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U.S Health Officials Mitigate Spread Of Coronavirus; U.S Stock Futures Point To Rebound After Historic Losses. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 10, 2020 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[07:00:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: All right. Welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

And we do begin with breaking news. Battered investors hoping to stop the hemorrhaging in the markets as the coronavirus fears grip the globe. Dow futures, they are pointing higher, much higher this morning, suggesting at least a partial rebound after the worst day, one of the worst days Wall Street has ever seen. President Trump said he would pressure lawmakers to get a payroll tax cut and ensure assistance is available to hourly workers. The Dow plunged more than 2,000 points yesterday.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyday life for people around the world. U.S. health officials are moving to mitigate the impact in various communities in the capital in the middle of the financial crisis. The SEC has told employees to work from home. More passengers will be unloaded from that Grand Princess Cruise Ship today.

And then nearby Santa Clara County announced a ban on large public gatherings until the end of this month.

Overseas, all of Italy is on lockdown. That's 60 million people ordered to stay out of public places for the next three weeks. Landmarks like the Coliseum in Rome look like a ghost town. Overnight, China's president visited the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan. President Xi wearing a mask while meeting with medical workers. All of this as the first polls opening the second round of Super Tuesday primaries in six states.

BERMAN: Let's begin though with the coronavirus pandemic. Joining me now is Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for being with us this morning. I know how busy you are.

I want to start with the news out of Santa Clara County, California, announcing bans of public gatherings of more than 1,000 people, Ohio State University canceling classes for the next several weeks. When is the right time for counties, organizations, school districts to make these decisions?

ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: Well, any town, any community should be making these decisions based on science and evidence. And we're actually embedded there with Santa Clara County. We're embedded out there in Seattle and the State of Washington to help give them advice on these types of measures for community mitigation. We're actually today going to be releasing guidance and recommendations to California, Washington and New York for steps they can take given their localized clusters of spreading.

Also later this week, I think we're going to be putting out a matrix that effectively for other communities says, as you face any possible increasing spread of disease, local, whether it's small spread, sporadic cases, or community spread, what are the types of steps that individuals, families, employers, schools, as well as government could or should be taking.

BERMAN: As we sit here this morning though, can you sum it up? You should consider closing or limiting exposure when?

AZAR: Well, it very much depends on the circumstances. I don't think that there's a one-size-fits-all blunder bust approach. You might -- depending on what you're dealing with, what type if spread or what type of exposure you face, you might close a school temporarily, or you might get rid of assemblies that the school, for instance.

So these measures all need to be very titrated based on the public health advice and the data that you're seeing in any local community. Because it's important to also not to overreact, because, of course, if you prematurely close a school, you might wear your system out and wear the tolerance of your community out and you might actually close it before you could close the school, say, for maximum impact and duration to mitigate the epidemiological curve in that community.

BERMAN: Well, Ohio State, for instance, has closed classes. And I'm not aware that Ohio State University has any positive tests for coronavirus. Would it take a positive test to close, you think?

AZAR: Well, I'm not aware of a positive test there, but -- and even in the event of a positive test of an individual, it's really more about the exposure from that individual, were they symptomatic at the time? What level of close contact was there? There may be more limited measures one can take. I'm not going to second guess any employer, school, or community on measures that they're taking because they need to make those judgments on their own circumstances.

But, you know, we're 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, I'm sure.

BERMAN: I'm reading from your workplace guidance, keeping the workplace safe.

[07:05:01]

These were the measures that you guys announced last night in this press conference. And one of them in keeping the workplace safe is consider adjusting or postponing large meetings or gatherings. AZAR: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Absolutely. The Trump campaign is going to announce today they're holding a rally. Is that wise given this instruction which is to consider adjusting or postponing large meetings or gatherings?

AZAR: So, first, I just want to mention, John, for your viewers, coronavirus.gov is where we have put that guidance up. It's for families, for schools, for workplaces, employers, really good evidence-based guidance out of a peer reviewed publication from Australia with great data behind it.

In terms of large gatherings, and I don't want to comment on a campaign, I'll defer to what Dr. Fauci said at last night's press conference, which is it all depends on the community, where you're doing it and what the circumstances would look like for gatherings.

Some big employers have stopped big gatherings. That can also be just about their own internal employee fears. managing those. And, again, I don't want to second guess employers on the choices they're making there --

BERMAN: But isn't it the task force job, I'm not asking you to second guess, I'm asking for guidance from the task force on coronavirus. So what is the guidance from the task force for the coronavirus about big gatherings, and if that guidance is considering, adjusting or postponing large meetings or gatherings, why is the Trump campaign holding a rally?

AZAR: It's considered adjusting or postponing large gatherings if you're at risk, if you're in communities where they're spreading, if there's a science and evidence-based reason for doing that, and/or if you're particularly a vulnerable person. So the elderly and those who are medically fragile, we have said you really should think twice before going to a large gathering, taking a long flight, or in particular getting on a cruise ship. Please don't do that.

BERMAN: Okay, that makes a lot of sense. So let me is you this way. My parents are in their late 70s. I'm not aware if your parents are still alive, but if they are would you advise your parents to go to a campaign rally?

AZAR: Listen, I don't want to get into making this a political issue.

BERMAN: I'm not. I'm asking it's a large event. Would you advise your parents to go to a large gathering like a campaign rally?

AZAR: I would encourage any individual who is elderly or is medically fragile to think long and hard about going at any large gatherings that would involve close quarters and potential spread. And if they do go to take appropriate personal hygiene protections, don't shake hands. If you have to, maybe an elbow bump is the most I would do, that's the practice I'm using now. Wash your hands with soap and water, hot water, and do that for over 20 seconds. Keep as much distance as you can from others. So if you find just like the folks you showed earlier from the villages, if you're going to play softball, don't high five, do some good personal hygiene.

We need to go on with our lives. This is a large, powerful country. We all have to live our lives, localize interventions where we have the most cases. Right now, most of our cases we're seeing are in some clusters, in Seattle, Washington, Santa Clara County, in California and in New York. So we've got localized clusters. And then the rest of the new cases we're seeing seem to have a connection to travel from Iran, South Korea and Italy at the moment is what we're seeing.

BERMAN: My elbow is bruised from all the elbow bumping I've been doing. Mr. Secretary, I'm sure yours are as well.

Listen, how many Americans have been tested at this point?

AZAR: 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 to CDC. We're work 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.

We think we've got throughput at the moment probably 10,000 a day or it could be getting tested by the end of the week, 20,000 a day according to a study by AEI that I've heard about. We've got now 2.1 million tests available, 1.1 million have shipped. We actually have a surplus at the moment that are awaiting orders to be shipped.

BERMAN: But you don't know, you honestly don't know? You don't know how many people have been tested?

AZAR: Well, because a private vendor shipped, most of that is 1.1 million that shipped were from a private vendor selling to their customers and those entities that used their tests do not have to report back to CDC. But we're trying to set up a reporting system where they would in effect do that.

BERMAN: The Atlantic has made a bunch of calls to some of these organizations and they estimate about 4,300 tests. 4,300 people have been tested. Does that seem ballpark accurate to you?

AZAR: I just wouldn't want to speculate. Listen, my hallmark here is I'm going to tell you what I know and I'm going to tell you what we do not know. We're about leveling with the American people and being transparent. And right now, I'm just telling you, when somebody sells a test kit to a private entity, right now, we don't know when or if that's been used, but we are working with them to get that system set up.

BERMAN: The South Korea, right, South Korea Monday, February 27th -- Monday, February 20th, their first case reported. Within a week, they were testing more than 10,000 people a day. So within a week, South Korea was testing 10,000 people a day.

[07:10:02]

The first case of community transmission in the United States was February 27th, which is, what, two-and-a-half, three weeks ago, and we're still not testing 10,000 a day. We may have not tested 10,000 people total. So why is South Korea --

AZAR: But, John -- we don't know that, John.

BERMAN: You just told me we're not testing 10,000 people a day. You said you didn't --

AZAR: No. I said AIE did a study saying there's throughput of at least 10,000 a day, they believe. But let's be clear --

BERMAN: But my question is why was South Korea able to do this in a week and it seems to be such a struggle for the United States?

AZAR: Well, it's not about ability, it's about what they needed to do. They had an explosive, immediate outburst in cluster becoming one of the world's he centers of the disease. We are not that. In fact, our testing approach in the United States has been consistent with countries who are experiencing consistent levels of infection or clustering in the U.S. Our guidance has been similar to that, our test availability has been similar to that.

We now have a surplus of tests out there available, John. So they're out in the community, they're available, doctors and public health officials. At no time, at no time has a public health official who wanted to get an individual tested for novel coronavirus been unable to get them tested through the CDC's labs or other labs authorized by CDC early on.

BERMAN: Anecdotally, where we are here, and there's an op-ed in The New York Times today, is that some people are confused or having a hard time getting the test or it's taking some time. So we'll see how this develops over the next few days.

I do want to ask because Italy just closed its borders today. It's effectively on lockdown, a country of 60 million people. What's to keep the United States from becoming Italy? You said local clusters. Well, a few weeks ago in Italy, this was locally clustered to the north. So what's to keep the United States from becoming Italy over the next few weeks?

AZAR: So appropriate travel measures help with that. In addition, when we get cases, we deploy public resources around them and we engage in immediate community mitigation efforts as we are seeing in Seattle, Santa Clara, and hopefully in New York. So that's what you do to try to contain and mitigate a situation like this.

But, John, from day one, we've been very clear. The United States is the center of a global economy with travel all around the world. There is no way you can hermetically seal the U.S. off from this. We are not going to be the only country on earth that doesn't have cases. We aren't going to be the only country on earth that doesn't have clusters. What we need to do is contain as much as possible, but then take appropriate and aggressive mitigation steps to minimize the impact in any localized communities. BERMAN: Just very quickly, doing all the private (ph) tests, do you know how many tests the CDC has administered?

AZAR: The CDC's tests are -- we've got, I believe, over -- I know as of a week ago, over 3,600 tests were conducted. You then need to translate that to the number of people. We've got capacity to test as of last week, we could test over 500 people, I believe, per day. And we weren't even near that capacity in terms of requests that we were getting from public health officials or doctors to test that many people.

BERMAN: Secretary Azar, we do appreciate your time. It's really helpful to get to speak to you and have the American people hear the very latest from the administration. We hope you come back throughout this.

AZAR: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Okay. John, that was great.

Joining us now is CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta to help us understand everything we just heard from Secretary Azar of HHS. So what jumped out at you, Sanjay?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I mean, you obviously were asking some really good questions and tough questions. I can tell you from some of our reporting, you know, we think that there's been fewer than 6,000 tests conducted around the country, which sort of fits in line with some of our other reporting organizations have reported as well, so a far cry from what we're seeing in other places around the world.

CDC used to be sort of the only place that was testing. We were tracking those numbers closely. We think the CDC has tested under 2,000 cases so far. And the rest making up that close to 4,000 have now been these local and state organizations, as Secretary Azar was mentioning.

You know, he's talked about the fact that the testing availability will go up, that these commercial labs, including Quest and LabCorp will start to be able to test, but it's not happening yet. And days matter when it comes to testing here, because you just don't have -- don't have clear sight on just exactly how widespread this is.

I don't think we can make a statement that this is more like Singapore and Hong Kong or this is more like South Korea and Italy at this point. We hope it's not like South Korea and Italy, but we don't know.

CAMEROTA: But, Sanjay, one of the things that I learned from John's interview just now that I hadn't heard before is that the reason they can't figure out the number of tests that have been given is because they outsourced it to these private vendors. So private vendors who are serving their own clients have been getting the tests and delivering them to clinics or hospitals or doctors or whatever, and that's why they can't trace it. Does that make sense?

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, that's what's been happening. We know that they used to be -- again, they used to be recording this all at the CDC.

[07:15:03]

When they started sending it out to the public health departments around the country, it became each individual public health department reporting in, which we've been calling. Ultimately, it sounds like what Secretary Azar was describing was there will be an I.T. sort of communication between all this, but it's not there yet. So it's forcing all of us to sort of go to these individual public health departments and call them.

It will be further magnified when these commercial labs come online, which, again, it seems to keep getting delayed because there was supposed to be a million tests at the end of last week that went out. It's still not clear to me that they're out. It sounds like they're in the process of going out. 75,000 tests is the best number we can get that are out there. But, again, fewer than 6,000 people actually being tested.

BERMAN: Also the phone works at HHS, just like the phone works in CNN. And we're able to call some of these places to find out where the tests have (INAUDIBLE). The phone does work there. And knowing where they have been tested is important for epidemiology. I mean, this is an important thing to know this information so you can make informed decisions about what's school districts to close and whatnot.

And I was really interested, Sanjay, look, the task force is saying the decisions need to be made locally, which absolutely makes sense. But I do think some guidance would be helpful or some vision of what this will look like over the next several weeks.

GUPTA: Yes, no question. And, you know, it's critically important for this reason as well, which is that when you talk about these social distancing measures, which has become a term people are familiar with, school closures, work from home, mass gatherings being reduced or canceled, the impact of that is really only maximally felt if it happens before you start to get beyond 1 percent of a community being infected.

So if you have a million people living in a community or say 2 million like in Santa Clara, you're talking 20,000 people. If you get more than 20,000 people who have been exposed and infected by this virus, then it's questionable whether or not these types of social distancing measures will have an impact. If you get it before that, it can have a huge impact. And we know that. We've seen that dating back even back to the Spanish flu historically of the impact it can make.

But, again, John, to your point, we don't know. We really have no idea. If only 6,000 people or so have been tested in the the country, how could you possibly know how many people in Santa Clara, for example, alone have this infection? So they're being very proactive in Santa Clara, Ohio State, other places like that. CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, what I also got out of John's interview is that Secretary Azar is basically asking everybody to use their own discretion and their own common sense. When John was asking, should my 70 something-year-old parents be going to anything, any bit event tonight, call it a political rally or a concert, anything? He said, well, it depends on their underlying health conditions.

BERMAN: He basically was saying no.

CAMEROTA: Eventually. But at first, I mean, is that what we're all supposed to be doing, just seeing what every individual is comfortable with right now?

GUPTA: I think that -- I mean, you definitely were getting at the nuance of this.

I will tell you that talking to public health officials within the administration, not just in the private sector, outside the administration, they're basically saying, again, to your point, John, that people who are elderly, who are vulnerable because of these medical conditions, should not be going out unless they have to, avoiding mass gatherings, avoiding move theaters, religious services, things like that. So they made it pretty clear from the CDC even if we're not hearing that from Secretary Azar.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay Gupta, thank you, Doctor, very much for walking us through all this.

U.S. Stock Futures are way up this morning following Monday's huge selloff. Will the Trump administration plan for financial relief, will it go into place, will it work? We discuss all that next.

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[07:20:00]

BERMAN: U.S. Stock Futures pointing to a big bounce at the open, I mean, really big. But it comes after yesterday's historic drop, I mean, really historic. The three major stock indices are down nearly 20 percent hovering in bear market territory. It was down 20 for a sustained period of time, that would be a bear market. The coronavirus pandemic is fueling fears of a global recession.

Joining us now, CNN Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans and CNN Business Editor at Large Richard Quest.

Richard, I want to start with you. What are we seeing here? Yes, it's good, I think, relief to people that the markets are headed up at least in the futures today, but --

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: Ignore today's rise. Today it's just bling, bling, bouncing ball going up and down. We need to have economic fundamentals before we're going to see a sustained rise. Anything else literally volatility, which is great if you're a momentum player and, you know, you want to sit in your bedroom trading stocks online. But for sensible investors over the long-term, you wait, you watch, and you make your choices when you have fundamentals that will justify it.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is why you don't sell on a day like yesterday because you look so silly when the next day it bounces up. I mean, you'd have futures stop, there's the limit up, stock and futures up so high so hard overnight that they kind of stop it at a certain level.

But the bigger broader picture, Richard is right, is the macro picture. We went from just a few weeks ago talking about, we're going to have a little bit of a growth slowdown in the first half in the U.S. but will still be better than the rest of the world. That was the conversation two weeks ago. Today, the conversation is, will there be a recession, how shallow or how deep will it be and how much will it last before it bounces back in the end of the year? We just don't know because we don't know the extent of the damage from the coronavirus, so there's a real recession discussion happening, complete game changer from two weeks ago.

CAMEROTA: You're talking about global recession or a United States recession?

QUEST: Well, one hesitates to talk about global recession because emerging markets could still be growing.

[07:25:00]

I think if we talk about OECD countries, the major developed economies, well, Europe -- I mean, Europe is going into recession or the Eurozone, in some shape or form.

CAMEROTA: Because of Italy?

QUEST: Because of Italy. Germany is already extremely week. France could be about to go to stage three on the coronavirus. The U.K. has got Brexit woes. So a recession, technical or otherwise for Europe, yes. Australia hasn't had a recession in 30 years entirely on the guards (ph), Southeast Asia entirely possible.

Can the U.S. forestall its own technical recession in the face of that? I think it will be difficult. Not impossible, but the chance of a recession in the U.S. is getting more likely.

BERMAN: So why? Why would it be difficult? First, lay out the challenges. What specifically are the challenges posed by coronavirus to the economy? And how would the president's prescriptions or proposals maybe allay those?

ROMANS: Well, the travel sector obviously is in crisis here. You've seen the pictures, right, of the airlines, airplanes that have four people in them. That's going to be a problem. The cruise ships, the president said he was strongly looking at cruise ships and airlines for some sort of help. But you've got average consumers. He's been talking about how strong the consumer is, and he's right.

But now you've got schools closing and you've got people working from home and you've got people canceling vacations and trips and work travel and you have this concern that the consumer is going to retrench here, except for the stockpiling they're doing here and there that they're going to retrench. And that's something we just can't measure quite yet.

One thing about the president's prescriptions, and we don't -- we need a lot more details. It was pretty sketchy yesterday, but at least it was a press press conference of gravitas talking about stimulus. But payroll tax holiday, that would help. It wouldn't make things a heck of a lot better, but it won't make them worse.

And also sick leave is something that is getting a lot of attention. you have millions of people who don't have paid sick days. Are they going to stay home from work if they're working paycheck to paycheck in a customer-facing job? No. In some cases, they won't. So to stop the virus you're going to need to come up with some money to get people to stay home.

CAMEROTA: As you point out, Christine, there are was a time that Republicans didn't like bailouts. Maybe they do or don't, I don't know if this is considered a bailout.

ROMANS: In 2009, it was a dirty word, the auto bailout. And we're talking about bailing out the cruise sector with trillion dollar deficits. And three weeks ago, this was the best economy in the history of the world and all of a sudden we're talking about industry bailouts. It's just kind of an interesting whiplash.

QUEST: Viewers this morning are looking at yesterday and saying, is it a buying opportunity.

ROMANS: A lot are, yes.

QUEST: Is this buy -- I mean, not buying the dip, buying the floor. Is this -- you know, I'm not going to -- I'm not joining in that debate because who knows.

ROMANS: A lot of the professionals say it isn't. I was going through a lot of these notes from the big bank economists, they're like, things are looking better but we don't think this is the place to be buying the dips just yet until there's more clarity on the coronavirus and the government response.

BERMAN: Richard, there are some weapons left, correct? I mean, stimulus is a weapon. But in his terms of the Fed and rate cuts, there's not much further they can go.

QUEST: Well, you know, the president would like them to go negative, like Germany and the ECB. No, there's not. They've got a bit more go down in terms of interest rates. But I don't know anybody who thinks that cutting another half point will actually do the trick. It might be better for people, but it won't do the trick.

Now, the fed's main job now is to ensure the credit markets and that the money supply within the banking sector is healthy. They provide liquidity. It was that that precipitated the collapse in Layman Brothers. BERMAN: It is there, for all we know (ph). Because I've heard from people in that sector that there is concern. It's not done but there is at least concern. Everyone is looking around to figure out where things are headed in the next couple days.

CAMEROTA: Richard Quest, Christine Romans, great to have you here.

ROMANS: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Some polls are already open on these big Super Tuesday -- I don't like the name, Super Tuesday in the United States.

CAMEROTA: Why don't you say Super Tuesday 2.

BERMAN: Because it's lame. What's next week? Super Tuesday number three?

CAMEROTA: Yes. What's so hard about this to figure out?

BERMAN: It's a big day of voting, a huge day of voting. It really could be a turning point in the Democratic race for president. We'll give you the very latest.

CAMEROTA: You don't like alliteration. You don't like numbers. What is it?

BERMAN: It's Super Tuesday 2. It's barely an alliteration.

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[07:30:00]

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