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THE SITUATION ROOM

Coronavirus Pandemic Escalating; Interview with Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH); Pandemic Prompts State Of Emergency In New York City; National Guard Arrives In Containment Zone Near New York City; Sports Leagues Suspending Games Causing Significant Ripple Effects Throughout the Economy. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 12, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:17]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. And we're following breaking news.

U.S. stocks suffering their worst day since the Black Monday stock market crash of 1987, as concern over the coronavirus pandemic grows. The Dow dropped more than 2,300 points today, nearly a 10 percent drop, erasing almost three years of gains.

Meanwhile, the country's top infectious disease doctor tells lawmakers the United States is failing when it comes to testing for coronavirus. That is as the death toll from the virus has now climbed here in the United States to 40, with more than 1,500 cases throughout the country.

And the impact on daily life is rapidly escalating. Ohio, Maryland and now Kentucky, they are closing all K-12 schools for weeks, impacting millions and millions of students and their families. And professional and college sports leagues have now canceled or postponed games, some even suspending their entire seasons, including the NBA.

Our guest this hour is Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. There you see him. He's standing by live. And our medical experts, correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our national correspondent, Erica Hill.

Erica, you're in New Rochelle, New York, just outside New York City, where the National Guard is now on the scene.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that's right.

Today was the first official day of this containment zone, which runs through March 25. And the National Guard on hand really dealt with logistical support here within that containment zone.

I can tell you as well, in New Rochelle, the school district as of this afternoon canceling school for all 10 schools in the district. And just a short time ago, Governor Cuomo announcing that, here in New Rochelle, New York will open what he says is the first drive-through testing facility on the East Coast.

And those who are quarantined in New Rochelle will have first priority to that testing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILL (voice-over): Life screeching to a halt across the country, as officials work to contain the spread of coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really stressful that this is happening.

HILL: In New Rochelle, New York, the National Guard arriving in the nation's first containment zone, as Governor Andrew Cuomo announces sweeping new restrictions to limit community spread.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): And we're going to take very dramatic actions in that regard to reduce the number of people in contagious environment, no gathering with 500 people or more.

HILL: In response, Broadway's biggest theaters going dark for the next month starting tonight, college classes moving online, in Ohio, Governor DeWine ordering all K-12 schools in the state closed until April 3.

Maryland also shutting down schools statewide, while other areas adapt to keep their doors open.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Schools are essential, staggering P.E., making sure that assemblies are canceled, making sure that we are providing meals in the classroom or in other isolated settings.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): The minute you take the school away, a lot of parents don't have an option, particularly for their younger kids. A lot of kids depend on school for food.

HILL: Hospitals preparing for a potential influx of patients. In Boston, Tufts Medical Center rescheduling non-urgent appointments and elective surgeries. Social distancing now the defining policy of this pandemic.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Right now, we should be doing things that separate us as best as possible from people who might be infected.

HILL: In Florida, a JetBlue passenger from New York who told airline officials he had tested positive after landing at Palm Beach International Airport is now in isolation.

Nearly every major sport upended, the NCAA canceling March Madness, NASCAR announcing it will run races without fans. The PGA also moving forward without spectators. Major League Baseball canceling spring training and delaying opening day, as the NHL, MLS and tennis suspend their seasons.

The NBA the first to pause its season Wednesday night, after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The game tonight has been postponed.

HILL: Thursday morning, the team announced a second confirmed case.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: Wolf, there is also the fallout from all of these cancellations. You think about the arenas. We're learning that Live Nation, one of the major concert promoters and live event companies in the country, along with others, they are also canceling their events at least through March.

There was the fallout for those folks who work in the concessions, who work in the arenas, who are connected to the broadcast of all of these events. And that economic fallout, Wolf, only just beginning to be felt.

[18:05:02]

BLITZER: Yes, it's going to get a whole lot worse.

Erica Hill, thank you very much.

Let's go to the White House right now. Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us.

Jim, President Trump and his top health officials, they're not necessarily on the same page right now when it comes to this pandemic.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

And President Trump is calling for calm as fears about the coronavirus are growing. The White House, though, is brushing off concerns that the president needs to be tested for the coronavirus, despite his coming into contact with a Brazilian official over the weekend who came back positive for the virus.

The president told reporters earlier today he's not concerned about that. But a source close to the president tells me Mr. Trump is indeed concerned he may contract the coronavirus after interacting with people, including that Brazilian official, over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Still struggling to deal with the reality of the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump is back to downplaying the public health emergency as it is growing rapidly.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want it to go away with very, very few deaths. We need a little separation until such time as this goes away. It's going to go away. It's going to go away.

ACOSTA: The president is denying some key facts about the crisis, insisting Americans have essentially had no problems being tested for the coronavirus.

TRUMP: Frankly, the testing has been going very smooth. If you go to the right agency, if you go to the right area, you get the test.

ACOSTA: Even as a leading expert on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, admitted the administration is failing.

FAUCI: So, very quickly, the system does not -- is not really geared to what we need right . What you are asking for, that is a failing.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): A failing, yes.

FAUCI: It is a failing. Let's admit it.

ACOSTA: White House also brushed off concerns that the president may have been exposed, as a top Brazilian official tested positive for the virus after coming face to face with Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago last weekend, appearing together in photos.

Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement: "Both the president and vice president had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time."

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

ACOSTA: The president also defended his decision to halt travel from most European countries, except for the U.K. The administration gave British officials a heads-up, but did not do the same for other U.S. allies

TRUMP: Well, we get along very well with European leaders, but we had to make a decision. And I didn't want to take time of -- it takes a long time to make the individual calls.

ACOSTA: The travel ban did little to reassure the financial markets, which were plummeting as Mr. Trump was speaking.

TRUMP: You have to remember, the stock market, as an example, is still much higher than when I got here.

ACOSTA: Former Trump Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert questioned the travel restrictions, tweeting: "There's little value to European travel restrictions. Poor use of time and energy. We have nearly as much disease here in the U.S. as the countries in Europe."

Ever since the president addressed the nation from the Oval Office, White House officials have been in cleanup mode, clarifying his comments on the travel ban.

TRUMP: And these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing.

ACOSTA: As it turns out, cargo from Europe won't be impacted.

Mr. Trump also apparently misspoke when he said insurers would cover coronavirus treatments, when he meant tests. TRUMP: Earlier this week, I met with the leaders of health insurance

industry who have agreed to waive all co-payments for coronavirus treatments.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump's potential Democratic rivals say it's time for the president to get serious.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This virus laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration. Public fears are being compounded by a pervasive lack of trust in this president, fueled by adversarial relationship with the truth.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But we also have to face the truth. And that is that the number of casualties may actually be even higher than what the armed forces experienced in World War II.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Something else we're watching for, the president is expected to sign a new disaster declaration to free up resources to deal with this outbreak.

But even some of the president's fellow Republicans are cringing over Mr. Trump's performance in the Oval Office last night. One Trump adviser telling me, frankly, earlier today the president -- quote -- "still doesn't know how to bring this country together."

The day after that Oval Office address, the president and his team have resumed their attacks on Democrats and the media.

And, Wolf, getting back to this issue of whether or not the president should be tested for the coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the top medical experts on the president's Coronavirus Task Force, was just asked about this by reporters just outside the West Wing.

He said he's going to leave that up to the White House physician -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta over at the White House, thank you.

Let's get some more on all of this.

Joining us now, Republican Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio.

Governor, I know you got a lot going on. We're grateful to you for spending a few moments with us.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: You're now closing all schools across your state, banning gatherings of 100 people or more.

[18:10:03]

What led you, Governor, to take these drastic measures? DEWINE: You know, Wolf, we're very lucky in Ohio. We have a great

director of health, Dr. Amy Acton.

We have been consulting with experts all through this every single day. And it was time. The experts told us it was time to do this. This was not something we wanted to do, particularly with the schoolchildren.

But you have to -- the experts tell you, you have to try to slow this thing down. And our biggest concern in Ohio and this country is overtaxing our whole medical system, so we end up like, apparently, Italy is, where they're making life-and-death decisions.

We don't want to get to that point. We got to push this back. We got to spread it out. We know what's coming. We know it's significantly here in Ohio.

But, this way, we can spread this thing out, and so that we will be in a position where we can save lives. And we can also have a health system that will be able to treat, not only the people who have this, but will also be able to treat people have heart attacks and other day-to-day problems.

So, it was time to do it.

BLITZER: Yes. And you're not the only one. Maryland, Kentucky, they're also closing all public schools, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, charter schools.

Your state has reported -- correct me if I'm wrong, Governor -- only about five confirmed cases of coronavirus. But what's so alarming, Ohio's Department of Public Health estimates -- and correct me once again if I'm wrong -- 100,000 people in Ohio may be carrying this virus right now.

Do you have the resources to respond to those kinds of numbers?

DEWINE: Well, sure.

Well, first of all, Wolf, people may ask where we came up with this. This is what the experts tell us. They tell us that, when you have two community people, in other words, who didn't get it on a cruise ship or didn't get on a trip, and we don't know where that got it, when you hit two, you basically have 1 percent of your population that is impacted, that is infected.

So, that's what really led us to do this, a large number of people. And this thing multiplies. The experts we have consulted says that it will multiply every six days. So, in other words, if you have 100,000 people one day, six days later, you have got 200,000.

And then it just keeps doubling.

So, it's here in Ohio. It's here in every state, I'm sure. But the experts just told us, look, if you wait until you think it's time to do it, you're too late. BLITZER: Yes.

DEWINE: You have got to get -- it's not like you're getting in front of it and keeping it out of the state. That's not what we're doing. But there's a time where you can really break it, slow it down significantly, but you got to really take some really dramatic and drastic action.

And, look, this was dramatic and drastic action, shutting all the schools down in the state of Ohio, going to -- shutting down the theaters, shutting down movie theaters, not something we wanted to do.

But as I told the people of the state of Ohio today, look, we're going to get through this.

BLITZER: Yes.

DEWINE: The sun's going to come out again. It's going to get darker first, but we got to push through it. It's like running a gauntlet.

We got to get people through this gauntlet. And when you get through it, we're going to be OK. We are going to move on. Ohioans are resilient people.

BLITZER: They are, indeed.

Do you have enough tests right now for all the people who will need tests in Ohio? Are people able, for example, to simply walk in and get tested?

DEWINE: No, people can't walk in and get tested. That's not the situation. I don't think that's the situation in any state.

We have over 1,000 now. We got another shipment in. But...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Another 1,000 what?

DEWINE: Tests. Tests.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: That's all for the entire state? You got a lot of people in Ohio.

DEWINE: Here's -- Wolf, here's how it's been explained to me by Dr. Acton.

What she says is, look, we're going to reach a point where we're not going to test people. Would it be nice to be able to know exactly where we are? Yes, but we can pretty much extrapolate from what the experts tell us where we are.

And that's where the figure of 100,000 that we could have in the state of Ohio. And so we're going to get to a point, not too distant future, when there's going to be so many people that are infected in this country that you're going to stop doing testing anyway.

So I'm not minimizing that. But I'm just saying, look, we have to focus every day. As governor of the state, I have to focus every day on doing what I can to protect the people of the state. The actions that we took today, we believe, will clearly save lives and we will slow this thing down.

BLITZER: Yes, let's hope -- let's -- everybody's hoping for that.

One quick political question. How's the crisis going to impact Ohio's Democratic presidential primary, which is next Tuesday?

[18:15:01]

DEWINE: I have no idea. I just have been so focused on this.

And I don't know. The one thing that we saw, of course -- I was asked a few days ago about rallies of the two candidates. And I said, look, I can't tell them not to have rallies.

But I think people should not go to those rallies. And it would probably be a good idea if we don't have any kind of meetings that big. It's not that it was a political rally. We just don't want to have that big of gatherings.

And we issued the warning today.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: No, they have canceled all those.

The Sanders campaign and the Biden -- they have canceled the rallies.

DEWINE: Yes. And that was smart. That was the right thing the do.

BLITZER: But what about voting? Are people simply going to be able to go to the voting booths and cast a ballot?

DEWINE: Yes, we have made -- we have made changes.

For example, we had a number of polling places that were actually in nursing homes. And we have really restricted -- we have pulled those out. Secretary of State LaRose pulled those out, put them somewhere else.

So, we have taken a lot of actions. We also have early voting in Ohio, so a lot of people have already voted. Voting is going on tomorrow again. It goes on this weekend. People can vote on Monday.

So there's ample opportunity to kind of spread this out as far as the number of people who are in line it at one time. So we do not anticipate any major problems on Election Day on Tuesday.

BLITZER: Well, good luck. We really appreciate your joining us, Governor DeWine. I know these are critical days for you, for everyone in your state, indeed, critical days for people all over the country, indeed, all over the world.

More than 100 countries right now are suffering from the coronavirus.

Governor DeWine, thank you so much.

DEWINE: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead, a state of emergency declared in New York City.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, he's standing by live. He will join us.

Plus, a source now telling CNN that President Trump is concerned about contact he's had with people infected with the coronavirus. Will he get tested?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:21:11]

BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is rapidly escalating tonight, with three states already announcing they will close all schools in their states for at least two weeks, impacting millions of kids and their families.

Let's get some more from our experts and our analysts.

And, Zeke Emanuel, you teach this kind of stuff at the University of Pennsylvania.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: We have got shut down our school.

BLITZER: The University of Pennsylvania.

EMANUEL: Yes, we're all online. Students have an extra week of summer vacation. Staff are going to go home. And faculty are simply going to teach online.

BLITZER: So I know you have been doing some analysis, some research.

How long is this going to continue for all of us who are watching right now?

EMANUEL: Well, I think you can shut down a place for a few weeks, and then send it away.

But the moment you reengage school, reengaged commerce and other things travel especially, you're going to have more cases come in. So you're going to have this sort of yo-yo, effect where, you shut it down, you let it out, you shut it down.

That's important, because it reduces the total demand on the health care system and doesn't tip it over. But I think every time you -- we are going to ease up from these schools, you're going to have more -- and allow less social distancing, you're going to have more cases. Until we have immunity in the population, either by infection or by a vaccine, I think we're going to be in serious, serious trouble the next couple of years.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Are you talking this -- a couple of years?

EMANUEL: Yes.

BLITZER: Because I was going to say, weeks, months? But what are you saying?

EMANUEL: Yes. I'm saying -- well, you're not going to get a vaccine proven for, call it 12 months at the earliest, more like 16 or 18 months.

And you're going to have -- you're not going to have enough immunity in the -- in all of society to keep this thing down.

BLITZER: So, Dana, if he says two years, we're going to have to be little with this kind of situation, the president, he's trying to downplay the concerns right now.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, we were talking at this table this time yesterday about the fact that I and other colleagues were told that reality was setting in for the president.

If that's the case, I don't know what the reality has been that we have seen both last night and, more importantly, today. I mean, last night, the problem that the president had is that the speech was riddled with errors, meaning the things he was saying were not actually the policies that he was implementing.

But, today, he's really drive driving everybody crazy, because he is insisting over and over again, oh, the tests, they're there, you can get tested, this is going to be short, it's going to -- and he's -- you know why he's doing it, because he's selling. He's selling, selling, selling in order to try to calm the markets.

But the more he does that, and it doesn't have any bearing on reality, the more the markets say, we don't believe you. And what we're seeing is that there's no leadership.

BLITZER: And you heard Republican Governor DeWine of Ohio say, he doesn't have any tests. He has a few tests over there. And they're going to just simply stop testing even if they get some opportunity, because it's exploding.

He thinks maybe 100,000 people in his state already have the virus.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You can't get a test if you want or think you need to test. If you think you need it, there are criteria that the government is putting out that will determine whether you can get that test. I spoke to my own doctor today. And I said, look, if I felt like I had

symptoms, could I get a test? He said no. He said, because the labs are too slow. We have criteria. We're setting up protocols.

The uncertainty, the lack of leadership, the vacuum of leadership is what is creating uncertainty all around. And my -- based on my own conversations and reporting, Zeke, my understanding is that taking draconian steps, where governors are stepping up, mayors are stepping up -- you talked to Mayor Garcetti -- university schools, we have a window here of days to a couple of weeks to really do something around mitigation, to lessen the impact.

[18:25:07]

So, even if we get in this cycle, we can lessen its severity.

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY: Is that how to talk about it?

EMANUEL: You're right. That will -- the schools and social distancing will lessen the impact.

What I was talking about is, what happens when you ease up on the social distancing and you allow people to go out and...

GREGORY: Up and down, up and down.

EMANUEL: Up and down and up and down.

BLITZER: And you're saying we could be living with this for at least two years.

EMANUEL: For a while.

And, by the way, in Denver, they opened up a drive-through testing, like in Korea. Four-hour wait.

GREGORY: Right.

BLITZER: Yes, just to be tested.

But let me just get Abby into this.

Abby, you would think, when the president of the United States delivers an Oval Office address, looking into that camera, reading from a script that's on a teleprompter, he would have his staff fact- check every word before he addresses the American people, indeed, the world.

And he had a whole bunch of mistakes in there.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

I mean, we were talking at this table yesterday. And I said to you that the one thing the president needed to do was tell the truth in that address last night. And that's actually the one thing that he did not do.

The White House seems to be sort of chalking this up to the rush to get this address out. But that's really not acceptable, given the situation that the country faces right now.

The markets were looking to the president for some sense that he had control over the situation. Frankly, it's been obvious that they didn't have control over the situation prior to last night. But his address made it worse.

He said that goods were going to be prohibited from coming from Europe into the United States. Futures nosedived when he said that, and it turned out that wasn't true. He also told the public that insurance companies would allow no co-pays for treatment for the coronavirus illness.

That is also not true. So, for average Americans...

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Americans, as well as businesses.

PHILLIP: Yes, just the tests.

Average Americans, as well as businesses, if you listened last night, you would have been completely misled. And it's just an absence of leadership.

BLITZER: Because the president says the testing is going very smoothly.

BASH: Right.

BLITZER: Anthony Fauci of NIH, the infectious disease specialist, says it's failing.

BASH: Right?

And he would know. And the fact that you have Republican after Republican who have been very reluctant to say anything negative about the president on a whole host of issues, on Capitol Hill today, after being briefed, saying explicitly to reporters, almost begging reporters to get the message to the president, he has to stop saying that tests are available.

It is not true, because they're hearing from their constituents. Well, the president said that the tests are available. And they're not. And they're at a loss.

BLITZER: Everybody, stand by. There's more news we're following.

New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio, he's standing by live. He will join us. He expects 1,000 coronavirus cases in his city by next week.

I will ask him how officials are bracing, what he's doing. He joins us live when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

BLITZER: We have breaking news tonight. A state of emergency now declared in New York City as the number of coronavirus cases nationwide now tops at 1,500 with 40 deaths.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is joining us right now. He is at the city's command center in Brooklyn.

Mayor, thank you so much for spending a few moments with me. I know you just declared a state of emergency in New York City. What led to that decision and what exactly does it mean?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): Wolf, it means that I have extraordinary powers to determine where people can be, when, you know, to determine what kind of gatherings are acceptable or not, where, you know, parts of the city, how we handle, who goes in, who goes out.

Now, look, I'm not using all these powers immediately. The one that I'm acting on and Governor Cuomo is acting on is to cancel any gatherings of over 500 people for things like sports events, concerts. Those, unfortunately now, we have the take those down.

And then for under 500, people whether it is, you know, a cultural event or whether it is a restaurant, a bar, we're saying we want indoor spaces to be at 50 percent of their legal capacity or less, because we just want people to spread out. This is we want to give people more space, not have people in really close quarters.

This is what we're going to do now. But the emergency powers give me the ability to do a lot more if we need to. Wolf, it's one day at a time here as we do it a real, you know, unprecedented challenge.

BLITZER: Yes. certainly is. You've also said, Mayor, that New York City will have more than a thousand cases of coronavirus by next week. Is your city equipped to response to this kind of public health crisis?

DE BLASIO: Yes. I mean, it's very painful to say that out loud, Wolf. It's nothing that I want to do, but I'm watching the numbers here. We had one case starting March 1st. You know, here it is 11 days later, we're at 95. I mean, we can do the math. We have community spread here. It's no longer about travel. You know we're going to get to that number, I predict, next week.

But, look, 80 percent of those folk, and it seems to be really consistent, Wolf, this is some good news, 80 percent of the folks who contract the coronavirus have a very mild experience, and particularly healthier folks, younger folks tend to do okay with it. We're really concerned about the other 20 percent, particularly they're older, particularly they have those serious pre-existing medical condition. Those folks are going to need a lot of care in many cases end up in a hospital system. So if you think about 20 percent of 1,000, you know, 200 people, given how big our city is, how big our hospitals are, yes, we can handle 200 more cases.

[18:35:06]

But as it keeps growing, we're going to have a big, big challenges and we're going to start right now to retour our hospital system, to be ready for those challenges.

BLITZER: And as your ability to test patients, to test people who think they might have the coronavirus improves since we last spoke. Because I got to tell you, speaking to people all over the country, they don't have the tests they need.

DE BLASIO: Wolf, I hate to tell you the answer is no, but it's no. We have appealed repeatedly to the federal government. I have a call out to Vice President Pence. I'm going to plead with him directly. The FDA has not approved the automated testing that would allow us to do thousands of tests in a single day and get results in the same day. That's what we need to fight the battle so we can really figure out who we need to help and who is okay.

And by the way, when you can say that somebody is negative, that helps. We had a lot of the major, major New York City employers at city hall today. And one of things they said is help us to know if someone doesn't have it. It's going to reassure our workforce. It's going to allow us to keep people employed and give them a livelihood.

Wolf, I am worried about so many New Yorkers, so many Americans not having enough money for food or rent or anything if they lose their jobs. We want people keep working, who can. So that testing actually is crucial for so many reasons. But the federal government still won't approve it. It seems to me we're in the war here. You take more time, actions and you do extraordinary thing, but we are not seeing it from Washington still.

BLITZER: What about the schools in New York City, because, you know, the governors in Maryland, in Ohio, in Kentucky and a whole bunch of other states are closing some of the schools and those three states all the schools are about to close at least for two, three, four weeks. What about the schools in the five boroughs of New York?

DE BLASIO: We're keeping them open right now, we want to keep them open. And, Wolf, that is both about our kids' education, of course, but also about the realities. We have so many working New Yorkers who have no other place for the kids to be during the day. We have a huge number of single-parent households where they don't have another place for their kid, they can't bring their kid to work. I mean, there is a lot of very practical problems.

On top of that, there is a reality if a lot of parents don't have any choice, they'll simply not be able to go to work at all. They'll have to stay home with their kids. That includes people we desperately need, like first responders, like educators, healthcare professionals. We can't afford a situation where we start to lose all our public servants because they have to stay home because school is not in session.

You know, this healthcare system that we just talked about is going to be stressed in an intense way. I need every healthy healthcare professional at their post. I don't need a situation where they have to stay home, because their kid has to stay home. So there's a lot of ramification here. We're going to do our damnedest to keep our schools open.

BLITZER: Because a lot of these kid, they relying going to school to get a healthy breakfast, a healthy lunch. They don't get that necessarily if they don't go to school.

Mayor De Blasio, I know you've got a lot going on, thank you so much for joining us. We'll continue this conversation down the road.

DEL BLASIO: Thank you, Wolf. Thanks a lot.

BLITZER: Just ahead, the National Guard arrives at the country's first coronavirus containment zone just outside New York City. The mayor of New Rochelle, there you see him, he's standing by live. We'll speak with Mayor Bramson when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

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BLITZER: Tonight, the National Guard is on site at the coronavirus containment zone set up in the New York City suburb of New Rochelle in Westchester County. Mayor Noam Bramson is joining us right now.

Mayor, we have spoken before, but what's the latest you can tell us right now, the number of cases in your city and how this containment zone is working?

MAYOR NOAM BRAMSON (D-NY): Well, as you know, the containment zone is a restriction on the large gatherings within large institutions which is a sensible public health measure in order to mitigate the spread of the virus in an area where there has been a significant concentration of positive tests. It's not a quarantine zone, it's not an exclusion zone, it's not a restriction on people coming or going, nor is it a restriction on individuals or on businesses.

But even so, it does pose a considerable hardship on our community, especially as we have schools closing, houses of worship closing, parents who have to considered child care options, as well as those who are under individual quarantine, which is an even greater burden.

So we're going through significant challenge in New Rochelle but we're also rising to the occasion. And I am proud of the way that the people of New Rochelle have approached this in a fashion that is calm, measured, proportionate to the issues that are before us and supportive of their neighbors.

And the Guard has been an important part of that equation, because they've come here to provide us with logistical and operational support, delivering meals to students, delivering supplies, providing cleaning services to public and not-for-profit facilities, not here in a military or policing function, not setting up roadblocks, but making sure that we have the resources we need to meet this challenge together.

BLITZER: Yes. I'm very grateful to the National Guard. I understand that Mayor, all ten school in the New Rochelle School District will be closed. You did get some criticism from not taking that step from to get-go. So why now, why the change?

BRAMSON: Well, initially, it was only the schools in the containment area who were closed with the guidance of the state's public health professionals.

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Our board of education receiving public input, and considering the totality of circumstances decided it was more prudent to close all the schools in New Rochelle, and part of that is because families have students who are in multiple different schools in different parts of the city and treating everyone in New Rochelle in the same fashion is a more defensible position.

So, I think the board of education made the right decision. And we're all responding to the changing circumstances hour by hour, day by day. And we have to be prepared to be flexible in response the changing facts on the ground.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: You got a real problem in New Rochelle. Are you able to get enough testing kits in order to make sure that people know or don't, or do know if they do have this virus?

BRAMSON: Well, the good news is that the state has really ramped up the testing capacity within New Rochelle. We expect that hundreds of tests will be able to be conducted on a daily basis as a result of the state's intervention. That would be very helpful.

The bad news is that here in New Rochelle like everywhere in America, we are suffering from a significant testing shortage. I think almost every public health official would acknowledge that that's one of the significant failures nationwide, which has made it more difficult for our whole country to confront the virus in the way that it should have been confronted.

BLITZER: Tell us about the drive-thru testing facility that you're planning on putting forward.

BRAMSON: Well, again, just to be clear. It is the state that is maintaining this facility and not the city. I wouldn't want to speak on their behalf, but this is what I made a reference to earlier, having this facility within the city is going to enable us to accelerate the testing and increase the volume of testing. That's very important.

But people who want a test still need to go through their doctor or health care provider. They can't simply show up there, there are protocols that the state has established in order to prioritize testing, and that is necessary as long as the demand for testing exceeds supply. We have to make sure that the testing is targeted in the most effective way possible.

BLITZER: The New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, Mayor, thank you so much for joining us.

BRAMSON: Thank you. Good to be with you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Just ahead, games cancelled, seasons suspended. We'll take a closer look at the ripple effect of the coronavirus sports shutdown.

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BLITZER: The coronavirus pandemic hits the sports world, forcing the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NCAA, and others to suspend and postpone games.

Our Brian Todd is taking a closer look at all the ramifications from these truly extraordinary decisions.

And this is impacting, Brian, a lot more than the athletes and the fans.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf, there is a ripple effect from this very significant tonight. You've got a staggering amount of TV and ad revenue that could be lost.

But on the ground, it's the food vendors, ticket sellers, ushers, many of them looking for other sources of income tonight.

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TODD (voice-over): Tonight, the NBA, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer are shuttered, their seasons on hold. The NCAA's wildly popular March Madness basketball tournament cancelled. NASCAR will hold its races without fans.

BARRY SVRLUGA, SPORTS COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think the only thing we can really compare this to in terms of stopping sports in its tracks would be 9/11.

TODD: Last night, fans solemnly streamed out of the arena in Oklahoma City. Moments earlier, captured on ESPN, the NBA game between their hometown team, the Thunder, and the Utah Jazz, an abrupt no go just before tipoff, after a Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The game tonight has been postponed. You are all safe. And take your time in leaching the arena tonight, and do so in an orderly fashion. Thank you for coming out tonight.

TODD: Outside, fans struggled to process it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's almost like they had a hard time letting us know it was going to be cancelled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they were just very disappointed. You know, it's very disappointing to be that because, you know, Thunder fans love the Thunder here.

TODD: Tonight, the economic ripple effect these sports league shutdowns is striking. It's not just the players, staff and equipment personnel who had their lives disrupted.

LISA DELPY NEIROTTI, DIRECTOR, SPORTS MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: There are restaurants that get impacted. There are the caterers that, you know, provide food that's sold to fans. It's the ushers. It's the part time people who relying on these jobs for their income.

TODD: Charter plane and bus services will feel the pinch and hotels. Some fans who were able to see a last NBA game in Atlanta came a long way and brought their wallets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in from New York, came to see the game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just came in for one game.

TODD: And many of these leagues are global brands. The NBA has an incredibly lucrative partnership with China. Analysts the league's TV viewership and potential revenue that's being lost there and across America could be staggering.

SVRLUGA: Think about this -- it's not just what happens in a given arena tonight. That's a television program. Every night if there are ten games on the NBA schedule, those are 10 TV programs. Media has bought into that. These packages are gigantic.

TODD: And analysts say that ripple effect on the average sports fan is also psychological.

SVRLUGA: We're sports. They're supposed to be, just by their nature, a diversion -- a diversion from the rough day at the office, diversion from some sort of circumstance that you have going on. If that's taken away, and there is nothing to divert your attention from the public health crisis, it's a hole that sports normally fills that it's not going to be able to fill.

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TODD: And for the deep breath that we all seem to need right now, sports business analysts say they are silver linings here. They point out these leagues have dealt with shutdowns before during labor disputes. The leagues are incredibly resilient financially and when they do come back, they say these leagues may experience a surge in popularity since the fans will have missed the games so much. Wolf, I know that you and I will.

BLITZER: Yes, we are both big fans looking forward to the Washington Nationals. That's going to be delayed at least a couple weeks.

Brian Todd reporting, thank you.

More news right after this.

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BLITZER: Important note, tune in later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, as Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta host a second CNN global town hall, "CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS".

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

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