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First U.S. Coronavirus Death Confirmed in Washington State; Coverage of the South Carolina Primary. Aired on 4-5p ET

Aired February 29, 2020 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:14]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN election center for our special coverage of the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary.

We're a few hours away from the end of voting. We're standing by for our first exit poll results. That will give us some early clues about the outcome tonight.

But, right now, there's another major breaking story we're following. The first coronavirus death confirmed here in the United States. We're standing by for a news conference by officials in Washington state where the patient died overnight.

President Trump spoke just a short while ago as his administration announced new travel restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. The president is urging Americans not to panic, asserting that the risk in this country remains low.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Additional cases in the United States are likely. Healthy individuals should be able to fully recover, so healthy people, if you're healthy, you will probably go through a process and you'll be fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We're joined now by Dr. Zeke Emanuel, the former Obama White House health policy advisory.

Zeke, thanks very much for coming in. Do we know enough about this virus to say what the president just said is true?

DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE HEALTH POLICY ADVISER: It does look to be true. If you look at it, those people who tend to be older and people who have comorbid health conditions, as we call them, chronic illnesses tend to be at higher risk.

But -- and the president said, if you're healthy, you're fine. But let's remember how many people do have comorbid health conditions, chronic conditions, 133 million Americans have chronic conditions and 30 million people, 65 years and older, have two chronic conditions and we add in that, the 70 million Americans who are obese, the 16 million American who is have chronic lung disease, we're talking about more than 150 million people or so have some adverse indication for this illness.

So, healthy people, that's about half the country and people who have some increased risk, that's about another half of the country. And so, yes, if you're healthy, you're likely to have no problem although as Tony Fauci said in that press conference could be a problem. On the other hand, you can have a situation where we have a lot of people who are compromised and may need the ICU.

BLITZER: What is the first confirmed death here in the United States from coronavirus about how this virus is spreading?

EMANUEL: We don't know for sure how it's spreading. We know it's spreading beyond people who've been to China or --

BLITZER: Zeke, let me interrupt for a moment. They are having a news conference in Washington state providing more details on the first confirmed death. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- who is our public health officer for public health, Seattle and King County, Dr. Kathy Lofy who is the Washington state health officer, Dr. Frank Riedo, who is the medical director of infection control at Evergreen Health Hospital, Dr. David Knoepfler from Overlake Medical Center, and our King County executive, Dow Constantine.

So, with that, I'll turn it over to Dr. Duchin for the official update.

DR. JEFF DUCHIN, SEATTLE & KING COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER: Thank you, Patty.

Thank you for joining us this afternoon.

Today, public health is announcing three new presumptive positive cases of novel coronavirus COVID-19, including one person who died. I want to just start by expressing our deep and sincere condolences to the family members and loved ones of the person who died.

Two of the confirmed cases are associated with life care nursing facility. It's a long term care facility in Kirkland, Washington. One is a health worker from life care. She's a woman in her 40s. She is in satisfactory condition at Overlake Hospital. And she has no known care outside the U.S.

The second one is a woman in her 70s, a resident at life care, the long term care facility, and is in serious condition at Evergreen Hospital. In addition, we're aware of a number of individuals associated with long term care facility who are reportedly ill with respiratory symptoms or pneumonia, and we're in the process of investigating this situation as an outbreak. We're in the beginning stages of our investigation, and new details and information will emerge over the next days and weeks and we'll keep you updated. The person who died was a patient at Evergreen Hospital who had

underlying health conditions. It was male in his 50s. He was not a resident of a long term care facility.

We are now in the process of working with the long term care facility with the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[16:05:00]

Our CDC colleagues are coming out. We have a team arriving tonight. We'll additional help on the ground from the CDC tomorrow, and we're in the process of providing support to that facility, to care for the infected patients, to protect the uninfected patients and to provide infection control guidance for their staff.

At this point, I'm going to stop and turn the podium over to Dr. Kathy Lofy, who is our state health officer.

Before I do that, Kathy, let me just remind people a couple of things. First of all, novel coronavirus infection, as has been recognized, is spreading globally. And we are having increasing cases in the United States and we expect to see increasing cases locally.

It's very important for every one to remember that 80 percent of the cases are mild. Patients frequently don't even need to seek health care. It's -- you can think of it has a bad influenza-like infection.

However, as these recent cases demonstrate, it can be severe. And we want people to understand that there are things they can do to protect themselves from getting this infection just as we can do things to protect ourselves from getting influenza. Hand washing, more hand washing, let's face touching.

Staying away from others who are ill. Please don't go to work or school if you yourself are ill.

We can think about what might happen if we see more cases, which would mean possibly telecommuting. Business having fewer people coming into work either because they're sick or they're trying to minimize face to face interactions. Social distancing that we will recommend so that people put more space between them and others. So, they're not likely to get sneezed or coughed upon.

So, there may be times when we would ask people to avoid going to large gatherings to avoid congregating in public settings like sporting events, social events and so on. But at this point, we do not have widespread community transmission locally. We have transmission that's associated with an outbreak at this long term care facility. So, we're going to be watching the situation very closely and we're going to be providing guidance as we learn more.

At this point, I would say, every one should take the basic precautions. Hand washing, more hand washing, less face touching. Social distancing, not going to work or school when you're sick, staying home when you're ill, thinking ahead as to what might happen if people in your family become ill, how you'll care for them. If children are dismissed from school, who can watch them. If you got people in your home who are older or vulnerable, how you'll take care of them if we have social distancing and people are requested not go out frequently.

Have medications in your home so you don't have to go out and refill a prescription if you don't need to. Have some foods that you like to eat handy so you don't have to go to the store if you don't have to go out and be interacting with other people and touching other surfaces.

And, finally, it's really important to know that as with seasonal influenza, the people who are at greatest risk for novel coronavirus infection with serious outcomes are elderly. So, we will say as we do with influenza, over 60, over 65 and who have underlying health conditions, chronic cardiac disease, lung disease, diabetes and the other conditions that we're concerned about with influenza, pregnant women, perhaps, people with weakened immune systems.

These people in the extremes really need to pay attention to the guidance about hand washing, not being around ill people and trying to minimize social interactions at this time to the greatest extent possible. So, with that, I'm going to introduce our state health officer, Dr. Kathy Lofy.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to continue to monitor this news conference in Seattle, Washington. That was Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer at Seattle and King County. Monitoring the situation.

Zeke Emanuel, Dr. Zeke Emanuel is still with us.

No known travel for these individuals --

EMANUEL: Yes.

BLITZER: Three new patients, three new individuals who've been confirmed with coronavirus, although we did say there are other people who are pretty sick right now, although they haven't yet confirmed it.

EMANUEL: Right. And there are two things to notice about this. One is, you have two separate epicenters. You have the one patient who's in the hospital, 50-year-old with some chronic conditions who died unfortunately and you have this long term care facility which is a separate spot.

You have a patient and a health care worker and who knows which way it went from patient to health care worker, which means someone who visited the patient or someone else has it. And then you have a health care worker who was taking care of other patients, and all of that long term care facility, there's probably a lot of potential cases there. But outside of the facility, there are probably a lot of cases.

You also heard him, I thought there was very seriousness, we might have to move into social distancing, preventing sporting events, closing schools, prepare for this, he said.

And I think you're beginning to hear people -- we're going into the next phase. When we have that -- BLITZER: Is that a smart move do you think?

EMANUEL: I think preparing people, making think about it, thinking about what they're going to have to store, if this turns out to be a big outbreak and you have thousands or tens of thousands --

[16:10:05]

BLITZER: Yes.

EMANUEL: -- of people, yes, they may well, in fact, begin saying, all right, more telecommuting, don't come into work, and you could see that -- that move.

BLITZER: So, what I hear you saying is that just in Japan now, they -- for the next month, elementary, middle school, high school, all of those millions of kids are being told stay home.

EMANUEL: I don't think we're going to do that across the country unless we have more outbreaks across the country. But in focal areas, we did this in H1 -- we didn't do this, the local communities did it, but we agreed and sort of supported them, in H1N1 where there were local outbreaks, distancing kids, closing schools so kids wouldn't spread it was important.

Now, in H1N1, it had a proclivity for young kids. This doesn't have a proclivity for young kids.

BLITZER: He said something very important and you were getting at this before we started talking. He thought 80 percent of the people who get this coronavirus, get a mild case, they might not even realize it.

EMANUEL: Yes.

BLITZER: Sort of like a cold or a flu, but 20 percent will have some serious problems. That's a lot of people, 20 percent.

EMANUEL: It all depends on how many people get infected. That's right. If you have a million people, that's 200,000 people who could have serious complications, and, you know, I remind your listeners, we only have 95,000 intensive care unit beds in the whole country, right?

If some fraction of that need respirators and have to be in intensive care, we could overwhelm the system. And I think, again, this is one of the things that I'm looking for. How is the government preparing if we need hospital surge in certain areas and we need surge capacity. Yes, we have empty beds in many hospitals in this country but we could see in China, some overwhelming of the health care system.

The other thing that I'm concerned about is the health of health care workers. All these people will need health care worker attention and we need to have them healthy and, you know, all those masks that Mike Pence talked about, 40 million masks, you know, do a little math, that's not that many.

BLITZER: Let me play for you and for our viewers what Mike Pence who is in charge of this coordination team, what he just said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me be very clear and I'm sure the physicians who are up here will reflect this as well -- the average American does not need to go out and buy a mask.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is that true?

EMANUEL: True.

BLITZER: Why?

EMANUEL: Because wearing the mask is going to -- not prevent you from getting the virus.

It -- the people who need to wear masks are the people who have the virus and since most people, you know, I don't know most people, but there are people who have the virus and don't know it and they're not going to be donning the mask.

So, the public, running out and getting a mask is not going to help.

BLITZER: You can't breathe in this virus. Is that what you said? It doesn't go --

EMANUEL: No, no, you can breathe in the virus --.

BLITZER: Well, then, if you're wearing mask, doesn't that protect you?

EMANUEL: It's not going to protect you. In general, it doesn't protect. I think as the Dr. Duchin said --

BLITZER: Is wearing a mask -- why wouldn't that protect you because you're not going to breathe in that virus, right?

EMANUEL: It's got to be very secure. You've got to have an N95 that filters out the right particles, and could get on your hands and then later you could touch your face --

BLITZER: If you had an N95 would that protect you?

EMANUEL: I don't think so, and it's not recommended.

If you have the virus, that's when wearing the mask is going to be beneficial for patients in the hospital, for example, or patients in the long term care facility. That's what we really need to have.

And, remember, the vice president also said there are about 40 million masks. But, you know, personal protective equipment is also gloves, it's the gown. It's the whole armamentarium that we need. Having the mask is absolutely critical. Running out of the them would be a disaster for the health system. BLITZER: You used to advice President Obama on these related kinds of

health issues.

If you were advising President Trump, if he called you and asked you about his decision on travel advisories, travel restrictions right now, the new restrictions he announced today, what would you say to him?

EMANUEL: I'm not at all surprised by the travel restriction from Italy. The travel restriction as the people have pointed out at the border in Iran seemed like we're going of overload because just that's where we want to target.

BLITZER: What about South Korea?

EMANUEL: South Korea had been travel restriction. That wasn't new. That had been last week because of the large number of cases there.

But we should be clear. And I -- the viewers should be clear which is travel restrictions will not prevent the virus. The virus is already here, OK? We know it's in the community. We know that in California. We know that in Washington state.

It's not going to prevent it from coming here. It will delay it and the value of delay is in better preparation. If the administration doesn't prepare, that delay is not worth anything.

BLITZER: One final question before I let you go.

EMANUEL: Yes.

BLITZER: The 30,000 U.S. troops in South Korea right now --

EMANUEL: Yes.

BLITZER: -- many of them have family member who is are in South Korea with them right now. Should all of them stay?

EMANUEL: I would be very concerned about that. And I would be very concerned about where they are.

[16:15:03]

I don't know that the geography of where the families are living relative to the outbreak in South Korea but bringing them home is something that non-essential personnel that has to be thought of. We do know that some troops, I think at least one troop has gotten infected in South Korea.

BLITZER: Yes.

EMANUEL: And, again, that makes you nervous because of the base, right? You bring it onto base, you spread it to many other people. It's one of those convening places just like school. And that is a very large concern.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm concerned about that having been to some of those bases over the years.

I want you to stick around. We're going to have much more on all of this.

EMANUEL: Yes.

BLITZER: Also, our countdown to first votes out of South Carolina. We'll soon have the first information for our exit polls of primary voters.

Our special coverage continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:20:07]

BLITZER: We're back here in the CNN election center with our special coverage of the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary.

Voters have less than three hours to cast ballots in South Carolina. This primary could make a significant impact on the Democratic race just ahead of the critical Super Tuesday contest next week.

Joe Biden is counting on South Carolina to score his first primary win and revive his campaign with help from the state's African-American voters, but the front-runner, Bernie Sanders, is hoping to build on his winning streak and potentially dash Biden's hopes for a comeback. We'll get our first clues about the outcome in the next hour when we reveal results from our exit poll of South Carolina voters.

Dana Bash is with us.

Dana, we're in a critical stretch of the race right now.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We sure are, Wolf.

And as we count down to the end of voting in South Carolina, our correspondents are around the state at key polling places. We're also covering the candidates.

Right now, I want to get an update on the thinking inside the Biden and Sanders campaign.

First, let's go to Jessica Dean with the former vice president.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good afternoon to you, Dana. Yes, the Biden campaign really counting on South Carolina to come through for them. I talked to an ally of the Biden campaign this afternoon who told me that they really thought that Biden had found his footing. Those were their words in the days leading up to this, that it was -- maybe it was something about Nevada, about getting past the first two losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, but it started in Nevada and only increased since he's been here in South Carolina.

A campaign aid telling me that they always thought South Carolina was suited to Joe Biden's strength but that has proven to be true. He's had a very strong week here with his debate performance, his town hall, with his events, that it's boosted fundraising. But, Dana, we've also seen a looser Joe Biden, a more confident Joe Biden out on the trail.

People in South Carolina are certainly responding to him in a much stronger way than we have seen in the last three states. The Biden campaign hoping for a win tonight and, Dana, if they do get a win, the big question is, just how big will it be?

BASH: Jessica, thank you so much.

Let's get over to Ryan Nobles with Senator Bernie Sanders in one of the Super Tuesday states, Virginia, not in South Carolina -- Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Dana. And this is a unique position for the Bernie Sanders campaign in this Democratic primary contest. It's the first time that they're going into a night not expecting to win.

The Sanders campaign telling me they do view the situation in South Carolina is somewhat of an uphill fight for the senator and that's not a surprise given his dismal performance there four years ago. But that being said, they do see an opportunity for gains. Sanders spent a lot of money and time in the Palmetto State and that includes increasing his ad buying in the closing days of the campaign and while he did travel a number of Super Tuesday states over the last few days, he did add a number of stops in South Carolina.

The goal here may not be to win, though. The goal maybe to close the gap with Joe Biden as much as possible. Sanders aides acknowledge that there is an opportunity and potential for Joe Biden to get a boost in South Carolina into those Super Tuesday states, and they hope they can mute that momentum as much as possible.

Now, they won't put a number by which they think the momentum will be stalled by but you can bet the Biden campaign will watch them closely. One more note, Dana, they also hope that Sanders does better with African-American voters as well because that could be a signal for how his campaign will do with the voting group in the contest going forward -- Dana.

BASH: Ryan, thank you for that reporting.

And, Wolf, we had early indications of where the enthusiasm is in South Carolina, and that is, the early absentee ballots that have been returned. Look at this. This year, just for the morning, they have until the evening to do this, more than 75,000 returns, that's up 20,000 from 2016. And another interesting note, black voters, early in the day, absentee ballots, 47,000 plus, up from 2016, which was just a little bit more than 41,000.

BLITZER: Yes, clearly, there's a lot of enthusiasm in South Carolina right now.

The former vice president, Joe Biden, he really needs to win South Carolina. And not just by one or two points, he needs to win by a significant number, right?

BASH: Well, I think the best way to answer that is to talk about what Jim Clyburn who endorsed him this past week said to you, which is yes, he believes that he has to do extremely well to keep going in a robust way in the future states because it will bring him enthusiasm and money and everything that comes along with the notion of breathing life into a campaign that needs it.

BLITZER: Yes, next hour, we'll start getting exit poll results. That will be very, very interesting.

[16:25:01]

We're awaiting first results out of South Carolina. We'll soon as I said get the first clues about what's on voter's minds. We're standing by to unveil early information from our exit polls.

Stay with us. Much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to special coverage. We're only about 30 minutes away from the first exit poll results that we'll be able to bring you, we'll be able to share with you, what's on the minds of South Carolina voters.

In the meantime, let's walk over to John King. He's over here at the magic wall.

John, when you're looking at South Carolina right now, what are you looking for?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just for starters, the big headline, this is contest number four. You have Buttigieg, Sanders, Sanders. The question is, can Joe Biden get the win he very much needs in South Carolina?

[16:30:00]

Let's pop it out and take a look at the state. What are we going to look for? One thing we'll look for, Wolf, let's use this to take a peek at it -- this is the first contest where we have a significant African-American vote. The darker you see here, the shading, the higher the shading, the more populous of the African-American or black voters.

You see here in Richland County, where the state capitol is, Columbia, a big concentration of African-American, black voters there. It's also one of the more populous counties in the state. So is Greenville. Up here, Greenville County here, about 10 percent of the population of the state. Here, next door, Spartanburg County.

Are African-American voters turning out in good numbers? And are they supporting Joe Biden as he's counting on or do we see a split there. One of the things when we get both the exit polls and the turnout results when they come in. Another thing to look at is, you follow this out, let's turn this off. We'll look at the state map. There other areas of the state we want look at, more affluent counties along the coast here. Horry County is one of them. It's also about 6 percent of the population.

How are these voters coming out, the Myrtle Beach area, the coastal areas? We have seen in some of the early contests, Mayor Buttigieg, for example, doing better with more affluent Democratic voters. Does that happen in South Carolina? Does he do better than expected? That will be one place to look.

Another place to look will be down here in Charleston, along the coast. You have the resort communities there. Some military communities, too, especially as you further to the south, Beaufort and the like. The mix of the African-American vote in the more upscale communities, is there a difference than in the rural areas.

Does Joe Biden continue in rural areas? Let me bring this back out here. Orangeburg County, more rural. Heavy African-American population. Is Joe Biden performing well here? Or when you get into the more working-class areas, does Bernie Sanders surprise us and make a statement there.

One of the things we're looking for, just go back, real quick, in history. We bring the statement back out a little bit here. Remember, this was a blowout four years ago. We've talked as we go through the 2020 map, how did Senator Sanders do four years ago? In some places, he did well. And we've watched him build on that. We watched him New Hampshire squeak out a victory after a big one four years ago.

This was a blowout for Hillary Clinton. The question is, can Bernie Sanders and, largely because of the African-American vote, can Bernie Sanders do better this time or can Joe Biden fill in the map, something like this, and get the big win he needs.

And to back to a little bit more history, this is what made Barack Obama a legitimate contender for the Democratic nomination. It was his springboard, even though the race went on for a long time.

So South Carolina has a history, if you will, of reshaping the Democratic race. We'll see if it does today.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And, what, about 60 percent of the expected turnout today, as it was four years ago and eight years ago, African- American.

KING: That will be a great early question for David Chalian in these exit polls. We do expect somewhere around 60 percent of the primary vote will be African-American.

There are some expectations it could shrink just a little bit this year. The state is getting more white. The suburban areas are growing.

There's some question as to whether there's much enthusiasm among African-Americans. No Obama on the ballot. The relationship Hillary Clinton had with those voters. So I think that is a key question. What percentage of the vote, what we see in the early exit polls? If it's a high number of the percentage, the Biden campaign will be more confident and they will count votes.

BLITZER: Let's look ahead. As important as South Carolina is, and it's very important tonight, three days later, Super Tuesday, 14 states, including some big ones, like California and Texas, 14 states, American Samoa, all of them, will be voting. How will South Carolina impact Super Tuesday?

KING: South Carolina will give somebody momentum. Especially, again, if Joe Biden wins big, that's what he needs, especially because he doesn't have the resources.

If you want a cheat sheet, here's what you can look at through the night tonight. This is South Carolina right here. We've had Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada. We'll get South Carolina. Look at the lighter gray. Those are the 14 states, plus American Samoa, plus Democrats abroad start to vote next Tuesday.

At the end of the night tonight, we'll be around 4 percent of the delegates awarded. When we wake up Wednesday morning, we'll be passed the third. That's how quickly this race is going to change. We've had one state at a time in February, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina.

The three Tuesdays in a row in March, beginning with this coming Tuesday, Super Tuesday. You mention, California is the biggest prize on Super Tuesday. More than 400 delegates at stake there. Then you go to Texas, 200-plus here. Another big prize. The third biggest prize that you could see a South Carolina effect, if you will, it's neighbor, North Carolina. Those are the three biggest prizes.

You also have Elizabeth Warren's home state of Massachusetts. Bernie Sanders campaigning today trying to take that away. Amy Klobuchar's home state of Minnesota. Will she get a home at home?

A lot of candidates will be asking themselves after South Carolina, especially if we to next Wednesday morning, can I prove to voters I have a reason to stay in the race. Can I prover to donors I have a reason to stay in the race? South Carolina today and then what I like to call the blur.

BLITZER: That's a good technical term.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: We'll be spending a lot of time over here.

John, thanks very much.

Dana, taking a look at South Carolina, who spent the most money advertising among these presidential candidates.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Billionaire Tom Steyer, and it's not even close, Wolf. Look at this, $22.5 million, which is a lot of money anywhere, but particularly in South Carolina when we're talking about television and Facebook ads. And it's not that expensive to put ads in South Carolina compared to other major media markets.

[16:35:06]

And just to kind of give you the context, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is not even close and he's the second behind him. He spent $20 million less. Joe Biden, in fairness to Tom Steyer, yes, he has only spent not even a million dollars.

In fairness to Steyer, he's much better known there. Steyer had to completely introduce himself to voters. And he's been playing big and hard in the African-American community. And up until the last few days, it was a big concern inside the Biden campaign that Steyer would take a lot of votes from him because of how much he is spending in these TV ads and spending in the ground, investing economically in many the African-American community.

There's more of a sense of relief inside Biden world that maybe they've gotten some of those voters back. But we'll see when the results come in.

BLITZER: We'll see if Steyer --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: And whether he's going to get a return on his investment.

BLITZER: Yes, very important. We'll have a lot more on this.

Also, we'll talk to a former Democratic presidential candidate who is calling on some of his former rivals to drop out of the race.

We're also awaiting our first exit polls.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:40:16]

BASH: Special South Carolina primary election coverage. You see there's 20 minutes left until we get the first exit poll results from South Carolina.

In the meantime, I'm joined by Congressman John Delaney, who was a candidate in this race for president.

You wrote an op-ed in the "Washington Post." In it, you call on your fellow 2020 candidates to drop out and give the party the best chance to beat Donald Trump. Who specifically are you talking about because you don't say so in the op-ed?

REP. JOHN DELANEY (D-MD): What I ask the candidates to ask themselves a tough question, which is, are they adding value at this point or potentially setting up a situation where they are steering the nomination to someone who they don't believe can beat Donald Trump and govern this nation. What I was more probing was that fundamental question. It's really

hard. I've been here. You've worked really hard. You have these amazing supporters. You've met all these extraordinary Americans. You keep thinking the field will shift and start coming your way --

(CROSSTALK)

DELANEY: -- but the data starts becoming pretty clear.

Some of the candidates, after today, it will be clear they have no path to the nomination.

BASH: Who are you talking about? Who do you think looking at field?

DELANEY: I think the vice president will do well in South Carolina. I'm not talking about him.

I'm talking about moderate candidates. Right now, we have a situation where Bernie Sanders is in the lead.

BASH: Right.

DELANEY: Senator Klobuchar, Mayor Buttigieg, they're --

BASH: They should get out of the race?

DELANEY: I'm not saying they should get out. I'm saying they should ask themselves the question, are they actually any value. I think if they ask themselves that question, they might come to the conclusion that they're not.

BASH: But --

DELANEY: And it's not about them at the end of the day. It's about why they ran for public service in first place, was to make a difference.

If you look at California, for example, we need 15 percent in any of the congressional districts to get delegates. It looks like Senator Sanders right now is leading quite a bit in California and all these other candidates are kind of around 15 percent. There's a scenario where none of them get delegates.

BASH: You don't just name Sanders now. You don't name him in the op- ed. But you do warn, "The status quo could steer the race toward a candidate who either can't win or can't govern."

You're talk about Bernie Sanders?

DELANEY: Right. I don't think -- listen, I think he could beat Donald Trump. But I don't think he's our best shot at beating Donald Trump. I don't think, based on the policies he's running on, he'll be able to govern because none of that stuff will happen.

So I think, if you're candidate -- I made this decision right before the Iowa caucuses. I saw, in the data, I wasn't going to get viability in most of the precincts but I would take votes away from other moderates and perhaps prevent them from getting viability. I didn't want to do that.

That's what I think some of these other candidates have to start asking themselves. Which is, are they handing this race to Bernie Sanders by splitting up and working against each other and fracturing the remaining vote? If so, is that really what they want to happen.

BASH: You didn't name Mike Bloomberg.

(CROSSTALK)

DELANEY: I should have said Mike Bloomberg.

BASH: But you think -- on him specially, as you know, he came into the race late and he said it's because he doesn't think Joe Biden can win. Is he now making it so that Joe Biden can't win?

DELANEY: I think all of the non-Bernie Sanders candidates, all the moderates are fracturing the vote.

BASH: Should Mike Bloomberg drop out?

DELANEY: Clearly, Mike Bloomberg is going stay in until Super Tuesday. Some of the candidates will have to ask themselves after today. Mike Bloomberg isn't obviously going to ask himself this question until after Super Tuesday. He's been working on this whole Super Tuesday strategy. He's on the ballot of all the Super Tuesday states.

But I do think he will have to ask himself the question if he doesn't do well, as would anyone else who doesn't do well.

If you're doing well, I mean, if you --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: What's well?

DELANEY: Well, if you win South Carolina, for example. I don't think you have to ask yourself that question. If you have a lot of delegates and you're in the lead after Super Tuesday, I don't think you have to ask that question.

I think it becomes self-evident who has to ask the question. If you don't have a lot of delegates or any delegates and you're just fracturing the vote and preventing other like-minded candidates from getting delegates, you're basically handing race to Bernie Sanders.

BLITZER: Congressman, thank you so much for coming in.

DELANEY: Thank you for having me, Dana.

BASH: Appreciate it.

DELANEY: Nice to see you.

BASH: Nice to see you, too.

And we're getting closer to our first exit polls out of South Carolina.

[16:44:25]

We're going to be back after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're awaiting the first votes out of South Carolina. We'll have more of our special coverage of the Democratic presidential primary in just a few moments.

But we're also following a huge breaking story, the first known death from the coronavirus here in the United States. Officials in Washington State have just confirmed the patient who died was a man in my 50s who had underlying health conditions.

We're joined now once again by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the former Obama White House health policy adviser. And Eric Feigl-Ding, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Thanks so much guy for coming back.

(CROSSTALK)

Eric, let's talk about this American who died of coronavirus, in his 50s. What does that tell you?

DR. ERIC FEIGL-DING, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: The fact we have a death so quickly identified means this is just the tip of the iceberg. It means the epidemic was probably already spreading in the community for three to four weeks, potentially, even before this death.

The WHO said, mild, a two-week duration. In severe, three to six weeks. So we're talking at least the epidemic has been around for three weeks before he died.

BLITZER: Officials in Washington State said this coronavirus case could have been identified in their state earlier if not for delays in local testing. What does that say to you?

[16:50:07]

FEIGL-DING: Yes. The kits, the problem thee CDC sent out and recalled caused enormous delays, up to two-week delays. In two weeks, in this epidemic, it is literally an eon in amount of transmission. It's an epidemic curb of potentially thousands of cases. We have lost a good two weeks.

And this is why testing as soon as we can to ramp it up is absolutely critical.

BLITZER: Especially if individuals have underlying health problems.

FEIGL-DING: Right.

BLITZER: That is especially critical.

FEIGL-DING: With any symptoms, without any travel restrictions. I think travel criteria at this point, with it being so widespread throughout the world, makes no sense. Any doctor that sees a symptom and they believe it could be COVID-19, should have the right and access and testing for the patient.

BLITZER: There was confusion, Zika, earlier in the day because the president and vice president identified the person who died in Washington State as a woman when, in fact, the Washington State officials recently came out and confirmed it was man.

A senior administration official says he "places the blame on the directors for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Robert Redfield briefed the president and vice president after speaking with Washington State health officials after it was a woman. Washington State has since corrected."

What does it say there was some confusion there?

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE HEALTH POLICY ADVISER: You need clear lines of communication with all the states because they will collect the data. Seattle, Kings County, sends it out to Washington State, then sends it to the CDC and then to Washington. Those have to be clear.

Again, I've been worried that they haven't called all the state health officials together and put everyone on the same page so we're all doing the same thing and we're taking it seriously and they all get the same information at the same time.

This is a problem. Coordination is key. If we don't have a coordinated response that's uniform, we'll make mistakes.

I think one thin Eric said is absolute right. This -- delaying the virus coming in from China by having the travel restrictions, that was important. But only if we're prepared. It was quite clear we underprepared for this moment.

And I'm very worried we're going to underprepare in subsequent moments. There's probably -- there's certainly hundreds of people who have been infected now. We have three different, two in Washington State, one in California that we can't account how it got transmitted. There's probably underlying hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases.

If we can't get our arms around those, we'll have a very large outbreak. That's what most of the American public is worried about. Can we get our hands around it?

BLITZER: You teach at Harvard. You give grades out. If you had to give this administration so far a grade on how they're dealing with the coronavirus, kind of grade would you give them?

FEIGL-DING: For some of the confusion and communication and information, I would give a B-minus. But in terms of efforts, now that ramping up the FDA approvals for kits and CDC allowing these different labs to ramp it up, I think they get an A- minus for effort.

Because it is really hard. I think, right now, we should focus, push some of things under the bridge but, right now, we have to ramp up testing to over tens and potentially 20,000 tests day just like Korea can.

BLITZER: The last time we spoke, Eric, on my show, you said, "We're kind of driving in the dark with no highlights due to insufficient testing."

I want you to elaborate on that.

EMANUEL: Yes, because if you look at the CDC, up until a few days ago, they had only done 500 tests. Korea has done 90,000 tests. And they do 10,000 tests between their lunch breaks literally. And America -- you know, Korea is the size of California, Oregon and Washington. We're a much larger country and we can't get a fraction.

Without testing -- testing is the cornerstone of stopping an epidemic. You test, isolate, trace and find out where they are exposing and lock those people down. That's how you contain. Without testing, we're literally in the dark.

BLITZER: We --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Go ahead.

EMANUEL: In the Evergreen Nursing Home, you now have a very good petri plate because you know it's in that nursing home. We ought to be testing everyone and finding out how frequently people are shedding, how many people are actually positive.

We really should be intensively going in there and trying to get additional information that we don't have about how this virus behaves.

BLITZER: And it's obviously in California --

EMANUEL: Same thing.

BLITZER: -- in Washington State. It's moving. We don't know how many people are -- have this problem who haven't been identified.

EMANUEL: It's very likely that the Washington State and California ones aren't related in the sense that one person went from one --

(CROSSTALK)

FEIGL-DING: Which is more worrisome.

EMANUEL: Exactly. I totally agree.

FEIGL-DING: I think it's in more states. The fact you had someone die, I mean, it's already been spreading uncontrollably in the community and we're finally seeing the tail end of it.

[16:55:03]

BLITZER: I want you guys to standby because we're going to stay on top this story.

We're heading into the key hours of our primary coverage, including the big reveal of our exit poll information. We're only minutes away from getting our first clues about how this night may turn out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)