Return to Transcripts main page


Outbreak Disrupting Schools, Travel, Markets, Major Events; White House Says, Trump Has Not Been Tested For Coronavirus; Voters In Six States Head To Polls In Biden-Sanders Showdown. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired March 10, 2020 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


The coronavirus is spreading and so is the impact on so many parts of our lives, work, travel, school, all changing or set to change. Here is what we know this morning.

31 new cases of the coronavirus in Washington State alone as schools close, universities cancel in-person classes, Delta and American Airlines slashing flights as bookings drop. Delta even announcing a hiring freeze.

SCIUTTO: And cancelations, Boston, even cities in Ireland, they're calling off St. Patrick's day parades while game shows have stopped taping with live audiences.

Soon, the second round of passengers coming off the virus-stricken cruise ship docked California. We are covering all the angles.

Let's begin though with CNN National Correspondent Athena Jones in New York. Athena, we're trying to track from community-to-community. Tell us the latest we're learning here.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Jim. Well, the key words here are virtual instruction and social distancing. That's what schools and universities all across the country are trying to do to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Here at Columbia University and its sister campus across the street, Barnard College, they've suspended classes for a second day-to-day and then they're moving classes online Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. And then it will be spring break, so the students will be off campus mostly anyway.

We also learned this morning that Harvard University is moving to online instruction as well, they're calling it Virtual Instruction, and urging their students not to return to campus after spring break. Their spring break also begins this weekend and extends for about a week.

So these are some of the steps schools are taking from coast-to-coast. There's a long list. The list seems to be growing practically by the hour just here in New York. Hofstra University, Fordham, nearby is Princeton, and on the West Coast, of course, University of Washington, which was one of the first large universities to make these moves.

Some of these schools are also cancelling events and activities and limiting gatherings of people to, say, 25 people or a hundred people, all of this to try to do what we're calling social distancing, which is keeping people away from one another. We know that college campuses are places where students and faculty work closely and live closely together.

HARLOW: Athena, what about -- so it's one thing for a college student who can take care of themselves, can have virtual learning. They're missing some things by not being in person, of course. But it's another thing for little kids and for their parents and for their caretakers if public schools across the country shut down en masse. What do we know?

JONES: Absolutely. It's a real concern and perhaps more of a disruption when it comes to a seven or an eight-year-old. We know that schools in various states are making this move as well. For instance, Fulton County, Georgia, that's a pretty big school district, they are shutting down classes for a week because of concerns about the coronavirus. A similar case in Sacramento County. There is a school district called the Elk Grove Unified School District, shutting down classes for a week over virus concerns. And here near New York, in Scarsdale, north of the city in Westchester County, which is a hard- hit county with a big cluster of cases, they have shut down schools for this reason.

But right here in New York, we know that Mayor de Blasio has said he doesn't want to see widespread closures because of the kind of disruption it can cause. He wants to see targeted closures and brief ones. Poppy and Jim?

SCIUTTO: Communities around the country, they're making different decisions now. It's got to be confusing for people. Athena Jones, thanks very much.

Let's got to CNN's Omar Jimenez, who is in Kirkland, Washington, which you can call it ground zero of the outbreak here in the U.S.

So, Omar, and I find this amazing, it's been weeks since the outbreak started there with compromised people, they are older, they have underlying conditions. That is the risk group, really. Have all the residents there finally been tested now?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have all finally been tested but the results were what many people feared. At this point, there are 53 residents, which is even more amazing to the point that just less than a month ago, they had 120 residents, but between the hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths, we have seen, they are down again to that depleted 53.

All the testing has gone through and we learned that 31 of them have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the majority of residents that are here at this center. But also we are still waiting for test results for 20 other residents, so that is a number that could go up in the coming hours.

Now, over the course of really just the past week, it has not been just the residents, it's been employees that have been coming in day in and day out to take care of many of these residents here that, again, we are learning are getting sicker and sicker.

There haven't been enough test kits for them throughout this process. They wanted to get to the residents first, which, again, they were able to do partly because of that depleted number. But they were, at one point, 70 employees that were showing symptoms and had to be sent home.


Five of them, as we understand, have now gotten better, but that will be the next effort, trying to make sure that their employees get tested in this site, Poppy and Jim.

HARLOW: Wow. Omar, thank you for being there.

In about an hour, a second group of passengers should be able to disembark the Grand Princess Cruise Ship that is docked in Oakland, California right now. Karen and Henry Dever are hoping to be in that group.

Karen is on the phone with us now.

Good morning, Karen. Can you hear us?


HARLOW: Thank you so much to both of you for joining us. What is your plan for today?

DEVER: We don't have anything planned, so we're open. We're waiting to hear. We have not been told anything about when we're getting off. When we get luggage tags from the crews, that's when we get the go ahead. But other than that, we're just sitting here.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, I got to tell you, your positive attitude, it's instructive. I'm curious about how information has gotten to you and how quickly. I mean, for instance, were you aware of the coronavirus outbreak when the cruise started? And since then, who is giving you the most reliable information?

DEVER: We did not know about any coronavirus on the previous cruise until Wednesday last week. And we had gotten on this ship the 21st of February. That's when we found out we were not going to Mexico and we're going back to San Francisco.

In the beginning, we were hearing from the captain, but we would sometimes hear things first on the T.V. and then the captain. And the captain is telling us what his hierarchy tell him to tell us.

So we're sort of between a rock and a hard place. And then what we hear on T.V., we don't know if that's always true, and then, you know, our children are keeping us up-to-date, family, friends through social media. So we're using every avenue that is out there for us. But as to what's next, we don't know.

HARLOW: Do you know where you're going in terms of a quarantine?

DEVER: No, that they haven't told us either. But since we're from the East Coast, I'm assuming we're going to Georgia.


SCIUTTO: Okay. Well, listen, Karen, it's got to be frustrating. We wish you the best of luck. We hope it's over soon. Best to you and your husband, Henry, and thanks for taking the time.

DEVER: All right. Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: Let's speak now more about this and the national issue here, response, Dr. William Schaffner, he's a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Doctor, thank you so much for taking the time.

I've got to say, I'm a bit amazed that we don't have a handle on the extent of the spread in this country right now, and we used Kirkland as an example. We've known for weeks, really, that this elder care facility has been impacted. They've only just tested the people there. You have other countries that have tested tens of thousands of people, and the U.S. is lagging behind. Why is that? And in your view, what difference does that make in the response?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR IN DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL SCHOOL: Well, Jim, looking forward, testing is now rolling out much more robustly in state health departments, and as we have heard, private test providers in large laboratories are also coming online.

So I hope that that deficit in testing will soon, over the next week, week-and-a-half, be resolved, and as that happens, we'll have a much better idea of how widely distributed this virus is in the United States.

Is it still focal with local spread, or is it now in most states and already spreading in those states? That will give us a better handle on what's going on.

SCIUTTO: That's a big question.

HARLOW: Yes. Dr. Schaffner, you were a long-time adviser to the CDC, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar was just on this morning with our John Berman. I want you to listen to something he said that was striking.


ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: We don't know exactly how many because of hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report in the CDC. We're working with the CDC and those partners to get an I.T. reporting system up and running hopefully this week where we would be able to get that data to keep track of how many we're testing.


HARLOW: We don't know how many tests have been performed. What should the American health system, as a whole, learn from this?

SCHAFFNER: Well, Poppy, we're part, locally, of a system across the United States that is going to be monitoring those tests and getting all positive tests and among patients who are hospitalized with covid- 19.


And so we will be gathering those data together, sending them to the CDC, and we're part of that surveillance mechanism that will give that kind of picture so that --

HARLOW: I guess I'm just saying, you know, for America, how advanced it is in so many ways, and, really, in terms of medical response typically, what is the lesson you're going to walk away with? Because you need an accurate number to get a fatality rate --

SCIUTTO: And also to stop people from spreading it. Because if you can't test people, if you're not testing people, you don't know who is infected, and people -- it means people are walking around there now with this disease, interacting with their families, et cetera, and at risk, at least, of spreading it.

SCHAFFNER: Yes, for sure, Jim. So, actually, we are now implementing social distancing and recommending that throughout the country because of just what you have said. There are people out there who are positive. We don't know exactly who they are, so we should all take the advice and social distancing ourselves.

SCIUTTO: Who social distances themselves, I wonder? If you get a cold or your kid gets a cold but you can't get a test at your doctor's office, and we've heard these stories from around the country, do you presume that it's coronavirus and, therefore, don't get on a plane or don't go to school? I don't get it. This is the question I get -- I'm sure you're getting from friends and family, and I have, Poppy has.

HARLOW: All of us.

SCIUTTO: What's the answer to that question?

SCHAFFNER: The most emphasis is on people who are older, people aged 60 and older, and those individuals of any age who have an underlying illness. If you have heart disease, lung disease, if you're immunocompromised, that's the group that should take special emphasis on social distancing.

HARLOW: Here is the thing Jim and I are just very confused about. If people were to get on a plane and contracted and be asymptomatic and bring it to their in-laws or their parents or their healthcare providers who are already in their 60s and 70s, that's what --

SCIUTTO: They don't know.

HARLOW: Exactly.

SCHAFFNER: Wow, we're all going to do the best we can. Social distancing, good handwashing, do those elbow bumps instead of the hugs, and with special emphasis on the people who are at greater risk of severe disease is what we can do today. Because then when we find people who are positive, take a special effort around them.

SCIUTTO: Yes, all right.

HARLOW: Yes. We appreciate you, Doctor. Obviously, so many people have so many questions, and we appreciate the work you're doing and the answers you're giving. Thank you.

SCHAFFNER: Thank you.

HARLOW: The White House says the president has not been tested for the coronavirus, this as multiple lawmakers in his political circle are self-quarantining after they came in contact with someone who does have the virus. We'll have an update ahead.

SCIUTTO: That raises the question of what should average Americans do.

Plus, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders faceoff in a six-state primary showdown. Voters are going to the polls, as we speak, and CNN is on the trail.



SCIUTTO: Despite several members of President Trump's inner circle choosing to self-quarantine now after coming into contact with someone confirmed to have the coronavirus, the White House says that President Trump does not need to be tested.

HARLOW: Six members of Congress are now taking steps to isolate themselves. A Democrat is working from home after interacting with someone who has the virus, and five Republicans who attended CPAC with an infected individual are doing the same.

Manu Raju joins us on Capitol Hill. Two of the lawmakers recently had contact with the president.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And right now, members of the House Democratic caucus are learning about what they should do if they were to come in contact with any individual who could have the coronavirus, if they're exposed in any way. The Capitol physician are briefing House Democratic members about exactly the steps that should be taken, in addition also, other House authorities about what should happen here.

What's been very clear is that members of Congress are bracing for this having a significant impact on their own operations, either forcing their aides to quarantine, forcing members or the staff to work from home, telecommute, and how that process would continue to play out. That has been discussed for some time, and now it is getting to become more real in the aftermath of several members of Congress and announcing that they would quarantine themselves, and also indication that this virus certainly could become more spreading, become more prevalent in the D.C. area.

But at the moment, guys, there is not any plan to change the House's schedule. They do plan to go on a recess next week and they come back afterwards to deal with some of the economic measures that have been pushed to deal with what the coronavirus impact is having on the economy, guys.

SCIUTTO: Okay. So let's talk about possibility of economic stimulus here. There's been some reporting that the president really wants it, several Republicans a little hesitant. What is the state of that negotiation, and do they have Democratic support in the House?


RAJU: Well, this is all just starting right now. It's going to begin in earnest later today when two of the president's top economic advisers, the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, as well as Larry Kudlow from the White House's economic team will be in the Capitol meeting with Senate Republicans, talking about the president's proposals, including a payroll tax cut, including deferring taxes on airlines and other industries that have been hit hard by all of this.

And there's also some discussion about paid sick leave. Now, that is also something the House Democrats are talking about. Democrats also pushing other measures, including expanded unemployment insurance as well as dealing with things like helping healthcare workers who have been exposed in some way to the coronavirus.

So there are a lot of different measures that both sides are talking about. It is going to take some time for both sides to put together their plans, get an appropriate cost, get a cost estimate on them, get them reconciled on both sides.

So we're not expecting anything to be dealt with this week. We don't expect a deal in the next couple of weeks. So it's going to take some time to really play out, but we'll see. If the economic concerns grow, perhaps that will force Congress to move even quicker, guys?

HARLOW: Manu, thanks very much for the reporting.

Wall Street certainly watching every step of this, including what happens on Capitol Hill. And as talks of a stimulus package continue, stocks are gaining on those hopes.

SCIUTTO: True. Not yet though making up for all the losses since this began.

Let's take a look at the markets and what's moving the markets with CNN Business Editor at Large Richard Quest.

Do we have -- let's set aside for a moment the market sentiment, okay? That rises and falls by the day, by the hour, by the minute. Do we have hard economic data on the costs to the world economy, to the U.S. economy from this slowdown?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: No, not yet. It's trickling in, things like trade numbers. So you'll see -- we have had some hard numbers out of China, which are showing a decline in trade. In the U.S., we saw a sort of a movement amongst the trade numbers again.

What we don't have -- what you're going to be looking for are things like the trade numbers, you're going to be looking for employment numbers, new jobs, layoffs, all these sort of things.

And for airlines particularly, you're going to be looking at things like capacity, bookings, all the sort of numbers that we're seeing at the moment.

But we don't have the hard data to show how bad it's going to get, particularly in the United States.

HARLOW: So many sectors -- let's just take the U.S. for right now. The U.S. economy are anchored by the strength of the consumer, which has remained strong. But now, when you're not flying much and you're not getting on cruise ships much, when you're not going out to eat, when events are being canceled, couple that with the real concern over corporate debt right now, corporate bonds, what are we potentially looking at for American companies?

QUEST: You're on the precipice here. This could go either way. If the virus -- there is a certain amount built on for Q1, and that's slowdown. But this question of whether there's a full-scale recession, that will depend on what the consumer does over the next few weeks. If this gets worse or even probably stays the same and doesn't get better, then you're talking about -- for all the reasons you've just said, companies will see a slowdown, people won't go to the movies, they won't go out to dinner.

Companies were already having problems with the supply chain. Imagine your supply chain involves ceramics from Italy or machine parts from Italy. You've got problem now. Or from Germany or from Israel. I mean, look at Israel. The country is virtually closed for business because of what's happened.

So we are on the cusp, and that is why people are saying, economists are saying, that a recession in the United States is still not probable, but it is getting more likely.

SCIUTTO: Where are your iPhones made? They're made in China.

HARLOW: Yes. Richard, thank you.

SCIUTTO: Thanks so much.

QUEST: They're made in China. They're sold over here. Who's going to buy them because they're worried about your next paycheck, and particularly if you're in the gig economy.

HARLOW: There you go, absolutely.

SCIUTTO: That's the thing. It's a supply concern and it's a demand concern. We're going to stay on top of it. And, again, it changes every day. We're sticking to the facts as they come at us.

Other story, you might remember this presidential election around the corner. Polls now open on Super Tuesday Number 2. Up next, we're going to take you live to the state that will play a crucial role in both the Biden and Sanders campaigns.



SCIUTTO: Today, it is Super Tuesday Round 2. Six states voting, as we speak. 352 delegates up for grabs. Joe Biden's campaign telling CNN just in the last hour that tonight could be, quote, game over for Bernie Sanders.

HARLOW: That's a bold prediction.

We've got teams covering the trail. First up, let's go back to Miguel Marquez in the top prize tonight. Miguel, I think both campaigns are just hoping that they can take Michigan.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes. I mean, the fight is on here for real. This is in Warren. We're at a precinct location or a polling location that has three different precincts in it, meant to be one of the busier locations in the City of Warren, about 100,000 people just north of Detroit, it is not that busy, it has not been that busy today.

I've been chatting during an informal poll as people are leaving here, asking them who they voted for.


It's almost 50-50 Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, maybe Biden by a hair.