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Coronavirus Spreads To 100-Plus Countries And Territories; Hundreds Exposed To D.C. Priest Infected With Coronavirus; Trump, Health Officials Growing More Distrustful Of Each Other. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 9, 2020 - 13:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, we start with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic that has hit at least 120 countries and territories, including here in the United States. Cases in the U.S. are on the rise right now. More than 600 cases in 34 states and here in Washington, D.C., as well. This number could easily rise as more people are getting tested.

Concerns of the virus are rocking the markets. Anxiety palpable at the New York Stock Exchange. You can see the Dow there down more than 1,600 points already today.

And in Italy, which is one of the hardest hit countries, officials have locked down parts of Northern Italy where the outbreak is centered. People who violate the containment order face up to three months in prison. In the meantime, a ban on outside visitors who has actually led to riots at several Italian prisons.

Here in the United States, the head of the New York Port Authority has tested positive. Rick Cotton is in charge of the airports in New York and New Jersey. And the confirmed case on the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia has triggered an alert allowing people to work from home.

Base schools are now closed for deep cleaning. Federal officials are also encouraging people to reconsider their travel plans if they have vulnerable family members.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You may get infected and then come home and infect your grandmother and grandfather who does have an underlying condition. So each family unit, each individual has to look about not only the risk for themselves but what risk were they putting the people around them in.

Of the people who get infected, the ones who get in trouble at a high rate of people with underlying conditions, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, diabetes, particularly the elderly, those are the ones that need to be protected.

If you fall into that category, you shouldn't wait for anything. You should be doing what some people are calling social distancing. What really means, stay out of crowds, don't do travel, above all, don't go near a cruise ship.


KEILAR: And we will have multiple medical experts this hour, but let's get to this huge drop in the markets. You can see the Dow down over 1,500 points, almost 1,600 points at this point in time. There is more fear over the spread of the coronavirus. There is also a plunge in oil prices that triggered a major sell-off. At one point, the Dow was actually down at 2,000 points and that triggered the 15-minute pause in trading.

Jim Tankersley, Economics Reporter for The New York Times, joins us, along with our Julia Chatterley.

And, Julia, you're there at the New York Stock Exchange. Tell us about this halt in trading.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: It happened incredibly quickly, Brianna. Actually less than five minutes into trading and we were down 7 percent. And that's when, to your point, the circus breakers kicked in. It simply stops trading. It's a 15-minute window that allows traders to pause, to take a breath and to stop hitting their panic button and selling. Trading then restarts after 15 minutes. And you see then how things trade. And we are down, what, I'm looking at it now, down around 6 percent.

So this is incredibly ugly but it could have been a lot worse without the circuit breakers triggering and just giving us a moment at least to think about what's going on here.

KEILAR: Yes. And on one hand, this is good, right? As you mentioned, it gives traders a moment to breathe, it stops the market from diving further. But at the same time, you see something like this happen and it's almost alarming as well because you don't see it very often. Would you say that this system worked like it was supposed to, Julia?

CHATTERLEY: These are unprecedented times. Yes, the idea that we can be down 6 percent in these markets, for this to have been a successful execution of trying to stem some of the concern, but, yes, that's exactly what happened here. And I think it is crisis on top of crisis. What we are seeing in the old markets with the plunge there, with the draconian measures that we saw in Italy. And investors are wondering whether that's ultimately what we see in the United States.

All of that playing out in the markets today, these short-term measures working, Brianna, that there's a great deal of concern here still.

KEILAR: Certainly. And, Jim, oil prices, just explain to us what is going on there?

JIM TANKERSLEY, ECONOMICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Saudi Arabia has said it's going to ramp up production of oil, obviously a very large oil producer, that's going to bring in more supply on to the market, it's pushing down prices. And that's actually good for U.S. consumers obviously who put gasoline in their cars but really bad for U.S. oil producers, which could reduce investment in the economy, need to layoff across the oil patch.


This is a big thing that I think the market is reacting to today is this fear that a plunge in oil prices combined with the virus concerns and the spread could push the United States closer to a recession.

KEILAR: And the president tweeted. He said that this is good for consumers because of lower gas prices, which you mentioned. There is the other side of that coin, which you also just mentioned. Did it strike you -- I mean, how did it strike you that he tweeted that?

TANKERSLEY: Well, I mean, obviously, he is, throughout this crisis, trying to put a very optimistic face on what's happening here in the economy, and the market don't agree. And behind the scene, the White House, advisers of the president, are starting to get more concerned. They definitely are concerned about the oil effects on investment, definitely concerned about the effects on growth.

And this is so concerning that they are having a meeting at the White House this afternoon to talk about options to stimulate the economy if things continue to go this way.

KEILAR: I think, Jim, when we are looking at the coronavirus in so many different plains, including the economic angle here, people are worried about what is really happening and they're also worried of what could happen. I wonder to you when you look at the economic piece of this, the Dow now is down 1,700 points, how much of this is anxiety about the unknown and how much of this is that the economy is verifiably in trouble?

TANKERSLEY: Yes, I think it's both. I think the economy has looked pretty good in the most recent data that we have. It's not -- even consumer spending data from this past weekend nationally doesn't look bad in the sort of anecdotes that we have, like movie theaters.

But looking ahead, it can look really scary if there is a lot of quarantines and people having to work from home or take care of children at home, they don't have sick leave, and so many people are essentially unable to do commerce. If you can't go to a restaurant or go to a store, there is a ripple effect of that that hurts the whole economy.

So it's fear of what could happen. It's also just sort of seeing those clouds on the horizon and realizing that that as the number of cases rise and the calls for quarantines rise, that absolutely is going to ripple across the economy. I think that's the biggest concern here is we can see this coming kind of in slow motion and the fear is that it will be very, very big and that's what people are reacting to.

KEILAR: All right. Jim and Julie, thank you so much to both of you for explaining all of this to us.

And let's talk about the outbreak itself. We are learning some new details surrounding a case in Washington, D.C., here in the Nation's capital where a priest has tested positive for the coronavirus. Now, officials are advising hundreds of church-goers who were exposed to him to self-quarantine.

Let's go to Tom Foreman. He is outside at the Christ Church in D.C. And what more can you tell us?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Reverend Timothy Cole, the fiscal (ph) minister here from this historic church, is resting in this hospital here in Georgetown. He sent a message out this (INAUDIBLE) saying, there is no need to panic. He's being treated well and doing relatively well, all things considered.

However, only a week ago, he was shaking hands with parishioners here, he was serving communion, hundreds of people. That is why city health officials have taken it so seriously. And that mayor this morning said anyone who came into contact with him needs to take action. Listen.


MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D-COLUMBIA, WA): D.C. Health is recommending that anyone who visited Christ Church Georgetown either on February 24th or between February 28th and March 3rd, self-quarantine themselves at home for 14 days since the last time they visited the church.


FOREMAN: The city is exploring whether or not there are possibilities for demanding quarantines as this situation continues to develop here. The reverend is the first person in the District of Columbia to be identified as having the coronavirus.

There have been another one here now and several in Maryland and Virginia, close by. All of those cases seem to involve people who have traveled overseas in some fashion or had contact that way. The reverend is unique and that he appears to have fallen ill after visiting a conference in Kentucky. So, obviously, that's a great interest to health officials here.

Again, the church is doing all it can to help its members get through this, but there is a lot of concern here in the neighborhood. The reverend is stable right now but it's clearly destabilized feelings around here. And, Briana, you may note I am standing less than two miles from the White House right now.

KEILAR: Yes, that's right, you are very close, just sort of down the street. Tom Foreman, thank you so much for that report.

There are passengers aboard a cruise ship with other passengers who have tested positive for the coronavirus. They will though finally be able to dock.

This is the Grand Princess. It has been holding off of the coast for San Francisco for days. And it's now about to dock in Oakland, not far from there. 21 people on board tested positive for coronavirus. There are around 3,500 passengers and crew that have to be taken care of.


Our Dan Simon is in Oakland, California. And, Dan, just tell us what happens now.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Brianna. The good news is these folks are finally getting off the ship after idling days out at sea. The bad news is they have to go into quarantine for 14 days. They have been kept in isolation in the ship. Some people said they felt like they were prisoners. Now, they're getting off but they really have a tough couple of weeks ahead of them.

So the way this is going to work, the ship is going to actually arrive here sometime midday in a couple of hours. And those who are most critically ill, they're going to get off the ship first and then go to the area hospitals. And then this process is going to unfold over two or three days, getting all 2,400 passengers off the ship.

As we have been reporting, the crew, about a thousand crew members, they're going to remain on this ship. And the majority of the folks who actually wound up with coronavirus are members of the crew, 19 or 21. So they're going to quarantine out at sea. But as far as these passengers are concerned, they're going to quarantine at various military bases around the country, including two here in California. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Dan, thank you for that report, from Oakland, California.

There are also two members of Congress who are self-quarantined right now. Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar. They both came in contact with a person who later tested positive for coronavirus, and this happened at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., about a week-and-a-half ago.

President Trump was also there at CPAC, but White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham says, the president didn't have contact with the infected person and isn't concerned because he washes his hands a lot.

Joining me now is Dr. Peter Hotez. He is professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He is also the co-director of the college's coronavirus vaccine team.

And thanks again for coming on, Doctor. I wonder as you are watching this play out here in the capital, you have Washington struggling to respond adequately for the entire country, and this exposure at CPAC is certainly highlighting the important of following proper protocols like self-quarantine. So walk us through that. We have been hearing so many people who are self-quarantining, including folks coming off of this -- well, not self-quarantining. They're quarantining coming off of the cruise ship there in Oakland. What does this entail if you self-quarantine and how long does that last?

PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR CORONAVIRUS VACCINE TEAM: Well, thanks for having me back. We say that the incubation period is 14 days, meaning that if you have been exposed to this virus, there is a possibility that if you are going to get sick, it will likely occur within that 14-day window period. The truth is it usually happens before then if you're going to get sick within five or six days, but 14 percent is to get to that 95 percent likelihood that you will get everybody.

But the truth is, these are all probabilities. You could even potentially have symptoms a week after that or a week after that. So that's something that's very important to keep in mind.

The thing that I am very concerned about is now that we have expanded testing available because two of the large commercial lab systems, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, has that capability. As we start testing, we're going to get a better understanding of the full extent of this epidemic in the United States.

So this is going to be a challenging week both for the American people and the White House because we almost certainly will see a pretty steep rise in the number of cases and there is a good chance that we'll also see new areas where the epidemic is reaching, so, possibly, some new cities similar to what we're seeing in Seattle and now maybe what we're starting to see in New York.

So I think what's going to be really important also is how the White House manages this and hopefully it won't be business as usual in terms of some of the messaging we have heard.

KEILAR: And also considering that the World Health Organization just said it could take up to six weeks to recover from the coronavirus. This is something that is protracted, and I wonder if that is -- does that timeline, possibly six weeks, surprise you at all?

HOTEZ: Well, you can be -- respiratory illnesses, when they are severe, it can take a long time for the body to heal, because you can have a lot of not only the virus but also your inflammatory response to this virus. So it can really -- if you are actually sick and, of course, the older you are, the more underlying debilitating illnesses you have, the longer it takes you to recover. So, yes, this is going to be a very interesting time as we see those numbers of cases start to go up.

And, again, let's remember the populations that we are most concerned about.


We are concerned about, as Dr. Fauci pointed out earlier in the broadcast, older Americans and those with underlying illnesses. We've seen what happened when this virus went through that nursing home in Seattle, that's been devastating, more than a dozen deaths. That's all hands on deck now for the White House to explain what they're going to do to stop that from happening, and in other places as this virus pops up.

And also protecting our healthcare workers, because we are seeing this play out over and over again and not only in China but in Korea and Italy, where healthcare workers on the frontlines are getting exposed, making sure that they have all the protective equipment they need and really strategically using that diagnostic testing until we can ramp up fully to make certain that we do everything we can to prevent our frontline healthcare workers and then our emergency responders.

So these are the three populations that I am looking at and hoping guidance from the CDC and the White House that's going to tell us that this is the issue for us, here is what we recommend doing in the coming weeks.

KEILAR: The U.S. Government is not calling this a pandemic yet. Do you think that's a distinction that matters?

HOTEZ: Well, the World Health Organization has avoided using that term and it's interesting the way they're -- the reason they're giving for not using the word, pandemic. They're almost using the term, pandemic, like an admission of defeat, meaning that it's no longer possible to contain this virus in other countries, which is an interesting use of the term.

Practically speaking, for Americans, it doesn't matter anymore whether we call it a pandemic or whatever terms we use. The point is --

KEILAR: Is it one in your view though?

HOTEZ: I am not so sure. Because what it really means is if you are in a country where the virus has gained a foothold, you know what you need to do. And whether or not it's a global pandemic at this point, I'm not certain it makes all that different.

So I'm treating it though as a pandemic. And to my colleagues, we're all calling it a pandemic. And whether or not in public, we use the P word, to me, is far less important than we proceed as though it's function as a pandemic.

KEILAR: All right. Doctor, thank you so much. Dr. Peter Hotez, we appreciate seeing you again.

HOTEZ: Thanks so much.

KEILAR: The president and his own health officials are not on the same page. We will discuss why the two sides are growing more distrustful of each other.

Plus, the Trump administration also clashing with airlines, as the government demands personal information about passengers.

And I'll speak with a family member of one of the nursing home residents at the epicenter of the outbreak as they demand answers.

This is CNN special live coverage.



KEILAR: One of the president's latest tweets on coronavirus is this. Quote, nothing is shut down, life and the economy go on, end quote.

With more than 600 cases in the U.S., many people think President Trump should be showing more concern about the coronavirus outbreak, and this blase attitude is putting the administration and national health agencies, including the CDC and members of his task force really at odds.

We have CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins to talk about this. Kaitlan, according to your reporting, as the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. ballooned over the weekend, it was very much business as usual for President Trump. Tell us about this.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It was really notable of his activities, because he did go visit the CDC on Friday. But after that, Brianna, the president largely fall on a schedule that he would have if this epidemic wasn't going on, where he spoke at a fundraiser, he played golf with Major League Baseball players, he hosted the Brazilian president for a big dinner on Saturday night. He's attending another fundraiser in Florida today before coming back here to the White House, where he is very much going to be dealing with this.

Now, over the week, he did get some briefings from the president, who, of course, has been the face of the administration's response so far. But the people we spoke would basically say they do not think the president is taking this seriously enough even though you are seeing the number of cases in the United States really start to grow.

And today, the Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar, said that everyone is taking this seriously, no one is minimizing it. But when you look at the president's Twitter feed, you see him really trying to do his own kind of damage control here where he is insisting that, essentially, officials are causing too much alarm by talking about this and he's blaming the news media for that plunging stock market that you see today.

KEILAR: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much for that. Kaitlan Collins letting us know how, really, the president is going about things.

In the meantime, CNN is learning the U.S. airline industry and the Trump administration are in a pitch battle over the White House response to the coronavirus outbreak. Contentious conversations have taken place between airline executives and a series of government agencies who were demanding the airlines start collecting new kinds of personal data from passengers to help track potential coronavirus carriers, something that airlines say they are not prepared to do right now.

We have Kylie Atwood with us following all of these developments. And the airlines are pushing back on this. Tell us why.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are pushing back because they are essentially saying that these demands that are being made by the Trump administration and the government agencies involved here are unreasonable and that they don't really have an understanding of what they're asking these airlines to do. So what are they asking these airlines to do that has created what we are reporting is turning into an epic battle.

They want the airlines to collect more information in all of their passengers, so that if they do then get coronavirus, they can track those potential cases where they came from, where they have been. But the airlines are saying, we cannot do this in the amount of time and digitally as you have requested us to do.


And so in some of these interagency phone calls with the airlines, the Trump administration officials, specifically officials from CDC, has said that the airlines are lying. And they have also threatened high, high cost here on these airlines. There are up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees that they are going to have to pay if they don't comply. And, obviously, the airlines are already facing some hardship with their bottom line.

So this is a really contentious moment and airlines are trying to brace themselves for when they do have to comply with this.

And I want to read to you what the CDC said in response to our reporting about how contentious this has become. They said, quote, there are several calls between the airlines and the U.S. government about this new data collection process, which was initiated in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak. We understand that any new process can be challenged and get them out quickly, which is why the rules currently opened for public comment. Airlines may be encouraged to provide feedback through that public comment process. So they say they're listening but the airlines are saying they're not listening enough.

KEILAR: So they're saying airlines say, it's onerous. Is it also an issue of privacy? I just wonder how unique kind of this information request is.

ATWOOD: It's extremely unique. And there are questions on behalf of the lawyers at these airlines saying, wait a second, we understand that this is a public health crisis right now, but there is no sunset clause on when the government is going to stop asking us to collect this information, so there are some fears from the lawyers at these airlines that foreign countries who have passengers on U.S. carriers and the U.S. airlines are collecting this information may in fact get into a legal combat here. And the Trump administration has not told these airlines that they will back them if it does come to that.

KEILAR: All right. Kylie, thank you so much. It's very complicated. We appreciate you breaking it down for us.

There are families at nursing home residents at the center of the coronavirus in the U.S., and they're demanding answers as more residents and employees show symptoms of the virus.

Plus, the president and his two Democratic challengers are all in their 70s. Should they change their behaviors when it comes to rallies and events?