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Coronavirus Concerns Grow on Cruise Ship; Dow Drops Nearly 1,000 Points Again; Trump Shifts on Entitlements; Judge Says A.G. Barr was "Misleading" on Russia Findings; Steph Curry Makes Long-Awaited Return to Warriors; Cleanup Efforts Could Take Weeks in Tennessee. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 6, 2020 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Growing anxiety on a cruise off California. Coronavirus tests are due back today.


Passengers can't even leave their room.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And the rollercoaster that won't stop on Wall Street. A huge tumble wiping out most of Wednesday's historic gain. What's in store with the jobs report due in just a couple of hours?


MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS TOWN HALL MODERATOR: And if you don't cut something in entitlements, you'll never really deal with the debt.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, we'll be cutting -- but we're also going to have growth like you've never had before.


ROMANS: We're also cutting.

All right. The president with a seismic shift on entitlements. How will it play out in key states eight months until the election?

MATTINGLY: And sharp criticism of the attorney general's candor and credibility. It's not the Democrats but a federal judge.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Phil Mattingly.

They let me escape Washington for one brief morning to hang out with my good friend.

ROMANS: It's fun to have you here. Laura Jarrett has the day off, so Phil is sitting in here.

And I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, March 6th, happy Friday, 5:00 a.m. in the East. All right. A sobering reality as coronavirus cases grow rapidly in the

U.S. and around the world. A top infectious disease doctor says there's not -- still not a full understanding of the virus' fatality rate. The World Health Organization has reported the virus may kill as many as 34 out of 1,000 infected people.

But at a CNN town hall, last night, you know, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that calculation is based on limited information.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: The range is lower than that. How much lower, it's uncertain. Until we have a much more accurate determination of who is infected, including those who are asymptomatic, we will not get a more accurate determination of what the case fatality rate is.


ROMANS: Fauci said the world will need millions and millions and millions of tests for coronavirus. And he acknowledged testing got off to a slow start.

MATTINGLY: Now, the administration's point man on coronavirus response, Vice President Mike Pence, traveled to Washington state yesterday, modeling good infection control by bumping elbows with Washington Governor Jay Inslee instead of shaking hands.

One the subject of testing earlier in a week, this is what Pence said.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any American that wants to be tested for the coronavirus -- on their doctor's indications -- can be tested.


MATTINGLY: But yesterday, Pence acknowledged what has now become obvious.


PENCE: We don't have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.


MATTINGLY: Now, Pence now claims 1.2 million testing kits will be shipped nationwide by the end of this week, though actually testing patients, that will take longer.

ROMANS: Meantime, the World Health Organization is ringing the alarm saying, quote, this is not a drill. Countries have been playing for scenarios like this for decades. Now is the time to act on those plans. A WHO doctor tried to ease concerns on last night's CNN town hall.


DR. MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGIST, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: What is really interesting about this virus is that many countries -- not just China, but China is the largest example we've seen that we can slow this down. This is a controllable virus and that's a really important message. It's not uncontrollable.


ROMANS: The number of confirmed infections worldwide now nearing 100,000. The death toll over 3,300.

MATTINGLY: Now, lab test results for 45 people on the Grand Princess cruise ship are expected back today. There are nearly 3,500 people onboard. That ship is stranded off the coast of San Francisco. Now, officials refuse to allow it to dock because the last voyage included a passenger who became California's first person to die from the coronavirus.

The California National Guard delivered test kits and medical personnel, and every passenger has been told to remain in their cabins until further notice and to not expect any frills.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in discussions with the CDC regarding time for guests to access the open deck for fresh air and exercise, and we are working to have more details to share with you tomorrow. As you are now aware, we did not offer turndown service this evening as an overabundance of caution.


MATTINGLY: Cannot fathom being in one of those cabins.

The death of a 72-year-old man from the Bay Area is now under investigation. He was recently on that same cruise ship. And Google is now giving its Bay Area employees the option to work from home.

ROMANS: All right. The number of deaths from coronavirus in Washington state rising to 13 overnight. Across the country there are a total of 228 confirmed cases with 14 deaths. More than half of those deaths stem from a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. Family members of residents there, they want answers about the condition of their loved ones.


CURTIS LUTERMAN, SON OF NURSING HOME RESIDENT: I don't blame the staff in here for his incident. What I do blame right now is the response from our government officials. When I was made aware of this Saturday afternoon on my way here to visit my mom, I assumed right away -- OK, when I get here there's going to be CDC trucks outside or people here looking at the visitor list.


ROMANS: The Life Care facility says its clinical team is making one- on-one calls to family members.


The nursing home had, quote, severe deficiencies noted in inspection last year related to infection control, and that Kaiser Family Foundation just published a story, a study rather than something like 61 percent of care facilities like that had violations. So, that's a real issue if you're talking about coronavirus that infects, you know, disproportionately kills people who --


MATTINGLY: We started that baseline.

All right. New York is activating a statewide emergency center operation to combat the outbreak. Nearly 2,800 people are in isolation right through. There are 22 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York with four people hospitalized. Most of those cases are connected to Westchester County attorney. The rabbi attended by the family are also affiliated. And a lot of students from study abroad programs now stuck at home, including this young woman in Connecticut.


EMMA, COLLEGE SOPHOMORE: It's been very lonely over here. I haven't really gotten time to spend time with my family since at home. I've been allowed to pet my dog every once in a while, but it's pretty lonely.


ROMANS: All right, a roller coaster of a trading week continues on Wall Street as investors weigh the economic effects of coronavirus and the government's response.

The Dow finished down nearly a thousand points, the fifth worst single day point drop on record. You know, it has been a whipsaw week. Look at the past 11 days. Two big up days, a lot of down days.

The S&P and Nasdaq both closed down more than 3 percent.

The 10-year treasury bond, the bond yield here, all-time low, below 0.9 percent. This has never happened as investors around the world flock to safer assets in the safety of the U.S. treasury market.

Of the best performing stock on Thursday, Kroger. The grocery chain said it was benefitting its consumers stockpile pantry essentials.

Markets in Asia, they all closed lower following the U.S. yesterday.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly says the outbreak has delivered a gut punch to the airline industry and says this: This isn't economic in the sense people want to travel but can't afford to. We could discount prices tomorrow and it wouldn't do any good.

Costco says it has seen sales rise because of panic shopping.

Starbucks predicted a 50 percent sales drop in China because of coronavirus.

Take a look at futures on this Friday morning leaning down 2 percent. There's a jobs report later this morning, but the sense here is until there's some clarity about both the government response and the extent of the potential damage, investors have a knee-jerk reaction to sell if they get any reason.

MATTINGLY: And I think the real question is there's no sense that clarity is coming anytime soon, at least in a coherent or cogent manner. Still so many unknowns here right now.

All right, after a brief moment of hope, an Alabama man is executed for the deaths of three police officers he did not kill.



MATTINGLY: President Trump is backing away from his long held promise to not cut Social Security and Medicare. At a FOX town hall in Pennsylvania last night, the president says entitlements are in fact on his chopping block.


MACCALLUM: And if you don't cut something in entitlements, you'll never really deal with the debt.

TRUMP: Oh, we'll be cutting -- but we're also going to have growth like you've never had before.


MATTINGLY: We'll be cutting. (AUDIO GAP) month on Twitter when he tweeted we will not be touching your Social Security and Medicare.

Democratic front-runner Joe Biden was very quick to respond tweeting: Here's the deal, folks, Social Security is on the ballot this year and the choice couldn't be clear. I'll protect and expand it. Donald Trump will cut it and take it away.

ROMANS: That's when Bernie Sanders entered the fray. Instead of targeting Trump, he targeted Biden. Here's the deal, Joe Biden has repeatedly advocated for cuts to Social Security. I've fought my whole career to protect and expand it.

Democratic contenders kept the Twitter beef going for a bit and then called it a night.

MATTINGLY: Because they fell asleep. That's the actual rational answer.

A federal judge is sharply questioning Attorney General Bill Barr's candor and credibility in his handling of last year's Mueller report.

Judge Reggie Walton ordering the Justice Department to let him review the unredacted report in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by BuzzFeed and a watchdog group.

Now, Walton, who was appointed by a Republican president, called Barr's summary of Mueller's main conclusions, quote, misleading, echoing Mueller's own objections at the time. Barr told Congress and the public Mueller found the Trump campaign did not conspire with Russia. Barr also said the Justice Department determined the president had not obstructed justice.

ROMANS: All right. Thirteen minutes past the hour this Friday morning.

Steph Curry is back after missing four months with a broken hand. Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report", next.



MATTINGLY: Sports fans everywhere, rejoice.

After breaking his hand in October, Steph Curry finally making his return to action last night. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".


You know, it did seem like something was missing all season long in the NBA and that thing was Steph Curry highlight. The two-time MVP making his return after missing 58 games with that broken hand. And Curry showing flashes of what we've become accustomed to here that long three to beat the shot clock buzzer. That had the home crowd there going nuts.

Curry finishing the game with 23 points. Warriors though losing to the Raptors, 121-113. Toronto clenching a play off spot with a win.

After the game, Curry said it was great to be back.


STEPH CURRY, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS GUARD: Being on the sidelines cheering for so long and trying to get back out there was definitely fun. So, again, a lot of energy and ability. You know, I appreciate that so much in terms of getting to play in front of the best fans in the league. And, you know, regardless of how the season is going you wouldn't have known walking into this building tonight. So that was fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: In the NHL last night, the Rangers' Mika Zibanejad had a game for the ages. The 26-year-old from Sweden scoring five goals, including a game winner in overtime as the Raiders beat the Capitals 6-5. Mika just the second player in NHL history to score five goals in overtime winner, a third player in the Rangers story with a five-goal game.

Afterwards, Mika saying he was speechless and it's a night he's going to remember for a long time.

All right. The Nashville Predators, meanwhile, all wearing Nashville strong shirts to their game last night. The team also had a Nashville strong signage around the arena and held a moment of silence for those affected by the tornados that swept through Nashville early Tuesday.


The Tennessee Titans, meanwhile, announced a $1 million dollar donation to aide and recovery efforts and Titans players and their families, they plan to go out into the community today to help with recovery needs.

All right. Sports leagues around the world continue to monitor the coronavirus outbreak. In Seattle, a stadium worker has tested positive for the virus. The worker served concessions at the XFL game at Century Link Field February 22nd. Attendance at that game was more than 22,000.

The risk to those who attended the game is low, but no games at the stadium have been canceled. The Seattle sounders are going to host a game there tomorrow. If you look closely at the English Premier League this week, and you'll notice that the players aren't shaking hands before the game as they normally do. That's guidance from the league until further notice.

So, Phil, the trend continues away from handshakes to fist bumps as all these sports leagues continue to deal with coronavirus.

MATTINGLY: Yes, no question, Andy. I just want to say, you nailed the pronunciation of Mika Zibanejad like Steph Curry from the three quarter mark coming across --

SCHOLES: Appreciate that. I worked on it a lot.

MATTINGLY: Andy Scholes, thanks so much -- Christine.

ROMANS: And, you know, the reason why we shake hands, you don't need to shake hands. You shake hands because you're showing you don't have a sword or dagger. It's from the Middle Ages, right? So, you know, we can just --

MATTINGLY: Should I be worried about like -- we good?

ROMANS: We don't really need to shake hands at all.

MATTINGLY: So, we're cool, though? OK. ROMANS: We're fine, we're fine, for now.

Stay in your rooms and wait for tests on coronavirus. Not exactly a pleasure cruise for 3,500 passengers stuck in limbo off the California coast.



MATTINGLY: The state of Alabama has executed Nathaniel Woods for the 2004 murder of three Birmingham police officers. The 42-year-old Woods offered no final statement.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey refused to intervene and the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last minute stay after briefly ordering a temporary halt. There were serious questions raised about Woods' guilt before the execution. His codefendant even wrote a letter from death row claiming Woods was innocent and not involved in the killings.

Martin Luther King III called it, quote, a mockery of justice.

ROMANS: People facing a massive cleanup after tornados cut a devastating path through the state this past week. At least 24 people were killed, two of the victims, 81-year-old Donna Eaton (ph) and her 85-year-old husband James, they were married for more than 50 years.


TERESA LEWIS MARTIN, COUPLE'S NIECE: The way that they went that God honored them, God just took them home and they woke up in his presence.


ROMANS: Tennesseans are living up to the volunteer state nickname, doing whatever they can to help.

CNN's Nick Valencia is on the ground in hard hit Putnam County, Tennessee.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Phil and Christine, immediately after the tornadoes, much of the focus was on Nashville and the resounding city center.

But in the days since, much of the attention now has been drawn towards Putnam County, about an hour east of Nashville, and looking behind me you can tell why. The tornado just came here with ferocious power ripping off parts of roofs and leaving empty lots where homes used to stand. We're hearing harrowing stories of survival.

In fact, I spoke earlier to a resident here Traci Brown, she said her home was one of the first homes built here about 15 years ago. She says not only did she survive the storm but she also turned into a first responder.

TRACI BROWN, PUTNAM COUNTY RESIDENT: That's my house and we turned it into a command center and we doctored abrasions, scrapes, bruises, bumps, glass in the feet. We just tried to do as much help as we could and of course we have a storm shelter so we put everybody down stairs.

VALENCIA: What was it like? What was it like?

BROWN: It was cold, it was wet, it was scary. The unknown, the unknown. We just didn't know what was going to happen and where do we begin? Where do we begin? Where do we start over?

VALENCIA: The cleanup efforts are well under way with people even coming from out-of-state to chip in a hand. Later today, they'll get a visit from another out-of-state visitor as President Trump comes to tour the damage and devastation first-hand. He'll also speak to survivors, some of them tell me they lived through the worst day of their lives -- Phil, Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Nick, thanks for that.

EARLY START continues right now.


MATTINGLY: Growing anxiety on a cruise off California. Coronavirus tests due back today. Passengers can't even leave their rooms.

ROMANS: The roller coaster won't end on Wall Street. A huge tumble wiping out most of Wednesday's historic gain. What's in store with the jobs report due today?


MACCALLUM: And if you don't cut something in entitlements, you'll never really deal with the debt.

TRUMP: Oh, we'll be cutting -- but we're also going to have growth like you've never had before.


MATTINGLY: President Trump with what sounds like a seismic shift on entitlements. How it'll may in key states just eight months until the election.

ROMANS: And sharp criticism of the attorney general's candor and credibility not by Democrats but a federal judge.

MATTINGLY: Good morning. This is EARLY START. I'm Phil Mattingly.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. Just about 30 minutes past the hour this Friday. Nice to have you aboard and --

MATTINGLY: Thanks for putting up with me.

ROMANS: A very busy week, a sobering reality as coronavirus cases grow rapidly in the U.S. and around the world. A top infectious disease doctor says there's still not a full understanding of the virus's mortality rate. The World Health Organization has reported it may kill as many as 34 out of 1,000 infected people.