Return to Transcripts main page


Pressure Mounts To Expand Testing As Coronavirus Cases Rise; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Ends Campaign, Declines To Endorse Today; Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Walks Back Threat On Justices After Roberts' Rebuke. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 5, 2020 - 13:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN RIGHT NOW: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

And underway right now, we start with the spread of the coronavirus and efforts to protect against it. The Senate is set to vote this hour on more than $8 billion in emergency funding to combat the virus. And in the meantime, senators say the Trump administration will fail to keep its promise on testing kits. In Monday's task force briefing, the head of the FDA said, a million kits would be ready by Friday, but we have now learned they won't.

In the United States, there are now more than 160 confirmed cases, and this is encompassing cases in 16 states now. New York saw their first case on Sunday and now 13 people have been confirmed sick with the virus there.

And as this virus spreads, more and more communities are being proactive. There are a smattering of schools across the U.S. that have closed to protect from the virus. Many of them are near that nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, outside of Seattle, where several residents have died.

But worldwide, there's been an extreme abundance of caution. Iran, Japan and Italy have shut down all of their schools, and in New Delhi, India, officials closed elementary schools for the rest of the month. India has only 29 confirmed cases out of a population of 1.3 billion people.

And then there's this. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is now closed indefinitely due to coronavirus fears, a fear that stems from a visit by a group of tourists from Greece where one member of that tour group tested positive for coronavirus after returning home.

And right now, there are thousands of passengers who are being held on a cruise ship off of the California coast. The Grand Princess is waiting to dock in San Francisco after the city learned 21 people are showing symptoms of the coronavirus. Authorities also revealed that the ship's previous voyage had three presumed cases of coronavirus, and one of those passengers died after returning home.

We have CNN Correspondent Dan Simon who is there in San Francisco. And, Dan, I know you've been talking to some of the passengers aboard this ship. What are they telling you?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Brianna. Just before I stepped in front of the camera, I received a text message from a passenger who said right now the ship is preparing to receive a Coast Guard helicopter. And we know that the chopper is going to be dropping off some coronavirus test kits. As you said, about 20 or so people are showing symptoms and another 60 or so were on the previous voyage where we know there was a coronavirus outbreak.

This was a 15-day voyage to sail to the Hawaiian Islands, who were supposed to arrive back here in San Francisco on Saturday, but came back early and not never got to port. It's now basically parked offshore until authorities know what they're dealing with. And I talked to another passenger, and it sounds like, Brianna, people are deeply unsettled by the possibility of an extended quarantine.

Now, we haven't heard officials talk about that, but given the fact that there is the possibility that coronavirus might be aboard this ship, they're actually starting to prepare for that.

I want you to listen to one passenger I spoke to just a few minutes ago. Take a look.


SHARON LANE-SIMON, GRAND PRINCESS PASSENGER: Everybody is just chatting about what's going to be happening. They've canceled lots of shows and things because they don't want a lot of people being in the theater together. Spirits on board are starting to get quite low, you know, people are worried about what's happening. So at the end of the day, just got to deal with it and get on with it.


SIMON: Well, we're told by the governor, Gavin Newsom, that this afternoon, the testing is going to take place. He said the results should come back in a few hours. The question is what happens after that. And right now, we just don't know.

Again, you had three people on the previous voyage who tested positive for coronavirus, another 60 or so stayed on for this current cruise, and right now all those people combined with those who are showing symptoms are going to be tested, about a hundred people in all.

Brianna, we'll send it back to you.

KEILAR: All right. Dan, thank you so much for that.

Amazon is now telling its employees at their Seattle headquarters to work from home for at least the next month. This is an order that came after one Amazon employee tested positive for the coronavirus. But Amazon says that employee did not come to work after first feeling sick. Washington State has seen the most cases of coronavirus so far with 40.

And the airline industry is being hit especially hard by this outbreak with tens of thousands of flights canceled worldwide and routes that are into popular destinations being abandoned out of caution. Airlines are now facing tens of billions of dollars in losses because of all of this. And our Cristina Alesci is at Newark Liberty International Airport.


Tell us how airlines are coping with this, Cristina.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're struggling to really understand how much of a hit consumer demand is going to take. Remember that consumers right now are what's called nesting. They are choosing to stay home and reduce the risk of infection, so airlines are trying to understand just how much this is going to hurt their bottom line.

United Airlines became one of the first domestic airlines to reduce domestic flights. We had other cancellations in international locations most impacted by the coronavirus, but now this has become a domestic story. United is cutting domestic flights by 10 percent. JetBlue followed shortly saying it's reducing capacity by 5 percent. Those changes, keep in mind, are taking place in April, the same month that Donald Trump said, has said in the past, that this crisis would be over.

The airlines, those two particularly, also making staffing changes which will have an economic impact. They're either freezing hiring or reducing hiring going forward.

Look, we don't know the extent to which this will impact their bottom line. We do have that industry report that you mentioned in the introduction that says there will be global losses of about $113 billion, but that's mostly Asian and European airlines. We're going to have to see how this story plays out, but U.S. CEOs of airlines telling the administration yesterday, please don't discourage people from traveling. Clearly, they are concerned about how this will hurt them. Brianna?

KEILAR: They certainly are. Cristina, thank you so much, from Newark. We appreciate it.

President Trump is contradicting facts provided by the World Health Organization about the coronavirus. He says the WHO's 3.4 percent global mortality rate is a false number.

Let's break this down. Joining me now is Dr. Peter Hotez. He's a Professor of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and he's also the co-Director of the college's coronavirus vaccine team. Thank you so much for joining us.


KEILAR: You're here and we've spoken before, but you're here in Washington because you testified before Congress today.

HOTEZ: That's right.

KEILAR: And I want to get to some of that testimony. But, first, just tell us, who is right here on this mortality rate?

HOTEZ: Well, remember, this is a new pathogen, so it takes us time to get our arms around them, understanding it fully. But the numbers coming out of China were looking like around 1.4 to 2 percent. And many people were initially quite dismissive of that, saying, no, no, that doesn't really account for all the people who have low grade symptoms, were not needing medical attention.

But the World Health Organization is looking at this very closely and they are clearly coming out with a number -- and, really, whether it's 1 percent or 3 percent matters less than the fact we're talking about something ten times more lethal than seasonal flu.

So the message is -- some of the messages we're hearing that this is just another flu or this is a mild illness, it's not the case for certain groups. So, for instance, among older populations, forget about the 1 percent, the 3 percent, we're talking 10 to 15 percent mortality. We've seen it play out, right? We've seen this in Washington.

KEILAR: You told Congress, don't warn against the risk. Don't minimize the risks because for older Americans, you said, this is the angel of death.

HOTEZ: That's right, we've seen this already happen once, right? And we don't want to see this happen again. Look what's happened at this nursing facility in Washington State, seven deaths so far. And we're still not done yet. So this virus just raced through that nursing home.

And the tragedy is we knew this was coming. The Chinese told us this. We knew that nursing homes were getting hurt very hard in Wuhan, we knew the high mortality rate in Wuhan, and we now have to get it. In other words, we have to protect nursing homes.

KEILAR: How do you protect those nursing homes? So you made the point to an Oklahoma lawmaker that that nursing home that wasn't prepared in Washington, nursing homes in Oklahoma are not prepared either.

HOTEZ: That's right. And I'm guessing it's across the country right now. So we're going -- and this really gets to the whole business of not having enough testing kits, because the aspirational goal is to get to a million. We know we're not going from zero to a million that quickly. We're going to have to ration testing kits.

So how do we ration it? We ration by focusing on the populations most at risk, testing to prevent exposure to those individuals. So the nursing home population is a big one, older Americans, but also our healthcare providers.

What we learned from Wuhan is that there were a thousand healthcare providers in Wuhan affected. 15 percent of them were sick enough to be severely ill with pneumonia all in the ICU. We can't allow that to happen in the United States. If our healthcare workers start to go down and we're in a situation where people are being furloughed, not showing up for work, depleting an already fragile healthcare workforce.


On top of that, imagine a scenario of colleagues taking care of colleagues in the ICU. We saw that happen once with Ebola in 2014 in Dallas when two ICU nurses, and look how destabilizing that was. Imagine that happening repeatedly across the country.

So these are my two big concerns right now, older populations, nursing home, healthcare providers, and I'll ad one more, and that's our first responders. Our first responders are also at risk because they're making the initial contact and exposure.

So, for me, in this early phase, where we're going to start to see small outbreaks here and there, that's where we have to focus our attention.

KEILAR: Dr. Hotez, thank you so much for breaking all of that down. We really appreciate it.

HOTEZ: Thanks so much for having me.

KEILAR: The coronavirus, we have the fears, we have the facts. Join Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a CNN global town hall, Coronavirus, Facts and Fears, live tonight at 10:00 Eastern.

And an emergency room doctor joins me live who says that he will get the coronavirus. Here what he's seeing on the frontline.

Plus, breaking news from the campaign trail, Elizabeth Warren ending her presidential campaign. Hear how she responded moments ago to questions about who she will endorse.



KEILAR: We have breaking news in the race for the presidency. Senator Elizabeth Warren has formally ended her campaign. She announced this decision outside her home just a short time ago, and we're going to have a while, really, to speculate as to what these implications may be and whether this does more to help Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders.

But one thing that this decision guarantees is that a woman will not be president in 2021.


REPORTER: Senator Warren (INAUDIBLE) for the women and girls who feel like we're left with two white men to decide between. SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know. One of the hardest parts of this is all those people and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years. That's going to be hard.


KEILAR: I want to bring in CNN Political Correspondent Abby Phillip and CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

And, you know, it's all but guaranteed that a woman will not be president in at least the next four years. It's almost certainly going to be a white male over the age of 70, Abby.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, who could have imagined that in the most diverse presidential field in modern history, probably ever in the history of this country, and now we're down to two white men, and we are also down to a moderate and a progressive, sort of, you know, Uber leftist progressive. I think you could argue that all of these are progressive Democrats.

But that's pretty important, and Elizabeth Warren zeroed in on that today as she talked about coming out of this race, because what she said was that she was wrong when she thought that there could be a sort of third way or a middle lane of some sort, but there could not be, and that's why we've ended up where we are.

But what I think it reflects is the reality of this field which has been true all along, which is the pragmatism of this Democratic electorate. They want someone who appears strong, who appears that they can pull together a coalition and who can beat Trump in November. And this is what they ended up with.

I mean, people have voted and this is why we're at this point, and it's because when the people started voting, they basically said, this is who we're going to put our chips behind. And the results of that was -- all these other concerns, diversity fell by the wayside to a certain extent because the higher priority was this whole idea of who they think can beat Trump.

KEILAR: Gloria, talking about endorsements, because we've seen these other candidates, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Bloomberg, they dropped out, they have endorsed. This is what Elizabeth Warren said about endorsement.


REPORTER: Will you be making an endorsement today? We know that you spoke with both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders yesterday.

WARREN: Not yet. I need a little space around this. And I want to take a little time to think a little more.

I've been spending a lot of time right now on the question of suspending and also making sure that this works as best we can for our staff, for our team, for our volunteers. REPORTER: So it could be coming, but just not right now?

WARREN: Not right now.


KEILAR: What do you think her calculus is on this?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think, first of all, you have to take her at her word. She's not ready because there are a number of ways she could go, two ways, and I'm sure she's getting pressure on both sides. I mean, we know she's spoken to Bernie Sanders, we know she's spoken to Joe Biden.

And as Abby was saying, it's difficult because on the one hand, she has a lot of support from, say, white suburban, college-educated women. Those supporters, very strong supporters of hers, are not likely to be Bernie Sanders supporters. So if she were to endorse Bernie Sanders, what happens to them? Will they be disappointed? Would they then just go to Joe Biden?

She also had a lot of very supporters who were with her on her revised Medicare-for-all, and they don't want her to endorse Joe Biden who said, no, no, no, let's fix Obamacare. So it's a very, very tough decision for her. So she has to find out or think about what makes sense for her supporters and what makes sense for her, quite frankly.


She's also been mentioned as a potential vice presidential candidate with Joe Biden. That's not necessarily going to happen. I don't know what their conversations were, but I think she also has to think of her Own political future in all this.

KEILAR: Who needs her endorsement more, Abby?

PHILLIP: It's a really good question. I mean, I think -- you know, Joe Biden would never say no to an Elizabeth Warren endorsement, neither would Bernie Sanders. In some ways, Sanders already has the progressive base of support that actually left Elizabeth Warren several months ago in this race.

So for Sanders, he looks at a Warren endorsement probably as a way of kind of getting more backing for the ideas and also for the theory that the Medicare-for-all idea, the free college ideas have a lot of support in this country. That's what a Warren endorsement would do for him. But for Biden, he's looking probably forward at this point to a convention, to November, when they've got to unify the progressive and the moderate parts of this Democratic Party, and that's what Warren could do for Joe Biden.

I think that one of the reasons why Warren is going to take her time with this is because she really probably feels like, what I want to do is make sure that I am shaping this party going forward. How best can she do that? Probably by holding onto her chips until the convention and trying to play a role in the sort of platform process. And whoever the nominee is, playing a role in how they move forward. And the best way to do that might just be keep her powder dry for a little while.

BORGER: Yes. I think it's kind of raw politics. She's got it figured out. And each one of those candidates wants her to broaden their base of support in different ways, very different ways. And so she's got a bunch of leverage right now.

Will she say to Joe Biden, okay, you're for free community college, I'm for free college, let's figure something out. Will you commit to X, Y and Z in your platform? She can have influence over the Democratic platform with the eventual nominee, whether it's Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden. She's got some power she can use right now, and I think she wants to use it.

KEILAR: Gloria, Abby, thank you so much to both of you.

Senator Chuck Schumer walking back his statements after taking aim at conservative Supreme Court justices.

Plus, I'll be speaking to one emergency room doctor who says he expects to get infected with the coronavirus.

And the Dow falling hard again as businesses face more and more problems dealing with the coronavirus.



KEILAR: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is not apologizing but he is clarifying his comments he made yesterday about conservative Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price.


KEILAR: Well, after Chief Justice John Roberts took a rare step of rebuking Schumer and then President Trump using, mind you, the same language that he's criticizing Schumer for said, Chuck Schumer should, quote, pay a severe price. Schumer then clarified and said this.


SCHUMER: I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They didn't come out the way I intended to. My point was that there would be political consequences, political consequences, for President Trump and Senate Republicans if the Supreme Court, with the newly confirmed justices, stripped away a woman's right to choose.


KEILAR: Supreme Court Reporter Ariane de Vogue is with us now. And, look, if you wanted to cover this kind of drama, you would have been a congressional correspondent, Ariane. This is kind of weird. What's going on here?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, Chief Justice John Roberts, he has issued such a statement exactly once before, and it wasn't as if there wasn't a lot of drama yesterday already with the abortion case going on.

And the thing is that I think what made Roberts so mad is that Schumer was on Roberts' own home turf, right? He came from across the street, he was on the steps of the Supreme Court, and that's what makes Roberts so mad, I think, and he has been trying so hard to keep the rancor of the other branches of government.

You saw it a little bit in the impeachment, remember? He's saying, that's your branch. In my branch, we don't do things that way.

KEILAR: Yes, we keeping things tidy and we're not as dramatic. The president recently -- I guess I want to understand kind of how the chief justice sees managing that rancor. Because recently, two justices, Sotomayor and Ginsburg, Trump said that they should recuse themselves from issues that involve him, which it's sort of a ridiculous idea. There are so many issues that do involve him.

Now, granted, they didn't say anything that could easily be interpreted as a threat, but I just wonder, how is the chief justice navigating all of this?


DE VOGUE: Well, he's got to be really careful, right?