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Stocks Falling; Coronavirus Fears Growing. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 6, 2020 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: There are now at least 250 cases across 21 states, 14 deaths as of today.

Officials in California fear their state totals of coronavirus may rise as at least 45 people on that Grand Princess cruise are waiting to learn their test results. You see this Coast Guard helicopter actually had to airdrop these test kits onto the ship, which is being held off the California coast.

We have more on that in just a moment.

But let me go to Kaitlan Collins. She's our CNN White House correspondent, and Elizabeth Cohen, our CNN medical correspondent at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta.

Kaitlan, first to you.

You know, as we said, the White House this morning canceled this trip to the CDC for the president, saying the president didn't want to interfere in the CDC's work. Then Trump himself said there were fears this CDC employee might have coronavirus, but that person, he says, tested negative. And now he's on his way to the CDC. You tell me what's going on.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's just been that kind of day here at the White House, Brooke, where we have been going back and forth on whether or not this trip was happening.

And that statement from the White House saying he didn't want to interfere in their mission was kind of confusing from the start, because, of course, they had planned this trip over a week ago. We confirmed on Sunday that he was going.

It's not like they hadn't considered this and what a presidential visit would, of course, do at the CDC at their headquarters in Atlanta. But he is going. He is there today. We're going -- he's on the way there right now. We will see him when he's there and see if he provides any update of what he's learned.

But, of course, this comes as, you know, the CDC has really been at the center of this. And the president has been at odds with some of the top officials at the CDC over the last several weeks.

And this comes as we have new reporting today essentially showcasing how the president has often throughout his presidency been someone who, even when experts have come to him to tell him something that he has disagreed with, he will go to outside counsel to really try to reinforce his instincts.

That is something that has been happening with coronavirus, where the president is listening to his coronavirus task force, but then he's also seeking other opinions from other aides who are at times painting rosier pictures of the scenario that's unfolding here in the United States, and that's giving some of the other aides who are in charge of, of course, making sure he has accurate information, making them concerned about that.

BALDWIN: Elizabeth, to you.

What is the CDC saying, if anything, about this potential scare that the president alluded to?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Brooke, they're not answering our questions directly about what happened with the staffer.

What they have said is that, as CDC staffers are deployed to areas where coronavirus is spreading, when they come back, they have been asked to quarantine for 14 days. So we don't know if this person who they thought might have coronavirus, we don't know if that person is one of these people who came back and was quarantined and then maybe after the quarantine time showed symptoms.

We just don't know. Or maybe it was just someone who had symptoms and they had some other reason to be concerned. So we just don't know why they were concerned enough about this employee to test them.

But, again, that test came back negative. And, Brooke, I think it underscores that the symptoms of coronavirus, cough, fever, are so common to so many other infections, that, even here at the CDC, they need to test to figure it out.

BALDWIN: How about, Elizabeth -- I know you have been talking to some of the nation's top infectious disease experts, and they have new guidelines for what elderly people should be doing. What do they say?

COHEN: Yes, Brooke, this is a real change in tune. We have not heard this before.

Speaking with two top infectious disease experts who have connections to the federal government, they don't work in the federal government, but they do have connections to the federal government, and they are saying that if you are elderly and/or have underlying health issues, that you should make certain changes in your life.

Let's take a listen to one of them, Dr. William Schaffner at Vanderbilt University.


DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, DEPARTMENT OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE CHAIRMAN, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: The older you are, the more likely you are to get a severe infection and sometimes gravely ill.

So people who are, let's say, over age 60 who have underlying illnesses, and even people younger than that who also have underlying illnesses, they should really reconsider going to mass events where they will be face to face with other people in enclosed circumstances for long periods of time.

You avoid the infection by avoiding other people. And so older people and others should really consider their life circumstances, and that includes nonessential travel at this time.


COHEN: So, Dr. Schaffner, Brooke, is a long time adviser to the Centers for Disease Control.

And I asked him, what exactly are you telling people? And he said, look, I would tell people to strongly consider not going to movies, not going to concerts, not going to big family events if they're over age 60 and/or if they have underlying health issues.

That is very different from what we have heard from the CDC. The CDC has not said that, but, remember, Dr. Schaffner has close ties to the CDC. So, and I said, is that black and white? Like, don't go to these things?


And he said, look, if your granddaughter's getting married and you want to go to her wedding, go to the church, but maybe stay a little bit off to the side. Don't hug and kiss people. But if you don't need to go to the movies, don't go to the movies. If you don't need to go to a religious service over the weekend, don't go. He said stay home and be reverent at home -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

I want to start with that last point here.

With me now, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our CNN chief medical correspondent, and Dr. Robyn Gershon, clinical professor of epidemiology at NYU School of Global Public Health.

So, brilliance to my right, so I'm going to pick your brains.

First, just beginning with, talking to Dr. Schaffner last hour, when he said that to me, I'm curious your thoughts on, if you're older than 60, like don't go to the movies. Don't go to a concert. Would you...


And this is the first I'm hearing it. I'm not entirely surprised, but it does seem a little extreme, because, recall, we have about 60 percent of the U.S. population with at least one chronic disease, 40 percent with two or more, and 25 million people with diabetes. So this is including a large swathe of the U.S. population.

What are your thoughts, Sanjay?


No, I think one of the things I think we learned from Washington state, Brooke, I think you will agree, is that nursing home, that extended care facility, that did become a place where this virus swirled. We recognize that there's a vulnerable population out there.

And we have some idea where they live -- or some of them live, in these nursing homes. So policies toward keeping them safe there at least -- people might be screened before they actually go to visit their parents or their grandparents in a nursing home, infection control in the nursing home becoming the top priority.

The vice president talked about this. In the past, there has been abuse and neglect issues that have been the top priority of investigation. Now it's all about infection control. I don't know about the social changes yet.

On one hand, I think to myself, I want to live your life. And are we telling people not to live their lives still? I don't know -- Dr. Schaffner is the best. And he obviously has been doing this for a long time.

But I think that I think this is going to be very much on a case-by- case basis. My guess is, he wasn't recommending that everyone at that age group suddenly stop going out and enjoying themselves in some way.

BALDWIN: But it's this notion of minimizing your risk, especially if there are these underlying factors, and if you are a little bit older.


BALDWIN: I want to come back to you on -- and, by the way, amazing town hall last night.

GUPTA: Oh, thanks.


BALDWIN: Amazing. And I have questions. We will play a clip in just a second.

But on the point about the CDC and how the president did say this morning, well, actually, why we may not have gone was because there was this employee at the CDC who we thought might be sick and tested negative.

And I'm just wondering, because the CDC is the face of this whole thing, they're under a lot of pressure. And does that put them in a bad position?

GUPTA: I think it must have. I mean, that probably caught a lot of people over there by surprise. I can tell you that it did because I spoke to a lot of my sources over there this morning trying to figure out what was going on.


GUPTA: You know what struck me about that, Brooke, is that we are sort of in this new era, right? The president of the United States may not have gone somewhere because someone that he may have come in touch with, contact with possibly had the coronavirus infection.

Are they going to start testing everybody that he may come in contact with? He's going to Florida later today. We know that the -- there have been people who have tested positive in Florida as well. I mean, it's a really interesting thing.

In all the outbreaks that I have covered, H1N1, Ebola, SARS, I have never heard of anything quite like that. In some ways, it makes sense. You obviously want to keep everyone safe and there may be added security around the president.

But think about that. He may not have gone to a location because someone may have tested positive there. Is this a new policy? Is this how Secret Service and his protection detail is going to handle things, thinking about viruses the same way you think about other threats?

BALDWIN: Staying with the White House, Dr. Gershon, this is my question to you. Let me play this clip.

So this is Kellyanne Conway, adviser, senior adviser to the president. This is what she said about coronavirus.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: What I am pleased to report is that the 14 deaths so far that are completely tragic and very sad in this country shows that this has been contained, because the president took action.

And a lot of you criticized him for doing that. He was called a xenophobe and a racist for saying no more air travel from China and going to or from. And that worked.


BALDWIN: So, again, she says it's contained.

And here's a number. From 6:00 a.m. today until noon, the number of cases increased by six. It has since gone higher. And that's not an even fully accurate picture because we don't have all the tests.

GERSHON: Exactly.

BALDWIN: Your assessment.

GERSHON: But the good thing is, as we have more tests, the mortality rate will definitely decline.

BALDWIN: But is it contained?

GERSHON: Absolutely not, not yet, no, because we're seeing sustained transmission in Westchester County.


It worries me that it seems to be, when you are having sustained close contact, the person in the car that drove the gentleman to the hospital, friends that came over.

So, it's making me wonder about who else might have symptoms, and they're in close contact with their relatives, who then may go out, because it's not just one to one now. It's that one person, and then it's spreading to their close contacts. That worries me more.

I don't think for a minute that this is contained.


GERSHON: We're not over yet.

BALDWIN: We have a quick clip for you. Let's watch.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I have been an advocate of much more proactive testing, not only testing when physicians ask for a test, but testing to determine where we are and what level is under the under the radar.

And for that reason, we're going to need millions and millions and millions of tests.


BALDWIN: Talk to me about that.

GUPTA: He's gone on to say after that as well, Brooke, as you may have heard, that, look, I can't promise that that's going to happen.

The vice president said we are going to try and ramp up the ability to get these tests out there. And primarily those were for tests for people who may have been sick and thought that they may have the coronavirus.

What Dr. Fauci is talking about is actually starting to surveil a community, really do surveillance and understand how widespread this is. We're in no position to do that right now.

I mean, that's a primary pillar of public health. Unless you know what you're dealing with, you can't really fix the problem. And to give it context, I mean, I'm not just sort of beating up on the public health department, but we have -- the CDC has tested 1,500 people roughly so far, and that's six, seven weeks into this. As you know, Brooke, in South Korea, they have tested close to 150,000 people. So it can be done in other places. And I think, to Dr. Gershon's point, in South Korea, because they have tested so many people, their overall fatality rate is closer to 0.6 percent now vs. what we hear out of Wuhan, 2.3 percent, or globally, 3.4 percent.

It makes a difference because you get the testing done earlier, but you also get a better picture of what's going on.


GUPTA: And I think the news will be good once you actually start to test people.

BALDWIN: What we haven't had.

GUPTA: Right.

BALDWIN: That's what we haven't had.

Dr. Gershon, Dr. Gupta, thank you both so very much.

GUPTA: You got it.

BALDWIN: Still ahead, we are live in San Francisco as passengers stuck in limbo on this cruise ship, they're waiting for those results of their coronavirus tests that were dropped in.

And dozens of schools are closed around the country because of these coronavirus fears, the University of Washington moving all of its classes online.

Coming up, I will talk to a mom trying to cope with the major disruption to just her day-to-day life.



BALDWIN: Grocery store shelves are quickly clearing out of items like hand sanitizers and bleach, as the concern grows over the spread of coronavirus.

And the demand is so great, some businesses have resorted to limiting the number of supplies that consumers can even buy. And those fears are fueling what's happening on Wall Street, the Dow down more than 700 points this afternoon.

Let's go to Alison Kosik. She's our CNN business correspondent down at the New York Stock Exchange.

And, Alison, it has been a rocky week.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, rocky, to say the least. And we have got about 45 minutes left before the closing bell and the selling is just intensifying And you see these sell-offs day in and day out, and it really may have a role in fueling the panic shopping that we're seeing at stores across the country. Many Americans, even those who aren't invested in the stock market, they look to the performance of the stock market as a barometer of how the economy is doing.

So a market that's rising that makes people feel confident about the direction of the economy, while the falling stock market has the opposite effect. So this fear-based selling of stocks that we have been seeing for the past two weeks, that really may have something to do with what we're seeing happen in stores, and they're having to put a lid on it.

Kroger put a cap on how much you can buy of sanitation, cold and flu- related products. Home Depot limiting purchases of face masks. At CVS and Walgreens, shelves are running empty of sanitizers. Costco shoppers say lines are snaking around the building.

And, yes, I know the uptick in sales for these businesses is good for business. Costco, in fact, posted a 3 percent bump last month that it attributed to higher demand because of concerns about the coronavirus.

We're also seeing businesses, service-based businesses, getting an uptick as well -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Alison, thank you for that.

Test results, by the way, are expected back soon from those 45 people on board the Grand Princess cruise ship off the California coast. A Coast Guard helicopter had to airdrop those testing kits to the ship, since it's not yet allowed to dock in the city of San Francisco.

Let's go back to Dan Simon.

And, Dan, what's the word on the test results?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hopefully, we will get some test results some time this afternoon, maybe this evening. We're talking about 45 test results in all.

But, in the meantime, more tests are actually being taken on the passengers today. And, Brooke, I just got a message from somebody I have been communicating with. This is somebody who was actually on the previous voyage and has been sequestered in a room for the last few days.

I just want to read this to you briefly, because I think it kind of summarizes what's what's happening.

It says: "Update from the Grand. Not much new this morning. Captain said they are waiting for results from the tests performed yesterday on some passengers and crew. We still have not been tested. He did say people are running short of prescription meds. The ship will try to obtain them.

[15:20:00] "Since everyone now must rely on room service, food choices are greatly reduced. Breakfast was whatever they said, no choice. Lunch and dinner had three choices each. I'm not complaining. It makes sense that they needed to make sure that certain efficiencies are built in."

And then it goes on to say: "Still no word on disembarkation, which is supposed to happen tomorrow. I know the ship is at the mercy of the health authorities. I'm just grateful my husband and I remain healthy"

So that's just one person's account. Everybody just sort of in the dark when they will be able to get off the ship. They haven't been told anything by the captain today in terms of when they will have the test results or when this whole thing may come to an end -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, I get it. It can be some of the more mundane frustrations, and this is just in the early-going days for them.

Dan Simon, thank you very much. We will stay close to you in terms of when those test results come down.

The University of Washington isn't taking any chances as coronavirus spreads in that state. They just announced it will hold all classes online for the rest of the quarter. And some local districts are doing the same.

We will talk to a mom dealing with the fallout of all those decisions next.



BALDWIN: Right now, the coronavirus has hit the Seattle area harder than any other part of the United States.

Just this hour, the number of confirmed cases jumped from 70 to 79; 13 of the 14 people who've died from the coronavirus in this country were from the Seattle area. The University of Washington, with 50,000 students, announced today it's moving all classes online.

Public schools are closing in some areas, as communities in and around Seattle try to contain the spread of the virus, and now parents have to worry about child care.


TAMI SIEMERS, PARENT: I'm a full-time student. I go to Lake Washington. My husband goes to work full time. And we don't know how we're going to be able to provide for my daughter, because we don't have any family members.

So with family also that are low-income, how are they going to be able to provide for their family?

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Wendy Reynolds is one of those parents just grappling with school closures. She joins us from the Seattle suburb of Kenmore. Her professor husband has also gotten word he will be teaching from home. Also joining us, their teenager Ash.

So, welcome to the two of you.

And, I mean, you're both living in the epicenter of this thing. What is it like to both of you?

WENDY REYNOLDS, WASHINGTON STATE RESIDENT: Well, it's kind of unusual. There's hardly anybody out. I was just out this morning.

And the meters on the freeway weren't even on. That's how little traffic there is. A lot of people are working from home. It's actually -- the traffic situation is kind of nice, but it's very...


BALDWIN: Every cloud has a silver lining, I suppose.


W. REYNOLDS: Yes, yes, because it's usually it's a mess.

But it's really -- it's really bizarre when you're out.

BALDWIN: Ash, what are your impressions?

ASH REYNOLDS, WASHINGTON STATE RESIDENT: For me, it's kind of weird, because, like, reading headlines about it, it doesn't feel real, but now it's like here, and everyone's freaking out about it even more.

BALDWIN: On the freak-out scale, one being not, 10 being massively, where is your community?


W. REYNOLDS: I would say our community is -- was earlier in the week at about a five, but it's jumped up to an eight or nine now. People are really starting to be afraid, yes.

BALDWIN: If you are one of those few, Wendy, cars out, or you do go to a store, are there so few people around that people are kind of giving you a look like, why are you out of your house?

Give me some more descriptions.

W. REYNOLDS: It's not that empty, but most people are staying home, I would say.

I mean, like -- when I went to the store earlier this week, and it was pretty empty, but empty of stuff, as well as people. But I wasn't the only one there.

BALDWIN: And, Ash, to you about school. When did they decide to stop classes? And how are you still learning?

A. REYNOLDS: Well, yesterday was our first day off, but Monday and Wednesday were kind of, like, optional, so a lot of people were absent because their parents don't want to send them to school.

So I had like 10 people missing from every class. And then, starting now that it's canceled, they want us to use, like, Google classroom and Zoom to, like, still try and get work done, so we don't have to make everything up at the end of the year.

BALDWIN: And, Wendy, are you -- do you feel confident in the school?

I mean, are they changing things all the time? Or do you feel confident that this is the right call, and Ash will just learn from home?

W. REYNOLDS: Well, we have the most amazing superintendent around. I love her. She is amazing. And I really trust her on this.

I was a little surprised when they did close school initially. But she is smart, and she is a real --