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China Criticized for Costing The World Two Months to Respond; Italy Cases Jump 2300+ in One Day, Biggest Since Outbreak; Washington State Bans Large Events; Three TSA Workers at San Jose Airport Test Positive for Coronavirus; 300 FEMA Employees in Atlanta Instructed to Work From Home; Dow Plunges in Another Volatile Day. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 11, 2020 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And so obviously Robert O'Brien today when he was asked about it at the Heritage Foundation earlier today, he was really taking a critical stance. He actually accused China of covering up their actions and while the Chinese government hasn't officially responded to that, they watch this very closely, Brooke.

Obviously, this is something for them that they take very seriously as far as their reputation, having it go out there that they somehow dropped the ball on this response. Even President Xi was in Wuhan this week trying to kind of show a brave face and say, well, the worst is over, we've got less new cases of people being diagnosed every single day and so crisis solved.

So, they're trying to really promote that element of it. And when they have criticism from Washington it does not resonate well in Beijing.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I can only imagine. Vivian Salama, thank you so much on that.

Now to this major development in the coronavirus pandemic. The largest recorded jump in cases since this outbreak began -- Italy. Italy, announced another 2,319 infections bringing its total number of coronavirus cases to more than 12,000, that is the largest number outside of China.

This new date goes in line with the Italy's latest drastic measure to contain the virus, it has locked down the entire nation of 60 million people. An unprecedented move that comes as hospitals are being overwhelmed with sick patients. One heart surgeon in Milan said his department is closed, meaning heart surgeries are being delayed -- heart surgeries are being delayed because of the outbreak.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. LORENZO MENICANTI, HEAD OF CARDIAC SURERY AT AN ITALIAN HOSPITAL: They say that the most active center for cardiac surgery in our country and because of the emergency of the virus that the program of cardiac surgery was completely shut down except for cardiac surgery for the children. Our ICU and our work was changed, was closed and reopened for patients that are positive for COVID-19.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: CNN's Melissa Bell is live in Rome for us this evening. And so, Melissa, Italy has another 2,300 people with coronavirus. Why this spike in cases?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the figure that we look at very closely to see that infection rate day-to- day, is it getting any worse? Is it pattering for the time being here in Italy and despite those drastic measures that are really only a couple of days old, that number is continuing to rise.

Also, the number of deaths. Nearly 200 increased since yesterday, Brooke. Authorities looking at that closely. I think what's happening here in Italy here is quite extraordinary. This the first time that a liberal democracy has taken these kinds of measures.

Rome feels almost eerily empty and what we're seeing is beyond the tourists who have long since stopped coming, ordinary Italians being stopped and asked in the street at checkpoints why they are traveling, where are they going, why are they leaving their region, why are they leaving their home. People having to explain themselves for the very first time.

So, it is a profound change in habits with awful lot of uncertainty as to how long this is going to go on. The Vatican just behind me really closing itself off entirely to the outside world, with the Pope praying this morning for all those prisoners, you know, that are in prison riots of course in Italy as well as a result of the restrictions that have been placed on it.

So all eyes very much on what has become the guinea pig of Europe. Those were the words of the former Italian Prime Minister. Italy now the country the world is watching to see whether these radical measures that no one here in Europe is used to, having any impact on those daily increases for the time being not.

And with these extraordinary stories. When these kinds of news stories happen, Brooke, we look at the scale, we look at the scale, we look at the numbers, we look at the importance of it on a global scale.

There is also that depth, those individual stories that we're hearing about, one woman here in Italy who had to spend 30 hours with the corpse of her deceased husband before he could be removed. She's now receiving psychological help. I mean you could not begin to imagine what this woman has gone through, one example of the stories happening over and again here on the European continent now.

BALDWIN: A woman spending 30 hours with the corpse of her husband. I just can't -- Melissa Bell, it is staggering and frightening what is happening there in Italy. I appreciate you being live and relaying all of it for us from Rome. Up next, back here at home, we'll talk to a Seattle restaurant owner

who has started offering curb side pickup as a way to stay in business during this coronavirus pandemic. He's also worried about how he'll pay more than 100 employees if he's forced to shut down. We'll talk about the economic ramifications there.

And we'll talk more about schools closing. Just got word of another teacher who has tested positive in the school district near Atlanta. Stand by.

(15:35:00)

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BALDWIN: The Governor of Washington state has now banned gatherings of more than 250 people and as more and more people are working from home. Restaurants are facing a pretty unique dilemma. Locals are still ordering takeout or coming in for a quick meal. But for those restaurant employees, they can't work from home. My next guest owns a restaurant in the Seattle area called Postal. Jeremy Hardy is with me. Jeremy, thank you so much for being with me.

(15:40:02)

JEREMY HARDY, SEATTLE RESTAURANT OWNER (via Cisco Webex): You're welcome. Good afternoon.

BALDWIN: So before we get to you. Let me just ask you just as a gentleman who lives in Washington state your reaction to Governor Inslee saying no gatherings, you can't go to any larger gatherings, larger than 250 people.

HARDY: Well, we're fully supportive of that. Taking action is what it is all about. And Governor Inslee has also been very transparent and a really good solid source for really good usable information as to how to avoid the contagion of this virus. So we're all good with that. Although we did just hear just now that Washington school systems, Seattle school systems have just closed down. This came in the last five minutes or so, for two weeks starting Thursday.

BALDWIN: Wow. Yes. Let's talk about you, regarding you and your restaurant. I read a quote where you said your worst fears have not come true yet. What are those worst fears?

HARDY: Well, the worst fears are that a governing body, board of health, the federal or the state authorities determine much like Governor Inslee did with the -- with the meeting of 250 that restaurants need to close.

So, we've seen that as -- I'm assuming -- it sounds like it is not going on in Italy yet. I'm not sure. But I know it sure did in China. And so that's a concern. And our first concern goes to our employees and how they're going to manage their families and their rent and so forth.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about that. Let me ask you about the employees because we're not talking about a bunch of teenagers out delivering pizza. This is for your employees, this is their livelihood, right. This is how they pay their bills. They par their mortgage. They pay their rent. And so, what happens if people get sick?

HARDY: Well, if people get sick, what we do is we have a five-day paid sick leave and as soon as an employee is hired, they're eligible for sick leave. And when they take the sick leave, there is an interesting -- having a benefit and then shaming your employees into not using the benefit. We don't do that, if an employee is sick, we encourage them to stay home and they'll be paid during that absence. So, we do that. We also pay 100 percent of health care for all employees who are 30 hours plus.

So, we're really hoping that our employees can continue to get the care. And we'll continue to pay that even if my worst fears do come true. And we're forced to close for a while we'll continue to pay health care and do the best.

For the employees as to how they are going to take care of themselves, a lot of this is still in the air, Brooke, as we're kind of dealing with this on a -- as we need to basis. It is really fluid, changing as you know quite quickly.

BALDWIN: We're living in this unknown space. And let me just say good on you as a boss for making sure your employees are taken care of and no sick shaming. No sick shaming. I do want to tell you that the Treasury Secretary said today that the federal government is considering paying workers if they have to take leave either directly or by reimbursing employees, and you mention the five paid sick days but if this does get worse, what kind of help would you want from the government?

HARDY: Well, there is a lot of work programs coming into the state right now, and again this is changing very quickly. I'm hearing about new ones every day. There is one that I know that Steve Balmer and his wife have done, they've contributed $3 million and others have brought up to $5 million as of yesterday, that is a pool for employees. So, there is a lot of this type of thing going on. Again, it's changing so quickly, hard to keep up with.

BALDWIN: And back to your point -- forgive me. Sorry, Funny delay. Please continue.

HARDY: Well, I was going to say, for the government your comment is a really good one. How can the government really support, that is a question I really don't have an answer to. It's one I've been asking, too. I'm not sure what the answer is to that to be completely honest with you.

BALDWIN: I was talking to a couple of members of Congress yesterday -- this is why I ask -- and they're tossing around a couple of different ideas and so I'm just curious from an employer business perspective just what you would want. Think on that. Because they're trying to work that out I know in Washington. Jeremy Hardy, for now, thank you so much for your time. Stay well. Good luck. Thank you.

HARDY: It is a pleasure, thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

We've also learned about new confirmed cases today among TSA agents and FEMA employees leading to hundreds more workers being asked to quarantine or work from home. The TSA chief said they still won't be able to provide full health coverage to any part-time workers who may get sick. We have more details on that just ahead.

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BALDWIN: The global coronavirus outbreak certainly knows no borders. Here in the United States airport workers are on the front lines and it was announced today that dozens of TSA officers have been placed on leave after they came into contact with three workers at the airport in San Jose, California, who have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN's Tom Foreman is with me now. And Tom, we know today that the TSA administrator, David Pekoske was on Capitol Hill. What did he say about the cases?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what he said is that they're taking them very seriously. They're going to send all of these people, under a hundred, but they're going to send them home for 14 days to monitor them and see if they're OK. They're going to pay them extra sick time, for those 14 days off.

(15:50:00)

What he didn't say was that there will be any change to the policy about part-time workers. If you're a part-time worker for TSA now you don't get extra help from your employer on your health care, your health benefits. You used to. You don't anymore. He basically said that's the policy of the rest of government, it's the policy for a lot of the private sector. And it's not going to change even in the face what have we see now. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID PEKOSKE, TRANSPORTATION SAFETY ADMINISTRATION CHIEF: I have no intention of restoring health care coverage for part-time workers. I think that was a good decision. We will certainly take care of our employees to the best of our ability and we provide robust guidance to our entire workforce with respect to how they prevent the disease in the first place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Now, if you're a federal worker, that's big news to you. Here's I think bigger news though, Brooke. They're making no effort to try to reach any of the passengers who came into contact with these TSA agents during this period of time.

And think about this, this way gateway to Silicon Valley, there are 30,000 passengers a day through that airport. And all they're saying is, well, we're going to take care of our people here but no, we're making no effort to reach out to the passengers -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jeez. How about Uber, Tom? How are they responding to all of this? Because I remember just reading yesterday that an Uber driver in New York tested positive. What's the story there?

FOREMAN: Well, and think about this, Uber is one of those services that many people are turning to right now because they're saying, I don't want to take

mass transit, maybe, I want to have my food delivered to me. Uber is also saying we're going to pay people who can't drive for a couple of weeks and take care of them. They will suspend the accounts of drivers and riders who are identified as possibly having this virus out there.

But the big question is exactly how are they going to do it? They say they're relying on public health organizations to somehow tell them this, but it seems very much like a net with maybe a lot of holes in it, because there could be a lot of concern out there. People who are trying to make a living saying, I don't want to self-report, and if the public agency doesn't report very close contact with potentially lots and lots of people.

Brooke, this is why everyone is worried about this public exposure, because there are so many places it can happen, at the airports, in the Uber, in cabs --

BALDWIN: It's a massive domino effect.

FOREMAN: -- all over the place.

BALDWIN: Totally. Tom Foreman, thank you.

From TSA to FEMA, hundreds of FEMA workers in Atlanta have been told to work from home for the next two weeks. CNN's Leyla Santiago is with me on this angle. And Leyla, tell me what caused the agency to take the action?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, the agency says that a FEMA employee reported having direct contact with somebody who tested positive for the coronavirus. So what does this mean in terms of daily operations and what that means for an office, a regional office in Atlanta, Region 4? Well, that means that about 300 employees are now being told don't come in, work from home. And this is what they expect to happen for the next 14 days or until they get further guidance from health officials.

So, a bit of a change there. And this is something that was announced according to a source in a meeting early this morning. Now, according to a FEMA source they did have a drill that was completed today that was to test their capabilities when they're working from home. They expect to be able to move forward.

But there are a lot of changing parts here. So, for now, this is the only office, Region 4 in Atlanta, that FEMA is reporting to have closed and sort of made it mandatory for workers to work from home. But again, things could change any minute.

BALDWIN: Leyla, thank you very much, Leyla Santiago on FEMA. A reminder for all of you, Dr. Gupta will join Anderson tomorrow night for a CNN Global Town Hall, all things coronavirus. I know you have tons of questions. These guys have the answers. So, tune in tomorrow night, 10:00 Eastern here on CNN.

Two stories developing right now. The House and the Senate holding this all-member briefing on coronavirus Thursday. And the President speaking right now as Democrats demand he declare a national emergency. He says he's already made some decisions and will be making a statement tonight. So that's ahead. Also, the Dow has just officially entered bear market territory. Stand by.

(15:55:00)

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ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. And we begin with breaking news, another volatile day on Wall Street, the Dow is about to close in just moments. It's tumbling down again today more than a thousand points. CNN's Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange for us. And, Alison, the Dow and S&P 500 both entering into bear market territory today.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jake, yes, the S&P 500 in bear market territory. It looks like if numbers close where they are for the Dow, the Dow could enter into a bear market. That would be a 20 percent fall from a recent high. Numbers aside, what a bear market essentially means is that investors are growing increasingly optimistic about the market. And it's easy to see why.

Just this week we've seen 3 separate 1,000 separate points plus moves in the Dow and it's only Wednesday. So as the bell rings it looks like, yes, the Dow has entered bear market territory.