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Trump Bans Travel from Europe to U.S., Except U.K.; European Countries Blindsided by Trump Travel Ban; China Charts Progress in Containment of Virus; Italy to Tighten Lockdown Even Further. Aired 4- 4:30a ET
Aired March 12, 2020 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.
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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Extraordinary move to curve the spread of coronavirus. Why the White House had to walk back some of that moments later.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: The president's plan did not calm the markets. Futures are way down a day after the bull market ended its 11-year run.
ROMANS: The effects are big and getting bigger. A million students are out of school. The NBA season is on hold, March Madness will have no fans and Tom Hanks has coronavirus.
We have reports this morning from the White House, London, Berlin, Shanghai and Rome.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.
JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Thursday, March 12th. It's 4:00 a.m. here in New York.
Breaking overnight, President Trump taking drastic steps to curb the spread of coronavirus in the United States. He's faced plenty of criticism for not doing enough as the number of U.S. cases nears 1300. The president delivered an Oval Office address. In some sense acknowledging the gravity of the situation finally, yet at the same time mischaracterizing his own policies even though he was reading from a teleprompter.
ROMANS: He put the blame for global problems squarely on countries overseas. He falsely claimed insurers would waive co-pays for treatment and he failed to give any real update on testing nationwide, and how hospitals would deal with overcrowding.
The president's boldest move, sharply restricting travel to the U.S. for more than two dozen European countries.
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TRUMP: To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.
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JARRETT: But within minutes the administration was forced to admit the restrictions are not quite as extreme as the president made it out to seem. Overnight the State Department raised the worldwide travel advisory level urging all-Americans to reconsider travel abroad.
The president's announcement caused major havoc for travelers already at airports.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aer Lingus is going to probably come out with a commercial policy like most international carriers at some point in the next 24 hours. The only thing that we really can do here for you is that you really don't want to go, listen, we're not going to make you go.
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ROMANS: President Trump's address was the highest level reaction to a public health crisis that has engulfed this White House, caused global turmoil in financial markets and disrupted everyday life.
Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laura and Christine. The president spoke for about 11 minutes in the Oval Office last night talking about his administration's response to the coronavirus in what really was his first acknowledgment of what a crisis it truly has become not only here in the United States but also around the globe.
But one of the president's most restrictive measures that he announced, that he was banning all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days starting at midnight on Friday, had to later be clarified by his DHS secretary who said it wasn't that extensive.
Really essentially offering us the fine print in a statement later on, saying that it was going to suspend the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries leading up to the two weeks before their arrival here in the United States. But they said this did not apply to legal permanent residents, generally immediate family members of U.S. citizens and other individuals identified in the proclamation. So a really important clarification for people who aren't sure whether
or not they should be traveling, how soon they should be returning to the United States. But also, the president seemed to be saying, when he was talking about that, that trade flowing between Europe and the United States was also going to be affected, something he later had to respond to in a tweet, saying it was not going to be part of this. It only applied to human beings, not goods, which of course, is incredibly important, as you know, Christine, for how these markets are going to react to the president's speech.
Now he went on to say several other measures -- talking about how he wanted the Small Business Administration to be doling out loans. There were going to be tax payment deferrals. He wants to take emergency action to make sure people who aren't getting paychecks because they can't go to work are still getting those paychecks. So we'll be waiting to see what exactly the president has to say about this.
But overall, it was this 11-minute speech where the president sought to reassure Americans, hoping, continuing to say that this is going to have a deadline on it, though health experts still say that's unclear, what the president is saying, you know, this is just one moment in time. This is not a financial crisis, though.
Of course, it really remains to be seen just how widespread the effects of this are going to be, not given what they already are.
ROMANS: All right, Kaitlan Collins.
Eleven minutes that did not soothe the global markets one bit. Dropping after President Trump announced the 30-day European travel restrictions. Looking at markets around the world you can see Asian shares down sharply. Europe just opened down -- actually Europe is not open yet, but Europe will open -- no, no, it's open. Europe is down and it's down sharply here. Wall Street pointed to more trouble ahead. You can see a 4 percent decline. That's almost 1,000 points for the Dow Futures.
Even the proposed payroll tax relief to keep money in people's pockets did not help. Bull market confidence is shattered. The Dow's 11-year bull market is over. The market finished down 20 percent from its high in February. The S&P hanging on, briefly reaching bear market territory midway, but looking like it will crash into a bear market today.
The market reaction and the week's coronavirus headlines confirm a new reality. More cases, social distancing, cancellations, school closures. These are things that grind the economy to a halt. The president tried to sound a unifying tone last night but his claims the last few weeks have been anything but.
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TRUMP: We're doing a great job with it and it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away. It's blindsided the world and I think we've handled it very, very
We have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work, some of them going to work, but they get better.
Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus.
When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days, it's going to be down to close to zero.
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ROMANS: Close to zero. After weeks of upbeat assessments the White House is catching up to the markets now. More than half of the S&P's gains since Trump took office have vanished. Airlines and cruise lines cut in half. At Amtrak, future bookings down 50 percent. Cancellations are up 300 percent.
Boeing, the bluest of the blue chips, lost 18 percent yesterday. It's already facing 737 MAX troubles. Now the plunging oil prices reduces incentives for airlines to buy more fuel efficient planes. And once Boeing misses delivery deadlines by a year, airlines can cancel or delay purchases with no penalty.
Vicious selloffs, treasury bonds signaling a global recession. And Goldman Sachs says the 11-year-old bull market is over. Coronavirus is here.
JARRETT: European officials say they were completely blindsided by President Trump's announcement on new travel restrictions.
CNN's Nic Robertson is live in London with more.
Nic, we're hearing that even the European ambassadors in Washington had no idea this was coming even hours before the speech.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: And I think they're going to be scrambling to figure out what to say about it and what their position should be on it.
Look, for the United Kingdom it seems to be in a good position because the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland are excluded from this, but taken from a medical view, President Trump has excluded all the Schengen countries, you know, Italy, France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia.
Italy is the hardest hit in Europe. France and Germany following on. But United Kingdom, Britain, is expected to follow the way that France and Germany are going. It is expected potentially to follow the way that Italy is going, the very high -- potentially very high numbers of people catching the virus.
So at a medical level this doesn't entirely make sense. Britain has 459 confirmed coronavirus cases at the moment. Ireland, 43. Yet Lithuania, who is on the list now not to be allowed -- for its citizens not to be allowed to travel to the United States has only three recorded cases.
The reality is that this open Schengen area in Europe that anyone can travel around without effectively crossing a border, yes, is an issue that's potentially going to allow the virus to spread throughout Europe, but what President Trump has done here is take a far bigger and far bolder step than any of the European countries have taken and they're already concerned about the economic impacts to the individual nations.
So there will be additional concern about how President Trump's decision will affect the economy of all the European nations. So I think at the moment it is likely sent capitals in Europe reeling as they figure out how to respond, what do they do, would they be under pressure to take similar hard measures like this? It's really caught everyone by surprise as you say.
JARRETT: Yes. All right, Nic Robertson, thanks so much.
ROMANS: The spread of coronavirus is up ending everyday life in many ways. A stunning move by the NBA putting the season on hold after one of its players tested positive for coronavirus.
Last night's game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was the first casualty. The teams were on the court. Fans were in the stands when the game was abruptly postponed just before tipoff. Look at the reaction of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban watching his team play elsewhere when he saw the news.
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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.
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JARRETT: LeBron James weighing in as well, tweeting, "Man, canceling sporting events, school, office work, et cetera, et cetera. What we really need to cancel is 2020. Damn, it's been a rough three months. God bless and stay safe."
And a major blow to March Madness, it will go on, but without fans in the stand. That, of course, is a huge revenue loss for tournament venues across the country. Only essential staff and family members will be allowed to attend.
ROMANS: The World Health Organization now calling the spread of coronavirus a pandemic. Overnight California joined Washington state in banning gatherings of more than 250 people.
Oscar winner Tom Hanks revealing he and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, tested positive for coronavirus. In an Instagram post Hanks said they contracted it in Australia. He's there for pre-production on a film about Elvis Presley.
The virus disrupting the work lives of millions. Twitter now requiring its nearly 5,000 employees to work from home. Other big companies inside and outside the hot spots have done the same.
JARRETT: Overnight Starbucks told customers in some stores it will begin limiting seating to improve social distancing and in some cases only the drive through will be open.
An employee in Washington state Senator Maria Cantwell's office has tested positive, becoming the first publicly known case among congressional staffers.
Five late-night shows including the "Late Show," "Last Week Tonight" and the "Tonight Show" all announced they will tape without live audiences.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in Boston, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C., all called off. New York City's parade was postponed but a new date has not been announced. Same in Chicago where officials say the city's parade and iconic river dying will move to a later date.
That's how you know this is serious when the Chicago (INAUDIBLE).
ROMANS: Although make it up, I know they will.
A programming note, join Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a second CNN global town hall, "CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FEARS." Tonight 10:00 Eastern only on CNN.
JARRETT: Well, the epicenter of the outbreak in China reporting a major drop in cases. But wait until you hear what the National Security adviser says about the Chinese response.
ROMANS: All right, breaking overnight, President Trump sharply restricting travel to the U.S. for more than two dozen European countries as a measure to help contain coronavirus. After the president said he was suspending all travel for the next 30 days, the White House had to clarify later the ban applies only to foreign nationals, mirroring restrictions applied to China just last month.
JARRETT: The president also framed the outbreak as a foreign virus, trying to pin the blame for it elsewhere. But now the original epicenter of the outbreak, Hubei Province in China, is reporting its lowest number of new deaths and cases in months.
CNN's David Culver is live in Shanghai.
And David, has life finally returned to normal there or perhaps a new normal?
DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A new normal is a good way to put it, Laura. It depends where you're talking about because within mainland China they've kind of split this into different zones and according to the high risk. So Hubei Province where you referenced the lowest number of new cases and deaths since the outbreak started. It's incredible to think of that turnaround.
The most recent number of cases is now at eight within the province, 10 deaths were reported just in the past 24 hours. So that's significant but that's been attributed to the extreme lockdowns that are still in place there. So within that region it's still heavily restricted. Folks, in many cases, are still sealed inside their homes and their complexes, waiting for basic needs to come to them.
When you come to a city like Shanghai, 24 plus million people, the financial hub of China, it is starting to come back to life. In fact it may sound trivial but I was just hearing our hotel manager saying that they just got the all-clear to open the restaurant. You start to see these signs of normality coming little by little. And it kind of brings you up a little bit.
But there's also a political back and forth that we're starting to see in state media here and coming from government officials, both in the U.S. and here in China, and it has to do with the National Security adviser of the U.S., Robert O'Brien, and his comments that really the world is probably two months behind at responding to this because of what he considers to be China's coverup early on.
Now we have reported at the local level within Wuhan, the city where it started within Hubei Province, that there was allegation of coverup, underreporting. However, when the central government stepped in, they pushed aside the local government and they took control and they treated this like a military operation. They set up the extreme lockdowns that are currently still in place and they started building field hospitals.
And so their response is what now is taking precedent and other countries are trying to mimic, though it's now in places like the U.S., and even countries in Europe can do that as extreme and perhaps even as effectively as the World Health Organization has said that China has done that.
China also, interestingly enough, Laura, is floating this idea in state media that the virus did not originate in Wuhan. They're not saying where exactly it might have originated but they're saying it's possibly not from China.
JARRETT: All right. David, thanks so much.
ROMANS: All right, Italy remains on lockdown this morning. The Piazza del Duomo in Milan clearly showing the effects. A busy town square before and after. Now Italy is tightening the shutdown even further nationwide.
CNN's Melissa Bell joins us live from the airport in Rome. An entire country on lockdown. It's just remarkable, Melissa.
MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just extraordinary, Christine. And even as Italians were digesting that since the announcement on Monday that essentially their country was going to get locked off to the outside world, that they were going to have all these restrictions on their travel within Italy as well, then these new measures announced last night will show the gravity of the situation and the fact that it is not yet under control.
All businesses apart from supermarkets and pharmacies now closed in Italy as well. It is a remarkably quiet Roman International Airport outside of which I am this morning. Already there were so many flights canceled. So many airlines have stopped coming into Italy or leaving Italy.
What we're expecting to see now there, Christine, as a result of the announcement made by the American president last night is Americans and the permanent residents of the United States are probably trying to get on those four flights that are planned out of this airport and back to the United States today. They have of course until Friday night at midnight to do so. So we're expecting to see a mad rush as people try and get home while they can.
There is also the question of how effective this is likely to be. As David Culver was just saying about China, everyone is looking at Italy now to see how the measures that they have adopted or are adopting are making a difference. And one of the things an experience here in Italy has shown is that a travel ban is not necessarily that effective. Remember that Italy was the first European country to ban any flights from China or to China. First European country to do so.
Where did that get us? It is now the biggest outbreak here in Europe, way ahead of other European countries. And only yesterday we saw that massive jump again in the number of reported cases. From the Italian experience at least it simply doesn't seem to have been extremely effective.
ROMANS: All right. Melissa Bell for us outside the airport in Rome. Thank you, Melissa.
JARRETT: All right. A lot more on coronavirus in just a moment.
Also, Bernie Sanders says he's staying in the 2020 race, but for how long and why?
JARRETT: A defiant Bernie Sanders says he is staying in the Democratic race for president despite a series of defeats that has him trailing Joe Biden in the delegate race. Sanders says he looks forward to debating Biden one on one for the first time this Sunday on CNN. He still believes he is best suited to beat President Trump in November and he made his case on the "Tonight Show."
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SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump is not going to be easy to beat, and I think you need a campaign of energy and excitement. I think you're going to have to bring young people in the political process in a way we've not seen before, and I think you've got to get through to working class people who in many cases have given up on the political process.
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JARRETT: Sanders pointing to his appeal with younger voters, though they have not shown up to vote in the numbers he expected.
Things won't be any easier for Sanders in the coming days. Four states including Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, each with big delegate hauls, hold primaries next week. Joe Biden is heavily favored in all four of them.
ROMANS: All right, 26 minutes past the hour. The president trying, trying to ease coronavirus concerns with an Oval Office address. What he said and what he did not say has rattled markets again. Fallout reaching the stock market, the NBA, the NCAA, even Tom Hanks.