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Coronavirus Puts America on Hold; Containment Zone Imposed on New Rochelle, New York; Trump Concerned About Coronavirus Contact?; U.S. Set to Impose Europe Travel Restrictions. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 13, 2020 - 04:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: America grinds to a halt. Schools, sports, work, big changes as closures and cancellations pile up. The big question remains, where are the tests?

Good morning, this is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Friday, the 13th of March. It's 4:00 a.m. in New York.

Well, America is closed or closing or on the verge of closing. The bottom line, state and local governments and famous cultural hubs that are part of the fabric of American life are shutting their doors. The threat of coronavirus is changing our way of life, at least for now. The effects practical and emotional are creeping into everyone's lives. A subject addressed at CNN's coronavirus town hall last night.


DR. CHRISTINE MOUTIER, PSYCHIATRIST: It's such sort of a challenge and an exercise in managing uncertainty. Because you look at it and you try to gauge, should I be incredibly concerned? Is this life threatening? Or is this simply a new and unfamiliar threat which always will have an exaggerated sort of anxiety and stress response?

We live with risk and health threats every day. And we have an incredible ability actually to cope with that, you know, to make rational choices about how we manage all of that.


ROMANS: Terrific interview there. There are now at least 1,665 coronavirus cases in the United States. Up from 227 a week ago. All but three states have cases. 41 people have died. Long lines and empty shelves greet shoppers nationwide trying to stock up on basics, unsure if they may be asked to self-quarantine or if their kids' schools might be closed, forcing major changes at home.

Many are trying to balance their jobs and perhaps a lack of paid sick leave with caring for their own parents. A lot of them at an age where contracting the virus could be much more serious. There are also worries about running out of medications, worries about our healthcare system under stress, still with no clear plan on how to test everyone who needs it.

JARRETT: An astonishing 4.9 million kids are now out of school for reasons related to the coronavirus, including exposures, cleaning, or simply planning. At least 10,600 schools have been closed or are scheduled to be closed. That includes all schools in Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky and New Mexico. Michigan will shutter all classrooms starting on Monday.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has closed schools in three hard-hit districts and told all districts to prepare to close. And big systems like San Francisco and Atlanta are shuttered. In Los Angeles, the teachers' union is calling on the L.A. Unified School District to shut down as well.

ROMANS: Another prominent figure testing positive for coronavirus, the wife of Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, has been quarantined with mild symptoms. Officials say the prime minister himself is in good health, but as a precaution he will be placed in isolation for 14 days.


JARRETT: The sports and cultural events Americans lean on to escape bad news now being called off themselves. Broadway shows are dark. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera House all closed. The Seattle Space Needle closed. Disney parks are closing for the first time since 9/11, paralyzing the company's tourism empire. The Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are also going to close tomorrow.

ROMANS: Pop star Billie Eilish postponing 10 tour dates in cities across the eastern U.S. The NHL has joined the NBA in suspending its season. The crack of the bat also silent. MLB canceled spring training and delayed the new season by two weeks, which could be extended. March Madness has been canceled altogether.

JARRETT: And remember, it's not just players and fans missing out. It's the hotel cancellations. It's the empty restaurants. It's the supply chain before big events. The vendors, the ushers and many, many other hourly workers who may have to go without pay. They in turn have less money to spend themselves. This hurts the economy far and wide.

NBA legend Charles Barkley now says he is being tested.


CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA LEGEND: I'm really hoping it was just a bug, but like I said, I was in New York earlier this week, so that was a hot spot. And when I got to Atlanta, I just wasn't feeling well.


ROMANS: So, why was Barkley in New York? He appeared in "The Late Show." No doubt their staff is looking at the situation. Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers were already suspending production. With Barkley tested and two Utah Jazz players diagnosed raising questions now about how some people are getting tested when ordinary Americans are being denied.

JARRETT: Speaking of which, the failure to properly develop and deploy enough test kits in the U.S. is becoming a symbol for the federal government's inadequacy in the fight against coronavirus. Right now public health experts have no idea how bad the U.S. outbreak will get. Bottlenecks in lab testing mean there is no way to know how many infections there really are or the true extent of the pandemic nationwide.

ROMANS: A source inside a closed-door House briefing yesterday says lawmakers were told only 11,000 tests have been run. 11,000. You'll recall Vice President Mike Pence said millions of tests would be available by the end of the week. Meantime, the CDC has now committed to pay for coronavirus tests, which can cost over $1,000 and they're not always covered by insurance.

JARRETT: One of the biggest coronavirus clusters in the U.S. is in New York City suburb of New Rochelle. The state is imposing a one-mile containment zone now and all public schools are closed in that city. But the National Guard is making sure kids can still get their daily meals.

CNN's Erica Hill in New Rochelle with the latest.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, good morning. The community of New Rochelle is waking up today to a new normal. There is a containment zone. It doesn't involve the entire city of New Rochelle but it's a one-mile radius and it's about a half mile from where I'm standing right now. However, there have been some other changes in town.

Initially just three schools within that containment zone were closed. But on Thursday afternoon the district announced that all public schools in New Rochelle will be closed through March 25th.

Now a number of people in the community were concerned about children in the system who are food insecure. The mayor told me that number of children is in the thousands. Part of what the National Guard will be doing, they are now here in New Rochelle, is on a logistical and operational front.

They will be making sure that those children still receive the daily meals that they count on normally at school. Those will be done at either distribution centers or the mayor tells me if need be the National Guard can help deliver food to those children and their families.

For the next couple of weeks, what is happening within that containment zone, schools and houses of worship are closed because large gatherings have been prohibited in that area. The goal of course is to stop the further spread of the novel coronavirus. As of now, though, this is not an area that is on lockdown. They're not under quarantine. People can come and go as they pleased.

Businesses and restaurants are still open. And beginning this morning in New Rochelle, a satellite testing facility, Governor Cuomo says it is the first one in the east, will open for residents here in New Rochelle. It is by appointment only and preference is being given to those who are currently under quarantine within the city -- Christine, Laura.

ROMANS: All right, Erica Hill, in New Rochelle, thank you.

Markets looking to recover -- trying to recover after a vicious Thursday. Futures right now are moving higher but after such violent moves, sometimes it can be unpredictable how the next day looks, either a bounce back or a continuation. '

Looking at markets around the world, how did they fare? You can see the Asian markets, you know, saw what happened to the United States that terrible day in the U.S. and continued their losses. But European shares, looks like they have just opened and they are trying to bounce here.

OK, so what happened yesterday? Here's your damage report. Stocks recorded their worst day since Black Monday, the crash of 1987. The Dow almost 10 percent lower. 2,352 points.


Haven't seen that level since the summer of 2017. What does that mean? All your gains have been wiped away going back to the summer of 2017. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both closed 9 percent closer joining the Dow in the bear market.

The New York Fed said it will pump $1.5 trillion into the financial system citing highly unusual disruptions in the treasury market linked to this virus outbreak. The Fed is trying to ease concerns that banks won't have enough cash to lend to businesses.

Now the battered airline industry took more hits after news of President Trump's European travel ban. Norwegian Air is temporarily laying off half of its workers. American Airlines is reducing international capacity by 34 percent over the summer. Delta suspending flights on seven European routes to and from Paris and Amsterdam. And airline stocks simply hammered.

The nation's top infectious disease doctor said this during our CNN town hall.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: I certainly wouldn't get on a plane for a pleasure trip. It would have to be something that is really urgent.


ROMANS: So no part of the travel industry has been hit harder by the outbreak than the cruise industry. Princess and Viking Cruise Lines announced they will halt operations of all of their ships until May. This is not just bad for business. A lot of cruises have food

suppliers who will lose businesses, stopovers and other destinations where stores and restaurants will also lose visitors.

This is an American economy not just travel and leisure, but an American economy that's sort of grinding to a halt here. And that's why you saw so much concern in the stock market yesterday. And this morning you're seeing economists start to really change their expectations for how deeply this will hurt the American economy and for how long.

JARRETT: And how long --

ROMANS: Will there be a recession? How deep will that recession be? And what does the snap back look like?

JARRETT: Well, what would you want to hear from the president if he found out he got this close to someone who tested positive for coronavirus?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's put it this way, I'm not concerned.




JARRETT: Well, he still has not been tested, but a source says President Trump is very much concerned about coming into contact with people who have contracted coronavirus. That includes a Brazilian official who tested positive after being face-to-face with the president just days ago.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more from the White House.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laura and Christine. It was pretty stunning when this was confirmed that this Brazilian press secretary was testing positive for coronavirus given his activities over the weekend, after spending time to several hours at the president's own club at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach where the president hosted this dinner for the Brazilian leader and of course his top aide.

This press secretary was there right alongside him. He later took a picture with the president, then he also posted where he was standing right next to President Trump. And then he also posted a video where he was there in the room when the president was making remarks briefly to the room there at Mar-a-Lago. He was just a few feet away from Trump. So of course there were immediately questions posted to the White House about whether or not this really posed a serious risk to the president and whether or not he was going to then be tested for this. Because we know after learning that the president had come in contact

with lawmakers who had come in contact with someone who's testing positive for coronavirus, they did not give the president a test. They did not give the Vice President Mike Pence a test. And right now they say that's still the case. They say neither of them are showing symptoms, they don't feel that they have the need to self-quarantine, which is notable given what other lawmakers who were down there and other figures who were down there including Senator Lindsey Graham, who was also at Mar-a-Lago doesn't even remember if he came in contact with this press aide, but he says out of an abundance of caution he is going to self-quarantine for the time being.

We saw Dr. Fauci from the coronavirus task force last night. We asked him, does he think that the president should be tested given the fact that one of the CDC's criteria for doing so was that you've been in contact with someone who has coronavirus. He said he didn't want to comment one way or another and instead he was going to leave it up to the president's White House doctor.

ROMANS: All right, Kaitlan, thank you so much for that.

In less than 24 hours, travel for the Europeans to the U.S. stops. What are travelers saying? CNN is live in Paris next.



ROMANS: Welcome back. The U.S. is preparing to implement severe travel restrictions for a large swath of Europe. President Trump initially called it an outright ban. The administration later clarified that American citizens are exempt. The ban is mostly for foreign nationals.

CNN spoke with parents whose daughters are studying abroad. They described a chaotic last few days.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had our flights booked for Sunday. And then --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sunday going to where? I'm sorry, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had Sunday from Barcelona coming here. And then what happened was when yesterday's conference came on, the news show for the president, when that came on and basically said that there'd be no more travel, and they, you know, weren't going to allow anybody in, it was not clear that it was not going to apply to Americans. So --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we had to buy new tickets for tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we bought now three tickets for our kids to get back home.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And early return date on Sunday and then tonight because of the travel ban.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the message was clearer we probably would have left them on their Sunday flights to come back. But at this point we couldn't risk having our kids not being able to get into the country for 30 days.


ROMANS: Wow. All right. CNN's Jim Bittermann is live at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport. And we heard from the French president yesterday that there are similar measures happening in France to sort of shut things down. But this idea of how do you get back to the United States? Do you have to fly now? You know, what's the window? So much -- you know, a lack of information really.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, confused messaging really had people befuddled here out of Charles de Gaulle Airport this morning. It's quieted down now. This is the ticket change window at Delta. There's a number of Delta flights that are going to be taking off here later on in the day. There were several hundred people here earlier. But they've now sort of dwindled. And they've got their flights changed and whatnot.

But a number of people we talked to said they definitely shortened their trips a day or two, or maybe a week. We talked to a psychologist from Los Angeles. She said it was mass hysteria. Here's the way she put it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So yesterday morning, you get all these texts, all this stuff, and they said you need to get out of here by tonight, March 13th, or you're going to be held in the country for 30 days basically.


You will not be able to get out for 30 days. So immediately I was on the phone yesterday with Expedia for four hours to get everything changed. And I got here just, like -- I left LAX on Monday and I got here on Tuesday.


BITTERMANN: In fact a lot of that confusion probably caused by people trying to be friendly and trying to be helpful saying get back as soon as you can. So people here have been trying to get back.

One of the things that people have been confused about is what happens exactly when they get to the airports in the United States. The CDC has cleared that up somewhat this morning and said they will be screening passengers when they're coming in from Europe. That is to say they'll be doing non-invasive measures like checking with non- contact thermometers, things like that, looking for symptoms. If they spot any symptoms, then they will go ahead and take people off

for testing. But for the moment anyway it's going to be just screening at the airport when these people get back -- Christine.

ROMANS: Really something. All right, Jim Bittermann, there at Charles de Gaulle. Thank you, Jim.

JARRETT: It just shows you how you have to be so precise during a crisis like this.


JARRETT: And that one speech made such a big difference for people who are just scrambling, trying to make sure --

ROMANS: And the lack of coordination with European allies. You know, usually you would --

JARRETT: Stunning.

ROMANS: You would reach out from team to team and you'd game out how this is going to play. It doesn't appear like that happened.

JARRETT: None of that happened.

All right. Society as we know it coming to a total standstill. Closures and cancellations pile up for schools, work, cultural events. Families nationwide just trying to adapt to this new reality, not knowing how long it will last.