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New York Officials Hold Briefing On State's First Coronavirus Case; Candidates Push For Votes Before High-Stakes Super Tuesday; 3,000+ Dead And 88,000+ Coronavirus Cases Around The World. Aired 10- 10:30a ET

Aired March 2, 2020 - 10:00   ET

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


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POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

Right now, the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, he is speaking after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed here in New York City. We're going to bring in any more updates out of that. We should note that, nationally, as we follow the numbers, a second death has been confirmed in the U.S. as communities around the world are scrambling how to respond to this, what is too far, what's necessary, throughout the numbers rising.

More than 60 countries now confirming cases. Public spaces in some areas shutting down, including the Louvre Museum in Paris, as well as international sporting events, some going forward with no one in the stands.

HARLOW: Back here in the United States, several schools are shut down for cleaning, two dozen new coronavirus cases have been confirmed. The first two U.S. deaths out of the State of Washington. Let's go to Stephanie Elam again this hour and begin our coverage there. She's in Kirkland, Washington.

And, Steph, you're at a nursing facility where the second U.S. victim, the second fatality was a resident. What do we know, period, about this there?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, Poppy and Jim, when you look at this, this is pretty much ground zero in Washington State right now, simply because there are six cases that are related to this one facility.

What we understand is that those four presumptive cases that we just learned about, as well as two that we learned about over the weekend, one of those is a fatality, that 70-year-old man who lost his life. We also know he had underlying health concerns, just like the man who was in his 50s. The first person in the United States to die, but both of them here in Washington State.

Now, as far as this one facility is concerned, we know that one of these people is a healthcare worker. The other five were residents of this center here. We know that some of the medics that helped to transfer one of those patients, that they are being quarantined as well.

The facility says that they have seven patients with some sort of respiratory-like illness that they are monitoring. They're isolated, they're monitoring them, they will be tested for coronavirus just to make sure. The county, however, is saying that there are some 50 people, either staff or residents, who may be sick with coronavirus, that they are also watching them as well.

Obviously, the concern here is that now we are seeing this community spread of coronavirus and so they are concerned how this is permeating in Kirkland and the greater Seattle area. And that is a big concern now. They want to stop that. But the officials are saying, Jim and Poppy, that they expect to see these numbers continue to rise as far as people infected with coronavirus.

HARLOW: Steph, thank you very, very much.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Listen, it's a fact. It's a fact. You test more, you're going to find more. The question is the conditions of those people and how you treat them.

President Trump is meeting with pharmaceutical executives today at the White House. This morning, he said they're going to be focusing on progress on a vaccine and a cure for the coronavirus, which we should caution unlikely to be immediate.

HARLOW: That's right. With us now, CNN White House Correspondent John Harwood. John to you. The president says, quote, progress is being made, top health officials say, like Anthony Fauci at NIH, we're like at least year away from an effective drug hitting the market. What do Americans need to know?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said, it's going to be a while until a vaccine is available on a broad scale. The president is looking for various buttons he can push to try to calm people about the response.

Last week, he was saying it wasn't inevitable we would get a big spread in the United States. Events have raced we beyond those assurances. And so now you look for another way to demonstrate that you're on top of the problem, or you're trying to cope with the problem, meeting with pharma executives.

And, of course, former pharma executive Alex Azar is leading the administration coronavirus task force, is one way you can try to make that point. The challenge is if you raise expectations that a vaccine is going to take care of the problem, when people realize that even though they are promising results, deployment is going to take quite a long time, as Dr. Fauci has indicated, you run the risk of disappointing people as they watch and see the number of cases spread and a rising number especially of those compromised patients of potential loss of life.

SCIUTTO: Well, what you want to do is stick to the facts. We're going to try. John Harwood at the White House, thank you very much.

We should note, the president is going to be visiting the CDC and the NIH later this week.

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We're joined now by Thomas Frieden, he's former director of the CDC. That's the organization in charge of kind of responding to controlling these things. We have a lot of questions for you.

So, first question is the country is clearly going to be testing more, right? Is that right thing to do? And can we? Do we have the test kits to do that so you know who has it and who doesn't?

THOMAS FRIEDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, RESOLVE TO SAVE LIVES: There were clearly glitches in the rollout of the testing capacity within the U.S. We hope that the coming days will get resolved and more people will be able to get tested.

It is important, especially in the early stages, to test anyone who might be at risk and that includes contacts. What we're seeing now is increasing places where there is community spread, meaning no one has had a direct contact with someone who has come from China or Iran or somewhere else.

SCIUTTO: So, community spread. We always remind people that means it's kind of spreading here on its own as opposed to kind of imported from another country.

HARLOW: You recently wrote about what we need to know about pathogens, right? And I'm sure you read it, but Bill Gates had an op- ed over the weekend and he said that this looks like, in his opinion, a once in a century pathogen we have all been worried about. Is that assessment correct? And if it is, what does it mean for everyday Americans?

FRIEDEN: Well, first, there's a lot we still don't know about the new coronavirus. But we don't really know just how readily it spreads and how it spreads and we don't know how deadly it is. We're learning more literally every day. And because of that, we need to adjust our responses further more.

HARLOW: I thought it was a 2 percent fatality rate, which is many times the flu. Is that wrong?

FRIEDEN: That's probably quite a bit higher than it actually is because there were many people not diagnosed. But deaths are tragic and we're already seeing them in this country.

The things that we can do now in the community, generally, in healthcare facilities and our political leaders, all of us can wash our hands more, cover our cough and sneeze, make sure that if we're ill, we don't expose others, don't go out. And in healthcare settings, we need to get ready. We need to think about coronavirus, get the testing capacity up and reduce the risk of spread to healthcare workers and within healthcare facilities.

The government needs to get the supplemental appropriation through to protect Americans, invest in a vaccine and in treatment. We might have much sooner than a vaccine and, critically important, protect us by helping to protect other countries because that will tamp down the epidemic.

SCIUTTO: So that's a key question. Because I want to get your general -- you led the CDC, you have some experience and knowledge of how to respond to these kinds of things. Tell us your review of the federal government's response so far and why this money vote later this week. It's about how this money is spent now going forward.

FRIEDEN: This is going to be a major stress on state and local health departments, the need for a vaccine and treatment, and the need to shore up our defenses by helping to tamp down the pandemic, because that is what it will be, where it begins spreading.

If we don't track what's happening around the world, we won't know the virus is mutating, we won't know where to warn Americans, not to travel, and the cases could become so overwhelming that it will be very difficult to limit it here.

HARLOW: I think I'm one of many Americans, I think, who are going to the pharmacy and going on Amazon and trying to buy face masks. And as I now understand it, I don't need to do that. Is that right?

FRIEDEN: That's correct. Face masks or respiratory protection is extremely important for healthcare workers. And if you're carrying for an ill family member, you and the family member should wear a mask. And if you're sick, you should wear a mask if you have to go out. But for the general public, they're probably not going to do any good and may be harmful because they take them away from people who really need them.

SCIUTTO: Right, or maybe give you a false sense of security.

Final question, and it's early, but there are some indications that children are more resistant to this possibly than adults. How confident are we on that?

FRIEDEN: We're not certain, and it is mysterious, but even with the deadlier coronaviruses, the SARS and MERS, a lot of kids were infected and didn't get sick. There's at least one case report here of a kid who felt fine, ten years old, get a CT, he's got a bad viral pneumonia.

But one thing that people have to understand, when we say, underlying conditions, that's not rare. An estimated 60 percent of American adults, more than 120 million people, have at least one underlying condition and 40 percent have at least two underlying conditions.

SCIUTTO: Right, because some of the deaths so far have been dismissed as well. That person had underlying conditions, they were bound to, but you're saying, don't exaggerate that, right?

FRIEDEN: That's correct.

HARLOW: Dr. Frieden, invaluable, thank you.

FRIEDEN: As you.

HARLOW: I appreciate it.

Still to come, ahead of the big day tomorrow, Super Tuesday, Democratic presidential hopefuls make their final pitch to voters. Can Joe Biden build off his big win in South Carolina or will Bernie Sanders emerge as dominant frontrunner? We'll talk about that.

SCIUTTO: Plus, thousands of refugees, many of them children, stranded, running from a war and they have no place to go. We have a new report from the border between Turkey and Greece, some really powerful images.

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HARLOW: Well, it's a huge Tuesday tomorrow, hours away from Super Tuesday, the single most important day on the primary calendar. Tomorrow, 14 states, voters there casting ballots with more than a third of the party's delegates on the line.

SCIUTTO: So can Joe Biden use the moment from South Carolina to close the gap on Bernie?

Joining us now, Alexi McCammond, she's Political Reporter for Axios.

So, Alexi, it was interesting to watch just how quickly a lot of these endorsements came in post South Carolina win for Joe Biden, including from some luminaries in the party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former head of the DNC, other members of Congress there.

[10:15:08]

The Clyburn endorsement, of course, was critical in South Carolina. Do these endorsements have real value going into Super Tuesday?

ALEXI MCCAMMOND, POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, there are two things, one, the Biden's campaign thinking which is that they couldn't keep up with the endorses that were rolling in yesterday and over the last few days, which is obviously better position to be in than a candidate who might not be receiving endorsements from the more establishment members, so to speak, of the party.

But the second thing is that it shows really the way in which the establishment wing of the Democratic Party is moving quickly to prevent Bernie Sanders from being the only choice that voters, Democratic primary voters are faced with as the national frontrunner. They really want to make sure that with their endorsements and their backing of Joe Biden that Joe Biden is presented as the clear alternative to Bernie Sanders.

So it's certainly something helpful for Joe Biden whose campaign was struggling a lot over the last few weeks and now he's got the support from folks around country and within the party that he just didn't have before.

HARLOW: You had some really interesting reporting last night about what the Bloomberg campaign's internal data is showing them about what it means if he stays in this race because he doubled down on that on 60 Minutes last night, he's like, I'm in past Super Tuesday. What do they think it means for him to stay in the race in terms of who it would help if he pulls out now?

MCCAMMOND: The Bloomberg campaign's internal data, according to what they shared with us at Axios, is that if he were to drop out of the race right now, that would only benefit Bernie Sanders, they say. According to their data, they hurt Sanders chances in places where Biden isn't viable in Super Tuesday states. That's places like Colorado, where Biden isn't currently polling in the top three. Pete Buttigieg was polling in the top three. And that will be interesting to see where that support goes.

But Bloomberg's campaign very much thinks that by staying in the race, they're eating away at some of Sanders' support in different places, which is true. We see the way in which Bloomberg rises in the polls and in different states and the way he has been playing for Super Tuesday all along, in similar states like California and Texas, that Bernie Sanders has really been fighting for and taking a lead in so far.

So they firmly believe that if they got out now, it would only help Bernie Sanders and we all know the ways in which Bloomberg speaks publicly and privately, helping Bernie Sanders is not something he wants to do at this point in the race.

SCIUTTO: Is there coordination among the campaigns here?

MCCAMMOND: There is not coordination among the campaigns other than, you know, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden having a phone call last night about the state of the race and about Pete Buttigieg dropping out of the race. It seems as if the way Buttigieg is talking publicly that he's leaning toward endorsing Joe Biden. Now, that's not confirmed yet and that hasn't happened yet.

But of the options in the race, especially according to who aligns with Pete Buttigieg ideologically, Joe Biden seems like the right choice for him at this point in the cycle.

HARLOW: Alexi, great to have you, good reporting. Come back soon, thanks.

SCIUTTO: Let's dig deeper now into Joe Biden's campaign. Joining me is Kate Bedingfield. She is Biden's Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director. Kate, good to have you on this morning.

CNN is reporting from Jeff Zeleny that Pete Buttigieg is mulling an endorsement and that endorsement is most likely for Joe Biden. Have Biden and Buttigieg discussed a possible endorsement?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANGER AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, JOE BIDEN 2020: Well, I'm not going to get in to their private conversations. They obviously spoke last night and, you know, the vice president believes that Mayor Pete ran a barrier-breaking historic campaign and that he's done incredible things for the party and, obviously, we would be honored to have his support, but that's a decision that Mayor Pete will make. And, you know, beyond that, I can't get into their private conversation.

SCIUTTO: Okay. So set aside the private conversations, let's just talk about the politics. A lot is riding on Super Tuesday for Joe Biden. He has not invested money, he doesn't have good organization in a lot of his states by the accounts of his own supporters, such as Jim Clyburn. Does Biden need Buttigieg's endorsement before Super Tuesday?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, as I said, we would be honored to have it, but I think Super Tuesday is about momentum. And I think, you know, what we saw on Saturday is that South Carolina has a long tradition of picking presidents, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and on Saturday, they picked Joe Biden. And Super Tuesday is about momentum, and we have got it. You can call it the Biden bounce-back, you can call it Joementum, whatever you call it. It's real. It's happening.

We raised $10 million in the last 48 hours online. We've seen some -- I heard you guys were having a conversation about endorsements, we've had incredible, impactful endorsements come in over the last two days, people like Senator Kaine, people like Senator Boxer, people in the Super Tuesday states who, you know, have organization on the ground and who have -- you know, who have influence there.

And we've also seen endorsements come in in Congressional districts that we're targeting on Super Tuesday, because Super Tuesday is a delegate game. It's about momentum and it's about delegates. And we believe that in places like Congressman Bobby Scott's district, we're going to be really successful and his endorsement is incredibly important in that regard.

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So we're looking at taking the momentum from South Carolina into Super Tuesday.

SCIUTTO: We'll know tomorrow. And endorsement he does not have is from Barack Obama. Of course, president when he was vice president. It's our reporting that Obama and Biden, they have been speaking periodically throughout the campaign. Are you -- is the Biden Campaign, is Joe Biden disappointed that Barack Obama has not endorsed him?

BEDINGFIELD: No, of course not. He said from the outset that he wanted to make this case on his own and that he needed to earn it on his own. And I think what we're seeing, what we saw from the results in South Carolina is that people are -- he is making the case on his own. People are responding to his message. There was record high turnout in South Carolina. Over 500,000 people came out to vote, and Joe Biden ran away with it by 30 points.

He won nearly every single demographic regardless of race, gender, age, ideology. We really saw that he is the one candidate in this race who has been able to put together the broad diverse coalition that we're going to need to beat Donald Trump in the fall. So I think, you know, the incredible momentum we have coming out of South Carolina is going to lift us on Super Tuesday.

SCIUTTO: You know the influence that Jim Clyburn's endorsement had in South Carolina. He is just one of the Democrats who is saying the Biden campaign organization needs work. Have a listen and I want to get your response.

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REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): We need to do some retooling in the campaign, no question about that.

I'm all in and I'm not going to sit idly by and watch people mishandle this campaign.

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SCIUTTO: Mishandle this campaign. What's your response?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, he also subsequently said that he has no issues with the Biden campaign, so let's be clear about that. But, I mean, every campaign is an additive process. A successful campaign is a growing campaign. So, of course, we hope that as we go further into this process, more talented people are going to come join us and want to work for Joe Biden. That shows that you've got a winning, successful campaign. So, of course, we expect that.

But I would say that, you know, I think over the last couple of weeks, our campaign has had probably the strongest two weeks that we've had out of the gate and that's in part then because we have been really focused on the clear choice that Democratic voters have.

And that's a choice between somebody in Bernie Sanders who wants to, you know, institute a takeover, a government takeover on healthcare that's going to take away private -- that's going to take away choice from people. He's had some troubling -- taking some really troubling votes on guns, and his gun record has given Democrats real pause.

So I think over the last two weeks, you've really seen an incredibly sharp focused message from the Biden campaign and from the vice president and people are responding to it. And it's part of the reason that we have the momentum that we have right now.

SCIUTTO: Okay, a big test tomorrow, of course.

Are you concerned at all because Sanders supporters are very devout? And I'm sure you've heard this from the Bernie Brothers and others, the sense that the party is trying it take it away from us again, these endorsements, these discussions of party grandees trying to push for another candidate regardless of the damage to the party. We've seen the reporting. We've seen the response from Sanders'

supporters. Is the Biden campaign concerned about that impression, concerned that they might turn off -- that effort, that kind of effort might turn off Sanders supporters from his campaign?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I'm not sure how winning a popular vote by 30 points in South Carolina is taking it away. That was a resounding victory. People went to the polls.

SCIUTTO: I'm talking about other efforts, yes.

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I mean, we are in the process now where people are voting. And we've just seen in the last contest, you know, Joe Biden overwhelmingly won the vote by 30 points.

So I think people are looking right now, they're asking themselves the question, I think voters who are going to the polls on Super Tuesday tomorrow are asking themselves a question about what kind of leadership they want, who they want taking on Donald Trump, who the candidate is, who cannot only defeat Trump but can bring along, you know, marginal districts that we have to flip in order to get a Democratic agenda done and passed, who can build on our lead in the Senate -- I'm sorry, who can flip the Senate, who can build the majority in the House. Those are real questions.

And I think people are reacting. I think what we saw on Saturday in South Carolina is that people are reacting to Joe Biden, they're hearing his message, they know him and they believe he should be the next president of the United States.

SCIUTTO: All right, fair, let's have you on after Super Tuesday and we'll get a sense of how it's all going. Kate Bedingfield, we appreciate you for taking the time this morning.

BEDINGFIELD: That will be great. Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Well, Super Tuesday is the most important test for the presidential candidates so far. Special live coverage starts at 4:00 P.M. Eastern Time tomorrow right here on CNN.

HARLOW: All right. Ahead for us, some schools closed, tourist attractions shut down, governments around the world taking measures to slow the spread of coronavirus. We'll have a lot more on the global impact, next.

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HARLOW: Governments around the world are taking extensive measures to try to slow the spread of coronavirus. Nearly 70 countries have confirmed cases of the deadly virus. More than 3,000 people have died.

David Culver is joining us this morning from Shanghai, China.

China, obviously, the epicenter of all this. You've been covering it the entire time. What are the measures they're taking now?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, right now, we're seeing the numbers fluctuate just a little bit.

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Over the weekend, they started go back up and that raised some concern. And now, we're starting to see a drop over the past 24 hours or so.