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Global Pandemic And The Dramatic Disruption Of Everyday Life In The U.S.; New York Deploying National Guard To Largest Cluster In Nation; China's Xi Visits Epicenter Wuhan, Claims Outbreak Is Contained. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired March 10, 2020 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar. And this is CNN's special live coverage of the global pandemic and the dramatic disruption of everyday life here in the U.S., from schools and offices to travel and major events.
We begin though with breaking out of New York, because there, Governor Andrew Cuomo is activating the National Guard to help contain what he calls a significant coronavirus outbreak. This cluster of cases is in New Rochelle. This is just outside of New York City. And the governor says it's probably the largest cluster in the United States.
Our Brynn Gingras is in New York. Also with me is CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.
And, Brynn, there is more than, what, 100 cases now in Westchester County, just outside of New York City, which includes New Rochelle. All eyes have really been on the Pacific Northwest and Washington State. So tell us more of what we know about the containment plan for this cluster.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and this is a very dramatic move by Governor Cuomo. He's just announced this and he said he is doing it at the direction of health officials. Essentially, remember back a couple of weeks ago, we had that attorney who was commuting into New York City, tested positive for coronavirus, and he was from New Rochelle. And the cases sort of just kept going up ever since that positive test. Well, that's the area we are talking about that is now going to be a containment area.
The governor says, it will be a mile radius of New Rochelle which will basically be shut down. Schools are going to be closed, large facilities like places of worships are going to be closed, businesses are going to be closed. And the National Guard is going to come in and actually help bring food to people in their homes, help clean out public areas, all for a two-week period, Brianna, beginning in two days.
So it's going to be -- we talked about disruption of life. It is going to be a serious disruption of life for this particular area. As you said, governor is saying that this may be possibly the biggest cluster that we have seen in the entire United States and this is the drastic action he feels he now needs to take.
KEILAR: And, Elizabeth, you heard Brynn mention it there, the National Guard helping with the cleaning in this containment area, the schools closing two weeks and they're setting up a testing facility. Are these the right steps in this case? Is there more that should be going on?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean, that's what epidemiologists and infectious disease experts tell me, is that this is the time to do it. In fact, maybe these steps -- I don't mean in New York in particular, but these kinds of large scale steps are necessary because we didn't contain the virus. The hope was that with each case, we could isolate that person, quarantine their family and maybe that would contain it but that's not how it happened.
So I think we're going to be seeing more and more of what Governor Cuomo is doing in New York.
KEILAR: All right. Elizabeth, thank you, Brynn, thank you so much. We'll have more on that.
But, first, with these new cases being reported in New York, there are now more than 770 cases in the United States and communities coast to coast are trying to allay fears and keep people safe. And you can't get coronavirus in school if you don't go to school, right? So local school districts from Seattle to Atlanta are shutting down even if it is just a day or two for deep cleaning. And this has parents on edge, because they're wondering, is their kids' school going to be next.
Many colleges and universities are moving classes online to cut down a group contact there, and the same is going for businesses who are either putting telework plans in place, for instance, here in Washington at the Securities and Exchange headquarters. Employees had been instructed to stay home after one employee may have contracted the coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: I am not going to second guess any employer or school or community on measures that they are taking, because they need to make those judgments on their own circumstances. But we are going to be in this for a while, I believe. And we need to be very measured in our approaches, because there are going to be strong measures that we're occasionally going to have to take.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Now, officials are reminding Americans to take some simple steps to stop the spread of the virus. The HHS secretary says, skip handshakes, skip the high fives. And if you are elderly or you're medically fragile, avoid groups, avoid long flights and avoid cruise ships.
In the meantime, the next group of passengers is disembarking the Grand Princess Cruise Ship which is docked in Oakland, California. There are 21 people in all, all but two of them who are crew members testing positive on the ship on for the coronavirus. Passengers are now being sent to four different military bases.
And we're also learning about a new case linked to Christ Church in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. which is where an episcopal priest tested positive for the coronavirus after shaking hands with and giving communion to congregants there.
So we have learned that the organist now, a 39-year-old old man is also infected with the coronavirus.
Tom Foreman is there for us at Christ Church Georgetown. Tom, tell us what else do we know about this new case?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that this is somebody who would have had more pronounced contact with the pastor, the reverend, but we don't know if that's really where the infection came from.
We also know that the community parishioners here is in deep contact with each other. People say that hundreds of people are exchanging notes and messages as many are in volunteer quarantine for having been around this to see if any other cases will break out here.
Now, this is something where you're -- you are talking about a church that did the right things. They tried to caution everyone about improper contact. They tried to make sure they had plenty of hand sanitizer around. They went through a lot of the protocols that people feel might keep them safe, nonetheless we have at least two cases confirmed here.
I can say very frankly, there are parishioners who expect to see more, they may not. But this is within two miles of the White House, Brianna. And in this church, one of the most historic episcopal churches in this country, founded by the man who wrote the Star- Spangled Banner.
In this church this past weekend, they canceled services for the first time in about 150 years. That's how serious they are taking it.
KEILAR: Yes, it really puts it into perspective there. Tom Foreman in Georgetown, thank you so much.
19 of the deaths in the United States are linked to a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, located just outside of Seattle. And it's been ten days since the first death was reported there. Only now though have all of the residents received testing.
Our Omar Jimenez is in Kirkland. And, Omar, the results of these tests are pretty shocking.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna. We recently learned that 31 of their current residents tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and that is the majority of the residents that are currently inside. And what's important to keep in mind contextually is that is the depleted majority. It was less than a month ago, we had 120 residents in total at this facility. That number is now down to 53.
And it's not just the residents that are being affected here, there are also employees that are showing up day in and day out having to take care of these residents. And when we talk about the effort (INAUDIBLE) gone through at this point. All of these residents have been tested. On top of the 31 positive cases we have at this point, we are waiting to hear back on 20 more tests. So that number very can well could go up. We get updates from them around the early afternoon here in Seattle every day.
And on the employee side, they still don't have enough test for all their employees. 70 of them at one point were showing symptoms, that number down to 65, five of them able to return to work. But you touched on why this situation here has been so deadly. 19 of the total 26 deaths we have seen across the country stemming from this single facility, Brianna.
KEILAR: Omar, just shows you how really susceptible this community is and why these precautions are being taken for elderly Americans. Thank you so much, Omar, for that report.
Coronavirus fears are also hitting the entertainment industry. They're impacting T.V. shows that have live audiences. It's canceling concerts. It's canceling sporting events.
Our Stephanie Elam is in Los Angeles. I mean, these are the normal spring activities that are being interrupted, and this is going to be going on for a while, Stephanie.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For sure. When you take a look at it too, Brianna, these things are entertainment for many sports, it's entertainment for so many people. But just to give you an idea of what we are talking about, let's start here and take a look at some of the game shows. We are talking about Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Both of those shows indefinitely are going to take without those studio audiences there.
Keep in mind that both of those hosts, Pat Sajak and Alex Trebek, are in their 70s. Both of them have had recent health concerns as well. So that is going to be going forward how they're going to handle it.
And then with Coachella, there are so many questions swirling around about whether or not Coachella is going to go on as planned in April. CNN has reached out to Coachella, still unclear what the plan would be, if they're going to postpone, if they're going to cancel. So word is still not clear on what's going to happen there, but a lot of questions swirling around, especially after we've seen South by Southwest has canceled in recent days.
And then if you take a look at the concerts, you've got Pearl Jam, Seattle-based rock band, is now saying that they are going to postpone their concerts for Canada and the United States, the international dates are (INAUDIBLE) Pearl Jam just saying that they have deep frustration and regret about this.
But we took a look, Madonna also canceling the last two shows, Miley Cyrus no longer going to go Australia, Mariah Carey is also postponing her Hawaii performance.
And then if you shift over to the sports world, there is a joint statement that came out from the NBA, also Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer as well, all of them coming out and saying that, from now on, their clubhouses and locker rooms are going to be closed off except for essential people that need to be there and the players. And they're going to do this for as long as they need to at this point.
And then March Madness, it's March. People are wondering what's going to happen with that. NCAA are saying that they are still monitoring this. But we do know that this Ivy League Women and Men's conference tournaments in basketball, that's been canceled. It was supposed to start this weekend at Harvard and now Harvard is asking their students to not come back to campus after spring break.
KEILAR: That's right. Stephanie, thank you for keeping an eye on all of that from Los Angeles. Thank you.
A number of schools across the country are closed in response to the coronavirus. And as you heard Stephanie mention there, that include several colleges and universities and they're holding classes online now instead of in-person.
At least one school in New York has instructed parents to self- quarantine their kids after a parent of a student there tested positive. But there's confusion over how these quarantines should be handled, and that has some families on edge.
Joining me now is Jessica Haller, a New York resident and a mother. She and her husband are not under quarantine but two of their four children are.
Jessica, first off, everyone so is doing well, right?
JESSICA HALLER, NEW YORK CITY RESIDENT WHOSE KIDS ARE UNDER QUARANTINE: Yes. Actually all four are now in quarantine, and it's confusing because it changed. Everyone is healthy.
KEILAR: Yes, OK.
OK, so everyone is healthy. Four now. I mean, just since we talked earlier, it's gone from two to four. And just explain this to us. Now, you have four children under quarantine but, for instance, your husband actually can still go to work or maybe that's changed.
But just tell me what it's been like to navigate all of these changes when you have kids who needs to be under quarantine because they have been exposed to someone at their school whose parent tested positive. And you are sort of trying to figure out with different kinds of advice about what it means for you and whether to quarantine or not. HALLER: Right. So the story is unfolding. It's nonlinear and it keeps changing. The school is broken up into two buildings. Initially, the high school was put on quarantine, so those two of my children have been under self-quarantine for about a week. As of Saturday night, the academy also had some positive tests come back. So now all of those students are in quarantine as well.
So the situation is changing and the school is doing the best that they can. And I think they're trying to navigate different stories from the Department of Health, from the state, from Westchester, from New York City. The school is in the Bronx. I think we don't have enough access to tests. I think we don't have enough clear information. But the school has created its own ecosystem to give us the answers that we need.
KEILAR: So your husband is still going to work. Tell us about that.
HALLER: Yes. So I am -- we were told that our children are on self- quarantine. It is not a mandatory quarantine. It's a precautionary quarantine, which means they are likely exposed to someone who may have had the virus, had been asymptomatic. He's been going to work.
I am allowed in and out of the house. But it is hard -- I'm allowed out of the house but it is hard to leave four children, one of whom is in first grade and one of whom is in third grade, to navigate without me being here. So I have been trying to accomplish that from home. And he's been taking precautions and go on and take care of his patients.
KEILAR: I mean, does he have any worries about that because he's a doctor? Does he worry about going and taking care of patients?
HARLLER: What's really interesting and what I found this weekend from talking to other friends is that the people -- the friends in the private sector told to not come but that's not what the Department of Health has said. The Department of Health said if you are (INAUDIBLE) quarantine, you are not. And it's the medical field who told, no, come to work. You have to come to work because we need you.
And so the advice is conflicting. And, again, if we just had access to tests, we would know what we're dealing with.
KEILAR: So you have four kids. Are you hugging them?
HALLER: So I am. The New York times published that fact.
KEILAR: That's right.
HALLER: It started -- I am. And part of that is because, for the first week, the little ones were not on quarantine. And at this point, I think our risks are very low, although I don't have any way of really knowing or understanding that, but I am, as a mom, that comes first.
KEILAR: It's really hard to even imagine not doing it, right? And that's really the point here of having you on as well, Jessica. Thank you so much, Jessica Haller, joining us from New York. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. And in the meantime, Italy is just completely locking down. So will the U.S. ever consider these dramatic measures?
Plus, China's president visits Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. We'll have a live report from China.
And the U.S. government does not know how many people in the U.S. have been tested. If you are showing symptoms, are you able to get a test? Are doctors able to give these tests? We'll have your questions answered, next.
KEILAR: The impact of coronavirus outbreak is still being seen around the world. China's President Xi, visited Wuhan where this outbreak all started, as new cases of the virus seem to have stopped and the epicenter of this outbreak is really shifting to Europe.
In Italy, the entire country is on lockdown and the Vatican is closing Saint Peter's Square, but the pope says he wants catholic priests to go out and to minister to the sick there.
CNN's Delia Gallagher, is in Rome.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Despite the lockdown, Pope Francis is encouraging his priests this morning to go out and visit the sick and in particular to bring them communion. The pope is offering mass livestream from his private residence during this time when public masses in Italy are suspended. Of course, Pope Francis himself has suspended his public engagements for the past few weeks. And just today, the Vatican has announced that Saint Peter's Basilica is closed to tour groups and tourist.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ben Wedeman in Bologna, Italy, where people are generally reacting favorably to what is being described as a lock-down of this country of 60 million people. Most people say that they support these new draconian measures.
Now, all restaurants and bars will be closing at 6:00 P.M. and most shops as well, not because they're under closure but simply because there is so little business to be had.
So they're bracing for what may be a prolonged period of economic downturn on top of the coronavirus.
DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm David Culver in Shanghai, where China is marking a major milestone in its fight against the outbreak. As the numbers of daily confirmed cases continues to to decline, President Xi Jinping traveled to the epicenter, the city of Wuhan, and greeted military medical personnel and spoke with some residence. Not only it's symbolic, the visit is a significant step and this
country is getting back on track, as they are now planning to ease some of the extreme lockdowns that have been in place for nearly seven weeks. Though China has said that this will happen in phases, so as to not grow too complacent, and risk a possible resurgence of cases.
KEILAR: All right. Everyone, thank you very much. And to full any understand the scale of the coronavirus in the U.S., you need to know how many people have been tested, but we don't.
Here is Health and Human Secretary Alex Azar from earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AZAR: We don't know exactly how many because hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospital that currently do not report in to CDC. We're working with the CDC and those partners to get an I.T. recording system up and running hopefully this week where we would be able to get that data to keep track of how many we are testing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: So, later, the director of the CDC was able give more specifics. Almost 5,000 tests have been run in public health labs, he said. But, like Azar, he was unsure of the number of tests that had been run in clinical labs and private labs. And tests that have been run have been delayed.
Here is Dr. Robert Redfield testifying before Congress on what that is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: The truth is we have not invested -- we've underinvested in the public health labs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There aren't enough people to run the tests?
REDFIELD: There's not enough equipment. There's not enough people. There's not enough internal capacity. There's no surge capacity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: I want to bring in Dr. Margaret Bourdeaux. She practices at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He is also the Research Director for projects at both Harvard Medical School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government. So, Doctor, thank you so much for joining us really to talk about the nexus here, medicine and public health, which is what we are really dealing with.
When you hear that, the underinvestment in this -- really, the labor that is needed, what's your reaction to that?
DR. MARGARET BOURDEAUX, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, HARVARD BELFER CENTER SECURITY AND GLOBAL HEALTH PROJECT: Well, you know, I'm obviously concerned and disappointed that that's where we are right now. But I think the message that we need to send today right now is that the name of the game here is speed, is getting up to speed to where this virus is. And so we have a hope of containing it, of not overwhelming our health system and hopefully cornering it so that we can extinguish it.
And so we all just need on the public leadership side, at the local and state and federal level, that's really where we have to lean in now. And certainly my colleagues, you know, here in Boston and the medical community, that's what they are doing 24/7.
So we have lost ground, but now is the time to focus on the next challenge, the next ball incoming, as Andre Agassi, the tennis player, would say. We don't have time right now for regrets. We have to go for it right now.
KEILAR: That's right. And I think a lot of people are waking up each day, they see there're more cases and they also just want to know what they can do. So let's talk a little bit about that. So if you are trying to not get this, just run us through the normal stuff we need to remember.
So, you know, there are two basic things here, two categories of things. The first is, now is the time that we do need to sort of frontload that social distancing that some of your earlier guests talked about. Now is the time to really whine down travel, to work from home if you are able to try to telecommute. As you mentioned, Harvard University just -- is going to have all classes online after spring break. And now is the time to really lean into all of those measures.
And, you know, there is going to be a lot of sort of shifting sands in the next 24 hours, 48 hours as communities try to kind of get a footing in terms of what they can make and do. And, of course, the personal protective measures, handwashing, handwashing, handwashing, that's not just a thing we say. That really does matter. And even not shaking hands, I like to bow people. I think that's kind of a nice gesture and having meetings.
See if you can't call into meetings or you have to have meetings, really have them in big rooms where you stand apart from one another. You really just have to get over that feelings of like, oh, that's silly. That's not silly. That's life-saving right now. And so that's the first basket of things.
The second thing I just feel we should talk about is, as mentioned to one of my neighbors on the street, she said it so well. She said, to fight COVID-19, we also have to have an outbreak of kindness. And what she meant by that was that we are very much interconnected here. And what we are going to learn from this outbreak is how much our faiths are tied to one another. And so, you know, I want everyone listening to think a little bit about two or three people in their community outside of their household may need a little help getting through this. And maybe it's somebody that you can just give a little financial boost to if they are in the gig economy or if they are maybe -- they have to come clean your house or you hire them to do that. Maybe you can support them for a few cleaning where they don't show up. Or maybe there are people that really are going to have to go to work, like doctors or nurses, don't have anybody to take care of their kids if school is closed. If you are a young, healthy person that's at home already, maybe you can step up in that way.
But really figuring out how we are going to care for one another is really the urgent issue that I think all of us can start to think about right now today.
KEILAR: I love that, an outbreak of kindness, such true words. Dr. Margaret Bordeaux, thank you.
BOURDEAUX: Thank you.
KEILAR: So make sure to listen to CNN's new podcast with Dr. Sanjay Gupta for answers about the outbreak. This is called Coronavirus, Fact versus Fiction, and that's exactly what you will get there to sort it all out.
In the meantime, the coronavirus is leading to what once CEO calls an alarming drop in bookings, forcing multiple airlines to announce deep cuts.
Plus, the president floats a payroll tax cut to help the U.S. economy, but does it have support on Capitol Hill?