Return to Transcripts main page


Sports, Cultural Events Cancelled Over Coronavirus; Inside New Rochelle, A Coronavirus Cluster; U.S. Travel Restrictions on Europe to Take Effect Midnight; Couple Goes Home After Cruise Ship Quarantine. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 13, 2020 - 04:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: America grinds to a halt. Schools, sports, work, big changes as closures and cancellations pile up. The big question this morning, where are those tests?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour here in New York.

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, 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.


JARRETT: There are now at least 1,665 coronavirus cases in the United States. Up from 227 just a week ago. And those are just the ones that we know about. 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' school 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 are 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.

ROMANS: An astonishing 4.9 million kids are now out of school for reasons related to the virus, including exposures, cleaning, or 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 Monday.

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

JARRETT: Pop star Billie Eilish is 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 has also gone silent. MLB canceled spring training and delayed the new season by two weeks, which could be extended. March Madness has been canceled altogether.

ROMANS: Remember, it's not just the 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 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.


JARRETT: So, why was Barkley in New York? Well, an appearance on "The Late Show." No doubt their staff is looking at that situation. And Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers were already suspending production on their shows.

With Barkley tested and two Utah Jazz players diagnosed it's raising a lot of questions about how some people are getting tested so fast when ordinary Americans are being denied. ROMANS: All right. One of the biggest questions about coronavirus is,

who can get tested and when? People are contacting CNN to say they are suffering symptoms and that they are frustrated they cannot get tested. That included this teacher from Texas home sick since Monday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 is what they initially had asked me when I went to the doctor. And two, I had not come into contact with someone who is positive for coronavirus. So --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But that's only as far as you know, right?



ROMANS: President Trump claims the system is working but at a top health official disagrees.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Frankly the testing has been going very smoothly.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: The system does not -- is not really geared to what we need right now. It is a failing. Let's admit it.


JARRETT: The issue is particularly acute in New Rochelle, New York, one of the biggest coronavirus clusters in the U.S. All public schools there are now closed and the National Guard is making sure kids can still get their daily meals.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has an exclusive look inside one hospital treating patients.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Laura, New Rochelle has one of the highest concentrations of patients who have been diagnosed with this coronavirus. The number just went from very small just a week ago to over 148 now, I believe. It's changing rapidly. The question has been, for a long time, how prepared are the hospitals that need to take care of these patients?


DR. THERESA MADALINE, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, MONTEFIORE MEDICAL CENTER: I am concerned. When we use the word pandemic, I think that tells us all that this is very serious. GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Theresa Madaline is the epidemiologist who

manages New Rochelle Hospital and the 10 other hospitals that make up the Montefiore Health Care System. She gave us an exclusive look at the hospital, which is now at the center of one of the country's largest virus outbreaks.

On March 2nd, the first positive patient in Westchester County appeared right here in New Rochelle. A 50-year-old attorney who works in Manhattan. On March 4th, two days later, his two children and wife tested positive, and so did his neighbor. By March 6th, the New Rochelle Hospital received its first confirmed patient.

To give you a sense of how fast this is all moving, not even a week later, there are now at least 148 positive patients in the county.

(On camera): If you look at those curves, I mean, they kind of go like this and then all of a sudden like this.

MADALINE: That's right.

GUPTA: That's what you're preparing for here?

MADALINE: That's right.

GUPTA: Your ICU is full.


GUPTA: So how do you -- how do you -- how are you going to handle this part of things?

MADALINE: Well, we have plans for transferring patients to different places if we need to. We have plans for setting up different units in areas of the hospital if we have to do that. It's just a matter of keeping our eye on the situation all day, every day, and being ready to push the button at any moment.

GUPTA (voice-over): Right now, the hospital has one confirmed coronavirus patient and six others with symptoms they are closely monitoring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just started as a cold. I mean, I still don't know if I have it or not, but it just started as a cold. And, you know, I just wanted to be safe and just get checked out.

GUPTA (voice-over): But here is the thing. With every new or suspected patient, it comes down to resources.

(On camera): So this has become a pretty precious commodity.

(Voice-over): Ventilators, machines that can help patients breathe, are now in high demand. And you can't just move them to any room. You need backup power supply and, of course, you need an oxygen line.

MADALINE: I think sharing of resources and thinking really creatively as not just Montefiore Health System, but what about nationally? I think we're really going to need to begin collaborating together and thinking about this on a larger scale.

GUPTA (on camera): Are you able to keep up?

MADALINE: Right now, we are, but certainly things change quickly and we're preparing for if resources get tight or it gets to be a surge capacity situation.

GUPTA (voice-over): And so that means keeping things, even like masks, under lock and key, stocking up on gowns and cleaning wipes in warehouses. All of this at a premium during an outbreak, down to every last swab.


GUPTA: Also very important, talking about testing. They told me there today that they were actually starting their own testing, you know, protocols and their ability to test within the hospital itself.


It's going to take some time to get that up and running but that's what they have to do in order to keep up with the demand that's clearly arriving as well -- Christine, Laura.

ROMANS: So glad for Sanjay's guidance through all this.

JARRETT: I know. We're so lucky to have him.

ROMANS: He's been just so steady.

JARRETT: But one of the things that piece raises is this issue of overcrowding in hospitals and what's going to happen to these ICUs. We're worried about the testing, but that's the next frontier.

ROMANS: And that's why we're all staying home, working from home, trying to stay out of these public places to push out those cases so that you don't have that moment of a surge in capacity at these hospitals.

JARRETT: All right. Through all the hard developments we've been covering, there are inspiring stories, like a couple split up for weeks after one got the coronavirus. CNN has their long awaited reunion.



ROMANS: So yesterday was the worst day since 1987 in the stock market. What does it look like today? It looks like futures are going to try to have a bounce back here. Asian shares continued the trend we saw in the U.S., right? So those markets woke up and saw the carnage on Wall Street and fell. Tokyo down 6 percent. That is a big move.

European shares have opened and they are trying to stabilize. Those are green arrows that barely take back many of the losses. A brutal, brutal day for the European markets yesterday because of that European travel ban.

Stocks recorded the worst day since the Black Monday crash of 1987. The Dow down a whopping 2300 points. We haven't seen that level now for the Dow, 21,200. This is summer of 2017, folks. More than 2 1/2 years of gains wiped away. Almost three years of gains wiped away. The S&P 500, the Nasdaq both down 9 percent. Remarkable. They all are now in a bear market.

And then this, the New York Fed said it will pump $1.5 trillion into the financial system. The Fed trying to ease concern that banks won't have enough cash to lend to businesses. The battered airline industry took more hits after news of President Trump's European travel ban. Norwegian Air temporarily laying off half of its workers. American Airlines reducing international capacity by a third over the summer.

Delta suspending flights on seven European routes to and from Paris and Amsterdam. Airline stocks down sharply. The nation's top infectious disease doctor said this during a CNN town hall.


FAUCI: I certainly wouldn't get on a plane for a pleasure trip. It would have to be something that was really urgent.


ROMANS: No part of the travel industry has been hit harder by the outbreak than the cruise industry. Princess and Viking Cruise Lines will halt all operations until May.

It's not just bad for business. A lot of cruises have food suppliers who will lose businesses, stopovers, other destinations where stores and restaurants will lose visitors.

JARRETT: The U.S. capitol doors are closing to visitors until April 1st. Work is progressing on a plan to address the economic fallout from all of this. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are close to a deal that includes free testing and paid emergency leave.

The primary holdups at this point deciding who would administer the paid family leave program, the increase to state's federal medical assistance and the administration also insists on an income cap for Medicaid coverage for diagnostic testing.

ROMANS: All right. The presidential campaigns of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have all instructed their staffs to work from home. Rallies have been cancelled. The two Democrats opted for virtual events this week.

Sunday's Democratic debate on CNN is moving to Washington, D.C. without a live audience due to viral concerns. Univision's Jorge Ramos is stepping down as a debate moderator after possible exposure to the virus. The network's Ilia Calderon will take his place alongside our Dana Bash and Jake Tapper. JARRETT: More 2020 primaries are set for next week. Voters will go to

the polls in Ohio, Florida, Illinois and Arizona. The CDC has released recommendations for election polling stations. In addition to commonsense, such as hand washing, the updated guidance includes social distancing measures.

All right, the U.S. launching airstrikes on multiple Iranian-backed militia sites in Iraq in retaliation for a rocket attack a day earlier that killed two American troops and one British soldier. The U.S.-led coalition jets targeted five storage facilities housing weapons that attacked American coalition -- and coalition troops. The Pentagon called the strikes defensive and proportional.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: The U.S. preparing to implement severe travel restrictions for a large swath of Europe. President Trump initially called it an outright ban. But 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. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: CNN's Nic Robertson is live for us at London's Heathrow Airport.

And Nic, we know the U.K. is exempt, but what's to stop someone from flying from Europe to the U.K. and then jumping on a plane to JFK?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, it's not quite as easy as some people who might think that there's a backdoor into the United States by flying through London as it would appear. If you have traveled anywhere in the Schengen visa area, that's 26 countries that President Trump has banned, their nationals and others, from flying into the United States, you will be questioned.

You will be screened in effect. If you've come from those countries, it's simply not good enough to travel to London and then fly on to the United States.


President Trump has put his faith in the United Kingdom and its ability to tackle the coronavirus. Airlines are suffering already. We've heard American Airlines say that they are going to continue their flights to Europe for the next seven days. Delta Airlines significantly reducing. Norwegian Airlines laying off half its staff, cutting 4,000 flights, but it's interesting that Britain is not taking the same steps as some of those countries that President Trump is banning from flying.

France, for example, is going to close its schools from next week. Britain is not going to do that. However, the British prime minister has warned people here of just how bad this virus is going to affect the country.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This is the worst public health crisis for a generation. Some people compare it to seasonal flu. Alas, that is not right. Owe to the lack of immunity, this disease is more dangerous. And it's going to spread further. And I must level with you, level with the British public, more families, many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.


ROBERTSON: So a very stark warning. The government here deciding not necessary to close schools. They say if they would do that, children would have to be off for 16 weeks and that is in effect unsustainable. They're also saying that they will not be banning major gatherings of people yet. Again, unlike many of the countries that are -- that are grouped in the Schengen area that are banned from traveling to the United States. So Britain, somewhat of an outlier in terms of measures to combat the virus compared to others.

ROMANS: All right, Nic, for us in Heathrow. Thanks, Nic. JARRETT: Want to see how seriously Italy is taking coronavirus? All

Catholic churches in Rome will be completely closed until April 3rd. A church historian says the move is unprecedented. The first time in history all churches have been closed to the faithful. That includes the bubonic plague.

Italy has more than 15,000 coronavirus cases. The most outside of China. The Israeli airline El Al announcing it is suspending most of its operations beginning Sunday. The move will have a real impact on people planning to travel to Israel's holy sites for Passover and Easter.

ROMANS: It's been a week of coronavirus whiplash in the U.S. but there's light at the end of the tunnel for most who get the virus. CNN followed the experience of a couple from Oregon. They were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan. One caught the virus, one did not. Now they are finally back together.

CNN's Will Ripley has their journey home.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've been following Kent and Rebecca Frasure for more than a month. This is our first time altogether.

(On camera): It's surreal to be sitting here seeing both of you in person.


RIPLEY (voice-over): Their luxury cruise on the Diamond Princess turned into a holiday from hell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't know how long you have to stay in the hospital.

RIPLEY: Rebecca tested positive for coronavirus.


RIPLEY: Kent tested negative. She went to the hospital. He stayed behind.

(On camera): How long was it actually that you were separated?

R. FRASURE: Twenty-eight days.

RIPLEY (voice-over): That's nearly a month in isolation in this hermetically sealed hospital room.

R. FRASURE: I can see you.


R. FRASURE: You're live. RIPLEY: When Kent finally got off the ship, this was as close as he

could get.

(On camera): Did you guys add up how many test kits were used between the two of you?

R. FRASURE: Yes. It was close to 20.

RIPLEY: Twenty?


RIPLEY (voice-over): They worry the U.S. won't have enough of those test kits.

K. FRASURE: You're going to use up so many when people start getting tested that you need millions and millions.

R. FRASURE: There's so much panic and so much, like, you know, just a general fear within the population.

RIPLEY: That fear, Rebecca says, is more dangerous than the virus itself. Like most patients, she fully recovered. Her advice?

R. FRASURE: Don't be afraid to live, for one. And wash your hands. For the love of God, wash your hands.

RIPLEY: Now it's time for Kent and Rebecca go home. They fly out of Tokyo's Haneda Airport. It seems every surface is sanitized. Every employee wears a mask. The only thing missing -- passengers. It's the emptiest I've ever seen it.

They carry paperwork from the U.S. and Japanese governments, certifying they're both negative. Both safe to fly.

K. FRASURE: It's been such a long journey.


K. FRASURE: It felt like this day would never come.

RIPLEY: Now back home to Oregon.

(On camera): And back to the cats.

R. FRASURE: Back to the cats. They're going to be so angry.