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Global Markets Plunge Over Coronavirus Fears; Up To 100 Health Workers Exposed To California Coronavirus Patient; Biden Hopes For First Win In South Carolina Tomorrow. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 28, 2020 - 07:00   ET

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


[07:00:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Dow suffering its worst single day point drop ever, ever yesterday, 1,200 points. The fallout from this crisis goes beyond the markets too. Japan's prime minister took a drastic move of closing all public schools, all public schools, think of that, junior high school for a month there.

Overnight, eight more people died in Iran raising the death toll to 34 there. There's a sense that it is simply out of control in that country. Friday, prayers have been canceled in Tehran and for 22 other cities. That's the first time it's happened in Iran in decades.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: There are also concerns about the Trump administration's ability to handle this crisis. A whistleblower with Health and Human Services says she was reassigned in retaliation after complaining that staffers were improperly deployed and not properly trained or equipped when they came into contact with the first Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China, all of this, as we're also learning more about a patient in California who is believed to be the first person infected by community spread.

Health officials have now identified nearly 100 people she interacted with as they try to determine how she contracted the virus.

Now, in response to her, she wasn't tested in the first few days because of the narrow requirement from the CDC. Well, the CDC now changing those testing guidelines to include patients who have not traveled to affected areas or been exposed to someone with the virus.

BERMAN: All right. We have a live report coming up from California in just a moment. But I do want to begin with our Chief Business Correspondent, Christine Romans. Because after this bruising week, Romans, it looks like the markets might be in for more turmoil in the United States this morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. A historic week, really, the worst week we've seen since the Great Recession back in October of 2008. Let me show you what's happening right now. Asia markets have closed down hard again. You've got about six or seven of these Asian stock markets that are now in correction, down 10 percent from their recent highs. And then Europe opens, and look at that, it opens down hard again. So around the world, the selling is continuing. I want to show you Asia, a more broad picture of Asia. Every single day of this week, some of these big markets just hammered. That, of course, is where this virus began. But now, as it looks like in China, at least, it's starting to peek, maybe, the coronavirus there. It's spreading around the rest of the world. And so that's why you've got so many concerns here.

U.S. Futures right now, still lower, about 1 percent lower, it's been much worse this morning. So this is an improvement. I have been looking this week to see if anyone is going to step in to try to bargain hunt, as the president's chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, suggested on Monday, long-term investors should buy. They president said the stock market looks good. But no one is taking that advice. It has been many days here of selling.

Let's look at the Dow this week, a really tough week, one after another, big historic losses. I will say, yesterday was the worst point drop ever on the Dow. We have never seen a 1,100 print on the Dow Jones industrial average. But percentage-wise, these are not in the top 20. What is fascinating bout this is the speed of the decline. That's what is new here. How quickly these markets have put a correction together in just six days.

Real quickly though, I want to show you the big picture, because this is really important. That we're seeing right now is just that little dip right there. Over the past ten years, we have seen corrections in markets and markets tend to hire. We just don't know when this will become an overreaction, when confidence will resume, because we just don't know the extent of this virus just yet, guys.

BERMAN: There is a sense that the markets don't feel we are there just yet.

HILL: No, you're right.

BERMAN: You can see it the Futures, you can see it in the day after, day after, big losses. And you can see it in the reaction, thank you, Romans, to the news that comes out every day, like the news we were seeing from California, with what is believed to be the first case of coronavirus infection by community spread. What's community spread? It means that the person who has it didn't get it by traveling to China or an affected country, didn't get it from a known infected person, just got it out there in the course of daily life, from someone who had been undetected. That is a very big deal.

And all the healthcare workers who were now exposed to this patient, they are being monitored closely. Some of them will have to be quarantined.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is live outside the hospital where this patient is in Sacramento, California. Stephanie, give us the latest.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, John. And to be clear, it would not be a case of would be quarantined, those workers who would be showing signs would be quarantined now. Also, you would have other workers who would be in isolation and others that they're monitoring, some that they're just saying to stay at home and monitor themselves and see if they're starting to show symptoms.

All in all though, the hospital that originally took this patient in in Solano County, which is a county over about 20 miles from where we are here, those people there, they're saying it's less than a hundred people that fall into this category. But they've identified all of those people. We also know that this patient's family is also in isolation as well.

Just to give you a bigger picture of what they're looking at here, this is what an official from Solano County had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. BELA MATYAS, PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER, SOLANO COUNTY HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICE: This patient, we don't know what their exposure was.

[07:05:02]

So at this point, we don't know where the patient was exposed.

The patient was hospitalized in our country at a local hospital, became progressively more ill. It was transferred to U.C. Davis in Sacramento. 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)

ELAM: So all of this leading to Solano County declaring a proclamation of local emergency so that they can I.D. people, screen people and then keep monitoring them as they try to figure who this woman may have come in contact in the few that she was out and about in her community before going to the hospital where she was for three days and then transferred by ambulance here to U.C. Davis.

It's also worth noting that Solano County is also where Travis Air Force Base, which is where we've seen those repatriation of Americans coming from China, those flights coming in and landing. They're saying they have no reason to believe that this woman came in contact with anyone from Travis Air Force Base that could have been in contact with those people there. So that is something to keep in mind that a lot of people were worried about.

And then also just keep in mind too that the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, saying that there were 8,400 -plus people in California alone that are being monitored who came on more traditional flights to the state from points of concern, as he put it, from around the world that they are monitoring as well. So while people are focused on those flights coming in from Travis, there are way more people who have come in by other means into the state that they are keeping their eyes on as well. Erica?

HILL: The World Health Organization says the coronavirus has the potential to become a pandemic and now is the time to prepare.

Joining me now, Dr. Margaret Harris, who is part of the World Health Organization's coronavirus response team. Dr. Harris, good to have you with us.

The director general of the WHO also said we're in a, quote, very delicate situation and that the outbreak can go in any direction based on how we handle it. What is your assessment this morning in terms of how the world is handling it?

DR. MARGARET HARRIS, SPOKESWOMAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Good morning. Our assessment is everybody is certainly doing their utmost to get ready. So what we're seeing in every country is the leadership is standing up. But we also are saying look at what you need to be doing and ask a range of questions. Do you have the capacity in your hospitals? Have you got the ventilators? Have you got the staff ready? Have you got backup teams? Because your staff is going to get exhausted, you need backup teams. Is the training in place? Are the laboratories ready? Do your staff know how to take swabs? Do you have big teams that can do surveillance? All of these are questions that need to be asked and answered right now.

HILL: In terms of all of that, it obviously makes me think of the one case that we know of here in the United States that is of unknown origin at this point. Now, there're been changes to the CDC guidelines for testing since we learned about this patient, because she was not tested initially because she did not meet the guidelines. Are the guidelines consistent across the globe?

HARRIS: Well, you have to understand this is a very, very new situation for absolutely everybody. We didn't know this virus existed until the end of December. And it's unprecedented, actually, that within a couple of weeks, we -- and it's we, I'm talking about the scientists, everybody working together, had identified this virus and then had developed a test that made it possible to identify this virus. And testing is improving. Understanding the symptoms is improving.

We do know that some people don't have very clear symptoms, don't always fit into the categories. So this is something we all have to work together on. And it is great that this patient identified themselves and made certain that, ultimately, they were recognized as somebody with coronavirus.

HILL: Messaging, I know, is very important. I know that the WHO has stressed it's important that people are vigilant but also that there's a sense of calm. President Trump weighing in again just last night, here is what he had to say most recently.

(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, 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)

HILL: The president basically providing every option there, but saying that it could just disappear like a miracle. Do you believe that's the right messaging for people to hear, that it could just, poof, be gone one day?

HARRIS: The important thing to understand, again, as I said, this is a new virus. It's certainly challenging us. It's a very infectious virus. It's going through into communities and causing a lot of infection rapidly.

[07:10:00]

So, again, that information wasn't clear at the beginning of the outbreak. What it does in different countries is something is knowledge that's evolving. So our usual answer is, no, we don't have a crystal ball. We do have science on our side. Every day, we learn more. Every day, we know more. But we're certainly not making predictions.

HILL: Dr. Margaret Harris, I appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you.

BERMAN: Not making predictions but the WHO, overall, is now saying things are headed toward pandemic levels now.

Joining us now, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And, Sanjay, you bring up I think what is the most important point here. It almost doesn't matter. We're more or less already there. The same concerns we would have that this were officially a pandemic, and there is no one, by the way, who makes that official declaration. Those same concerns exist right now.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, look, a pandemic basically means a pathogen that is spreading around the globe. You have evidence of community transmission, which we do have in several places around the globe. United States can probably be added to that list now based on this new patient in California.

So I think it really does meet the criteria for pandemic. And I think, you know, terms matter a little bit here because a pandemic is a rallying cry to public health systems all over the world. I think Dr. Harris, Margaret Harris, there was carefully choosing her words when she said that countries have done their utmost to be prepared for this. But what does that really mean, you know?

If you look here in the United States, obviously, this audience paying attention to the United states, you got about a million hospital beds. You start to do the math and think, well, how many people are likely to start showing up in hospitals? What kind of care will they need? Will they need to be isolated? Will there be people who are told basically to just stay home, not come to the hospital? These are all decisions that are going to need to be made.

These are the types of decisions that came up during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic as well in the United States. You got the situation where big public buildings, high school gyms, things like that could possibly get turned into temporary sort of triage centers, so all these types of decisions need to get made. And it's not clear that we have -- you know, who's making those decisions, who's going to make the calls on schools and staying home from work and all that. Those are the types of things that we need to be planning in the United States.

So, yes, countries are doing their utmost, but I think here in the United States and other places, we still have work to do.

HILL: There's work to be done, as you've talked extensively about on the testing. But there are other issues in terms of preparedness, right, cautioning people not to make a run on mask. Do we actually need a mask? What else do you need? But also we have this whistleblower complaint where the whistleblower said that when they welcomed back these first Americans being repatriated from Wuhan, China, not from the Diamond Princess, that they were not -- they were improperly deployed and they were not properly trained or equipped to operate in that situation.

Are health workers across the country both properly trained and equipped? Do they have what they need, even in terms of a suit or masks for them?

GUPTA: I don't think so. I've talked to many of my sources about this very issue. Right now, if you start to see a significant increase in numbers and patients are showing up to hospitals with symptoms, not yet officially diagnosed, there should be certain protocols that go into place. And a big part of that, Erica, is the idea that these healthcare workers need to be able to protect themselves.

Right now, and, again, I talk to some of my sources about this, they say that we maybe have anywhere between 10 percent to 30 percent of what we need in the scenario like that. It's obviously not enough. And, you know, look, you see this one patient in California and how many healthcare workers may have been affected by that one patient. In part, that was because I don't think there was an adequate recognition that that patient may have had coronavirus, all the things that we've talked about.

But you start to amplify that same situation in many places around the country, and I think it's going to expose two things. One is that we may not have enough personal protective gear for our healthcare workers. And then if they're potentially exposed, they're out of the system. They really can't take care of patients for awhile. Who's going to backstop that? Two is this idea of surge capacity. You know, look, we got about a million hospital beds in the United States. We don't run a hospital system in the United States that is built on redundancy. We have a lot of extra redundancy built into it.

So what happens to these patients? How are they going to be cared for? As Dr. Harris brought up, what's going to be the backstop? Who are the other healthcare workers that come in so sort of fill those needs? These are all legitimate questions and they're answerable questions. Someone has to be in charge. And I just have to say as well, you guys have talked about this this morning, but I've been reporting on this for some time talking to doctors like Dr. Fauci and other doctors.

[07:15:00]

And we're now being told that, you know, they can't talk to us anymore unless they get approval from, you know, the vice president essentially on this, which is, you know, it's hard to believe that simple information can't come from the people who have the best information right now without all these hoops that they got to jump through. So another problem, you know, in terms of actually coordinating some sort of response and clear communication.

BERMAN: Look, I have to say I've heard from friends that I had within the health community at the CDC who say it's demoralizing, the mixed messages that are coming from the top and from the frontline healthcare workers. They're working their butts off right now and they're not hearing at the top what they think needs to be said.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, they -- you know, they've been sounding this alarm and I think in a very responsible way for some time, saying, hey, look, the containment strategies in China, the travel restrictions, all those things may have had a role. But let's be clear. It wasn't to prevent this virus from coming to the United States. You can't do that. It was to slow this down and to buy time. And with that time, we needed to do some very important things. It's not clear, John, to your point, that those important things, that time was actually well spent.

BERMAN: And I know we'll talk about much more of this over the course of the show, but you think there's a deficiency in the number of tests that are being conducted right now. There's a lot going on, Sanjay. We're so glad you're with us and helping us lead us through this crisis.

In the meantime, all eyes are on the stock market. U.S. Stock Futures down about 1 percent as we sit here this morning on the heels of this awful week in the markets.

We're also watching the 2020 race. South Carolina votes tomorrow. What does this mean for Joe Biden? How does he take this forward after South Carolina? That's next.

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[07:20:00]

BERMAN: Less than 24 hours from now, voters head to the polls in South Carolina for the Democratic primary. Then just three days after that, just three days, Super Tuesday, 14 states and municipalities voting, more than 1,300 delegates at stake.

Joining us now is CNN Political Commentator Van Jones and Andrew Gillum.

Van, what is at stake tomorrow? What should we be looking for in this primary?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, listen, Joe Biden had the strategy of what I call the rope-a-dope. He's just going to get beat up in Iowa, get beat up in New Hampshire and and then come back swinging in Nevada and --

BERMAN: It worked for Muhammad Ali.

JONES: It worked for Muhammad Ali. We will see if it works for Joe Biden.

And so the question is can he come back swinging hard enough tomorrow in South Carolina? Everybody thinks he's going to win. But is it going to be by 2 points with Bernie creeping or is it going to be by 12? If he comes back, if it's a complete knockout of everybody else, then he can make a case, I'm the guy that can deliver the Democratic Party base, which is overwhelmingly African-American, and maybe it helps in Super Tuesday.

You've got to understand, of course, people have been voting already in places like California for weeks. So how much does this bounce could help him is another big question. But you've got to look for the margin of his victory tomorrow night.

HILL: They will look at the margin of victory. You're also going to look, obviously, at who's coming in right behind him. And that's an important thing to look at as well. I mean, and granted, if he is victorious in South Carolina, how close are you monitoring them and who do you think at this point? Because we keep talking about Tom Steyer and all the money that he has spent in South Carolina and the support that he has garnered there.

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, that's exactly right. So, first of all, on Biden himself, I do think this has to be a demonstrable win. I think if we're talking two or three points, four points even, I think this is much more difficult for him to make the case that other candidates will not appeal to black voters, quite frankly.

For many black voters, this is kind of our first shot at this thing. I know that there was greater diversity in Nevada, but 60 percent-plus of the electorate on the Democratic said are going to be black folks in South Carolina. And so if you could see a Tom Steyer come closer to Biden, if you see Bernie Sanders come close, and I mean within striking distance of him, I think it just makes it much more difficult for the vice president to make the case that all of a sudden I'm the guy that can win because black voters are only going to vote for me. That may not be the case coming out of tomorrow's results.

And if that's the case, where does Biden then start to make the case because Super Tuesday is three days later, very expensive. I don't know how many ads he's got going in how many states. But as Van said, people are already voting.

BERMAN: I do. I happen to know this. Let's put that up on the screen right now so people can see spending, ad spending in Super Tuesday states. Michael Bloomberg, yes. Michael Bloomberg, I can't read the numbers, but it's a lot, a way a lot, $161 million. And then Joe Biden is at $450,000.

Forget Michael Bloomberg for a second. Look at Bernie Sanders at $15 million and Joe Biden at 452,000. So the answer is he's just not spending on Super Tuesday. That's not part of his -- he doesn't have the capability to spend. So they have to go with a different strategy. And that strategy is win in South Carolina and hope for the best.

Can I put up the map actually of Super Tuesday? Because, Van, this gets to your point about how he might try to capitalize in South Carolina. If you put up the map of the Super Tuesday states, you will see that some of the states voting, including North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, they all have more than 25 percent of the expected electorate will be African-American.

JONES: And so the idea was in the way this calendar was put together, there's an assumption that he would be this very dominant frontrunner and basically get this thing wrapped up. So you got Iowa and New Hampshire and then you get Nevada and South Carolina. Then you go basically through the south, except for, you know, California and some of the big states.

So the problem that you have though is that there's a weakness in the Biden campaign that is obvious. It's not just a weakness in the candidate. People will say, oh, he's maybe a little bit slower, a little bit of this and that. No. The problem is a former vice president, two-term vice president, Obama's guy, should be just sucking in money. He's broke. That shows a lack of enthusiasm not just at the grassroots level where he needed that, but also at the top.

And so it's very, very hard to understand the rationale in the Biden candidacy as a campaign.

[07:25:01]

He doesn't have the grassroots enthusiasm. He's not filling stadiums like Bernie Sanders. He's not vacuuming any money from the top. He doesn't have a grassroots operation. So it felt like a dead man walking campaign for a long time, but it could come back. If he does something extraordinary tomorrow night, he blows it out. And all of a sudden there's like, oh. Joe is back, maybe something reverses. But it's a weird strategy.

GILLUM: Well, you know what, if I could say, Van, I think it's true he doesn't have the money. What he is, however, is a known entity.

JONES: Yes.

GILLUM: So take, for instance, in Florida, we saw polls about a week- an-a-half ago that saw Bloomberg shot to the top over Joe Biden where he enjoyed a great deal of support. Well, something has happened in these debates, because as of two days ago, Biden is now up and is seeing a bit of a surge in the State of Florida.

And so some recalibration is happening. And while he may not be filling stadiums, which is a true statement, the older voters who are frankly carrying him are going to be not just likely voters, but they've already mailed in their ballot. They don't have to see the candidate. They don't need a commercial. They don't need an advertisement in the mail. They are voting for Joe Biden. My mother is one of them and she doesn't care what anybody says about it.

And so I think that's a bit of a redeeming factor for him. In spite of the money and in spite of the spending, he is a known quantity to a lot of these more diverse constituencies and then may reward him by going out and voting for him even if they're not seeing him on the T.V. in a commercial break.

BERMAN: All right. Van Jones, Andrew Gillum, I know you guys are both going to be a big part of CNN's coverage over the next 24, I guess, 30 hours for the South Carolina primaries as the results come in. We appreciate you being with us this morning.

JONES: Thank you.

BERMAN: We're going to talk to Joe Biden next hour. He will come in live on New Day and discuss the primary and the expectations for Super Tuesday. We'll put to him some of the questions that were just raised by Van and Andrew here.

HILL: We are looking forward to that, looking forward to those answers,

Meantime, from airports to grocery stores, to restaurants, the coronavirus outbreak is really threatening to disrupt major sectors of everyday life. So we have a reality check ahead, just what you need to know. That's next.

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[07:30:00]