Return to Transcripts main page


New Efforts To Contain Coronavirus After Second United States Death; Eighty Nine Confirmed Coronavirus Cases In U.S.; Viral Outbreak, Coronavirus Starts To Spread In United States; Test Kit Lab May Have Been Contaminated; Democratic Contender Drops Out Of 2020 Race; Global Businesses Restrict Travel Over Coronavirus Fears; Coronavirus Triggers South Korea Homicide Probe; Coronavirus Fear Grips Iran; Joe Biden Revels In South Carolina Primary Win; America Votes 2020, Bloomberg On The Ballot; Israel Votes For Prime Minister Again; North Korea Fires Short-range Missiles; Abortion Debate; New York's Plastic Bag Ban; Cuccinelli Appointment Unlawful; U.C. Santa Cruz Fires Striking Grad Assistants; Spring Break Alert, Panama City, Florida Booze Ban. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 2, 2020 - 04:00   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN HOST: The second death from coronavirus on American soil. It's refocusing containment efforts in Washington State. What to watch for this week as global efforts to increase the spread of the disease.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And a big surprise ahead of Super Tuesday. Which Democratic candidate has bowed out and who will get their support tomorrow. We have reports this morning from Berlin, Jerusalem, South Korea, Qatar and Tokyo. Welcome to our viewers in United States and around the world. This is Early Start. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Monday, March 2nd. I's 4:00 a.m. in New York. We start with a whole new developments on coronavirus spread in the United States. Public health officials announcing the second death in Washington state. A man in his 70s with underlying health conditions. The patient was hospitalized at Evergreen Health in Kirkland, the same place as the first person who died in Washington and there now have been new cases connected to Evergreen Health.

ROMANS: The Washington Post reports analysis of samples from two patients indicates a coronavirus has been spreading for about six weeks in Washington State. The analysis also strongly suggests the two cases are linked through community transmission with hundreds of other infections likely. There are now 89 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. with the first cases announced in Oregon, Florida, Rhode Island and New York.

JARRETT: Governor Andrew Cuomo says the New York patient is a woman in her late 30s who contracted the virus while traveling in Iran. She's isolated at home with respiratory symptoms though the governor says she's not in serious condition. There's no word on the health of the other passengers on her return flight.

ROMANS: All right, public health officials have been warning coronavirus would spread in U.S. communities. What should Americans look for this week? Chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta puts it in perspective for us.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Laura, I want to show you this animation real quick. You can take a look at these various outbreaks over the last several years and see how they compared. And if you look at the lines there you see coronavirus and then h1n1, at the ninth week mark, coronavirus actually out pacing h1n1 and then obviously h1n1 that flu pandemic sort of takes off and you can see it reaches 60 million people by year one.

Big news I think this week is the president is going to be meeting with pharmaceutical companies to try and figure out are there therapeutics that can be in the pipeline and actually try to figure out what's happening with the vaccine. And then these 15,000 testing kits which will get distributed to these various points of care around the country. Whether or not that will make a difference at this point it's a little bit tough to say.

Keep in mind, Korea has been testing thousands of patients a day. They tested 65,000 patients total. In the U.K. They've tested close to 8,000 patients and in the United States so far we've tested only around 500 patients. Without that surveillance it's hard to get a good idea of exactly how many patients are infected.

But let me end on this note, Christine and Laura. I think it's important that we've said it all along is that the vast majority of people who do get exposed to this virus are not going to have any symptoms or they are just going to have minimal symptoms. There may be many people out there who simply aren't getting counted because they are also not getting sick.

Christie and Laura, like I said it's a fast moving story as we get more details we'll certainly bring them to you.


JARRETT: All right, Sanjay, thanks so much for that.

Well, a top federal scientist reportedly sounding the alarm about possible contamination in the Atlanta lab where coronavirus test kits were made. According to Axios the Trump administration has ordered an investigation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Lab. It's not immediately clear if the possible contamination played a role in delays or problems with testing. The White House is under increasing scrutiny over its early preparations for the virus. Vice President Mike Pence admitting what President Trump initially down- played. The disease will likely spread in the U.S. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For people that have other conditions that would militate toward a worse outcome, that we could have more sad news, but the American people should know the risk for the average American remains low.


ROMANS: So Congress is moving quickly on emergency funding for a coronavirus response. The White House has asked for $1.25 billion. CNN has learned Congress could approve as much as $7 billion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she wants new funding and not money rolled from somewhere else.

All right, global markets in serious need of stabilization this week. At least for now things are looking calm here. You can see Asian markets are just slightly higher and Shanghai has got a 3 percent bounce there and European shares have also opened higher here.


Let's take a look what's happening on Wall Street, DOW futures up about 400 points. They had been down 500 points late last night, so it has been kind of a volatile restart to the week. There are concerns a second coronavirus death in the U.S. could spark another sell-off. So far that has not happened. The reason markets feel the effect of the virus business disruption worldwide.

Amazon is asking employees to postpone not nonessential travel. Google canceled its upcoming summit in California. Nike deep cleaned its headquarters in Oregon out of an abundance of caution. Lake Oswego where a case was confirmed is near Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton.

The travel industry has already taken a hit. Some experts say it could be the worst crisis for the aviation this recent September 11th. Such as business travel, Americans who are making plans for spring and summer trips are rethinking them, and imagine a March madness with no fans? The National College Players Association has asked the NCAA to consider having tournaments with no crowds. The NCAA says it is monitoring the developments with the outbreak.

JARRETT: The global death toll from coronavirus now tops 3,000 and with almost 87,000 people sick. The epidemic has triggered a homicide investigation in South Korea. Seoul's City government just filed a complaint against leaders at a religious group at the heart of the outbreak in that country. Italy now has the most cases of any nation outside of Asia, nearly 1,700. That a 50 percent increase in just 24 hours. The famed La Scala Opera House will be closed until March 8th.

ROMANS: The louvre in Paris remains closed. There were long lines on Sunday normally a free entry day, but workers decided the risk of contamination was too great and the museum turned everyone a way. A look at these NASA images of China before and after the outbreak with production of many factories halted and transportation restricted the air quality has improved dramatically.

JARRETT: Wow, one unintended consequence.


JARRETT: Iran now reporting 978 coronavirus cases and 54 deaths. Some Iranians remain anxious over both the spread of the virus and fear the government does not have a handle on it. CNN's Fred Pleitgen was in Iran when the outbreak began. He joins us now. Fred, what more are you learning?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Laura. What I can tell you one thing you're absolutely right that there are a lot of Iranians who are very concerned and it certainly does remain a challenge for the Iranian authorities. And you guys are right. Right now, Iran has the second highest death toll after China in the world, that's 54 people who have died of coronavirus, but we need to take that with a grain of salt, because we're expecting new numbers to come out from the Iranians within the next hour and a half or so. And if get those numbers, I'll definitely keep you guys updated on that as well.

Right now they're at almost a thousand confirm cases, but we do expect that to rise as well. What really has the Iranians concerned, though, is the fact that their top leadership seems to be getting sick as well. Right now you have the vice president who contracted coronavirus. You have a lot of other government officials and you have their former ambassador to the Vatican who has died of coronavirus, but also some other senior members of parliament have gotten coronavirus and some senior clerics have died of coronavirus as well.

Folks that we're speaking to on the ground, some remain defiant but theirs others who do say that they're extremely concerned about what's going on, a lot of people who are not leaving their houses. Unlike in many other countries, you have people who are going to pharmacies trying to get whatever they can, face masks and of course anti- bacterial gels as well to try to make sure that they can try and keep the virus away from themselves.

One of the other big problems that the Iranians have as well is that a lot of countries around Iran have closed their borders to the country because so many cases from Iran have gone abroad to Canada, to other countries as well, to countries in the Middle East. And that was really in many ways Iran's economic lifeline. They had flights to Turkey. Those flights have now been capped. They flights to Germany, those flights have now been capped. The Russians of course one of the main remaining trading partners of this country under sanctions now also stopping flights between Moscow and Iran as well, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Fred. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, a major shakeup in the 2020 presidential race. Pete Buttigieg ending his historic run. The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor turned into a national political player with his unexpected rise. But Buttigieg made the decision to step aside seeing no viable path to success on Super Tuesday and beyond. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our goal has always been to help unify Americans to defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for our values.



And so we must recognize that at this point in the race the best way to keep faith with those goals and ideals is to step aside and help bring our party and our country together.



JARRETT: Buttigieg didn't endorse anyone but critical support in states like California and Texas could gravitate towards Joe Biden whose convincing win in South Carolina over the weekend revived his campaign. Biden is calling on Super Tuesday states like Virginia to keep up this momentum.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, 2020 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On Tuesday here in Virginia you could be the launching pad to the path to beat Donald Trump.




JARRETT: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be on the ballot for the first time tomorrow. Some polls show him gaining support among African-American voters, but anger persists over some of his policies as mayor.

ROMANS: Protesters silently turned their backs on Bloomberg as he spoke at a historic black church in Selma, Alabama, yesterday. His appearance coincided with the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a historic civil rights march demanding the right to vote. Seventeen people were hospitalized after violent confrontations with white police officers, 55 years ago as they attempted to cross Edmund Pettus Bridge that day. Among them, iconic Congressman John Lewis, who suffered a skull fracture in the 1965 march. Lewis, who's now fighting stage 4 pancreatic cancer made a surprise appearance at yesterday's commemorative march. Just captivating.

All right, ahead, a Super Tuesday, CNN will have exclusive one-on-one interviews with the Democratic presidential candidate, live from Washington D.C. starting tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN. JARRETT: All right. Still ahead, you thought U.S. politics was

gridlocked. Israelis are voting today for the third time in a year. CNN's live in Jerusalem.



JARRETT: Breaking overnight, North Korea firing two short range missiles into the sea. It's the first test of its kind in three months. It comes just days after South Korea and the U.S. postponed their joint military drills because of the coronavirus outbreak. The launch also follows a rare public sighting of Kim Jong-un late last week. The North Korean dictator presided over a military drill. He's been out of sight lately presumably to protect himself from the coronavirus.

ROMANS: Israelis are voting in a general election today for the third time in less than a year. That is unprecedented. The country bitterly divided between its indicted sitting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz. Let's go live to Jerusalem and bring in Elliott Gotkine, another election. What are we expecting?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Christine, you know they say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And here we are Israel's third elections in less than a year. It feels like a third referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rule and an opinion poll suggesting that the outcome is going to be pretty much exactly the same.

Now, we're not due to get the first kind of flash poll from here when the polls close at 10:00 p.m. These polls will be close until 10: p.m. local, that's 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Results will start trickling out then, but we may not get the overall results for a few days, but it's then that the real action happens, because then the political parties will start their horse trading to try to cobble together a coalition government that will be able to come on to majority in Israel's Knesset or parliament.

So, that's something that could take weeks to happen against this backdrop as you say. Benjamin Netanyahu, sitting Prime Minister unprecedented really facing charges and facing actually court, due to go to court in just a couple of weeks to face these charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. Now, he denies all of those charges. His supporters are very much behind him, and the interesting thing about this this election is that these charges don't really seem to have made much difference to the way that people are going to vote.

Those that support Netanyahu are wholeheartedly behind his assertion that these are all cooked up charges by a liberal elite, it's a witch hunt he says and those against Netanyahu are wholeheartedly against him and believe that change at the top of Israeli politics is long overdue. Whether that happens at the end of these elections, of course, we'll find out if not later on then over the next few days. Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Elliott, thank you so much for that this morning in Jerusalem. Thank you.

JARRETT: Argentina is set to become the first large Latin-American country to legalize abortion. President Alberto Fernandez announcing he'll send a bill to Congress within 10 days. Across the largely Catholic region, abortion is legal in just three countries the largest being Cuba, population $11 million. Argentine lawmakers voted down an earlier Abortion Bill back in 2018, facing strong opposition from the church.

ROMANS: All right. If you think you saw more paper bags in New York yesterday you are not wrong.



JARRETT: A federal judge in Washington, D.C. says Ken Cuccinelli's appointment to head up U.S. citizenship and immigration services was unlawful, because the appointment didn't follow how top federal jobs are supposed to be filled. That means two policies Cuccinelli implemented are now void. One is a directive giving asylum seekers less time to talk to a lawyer before they can try to establish a credible fear of persecution. A DHS spokesperson tells CNN the department is looking closely at the decision, but disagrees with it.

ROMANS: All right, the new law banning plastic bags in New York State now in effect. The idea is to protect the environment. New Yorkers have been using more than, get this 23 billion plastic bags a year. Most stores and businesses will now charge shoppers a 5 cent fee for paper bags. The ban will be enforced until April 1st, because of a lawsuit filed by a corner market owners and a packaging company that claims the law will put it out of business.

JARRETT: Fifty-four graduate teaching assistant at the University of California, Santa Cruz fired after striking for higher pay. Some 200 grad students began withholding final fall grades back in December as part of a strike that was not approved by union leadership. The students say they need a wage increase to keep the pace with the cost of living in the area. The University generally known for a progressive strong hold claims the strike violates the current bargaining agreement. Both the school and the union accusing each other of unfair labor practices.

ROMANS: A big heads up for spring breakers. There is still no booze allowed on the beach in Panama City, Florida, for the entire month of March. That goes along with the 2:00 a.m. deadline for buying alcohol anywhere within the city limits. Panama City's police chief says the zero-tolerance policy in effect since 2015 has helped the city transition from a national spring break madhouse to a year round family friendly destination.


JARRETT: They'll find other ways to have fun.

ROMANS: I know, they will. They will. All right. Officials are ramping up the containment efforts after a second death from coronavirus on American soil. We'll tell you about now travel restrictions and whether markets are rebounding after the worst week in a decade.


ROMANS: The second death from coronavirus on American soil it's refocusing containment efforts in Washington state. What to watch for this week as global efforts expand to slow the spread.