drop in history. You have never seen that print ever.

The 4.4 percent decline is not the top 20 of worst declines percentage wise because of how strong the market rally has been over the 10 years. The S&P 500, the Nasdaq both fell more than 4 percent.