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President Trump Restricts Travel from Most of Europe for 30 Days; Mixed Reaction from Passengers After Travel Ban Announcement; NBA Suspends Season After Player Tests Positive for Virus; State Department Urges U.S. Citizens to Reconsider Traveling Abroad; Health Officials Tell U.S. Lawmakers the U.S. Does Not Have a System in Place to Tests for Coronavirus Like Other Countries. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 12, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The markets are rattled this morning as you can see. Look at that. Dow Futures down more than 1200 points. You'll see the actual fall at the open in just minutes. The administration failing to calm nerves last night.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Here are the headlines this morning. The president has announced a travel ban on most countries in Europe. We should note, though, that ban excludes the U.K., which is still seeing a rise in coronavirus cases. It also excludes U.S. travelers, and health experts note that the virus is already spreading here in the U.S. on its own, what's known as community spread.

HARLOW: Right now, House lawmakers were finishing up a briefing. A classified Senate briefing will start in just minutes as the president's own health experts warn this pandemic is only going to get worse.

Just in to our newsroom, Carnival's Princess cruise lines will suspend all operations around the globe for the next two months. For 60 days. States and cities banning large gatherings, more schools closing with millions of students sent home around the world.

SCIUTTO: Other changes, the NBA has suspended its season after a player tested positive for the virus. March Madness, college basketball championship, set to play out in empty arenas. And movie legend Tom Hanks and his wife test positive in Australia for the disease, a country where tests are much more widely available.

HARLOW: Yes. And free -- Oh, and by the way, that all happened overnight. That's how quickly this is changing. Our teams are covering this all around the world. Let's begin, though, at the White House this morning with John Harwood.

John, it is notable, and this is not criticism or a partisan statement, that the White House, the president had to correct multiple things that he said in his address to the nation last night, leaving many people very confused this morning.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Very confused, Poppy, and what happened last night was the White House aides had persuaded the president that he needed to do something dramatic to signal to the American people who see all these events cascading around them that he was taking it seriously. He went on national television from the Oval Office. He tried to underscore the gravity of the situation with a dramatic move on banning travel to Europe.

Then DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, issued guidance after the speech indicating that it wasn't such a complete ban, just like the earlier restrictions on travel to China. It exempts U.S. citizens and immediate family members, legal permanent residents that sort of thing. He also bungled the discussion of what it meant for trade. He said that the prohibitions apply to all trade and cargo. Later he clarified in a tweet that cargo is exempted. That's something that contributed to the angst among business.

And as you indicated, Dow Futures have not been calmed by this. We're seeing markets being poised to go down again today. The president is going to be meeting with the prime minister of Ireland, also exempted from the ban just like Britain is, and so this is going to be a -- another challenging day for the president as we have seen that business is not calmed and the American people are seeing events outracing what the White House is trying to do.

HARLOW: John Harwood, thank you. We're going to see the impact today and we'll see what happens when markets open in just a few minutes.

For the latest on how this is unfolding at airports around the world, let's go to our Nick Valencia, he joins us at one of the world's busiest airports, of course, right there in Atlanta -- Nick.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is an announcement that caught the travel industry off guard. And they weren't the only ones blindsided. Here the mood is of mixed reaction among the passengers. At about 5:30 this morning is when we showed up, very busy, very active, this morning. Things have slowed down, though, since but as I mentioned, that mixed reaction, some passengers taking this a lot more seriously than others.

We have seen some going so far as to wear scarves around their heads. Others showing up here in gloves and surgical masks. And here's why. They really don't know exactly who they're traveling next to in some cases.

Just in to CNN, something similar like that happened last night where a passenger reportedly according to the Palm Beach Fire and Rescue, traveled from JFK airport in New York, making their way to West Palm Beach and upon landing notified the airline that they tested positive for coronavirus. That's all we know at this time.

JetBlue, however, the flight, the airline that that passenger took a fly on, did issue a statement saying, quote, "Immediately -- they immediately commenced additional cleaning of the gate area where the flight departed as well as and surrounding gates and security checkpoints, check-in counters, kiosks, elevators, restrooms and other areas that passengers went through based on security camera footage."

Here in Atlanta we are not seeing that happen just yet. But one thing is clear after last night's announcement, Poppy, and Jim, life has changed for all of us.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. Notifying when they land at the end of the flight as opposed to in the beginning.

HARLOW: Did they find out, Nick, in the middle of the flight, like by e-mail?

VALENCIA: Well, that's what we don't know. We don't know if they --

HARLOW: Yes.

VALENCIA: -- perhaps were given their diagnosis upon landing. I mean, you can't rule out, Poppy and Jim, that perhaps this person, you know, how long they knew that they had this.

[09:05:06]

We just don't know. That's not clear.

HARLOW: Yes.

VALENCIA: All we know at this time is they said it upon landing.

HARLOW: OK.

SCIUTTO: All right, Nick Valencia, thanks very much.

CNN's Richard Quest, he's at London, Heathrow Airport, more on the reaction from Europe and this morning, Richard, I'm curious how this travel announcement, travel ban by the president is playing out there.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: I flew over last night from New York. We were just boarding the plane when the announcement came. There was a lot of confusion over who it applied to. And that confusion is followed today across airports across Europe.

The main level of confusion, who is covered by this travel ban. It's now clear from the administration that it doesn't apply to U.S. citizens and green card holders. But that was small comfort and is small comfort today. People are trying to get out of Europe before the ban takes effect. And always aware, of course that it could be made more strict.

As for European leaders, they say they're very disappointed, and they disagree. They're especially annoyed at the way they weren't consulted, had no notification, no idea this was coming, it was dropped on them last night from a great height.

As for the U.K., well, the reality is flying from Europe to the United States is going to get much harder if for no other reason the more airlines are going to stop flying because there will be fewer passengers. HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: Absolutely. Richard, thank you. We're glad you got there for that reporting. We appreciate it.

Let's talk more about sports. The NBA overnight suspending its entire season. Andy Scholes joins us with more.

Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning, guys. You know, this is such a wild scene, as all this unfolded last night. You know, when the NBA ends up resuming the season, we just really have no idea. The Thunder and the Jazz, they were on the court, about to start play when they all found out that a Jazz player had tested positive for coronavirus.

According to ESPN, that player is all-star center Rudy Gobert. CNN has reached out to Gobert's representatives, the Jazz and the NBA, none of which have confirmed the report. But the news prompted officials to announce that that game was postponed. Then a little later the NBA announcing that the rest of the season was going to be suspended following last night's games.

Now the Mavs' owner Mark Cuban's reaction, this was it after he found out during his team's game that the rest of the season was going to be suspended and Cuban saying, after the Mavs played the Nuggets, that the whole thing was just unreal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK CUBAN, OWNER OF DALLAS MAVERICKS: This is something out of a movie and you just don't expect it to happen in real life, but that's the randomness of the world we live in and so it's stunning but we are where we are and we have to be smart in how we respond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Now the Jazz played the Raptors on Monday. Before that, they were on a four-game road trip playing against the Pistons, Celtics, Knicks and Cavs. According to ESPN, all of those teams being asked to self-quarantine and since playing the Jazz, you know, those teams have gone on to play other teams, so the majority of the NBA has come into contact with someone who had direct contact with Rudy Gobert. That really gave the NBA no choice but to suspend play.

For now, the NCAA tournament will go on, but no fans are going to be allowed in the arenas or stadiums. Only team personnel and a select number of family members are going to be able to be at those games. NCAA president Mark Emmert saying in a statement, "While I understand how disappointing this is for all the fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States." Emmert adding that they will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed. Now, all the major conference basketball tournaments are going on

right now, they are now also restricting fans from their games, starting today.

Guys, the NHL says they're also monitoring the situation and they're going to have a further update on their league later this afternoon.

SCIUTTO: Well, we've got baseball season starting in a couple of weeks, dozens of games a day. They're going to have a decision to make soon.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Andy Scholes, thanks very much.

HARLOW: On the phone with us, NBA Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley, also of course an analyst for TNT's "Inside the NBA."

Thank you so much for being with us, Charles. We appreciate it.

CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA HALL OF FAME: Thank you all for having me. I wish it was on a better circumstances.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Of course, we always do. Listen, can you help walk us through what you know about Commissioner Adam Silver's thinking in making this decision overnight? Obviously a lot of players are tweeting they respect the call. Do you know what went into this and how he made the final decision?

BARKLEY: Well, I think he just did it in the best interest of the game. I mean, you guys just showed Rudy Gobert, what he's been, who he played against the last two weeks.

He's been in several states, he played the Toronto Raptors, and they could have taken that virus back to Canada. I mean, thank goodness he was actually going to play in the game last night. So he's -- I don't know how long he's had this thing, but it could be -- they have could have carried it back to Toronto. And he played in five different states in the last week.

[09:10:10]

So this is a really scary thing and nobody knows. I commend the commissioner for suspending the season. I think the first thing we should do, even with March Madness, I'm going on the record, I love working for Turner and CBS, but we've got to take a step and look at March Madness. Even though they won't have fans in the stands, I don't want big strong players breathing on each other for next month.

I think the NCAA and the NBA should take a step back, let's get all these players tested. These guys have been with their families for the last two weeks.

SCIUTTO: Yes. BARKLEY: So nobody knows, but all the NBA should be suspended. I think

March Madness should be suspended. And let's get these players tested. Because this thing has got a chance -- because it's going to get close, it's going to get worse before it gets better.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I don't have to tell you given all the years you played, Charles, how close you get on the court, of course, an easy way to transmit this. So you believe players should be tested, NBA, at the college level. Has there been any discussion of that? Are you hearing from NBA executives? Are the players making that request to NBA executives to get tested?

BARKLEY: Well, I think the NBA is making that mandatory, all these players get tested. You know, because you got to think about this, these guys are sitting beside -- you got on the other team, you're running up and down the court, breathing on each other for two hours, you got -- you're sitting on the bench, you're sitting on bench talking to your teammates closer than you and Poppy are right now.

HARLOW: Yes.

BARKLEY: And you're sweating. I mean, there's so many chances to get infected. You are on the plane together. You're on the buses together. I mean, this thing is really, really scary. And we need to quit thinking about the financial interest, because, listen, I know there is a lot of money at stake.

You know, we pay in our -- like I say, I work for you guys, we pay a billion dollars for March Madness. I know that's a lot of money, and I think we should honor our contract because we pay a lot of that money goes to the other sports, other than basketball and football, and supports all the other sports at these colleges.

So we should honor our commitment, but (INAUDIBLE) the March Madness. But we need to take a step back and say should we cancel March Madness. And my opinion is yes. Because even though there is no fans there, you got these big old players running up and down the court, they're go to be at different cities every week. They're going to come to Atlanta in three weeks, if they have the final four.

This thing could really get out of hand. If even one player on all of these teams have this virus, this thing could really get out of hand.

HARLOW: Just one quick final clarification, you mentioned the Jazz obviously played in five cities. So you got the Cavs, the Knicks, the Celtics, the Pistons, the Raptors, many of them with families, obviously as well. Is it your understanding they are all self- quarantining, all those players for two weeks alone now?

BARKLEY: Well, I think I heard they're all self-quarantined, which is a smart thing to do. But like I say, we need to make sure everybody who's come in contact with Rudy the last two weeks should get tested or self-quarantined because like I say, the Toronto Raptors, obviously everybody knows, they play in Canada. Can you imagine how that thing would be if he transmitted that to somebody in Toronto and they took it all the way back to Canada? Nobody knows what is going to happen next, but this is just a really

scary thing. And I'm glad the NBA is shutting down.

SCIUTTO: Well, it's great to have you on, Charles Barkley. Let's keep up the conversation. A lot of the organizations and sports included have big decisions to make going forward. We wish you the best of luck.

HARLOW: Thanks, Chuck.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, we're going to be answering all your questions with our doctors here. We know you have a lot of questions and we're sticking to the experts.

HARLOW: Wall Street bracing for a really ugly open here. Markets will open in just about 17 minutes. Christine Romans, our chief business correspondent, is standing by.

What are we looking at?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be another big down day. You know, there's been only three up days in the past 15 here. It looks like the S&P 500 will be officially in a correction mode. That's the fastest that's happened in a long, long time. Just 22 days to go from a record high to this low.

We'll watch very carefully because you have more than 5 percent losses here. If you see 7 percent losses in the S&P 500, they will halt trading to try to bring cooler heads here to prevail. But clearly that speech last night from the president did not assuage the fears on Wall Street.

HARLOW: Yes, Wall Street is confused. As are a lot of folks.

Christine, thank you. We'll see you at the open. We'll be right back.

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[09:15:00]

HARLOW: Right now, so many questions as the U.S. ramps up its coronavirus response.

SCIUTTO: Let's bring in our experts, guys who you want to hear from, Dr. Sanjay Gupta; chief medical correspondent for CNN, Dr. Colleen Kraft; she's associate professor for Emory University's Infectious Diseases Division. Thanks to both of you, great to have you here this morning.

Sanjay, I want to get to the numbers here. Vice President Pence, who is of course leading this effort for the president, this morning, on "Fox News", he said "the risk to Americans of contracting the virus remains low, we'll have thousands of cases." It's our understanding that the doctor for Congress briefed members yesterday, earlier this week and said 70 to 150 million Americans will contract the virus. Angela Merkel of Germany, she said today that two-thirds of the German

population should expect to contract this. Thousands versus tens of millions. What's accurate?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, the public health officials have been saying for some time here, you know, I'm by no means the first person to say this, that you know, 40 percent to 60 percent of the population could be exposed to this virus --

SCIUTTO: The U.S. could --

GUPTA: The U.S. population, and frankly, the only reason that it wouldn't be a 100 percent is because what happens is that we start to develop some immunity to this and develop sort of a herd immunity. So there is some people who get protected as more and more people get infected, you know, you do develop a little bit of herd immunity.

[09:20:00]

Otherwise it's likely that everyone would be exposed to this. This is a highly contagious virus that is clearly spreading through the community.

SCIUTTO: That's a dramatic difference. Tens of millions of people versus thousands --

GUPTA: We're at thousands now --

SCIUTTO: From the White House --

GUPTA: You know, and that's with very inadequate testing which everybody has talked about. But we don't have any eyes on this, but it's very clear that we focus on Washington State, we focus on New Rochelle, we focus on California, because we've been able to test there.

There's similar clusters like that all over the country. And again, you know, as we've talked about -- since the start is that that's going to be alarming to people. But those clusters also do mean reflective fact that 80 percent of people aren't getting tremendously sick --

SCIUTTO: Right --

GUPTA: In this, but we need to protect those who are --

SCIUTTO: Great point.

HARLOW: One thing that I know everyone wants answers on, I even I'm confused about exactly what the right answer is, Dr. Kemp is -- excuse me, Dr. Kraft, I know, you're advising Governor Kemp and advising the NCAA on what they should do. But what is the key differentiating symptom from coronavirus to the flu? Is it the dry cough? Because you can't say travel now.

And you can't say going somewhere where this -- you know, may have been before because it's here. So what's the key difference?

COLLEEN KRAFT, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIVISION, EMORY UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE: Well, we're in the middle of a respiratory season, and there is not a key difference between all the different viruses that we're exposed to and can contract. And so what we're trying to do is rule out alternative diagnoses such as flu and other viruses, and when those are not present, then we will test people for COVID-19.

HARLOW: So just to clarify, even the shortness of breath? Because that is something that I at least I have an experience when I've had a flu or a cold.

KRAFT: Right, and so I think -- you know, we're still figuring out this clinical syndrome. The main issue that we're always concerned about with novel viruses is how often and how likely they are to cause lower respiratory tract infection. And we think this one is more likely than previous common cold coronaviruses that have circulated in the United States to cause lower respiratory tract infections.

So, yes, the shortness of breath could be an indicator, but in and of itself does not help you differentiate.

HARLOW: OK --

KRAFT: You know, the person is --

SCIUTTO: OK --

KRAFT: A blank slate when they come to you and you sort of sort through.

SCIUTTO: So, Sanjay, the president, the headline measure is a partial travel ban I suppose you can call it, because it exempts the U.K. from Europe, also exempts U.S. citizens and permanent residents who travel back and forth. As a doctor, is this a helpful step at this time?

GUPTA: Here's what I would say, is that when we did this for early on, when people were coming out of China very early on in this outbreak, there was evidence that it works. There was 195 people as you remember, Jim, who were at that air base quarantined. Big move. That hadn't happened in 50 years in this country. Now, at this point, with as much community spread as there likely is, even though we don't have adequate testing, we know there's significant community spread.

I think you'd have a very hard time making the argument that it's still beneficial. There is debate on this in the public health community, but there is two studies that I've read and I think are really instructive here. One is that once you get beyond 1 percent of a community, of a society infected, which we may certainly be at already at this point --

HARLOW: Right --

GUPTA: There is no evidence that it really works, and that many of these sort of mitigation strategies really work. Because it's out there.

SCIUTTO: Just to be clear on numbers, 1 percent of the American population today is 3.3 million people --

GUPTA: Correct. I know and --

SCIUTTO: That is -- that's a --

GUPTA: Look --

SCIUTTO: Thousand times more than the White House has even discussed.

GUPTA: I know. We don't -- we -- but you have to look at other countries and see the numbers of cases out there and understand how community spread has been happening in those places. You heard what Angela Merkel said yesterday --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

GUPTA: That 70 percent of Germany --

HARLOW: Yes --

GUPTA: Public health officials said maybe 40 percent to 60 percent of people will likely be exposed to the virus in this country ultimately within a year. Go back and look at H1N1, 60 million people were infected by the first year.

HARLOW: In -- where?

GUPTA: In the United States --

HARLOW: In the U.S. --

GUPTA: That wasn't -- thankfully as concerning a virus --

HARLOW: Yes --

GUPTA: In terms of lethality. But this is a contagious virus. So, we have to operate under those assumptions. But going back to the point, though, greater than 1 percent, it does change the strategies that you're going to be using. And second thing is when you have four -- at least four separate introductions of the virus into a society, that also is sort of the same thing, it changes the strategies that you're going to use --

SCIUTTO: I see.

HARLOW: So building on what you just said about, you know, even knowing and having enough tests to know that 1 percent of the population --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

HARLOW: In an area or a nationwide has it, we just got a read out from Dr. Kraft, the house meeting, the briefing from health experts to members of the house, and they were told that yes, the number of tests would increase in this country, but acknowledged that the U.S. system is trying to catch up to other countries like South Korea.

[09:25:00]

And they were told the U.S. does not have a system in place to test like foreign countries. How can that be? This pandemic has been put in the last --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

HARLOW: Three, you know, assessments by the IC in terms of global threats, and yet we don't have enough tests in place.

KRAFT: OK, so I don't know how long we have to discuss this particular topic, but you know, it's a lot about through put. We're also building this car as we're driving it. So we're creating diagnostic testing as an outbreak is occurring. We're also asking the entities such as CDC and our state health departments to test while they're also doing all of the contact tracing.

So I think that there is a system infrastructure issue that we're dealing with, and not just that we don't have enough kits. And so we're creating a brand-new diagnostic. We have to go back to old school methods to create these diagnostics in the beginning. Eventually, they'll be rapid, eventually they'll be available. But I think we're really focusing on the wrong aspect of the diagnostic testing. We need to help get the through-put better. The test exists, it's just in places that are also swamped doing other things.

SCIUTTO: OK, we'll stay on top of it, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Colleen Kraft, thanks so much.

GUPTA: Yes, thank you.

HARLOW: Also tonight, make sure you watch Dr. Gupta joins Anderson Cooper for our second global town hall, "CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FEARS", it airs 10:00 Eastern only right here on CNN, we'll be right back.

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