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Warren Holds Out on Endorsement After Race Exit; President Trump Signs $8.3 Billion Coronavirus Spending Bill as Infections Spread; Thousands on Cruise Ship Awaiting Coronavirus Test Results; Families of Washington Nursing Home Patients Demand Answers; Economy Added 273,000 in February Before Coronavirus Fears Hit Wall Street. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 6, 2020 - 09:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Very good Friday morning. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington. Poppy Harlow is off today.

Here's the question. Are we ready? The White House is facing criticism this morning over a shortage of coronavirus test kits for the country. Vice president Mike Pence said there are not enough kits just days after saying that any American could be tested.

The president's trip to the CDC set for hours from now has now been scrapped. The White House says it does not want to interfere in the CDC's outbreak response. But we will see the president shortly. He is signing the $8 billion coronavirus bill providing funding for response. We'll bring that to you when we have it.

Also today a waiting game for thousands still stuck on board a cruise ship off the California coast. Today we are expecting the results of dozens of tests given to passengers on that ship. What have they found?

And what about for thousands more across the country? Self-quarantine. Authorities trying to keep tabs on those people at risk for the virus.

Wall Street as well bracing for another wild day as fears grow over how this crisis will play out over the next few months. You can see those red down arrows there indicating a likely drop at the open.

But let's begin with that cruise ship off the coast of California. CNN correspondent Dan Simon live in San Francisco.

We spoke with you yesterday. The question at the time was, how many people on board have been exposed or testing positive? What more do we know today?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well. good morning, Jim. The ship remains off the coast of San Francisco while officials are still trying to figure out what they're dealing with. We are expecting the test results to come back at some point today. Perhaps there could be some more testing on board today. We're waiting to get some clarity from the CDC, as well as from the cruise line. I have been texting and communicating with people on board the ship.

Yesterday they were still trying to take advantage of some of the leisure activities on board. And then the captain rather unexpectedly announced on the loudspeaker that everybody now has to be confined in their rooms. And for some people, that is very stressful.

They don't know when they're going to be able to leave their rooms. They don't know when they're going to be able to leave the ship. All their meals now coming through room service and one person texting me that she tried to call room service last night to get her food and nobody was picking up.

And so for some people, this is very stressful. Other people, of course, trying to approach this with a sense of humor. But the bottom line, I think we'll try -- we'll get some more clarity once we get these test results today, Jim. We'll send it back to you.

SCIUTTO: It's tough. And as Dan was speaking there, we were showing pictures of when they had to chopper in those test kits showing some of the steps they need to take to keep the spread.

Stephanie Elam, she joins us from Kirkland, Washington.

Stephanie, the families of patients at this nursing home that's been a cluster really of the spread of this disease, they say they've been left in the dark. They are waiting for answers. What are they waiting for answers for? And what haven't the authorities been clear about?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The very first thing that's on that list, Jim, is wanting to know whether or not their loved ones inside this facility have been tested or not. Take a look at what we're looking at here in Washington state. We know 13 deaths have been related to coronavirus, 11 at a nearby hospital, Evergreen Health, which has seen a lot of the patients come from this one facility here, Life Care Center of Kirkland.

We know seven deaths of those were related to the facility, but that number may be going up because it's just not enough communication they're saying between the state and the local officials quickly enough to get those numbers out. That is what's frustrating for the people here. In fact, you've got one woman, Bonnie Holstad, her husband is a patient here, and she says that she's just not able to get him moved out of here because no one will take him because he's from here, even though he hasn't tested positive.

Take a listen to what she is saying.


BONNIE HOLSTAD, WIFE OF NURSING HOME PATIENT: This environment has not been healthy for many. And I am fearful every single day that he may develop more symptoms. So help us get solutions for what to do with the people right now here in this -- I'm calling it a petri dish.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ELAM: And to that end, Life Care is saying that they do have officials from the state, from the county and CDC on site to help them, but for some of these family members, the big concern is that some of these people have dementia. They have mental capacity issues, and they are very afraid that they're confused and that they may see the end of their life without having their loved ones nearby. And that is so troubling and heartbreaking for these families, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Listen, communities around the country deciding how to respond. How much, what's too much, what's too little. It's a real challenge.

Stephanie Elam there in Kirkland, thanks very much.

Let's now look at some of the global headlines. 14 Americans now under quarantine inside a hotel in the West Bank.


Those Americans, they're asking for a U.S. doctor to come check them over. They have yet to be tested for the virus. But seven members of the hotel staff did test positive.

Also "The New York Times" reports that the World Health Organization is outlining a worst-case scenario for this year's Olympics in Tokyo. Under the proposal, no spectators at all would be allowed into the venues when those games begin if they do begin in July as scheduled. For now organizers say the games will go on as planned.

And the effect on the global economy is just stunning. Bank of America is reporting global markets have lost $9 trillion in value since the coronavirus outbreak.

Joining me now to discuss the global response, also the response here in the U.S., Dr. Paul Sax. He's clinical director for the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Young Women's Hospital. And CNN national security commentator, Mike Rogers, who's also a Republican, former House Intelligence chairman involved in legislation passed a number of years ago for just this kind of scenario.

Dr. Sax, let me begin with you, if I can.


SCIUTTO: As the country tests more, and that is the plan. You talk about Fauci talking about ratcheting up millions of tests soon in the country. We're going to see the number of cases rise. I mean, that's just a scientific fact. From your view, is the country prepared to handle those new people who are infected, responding quarantining, et cetera?

SAX: Well, the bad news about expanding testing is, of course, that we're going to have more cases, but there is a good news side to it also. We're going to find that there are many more mild cases and if you look at the example for example of South Korea where they have a very extensive testing program, they have the reported lowest mortality in the world right now. And that's because they've expanded testing. So what the expanding testing will do is it'll give us a much better sense of the full clinical range of this infection.

SCIUTTO: Right. And that's a key point I think folks at home should understand. That as more people test positive, kind of the irony is, right, is that the death rate will drop, right, because you'll realize more infected and that for the vast majority of people, listen, this is something that is very survivable.

Just for folks at home who are watching trying to gauge this, who then are most vulnerable if they do test positive for this disease?

SAX: Right. I think that, you know, your segment on the nursing home outbreak in Seattle gives us a sort of clue as to the most vulnerable populations. They typically are older. Typically have underlying medical problems. It would be very similar, for example, for other respiratory viral infections such as the flu. Such as something called RSV. We know that these are targeting people who have underlying medical problems and are older. And it's very important that those individuals understand that they need to stay safe.

SCIUTTO: Understood. OK. We have Mike Rogers here as well.

And Congressman, you were involved in what's known as the Barta legislation. This was legislation passed in 2006. Just, you know, exactly for scenarios like this. Make sure the country is prepared. From your seat, how would you rate the U.S. government response so far to this?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: I think people are trying. Now here's the thing. Modern politics has adopted the culture of our fast food society, right? I've got to have it right now. I want it right now. Whatever is in front of me, that's what's going to happen. This takes proper planning for years. And so one of the things that Anna Eshoo, a Democrat from California, and I decided early on -- we were both on the Intelligence Committee, we're both on Energy and Commerce Committee -- is we needed to start preparing for pandemics.

At that time avian flu. Anthrax was a big concern at that time. And so we decided to put this together. It eventually passed. The problem was getting Congress to focus on funding to be prepared. I mean, think about the big issues that are going to be short in this. There are not enough respiratory machines across the United States.

SCIUTTO: A doctor made exactly that point yesterday.

ROGERS: Yes. Completely. And so that means that we're going to -- you have to prepare for these kinds of things which means we're going to have to kick that into gear. And the test kits.


ROGERS: Listen, there's a defective test kit. I don't blame the administration for an ineffective test kit. How they react to it and the transparency in how they react to it is really important. SCIUTTO: Have they been transparent?

ROGERS: It's just the mixed messages are making people panicky. And if you lose faith in the leaders that are trying to fix this thing, panic ensues. And that's why I think you're seeing in some cases an overreaction in the United States about how we're reacting to this particular -- it's serious. It appears that the death rate is higher than the influenza, and so they have to take it serious. However, you know, good proper hygiene, you can get through a lot of this.

SCIUTTO: Yes. My sister is a doctor. One thing she keeps saying, and Dr. Sax -- listen, you know, sometimes the simple rules are the most valuable here. One being wash your hands. Right? Don't touch your face.

Given the problem that Congressman Rogers identified there, and that is the mixed messages and some misinformation, frankly, out there.


For people watching at home who want to know, OK, what do I need to do? What's smart? Do I need to cancel our spring break holiday, right? We're flying domestically. We were going to go abroad to visit relatives, et cetera. We should people get the best information? Who should they trust?

SAX: Well, I would say that the CDC has an outstanding group of public health officials who are very mission driven and want to do the right thing. They are very evidence driven. Their site is being updated on a regular basis. That's the first place I'd turn. And they have extensive travel advice. And there's a lot of common sense things as you mentioned that people can do to stay safe. I wouldn't say that people should necessarily cancel all their plans, but they should think about them in the context of, for example, the way that we thought about them during the 2009 flu pandemic.

That was about a decade ago and we responded very appropriately over time. But initially there was a lot of panic, and I think just like that, we can get through this. This is not going to be, as some people have joked, the zombie apocalypse.

SCIUTTO: Fine. Just to be clear. You see on our screen there, 228 cases of coronavirus so far identified in the U.S. Is that a misleading number given that we're going to start testing millions of people soon?

SAX: So that's certainly -- I'd say it's a number based on the number of positive tests. But since we haven't tested that many people yet, of course the numbers are going to increase substantially. We should all expect the numbers to go up a lot in the next weeks to months. But over time, we'll also see that the severity of the infection goes down substantially.

SCIUTTO: Right. And that for the vast majority of people, again, who get it, they are likely going to be fine. And listen, this is part of the -- we're doing our best here so you know to try to get out the information that people can use immediately and with confidence. Sorry, you were --

SAX: Sure. I think one other thing to point out is that not everybody who gets exposed to infection actually catches it. So even though these poor people who are on the cruise ship now, we should not assume that everyone on that cruise ship is going to get the infection.


SAX: There is a lot of transmission within households, but in larger environments, not necessarily everybody gets it. So that's an important thing to remember as well.

SCIUTTO: OK, Dr. Paul Sax, Mike Rogers, good to have you both on. We're going to keep talking to you.

Other information -- other news breaking this morning. That is the jobs report. In February, at least, showing stronger growth than expected.

Let's get right to Christine Romans, CNN chief business correspondent. It's a strong number.


SCIUTTO: Employment, unemployment rate down again. Question, does this reflect pre-coronavirus or does it have some of the economic impact of that already in the number?

ROMANS: This is 100 percent rear-view mirror. And it's strong, Jim. It shows us that this economy, the job market was firing on all cylinders in the beginning of the year. January also revised higher. February revised higher. Essentially this is the strongest job growth we've had in more than a year and a half. You've got to go back to the spring of 2018 to see jobs growth this strong.

And the unemployment rate down to 3.5 percent. That's back near that 30-year or 50-year low. The wage growth only 3 percent. You would have thought that would be a little bit stronger, but wage growth of 3 percent and really strong growth across the sectors. Health care very strong. Food service, so bars and restaurants for a couple of months had seen some really strong jobs growth here.

This is curious to me, too, because these workers are not -- they don't have guaranteed in many cases sick pay, right? Paid sick leave? So you could get into this situation this spring, if you're told if you don't feel well, you should stay home. This -- there could be a lot of workers here who are going to be facing some financial uncertainties because of the coronavirus.

Construction up 42,000 there. It was unseasonably warm in February, of course. So anybody who works outside was making some money there. But this is 100 percent rear-view mirror. It shows you an economy on a strong footing heading into a very uncertain period.

SCIUTTO: And you look at those numbers. Health care likely to stay strong, but -- ROMANS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: But as people cancel trips, they cancel trips to public venues, et cetera.


SCIUTTO: You look at areas like food service and travel to be affected.

Christine Romans --

ROMANS: And tourism.

SCIUTTO: And tourism, no question.


SCIUTTO: And airlines. We know you're going to stay on top it.

Still to come this hour, we are waiting on President Trump to sign what we've been discussing. The $8.3 billion coronavirus spending bill. We're going to bring you that and the president's comments right as soon as we get it.

Also, who will win over Elizabeth Warren? Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are both vying for her endorsement. Did she just give a hint about which way she's leaning? We'll discuss.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Bernie sanders and Joe Biden vying now for the endorsement of former rival Elizabeth Warren. It is just one of the many battles ahead in what appears very much to be a two-nominee race. Which at this point was one of the most diverse groups of candidates in history. And as Warren points out, it's the two-man part that is so disappointing to her. Let's discuss.

With me now, Susan Page; Washington Bureau chief for "USA Today", and CNN political commentator Errol Louis; political anchor for "Spectrum News". Good morning to both of you, great to have you here. Tell me, Susan Page, I mean, this was a very diverse field when it started --


SCIUTTO: Both in terms of gender. We had the first openly gay candidate. We had a number of people of color. It's different now. This is what Warren said about that, and I want to get your response. Have a listen.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's one of the hardest parts about this. All those pinky promises, all those little girls, we're going to do this. It's just going to be a little longer before we're able to have a woman in the White House. And -- but it doesn't mean it's not going to happen. It doesn't mean it's not going to happen soon.


It feels like we're never going to make change until we make change. We were never going to elect a Catholic until we elected a Catholic. We were never going to elect a black man until we elected a black man. And we're never going to elect a woman until we elect a woman. So we're just going to stay in this.


SCIUTTO: Do you think the Democratic voters are disappointed?

PAGE: You know, it's been women voters. Women congressional candidates who have driven the Democratic Party successfully since President Trump was elected in 2016. So I think very disappointing to a lot of Democrats, especially Democratic women, that there's not even a woman seriously contesting the nomination after having multiple women -- what? We have four or five women in the race at one point. So I think -- I think that is disappointing.

And I think there was -- you know, that builds on the disappointment from Hillary Clinton's defeat last time around.

SCIUTTO: Now, Errol Louis, we should note that women voters, particularly women suburban voters, they came out very strongly for Joe Biden on Super Tuesday. And for a lot of them, driving force really is more being against Trump to some degree. I wondered, when you look to the general election, is that something that saps enthusiasm in your view from Democratic voters?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, no. I think, look, Democratic voters made clear in 2018, suburban educated white women in particular, that they're not happy with what they see in Washington. And they voted for a change. Two years ago, it will be the job of the nominee, whoever it happens to be, to sort of recapture and build on that resentment, that concern which, frankly, according to the polls and the reactions, the voting patterns we've seen just in the first few contests, seems to suggest it's overwhelming every other consideration.

So that, the history-making nature of what could have been a really interesting campaign is kind of on hold. That this emergency situation that nobody wanted and nobody expected seems --


LOUIS: To be driving the entire campaign.

SCIUTTO: And listen, the turnout in a lot of those primaries on Super Tuesday were well up on 2016. That may be a bellwether, of course, things could change before November. Susan, the conventional wisdom which we should just dispense with because it's been wrong so many times, had been that to some degree, Warren supporters more likely fit with Sanders.

And therefore, her nomination more likely -- rather, her endorsement more likely to go to Sanders. Is that necessarily true and will her supporters necessarily follow?

PAGE: No, not necessarily --


PAGE: You know, ideologically, Warren is more in sync with Bernie Sanders. They're both very progressive candidates. You look at the demographics of her support, that's not such a good fit with Bernie Sanders. Her support has been more female than male. That's the reverse of Bernie Sanders', it tends to be highly educated, higher income. You know, you've got a lot of white college-educated women who were supporting Elizabeth Warren.

And those were voters who might well not have felt comfortable going to Bernie Sanders, at least with any enthusiasm. A Democratic socialist, someone more liberal than they were. So, we'll see, when you look at -- when we've asked voters who their second choice was, Warren voters divided between Sanders and Biden. A few more than Sanders --

SCIUTTO: That's interesting --

PAGE: But a significant portion to Biden. So, who she endorses could be very powerful with those votes.

SCIUTTO: To just betting-wise, do you think it's even money?

PAGE: Who she endorses?

SCIUTTO: For her to go either --

PAGE: You know, I just don't know. And she didn't --


PAGE: I don't think she really gave us a clue yesterday.

SCIUTTO: She didn't --

PAGE: She said she needed some space to think about it.

SCIUTTO: Yes, no question. We're just a few seconds away from hearing from the president on the coronavirus response just a few moments ago in the Oval Office. He signed a legislation allocating more than $8 billion to the response, and we're going to have his comments which we'll play to you. Just before we get there, Errol -- if you're up, here it is. We'll go to that. Stay with us and let's listen to the president.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And something -- it's really something, I guess some of you are coming along I assume. Is that right?


TRUMP: You got it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a crew out there, majority(ph) is waiting on you.

TRUMP: OK. So we're signing the $8.3 billion. I asked for $2.5 billion, and I got $8.3 billion, and I'll take it. OK? So here we are, $8.3 billion, doing very well. But it's an unforeseen problem, a lot of problem. Came out of nowhere, but we're taking care of it. We have big news on the ship. I think a lot of things are happening on the ship. People are being tested right now.

And I just spoke to the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, we had a good conversation. We're both working on the ship together. It's close to 5,000 people. So it's a big ship. We're doing testing on those people, OK? Can I have those other papers I'm going to sign please? These are additional papers related to various things.


I think this is it --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where do we have to split?

TRUMP: Do you have anything to say to the press?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to make it -- make it clear that in terms of tests, we have provided all the tests in the State of Washington and the state of California that they've asked for. The production and shipping of tests that we've talked about all week is completely on schedule. All of the CDC tests, the tests that are available to test up to 75,000 people, CDC has shipped to America's public health labs. Those are out.

The IDT, the private contractor working with CDC to ship to the private sector and hospitals has already shipped enough tests for 700,000 tests, and the remaining lots are arriving at CDC this morning for quality control and should get out as we forecast this weekend. And that next week, we'll keep ramping up production. So as many as 4 million tests next week are going to be driving forward. So everything is on schedule for the testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, why aren't you going to CDC today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's actually sent me. I'm going to there.

TRUMP: You could tell them.


TRUMP: We may -- we may go. It was -- they thought there was a problem at CDC, somebody that had the virus. It turned out negative, so we're seeing if we can do it. But yesterday afternoon, we were informed that there may have been a person with the virus, and that they now find out that, that was negative test. They've tested the person very fully, and it was a negative test.

So I may be going. We're going to see if they can turn it around with Secret Service. We may be going. Here, Steve, this is for you after covering me so well for so long. First time I've ever done that to a reporter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How big of the economy are you expecting --

TRUMP: Well, job numbers just came out, and they're incredible. The job numbers were tremendous. And we picked up close to 80,000 new jobs from last report. And if you add that up, it's over 350,000 jobs. Job numbers just came out a little while ago, and they were shocking to the people that were analyzing them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you expect more gyrations in the stock market?

TRUMP: No, I think -- I think, you know, a lot of people are staying here and they're going to be doing their business here. They're going to be traveling here, and they'll be going to resorts here and, you know, we had a great place. It's where so far people come, but we're going to have Americans staying home instead of going and spending their money in other countries, and maybe that's one of the reasons the job numbers are so good. We've had a lot of travel inside the USA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that Congress -- does your administration need to take more action to diminish the risk of recession?

TRUMP: Well, all we can do is do what we do. I mean, we're getting a lot of business from people staying, in other words, here -- it's -- I've always liked any way. You've known that for a long time. But people are staying here and spending their money here as opposed to going to Europe and other places. Now, that will change when this goes away.

And hopefully that will be sooner rather than later. But people were -- I would say virtually, everybody, you saw the job numbers, say -- people were shocked because you add another 80 or whatever it is. A lot of -- a lot of numbers from last month, where they upgraded. So the job numbers were at a level that nobody thought possible. They were really incredible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No stimulus needed?

TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, we're going to see whether or not the Fed wants to stimulate. In my opinion, they should because Europe is and China is and everybody is, but us. We have a Fed that is not exactly proactive. I'm being very nice when I say that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And no official statements?

TRUMP: I think what happens is the Fed should cut, and the Fed should stimulate, and they should do that because other countries are doing it. And it puts us at a competitive disadvantage, and we have the most prime. We are considered by far the most prime, and it's our dollar that everybody uses. The Fed should stimulate, and the Fed, they should cut.

And why should Germany have an advantage over us with interest rates? So Germany -- you know, Germany just announced that they're stimulating and they're cutting. Asia is, all over Asia, they are. China is. China is tremendously. And we're really not. And we pay higher interests, we have a higher rate. And it's ridiculous, frankly. We should have the lowest rate by far.

And I've said, we pay more than other countries. Other countries are paying zero and less than zero, you know it very well. And we're paying interest which is a very conservative approach, but it's not a good approach because we're also competing.