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U.S. Confirms Its First Death from Coronavirus; Joe Biden Wins South Carolina Primary; Turkey Says It Won't Stop Refugees Headed to Europe; Chinese Companies Adjust Practices in Response to Epidemic. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired March 8, 2020 - 03:00   ET




NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Nick Watt.

Ahead here, the first death in the United States from the coronavirus. The Trump administration reacts with new travel restrictions.

A blowout win for Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden. What the victory means in the race for the White House.

And a warning from Turkey's president, his nation is keeping its borders open to refugees fleeing the violence in Syria but urging them to keep moving to Europe.


WATT: We are following the flurry of activity as the coronavirus spreads across the globe. Cases worldwide approaching 87,000 with nearly 3,000 deaths. Outside of Mainland China, the biggest cluster is now in South Korea, Italy and Iran.

Meanwhile, Australia, Thailand and the U.S. have each announced their first deaths. Our Elizabeth Cohen has more on that U.S. death and on concerns about how the virus might be spreading.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: In the United States on Saturday, a turning point in the coronavirus outbreak, the first death in the United States. It was a man in his 50s in King County in the state of Washington. He had underlying medical conditions.

As we've seen in China and elsewhere, this virus is typically deadly for people who are older or for people with underlying medical conditions -- or both. The other two cases in the same county in the state of Washington, a nursing home resident a woman in her 70s, she is now in the hospital in serious condition.

Also a health care worker, that worker is in their 40s and in the hospital in satisfactory condition. All of these cases are called community spread. None of these people

had traveled to China or other coronavirus hot spot. They had not known anyone who had traveled to China or anywhere else so it is unknown how they contracted the virus. Back to you.


WATT: And U.S. president Donald Trump is urging people not to panic. He says the country is taking aggressive actions to confront the virus, actions that include expanding travel restrictions on Iran, heightening travel advisories for Italy and South Korea and working towards a vaccine. Mr. Trump also downplayed the risks for people in otherwise good health.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Additional cases in the United States are likely. What healthy individuals should be able to fully recover. So healthy people, if you are healthy, you will probably go through a process and you will be fine.


WATT: Joining me now from New Haven, Connecticut, is Dr. Saad Omer, the director for the Yale Institute of Global Health.

Doctor, we have the first death now in the U.S. from coronavirus but also a nearly handful of cases where the infected person has not traveled overseas. We do not know that they have had contact with a person we know to be infected.

So what does this tell us about where this virus is going in the United States right now?

DR. SAAD OMER, YALE INSTITUTE OF GLOBAL HEALTH: It is a bit concerning. This pattern indicates that transmission is happening at least in certain communities. We have the best evidence of community based transmission on the West Coast.

But there is evidence of community based transmission, meaning these are not just imported cases. There is transmission happening in our midst, at least in some parts of the U.S. But that has been percolating into our disease rates.

WATT: If we have two or three of these cases, I would imagine that we will have more, that we just don't know about it yet.

OMER: Unfortunately, that is indeed the case. That means that there are other undetected cases that are out there that are being transmitted.

WATT: We heard from the CDC on Friday that they want, by the end of this coming week, they want every state and every local health department to be testing for this virus.

[03:05:00] WATT: But we are talking about another six days.

Is that too little too late?

OMER: It will certainly help us a lot in terms of identifying what is out there.

There is another policy thing, regulatory effort that happened or is about to implement which is the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration will allow, these complex labs, essentially labs that are based in hospitals or large universities, to be able to develop their tests in a somewhat standardized way but to devolve some of that effort so that the testing capacity can be increased quickly.

Every little bit helps. I wish that we had more testing capacity. I wish we had taken the month since the first importation of this case in the U.S. That was the initial harbinger of things to come. And it would have set up more testing capacity. But if we have it in the next few days, it should be reassuring.

WATT: The CDC has also just tested the guidelines and criteria of who can get tested. This case in Northern California, this woman, who we believe to be the first community spread case, what struck me about that is she was in the hospital for about a week before she was tested because she did not meet the threshold for testing.

She had not been to China, she had not been in contact with someone who we know to have been infected.

Those guidelines, have they created a problem that we will feel further down the line, that more people should have been getting tested earlier?

OMER: This is part of the evolution of these kinds of definitions. It is not at all surprising that, as the evidence of spread evolves, CDC and other public health agencies, depending on the country, generally evolve their guidelines.

If you look at the flip side, we knew that there was a limitation in terms of our testing capacity. If they had an overly broad criteria for testing earlier on, then people who were a priority, returning from certain regions, et cetera, they would not be targeted or prioritized for testing.

I think it is unfortunate obviously that we had this mortality. But the idea is that these things evolve as the epidemic evolves. And I fully expect the definition to be tweaked even further as we have more testing capacity, as the outbreak evolves.

WATT: Finally, I want to ask you.

What does this situation in the U.S. right now, the apparent spread, what does that mean for the rest of the world in terms of the spread of this virus?

Not to denigrate other small countries that might have a virus like this; this is the United States that has transport links with pretty much everywhere on Earth.

Is the spread of the virus within the U.S. also worrying to everyone else on this planet?

OMER: It has implications for the rest of the world and things can get imported, exported out of the U.S. But there are other regions as well that have higher incidents. It's not exclusively in the U.S. But it has implications on that and it is an indicator of how widespread this epidemic has become.

WATT: Dr. Saad Omer, thanks very much for joining us.

OMER: Thank you.

WATT: Meanwhile South Korea is now reporting an additional 376 cases bringing the total past 3,500. Paula Hancocks joins me now from Seoul -- Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Nick, in the past few minutes, that number has gone up once again. The KCDC saying another 210 confirmed cases of confirmed coronavirus here. They've said that we have our youngest case yet, a 45 day old baby, we understand from the KCDC.

They say that this baby's father is part of the religious group, Shincheonji. This is the religious group that is accounting for about 60 percent of the cases we are seeing in South Korea. One of the managers from that group has been speaking out this weekend on a PR offensive to deflect criticism.

I spoke to him this morning and I asked him how it took a week from the first connection between this group and the virus being made and the full list of members being given to authorities.



KIM SHIN-CHANG, SHINCHEONJI (through translator): We tried as quickly as possible to provide all the info the government has been asking for. Our administration efforts have been delayed so unfortunately we may not lived up to the expectations of the people. But we did our best.

HANCOCKS: The mayor of Daegu is reporting your group to the police for omitting members' names and for hampering the fight against the virus. He clearly does not think you've been transparent.

KIM (through translator): On the 25th, our headquarters gave a list of all the members, including domestic and overseas. I'm sure that Daegu city also received this as well as the KCDC. We also gave a list of all those who have been educated at the centers on the 27th.

HANCOCKS: You say your group has been very transparent but we know that 600 peace officers had to be drafted to try and track some of the members down because they were not answering phones. This slows things down. This is the accusation, that this has slowed

down the fight to be able to stop the spread of this virus.

KIM (through translator): Within the list we have those who are currently in the military, those who may be overseas for work and those who have changed their numbers and failed to report it to us and those who were unable to pick up their phone because they were busy.

The authorities did not take that into consideration and thought the members unreachable if they did not pick up their phone twice.


HANCOCKS: And an increase in the travel alert level from the United States for the area that is worst affected in South Korea, which is Daegu in the southeast, the U.S. has raised it to the level 4 which is the highest it can be, advising against all travel to the area -- Nick.

WATT: Paula Hancocks in Seoul, thanks very much.

Meanwhile, former U.S. vice president Joe Biden with a big win right when he desperately needed it.

But can he ride the wave into Super Tuesday?

We'll talk about that, that's next.




WATT: In his bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden desperately needed a win and he got it. He's celebrating a resounding victory in Saturday's South Carolina primary.

He got nearly half of all votes and will get the bulk of that state's delegates. He's checked front-runner Bernie Sanders' momentum and thinned the field. Business man Tom Steyer has dropped out. CNN's Jessica Dean reports now from South Carolina.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: South Carolina delivered vice president Joe Biden a blowout win, his first win in this Democratic primary.


DEAN: And while his campaign, even the candidate himself, were predicting a win here in the Palmetto State, even this exceeds expectation. A big, big win here for vice president Biden. JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All

those, you have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign.

Just days ago, the press and the pundits had declared his candidacy dead. Now, thanks to all of you, the heart of the Democratic Party, we just won and we won big because of you.


DEAN: The campaign is telling us that they think this is going to give them the momentum and the money that they need to really boomerang into Super Tuesday in a couple of days, with all of this energy that they are hoping to be able to consolidate that moderate lane of the Democratic primary in this process.

We'll see how that shakes out. Now South Carolina behind them, the Biden campaign turns of Super Tuesday and all the Super Tuesday states. We'll see Biden in a number of them in the coming days -- from Columbia, South Carolina, Jessica Dean, CNN.


WATT: With us now, Jessica Levinson, professor of law at Loyola University in Los Angeles.

Seeing Joe Biden on that stage, he looked like a different person. He looked 10 years younger. This speech was something that we haven't really heard from him on the campaign trail so far. He has got a few days before Super Tuesday.

Is this, is what just happened, going to make a difference come Tuesday?

JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: We don't know. I did the most important thing to remember, the vast majority of delegates still have not been counted because the votes have not been cast.

If you look at how many votes are going to, how many delegates are going to be awarded on Super Tuesday, it is about 1,340, a little bit more than that.

How many delegates in South Carolina?

I believe it was 56. So it's really important for us to keep some perspective here, to know that the early states matter mostly because they are psychologically important. Because you and I talk about it. Because we talk about things like momentum.

In terms of, is there still a path to the nomination for anyone right now?

The answer is yes, with the big caveat that we need to look at the polls for Super Tuesday. That is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The polls tell us that Bernie Sanders is doing quite well in those states. So it is a big day for Biden, he does look revitalized, he does look

younger. He looks energized. I don't know if it's going to be enough.

WATT: In terms of the anti-Bernie, is Joe Biden leading that pack?

LEVINSON: I think he is with lots of caveats attached, which is he is because he did really well in South Carolina. And I think most importantly he is because he was very strong in a state that looks more like America. South Carolina looks more like the rest of America than Iowa or New Hampshire.

He had a very strong showing with the black vote. That is going to be important going into other states. We can talk about why wouldn't it be Mayor Pete or why wouldn't it be Amy Klobuchar or even Elizabeth Warren, who I think is to the right of Bernie Sanders on some issues.

I think, looking at whether or not the results in South Carolina will replicate in other states, if they do, it is a Bernie-Biden fight to the convention.

WATT: And what are we really looking for on Tuesday?

As you mentioned, a lot of delegates up for grabs, California for example, a very popular state. A lot of delegates were Bernie's, doing well.

Do you expect Sanders to regain momentum and bag a lot of delegates on Tuesday?

He is still the front-runner, right?

LEVINSON: He is still the front-runner. There are 415 delegates in California. The important thing to remember is a lot of people have already voted. We actually had early voting, starting 10 days before the election. We had a lot of people vote by mail.

Yes, this gives vice president Biden a lot of momentum but not for a good number of voters, who, frankly, did not know about this election when they weighed in.

Will this win be enough?

I think it will be enough to keep him as the second choice, basically to keep him as the anti-Bernie Sanders. But if you look at the polls in California, I think there is a chance, even based on how we divvy up delegates, that it might be only Bernie Sanders who might get any or a substantial number of delegates.


LEVINSON: That is going to, if we have the conversation from week today, it's going to be a lot clearer. But at a certain point, it's going to look like either Bernie Sanders is the leader or he is the commanding leader and basically everyone else has an insurmountable hill to climb. WATT: President Trump, lying in his bed at the White House, watching TV tonight, what do you think he is making of what just happened in South Carolina?

LEVINSON: Well, I think what happened in South Carolina is fairly predictable. I think what will not make him happy is that there was a very high turnout among the black community. That will not be good for him in the general election.

If the black community over a variety of states is really energized, if they want to come out on November 3rd, that is not good news for him. I think what he's looking at, though, which is going to give him a little more comfort, is the idea that, yes, Joe Biden won in South Carolina but, frankly, if he didn't win in South Carolina, I think his candidacy was all but over.

So I think that President Trump would much rather run against Bernie Sanders than he would against Vice President Joe Biden. And if you look at the whole reason President Trump was impeached and the idea that he wanted to dig up dirt on a political opponent, I think for a long time he's seen Biden as the bigger threat.

WATT: Jessica Levinson, thank you very much for joining us.

LEVINSON: Thank you.

WATT: The U.S. and the Taliban just signed an historic deal on Afghanistan and President Trump says he will soon meet with Taliban leaders in a bid to end America's longest war. A source close to the Taliban tells Nic Robertson that the talks could come as early as next week.

The deal was signed in Qatar on Saturday after what was called a reduction in violence. It lays out a timetable to withdraw foreign troops within 14 months. It also aims for a permanent cease-fire and direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The war in Syria is triggering another standoff between Turkey and the European Union. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country cannot take more refugees. He is encouraging them to go to Europe.

That set up clashes at Turkey's border with Greece on Saturday, where Greek police fired tear gas to force migrants back. CNN's Arwa Damon has more.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Turkish security forces have just told the media we can no longer be here. They have pushed us back. Further up in there and you're getting a bit of an idea of what the scene is like from the visual that you can see here.

But further and there are many, many, more refugees camping out in the forest, in the trees and up against the border with Greece. Ever since Turkey announced it would no longer stop refugees from crossing by land or by sea into Europe, there was a movement towards the border, a movement that was facilitated and encouraged by statements coming from Turkey.

Turkey has for quite some time been warning Europe, it cannot shoulder the refugee burden on its own. It's been very angered by Western countries' responses to Turkey having to deal with this refugee crisis on its own and not getting any support from them, even more angered by the lack of support for its operation that is taking place inside Idlib, Syria.

This that you see here right now, it's the result of the politicization of these people's desperation. Turkey is using them to put pressure on Europe so that Turkey can get more support.

Many of those that we have been talking to have are from Afghanistan. We talked to Iraqis, Syrians. He said that they came here thinking they would be able to cross right through. That's what they thought "the border is open" actually meant.

At the same time, they do also recognize, in all of this, they are political pawns. Some of them are saying that they are frustrated by the lack of information, not knowing that if they should wait or return.

Others are saying, look, this was our only chance, we took it, we came here, we are going to wait until something actually happens. But this goes to show you to what level right now global politics are playing out -- Arwa Damon, CNN, at the Turkey-Greece border.


WATT: The coronavirus is taking a toll on business in China. When we return, we will show you how companies are adjusting their practices in response to the outbreak.





WATT: The most direct way of getting the coronavirus is close human contact. People in China are taking that seriously, staying away from areas that would normally be bustling with crowds. And that has taken a toll on business. CNN's David Culver looks at how one company is coping with the reality of this.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You are looking at the new normal for many fast food restaurants in China. Customers entering this KFC are passing through now standard temperature checks, walking up to a giant screen. They either transfer their order from their smartphones, thus avoiding

touching the surface, or they type it in. As soon as they step away an employee swoops into disinfect.

Some stores like this Shanghai Starbucks, take away only. The goal, keep people from gathering. This is the corporate side to stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus.

JOEY WAT, YUM CHINA, We've been having daily crisis meetings since the end of January.

CULVER (voice-over): We sat down with Yum China Holdings CEO, Joey Wat. Her company runs some of the most popular food brands in China, including KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

WAT: What is the best way to deal with adversity?

It is to stay calm, protect ourselves.

CULVER (voice-over): That protection continues outside of the restaurants. Food delivery also about keeping your space.

CULVER: This is what happens here. They leave it there, he says I can go, I move in, pick up the food and head home to eat. As soon as you get your food, you'll notice on top of the receipt is this little card.

It has two different types of readings on it, the temperature reading of the person who prepared your food along with their name and the name and temperature reading of the person who delivered your food.


WATT: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Nick Watt. I will be back with the headlines in just a moment.