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Delta & American Slash U.S. & Overseas Flights As Bookings Plunge; Trump Floats Payroll Tax Cut, Small Biz Relief Amid Outbreak; Colleges & Universities Shutting Doors & Cancelling Study Abroad; Dr Howard Markel Discusses What We Can Learn From Past Virus Outbreaks. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 10, 2020 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: U.S. Airlines facing a steep drop in business because of the coronavirus is starting to pull back on their flights. Take a look. Delta is cutting its international flights by between 20 percent to 25 percent and domestic flights of 10 percent or 15 percent. The company is withdrawing its financial outlook.

American, the world's largest airline, will slash international capacity by 10 percent this summer and domestic flights by more than 7 percent.

The CEO of Southwest is warning the company is looking to make reductions following what he calls an alarming drop in business.

JetBlue and United said last week that they would be reducing flights.

I want to bring in Rachel Siegel, national business reporter at "The Washington Post."

Rachel, thank you so much for breaking this down for us. Tell us what the airlines industry is facing here and what this will mean for travel.

RACHEL SIEGEL, NATIONAL BUSINESS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: As the coronavirus outbreak has extended from Asia and here in the U.S., the tourism industry is taking an enormous economic blow.

That's, in part, because travelers are worried of continuing with their spring break plans or summer plans. Businesses are encouraging their employees to stay home. Major conferences all over the country are being cancelled.

And all of that has an enormous and sudden blow to the airlines industry, hotels, cruise ships. And over the past few days, we've really gotten a sense of just how much the airlines expect to be suffering over the next couple of months.

KEILAR: You think there will be layoffs? SIEGEL: We don't know that yet. They're slashing flights domestically

and internationally. The CEO of Southwest Airlines and executives at United are taking pay cuts. We know airlines are going to be parking their aircrafts faster than they would otherwise.

Keep in mind, airlines were already dealing with difficulty after the Boeing crisis last year.


All of these things I really headed for a worrying couple of months for the airline industry. And as I have been talking to people, the point of comparison they make was to 9/11


SIEGEL: -- just given the fear factor people have around traveling. And those fears could linger for a couple of more months.

KEILAR: That is significant.

Rachel Siegel, with the "Washington Post," thank you.

Right now, President Trump and his economic team are on Capitol Hill for a meeting with Republican Senators, they're trying to sell them on economic relief measures.

Yesterday, President Trump hinted at what could be a cornerstone of that plan.


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


KEILAR: All right, after taking steep losses yesterday, you see the Dow today up about 380 points. That's a welcome sight after some of what we have been watching.

We have "Washington Post" Congressional Reporter and CNN Political Analyst, Rachael Bade, here with us.

What's the president is planning? What's in his proposal?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Clearly, the centerpiece of what he's getting at is this payroll tax cut. We don't know how large or extensive it will be. Generally, payroll tax cuts are between $55 billion and $75 billion each year for 1 percentage point. We'll see how long he'll pose on this.

The details may not matter at this point because he's giving five partisan skepticisms on Capitol Hill and it's really going nowhere fast. He's up there now to talk to Senate Republicans.

My colleagues have reported at the "Washington Post" that Mitch McConnell did not see the details of what he was going to be pitched. He's skeptical. And a lot of Republicans feel like this is a temporary sugar high for the economy but will not fix the problem long-terms in terms of stabilizing the economy and addressing this pandemic.

He's got to convince his party first. Let's assumes he does that. Democrats on the other side are panning this idea right now. We'll see if there's a finishing touch is on a proposal in the coming days.

That'll not include payroll taxes any time. It is going to address paid sick leave for workers who don't have it and food and job security. We could see something like that moving.

The real problem is nobody is talking. Trump is talking to Republicans and Democrats are talking among themselves. Nobody is talking across the aisle. They're leaving for a recess at the end of the week.

KEILAR: Even if it is a sugar high, it is hard to say no to it. Lawmakers want the appearance of doing something. You're speaking to Democrats proposing an alternative. We've seen a big fight over the payroll tax cuts during the Obama years. Does it happen in 2011?

BADE: Look, a lot of time the economy is tanking like this, people want to show they are doing something.

There was talk earlier this week about whether lawmakers were going to cancel Congress for a few weeks and go home. You know the signal on both sides of the aisle is very much we can't do that. That will hurt the economy more. The stock market will not be able to respond well.

They're trying to figure out something to do. The problem is, in this Washington atmosphere after impeachment, tensions are so high. You have the president blaming the Democrats for this problem and the Democrats saying the president have not responded well.

He's tweeting at them now, calling the Democrats the do-nothing party that just wants to go on vacation. They're saying, you were at your golf club resort all weekend.

So this is the state of Washington right now. And that's a big problem when you have a national emergency like this.

KEILAR: Certainly.

Rachael Bade, thank you so much for that.

We have more breaking news. New York right now deploying the National Guard to the "largest cluster" in the nation. We are going to take you there.


Plus, before Italy went into a total lockdown, U.S. colleges and universities were ordering students studying abroad to come home. We'll talk to a student back from Florence in just a moment.


KEILAR: Just in, the NCAA says March Madness will go on as planned in the coming weeks despite concerns of large gatherings. The organization task force and the CDC advised against holding sporting events. The games begin next week. The organization did add that it will make changes as needed. We'll stay tuned to watch for those.

With thousands infected with the coronavirus overseas, most U.S. colleges and universities are taking no chances, forcing students studying abroad to cut their trips short and returning home.

Joining me now, is one student, Shana Bouyer, a junior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Shana, you were abroad studying and back in the U.S. for a month. Tell us about that.

SHANA BOUYER, STUDIED ABROAD IN ITALY: Yes. It was my first time leaving the country to go to Europe. I was very excited. And just to have the opportunity ripped away from me so early on, I feel like -- we heard about the coronavirus before going to Italy before it got to this extent. But it was just honestly bittersweet because I have been waiting all my life for this moment just to have that torn away from me.


KEILAR: I know it is incredibly disappointing for you and so many students. Do you understand why they yanked you back?

BOUYER: I do. It was literally February 25th and it gone level two by the CDC saying it is level two in Italy but it was in Milan and Venice, the northern Italy section.

I am in Florence, so central Italy. Just at level two, some people can voluntarily go back because parents at home and families there hear in the media back at home and we don't know what's going on in America.

Then when it hit level three, that's when we kind of knew, OK, we are actually going to have to go home. And just hearing that and seeing the days that just like, wow, we got to pack up everything and change your flights and get back to America before it hits now what it is now at a level four.

KEILAR: Shana, I know it is so disappointing. But, we are glad you are safe.

Can I ask, are you self-quarantining?

BOUYER: Yes, even all universities, they sent out an e-mail to students to self-quarantine 14 days because they don't want risks.

We can live our day-to-day lives but avoid being in congested area and even with family members, stay six feet away from them, just so that no one is at risk of getting sick really.

KEILAR: Oh, well, Shana, we know it is disappointing but we are glad to see you healthy.

And thank you very much for talking to us.

BOUYER: Thank you. I appreciate it.

KEILAR: As the coronavirus continues its spread, there are many things we don't know about the virus. Are there things we can learn from the past outbreaks? My next guest says yes.



KEILAR: As officials work to stop the coronavirus spread, clues from past outbreaks may help them navigate this one.

Dr. Howard Markel is the director for the Center for History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. And he's the author of the book, "When Germs Travel, Six Major Epidemics that Have Invaded America and the Fears They Have Unleashed."

And, Doctor, I know it's the 1918 influenza pandemic that was the most severe. And 650,000 Americans losing their lives. And it oddly hit young people very hard.


KEILAR: Why is that something that is applicable here?

DR. HOWARD MARKEL, PROFESSOR OF THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE & DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: Well, we studied with the Centers for Disease Control 43 American cities. They all did pretty much the same things as what China, Italy, and we're talking about today, isolation, quarantine, school closures and public gathering bans.

In the cities that acted very earlier, did more than one, and did them for a long time. They only prevent, or rather slow down the virus. They flatten the epidemic curve. Those cities did far better in terms of deaths and cases than those who did not.

The whole evidence base for containment strategies and mitigation strategies comes from our study that we did with the CDC, and a lot of work by other epidemiologists as well.

That's kind of exciting as a scholarly point of view but terribly frightening from a citizen's point of view.

KEILAR: Certainly is.

I want to ask you about something that was in the "Washington Post," an op-ed from Tom Bossert, who served as Homeland Security adviser to President Trump. And he wrote the best way to reduce the outbreak is, quote, "school

closures, isolation of the sick, home quarantines of those who come into contact with the sick, social distancing, telework, and large gatherings cancellations must be implemented before the spread of the disease in any community reaches 1 percent."

What's your assessment of that? And what's your assessment of how, I guess, health officials are handling this this in the right or perhaps wrong way?

MERKEL: Well, my assessment of that op-ed is it sounds like he's been reading my work because that's exactly what I've been saying, too.

The problem is, if you do it too early and nothing happens, people get upset and it's socially disrupting.


MERKEL: It's very economically a huge cost, and on and on and on.

If you do it too late, the virus has already spread, and people either get sick and/or die. So hitting that sweet spot is very difficult. You almost have to be the Babe Ruth of public health to knock that one out of the park.

We're trying to do our best, both advisers and scholars and public health officials, to find that sweet spot without inconveniencing the public too much. So it's a very difficult dilemma.

One thing that is positive is that this case fatality rate, which is now at about 1 percent, and will probably get lower, we hope, as we add more mild -- as we confirm more mild cases into that formula.

That means you would not disrupt society on that level, for something that was closer to seasonal flu as opposed to the death rate of the 1918-1919 flu.


KEILAR: You really outline how difficult a problem to public health that this is.

Dr. Howard Markel, thank you.

MERKEL: Thank you.

KEILAR: We have more on our breaking news. The governor of New York is ordering a one-mile containment area of a New York suburb hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. We'll have a live report next.