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Deadly Tornado Rips Across Tennessee, At Least 22 Dead; Coronavirus Cases Continue To Rise In The United States; Federal Reserve Cuts Interest Rate By Half A Point Due To Coronavirus. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 3, 2020 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:49]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here. Of course, we're following all the latest developments with Super Tuesday and the coronavirus, but I want to begin with this tragic day in Nashville and really across the state of Tennessee.

Look at this. At least 22 people have lost their lives after this horrifying series of tornadoes and severe weather in several counties. The fatalities are concentrated in these four counties in the central part of the state, the highest number 16 in Putnam County.

Officials fear there may be people trapped inside damaged homes and buildings. Urban Search and Rescue teams are being called in right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR RANDY PORTER, PUTNAM COUNTY, TENNESSEE: We have multiple homes that have been destroyed, lots of damage in that area, the power lines, trees down, some of the roads are impassable.

We have started a door-to-door process now, going to house-to-house on each one of these streets that we know that has damage to make sure that there's no one trapped in the homes that we can locate the people that live there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: When you talk to people in Nashville and the surrounding area, they're describing the utter and complete devastation.

By the way, President Trump says he will visit Friday, and all of this is happening as folks in Tennessee are casting their votes today, Super Tuesday.

With me now the Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, John Cooper and Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for taking a minute with me. I love Nashville and I'm just -- I'm gutted by what's happened in this beautiful city.

So I just want to run these numbers past you, sir. And you tell me if they hold. I have 22 fatalities this hour. The State Department of Health says the number of injuries is unknown, are those numbers you have or has it already changed.

MAYOR JOHN COOPER (D), NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: Well, Brooke, I think that's right. Here in Davidson County, we've only had two fatalities, but across the state, it's a much bigger number. And we've probably had 150 people that we've had to transport to medical facilities.

Comparatively, we've been lucky. Lots of property damage here in Nashville, but comparatively many more fatalities elsewhere in the state.

BALDWIN: I know one huge worry is that folks, you know, were in their homes and buildings that have been left damaged, right, and first responders are just working their way through. Can you talk to me about those efforts?

COOPER: Well, they are and they're doing an incredible job. We do have 48 collapsed structures. So obviously, with a collapsed structure, you've got to go through that and make sure that nobody was left behind.

Right now, they're working through that process. The community has responded beautifully. It's a great city. It's a resilient city. We had a flood here about 10 years ago, that I think has trained us a little bit for an emergency response and we're being up to it today.

BALDWIN: When you talk about those damaged buildings, though, do you think that's why -- I'm going to remember at some point this morning, there were nine fatalities overall reported and then, bang, it rose to 22. Does the death toll rise because of these rescue efforts and that people are just being found?

COOPER: Yes, and it happened last night. So it's dark. The power is out. We still have 50,000 people without power in Nashville alone. It was just hard to know the problems that you're dealing with.

In the day, now, you can go through and be careful about it and I do believe that's why the number jumped overnight is the tragedy had already taken place.

BALDWIN: No, so many people were in bed asleep when these tornadoes came through. So it's my understanding that folks in East Nashville had six minutes of lead time, folks in West Nashville had three minutes.

Just for people watching and wondering why so little time between presumably, you know, the sirens and the tornadoes.

COOPER: Well, the sirens worked -- it is the system that we have. These storms can worsen, and then also their touchdown.

Frankly, this tornado kind of skipped across Davidson County, touching down, touching down, touching down, very unpredictable where that happens.

There's a string of touches that are devastating in the concentrated areas that it does touch, but it's going to be hard to predict. The system, in terms of preparedness, people were saved because they

did get up off and get into their bathrooms, get into a safer part of their houses.

[14:05:09]

COOPER: And also, frankly, we were lucky. Schools were out. It hit devastatingly, a commercial district, but fewer homes than perhaps might have otherwise been expected.

BALDWIN: What is -- just wrapping this up -- what is your biggest need and also have you spoken to the White House?

COOPER: I've talked to FEMA. I've been in touch with the White House. We're in close touch with the state. Everybody here is working very well together.

I think the biggest need is for people to understand how great our first responders are and to support them. People are bringing coffee, sandwiches, donuts, to everybody out in the community working right now and food to our shelters.

We're going to have displaced families for a period of time. Food and our shelters is a great thing.

The city is a resilient city. We've come back from this before and we're going to be stronger than ever. There's a local phrase here, we believe in Nashville, and boy, this is really true today in March.

BALDWIN: I mean, in the midst of a disaster, right, southern hospitality at its best. Mayor John Cooper, I appreciate your perspective and feeling that you're lucky, but still our condolences obviously to all those lives lost in those families in in Tennessee.

COOPER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: We're watching that. Thank you, sir. We're also watching all the latest developments in this coronavirus outbreak as the number of cases continues to rise here in the United States.

A second case has now been confirmed in New York; Georgia has confirmed two new cases of the virus and there are now more than 100 coronavirus cases in the United States spread across about a dozen states. All six deaths in the United States have been in Washington State where more than a dozen schools have closed as a precaution.

The new cases of coronavirus come as U.S. health officials are changing the rules to allow for expanded testing. Some public officials are now warning the public against attending large public events.

And how about this? The NBA is advising its players to avoid high fives with fans and signing autographs just to avoid spreading the virus.

In terms of the markets, the Federal Reserve is also making changes amid the coronavirus outbreak cutting the interest rate by half a point, an emergency move to thwart the economic impact of the coronavirus. It is the first unscheduled cut since the 2008 financial crisis, a move the President has been pressing the Fed to make and today, President Trump pressed the Reserve even more demanding "more easing and cutting."

The Dow jumped right after the announcement, but then started falling again, down 900 points.

Richard Quest is with me. He is CNN Business Editor-at-Large and host of "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS." And so the rate is cut. Why are the markets reacting the way they are?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Well, first thing to note, if we may, is that we're now at the lowest point of the day, it would appear, down 930 and over the course of the afternoon, the selling has accelerated down three and a half percent.

So we're about to potentially wipe out all the gains that we saw yesterday. And those gains, which is what we call a dead cat bounce. There was no real justification for them.

The Fed's move today was the ultimate insurance policy. Yes, they've still got more that they can still cut, but they cut to ensure the stability. What did they actually say?

"The coronavirus poses evolving risks. In light of these risks and to support the achieving of maximum et cetera, et cetera." So this was an emergency measure designed as an insurance policy.

What the market is telling us is it's not enough. And the reason I say that because the market have been dying for interest rate cuts. They've been looking forward to possibly add a single 25 basis points. Now they've got half a point of and they're still falling sharply. And this is because they don't believe this is over by any means.

If you look at -- I've just got here, United Airlines is down four and a quarter percent today. Carnival Cruises down similarly. The economic -- to put it -- the economic dislocation as a result of all of this is getting wider by the moment.

BALDWIN: Okay, Richard Quest, thank you very much for that. By the way, New York's second confirmed case of coronavirus is raising fears that the deadly virus may have been spread through the community.

Brynn Gingras is with me now on this and so Brynn, who has it now?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, we're getting the latest information from a news conference that happened a short time ago with New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio learning about this 50-year-old man from Westchester County here in New York City, the second confirmed case of coronavirus.

We've learned he is a lawyer who worked in Midtown Manhattan. Now, the mayor says that he was showing symptoms on and off for the past month, but those symptoms became more serious just within the last week or so. That's why actually last week, he was admitted to the hospital and it became even more serious. He's been transferred to a hospital here in New York City where he currently is in serious condition.

But a couple of things to point out. This man, again worked in Midtown Manhattan. He certainly took public transportation. Also, he has two children. One of those kids attended a private school in the Bronx. That school on its own accord canceled classes today. That kid was not showing any symptoms.

[14:10:16]

GINGRAS: However, this man also has a second child that we've learned who attend a local university and is symptomatic. Now, health officials are on the ground at the university. They are not naming that school as of yet.'

But of course, working through the process of this, notifying officials, working with officials there on that campus.

The other thing to note, this man did not travel to any high risk countries as of late. According to the Mayor, he went to Israel which we know is not high risk and also Miami. So this may be, it appears to be the first community spread case here in New York City -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: We will come back to all of that. We will talk to the Governor as well, Brynn. Thank you.

The number of coronavirus cases, as I mentioned, is on the rise largely because U.S. health officials are now allowing state and local facilities to test for the virus.

Faulty test kits from the CDC initially led to delays and inconclusive results; 15,000 new kits are now being shipped to state and local health facilities all across the country and by expanding who can actually test for the disease, the F.D.A. is now hoping that up to a million people across the country will be tested for coronavirus by the end of the week.

Laurie Garrett is a world health policy expert and a science journalist and the author of the book, "The Coming Plague."

So Laurie, nice to have you on. Thank you so much. And when we talk about these -- the tests and they're hoping to test now a million people by the end of this week, you refer to these tests is a sad joke. Tell me why?

LAURIE GARRETT, WORLD HEALTH POLICY EXPERT: Well, unfortunately, something went wrong in making the CDC's test and they're very evasive about exactly what went wrong, but it didn't work.

And they were shipped out to the states and the state said this isn't working. Meanwhile, we've had a huge delay in getting testing rolled out across the country and we're only now beginning to try and get commercial test kits in place, allow states to develop their own tests and get some answers.

Meanwhile COVID is out there.

BALDWIN: I mean, when you say that, and you say something obviously went wrong. I sit here and wonder, well, because of this inadequate test issue, did that allow her coronavirus to spread?

GARRETT: Yes, I think so. What we know, the Fred Hutchison Lab in Seattle did a genomic analysis and they think based on the gene sequences of the viruses found in people in the State of Washington, it has been there since mid-January, perhaps even early January. And it's a strain that originated in central China.

So this is very bad. And we've paid a huge price for slashing and cutting the Centers for Disease Control.

BALDWIN: You say we meaning this White House.

GARRETT: I mean in meaning the nation, the people of America. We've paid the price, because the states don't have what they need. They don't have a tool kit.

If you don't know who is infected, you can't stop an epidemic.

BALDWIN: And to think that it's possible that this could have gone on as many weeks as you're saying, as it has in Washington State. Wow.

We're also learning that the CDC appeared to have removed the number of Americans who've been tested from their website. Why do you think they would do that?

GARRETT: Well, right now, we're in a cumbersome period here, because they're rolling out their test kit to the state labs. But meanwhile, there are commercial suppliers putting tests out, and they're not all the same. They don't all have the same specificity, sensitivity. It's going to be very chaotic for a while until this gets sorted out.

And it's very difficult for the CDC to figure out, what should we be reporting as a confirmed case?

BALDWIN: How quickly can this get sorted? Maybe that's the impossible question to answer. But that's all I can wonder.

GARRETT: Look, the way I look at this, Brooke is we knew this was coming. China bought us time by locking down to varying degrees 100 million human beings, carrying out the most massive epidemic control in the history of our species, and they bought us time. We knew this was there in January --

BALDWIN: And yet --

GARRETT: And yet here we are. And the most basic fundamental tool of epidemic control, a test that can say, is Brooke infected or no? We don't have it.

BALDWIN: You're angry.

GARRETT: I am. I think this is a gross malfeasance. And it's, you know, you can't blame the scientists at the lab level when they don't have any money. When they've been working around the clock understaffed. We've been slashing and slashing CDC, and even now the plan to slash it even more.

I don't understand how you expect to protect America if you take the whole bench, you know the entire baseball team and say, you know what, we're just going to have a catcher in a pitcher and the rest of you can go home.

BALDWIN: I'm just going to sit with that. Laurie Garrett, I appreciate your passion. Thank you for coming on and saying that.

GARRETT: Thank you.

[14:15:04]

BALDWIN: To Super Tuesday now, the biggest day yet of the 2020 race is underway. Joe Biden is riding a huge wave of momentum. But is it enough to overtake Senator Bernie Sanders? And what about Senator Elizabeth Warren?

Also, we will talk to a conservative Republican from Virginia about why he is voting for Joe Biden today.

And what's being done to protect all of these voters from the coronavirus?

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: We're back on this Super Tuesday. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Democrats who have been waiting for weeks to make their voices heard in the 2020 Primary are finally getting their chance to do exactly that.

Super Tuesday is now in full swing. Just over 1,300 delegates are up for grabs today, a significant chunk of the number needed to clinch the party's nomination and the high stakes are setting up an epic showdown between the moderate and progressive wings of the party after Joe Biden got a series of endorsements from former rivals.

[14:20:25]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm delighted to endorse and support Joe Biden for President.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have someone who in fact is the antithesis of Donald Trump. Joe Biden is decent. He is kind. He is caring. He is empathetic.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I want all of you to do is vote for Joe.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a massive effort trying to stop Bernie Sanders. That's not a secret to anybody in this room. The corporate establishment is coming together. The political establishment is coming together and they will do everything. They are really getting nervous that working people are standing up.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No matter how many Washington insiders tell you to support him, nominating fellow Washington insider will not meet this moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: To Chris Cillizza we go, our CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large and this is the biggest single day of voting so far because there's some huge prizes. Go through the numbers for us.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes, well, Brooke, we often call things super big, but this one actually merits it, because it's nationwide and it's so many delegates.

So first numbers, you mentioned this, but 30 plus percent of all the delegates available in the entire process are available today. Seventy percent of what you need to get to 1,991 -- 1,991 to win, right? Seventy percent of them. Now, no one is going to win 70 percent, but 70 percent available in just one day.

I want to flag because it's a lot, but I want to flag something you need to pay attention to. So California, 415 delegates available today -- by far the largest number.

What's really important about California is this. We expect -- we don't know, but polling suggests Bernie Sanders is going to win. And that's important, but not as important as this.

Does anyone else and several other people get 15 percent of the vote or more statewide? If they do because of the Democrat Delegate Rules, they will get delegates. Sanders will get less. If they don't, the nomination could well be won by Bernie Sanders in California because he will have a delegate lead nationally, that may not be able to be overcome.

So that's the state I'm keeping an eye on not just because it has the most delegates, but because of the way Sanders is running, and his opponents are running -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, Chris, thank you for all of the delegate math and as you mentioned that final number they need, 1,991. Also CNN, its polling location -- is at polling locations all across the country getting the pulse of voters.

Up first, the State of Colorado where 67 delegates are at stake and that is where we find Lucy Kafanov. She is in Denver. Lucy, what are you seeing? LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Brooke, we are at the Denver

Election Division where folks have been trickling in to vote. This is also coincidentally where ballots are going to be counted once those polls close at 7:00 p.m. local time.

Now across the State of Colorado, more than 1.3 million ballots cast so far. That's 38 percent of all registered voters here and that's interesting because folks have had their ballots since early February.

What that tells us is that a lot of people are waiting until the last minute until today to finally make their decision. Now, we know that Senator Sanders won the state in 2016. Two polls released last week had shown him in a double digit lead. It's going to be quite some time before we have any kind of indication of results for this year's vote.

But what's interesting and exciting about this year, this is Colorado's first primary in 20 years. Up until now, it's been a caucus process. This is also the first time that unaffiliated voters can participate in the primaries.

All of these changes, Brooke, aimed at getting more people out, more people turned out to participate in the political process -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, Lucy, thank you in Denver and let's go to Alabama now, a state where any registered voter, no matter his or her party can vote in today's Democratic Party and that is where we have CNN's Victor Blackwell live in Birmingham. Victor, what are voters telling you?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Brooke, we're seeing that there is a good steady flow here at precinct 2010 overwhelmingly Democratic precinct. And on the issue of crossover voting, there's not a lot of that expected because there's a marquee race for each party.

Of course, the Democrats have their primary for the President. But the Republicans have that Senate primary where Jeff Sessions, former Attorney General is trying to win back his seat.

Let's start with the Democrats. The Biden campaign very optimistic about Alabama. Let me tell you why because in 2016, fifty four percent of all Democratic primary voters were African-American. We saw his strength in South Carolina with African-American voters, they hope to replicate that strength here.

Now for the Senate race, Jeff Sessions is in a pretty tight two maybe three way race to reclaim this seat. To give you an idea of how his fortune has changed here.

In 2014, his last election to the Senate. He ran unopposed in both the primary and the general and now he's fighting to get that seat back. It's a very tight race -- Brooke.

[14:25:14]

BALDWIN: Victor, thank you and Alabama, one-day 14 primaries. Today is the most important test for the presidential candidates yet and no one brings it to you quite like we do here at CNN. Our special live coverage of Super Tuesday kicks off four o'clock Eastern right here.

The President moments ago saying he is considering cutting off travel to countries where the coronavirus is hitting hard. We have that for you next.

And an angry confrontation on Capitol Hill. A House Democrat accusing Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin of "staggering lies." We will play the exchange, you can judge for yourself.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:30:00]