Return to Transcripts main page
Known Cases of Coronavirus Increase in U.S.; Cruise Ship Quarantined Off Shore of San Francisco Due to Coronavirus; Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) Interviewed on Government Response to Coronavirus Spread; Sen. Elizabeth Warren Reassessing Future of Presidential Bid. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired March 5, 2020 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Passengers who have sailed on this ship in the last month potentially could have been exposed, come in contact with someone with the virus. Remember, more than 700 people were infected with coronavirus and six of them died last month aboard another Princess cruise ship off Japan.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: There are now 161 known cases of the virus in the U.S. That has gone up just while we've been on the air. These span 15 states. Eleven people have died, including 10 in Washington state, which is the hardest hit. Children have been told to stay home today in at least 57 schools across the country. "The New York Times" reports that school closures worldwide now affect nearly 300 million kids. In the Seattle area, Amazon is telling its employees to work from home until the end of the month. That's more than 50,000 people. Facebook is issuing the same directive after each company had a worker test positive.
Also overnight, United Airlines and JetBlue announcing they are reducing flights because of coronavirus. So we are starting to see this massive impact that the outbreak is having economically, socially, et cetera. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is standing by to gives his perspective. But let's begin with CNN's Dan Simon. He is live in San Francisco near that cruise ship. Dan, what's happening?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Alisyn. I've been talking and texting with people on board the Princess cruise ship. They say that the staff is doing everything they can to make things appear to be normal. The casino is open. The bar is open, the dining areas. But they did cancel the nightly entertainment. Apparently, they don't want large amounts of people congregating in one area.
This was a 15-day voyage that sailed to the Hawaiian islands, was supposed to return to San Francisco on Saturday. It came back early, and it's not going to dock at all. It's going to remain off the coast while medical officials work to determine if anybody has the coronavirus.
SIMON: The governor of California declaring a state of emergency.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM, (D) CALIFORNIA: This is no longer isolated in just one part of our state. This is broadly shared as a burden, a responsibility up and down the state.
SIMON: Its first victim in California likely catching the coronavirus while on this Grand Princess cruise ship. Now officials are trying to locate hundreds of other passengers who may have been on the ship in the last month after sailings to Mexico and Hawaii. The man was on the Grand Princess ship that left San Francisco to Mexico February 11th and returned February 21st, but he was not diagnosed until 10 days after he disembarked. Now that same ship has more than 20 sick passengers and crew members on board and is being held offshore for health officials to begin testing.
NEWSOM: We are going to be flying testing kits to the cruise ship, and we are going to be sending those quickly back to the state where we'll be able to test very quickly, within just a few hours, those samples to determine whether or not these individuals that are symptomatic just have traditional cold or flu or may have contracted the COVID-19 virus.
SIMON: The U.S. on edge this morning as the number of reported coronavirus cases continues to grow across the country.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: We have an epidemic caused by coronavirus, but we have a pandemic that is caused by fear. So I think it's very important here in New York that I provide the factual information to people so they know these are just the facts.
SIMON: The CDC, local and state governments reporting at least 159 cases. Those are in 15 states. Washington state officials in King County purchased this motel to isolate and treat coronavirus patients.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're working with the community and hope to have it operational within days.
SIMON: And they are even building modular homes for those who need to be quarantined.
BRENDAN MCCLUSKY, DIRECTOR, KING COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: At this point we don't know when it's going to end, and we're thinking about weeks and more into the future of how we're going to staff here.
SIMON: Both Amazon and Facebook urging their Seattle workforce to work from home until the end of the month after each company had one employee test positive for coronavirus. The outbreak is also having an effect on the travel industry. United Airlines cutting its domestic flight capacity by 10 percent and international flights by 20 percent. JetBlue following with a five percent cut to their capacity.
SIMON: As for that Grand Princess cruise ship, at least three people who were on the previous voyage did test positive for the coronavirus, and 60 people who were on that previous voyage are now on the current cruise ship. I did speak to one woman who did both cruises. She texted the following. She says, "They were going to examine us today, but that never happened. I guess they are waiting for the CDC to say what to do after we get to SF tomorrow," which would now be today. "We are not happy about being confined, but not surprised after the Diamond," the Diamond cruise ship in Japan, she's referring to that.
"Luckily my husband and I like each other. Spirits are as high as can be under the circumstances. We're blessed to be healthy, comfortable, and well-fed. All we've been told is we are confined for the duration of the voyage."
So it appears that this is a dynamic situation. Nobody has been told what's going to happen if somebody tests positive for the coronavirus. Could we have some type of mass quarantine like what we saw in Japan? That question has not been answered as of now. John, I'll send it back to you.
BERMAN: Dan, I really appreciate you giving us all this information this morning.
Joining us now is CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And Sanjay, let me just also say, you have been everywhere the last week working so hard. And we're so appreciative of that because people need to understand what's happening. So as you see this cruise ship with more than 2,000 people not allowed to dock, what questions do you have?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, we've learned a lot from the Diamond and what happened with that particular cruise ship, and this idea that quarantining like this in a setting which is typically done for people who may be exposed but you don't know for sure exposed, quarantine and isolation are two different things. Isolation is for people who are known to be infected.
The problem with the Diamond cruise ship, as we learned, was that when you quarantine people like that with a few possible infected people, the likelihood of infecting many more goes way up. Cruise ships are sort of a -- they're a reservoir of these viruses even outside of the coronavirus outbreak. So that's going to be something the CDC is dealing with.
Also, John, I watched your interview earlier this morning with one of these passengers who then is notified by email, even after we've been reporting about it. I was at the White House yesterday talking about the travel industry overall with the vice president, the ambassador. And they say, look, getting a hold of passengers, being able to contact, trace them and all that, is going to be a priority. Oftentimes you leave your contact information but people don't have to. They can be hard to contact.
BERMAN: It's a priority and it's really hard.
There's another aspect of that interview I did earlier which is concerning to me. This woman was on board the ship, the first leg, where the person who died was on. This was from San Francisco to Mexico. She got off the ship the 21st of February. She wasn't notified by email until yesterday that there was possible contact or exposure. And this gets to the overall concern that I have here. It's great that the vice president says that a million test kits are going to go out. They're not out yet, but they're going to go out. But that does nothing for all the possible contacts that have happened for weeks now. Weeks.
GUPTA: This is going to be the big challenge. And if people are concerned that they may have been exposed to the coronavirus because they're now hearing about it, I saw that person or I saw somebody who knew that person, they may be starting to show up at their doctor's office wanting to get tested. The way the guidelines are is that anybody who has concern with the doctor's discretion can get tested.
I think there's going to be a huge run on tests, and I think there's going to be -- it's going to be difficult to navigate this going forward. What I will say, again, we've talked about this, if you are sick but not super sick, going to the hospital or to the clinic could be -- you could go infect other people, so don't necessarily do that. Talk to your doctor about getting tested, but use judgment here.
The numbers are going to go up. There's no question. But the reason the numbers are going to go up I think in large part is because we are now testing. Not that there's suddenly these huge spikes. That may happen, but right now I think it's mainly because testing has lagged behind.
BERMAN: And testing is hugely important in terms of treatment and knowledge about the scope of it, but in terms of containment, which is why you test early on, that ship may have sailed, really no pun intended, with this vessel. But in terms of maybe too late in terms of testing and containing, yes?
GUPTA: Yes, I think so. And you are hearing about some strategies, you heard about 57 schools now being closed around the country, 36 in Washington state, some here in New York City, one in Rhode Island. During H1N1, you may remember this, 700 schools were closed around the country. And 50 of them here New York City. So whether or not that really does get at this mitigation thing, we'll have to wait and see.
BERMAN: The vice president who I know you met with yesterday, he has news conferences, has been speaking carefully, using carefully chosen words when describing this. The president much less so. And I want to play some sound that he had with Sean Hannity last night where he casually seemed to allow for the possibility that people with coronavirus are going to work. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by sitting around and even going to work. Some of them go to work, but they get better.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: How damaging of a message, how dangerous of a message is it that people with coronavirus maybe just going to work, OK, they can go to work.
GUPTA: Even without a coronavirus outbreak, people who are sick, who are showing any symptoms like that, shouldn't be going to work. That's how something like this spreads. So that's going to be a message that we're hearing going forward about when people should stay home, which is always if you could possibly spread the virus to others.
BERMAN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as I said, thank you for everything you've done. I know you've got much more work today, a town hall tonight. So thanks for being with us this morning. Alisyn?
GUPTA: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Congressman Greg Walden. He is the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee which over sees HHS, the CDC, and the FDA.
Congressman, we're very grateful to have you this morning to give us information because I know that you just recently led a panel with Dr. Fauci, as well as Vice President Pence about the federal response to coronavirus. So tell us the headlines of how the federal government and Congress, both, are helping to contain this.
REP. GREG WALDEN, (R-OR) RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE: I think you see an all-government approach led by the vice president, the president. I think what you're seeing is Congress coming, passing the emergency supplemental yesterday to make sure that we have support for our community, support for our states, support for our citizens, including making sure we get as many test kits as needed out into the public. It's less than two months ago we got the genome to figure out what this disease was, and then our incredible scientists went to work developing this test and then perfecting it. And now within a matter of weeks, they'll be able to do millions of tests on Americans, if necessary. So we're surging in every capacity here, but we know there are going to be mistakes and we're going to learn from them, and there's more to be done.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, I want to ask you about those test kits because there's a lot of discrepancy in the numbers. So first we heard from the FDA commissioner that 1 million test kits would soon be available, I think, this week. Then the number that we heard from Vice President Pence this weekend was that 15,000 test kits have been released. Then the CDC just told us that, no, that number is 47. Not 47,000 -- 47 kits. Is it 1 million --
WALDEN: No, it's not 47 kits.
CAMEROTA: Well -- go ahead.
WALDEN: Here's the deal. So for each test kit, that is not a test. Each test kit has multiple test capabilities in it. So we think by the end of the week there will be like a million and a half tests available out there. The point is they are getting them out as fast as possible and they've opened the door to hospitals that can pass and prove that they can create these tests, do them there. They're opening the door the commercial test labs to be able to conduct these tests.
As you know, they had to perfect the test, make sure it was giving you accurate readings. They did that. They found out one of the reagents wasn't working as it had in the lab, so they brought them back, they fixed it. And literally within a couple of weeks you'll have the ability to do millions of tests per week all across the country in labs. You won't have to get CDC approval. There is confusion between a test kit and tests. Each test kit has multiple tests available.
CAMEROTA: Really helpful. So you're saying that the 15,000 number that Vice President Pence used, that has the capacity ultimately to test a million or more --
WALDEN: I believe that's right. I believe that's the ratio. So -- and each test kit has this -- it's a kit that has multiple testing capability in it. So don't think of the test kit as a single test.
CAMEROTA: Really helpful. Next, WHO says that the death rate globally is 3.4 percent for the coronavirus. That's the data, the most current data they say they have. President Trump used a different number last night on FOX TV. Let me play that for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number. Now this is just my hunch, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people to do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it's very mild. Personally, I would say the number is way under one percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Which number is right, Congressman? Is it under one percent or 3.4 percent?
WALDEN: I wouldn't get -- I don't think we know is the answer. And we've been warned about this by Dr. Fauci and others. We're not sure of the denominator. In other words, in China, many, many people went into the hospitals. We don't know how many people in China had the virus but never went to the hospital, never were tested. So it's going to take us a while to understand what that ratio is.
Here's the thing to keep in mind, though, about the danger of this disease. In the regular flu, where we've already lost 14,000 or more Americans on the seasonal flu to death this season, the death rate is somewhere in the tenths of a percent. The Spanish flu, which occurred in 1918, was very devastating, was about two percent. I've heard ranges of 2 percent and yesterday the WHO said 3.7 or whatever it is. I don't think we know yet because I think we have a lot of people that are asymptomatic, showing no signs, that are also carrying the disease. You have to factor that in to get back to what the actual death rate is. But the focus shouldn't be on that. It ought to be on public health
needs. It ought to be on making sure our citizens are safe and secure, that our states and local health authorities are getting what they need. That's where we should be focused.
CAMEROTA: It's just worrisome when you hear that it could -- the death rate could be higher than seasonal flu or Spanish flu.
WALDEN: It is.
CAMEROTA: But I hear what you're saying that you don't have the data yet. We just don't know.
WALDEN: That's correct. We're learning a lot.
And there was a report, too, there may be a second version of this virus. We expect this virus to mutate. They've told us that. And so now there are some media reports that there's a second strain perhaps in China. We don't know that for sure.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
WALDEN: So, I mean, we're learning a lot. We will adjust.
We have terrific people in our National Institutes of Health and CDC, great scientists, and those in the private sector developing hopefully both a vaccine, which will take a while but also a treatment that may be available as soon as the end of April, according to some companies.
CAMEROTA: That would be really helpful. Congressman --
WALDEN: That'd be huge.
CAMEROTA: And it would be huge.
Congressman Walden, thank you very much for all of the information.
WALDEN: You're welcome. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Join us for a special CNN global town hall on the coronavirus tonight. It's hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN. They will answer your questions tonight.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, Senator Elizabeth Warren, we're told she is home in Massachusetts, reassessing the status of her campaign. What is the very latest on if or when she will make a decision, and who she might endorse if at all? That's next.
CAMEROTA: Senator Elizabeth Warren has a crucial decision to make. Will she stay in the race? Will she drop out? If she does drop out, who will she endorse? She's told to be assessing all of those things. We're told she's assessing all those things this morning.
So, joining us now is CNN political commentator, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. He has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. CNN national correspondent MJ Lee, and CNN commentator Bakari Sellers, he's a former South Carolina House member.
Great to have all of you.
MJ, you are standing by in Massachusetts, as I understand it.
Do you have any sense from the campaign of where she is in her decision-making process?
MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Alisyn, we have really heard not very much from Senator Warren's campaign since Super Tuesday. We understand that she has been in the Boston area since election night, but we did not see her publicly yesterday. She didn't have any events scheduled.
Really the only real indication we've gotten from the campaign is simply the fact that she is having these conversations and taking these steps to try to figure out what her next steps will be. And, of course, what we understand her deliberations are over are about whether she is going to drop out of the race.
And you're absolutely right. That with that decision, also presumably comes the consideration of whether she is also going to make an endorsement. We have seen a number of key endorsements for former Vice President Joe Biden in the last few days. We've gotten no indication, though, I should be clear, from the Warren campaign on whether she's going to drop out, stay in the race and also if she does drop out, whether that announcement would come with an endorsement.
BERMAN: So, Doc, what would the impact of an endorsement for Elizabeth Warren to Bernie Sanders be? And I guess I'm wondering, after these months, if not years of them speaking as political allies, why would she?
DR. ADBUL EL-SAYED, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I mean, dropping out of a race like this is an intensely personal decision. She's invested huge amounts of her time and her energy and her enthusiasm into this race. And welcome a lot of her ideas. It would be huge for Bernie Sanders to earn her endorsement. I think she'd be endorsing her values.
They stand neck and neck on issues of Medicare-for-All or a Green New Deal or the responsibility to curb to the power of corporations in public and political life. And so, I think it'd mean a lot to get that boost of confidence. But, of course, it's a personal decision and it's a question of what she wants to do moving forward, but I know that he'd welcome her endorsement.
CAMEROTA: I'm sorry to interrupt, but just -- he would love her endorsement. They've stood shoulder to shoulder on so many issues.
Why wouldn't she endorse him?
EL-SAYED: Well, look, I mean, at the end of the day, this is a complex calculation she's got to make about the delegates that she does have going in. I don't see any reason why she wasn't. In a lot of ways it would be questionable if she didn't given that she's campaigned on a lot of the same issues he brought to the national conversation in 2015 and 2016.
BERMAN: It may be a question of relevance. Maybe she's weighing who might win. If she were to think, I'm not saying this is what she thinks, but if she thinks Joe Biden might end up with the nomination, maybe she wants to be more relevant.
CAMEROTA: That's what I'm wondering, that's what I'm wondering.
BERMAN: And to hold it, who knows?
Bakari, I do want to ask you, though, Senator Sanders is out doing interviews and he was asked directly about something he said before. Back when he was leading in the delegate race and things looked good for him he said whoever gets to the convention with the most delegates, even if it's not a majority, should be the nominee. He was asked that question again last night.
Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: If at the end of the day, it turns out that Vice President Biden is going to have more delegates than you do heading into the convention, will you drop out?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course, I'm going to drop out. He will win. I mean, he will run for -- I suspect we will run through the process. I think people have a right to vote. But if Biden walks into the convention or at the end of the process has more votes than me, he's the winner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: It's interesting to hear Bernie Sanders say that, saying if Joe Biden has more delegates at convention time, Biden is the winner. Joe Biden's last comment on this was, that no, no, I'm going to let the process play out.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: You have to let the process play out. I mean, I -- even though I hope that Joe Biden is the nominee, you still have to let the process play out.
CAMEROTA: What does that mean, let the process play out at the convention? What does that look like?
SELLERS: So, it means that if you don't get to 1,911 delegates when you get there, I mean, if you know, the superdelegates get an opportunity, it's the first ballot, the second ballot so on, we're not just going to allow -- you can't just allow somebody to walk in with the plurality and crown them king. That's not the rules. I mean, the rules of the game have been set prior to Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders plays a role in making those rules.
And so, yes, I mean, we're not -- you can't -- it's amazing people want to change the rules now, but you can't change the rules halfway through the game or even this far in the process.
CAMEROTA: MJ, do you have a sense standing there outside of Senator Warren's house of why she's wrest ling with this so much? Just what we were talking about. Bernie Sanders feels like, would be theological person if she were to get out, Bernie Sanders would be the logical sort of -- you know, ideological kinship that she has, soul mate that she has.
So why is she struggling so much?
LEE: Well, I think it's worth actually reminding everyone that Senator Warren has been in this exact position before, four years ago, when Bernie Sanders was running against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. Remember, Senator Warren did not make an endorsement during the primary process. She only decided to endorse Hillary Clinton when that race was over.
And at the time, what she said for explaining herself was that she simply believed that the Democratic race had to play out, and she thought that that process was important. I mean, I think she genuinely is in sort of a political tough spot in that, yes, I absolutely agree with you, sort of the conventional wisdom would be that it would make a whole lot of sense for Senator Warren to throw her support behind Bernie Sanders because the two of them share so many of the same goals and progressive ideals and ideas.
However, this is a moment, as you all know very well, where the Democratic Party is very well divided. Very deeply divided between those who believe that it is Senator Bernie Sanders who supports sort of the ideals of the party and sort of the future of, you know, the future generations to come, and then, you know, Joe Biden and his supporters who believe that it is time to get behind sort of the person that is backed by more establishment-type figures.
And I think there's a scenario where, regardless of who she endorses, if she does decide to make an endorsement, that move could be construed as being divisive instead of unifying.
BERMAN: MJ, Doctor, Bakari, thanks so much for being with us this morning. Appreciate you coming on.
You're just so happy to be here.
SELLERS: I know, I love you guys in the morning.
CAMEROTA: We love having you. Well, you should see us at night. We're even better, number one.
SELLERS: No, it's like my wife, my kids and then NEW DAY in the morning. Like that's amazing.
CAMEROTA: You're delirious.
SELLERS: I am. I'm tired.
BERMAN: Bakari has a book coming out.
SELLERS: I do, I do.
BERMAN: He's been reading out loud for days on end. You can tell, (INAUDIBLE) the synapses.
CAMEROTA: Great to see you and all of you guys.
BERMAN: All right. So, what is the strategy for Bernie Sanders after Super Tuesday? We are joined by the co-chair of his campaign, next.