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Coronavirus Outbreak Brings Drastic Changes to Everyday Life; Countries Around the World are Fighting to Contain the Outbreak; Sporting Events Grind to a Halt Over Infection Fears; United States Conducts "Aerial Bombardment" Against Iran-Backed Militia Facilities in Iraq; Mixed Messages On Testing Causing Confusion; Ghana Is Russia's New Troll Hub; Addressing The Fear And Anxiety Of Infection. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired March 13, 2020 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Natalie Allen. This is "CNN Newsroom." Next here, we are just hours away from President Trump's ban on travellers from most European countries. We will tell you what this means for Americans abroad.
Also in international football, Arsenal's manager has tested positive for coronavirus. We are standing by for news from an emergency league meeting.
Also this hour is a new CNN investigation on continued interference in American elections, an exclusive report from one of Russia's neutral farms.
Thank you for joining us. Our top story, the coronavirus pandemic is bringing life in the United States to a grinding halt in a way the country hasn't seen in generations. It seems every hour there is another cancellation, another emergency declaration. Disneyland and Disney World are shutting down, Broadway is going dark in New York, and almost every major sporting event is on hold.
The global sell-off and financial markets got worse Friday with all of the major indices in Asia down sharply. U.S. Futures also started slowly but are now trading higher after a disastrous 2,300-point drop for the Dow on Thursday.
And time is running out for Americans hoping to return from Europe as Donald Trump's new travel restrictions take effect in about 10 hours.
Forty-one Americans have died from the coronavirus and more than 1,600 people in the U.S. are now infected. For more, our Nick Watt reports from Los Angeles.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Disneyland in California now closing on Saturday morning through the end of the month and expect more announcements like this shortly, says the state's governor. Also, there will now be no March madness this year. The NBA, the NHL, Major League Soccer as well as the global ATP tennis tour all are now suspending their seasons. A second Utah Jazz player has now tested positive.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: The majority of the NBA has now come into contact with someone who has had direct contact with those Jazz players.
WATT (voice-over): Status, no barrier to infection. Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, just caught coronavirus while he was filming in Australia. Social distancing is now a key. Cleaning crews are in action at Palm Beach Airport after a passenger landed from New York then told officials their tests just came back positive.
In New Rochelle, New York, there is a containment zone and uniforms on the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was shocked with the National Guard, but the containment area, I'm OK with.
WATT (voice-over): Over in New York City, Broadway shows will now close, so well the Metropolitan Opera and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. No more gatherings of more than 500 people across the state. The governor calls the financial impact incalculable.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): This state is not going to be able to compensate businesses for lost revenue. It would bankrupt the state.
WATT (voice-over): State, cities, corporations increasingly taking the situation into their own hands.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We do have in this executive order the ability to commandeer existing private sector assets, including hotels and motels.
WATT (voice-over): The recommendation now across California, cancel or postpone events of 250 people or more. For elderly or infirm, don't attend a gathering of more than 10. Prepare for Starbucks to go only as they did in China. Starbucks might now limit in store seating.
And remember the Grand Princess cruise ship kept off the coast of California last week after 21 positive tests on board? Vice President Pence said this on Friday.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All passengers and crew will be tested for the coronavirus.
WATT (voice-over): But, today, we hear --
NEWSOM: All of these individuals will be tested, but not all of them have been tested.
WATT (voice-over): And three days after she docked in Oakland, some passengers are still stuck on board. Meanwhile, the Princess cruise line has halted global operations, all 18 ships for the next two months. (On camera): Now, we know that some of the passengers who have come off the Grand Princess who have been tested have tested positive for coronavirus. We don't know how many and state officials tell me that they will have more details on that in a few days.
Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.
ALLEN: Financial markets in Asia saw some huge losses in the early part of the day, but they have regained some ground now.
ALLEN: Journalist Kaori Enjoji is live in Tokyo for us. Hello to you, Kaori. First of all, after the U.S. markets posted big stock market decline, its biggest decline since Black Monday, records are being rewritten across Asia again today. What's the latest?
KAORI ENJOJI, CNBC TOKYO BUREAU CHIEF: That's right. It started off in freefall with Asian markets slicing through some key levels, particularly for Tokyo which went through very quickly 18,000, then it dropped to 17, 000 and below. At one point, the market was down 1,800 points. I mean 1,800 points. We haven't seen that in 30 years during recession here in Tokyo.
But then, it started to recover. This goes to show that the market is still very volatile. We are seeing a lot of price differentials on people who are willing to -- offering to sell and those wanting to buy and this creates a fairly thin market, and then you see these exaggerated moves.
What's different today though, Natalie, is the fact that the dollar is rising and that seems to be pushing -- putting a floor under some of the equity markets, plus the fact that countries like Australia are announcing some fairly acute measures to try and contain the economic fallout which is helping the market along with expectations for central bankers to do more.
ALLEN: Is there anything the central banks can do now to stop the panic?
ENJOJI: Central banks can cut interest rates as we have seen the Fed do. There are expectations that they might do more of that. But different central banks are in different situations. So you saw the European Central Bank yesterday -- the ECB, excuse me, did not cut rates because interest rates are pretty much close to zero or negative in some countries like Japan.
If you cut further, it is an option, but you get to a point where it becomes counterproductive, because the health of the banks, the financial institutions that are supposed to be helping the other companies by lending to them in times of financial crisis would not be beneficial for them, the financial institutions, so cutting interest rates even further and deeper into negative territory becomes counterproductive. What they can do is try to artificially prop up the market, which the Central Bank in Japan here has been doing. There is some talk that they will expand that program when they meet later on next week. But there has been a lot of huddling between government officials and central bankers throughout the day and throughout the week which goes to show that this crisis continues to grow for both the government and the central bankers.
ALLEN: We will see what happens in the markets in the United States on this Friday. Thank you so much, Kaori.
The European Union is reeling from new U.S. travel restriction set to take effect in less than 24 hours. This is live video from Madrid, Spain where passengers are getting ready to board some of the final flights to the United States.
President Trump's decision is intended to slow the spread of coronavirus in the U.S., but Americans traveling in Europe were suddenly scrambling to get home. CNN's Melissa Bell is in Rome for more.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chaos and fear tonight in Europe after President Trump announces a 30-day ban on travel to the United States. From Paris to Berlin to Rome and Madrid, Americans are scrambling to get home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think a lot of people panicked last night when it wasn't clear that like American citizens could still return home. So, I know a lot of people were freaked out and trying to change their flights like yesterday.
BELL (voice-over): In Rome --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was pretty nervous about not being able to go home.
BELL (voice-over): American citizens, permanent residents and some immediate family members are exempt from the ban, but questions remain about how they will be screened upon their return.
In Paris, arriving Americans are concerned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were on the plane. When we left California --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything was fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, everything was completely normal. As soon as we are in the air, we land and we get bombarded with messages from our families. Trump announced this and you can't come back and end of the world and all that stuff. So --
BELL (voice-over): The travel ban applies to 26 countries in Europe where people can move freely across international borders. Not included, Ireland and the United Kingdom. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the reasons U.K. basically has been -- it has got the border, has got very strong borders, and they are doing a very good job. They don't have very much infection at this point. Hopefully, they will keep it that way.
BELL (voice-over): But according to the latest statistics, the United Kingdom has more than 590 cases.
TOM BOSSERT, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR TO U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Good afternoon.
BELL (voice-over): President Trump's former Homeland Security adviser, Tom Bossert, tweeting, the travel restrictions will have little value, that it is a poor use of time and energy.
BELL (voice-over): And while the European Union expressed disapproval of Trump's decision to impose the ban unilaterally and without consultation, President Trump is unapologetic.
D. TRUMP: We had to move quickly. I mean, when they raise taxes on us, they don't consult us, and I think that is probably one in the same.
BELL (on camera): European leaders were pretty swift in the condemnation, pointing out the travel bans simply haven't proven very effective so far in bringing the outbreak under control. Second of all, in pointing that it is best shared practice and cooperation that has worked best.
And finally is the question of time. When you consider how important it is not to make mistakes, even as this pandemic progresses, take the case of Italy. Three weeks ago on Friday, there were fewer than three cases in this country. Today, more than 15,000, a country entirely on lockdown and an outbreak nowhere near under control.
Melissa Bell, CNN, Rome.
ALLEN: Brazil's president is waiting for coronavirus test results after one of his top aides became infected. Jair Bolsonaro and his entourage were guests last weekend at President Trump's resort in Florida. Afterward, the Brazilian leader press secretary tested positive for the disease.
Now, a source tells CNN that the U.S. president is very concerned that he may have been exposed to the virus. For the latest, here is CNN's Kaitlan Collins from the White House.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House says President Trump still hasn't been tested for coronavirus even though it just got much closer to him. After Trump hosted a dinner for the Brazilian president in Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night, the Brazilian press secretary has now tested positive for coronavirus.
The White House says that Trump had limited interaction with the senior aide and there is no reason for him to be tested despite a photo showing otherwise. For now, Trump says he is not worried.
D. TRUMP: Let's put it this way, I am not concerned.
My fellow Americans --
COLLINS (voice-over): After his primetime address created more chaos than calm, Trump caused more confusion about testing today.
D. TRUMP: Frankly, the testing has been going very smooth.
COLLINS (voice-over): That is not true, according to Democrats, Republicans, or even the president's own health advisers. Asked who is in charge of making sure tested or administered, the CDC director looked to Dr. Anthony Fauci for the answer today.
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: My colleagues are looking at me today to answer. It is a failing. Let's admit it. The idea of anybody getting it easily, the way people and other countries are doing it, we are not set up for that.
COLLINS (voice-over): Trump also confirmed that European leaders were not informed before he announced he was restricting most travel from Europe to the U.S. for the next 30 days.
D. TRUMP: We had to move quickly. I mean, when they raise taxes on us, they don't consult us.
COLLINS (voice-over): The president made that announcement in an Oval Office address in prime time last night.
D. TRUMP: We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.
COLLINS (voice-over): Well the message was intended to show that he was serious about coronavirus, the president left out major details. Less than an hour after he gave his address, the Department of Homeland Security clarified that it did not apply to American citizens or legal permanent residents.
D. TRUMP: It was made very clear last night who is and who isn't.
COLLINS (voice-over): The White House was also forced to clarify that the restrictions would not impact goods coming into the U.S. after Trump said that they would.
D. TRUMP: These prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval.
COLLINS (voice-over): After highlighting the risk of large crowds, the president has cancelled multiple trips on his own schedule, including public appearances, fundraises, and campaign events.
D. TRUMP: The question is, how many people will die, and I don't want people dying.
COLLINS (on camera): Other officials who were at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend and did interact with the Brazilian press secretary are getting tested and self-quarantining. They say, out of an abundance of caution.
People like Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the president's closest allies on Capitol Hill, is one of those. Another is Sen. Rick Scott of Florida who met with the two Brazilian officials in Miami over the weekend. But so far, that is not the plan for either Trump or the vice president at this time.
Kaitlan Collins, CNN, The White House.
ALLEN: Larry Sabato is the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. He joins me now via Skype. Thanks so much for coming on, Larry.
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Thank you, Natalie.
ALLEN: Well, let's talk about where we are here. President Trump spoke from the White House a little over 24 hours ago to announce the European travel ban. But because he misspoke, the markets reacted very poorly historically. Americans are more confused. Why can't the White House seem to get this right?
SABATO: That's a great question. Of course, we have asked it many, many times over the past three years. There is a pattern here. I will admit, that was one of his worst speeches ever, and that is saying something.
SABATO: Parts of it were incoherent. He certainly did not explain carefully what he meant by, for example, the travel ban, passenger ban on planes from certain countries in Europe to the United States. It has caused a lot of confusion. A lot of Americas abroad are worried about how they are going to get back or even paid for very expensive tickets so they can come back very quickly.
ALLEN: Our congressional reporter, Dana Bash, said a few hours ago that Republicans on the Hill are worried. Their constituents are calling, saying that the president is saying that everyone can get tested, but we actually can't.
The people are calling and there aren't tests. The headline here, sick people across the U.S. are being denied the coronavirus tests. Republicans on the Hill have always stood by this president, but will this pandemic change that now, do you think?
SABATO: I doubt anything will change. They cast their lot with Trump a long time ago. That does not mean that Americans cannot change their views and have it reinforced if it is negative. People get the truth. The president can say whatever he wants.
But, for example, if you are in North Carolina and you are sick and you want to see whether you got the coronavirus, you are going to find out that this state, a very large state of millions and millions of people has a total of 250 test kits.
ALLEN: That makes no sense, in a country like the United States that we are so far behind. Meantime, without consulting our important allies, the president cuts off travel from Europe. The E.U. is flabbergasted and angry he did not consult or inform them.
To that, President Trump said, well, I didn't have to call them, it takes time. Those were his words. Do you expect this president, at some point, we will get it that he has put the country in a terrible predicament and even beyond the United States?
SABATO: In a word, no. He will find other people to blame. Maybe he will turn to the Federal Reserve again, even though the Federal Reserve has nothing --
ALLEN: He blames them, too, though.
SABATO: Yeah. He has a long list of people to blame. He circulates that list with regularity.
ALLEN: Right. Well, Kaitlan Collins, our White House correspondent, also reported after he spoke a little over 24 hours ago that the president's advisers who helped craft his statement, which had to be corrected within minutes, for his daughter Ivanka, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Stephen Miller. Does that sound right to you, family plus even Stephen Miller when he has all of the resources of the scientific and medical community?
SABATO: Donald Trump is allergic to real science. We learned that over the last three years, too. As far as Miller and Ivanka and Jared, that is pretty much what I would expect from this White House. That is a disaster waiting to happen and it explains why the address was so completely inadequate.
ALLEN: Larry Sabato, we appreciate your input. We don't really know where it goes from here, do we?
SABATO: We never do. We never do.
ALLEN: All right. We appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much.
SABATO: Thanks, Natalie.
ALLEN: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is self- isolating for 14 days and working from home after his wife tested positive for coronavirus. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau will also remain in isolation, according to the prime minister's office. She recently returned from a speaking engagement in the U.K.
In a tweet, Mr. Trudeau says his wife has mild symptoms and is following her doctor's advice. The prime minister himself has no symptoms, but he is still working the phones, even discussing the coronavirus fight on Thursday in a call with President Trump. Doctors say that there is no need for Mr. Trudeau to be tested at the moment.
Countries around the world are fighting to contain the outbreak. We will look at the measures governments are taking and how it is affecting everyday life ahead here. Also, as the virus spreads, sports teams are coming to grips with the new normal. We find out which sporting venues are likely to be empty in the near future.
ALLEN: This is Rome. The usually bustling streets are now practically deserted. For the first time in history, all Catholic churches across Rome have been ordered to close as it stands now until early April. It is a move so unprecedented not even the black plague or collapse of the papal state caused such a reaction. The entire country is already on lockdown as it reports more than 12,000 infections and 4,600 deaths.
Britain's prime minister says the country is experiencing the worst public health crisis for a generation and can no longer contain the virus.
The U.S. Congress is working on an emergency stimulus bill to combat the outbreak. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying an agreement is close and a vote expected Friday.
And French President Emmanuel Macron is closing all schools and universities. Israel is also closing schools. For more about it, Oren Liebermann joins me from Jerusalem. Oren?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Israel has kept itself on essentially the front edge of efforts to try to keep and limit the spread of the coronavirus and this is another step in that, Natalie. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing last night in a prime time address that all schools and universities will be closed for at least a month until the end of the Passover break in mid-April in an attempt to keep the coronavirus from spreading in schools and universities.
There are some exceptions here, of course. Special education schools, boarding schools, and kindergarten will remain open for now, but there are already rumors circulating that by next week, those could be closed as well in an attempt to stop the coronavirus from spreading. In addition, we have seen the El Al, the Israeli airline, suspending most of its flights around the world. There are some destinations in the U.S. as well as, for example, Johannesburg, but most of their flights have been suspended for now. Airport workers have been scaled back, temporary workers as well. All as Israel tries to make sure that the coronavirus doesn't spread too quickly in the population of this relatively small country.
As of last night or rather this morning, the numbers stood at 126 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Israel, 31 cases in the Palestinian authority. At this point, there are no confirmed cases in Gaza. But again, the whole situation here is changing as Netanyahu and the country try to keep this from spreading even anymore.
Netanyahu is once again urging everyone to refrain from essentially contact, to refrain from shaking hands and to refrain from the sort of contact that can spread this quickly at this point.
Meanwhile on the political front, as Israel remains (INAUDIBLE) in political deadlock, Netanyahu is now pushing for a national emergency government and that looks increasingly likely as the coronavirus affects the country more and more on just about every level. Natalie?
ALLEN: All right. Oren Liebermann for us is following that story from Jerusalem.
ALLEN: Thank you. The spread of the virus is taking a toll on the sports world. The English Premier League is calling an emergency meeting in a few hours to determine the future of upcoming matches. This after Arsenal's head coach tested positive for the virus. CNN's Patrick Snell has that.
PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORT ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: The English Premier League (INAUDIBLE) football club have confirmed the 37-year- old Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the coronavirus. In a statement, the Gunners saying all club personnel who had recent close contact with Mikel will now self-isolate in line with government health guidelines.
Arteta himself quoted as saying, this is really disappointing, but I took the test, after feeling poorly. I will be at work as soon as I am allowed. Now, the back story to all of this, just bear in mind as well that earlier in the week, the Arsenal match, the city Premier League fixture, was postponed with several Gunners players going into a self- isolation.
This after Olympiacos owner, Evangelos Marinakis, had contracted the coronavirus. Marinakis had reportedly mixed and mingled with some of the clubs' players after the recent Europe League fixture between the Gunners and the Greek side. Arsenal is due to play Brighton on Saturday but the Seagulls have just tweeted that the match will be postponed following the Arteta news. This is going to be key moving forward. Later on this Friday, we can tell you the English Premier League will convene an emergency club meeting to discuss this weekend's fixtures (ph). Well, that was not long after the league has said it would hold games this weekend as scheduled.
Meantime, another key development this Friday, it is now been confirmed Formula One season opening of Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne has been cancelled given the current coronavirus situation.
Speculation over the race had already been swelling with six-time world champion from England, Lewis Hamilton, very publicly questioning even the possibility of it going ahead. It follows the news that a McLaren team member had tested positive for the virus with the team withdrawing from the race as a result.
I'm Patrick Snell. Back to you.
ALLEN: As hundreds of thousands of people around the world are being tested, many Americans are left asking, why can't I? Next here, the mixed messages surrounding access to test kits in the United States.
ALLEN: Welcome back to "CNN Newsroom." I'm Natalie Allen. Let us take a look at our top stories for you. The United States has carried out airstrikes in Iraq against Iranian-backed militia sites south of Baghdad.
A U.S. official says five weapons storage facilities were targeted as a way to reduce future attacks on coalition forces.
Financial markets took another big hit, Friday, as all the major indices in Asia fell sharply at the open. But U.S. futures have now moved into positive territory but are wavering after a disastrous 2,300-point drop with the Dow Thursday.
Disneyland and Disney World are shutting down over the coronavirus and Broadway in New York is going dark. New York's mayor says he expects the city will have 1,000 cases of the virus by next week. And almost every major U.S. sporting event in the country is on hold.
The United States is lagging behind other nations when it comes to testing. Even a top member of President Trump's virus Task Force says America's approach is called "failing." The number of tests in the U.S. pales in comparison to some other countries coping with the pandemic. As CNN Drew Griffin reports, this lack of testing is frustrating many in America's medical community.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: From every part of the country, CNN is being told, that despite what's coming out of the White House and out of the Vice President's mouth this morning on CNN, what you're about to hear is just not true.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was some concern that the guidance that doctors had had at the time was, if you were only mildly symptomatic, it did not indicate that the test was appropriate. We changed that and that's when the President said that anyone who wanted to test could have one on a doctor's orders. There's no barrier to that now.
GRIFFIN: Not everyone who wants and even needs a COVID-19 test is getting one, even with a doctor's order. In Katy, Texas schoolteacher Courtney Cherry has been home with the flu-like symptoms since Monday. Her doctor told her she doesn't have the flu. She says her doctor doesn't know what she has, but she can't get a coronavirus test.
COURTNEY CHERRY, CAN'T GET TESTED FOR COVID-19: She said that I did not fit one of the two CDC guidelines, which to her was one, I've traveled somewhere where there's infection internationally as what they initially had asked me when I went to the doctor, and two, I had not come in contact with someone who is positive for coronavirus.
GRIFFIN: But that's only as far as you know, right?
GRIFFIN: While testing is increasing in some areas. Healthcare workers tell CNN, they are furious they're not able to test their patients for coronavirus because of a lack of tests and the restrictive CDC guidelines. That's led to rationing which infectious disease experts say will only hurt our ability to fight this disease because without tests, we have no idea where it's spreading.
CAROLINE BUCKEE, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: We must start now testing people who are not just severe and hospitalized, but also have more mild symptoms, so that we know the scale of the problem. Unless we know the scale of the problem, we really can't prepare or mitigates the outbreak.
GRIFFIN: In Massachusetts, one doctor told CNN, we are being crippled by our public health department and the CDC on our ability to combat this pandemic, adding it's going to cost American lives. An E.R. nurse from California says we should be swabbing everyone who walks in the door who has flu-like symptoms. This is absurd.
Adding to the confusion, mixed messages between the White House which insists tests are available, and the federal government's top infectious disease expert who within hours told Congress actually they are not easily available.
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The system does not -- is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing. The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we're not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes, but we're not. GRIFFIN: Lack of testing is so bad some firefighters in suburban Seattle fear they've been exposed yet can't be tested unless showing symptoms.
GABE DEBAY, FIREFIGHTER, KING COUNTY: I have a number of friends that have told me they've been in quarantine and have not been able to be tested.
GRIFFIN: Health Departments say there are following CDC guidelines which call for testing if someone with symptoms has been to a foreign country, affected by COVID-19, or has had close contact with someone diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Dawn Clements in Largo, Florida has been sick since Friday. Her daughter went through it two weeks ago. She has all the symptoms, no flu, and can't get tested.
DAWN CLEMENTS, CAN'T GET TESTED FOR COVID-19: I didn't meet the criteria because I did not travel out of the United States to one of the countries. In the meantime, I'm immunosuppressed with some health conditions. And I live at an ALF and I don't know what virus I have. I'm running a fever and I have chest congestion and nobody can test us.
GRIFFIN: Florida Health Department official confirms tests are being prioritized, would not say if that's because of a shortage, only that Florida is trying to focus on those most likely to have COVID-19. Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
ALLEN: Dr. Raj Kalsi is a Board-Certified Emergency Room Physician, and he joins us now from Naperville, Illinois. Dr. Kalsi, thanks so much for coming out. We know this is a very busy time.
RAJ KALSI, BOARD CERTIFIED EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: Thank you, Natalie. Thanks for having me.
ALLEN: Well, first of all, give us your experience. I know that you visit urgent care centers, and you go to various emergency rooms. What's your experience with what you are seeing and experiencing?
KALSI: You're absolutely right. So I go from walk-in clinics where I work as an E.R. doctor and I go to big and little hospitals, big cities, rural hospitals. I'm a traveling doctor. And in this perspective, we're seeing the same problem which is people are showing up with the same illnesses they always show up with, heart attacks, broken bones, strokes, things like that.
But on top of it, now we have all of these respiratory illnesses, including the flu, which is still quite not yet peaked. And we just don't have testing to differentiate between so many similar-looking illnesses like COVID versus the flu versus some other type of cold. And this is the same problem. ALLEN: Yes. And we've had the President of the United States tell people, we've got the tests, the tests are there. And in reality, that's not the case. Why isn't that the case? Tell us about that.
KALSI: So that's a great -- that's a great question, and that is the driving problem. We as institutions, all of the ones I work at, we are diligently looking for that test. We want that test. We care about our patients. We care about their concerns, and we'd love to test. We're doctors and nurses. That's what we do.
And once you get the test, we know how to treat you. And without the test, without that definitive answer, I can't tell you if you have a flu or a cold, or if you have COVID, and then how do I quarantine you from somebody else, and then I have to jump into another room and take care of somebody who's having a heart attack.
And the amount of time it takes to put on gowns and take off gowns and put on and take off all this protective equipment takes a lot of time from the people who also need me, the people who are dying from other illnesses, traumatic injuries, orthopedic injuries, heart attacks. And this is -- this is a big problem at small and major institutions.
ALLEN: Absolutely. And we talked about other countries that have gotten ahead of this, South Korea. And yet this is the United States and doctors on their front lines like you and your care workers don't know how to help patients. That seems impossible and it's hard to comprehend and hard to understand.
KALSI: It's hard to believe. It's 2020, I've been doing this job for 15 years, and we have -- I feel like we live in the best country in the world, trained here, was born and raised here, and we don't have just a simple PCR test that everybody in the rest of the country has. I'm not quite sure why.
The immediate problems we have in every organization is that we are ready to receive the test, we're ready to pay for the test, and administer the test. We are heading problems at the county level, at the state level.
And I can't even tell you. I'm too slow on the -- on the totem pole to know what's happening between the state and the federal government. But just as we deal with the county, we're being told despite us as doctors having intuition that this patient has COVID, they don't qualify for the test because we're using old CDC guidelines from two weeks ago.
This thing is going hour by hour by hour. It's changing. It's evolving. And we as doctors are good at evolving. We're good at what we do. But the counties are still being relegated to use yesterday's or last week's CDC guidelines which don't apply anymore. People are getting COVID regardless of where they've been.
ALLEN: Right. So bottom line is, you work in many areas as an emergency room physician and such noble work, but you don't know if you're going to be able to take care of people. We keep hearing about capacity, capacity. The United States still doesn't quite understand who's got it and how many might have it at this time.
KALSI: You know, that's my biggest fear. As E.R. doctors, we have a consortium of other E.R. doctors. We communicate by text, by e-mail. We educate each other on a daily basis, weekly basis. And we're hearing about Italy. We're hearing about just the devastation to their health system there.
And I can't even tell you how quickly one E.R., a robust large hospital such as one of the ones I work at with so quickly be overwhelmed if 20 or 30 patients that were critically ill came through those front doors. It just shocks me that this is how quickly everything has accelerated. And we are talking about and reading about a few utilitarianism and the futility of treating the elderly in other countries to save the young who have the illness and that are critically ill and that just shocks me.
ALLEN: Everyone is in a state of shock. We appreciate your commitment in the work that you do. We wish you all the best. Dr. Raj Kalsi, thank you for giving us your time.
KALSI: Thanks, Natalie.
ALLEN: Obviously, a very dedicated doctor there. We so appreciate his comments and what they are up against. Next here, Russia is outsourcing its election meddling business. CNN tracks down a Russian troll farm thousands of kilometers from its borders.
ALLEN: For months, U.S. federal authorities have been investigating how Russia is trying to interfere in the 2020 election campaign. A CNN investigation has discovered how the Russians are outsourcing some trolling operations to target American voters seeking to inflame tensions and stir unrest in the U.S., something they have been at for years.
Working with Facebook, Twitter, and researchers at Clemson University in the United States, we found Nearly 300 accounts that were followed by more than a quarter of a million people, most of them in the U.S., and they were created not in Russia but West Africa. CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward has our exclusive report.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thousands of miles from the frosty streets of St. Petersburg, this is a new hub for Russia's infamous trolls. A CNN investigation has found that Accra, Ghana was the launchpad for an online operation to stoke racial tensions and stir up social unrest in the U.S. ahead of the 2020 election.
On Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, hundreds of accounts churned outposts about issues such as racism and police brutality in the U.S. For months now we've been investigating this network of trolls
targeting African Americans. And now we've actually come here to Ghana to try to get the full story.
In the run-up to our journey, we had discovered that all of the accounts were connected to an NGO called Eliminating Barriers for the Liberation of Africa, known as EBLA or EBLA. Looking at the Web site, it was clear something was off. Parts of it still had dummy text. It was impossible to make an actual donation. And most mysteriously, one of the photographs had a Russian file name.
Though the group claimed to be focused on issues like poverty in Ghana, its employees posted almost exclusively about the U.S. Some used incendiary language. "America's descent into a fascist police state continues. Someone needs to take that senator out."
Often they posted on real U.S. groups, an attempt to gain legitimacy and build an audience. Many even implied they weren't in America. "We all are sick and tired of the violence that's taking place in our communities." In reality, they were here in a nondescript house on the outskirts of Ghana's capital.
This is the compound where the operation has been based. There's no sign for an NGO. We're about an hour outside of the city. And you can see this is a very secluded residential area. And people here have been telling us that about three weeks ago, gun and security services showed up here, raided the building, and no one's been back since.
Sources in Ghana's national security tell CNN that all of EBLA's funding came from Russia. After the raid, the accounts went quiet for a few days. Then on Instagram, the group changed their handle names and started posting again. We're heading out now to meet one of the EBLA employees. They don't actually know that CNN is coming to this meeting, but we're desperately hoping they might be able to give us some more information about how the NGO works and who might be behind it.
After some discussion about their safety, the employee agrees to talk to us, provided we keep her identity hidden. We sit down in a secure location, she tells us she was hired in September of 2019 and had no idea she will be working as a Russian troll.
Tell me more about your training.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, we were trained to use relevant hashtags. So if I'm posting about Black Lives Matter, I shouldn't add a hashtag about probably Beyonce.
WARD: The 16 employees were each given different areas to focus on racism, police brutality, feminism.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Initially, your success was measured by the number of people you reach, but most importantly, how to get followers all right. WARD: The tactics are strikingly similar to those used by Russia's
internet research agency known as the IRA, ahead of the U.S. presidential election in 2016. The aim, to pit Americans against each other and create mistrust of the political system. Run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of President Putin, the IRA was later sanctioned by the U.S.
This time the Russians appear to be outsourcing some of their troll networks offering plausible deniability. The employee tells us her boss was a South African who called himself Mr. Amara.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said he was a passionate person about helping people.
WARD: Did you know if Mr. Amara spoke any languages other than English?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to what I heard, she spoke Russian too.
WARD: But Mr. Amara is not South African. In fact, he is not Mr. Amara at all. CNN has learned his real name is Seth Wiredu and he is Ghanaian. Wiredu has worked and studied in Russia for many years. Months after starting the Ghana operation, he opened a second branch in Nigeria.
In January of this year, EBLA even posted a job on LinkedIn in Charleston, South Carolina. The raid by Ghana's security services did not stop Wiredu. In our last day in Accra, we find out that he has organized a secret meeting of employees on a university campus. He tells them to create more accounts and promises they will get paid soon.
As the meeting finishes, we approach him wearing a hidden camera and greet him in Russian.
Hi, my name is Clarissa Ward. I worked for CNN. How are you?
SETH WIREDU: I'm fine.
WARD: I just had a couple of questions for you about EBLA.
WARD: And why you posted this job in the U.S. in Charleston, South Carolina.
WIREDU: Well, it's actually so strange for someone to come and ask me about EBLA right now so I don't know how much I can be of help to you.
WARD: Are you aware that there's a presidential election in November.
WARD: You're not aware of that? WIREDU: I know there's one in Ghana.
WARD: How long have you been working for the IRA, for the troll factory?
WIREDU: What troll factory?
WARD: In St. Petersburg, Russia.
WIREDU: Well, I don't know -- I don't know what IRA is so I can't tell you that I'm working for IRA.
WARD: So why do you call yourself Mr. Amara and say that your South African?
WIREDU I just think it's my own personal something. Everyone can call themselves anything that they want. Anyone can transform into whatever they want and be protected by God.
WIREDU: I'm doing this for him. I'm doing this for my own people.
WARD: But you're actually doing it for Russia. So you might want to explain to God that there was a mix-up.
He repeatedly denies running a Russian troll factory. And with that our conversation ends.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here he comes.
WARD: Moments later we see Wiredu drive off in a red Mercedes. Wherever his money comes from, he seems to be doing well. The room where EBLA's trolls one sat now stands empty, but similar operations out there may be ramping up as efforts to influence the 2020 election continue. Clarissa Ward, CNN, Accra, Ghana.
ALLEN: We reached out to all of EBLA's employees who said they did not understand they were working for a Russian troll factory. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have now taken down all 275 accounts. Among them, they were followed by more than a quarter of a million people, most of them here in the U.S.
What's surprising is that Facebook and Twitter say this is actually still the early stages of this kind of operation, but social media companies are now able to more quickly identify these networks. CNN has reached out to Yevgeny Prigozhin but we have not received a response.
Next here, recovering from a pandemic just ahead. Infectious disease experts answer your questions about what to expect from the coronavirus.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ALLEN: Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg is changing her tune on her normal Friday climate protests. Instead, she is calling for a digital climate strike over the coronavirus. In a series of tweets, she urged people to avoid public gatherings and to find new ways to create public awareness, including using the #ClimateStrikeOnline.
CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper hosted a Coronavirus and Global Town Hall on Thursday, and they spoke with an infectious disease expert from the World Health Organization about the recovery process. Here it is.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: How many people worldwide have actually recovered from the coronavirus?
MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Well, that's a very good question. I don't know that -- I don't have the exact answer on that. I do know in China that it's more than 60,000 people who have recovered, it's probably even higher than that. I think that number was from a few days ago. But that's a good point.
So everyone that that is infected with this virus -- not everyone that's infected with this virus will have a severe disease. What we understand from the data coming from China, is that about 80 percent of people overall will have a mild form of this disease. They'll feel unwell for some time for a week or two. There are about 20 percent of people that get infected will require some advanced care in hospital. They'll need some respiratory support, and then a small proportion of people will die.
But so far, we're trying to keep track of the numbers of all of the recoveries globally because this is a very important number. We need to follow people, you know, through the course of their disease, and follow them after they recover to make sure that they're still doing well. But at least 60,000 people have recovered.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, one of the things I think is worth drilling down on a little bit, 80 percent we hear will have sort of mild disease, doctor. But you know, when I read these studies out of China, I just want to be clear on what mild disease means. Because when I read the studies, it look like people within that 80 percent still could have pneumonia, still could have lung scarring, you know, significant things.
VAN KERKHOVE: Yes, you're right. It's not -- it's not just, you know, a few days at home feeling unwell. About 40 percent of people will have a relatively mild disease and we mean that in a sense where they will feel unwell, they'll have a fever, they'll have some respiratory symptoms, they'll have some aches and pains, maybe headache. But then there are another 40 percent that will develop pneumonia, or a mild form of pneumonia. And I know that doesn't sound very mild, but will not require oxygen, will not require respiratory support.
ALLEN: Be sure to stay with CNN as we follow constant developments and updates about the coronavirus. You can watch that global town hall in its entirety coming up at 8:00 a.m. in London and 4:00 p.m. in Hong Kong. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @AllenCNN for updates as well. And I'll be right back with more CNN NEWSROOM right after this.