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States Scramble To Contain Virus As Cases Swell Over 1,000; Nearly 100 Passengers From Virus-Hit Cruise Quarantined In Texas; Georgia Man With Coronavirus Shares His Story With CNN. Aired 10- 10:30a ET

Aired March 11, 2020 - 10:00   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.


Right now, the nation's top infectious disease expert is testifying on Capitol Hill. And as coronavirus is spreading by the day, Dr. Anthony Fauci is delivering a warning that a vaccine is not coming to the rescue. Have a listen.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: So when you've heard me say, we would not have a vaccine that would even be ready to start to deploy for a year to a year-and-a-half, that is the timeframe. Now, anyone who thinks they're going to go more quickly than that, I believe, will be cutting corners that would be detrimental.

What does that tell us? That tells us now, the next month, the next several months, we're going to have to rely on public health measures to contain this outbreak.


SCIUTTO: That, of course, contradicts something the president said just days ago, that a vaccine was coming soon.

U.S. cases have now topped 1,000, and it is changing how more and more people live their lives. An entire New York City suburb will be under containment. This includes restrictions on events with 250 or more people. The National Guard has been called in to help disinfect to areas there.

HARLOW: Well, on the opposite side of the country in Washington State today, The Seattle Times is reporting that the governor, Governor Jay Inslee, plans to ban any gatherings larger than 250 people across the state, as more than one dozen states declare states of emergency.

Our teams are covering this pandemic across the country. Let's begin with our National Correspondent, Brynn Gingras, in New Rochelle.

Brynn, help us understand what does a containment zone actually mean, and what does it not?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and we're starting to see the effects of that containment zone this morning already, Poppy. So, essentially, some schools in that zone are closed, houses of worship are shut down, and tomorrow is when we're going to actually start seeing the National Guard come in to help assist this city.

The idea here is to have this containment zone around a particular building, and that is a temple about a mile-and-a-half from where we are right now. Now, that temple, if you remember, services were attended by a 50-year-old lawyer, the second case to be confirmed here in New York State.

After that case was confirmed and health officials were able to retrace his steps, the cases of coronavirus in this state snowballed, and particularly in this area. That is why the governor says it is this community that has the largest cluster of coronavirus cases likely in the entire United States. So that's why all of this is going into effect.

But also, listen to the governor as he explains why he had to take this measure.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Just no large gatherings in that area because it is the hot spot in the nation. We really need to take more aggressive actions. This is not going away on its own. The spread is not going to stop on its own. It is fully dependent on what we do. We're going to make our own destiny. And like it or not, we're going to have to make some tough decisions.


GINGRAS: And these are the decisions right now. There will be a testing facility within that containment zone.

Officials really being clear though, guys, this is not a lockdown. People are going to be able to move in and outside of the zone. This is really an effort to just prohibit large gatherings hopefully to contain this virus. People here we have been talking to have different opinions. Some people say they don't see any difference. Others saying they would like to see even more measures taken.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And each community handling it kind of in a different way depending on the circumstances. Brynn Gingras, thanks very much.

Now to Washington state, and a reported event ban that will soon be in place there. Omar Jimenez is in Seattle with more.

And, Omar, this sounds similar to what we're seeing in this community just north of us here in New York, ban on large events, as a real focus here to limit the spread. Explain to us what's going to happen in Seattle now.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim and Poppy, this ban and these restrictions that are set to go in place, gatherings of more than 250 people here in the State of Washington, this is going to specifically be aimed at sporting events, concerts, other cultural gatherings that would happen in the city, and this comes from The Seattle Times. It's among the latest measures that we have seen government officials take to try to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, at least here in the State of Washington.


And where we have seen it run almost rampant has been in the elderly population. It's been devastating. We know at least ten long-term life care facilities at this point, they are now seeing either employee or resident test positive for the coronavirus. 21 deaths between just those ten facilities and at least 19 stemming from one single facility, Jim, Poppy.

HARLOW: Omar, thank you for that reporting in Seattle this morning.

Meantime, dozens of colleges, universities across the country canceling in-person classes, that now includes as of this morning Georgetown, adding to Harvard, Columbia, many others. Our Athena Jones joins us in Boston this morning.

What are you learning, Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Poppy. Well, needless to say, this is a trend. The number of schools taking precautionary measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus is growing by the day, sometimes seemingly by the hour. We know at least 59 schools in 19 states are canceling in-person classes. Why? Because college campuses can be conducive to contagious. These are places where students and staff and faculty live, work, eat, sleep and study in close proximity. And so the goal here is social distancing to prevent having large gatherings of people in close quarters.

Some schools here in the Boston area and beyond are going further than just moving to online classes. They're asking students to essentially leave for spring break and not come back. At Harvard, they're canceling in-person classes, they're moving to virtual instruction after spring break at the end of next week. And they're telling students not to come back and even telling students they need to move out of their dorms by this weekend.

MIT is canceling in-person classes and lectures over 150 students, and the context here in Massachusetts is this a state where the number of coronavirus cases has more than doubled just in the last couple days. The state announcing 51 new cases bringing the total to 92.

But other schools are taking similar measures. It's a long list. Some of the most recent ones we have learned about are Yale University moving classes online, also asking students not to return after spring break, banning a university sponsored travel. Duke University putting classes online, and also asking students not to come back after spring break.

So social distancing and virtual instruction, these are becoming the rule here. Jim, Poppy?

SCIUTTO: Listen, you got it for the older kids in college, it impacts thousands. But they're adults. And then you have it for younger kids who need care at home are going to be a real challenge for parents. Athena Jones, great to have you on the story.

Joining us now, Congresswoman Donna Shalala from Florida. She's a former Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton, serving longer, in fact, than any other HHS secretaries. It's so good to have you on this morning, Congresswoman.

I want to play what the president said yesterday. It's a message he has repeated repeatedly. Actually, I'm not going to play it. I'm just going to quote the president's quotes on the availability of testing in this country.

He said, the testing has gone very well. And when people need a test, they can get a test. When the professionals need a test, when they need tests for people, they could get the test. It's gone really well.

We have been testing that claim around the country. It does not line up with the facts. We had a gentleman on in the last hour who was turned away from the hospital. From your perspective, is the disconnect between the president and healthcare professionals, like Anthony Fauci, for instance, just on Capitol Hill now, for instance, saying on a vaccine, that's going to be some time, is that helping or hurting the nation's response?

REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): I think it's hurting the nation's response, and it's very unfortunate. But it's very difficult to turn this president off. But he's misleading the public, and frankly, people should just ignore what the president says and pay attention to these scientists, physicians that are sticking to the facts. All of us must stick to the fact.

The media is sticking to the fact no matter what kind of media it is, and we ought to be paying attention to the scientists in this case.

HARLOW: In a moment, we're going to play for our viewers as soon as we have it, something else that came from Dr. Fauci. But as we wait for that, he said yesterday, and he's leading the Federal coronavirus response task force, he said yesterday about your state, about Florida, it's one of four states with community spread. But your governor, Governor Ron DeSantis, his spokeswoman said yesterday, quote, there is no community spread of COVID-19 in Florida at this time. What are Floridians supposed to believe?

SHALALA: Well, first of all, Floridians ought to follow the science, and that is do everything they can, including washing their hands, social distancing, making sure that they're not exposing themselves by going into large groups. There's no question about that. The debate between Dr. Fauci and the governor, they can solve that issue. But the most important thing is that we have to pay attention. [10:10:01]

Florida does have tests available when you're referred by your doctor, the private sector, the commercial sector, testing center. I'm checking with the Florida federally qualified health centers at the moment. Many of them seem to be able to give the test to people that don't have insurance. I have actually introduced a bill to cover everybody's costs.

HARLOW: I know, which is very noted. I hear that on the bill. But the reason I ask what Floridians should believe is because, especially the elderly, you have such a big retirement community across Florida. And when you have the governor saying it's not spreading, there's no community spread, and the head doctor on this saying there is, I think that leaves people with a huge question mark.

SHALALA: Well, it shouldn't affect their own behavior. The difference of opinion between the scientists for the National Institutes of Health and the Florida governor should not affect people's behavior. And both of them would say that.


SCIUTTO: I want to ask another question here, because you, of course, serve in Congress. We have seen politics, Trump facts, in the current environment before. The fact is you have several colleagues of yours who are self- quarantining because it is a very real risk after possible exposures. Is there a bipartisan agreement that serious measures need to be taken now? Because you're hearing the president say every day, this is not a big deal, Democrats are blowing this up. How about there in that hall that we place so much confidence in, the Capitol? Is there agreement there that serious measures have to be taken?

SHALALA: Absolutely. And we passed an $8 billion bill. It was a bipartisan bill. Everybody voted for it. Both parties put it together. This disease does not know whether you're a Republican or a Democrat or an independent. And we're all pulling together here.

Now, there will be a debate over whether we use the tax system or whether we enhance existing programs like unemployment insurance, like sick leave. There will be an honest debate, but it has to be done quickly, because we'll need another package to protect families in this country.

But there are grown-ups here. The people that negotiate these packages are grown-ups, Republican and Democrat. And I know we're going to come together.

HARLOW: That's reassuring to hear. I guess we would finally ask you, Secretary, Dr. Fauci just said a few minutes ago, quote, things will get worse than they are right now. Italy has just set aside $28 billion to handle this situation there. Is $8.3 billion enough in the U.S.?

SHALALA: No, and we knew that when we passed the $8 billion package. We knew that it was a down payment. We will pass whatever we need to pass to protect the American people.

HARLOW: Okay. Secretary and Congresswoman Donna Shalala, I appreciate your time and expertise this morning.

SCIUTTO: For sure.

HARLOW: Overnight, passengers evacuated from the Grand Princess cruise arrived at an air base in San Antonio. The mayor of that city will join us. He says he's losing his patience with what he calls a chaotic federal response.

SCIUTTO: Plus, there's a presidential race going on, you might remember, and Vice President Biden just had a big night. Former V.P. with resounding victories in four states, including in the key State of Michigan, big delegate haul. The deputy campaign manager for the Biden campaign will join us, coming up.



SCIUTTO: Nearly 100 passengers from the Grand Princess Cruise Ship have landed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio overnight. They will be quarantined for the next 14 days. It is the third time that base will house people who may have been exposed to coronavirus, but the mayor there is beginning to lose patience with the whole process, asking for help.

Joining me to discuss, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. Mayor, thanks for taking the time today.


SCIUTTO: So you've got -- in a way, you've got two issues to handle here. You have your community where you're dealing with exposures to this. And now you're also bringing in people from around the country, given the bases located in your area. Tell us how you're able to balance that net.

NIRENBERG: Well, that's exactly right. And so San Antonio is a major city in South Texas and we have a large population. So just like every other city in the country, we are ramping up our own preparations for eventual community spread of COVID-19.

At the same time, San Antonio takes pride in once again answering the call of duty to help fellow Americans that are being evacuated. We have been doing so with success, but the coordination that we have been receiving has been needing improvement.

And so we are working with our federal delegation, our Governor's Office, and working with the boots on the ground here from HHS and others that are really working hard with our local health professionals to get that done, but it has been a little bit of fits and starts.

SCIUTTO: The president claimed again yesterday that anybody who needs a test can get a test. We have been asking people around the country, does not seem to be their experience in multiple communities. You're mayor of San Antonio. Are you getting the testing supplies and kits that you need to get a handle on this?


NIRENBERG: We are beginning to get the tests now. And so our health authority now for the last couple days has been able to administer tests. But that is relatively new occurrence.

What we're also trying to do though is make sure that people understand when to get a test. You know, if they're not showing symptoms, it doesn't make sense to show up at the doctor and ask for a test for COVID-19. We want to make sure we have a good handle on the resources available and use them in the way they were intended so that we can have an assessment of any community spread.

SCIUTTO: On the ground there, I'm curious how the contradictory messaging from Washington affects the response. For instance, Anthony Fauci, who leads the infectious diseases section of the NIH, just said, it's going to be months and months before you have a usable vaccine. The president said it would come very soon. Fauci said it would get worse very soon and quickly. The president has said there is nothing to worry about here.

You know, you're on the frontlines on this. I'm sure you have constituents coming up to you every day. What do you tell them and how does that mixed messaging affect your job?

NIRENBERG: Well, first of all, we need to make sure that everyone takes a deep breath and listens to the doctors. We have very qualified medical professionals here on the ground that are assisting people in this situation of the evacuation missions. But we're also standing up our own preparations.

What we're trying to do here in San Antonio is to prevent, to delay and then ultimately to contain any community spread. We are thankful that we have our health authorities in the driver's seat now, and I'll be using any tool at our disposal here to make sure that we protect San Antonio residents from this disease.

SCIUTTO: Okay. We have seen a community just north of us where we are here in New York, New Rochelle, I'm sure you have read about it, that has instituted what's known as containment. And, again, we should just make clear to people there's not a big bubble that's been put up around that town, but they are taking steps, for instance, banning gatherings of 250 or more people, the whole State of Washington doing the same.

As a community there that has had infections, what next steps are you considering, and are you being advised are smart to do, I mean, for instance, school closings?

NIRENBERG: Yes. We're having daily coordination meetings, more often than that, in fact, with all of the major institutions, our medical teams, businesses, schools, to insure that everyone has the latest information. We want to make sure that people have the latest health guidance to make informed decisions.

But good decisions are not made in panic. We need to make sure that we have the right data available to us. Part of that is getting a proper handle on a community assessment, testing of folks to make sure that we understand where there is community spread and be able to contain it where it does happen.

But we also want to insure that we're making decisions as they come in the right timeframe. Our goal right now, and we do have some major outdoor events and major gatherings that are coming up in the next couple months.

What we want to do is make sure that we're getting all the health guidance, we're pushing out and delaying any community spread so that we can ramp up our own preparations. And at the time that we have to make those decisions to pull the plug on something or to continue, we'll be able to do so in a reasonable and informed manner.

SCIUTTO: Listen, we wish you the best of luck. I'm sure you run into challenges every day, and we'll do our part here by sharing just the facts. Mayor Ron Nirenberg, thanks so much.

NIRENBERG: Thank you very much.

HARLOW: All right. For all of you at home watching and listening to is on the radio, here is what the man in charge of the response effort to all of this, Dr. Anthony Fauci, just testified before Congress.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the worst yet to come, Dr. Fauci?

FAUCI: Yes, it is.

I can say we will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now.


HARLOW: It's going to get worse. We'll bring you the facts here.

Meantime, a major night last night in the race for the White House. Joe Biden wins a lot and widens the gap on Super Tuesday Part Two. Can he convince Bernie Sanders supporters that he is the one to beat President Trump? We'll talk to a member of his campaign, next.



HARLOW: As coronavirus cases are skyrocketing across this country and around the world, experts and lawmakers continue to raise concerns about a lack of testing capabilities and facilities.

SCIUTTO: So to test the claim that anyone can get a test, we spoke to a coronavirus patient, Clay Bentley, who is now quarantined in Georgia just in the last hour. Have a listen to what he had to say.


CLAY BENTLEY, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: I think I have turned a corner. I think I am improving, getting better. It's been a long road. But I'm getting through it.

I came to the hospital last Monday really, really sick. So they kept me in the hospital all day, ran tests, ran flu, put fluids through me all day. They asked if I had been out of the country, if I've been to China, different places in the world.


And I told them, no, so they said, well, the flu is coming back negative, so it don't mean you don't have the flu.