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American Life Changes Rapidly, Schools, Culture, Offices, Travel; Markets Fall Hard Again Amid Travel Ban, Outbreak Concerns; Biden Addresses Coronavirus Crisis After Trump Speech. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 12, 2020 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us in Inside Politics today. See you back here this time tomorrow.

Brianna Keilar continues our coverage right now. Have a good afternoon.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar and this is CNN's special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic unprecedented in this generation. This is a fast-moving story with new developments this hour as the U.S. races to fight the coronavirus spread and the lives of Americans are turned upside down.

The number of cases now up above 1,200 nationwide amid new questions about the shortage of testing in the U.S. More schools across the country are closing leaving kids at home for days, maybe even weeks. The president's travel restrictions on Europe causing chaos at airports, also on Wall Street, at one point, tripping the circuit breaker and halting trading after the Dow dropped 7 percent.

The president could declare a disaster as soon as today, we are told, and more lawmakers are closing up their offices in Washington, as Capitol Hill and the White House cancel tours.

And then the NBA and Major League Soccer have suspended their seasons indefinitely and the ATP is putting their pro tennis tour on hold now for at least six weeks. Major League Baseball, meanwhile, is still considering what to do with their season, which is set to begin here in two weeks.

Princess Cruises cancelling trips for the next 60 days, Viking Cruises also taking a two-month break.

And today, we heard two very different takes from the government on a critical part of the story.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The system is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing.


FAUCI: It is a failing. Let's admit it. The fact is the way the system is set up is that the public health component that Dr. Redfield was talking about was a system where you put it out there in the public and a physician asks for it and you get it. The idea of anybody getting it easily the way and other countries are doing it, we are not set up to that. Do I think we should be, yes, but we are not.


KEILAR: Now, with the number of coronavirus cases multiplying here by the day, it would say (ph) the reason that the number of tests conducted by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention would also increase.

But just take a look at this graph. The blue there is the CDC tests, the gold is public health labs. You can see how the blue basically disappears there at the end of the graph. Well, from March 7th to the 10th, the CDC conducted zero. That's right, zero test.

We have Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen with us now, who can shed some light on what's happening.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The questions on everyone's mind, how many tests are being done in the United States for coronavirus. The answer is we don't have an accurate number. That hasn't been pulled together yet. And it's important to have that number, because if we don't know the scope of the problem, it makes it more difficult for public health officials to try to address the problem.

But I will say that there are more and more tests being done in state county and city labs. These are government-owned labs, and they are doing several hundred a day. Is it enough? Doctors tell me, absolutely not, we need to be doing more.

KEILAR: All right. And I'm am joined by Dr. Peter Hotez, the Dean of the School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

So, Dr. Hotez, it's so interesting to hear Dr. Fauci talk about testing and just how the U.S. is not set up for this. I hope that, broadly, just right now, you can give us the state of what's going on with coronavirus, what are the most pressing concerns from your medical perspective.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DIRECTOR, VACCINE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE : Right. So thanks for having me on. I think the big issue now is we really have been able to assess better the situation of what's happened in other countries and we have learned something very important, and that is the extent of an epidemic in a city or a town or an area and the number of people that wind up in intensive care units and are very sick is very much dependent on how quickly you can get on top of the situation.

So, for instance, in a city like Wuhan, where transmission was allowed to go on undetected for six weeks, you have, of course, that catastrophe with 2,000 ICU admissions, 10,000 people seriously ill, completely overwhelmed the capacity of the whole health system in Wuhan as opposed to some cities in China where if you are on top of it within a week, you have may be 20 ICU admissions, a huge difference.

So I think what Dr. Fauci is aware of that and what he's basically saying is, look, we know that window when we can limit the impact on our local health systems is closing.


We need to ramp up absolutely right now. These next two or three weeks can really make a difference between really night and day, unfortunately.

KEILAR: Explain that. Explain that idea that we're almost -- this isn't static, right? This is very much in motion and we are moving past this important window.

HOTEZ: Well, I mean, look at when we had our first case of transmission within the U.S. That was recorded around the end February. I believe that a person admitted to U.C. Davis Medical Center in California. And then assume that -- since the average incubation period is about a week, assuming that person was not infected somewhere towards the third week of February.

As we are now getting into the fourth week of this epidemic in the United States and we know that six-week period is when things can go really bad, we have to make certain that there is not a lot of transmission that we have been missing.

So I'm really focused very much on that community spread and those areas where we are missing it right now and that's why that testing is so urgent because we realize that if community spread is allowed to occur for a period of weeks, that's when we start seeing Intensive Care Units overwhelmed, that's when you start seeing really serious demands on healthcare professionals that will overwhelm the system.

So the next -- we're now at the critical point where we have to have a big jump in testing and then quarantining and isolating individuals. The social distancing now has to be underway, I think, across the country. Because if we lose that two or three-week period, we could be looking at a much more serious epidemic in the United States.

KEILAR: It seems like having moved past some of the criteria of getting tested right? Now, it's an issue of community spread. And there is the sense that, well, anyone could have it, right? You don't have to travel to China, and so anyone now who has a cold or the flu or symptoms that match this are wondering, can I get a test, and they can't. So what's the effect of that?

HOTEZ: And that's what we need. Our nation made those criteria too rigid for too long and saying that we have to be from one of the known infected countries or contact with the known individual. That was good for two-week period. We let that go way too long. We waited too long to liberalize our diagnostic criteria. We waited too long for doing diagnosis. And, look, we will have time down the line to see, okay, what went wrong, and we can do that analysis. But right now, it's got to be all hands-on deck in fixing this problem and having widespread testing available, and practicing that social distancing immediately across the country. And that's why we are doing things like closing the Houston Rodeo even though we didn't have a lot of evidence of community transmission, closing out NBA. I mean, we're doing this as a nation to protect our most vulnerable populations, our older individuals, a lot of the veterans of foreign wars. So this is who we're protecting right now, and those with underlying disability.

So the one silver lining is we can say as a nation, we are protecting our most cherished individuals, our veterans, our older individuals, by doing these things which are hurtful to the American population closing down the things we love. So at least we have done that. But now, in peril, we have to have that testing underway, otherwise we could be -- the last thing we want is a situation like we've seen in Wuhan where you had a thousand healthcare workers go down, colleagues taking colleagues in intensive care units, these terrible stories that we've seen on YouTube and elsewhere, this is the critical period now where we can still stop that from happening, I believe.

KEILAR: Look, I really appreciate you stressing that just about because of how vulnerable older Americans are. It seems like from the beginning of this, a lot of folks have said, well, what's really the big deal, because younger people tend to have milder symptoms, they do not get extreme sick or die or they're less likely. But it's is a different story for older Americans. And so if there is someone in your life or you know there is -- there are many older Americans and the lives of your friends who you care deeply about, it's for them, right?

HOTEZ: Yes. And this is why -- last week, I testified in Congress and I made a deliberately provocative statement. And I knew as I was saying it was deliberately provocative, but I said it out of a sense of urgency, I felt, that things not getting done.


We are hearing too much about this is a mild illness for most people, this is the flu, this is nonsense. We saw what happened when that virus raced through that nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, with 13 people now dead around of a population of a hundred, and that's why I made that statement. This is the angel of death for places like that.

And I knew it was very provocative thing and it's not something I usually do, but I felt we have to move the needle. We have to do something to get people to take those right precautions. I never want to see what happened in Kirkland, Washington, happening anywhere else in the United States.

KEILAR: And, look, that became even more true after you said it before Congress. We have been talking with the families of those folks there and that's -- it is the truth.

Dr. Hotez, thank you so much for joining us from Houston. We have some other developments, Joe Biden speaking moments from now on what he says are the right steps to take during the crisis. These are live pictures from Wilmington, and we will bring this to you as soon as it begins.

Plus, a Brazilian official tests positive for coronavirus days after being this close, closer than the vice president having that contact there with President Trump.

And CNN goes inside the emergency room at the epicenter of the largest cluster in the nation.

This is CNN's special live coverage.



KEILAR: We are watching the Dow again, there you see plummeting after the president's travel ban and coronavirus outbreak announcements. Alison Kosik, tell us what just happened there. You were at the New York Stock Exchange. This is big.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is big, because we did see the market pop a little higher, down of its lows of the day, although now, we are seeing this sell-off presumed again. An announcement came from the Federal Reserve saying that -- at the New York Reserve -- saying it is taking extraordinary steps to try to calm these panicky financial markets.

Already this week, we have seen circuit breakers twice being put into action because the markets are clearly panicked. The New York Fed says it's going to be offering $500 billion in a three-month repo operation, meaning overnight liquidity is going to provide to the treasury market. That's really being strapped right now. Essentially, what the Fed is doing is buying treasury bills and injecting money into the financial system to provide liquidity.

What we could see from this action is the treasury yield on a ten-year note could wind up moving higher. We have seen it quite depressed at historic lows. The idea here is that we're seeing businesses financially strapped, because, you know, people -- there is no revenue coming in, we have people not buying things, we have debt coming due. And so we have some relief coming from the Fed to try to ease those concerns.

We immediately saw a reaction in the market but, unfortunately, we're seeing the sell-off resume. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Alison, you are our eyes and ears at the New York Stock Exchange. Thank you so much.

And part of the reason for this market plunge today is the president's travel restrictions on European travel. CNN Business Editor at Large and Anchor of Quest Means Business, Richard Quest is now with us. And, Richard, obviously this has domino effect. You institute a travel ban, that means hits to the airlines and other industries. You couple that with the fear that the president did not really instill confidence in his address and you get what were are seeing in the markets.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, first of all, you have to share effect (ph) of being blindsided. European leaders are today say -- they say their disappointed, I would say incandescent is more like it, about the fact that they weren't consulted. The president says, well, you have to make many phone calls.

And, essentially, they had no idea this was coming. And the effects on the European economies are going to be dramatic. For instance, Norwegian, which is the low-cost carrier in Europe and across the Atlantic, has just announced it's going to cut its U.S. flights by 40 percent, its European network by 25 percent. And wait for this, it is going to probably need to lay off up to 50 percent of its staff. Lufthansa is cutting flights. Brussels is cutting flights.

In essence -- and on the other side of the Atlantic, on the U.S. side, look at how that's affecting the U.S. airlines. United, through its alliance with Lufthansa, joint venture, Delta, through its alliance with Air France-KLM, these airlines already beaten up are now going to be severely strained as a result.

I'll give you one last number and I'll throw and you look at it (ph). There are more than 500 flights a week that are going to be affected between Europe and the United States, affecting 46 million passengers. So that gives you an idea of the economic effect. It is not surprising that today, the markets have tanked well and truly into a bear market.

KEILAR: And explain the trickle down, right? It's not just the travel, it's the tourism. It's what the movement of these folks bring in terms of revenue both to the U.S. and to Europe.

QUEST: Let's just go through it. Mr. and Mrs. Smith go on holiday. They buy an airline ticket. They stay in a hotel. They have meals out.


They buy souvenirs. They take a taxi to and from airports. They buy gifts and presents to bring home. Now, everybody who they have economically interacted with gets money or response and they do the same and they do the same. This is class -- I mean, this is Economics 101.

And to be sure, the coronavirus was always going to have massive disruption for economies. That's true. What you have to ask is, has this made it any better. And the consensus is that after the initial effect that bearing mind, we're beyond containment. You're into delay in mitigation, then travel bans are fairly useless.

KEILAR: Yes, we are into that mitigation phase big time here in the U.S. Richard Quest, thank you so much, joining us from London. The president just floated the possibility of restrictions on domestic travels. CNN's Nick Valencia is at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, normally one of the busiest airports there in the world. Nick, tell us about this and just really what you are seeing of what should be a busier airport.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, that's something that people are now coming to terms with that that could very be a reality for us here in the United States, what we see in parts of the world like Italy. You know, there are some people even speculating that perhaps we are not too far away from an entire quarantine of the nation.

Here at what is built (ph), the world's busiest airport in Atlanta, it was quite busy this morning. Earlier, Brianna, things have sort of died down. And right now, it is the average time, wait times to get through the checkpoints. And depending on who you ask, you get different responses, mixed reaction about how serious people are taking this.

It was just a short time ago before coming here on camera. I was speaking to middle age man on his way to Florida who says he's not going to do anything different. He feels as though that taking, you know, precautions is limiting his life and he says if he lives his life in fear that he wouldn't do anything at all.

There are other, of course, most of the people that we've spoken to are taking precautions, some are little more serious than others. Folks have shown up here wearing protective gloves, eyewear, those that seemingly haven't been able to get that are using scarves to wrap around their face and head.

What is really though unsettling to everyone that we've spoken to is the news that we're reporting this morning of a passenger taking a flight from JFK's Airport in New York and going to West Palm Beach International Airport, and upon arrival, telling the airline that they had tested positive for the coronavirus.

We don't know exactly how long that passenger had been having symptoms or displayed symptoms at all. But just the fact that they waited until landing to notify the airline, very unsettling for passengers we've been speaking to. Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes, it was pretty extraordinary. Nick, thank you, from Atlanta.

And just in, a Republican senator who came into contact with the infected Brazilian official seen there in that photo to the right, to President Trump's left, says that he is self-quarantining. But President Trump says he won't despite also clearly meeting with this Brazilian press secretary. Stay with us.


[13:25:00] KEILAR: A Brazilian government official has tested positive for coronavirus and his results come just days after he spent the evening with President Trump and Vice President Pence at Mar-a-Lago. Fabio Wajngarten, who standing there just to the right, he's to the president's left, is the press secretary for President Bolsonaro of Brazil. And we are told that he also attended a birthday party for Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend on this very same evening where this photo was taken. President Trump was asked about this just last hour.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had dinner together in Florida at Mar-a-Lago with the entire delegation. I don't know what the press say if he was there, he was there. But we did nothing very unusual. We sat next to each other for a period of time, had a great conversation. He's doing a terrific job in Brazil. And we'll find out what happens. I guess he's being tested right now.

REPORTER: Well, we're asking you what update you can provide.

TRUMP: Let's put it this way, I'm not concerned.


KEILAR: Okay. So while the president remains unconcerned, Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida says he is going to self-quarantine after meeting with Wajngarter there at Mar-a-Lago.

I want to go straight now to CNN's Brazil Bureau Chief, Shasta Darlington. Shasta give us the latest.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN BRAZIL BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Brianna. So the official statement now from President Jaid Bolsonaro's office is that his press secretary has tested positive, he has isolated himself in his home, his press secretary has. And President Bolsonaro and all of the team that went to the United States, that went to Mar-a-Lago, their health is being monitored closely. In the official statement, they didn't mention whether or not their actually being tested, but they said that all necessary measures are being taken to protect the Brazilian president and the whole team that went with him.

And this, of course, is a big news in Brazil. While the virus has arrived here, there really have only been a little over 70 confirmed cases, not nearly as many as in the United States or many European countries. So this is sure to really bring home how serious this virus is. And we've already heard from health officials that they are expecting it to grow exponentially in coming days and weeks, Brianna.

KEILAR: Shasta, thank you so much for that report from Sao Paulo.

I want to bring in Dr. Hotez back in. Okay, Doctor, he says that he's not concerned, the president said that. But you have Republican senator self-quarantining and he appears who have had the same, if not, less exposure to this man.

Actually, standby, Dr. Hotez. Let's go to Former Vice President, Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- across the nation, many of you are feeling anxious about the spread of COVID-19, known as the coronavirus. And the threat imposes our health and our loved ones and our families and our livelihoods. You know, I know people are worried. And my thoughts are with those who are directly fighting this virus. Those infected, families that have suffered a loss, first responders, the healthcare providers, they're putting themselves on the line, as I speak, for others.

I'd like to thank those who are already making sacrifices to protect us, whether that's to self-quarantine themselves or canceling events and closing campus.