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Rep. John Lewis (D-GA): Vote Like You've Never Voted Before; Biden Wins Every County In South Carolina Primary; Aide Says, Buttigieg Is Suspending His Campaign; Trump Announces New Coronavirus Screening Procedures In The U.S.; Right-Wing Media Says Virus Fears Whipped Up To Hurt Trump. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 1, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:00:00]

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And we begin this hour with the words of civil rights icon John Lewis, we must go out and vote like never ever voted before. Congressman Lewis spoke those works in Selma, Alabama today, the place where an enormous American turning point happened 55 years ago this week on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Lewis witnessed to and victim of the violence in Selma that day in 1965. He stood on that bridge despite his recent diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. And he told people today to be a part of the political process unfolding right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): I thought I was going to die on this bridge. But somehow and some way, God almighty kept me here. We cannot give up now. We cannot give in. We must keep the faith, keep our eyes on the prize. We must go out and vote like we never ever voted before. Let's do it.

Selma is a different place. America is a different place. But we can make it much better. Use the vote as a non-violent instrument or tool to redeem the soul of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: A few minutes ago, I spoke to Congressman Lewis by phone and I wanted to know why, given his illness, so much happening in his life right now. He felt it was so important to be on that bridge in Selma today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEWIS: Fifty-five years ago, I gave a little blood on that bridge, and I felt that I should come back and be here with the people because there's still hundreds and thousands and millions of people in America that have been left out and left behind. People's voting rights have been abused or denied. People still standing in long lines when they come to register or when they come to vote. And we must make it simple and easy for people to participate in the Democratic process.

CABRERA: In your memoir, you wrote about your experience in 1965, quote, if there was ever a time in my life for me to panic, it should have been then, but I didn't. I remember how strangely calm I felt, as I thought, this is it, people are going to die here. I'm going to die here. What was it like to be back on that bridge in Selma today?

LEWIS: It was very moving to be back On the bridge today, to see hundreds and thousands of young people with their mothers, their fathers, their grandparents, great grandparents, to see black and white people, Hispanics, and others standing together, marching together, walking together, to not forget what happened and how it happened.

CABRERA: In your remarks, you talked about the importance of voting. You said, quote, vote like you've never voted before. What did you mean by that?

LEWIS: I simply meant that we have the power to change things, and the vote is the most powerful, non-violent instrument or tool we have in the democratic society. And we must use it. If we fail to use it, we will lose it.

CABRERA: You also spoke about redeeming the soul of America. What does that look like?

LEWIS: We have to make America better for all of the people, where no one is left out or left behind because of their race, their color, because of where they grew up or where they were born. We are one people, we are one family, we all live in the same house. That's the American house.

CABRERA: But what do you see as the next step, because you spoke on the bridge how times are different today than they were in 1965, thank goodness, yet there is more progress to be made, right? What do you see as the next step?

LEWIS: We have to continue to see that all of our young people, all of our children receive the best possible education. We got to see that people are able to move up and not stay down. We must continue to -- we must respect the dignity and the worth of all of our citizens.

[18:05:02]

We live in a strange period. I lived and grew up during the days of different presidents. I met with presidents. I got to know President Kennedy, met with him twice. It was the greatest sense of hope, greatest sense of optimism. And we must find a way to inject into very vein of America a sense of hope, a sense of optimism for all of our citizens.

CABRERA: What gives you hope today? LEWIS: I am very hopeful and very optimistic that we're going to work everything out. It's the feeling that the changes that I continue to witness in so many different parts of America. And the American people want us to be hopeful, to be optimistic and to lead them to a better place, to a better time, and that's what we must do.

CABRERA: Finally, what is your message to any young potential John Lewis out there today trying to make whatever it is they do count and make a better more equal, more justice life for those that are in future generations?

LEWIS: I always say to young people to be bold, be brave, be courageous, never become bitter or hostile, never hate, whereas Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said on so many occasions. Hate is too heavy a burden to bear. The way of love is a much better way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Our thanks to Congressman John Lewis again.

Now joining us is CNN Senior Political Analyst and former adviser to four presidents, David Gergen, and CNN Political Commentator and former South Carolina State Representative, Bakari Sellers.

First, Bakari, your reaction to those words to John Lewis today in Selma.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I have the privilege of knowing John Lewis very well. I'm a child of the civil rights movement as well. And my father was National Field Director for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, also known as SNCC shot February 8th, 1968 along with three other students. And 20 other students who were wounded and three that were killed.

I look at John Lewis as not just a hero but a representative of all of those young African-Americans who gave up so much so that I could sit on a set today with you, Ana, and David Gergen. I mean, I don't think that people truly understand when we talk about civil rights, when we talk about how far we've come in this country, it's only one generation away.

We're only one generation away from my father being shot, only one generation away from John Lewis being beaten on that bridge, one generation away from Dr. King being assassinated, Sarah Mae Flemming, Jimmy Lee Johnson, Medgar Evers, Emmett Till, Modjeska Simkins, Septima Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer, the list goes on and on and on.

So we still have a lot of work to do. And I think that we have to, and David knows down south we have these kind of funky sayings, but one of them is you have to give people their flowers while they're living. So we need to give John Lewis his flowers and let him just simply know that we thank him and appreciate him and the struggle continues.

CABRERA: David, your thoughts?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I'm glad to be here. Bakari, as you know, he is one of the proteges of John Lewis. And he represents what came out of the John Lewis life and those marched with him, and that was to inspire a new generation, Bakari's generation, to continue the fight, continue the struggle.

And we're one generation from the bad old days but we could be less than a generation away from new bad days. We're going through a rough period now. I think to see John Lewis come out and go back to the Pettus Bridge 55 years later, knowing as we do, and he's publiCly said he's suffering, battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He has special meaning for us today, a special inspiration.

So I'm glad we paused after South Carolina, in particular the primary there, to talk about the larger values. We get in these political analysis, we get down in the weeds where you see a lot of -- do a lot of scuffling. But I think that John Lewis reminds us of the deeper values that bring us all together, I hope.

CABRERA: But he also reminded people of the power of the vote, to vote like you've never ever voted before.

So let's talk about the votes, guys. Biden won big in South Carolina last night. And when I say big, I mean, he decimated the competition there. He won nearly every single county, nearly 50 percent of the vote. David, does this serve as a sort of reset, do you think, for Super Tuesday?

GERGEN: Well, I think he certainly qualifies as a comeback kid.

[18:10:01]

Only a few weeks ago, he was running ahead all across the country, he was ahead by solid margins in California and places like Texas that are going to vote on Tuesday. But then Everything changed and he went down and Sanders went up. I think the question now is, can he continue going up again?

I do think that there were a lot of people in big states like California and Texas who supported them before, will they come back to him? I think he's got a real shot in both states, especially Texas, where he's very competitive. And he himself is showing this sort of valiance (ph) and his growing confidence. He's a better candidate right now than he was just few weeks ago. So, look, we'll have to see.

I do think it's really interesting to be living in a time when an African-American community comes out and votes and resurrects the candidacy of a white American. That's real progress.

CABRERA: Bakari, if you haven't seen our colleague, Chris Cillizza, and the shout-out he gave you for saying way back on February 3rd, that despite Biden's fourth finish place in Iowa, he would still win in South Carolina. His quote was, Bakari was right, I was wrong. How did you know?

SELLERS: Well, Chris Cillizza admitting he was wrong should be breaking headline news on CNN in its own right. But I think we've always said that Joe Biden is going to do well in very diverse communities. As David talked about California and Texas, I want to talk about Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, these states, even Georgia later on in March, when you get to Florida, these diverse communities are where Joe Biden is going to do well.

I've always told people that the base of the Democratic Party very simply put is my mama and her friends. And my mama and her friends, they came out last night like nobody's business. And I've got to give credit to Tom Steyer, I've got to give credit to Bernie Sanders.

Their campaigns were -- they're on the ground, they were phenomenal. I mean, they were hitting doors. They were mailing. They were doing everything a campaign should do. What they cannot replace though was the trust that African-Americans have for someone like Joe Biden.

And to put a pin in it, when we had John Lewis, John Lewis is a testament to how far we've come in this country, but he's also a testament to the struggle people of color have had to achieve any semblance of success in this country.

And so we are not going risk that franchise, risk that vote for an unknown quantity, that unknown quantity being Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, even Bernie Sanders, who has been campaigning for the last four years. What African-Americans will do though is rest assure that if Barack Obama chose you as vice president, we can probably have faith in you too.

CABRERA: Guys, I have some breaking news we're getting literally during the course of conversation. A campaign aide confirming to CNN now Pete Buttigieg is suspending his campaign. David, what's your reaction?

GERGEN: Wow. I am both surprised and we hadn't expected that. That's surely breaking news.

Listen, I think he's doing the right thing. Every vote that's going to go to Pete now and go to Amy Klobuchar now and I think she will be under pressure after Super Tuesday is a vote possibly is being taken away from Joe Biden, who is their sort of their ideological soulmate.

So I do think that this was a generous gesture on the part of Pete Buttigieg. I also think he was the most articulate and eloquent person in this race. And I think he is a star, remains -- he still has a bright star for the future. And he ran a good campaign. He came a long, long way in a very short time and really stood for new civil rights in this country.

CABRERA: We have more information he's going to be returning to South Bend and will be making an announcement later today. Bakari, what are your thoughts and how do you see this shaping the race?

SELLERS: So I look at Pete as a friend and a contemporary. And Pete has gone leaps and lightless (ph). And when me and Stacey Abrams or Andrew Gillum talk about where we want to be, you have to give props to someone like Pete Buttigieg, who actually made it to the heights that many of us want to get to one day in this political field. I go back to The Time Magazine cover with him and Chasten. For me, that was a monumental moment for this country, for civil rights, to see a gay man and his husband on the front of the magazine. Pete means so much to this process.

But let me just point out two things. Pete is trying really hard to remedy the blind spot he had with the African-American community. If he was going to withdraw from his campaign, there was no reason for him to be in Georgia today or at the end of Pettus Bridge today. But he was still there because he believes in that and he wants to get better at it.

And last but not the least, Nina and Liz Smith on the Buttigieg campaign, Nina Smith and Liz smith are just phenomenal people.

[18:15:05]

I think that most people will acknowledge that Liz Smith has probably been the superstar of this campaign. And all of these campaigns, when you get caught up in the big names but we don't pay attention to the people that make it go. I've been very hard and critical of Pete because I always wanted him to do better. I always wanted him to. But I love Pete Buttigieg. My hat is off to him. And Pete Buttigieg is not the future of the Democratic Party, he is the right now of the Democratic Party.

CABRERA: But what do you see as the impact that, Bakari, going into Super Tuesday, of this announcement this evening apparently that he's going to make when he returns to South Bend, Indiana? Do you agree with David Gergen that it's going to benefit Joe Biden or how do you see it impact --

SELLLERS: No question. Every time Steyer vote was a Joe Biden vote. Every Pete Buttigieg vote is a Biden vote. Every Klobuchar vote is a Joe Biden vote. And even more, I don't think that billionaires listen to me. And, David, I don't know if David is a billionaire yet, that's my goal.

But I will tell you, every Mike Bloomberg vote is a Joe Biden vote. Like, Mike, get out of the race. Like what are you doing? I mean, this is a two person race right now. It's a two-person race and a couple of egos. It's a Joe Biden-Bernie Sanders race with the ego of Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg playing some role.

And I think that just as Joe Biden had to overcome Tom Steyer last time night, he's wanting to have to overcome Mike Bloomberg on Super Tuesday. And Pete Buttigieg who got out at least -- I mean, Pete is light years ahead of other people because he has wherewithal to know he wasn't going to be president of the United States. And my hats off to someone who has some sense of self-awareness in this game of politics.

CABRERA: And I was just handed a transcript of something.

SELLERS: No more breaking news, Ana. We can't take it. CABRERA: No, I know. It used to be you could sit back and relax. Not anymore. He says, why? And he says, and that is why you'll find we are heading in a different direction than what we were originally planning. And he's looking forward to sharing with his supporters and with the country where they go from here. I'm sorry. Tell me again what you just said. He is planning to make his announcement at 8:30 P.M. So we, of course, will be watching for that and bring that to our viewers right here on CNN.

David Gergen and Bakari Sellers, gentlemen, thank you both for being with us. We've got to squeeze in a quick break. We'll be right back.

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[18:20:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. SEN. TED KENNEDY (D-MA): He is tough-minded, but he also has an uncommon capacity to appeal to the better angels of our nature. I'm proud to stand with him here today and offer my help, offer my voice, offer energy, my commitment to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: That was a flashback in 2008, when two days after the South Carolina primary, liberal lion, Senator Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama after he beat Hillary Clinton by 30 points in the state. Obama would go on to win 13 states on Super Tuesday showing just how far the right endorsement can go.

Former Presidential Adviser David Gergen is back with us. David, last night, Joe Biden was quick to thank congressman James Clyburn for helping him in South Carolina. So the question now becomes, does Clyburn's endorsement continue to have clout outside South Carolina? And if it doesn't, is there someone Biden should seek out right now to help him who is on that level of a Ted Kennedy?

GERGEN: Yes. Well, listen, not many endorsements count but some do. And Clyburn's endorsement of Joe Biden in the closing days of the campaign definitely had an impact. I don't think the endorsement of Biden itself carries so much impact but the fact that the African- American community voted in such large numbers for Biden comes out of South Carolina will definitely help, as Bakari Sellers was saying earlier, there are a number of southern states, southeastern states in particular, that will be voting Tuesday. And I think that the Clyburn- Biden southern vote, that's a dynamic that is important.

And by the way, I do think that there are others who have come out for Biden at the last minute, like Terry McAuliffe and Tim Kaine in Virginia. I think that is going to change the complexion in Virginia. As a proposition, we've talked very little in these political analyses of how the fact that so few endorsements among colleagues.

I think in the Senate, Pat Leahy is the one endorsement that he has gotten, whereas Joe Biden has got a number of endorsements. That tells you something. It sends us little people (ph). And Bernie is trying to direct a movement. He's less interested in --

CABRERA: David, we're having some problems with your mic. I want to give our folks a chance to fix that. But I will ask you this question, and I have some sound as part of it, so, hopefully, we can get the mic fixed during this sound. But these candidates who we have seen now dropout since South Carolina, Tom Steyer, and what's expected, Pete Buttigieg, that just came at that time.

And the question of, do you get behind someone, right? And lot of people remember that moment when John McCain got behind George Bush after withholding his endorsement for weeks and, in fact, he didn't actually use the word, endorse, until pressed by reporters to clarify. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Why do you have difficulty using the, word endorsement, when you talk about your support for Governor Bush? Does that --

FMR. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): (INAUDIBLE).

REPORTER: -- the nature of that -- if you can say that again?

MCCAIN: I endorse Governor Bush, I endorse Governor Bush, I endorse Governor Bush, I endorse Governor Bush, I endorse Governor Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Awkward but better late than never, I guess? What are your thoughts, David, as far as who and when these candidates who are dropping out decide to make an endorsement?

[18:25:00]

GERGEN: Well, it would make a big, big difference if they did it soon. That's particularly true of Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer. I think both of them coming out, they could guide something. I don't think that everybody voted for Buttigieg or was voting for him is necessarily going to go to Biden but I think he'll get a big chunk. And therefore, if you really want to help him, do it soon. Don't do it later. It's too late in about three or four weeks.

CABRERA: You were once an adviser of Richard Nixon and he famously picked up endorsement of basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain. But do celebrity endorsements typically move the needle?

GERGEN: Listen, any time Wilt Chamberlain endorses Richard Nixon, that's news, right? Yes, and I think that made a difference. Elvis Presley got very -- but he has come in and say, Richard Nixon, I support him. But there are some odd things that go on with celebrities. The president whom I think got the most help from celebrities was probably John Kennedy, because he was surrounded by them. There was a rapport that he had with people in Hollywood and it really made a difference in his presidency. CABRERA: All right. David Gergen, thank you very much. Sorry about the mic issues.

GERGEN: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Great to have you with us.

GERGEN: Not a problem. Okay, thank you.

CABRERA: Thank you.

We're staying on top of the coronavirus epidemic. We have new cases confirmed in the U.S. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will break down what you need to know as well as the new screening measures when we come back.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:58]

CABRERA: President Trump announcing new screening procedures for people arriving from high-risk countries when it comes to the coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases are rising here in the U.S. Rhode Island is now the eighth state where a coronavirus infection has been detected. And health officials in Washington state continue to investigate a possible outbreak at a local nursing facility. Two people there have tested positive, more than 50 residents and staff are now being tested after exhibiting symptoms.

Two other infections confirmed today are not linked to that facility but bring the number of coronavirus cases just in Washington state alone to eight. Now across the country, there are at least 74 confirmed cases of coronavirus right now. And a Washington state man has died from the virus.

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

Sanjay, a lot has happened over the weekend. Bring us up to speed at sort of where things stand right and just how widespread this is in the U.S.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're seeing obviously this evidence of community spread and you bring up Washington state. I mean, there are several different patients over there. Some of them may have connections. We know, for example, the man who unfortunately died, was treated at the same hospital as a patient who was being cared for at that long-term care facility.

There was a healthcare worker there who was also working at that facility who's been diagnosed. Somebody who traveled to South Korea, a postal worker. We have two men who are in their 60s, who are in critical care in a hospital. They're trying to figure out the links between all these patients, and, you know, you can just hear how challenging that is. Sometimes and most of the time it appears there really is no link. But I can tell you, Ana, it's interesting. A study came out that

showed that the genetic profile of the first coronavirus infection which is also in Washington state seems to have a lot of similarities to some of these most recent infections. That first patient, January 20th. Now, we're at the beginning of March. It could mean that that same virus has sort of been circulating in the community for some six weeks now in that area.

So, you know, the idea -- and we did the math on that. If you sort of figure out how many people would have likely been affected, the number goes into the hundreds at that point.

CABRERA: Wow. And that being said, do you see it as a good sign that we don't know of all those other cases?

GUPTA: Yes. Yes. That's exactly right. People hear that there's been a lot of spread and that obviously is alarming. But the fact that so many of those patients probably had minimal or no symptoms, didn't show up at a hospital or a clinic, is probably a good sign. It kind of matches some of the large data that people have been seeing out of China.

Eighty percent roughly of those patients out of China had no symptoms or minimal symptoms. Despite no means to minimize it, but I think that that's starting to ring true here in the United States as well. Much smaller numbers still, far smaller, but the overall statistics appear to be pretty similar.

CABRERA: Let's talk about this new airport screening. How will these new procedures help maybe stem the tide of potentially this outbreak?

GUPTA: You know, I thought about this a lot. And here's how I put it. I think they're necessary, clearly, obviously, at the point of embarkation, where people are -- see if they have any symptoms or, you know, hear about their travel history. And then when they disembark as well, to make sure they haven't developed any symptoms. But, you know, there's a lot of people who don't have symptoms at all or maybe in incubation period where they haven't developed symptoms yet.

And if you look at the number of people who have been screened up until February 23rd, there were some 46,000 people have been screened, 11 -- 11 total have been sent to the hospital or clinic for further testing and only one person was found to actually have the coronavirus infection. So it's not a high-yield sort of situation. But they also educate patients if you do develop symptoms, and you've been in this area, self-isolation, don't be around other people.

That is part of trying to contain this as well. So I think it has value but by no means by itself. And at some point as we see more of this community spread I think the value will start to reduce. Someone once said to me, and I always remember this, an infection anywhere is an infection everywhere because of global travel and because of the nature how we move around. So for now it still has value but that utility may decrease even more.

[18:35:01] CABRERA: When it comes to testing now U.S. officials are acknowledging the U.S. has been behind a lot of other countries. We're kind of playing catch-up right now to be able to test more people and more states at a much higher capacity. We heard the vice president today saying 15,000 kits were available now. And the expectation, at least 50,000 more kits, test kits, will be, you know, put out in the week to come. Is that going to be enough?

GUPTA: It's hard to say. I mean, you know, in Korea they've already tested some 65,000 people. In the U.K. they've tested close to 8,000 people and work around 500. So it's not been enough clearly so far, and it's not one of these situations where clearly you can play catch- up after the fact. The whole point of doing surveillance is to try and find who is carrying this virus and isolate them, so they don't continue to spread.

CABRERA: Right. Sort of nip it in the bud.

GUPTA: Nip it in the bud. But as we were just talking about, if there may be evidence of community spread now in places across the country, the testing after a while may not have as much value because we know at that point the virus is here. Testing typically, if you think of it from a medical perspective, I want to know if I have something or not. Why? So I can do something about it.

But there is no specific therapeutic here. So you treat people the same way regardless of whether you know they have coronavirus or not. From a public health perspective it's useful information, had been useful information. But I don't know that we can play catch-up at this point.

CABRERA: Why? Why were we behind?

GUPTA: That's a great question. I mean, some of the first tests that were sent out were -- turned out to be flawed. They had improper reagents in them so it didn't work properly. We were really far ahead initially because the gnome, the genetic sequence of this virus, was sent to the CDC. The CDC was able to create a test. And that happened really rapidly.

But why there wasn't a further sort of, you know, movement of these tests around the country at what we call POC, point of care, locations is a little bit unclear, especially when you look at what was happening in other countries. South Korea, I mean, 65,000 tests. They were doing several thousand test a day. But that's what you have to do in a situation like this for surveillance.

CABRERA: Drive-thru testing even.

GUPTA: Even drive-thru testing. Right. Things like that, that were probably critical towards trying to contain this. We may no longer be in the containment phase because of testing. You know, this is more about slowing it down.

CABRERA: So when it comes to who's vulnerable, I've been really wondering as a parent myself of two young children. GUPTA: Yes.

CABRERA: And we know they go to school, they pick up bug so quickly, makes me concern obviously and with other illness as we talk a lot about the elderly and the most young being the most vulnerable. What are we seeing so far in terms of who is contracting and really being impacted by this? Is it the elderly and children as well?

GUPTA: It's mostly the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions. So for some reason, they've looked at children and they found that while children have become infected and some have become ill, it's a much, much lower percentage, and they're not entirely sure why. Kids seem to be somewhat protected from this virus. It could be that their immune systems are handling it differently. They have seen this with other pathogens in the past.

I've talked to lots of my colleagues in the infectious disease world, there was not a clear-cut answer as to why that is. But just looking at again these large amounts of data coming out of China, tens of thousands of patients, that is a pattern they are seeing. As far as the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, you think about it like this.

They may have less reserve in order to combat this virus so they're more likely to get sick if they're -- you know, if they already have pre-existing conditions, they maybe more likely to get sick as a result of this because of that loss of reserve. I don't know. But young -- you know, kids seem to be somewhat protected from this.

CABRERA: That is really interesting.

GUPTA: Yes.

CABRERA: And all important information. Quickly, if you will, and we heard the president say, you know, people who are relatively healthy, if they get this virus, they should go on and end up just fine. Do you think we have enough information to know that?

GUPTA: You know, when you say that 80 percent of people will have minimal or no symptoms, I think that that's true. I mean, that seems -- that data seems to be holding up as we have more and more cases. So I think the vast majority of people will be fine from this. I always do give the perspective, you know, we don't pay enough attention to flu and flu has a fatality ratio of .1 percent. You hear .1 percent, you think, well, that's -- you know, that's not going to be me.

CABRERA: It's very minimal. Right.

GUPTA: Very minimal. This is closer to 2 percent, which is 20 times higher. Flu does kill tens of thousands of people a year in this country. So this could -- you know, this could be significant if it starts to spread around the entire country which in certain pockets it looks like that's happening.

CABRERA: OK. So we have to be on it and take it very seriously.

Thank you very much, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as always.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

CABRERA: Conspiracy theories are brewing around the coronavirus. How right-wing media may be contributing.

But first here's Christine Romans with your "Before the Bell Report."

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Investors will try to put a brutal February behind them but coronavirus fears will likely keep rattling the stock market. The major averages slipped into correction territory last week, meaning they fell 10 percent from their recent high.

Goldman Sachs says U.S. companies probably won't see any profit growth this year and it warns a recession isn't out of the question.

[18:40:04]

That's why more investors are betting the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this month and a growing number think more rate cuts will follow. Meantime, we'll get a read on the U.S. economy this week. And data from the manufacturing sector as well as the February jobs report are due.

In New York, I'm Christine Romans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Conspiracy theories are quickly spreading about the coronavirus. But here are the facts. This virus has killed more than 2900 people around the world, including one person here in the U.S. And more than 88,000 people are infected. And the World Health Organization says the outbreak has reached the highest level of risks.

CNN's Brian Stelter has more on how the facts, the science, the truth don't always breakthrough.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[18:45:06]

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Recent Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Rush Limbaugh, one of many cooking up partisan conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. Chief among them, it's the news media's fault.

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: They think this is going to be what brings down the president. That's what this is all about.

STELTER: Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney making the shocking claim that the media is somehow using the virus to take down Trump. Mulvaney, picking up right where FOX's Sean Hannity left off, blaming Democrats for making this political.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Sadly politicizing and actually weaponizing an infectious disease in what is basically just the latest effort to bludgeon President Trump.

STELTER: These talking points are bouncing back and forth between the Trumps and their TV surrogates, portraying the president as the victim-in-chief, and going so far as to say the president's perceived enemies actually want people to die.

DONALD TRUMP JR., TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Anything that can use to try to hurt Trump they will. But for them to try to take a pandemic and seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so that they could end Donald Trump's streak of winning is a new level of sickness.

STELTER: Junior didn't back up that wild claim. But the Trump campaign promoted it far and wide.

This is not the first time the Trump machine has conjured up a conspiracy narrative full of misinformation and fear-mongering. But this time the backdrop is a public health emergency. Still, irresponsible claims abound.

LIMBAUGH: Now I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus. Yes, I'm dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.

STELTER: Experts have debunked them, but it's all part of a Trump defense strategy, fighting a virus by playing politics.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Identity politics trumped public health and not for the first time. Wokeness is a cult.

STELTER: And as for the virus, it has no idea what political party anyone is in. It is a nonpartisan illness spreading in a partisan war.

Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Breaking news, Pete Buttigieg is suspending his campaign and his bid the White House. We are gathering details on why he came to this decision. Plus his officials are announcing this at 8:30 tonight.

Stay with us, you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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[18:52:01]

CABRERA: Back to our breaking news. Pete Buttigieg will suspend his campaign for the presidency. Tonight at 8:30 in a speech to his supporters, we expect him to make this announcement official.

Let's bring in CNN's Abby Phillip. Abby, what are you learning? ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, tonight aides

are telling us, aides inside the Buttigieg campaign, are telling us that Pete Buttigieg made this decision today because he believed that he did not have a path forward. Looking forward to Super Tuesday, just two days away, aides say he did not want to be the reason that a stronger nominee was not able to accumulate delegates on Super Tuesday.

The campaign has been going over this math for days at a time. And even on Saturday told reporters that they believe they needed to compete everywhere in order to have a chance. But a source told me tonight they always knew that Super Tuesday was going to be a longshot. And after what happened on Saturday night in South Carolina, Pete Buttigieg not only lost that race significantly, but in the eyes of his campaign, underperformed where he was performing in public polling.

They looked forward and looked at the map on Super Tuesday and said, essentially, they could not see a path for him to be viable in a way that would -- that would not harm the chances of a stronger nominee getting through this process. One of the key factors has been, and Pete Buttigieg himself has said this publicly, their goal has been to limit the delegate lead that Senator Sanders will be able to accumulate on Super Tuesday.

And one of the key factors, an aide told me tonight, is that Pete Buttigieg did not want to be the reason that another candidate was able to cut into Sanders' delegate lead. That is why today he has made that decision to drop out of the race before Super Tuesday. And he has rerouted his campaign plane from some planned campaign stops in Texas tonight. They had a full schedule all the way up until Super Tuesday.

He is returning to his home in South Bend, Indiana, to deliver this speech. For this candidate, they believed that he has really -- had really overperformed expectations. He narrowly won Iowa, came in a very close second in New Hampshire, third place in Nevada, but in South Carolina he was simply wiped out by the Joe Biden wave.

And I think tonight, what they were looking at was a situation in which Biden had the chance to be a stronger candidate if some of the other candidates, like Pete Buttigieg, in the moderate lane in particular got out of the race and cleared a little bit of a bigger path for them -- Ana.

CABRERA: And Abby, I was just looking at the South Carolina results. Again, he got 8 percent of the vote in South Carolina, which was enough to finish fourth but didn't get any delegates but only 3 percent of the black vote there in South Carolina voted for Pete Buttigieg. That was obviously something he struggled with throughout this campaign.

PHILLIP: And that problem would have only gotten worse as we went into Super Tuesday. You know, the Super Tuesday map is a mixture of, you know, progressive West Coast states and Southern, slightly more conservative states.

[18:55:07]

But the population of non-white minority voters was only going to increase for him so they knew that would be an uphill climb on Super Tuesday.

CABRERA: Abby Phillip, thank you. We'll check back momentarily.

Pete Buttigieg again making this announcement, official tonight at 8:30, that he is ending his bid for the presidency.

What does this mean for the 2020 race? The best political team in television is standing by. Don't go anywhere.

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