Return to Transcripts main page


Seattle Becomes Ghost Town Amid Coronavirus Fears; D.C. Church Members Asked To Self-Quarantine After Virus Outbreak; White House & Congress Debate How To Boost Economy Amid Coronavirus; Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) Discusses Trump Proposals to Help Those Affected by Coronavirus & Coronavirus Outbreaks; Chef Jose Andres Discusses Surprising "Grand Princess" Passengers With Food Ahead Of Quarantine. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 10, 2020 - 14:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Washington State is the epicenter of this coronavirus outbreak in the United States, with 189 and 22 deaths. It's becoming alarmingly apparent that the precautions to prevent the spread of the virus are having a serious impact on just day-to-day life.

CNN's Omar Jimenez reports growing fears and efforts to fight are now turning Seattle into a ghost town.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): At the start of a new week, some businesses in Seattle are settling into a new and sober reality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On a typical weekend day, there could be thousands.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're seeing make a couple hundred.

JIMENEZ: This bakery says their business is down 50 percent to 70 percent since the outbreak began, leaving somebody to worry about what's going to come next?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god, is it going to get worse. Close down the market. Well, I'm not shutting down.

JIMENEZ: Citywide hotel occupancy last week dropped to as low as 30 percent. Normally hotels would be at 70 percent occupancy.

Many restaurants reported a 40 percent drop in business over that same week, according to the Washington Hospitality Association.

Education taking a hit as well. More than 80,000 students in the Seattle area are now learning from home, from the university level all the way down to elementary school.

All of this as there's been more than 175 positive coronavirus cases statewide, and more than 20 deaths.

That's why they're handling presidential primary ballots is being treated with caution.

(on camera): Here at King County's election center, the county that's seen more deaths from the coronavirus than anywhere in the country, you'll notice something small but significant. Everyone is wearing gloves. It wasn't a requirement in years past, but this year is different.

(voice-over) First responders are now responding to all calls for respiratory issues, fever or cough, in full personal protective equipment suits, as dozens have to be quarantined, many symptomatic and at least one testing positive for COVID-19.

(on camera): Obviously precaution is pretty important?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, very important. I have a family and I have kids at home and definitely want to come home safe for them.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Each day in the Seattle area brings new cases of the coronavirus, and with it, uncertainty for nearly every aspect of life from has gone from just a few cases to an outbreak in a matter of week.

Omar Jimenez, CNN, Seattle.


BALDWIN: Omar, thank you for that.

Question: Would the U.S. ever consider taking drastic measures like, say, Italy, locking down 60 million people? We'll discuss.

Plus, airlines suddenly scrapping dozens of flights because of an alarming drop in bookings. What this means for all of you.

And President Trump floating a payroll tax cut and other stimulus measures as businesses and workers suffer amid the outbreak. Let's talk about this with Senator Tammy Duckworth, next.



BALDWIN: Hundreds of worshippers at a Washington, D.C., church are being asked to self-quarantine after two cases of coronavirus were confirmed there.

CNN's Tom Foreman is at Christ Church in Georgetown.

Tom, tell me what you have learned, tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke. There's no questions that the parishioners here connected to this historic church are very concerned. We're told they're in touch through e-mails and phone calls, hundreds, because this is quite alarming to many people.

First, they have a pastor who comes down, Father Tim Holt, who gets sick this weekend. He's been confirmed with coronavirus. Now the organist. And people here fully expect there will be other cases.

Bear in mind, this is a church that seemingly did everybody right. They were cautioning people about washing their hands, about limiting contact with each other, about de-sanitizing themselves. They had hand sanitizer out and available for people who worked at the church. They were trying in every way possible to make sure this did not happen here, yet it has happened.

Two cases now. As I noted, they think they may very well be more before this is all done -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Thank you, Tom, in Georgetown.

The wild flings on Wall Street and intensifying fears of coronavirus have the White House and Congress debating a key question: What, if anything, should be done to boost the U.S. economy?

President Trump has a few ideas.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm discussing a possible payroll tax cut or relief, very substantial relief. That's a big number. We'll also going to be talking about hourly wage earners getting help.


BALDWIN: But any kind of stimulus may be a hard sell on Capitol Hill for Democrats as well as Trump Republicans, some of whom say the move could be premature.

With me now, Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth, of Illinois. She's an Iraq War veteran, Purple Heart recipient and also a member of the Armed Services and Small Business Committees.

So Senator Duckworth, welcome back.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Thanks. It's good to be on.

BALDWIN: We know several proposals are being contemplated, a paid sick leave, paid tax cut, deferred tax collection from industries. I know you know a lot about small business, making small business loans more available. Which would you support?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I think, long term, we should consider all of them. But in the short term, what we need to do is take care of the individual worker first. I would like us to streamline of the ability to apply for unemployment insurance.

You know, a payroll tax cut doesn't do much in the short term if you're not getting a paycheck. We need more hourly workers and people who will be told to stay home, to get some help. There's in the law, the ability to get unemployment in the short term because they can't get to their job through no fault of their own. We need to streamline that process.


Then, of course, we need to definitely look at paid family leave. I've been talking about this for years now. So people can afford to stay home and take care of family members.

BALDWIN: You know this, just economic fallout, Senator. Just want to ask that, the coronavirus spread in the U.S., on testing, and whether officials have a handle on how many people.

I want you to listen to what Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNN this morning.


ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We don't know exactly how many, because hundreds of thousands of tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report into 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 and keep track of how many we're testing.


BALDWIN: So bottom line, Senator Duckworth, the CDC chief today says the agent has tested nearly 5,000 people in public health labs. That doesn't seem to include private or clinical labs. You heard Secretary Azar saying, well, we don't totally know. Your reaction to that?

DUCKWORTH: Well, the administration has absolutely botched this.

Let's compare it to the case of South Korea. Within the first week of the first case that appeared in South Korea, they had tested 66,000 individuals. South Korea, a country far smaller than ours, has managed to test over 140,000. And the other countries that responded quickly with test kits widely dispersed on the way down.

The United States, we're far richer, a more powerful nation, our trending is in the opposite direction. Because this administration has failed to response.

My own home state we came up with our own testing and begin the protocols ourselves. If we waited for the Health and Human Services or the CDC, we would have been in far worse trouble than we are right now.

BALDWIN: If, in your words, the administration botched, what do we do about it? Tom Bossert was President Trump's Homeland Security adviser and wrote this op-ed in the "Washington Post," and he talked about being pretty aggressive. Get proof of human-to-human transmission in a community. And moments ago, the governor of New York announced the National Guard would be deployed to an area in New Rochelle here in New York to help with logistics in a containment area. And schools would be closed for two weeks starting Thursday.

My question to you, Senator, just how aggressive do you think the rest of the condition should be?

DUCKWORTH: We should be very aggressive in getting the test kits out.


BALDWIN: What about other than the test kits?

DUCKWORTH: We don't know where the people are that have this. We need to get everybody tested at this point.

The Trump administration is saying 75,000 kits? We have to get these people tested everywhere. And, yes, we need to get folks to be able to stay home and self-quarantine. We've got to make sure the kids are not passing the virus around.

And make sure the test kits need to be free. If you're told there's a two-month wait for a test kit through Medicare and Medicaid, but if you want to be tested, it's $200 or $500, you're not going to it is tested, especially if you're making minimum wage. Let's make them free so people know if they're positive.

Then allow the scientists and public health officials to tell us what to do. That's who I want to listen to. Follow their advice for a change.

BALDWIN: You talked about Illinois. You've had to be proactive in creating these tests. We know Illinois has declared a state of emergency on coronavirus with 11 cases.

But what about you? Just as a sitting U.S. Senator in Washington, are you personally concerned about your own travel back and forth?

DUCKWORTH: Well, of course, I am. My family as well. My mom lives with us. She's in her late 70s. I'm concerned about her as well.

I am, in my family, following the guidance of doctors and scientists on what to do. We're washing our hands, sanitizing, making sure we maintain social distancing when we're in group settings, all of those things that scientists tell us to do.

We're going to watch each other closely. As soon as anyone shows symptoms, we'll make sure they get tested.

BALDWIN: Last question: Do you think these 2020 candidates, including the president, should be holding campaign rallies?

DUCKWORTH: That's up to them. We should let the doctors and scientists tell us. If the doctors say it's not a good thing, follow their advice. First, let's let science come to the forefront. Let's talk about the safety of American people first. And we'll worry about politics and campaigning later.

BALDWIN: Senator Tammy Duckworth, stay well. Thank you very much.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.


Quarantined cruise ship passengers got a surprise when they docked in California from a nonprofit belonging to celebrity chef, Jose Andres. We'll talk to him next about concerns over food access during the crisis.


BALDWIN: As all these thousands of passengers, crew members make their way off the "Grand Princess" cruise ship in Oakland, California, the charity World Central Kitchen is stepping in to give them a healthy, decent food option before they head into quarantine.

You see the time-lapse video. This is how it shows the charity has set up shop right near the ship where 21 people tested positive to coronavirus. The mission is to provide food during emergencies like hurricanes and earthquakes.

With me now, the founder of World Central Kitchen, celebrity chef, Jose Andres.


Chef, a pleasure.

I feel like we talk whether it is a fire or hurricane, you're swooping in.

Tell me why you want to send your team to Oakland.

JOSE ANDRES, CHEF & DIRECTOR, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Well, we went to Oakland because we came from Japan. We were there over two weeks helping the same issue on that cruise ship that was in Yokohama. We were working very closely with Princess and with the Japanese government.

We did what we've done many times before, from the days in Haiti when cholera was an issue and we have to learn how to operate in those situations with where you don't want to be passing viruses or other sickness around. So we've become good at doing that.

So when this happened again, and we saw that we had in San Francisco this cruise ship, we began activating the protocol. And before we knew, Princess was calling us and we were already there. And as you see we're quick in doing what we do.

We never have a plan. We adapt to the circumstances. BALDWIN: And I see your chair shrinking. I'm being transparent with

the viewer. You went down. But you're still here. So forgive me for this happening with the wonderful chairs here on set.

Let's continue the conversation. You said in commercial break you may be heading to California. You want to be there yourself?

ANDRES: Listen, the teams are amazing. They are pros in doing what they do. Many of the teams in California, they were the ones that reached 3.5 million meals in Bahamas and 80,000 in six days for 14 islands. This is what we do. We adapt.

When there's not an answer, the teams adapt to the situations. I want to go to obviously watch what they are doing and show support and keep learning. Because for us, this is learning.

What I'm amazed is that, in this day and age, right now, we don't have a plan. People, private businesses, they should have a plan created by somebody that everybody agrees.

I don't know if it is WHO, it should be the CDC, it should be United Nations, but if you have a quarantined hotel, a cruise ship should be a plan that everybody knows what to do. We cannot be reinventing the wheel every time.

So I'm a little bit surprised it was not a proper plan in place. So everybody very quickly can agree how to provide aid.

BALDWIN: I hear your frustration on the lack of protocol. You're not the only one who voiced that.

And number two, I'm wondering, not just about the cruise ship members there, are children not going to school and children not having lunches and the elderly population that rely on a service, in the service industry to provide that meal. What can we do to help them?

ANDRES: Well, we need to be thinking out of the box. Because actually we don't have a plan. But the other day, I was talking about it on TV, on my Twitter feed.

It happens that the governor of California announced that if the schools shut down the schools will keep cooking, especially in poor neighborhoods or families that they maybe depend on that for their children to have a way to produce it for the school and having the families driving there or maybe -- we'll have to adapt quickly and that is what we specialize in.

When the federal government shutdown, we were feeding in 35 states, more than 600 restaurants. And we fed those with a hot meal every day.

In this situation, we'll see what happens. But us and many other organizations, we're ready to adapt and to provide relief. In this case, food. But we should think about every single other scenario.

BALDWIN: You are a good chef and an incredible human being.

Thank you, Chef Jose Andres. I appreciate you very much.

Let's continue on and talk about the breaking news on the coronavirus pandemic. And a serious new development in the U.S. The National Guard deployed to a New York suburb.


We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: We continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

We begin with sweeping precautions taken regarding coronavirus. The number of cases is growing. So, too, do the disruptions to American life. And 50 days since the first case was confirmed here in the U.S. and we're at 781 cases, 27 dead.

At least 15 states have declared a state of emergency to help contain the spread of the virus. Schools are closed. Employees working from home. Major events canceled.

And cruises cut short, including the "Grand Princess," with 21 tested positive. Many of the remaining passengers should embark from the ship docked in Oakland. Their situation improved.

But for a Washington State nursing home, the situation appears to be worsening. And 19 people living at Life Care Center have died from coronavirus. That is nearly three quarters the U.S. fatalities when you think of it as just a percentage. And a spokesperson just announced another 31 of the residents have contract coronavirus.


As the nation comes to terms with the virus, the president moments ago said he is open to getting tested himself.


TRUMP: I don't think it's a big deal. I would do it.