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11 Dead, 161 Cases Of Coronavirus In U.S.; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Assessing Her Campaign After Super Tuesday Losses. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired March 5, 2020 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Coronavirus is spreading around the world, and so is misinformation about it. We are cutting through all of it and getting just the facts this hour. What we know this morning where the 2,000 passengers are being held on a cruise chip that's docked the coast of California, just out there right under the Golden Gate Bridge, they are getting test kits, airdropped to them after nearly two dozen people showed symptoms possibly of coronavirus. Some have tested positive.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: The effects across the world becoming very real. Airlines cutting flights, bracing for $113 billion in losses, dozens of schools now shut down in three states here and major companies, listen to this, Facebook, Amazon, they're asking employees in some areas to stay at home rather than come to work.

We're covering the story in the way only CNN can from coast to coast. Let's begin with CNN's Dan Simon. He's in San Francisco. A cruise ship full of people locked off the coast, we have seen this before. What are they in for?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy and Jim, we know that 21 crew members and passengers are showing some kind of cold or flu-like symptoms. Perhaps they have the coronavirus. There is going to be some testing done later today. What we do know is that this was a 15-day voyage.

The cruise going to the Hawaiian Islands, it was supposed to come back to the San Francisco cruise ship terminal on Saturday, but things were cut short. Instead it is not going to dock at all. It is going to be off the coast of California, while medical officials work to see if in fact those 20 or so people do in fact have the coronavirus.

We know the Coast Guard is going to be airdropping some testing kits, according to Gavin Newsom. Those tests will only take about a couple of hours to complete. We do know that at least three people tested positive for the coronavirus, they were on the previous ship and that another 60 or so people from that cruise are now on this cruise.

In the meantime, we're just waiting to see what is going to happen next. If in fact some people do test positive, there is an open question about whether or not there will be some type of mass quarantine. Poppy and Jim, back to you.

HARLOW: Wow, Dan, thank you for that reporting.

For the latest on this situation here in New York, let's go to our National Correspondent, Brynn Gingras. Good morning, Brynn.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning, Poppy.

And the numbers keep going up here in New York City. We learned about two new cases by the mayor, Mayor Bill de Blasio. A man in his 40s, a woman in her 80s, both are in the intensive care units at hospitals here in New York City. And now health officials are trying to track down, test and isolate anyone who had a connection with both those individuals. These two new cases brings a total of cases in the State of New York to 13.

Now, a majority of those cases are all connected back to a man who tested positive earlier this week, a 50-year-old lawyer, who was also in the hospital. His family tested positive, some of his neighbors and they are all being isolated as well.

But we're seeing the trickledown effect of that. State and city health officials have closed down some schools that kids have gone to, university campus, a temple where they worshipped and about a thousand people as of yet are going to be tested and then asked to self- quarantine by city and state health officials. Poppy and Jim?

SCIUTTO: This kind of thing happening in communities across the country now as they discover cases with real consequences. Brynn Gingras, thanks very much.

In Seattle, here is another one, Amazon now says that any employee who can should stay home from work until the end of this month. That's without even testing positive for this. It is a precaution.

Let's go to CNN Correspondent Stephanie Elam. She's in Kirkland, Washington. Tell us how many people this will affect there.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is going to affect -- if you think about it, it's not going to just affect the employees, Jim, it's also going to affect the businesses around it, think of about the lunch spots around it. Everyone around this is going to feel the effects of this in Seattle. What you're talking about right now is looking at these companies trying to protect their employees.

So you said Amazon, recommending people stay home from Seattle and also their Bellevue operations through the end of march. And at Facebook, they said one of their contract workers has tested positive for having coronavirus and so, therefore, that facility, they're closing down for rest of the week. And they're also saying that people should stay and work from home if they're able to through the end of march as well.

Beyond that, looking at King County, this is where we have seen ten deaths in the nation, six of them related back to the Life Care Center of Kirkland, which we're standing in front of right now. This is where we know they're getting help from federal officials, CDC and also the county. But they say they do not have tests here. So they're relying on the hospitals to help them out.

And also we checked in with King County yesterday, they said they don't have enough tests to give them to all the people who would like to be tested at this point. So they're looking to get more of those tests to help out and finish trying to figure out where this one virus has made its way into this nursing facility. That's what they're working on now. But still that's unclear.

What's more of a priority is just getting the people tested, who need to be, and then getting them quarantined, which they're planning on doing in this motel they are purchasing for $4 million to quarantine these individuals so that they can recoup from coronavirus.

[10:05:02]

Poppy and Jim?

HARLOW: Okay, Stephanie, thank you for that update.

Back with us again this hour, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our Chief Medical Correspondent. Also joining us, Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore City Health Commissioner, John Harwood is with us from the House.

Sanjay, let me begin with you. The president said something last night, contradicting what the World Health Organization has said about how fatal coronavirus is, and what Dr. Anthony Fauci has said, head of NIH. Here is what the president said last night. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think the 3.4 percent is a false number. Now, this is just my hunch. But based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this and it's very mild. Personally, I would say the number is way under 1 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: What are Americans supposed to believe this morning?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, there is data. And the World Health Organization is releasing this data, the CDC is releasing this data. I think what the president is referring to is the possibility that there are people out there who have not -- you know, because they don't have really much in the way of symptoms, don't know that they have the coronavirus.

They haven't been able to get tested because the testing hasn't been out there, and therefore, when you have a certain number of people who have died over a certain number of people who have been infected, because more people have been infected, the fatality ratio will come down. That's what he's talking about. But everyone has told him, I know because I was at the White House yesterday, we have to deal with real numbers at this point. In Hubei Province, where this started, the fatality rate has stayed around 2 percent even as the testing has increased. So we can't be lured into this false sense of security. We have got to prepare for the fact that we may be dealing with something that could be 10 to 20 times more lethal than the flu.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Wen, what effect does that have on responding to this disease when you have the president sharing hunches, right, because it is not just about the information being messy or untrue, frankly, but about what that leads people -- how to react to it, what they do and what they don't do based on that false information?

LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Well, in any public health emergency, it is important that we get the facts out and that all government officials talk about the evidence and the science and start with, here's what we know, here's what we don't know, and then also talk about how we're going to get to the answers of what we don't know because transparent, honest, clear communication is the bedrock of a good public health response.

And I think the president is trying to reassure people by giving them this rosy picture, but actually the truth is a better antidote to fear.

HARLOW: Always, it is. There were a number of claims made by the president last night, John, on with his friend, Sean Hannity, and one of them was this, in terms of sort of laying blame for the predicament America finds itself in today. What can you tell us?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Poppy, as the two doctors before me have indicated, what history tells us is that clear information in a crisis is what Americans need for their president. I wrote about this on CNN.com.

And hearing the interview was an off the cuff thing. He was responding to questions over the phone. But in a formal event at the White House yesterday, the president joined Vice President Pence and it started this way. Vice President Pence flattered the president's response, said he had done a terrific job, and then the president took the microphone and he blamed President Obama for slowing -- slow progress in coronavirus testing. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we're doing. And we undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARWOOD: Now, the reality is what the president said was untrue. He was referring to a regulatory proposal that was made during the Obama administration, but was not enacted. That was confirmed yesterday by an aide to Lamar Alexander, who is the Republican senator of the relevant committee who said, no such change was made. Again, underscoring that Americans need clear information from their president, and right now they're not getting it from President Trump.

SCIUTTO: Okay. Sanjay, let's talk about the facts, because bad information is dangerous in its own right. Based on -- and you've been covering this closely, you've asked the president direct questions about this, based on what you know, has the president stood in the way of steps early on in the response to this crisis, to this outbreak, that made a difference, a negative difference early on?

GUPTA: I think there has been sort of two paths. One path was, you know, we saw things like this quarantine of 195 Americans that came out of Wuhan. We haven't seen a quarantine in this country in decades. Clearly, the last time was during the smallpox in the '60s, so that was unprecedented.

[10:10:00]

What struck was we developed a test really quickly in this country and then that test, actually, going out to start doing surveillance around the country, which was happening in China, and was about to happen in countries all over the world, did not happen here.

SCIUTTO: Why?

GUPTA: That's the question. Was it -- was the criteria around these tests purposefully made too narrow so as to underestimate the number of people who were going to be actually exposed to coronavirus?

SCIUTTO: That would be alarming.

GUPTA: We do know that there was some faulty tests that were sent out, but this idea that the criteria by which these tests were being administered were too narrow and didn't fall in line with World Health Organization guidelines, did not fall in line with other countries' guidelines, South Korea was testing thousands of patients a day, we have tested some 1,200 patients only now total in six to nine weeks into this.

I think, you know, there has been this idea that was there a notion to try and underestimate the number of people who were affected by this. You hear about the rosier sort of tape that people want to put on this. It's understandable.

We don't want to alarm people, nobody wants to alarm people, but the idea that we did not have basic facts that we could have had, that other countries were able to get, that made the United States and sort of the bottom tier had it came to testing is a real concern that I've heard from many of my sources at all level of government.

SCIUTTO: That is remarkable.

HARLOW: Dr. Wen, the president last night also suggested that it is okay for sick people to go to work. He's contesting that even said that this morning on Twitter. But I want you and everyone to listen to what the president said. Here he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work, some of them go to work. But they get better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Should these sick people be going to work?

WEN: Well, there is no question that if you are diagnosed with coronavirus, you should not be going to work and be around people because you could infect them. And, in fact, that's what we say for people who have any respiratory illness. If you have the flu, you shouldn't be around other people and infecting them either.

I could see though that maybe if your work involves telecommuting, if you're able to do your work from home and you have mild symptoms or no symptoms and you want to keep busy, maybe you could keep on doing work. But I do think it's really critical at this time that we heed the advice of our doctors, of our public health officials, who should have the final word on what could be done to contain this epidemic.

And, look, I wanted to say too, there is a lot that the Trump administration has done right in this response. It is easy to look back in hindsight and say, oh, they should have done this or that. They have done a lot of things right. But honest, transparent, clear communication based on science going forward is also really important too.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Clear communications based on science, the least the American people can demand.

Dr. Leana Wen, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, John Harwood, thanks to all of you. Great to have those questions answered.

Tonight, be sure to watch our special global town hall, Coronavirus, Facts and Fears. It's going to answer these questions for you, hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, 10:00 Eastern Time only on CNN.

HARLOW: Up next, watching Warren. Will the Massachusetts senator end her campaign and will she endorse another candidate?

SCIUTTO: And Senate Republicans are ramping up investigations involving Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, this as the former vice president surges in the Democratic presidential race. Is that a coincidence? We'll discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:15:00]

SCIUTTO: Waiting on Warren. Right now, the Massachusetts senator who, for a time, was considered a possible frontrunner is considering her future. Will she stay in the 2020 race following a disappointing Super Tuesday? Her next move could have a major impact on the race.

HARLOW: We're joined now by CNN Political Correspondent M.J. Lee. She, of course, is in Warren's home state in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Talk to us about her mindset right now, and exactly where it is. It just doesn't seem like she's in a rush to do anything.

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We actually don't know a ton right now about Elizabeth Warren's mindset because the campaign has been so quiet over the last 36 hours or so, really since Super Tuesday. We have not heard anything from the candidate herself. We have not seen her have any public events. And, really, the one thing that the campaign has shared publicly with the media is that she is doing sort of the obvious thing of assessing what her path forward in this campaign is.

We also obviously know that the campaign manager for Elizabeth Warren has sent out an email to staffers acknowledging that the Super Tuesday results were very, very disappointing, but that this is the time right now that Elizabeth Warren is taking to make this assessment and have these deliberations about what her future should look like.

So at this moment in time, we are still on standby. We have sort of no real clarity on whether there could be an impending announcement.

[10:20:04]

Could that come today, could that come later in the week? We just don't know. And, again, the campaign has been very, very quiet and this is a campaign, as we know, is known for being pretty disciplined about messaging, so they have just not shared much with us at this point in time.

SCIUTTO: So there has been discussion, and you can tell us whether this is serious at all, of a Biden/Warren ticket as a way for Biden, if he were to win the nomination, to appeal to some of the more progressive voters including Bernie Sanders supporters. Is that even a subject of discussion?

LEE: It certainly is not. And I think, you know, to reiterate, this is obviously a campaign that hasn't even ended yet. I very much doubt that if you were to ask the question to former Vice President Joe Biden, he would have anything real to say about whether he would consider or if there are any conversations that are happening between his camp and Senator Warren's campaign.

That is certainly going to be the case if we pose that question to the Warren campaign. They're not going to say anything about whether they hope to be on somebody else's ticket since their campaign isn't over.

But, yes, I mean, obviously, these are the kinds of things that political pundits are going to be very curious about. I think average voters too, the decision of whoever the nominee is going to be and whoever they pick as their V.P. nominee, that is going to be a very, very big moment, eventually when it happens.

HARLOW: Yes. But let her make her own decision in her own time. M.J. Lee, thank you for the reporting.

Right now, thousands of people on a cruise ship off the coast of Northern California are in limbo after a recent passenger died from coronavirus. We'll talk about the headlines with the congressman from California, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:25:00]

HARLOW: Well, just a few minutes ago, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had a clear message to his friend, the president, on coronavirus. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I don't know what he's talking about, but I listened to the scientists when it comes to the numbers and I would encourage the president, if he's going to report things, to make sure that the science is behind what he's saying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: With me now to talk about this and a lot more, Democratic Congressman of California, Eric Swalwell. Congressman, good to have you. Obviously --

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Good morning.

HARLOW: -- you represent the state in that area where this cruise ship is now quarantined with 2,500 on it over coronavirus. I know you were in the briefing with the vice president last night, who is leading this effort. Did you leave that reassured about the administration's ability to handle this?

SWALWELL: Well, we want the administration to succeed, Poppy, and we are doing all we can in the House to help them. We passed an $8.3 billion measure yesterday to do that. I think Governor Newsom in California is also leading on this to make sure there is kits that -- testing kits that will go to every passenger on that cruise ship before they're allowed to reach port.

But this is not a time for politics. We want to work with the vice president and his team, and we have a spirited back and forth exchange with some of our healthcare experts on our side, doctors who are in our caucus, asking the vice president about what's being done. So his success is our success and that we're healthier if he's doing his job right.

HARLOW: That is very true.

There was a warning, a stark warning from your fellow Democrat and the other chamber, Senator Chris Murphy, last night. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I just really fear that the misinformation coming from the president is going to counteract the truth coming from scientists and medical professionals in his administration because there is a cult of personality around the president. There are a lot of people who believe everything that he says. And in this case, that could cost lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: He says it could cost lives, misinformation. Do you agree with his assessment, politics aside?

SWALWELL: I do. And I saw firsthand one of our staffers told me a couple of days ago that he had just gotten off a phone call with a constituent who called in and said he does not buy the Democrat corona hoax. And if people are believing that, because that's what the president has described it as, they're not going to take the proper precautions.

So yesterday, to listen to Vice President Pence, again, politics aside, I saw somebody who knew how government works, somebody who reached out to all of the governors, somebody who is talking about the local coordination that we need to do, and had experts, doctors sitting next to him to work with us. That's the whole of government approach that we need right now. Unfortunately, I think when the president talks about this issue, uninformed, he sets back the progress of the vice president and the Congress are trying to do to solve this.

HARLOW: There is a -- not to plug our own network, but there is a town hall tonight on CNN at 10:00 with just the facts. Sanjay Gupta, Anderson Cooper will anchor it and people can look there for just the facts on this.

Let's turn to 2020, because you're apparently not endorsing yet, but I watched you on this network yesterday with my friend, Brianna Keilar, and it all but sounded like an endorsement for the former vice president, Joe Biden. Your team says it is not an endorsement. So what are you waiting for? What more do you want to know?

SWALWELL: Well, what I would like to know is how are we going to empower the next generation on many of the issues that I ran for president on, particularly ending gun violence, making sure that when it comes to climate change, you know, that young people don't have to live in fear that we're not going to do enough about it.

[10:30:03]