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America On The Verge Of A Shutdown; Inside A Coronavirus Cluster; Trump Administration's Lackluster Response To Pandemic. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 13, 2020 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: America grinds to a halt -- schools, sports, work. Big changes as closures and cancelations pile up. The big question this morning, where are the tests?

Good morning and welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And that is still the big question. I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

And, 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 changing our way of life, at least temporarily. 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 a -- 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 -- 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 --


MOUTIER: -- cope with that -- you know, to make rational choices about how we manage all of that.


JARRETT: There are now at least 1,666 coronavirus cases in the U.S., up from 227 just a week ago. All but three states have coronavirus cases. Forty-one people have died so far. Long lines and empty shelves greet shoppers nationwide. People trying

to stock up on basics, unsure if they may be asked to self-quarantine at some point or if their kid's 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 aging 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 own health care system under stress, still with no clear plan on how everyone who needs to get a test gets one.

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 -- 10,600 schools. That includes all schools in Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, and New Mexico. Michigan will shutter all classrooms starting Monday.

Washington Gov. 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.

JARRETT: 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.

ROMANS: The sports and cultural events Americans lean on to escape bad news now being 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 are 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: Popstar 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 players and fans missing out. Think of the hotel cancelations, empty restaurants, supply chains 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 and this hurts the economy far and wide.

NBA legend Charles Barkley now says he is being tested. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES BARKLEY, RETIRED NBA PLAYER (via telephone): I'm really hoping it was just a bug. But like I said, I was in New York earlier this week because that was a hotspot, and when I got to Atlanta I just wasn't feeling well.


JARRETT: Why was Barkley in New York? Well, an appearance on "THE LATE SHOW." No doubt, their staff is looking at that situation. Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers were already suspending production on their shows.


With Barkley tested and two Utah Jazz diagnosed, it's raising a lot of questions about how some people are getting tested when ordinary Americans are being denied tests.

ROMANS: All right. One of the biggest questions about coronavirus is who can get tested and when. People are contacting CNN to say they're suffering symptoms and are frustrated they can't get tested. That includes this teacher from Texas, home sick since Monday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said that I did not fit one of two CDC guidelines, which to her was one, I traveled somewhere where there's infection -- internationally is what they had initially asked me when I went to the doctor. And two, I had not come in contact with someone who was positive for coronavirus.

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



ROMANS: Yes -- how do you know if there's no testing? I mean, how do you know what containment is if there's no testing?

President Trump claims the system is working but top health -- 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 DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: The system does not -- is not really geared to what we need right now. It is a failing, let's admit it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: A failing, says Dr. Fauci.

The issue is 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.


GUPTA: 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 second, the first positive patient in Westchester County appeared right here in New Rochelle -- a 50-year-old attorney who works in Manhattan. On March fourth, two days later, his two children and wife tested positive, and so did his neighbor. By March sixth, 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.

GUPTA (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 (on camera): That's what you're preparing for here?

MADALINE: That's right.

GUPTA (on camera): Your ICU is full.


GUPTA (on camera): 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.

CORONAVIRUS PATIENT, FIRST CONFIRMED CASE AT NEW ROCHELLE HOSPITAL: 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.

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

GUPTA (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, and 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 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: All right, Sanjay.

You know, it just occurs to me that slowing everything down, right, you're risking a recession in the United States for the well-being of the American people. That's essentially what we're doing.



ROMANS: To beat back the virus you have to slow everything down and risk a recession so you can grind the economy to a halt to keep people safe.

JARRETT: Making enormous sacrifices.

ROMANS: To keep people safe.

So, all those people who need tests, when will they get them? And why isn't the president concerned about standing shoulder-to-shoulder with someone who has coronavirus?


JARRETT: 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 simply no way to know how many infections there really are this point 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. 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 are not always covered by insurance.

JARRETT: Let's bring in CNN POLITICS lead writer, Zach Wolf, live in Washington for us. Good morning, Zach. Always good to see you.


JARRETT: All right. So, the issue of this testing has really, I think, become the powder keg for the administration. Abroad, people are getting tested left and right.


JARRETT: There are drive-thrus. And here, that's just simply not the case either because we weren't prepared for it in the first place or we haven't caught up to the demand that we're seeing now.

I want -- I want to play what Dr. Fauci said about what -- he called it simply, just a failure yesterday.


FAUCI: It is a failing, let's admit it.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): OK. FAUCI: 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.


JARRETT: Meanwhile, President Trump is saying everything's going smoothly -- there's no problem here, but we know that that's simply not true. All the reporting shows people who want to get tested are being essentially stonewalled.

WOLF: Yes. And, you know, I think probably there is an argument not -- maybe potentially from a -- from a public health perspective -- and you'd have to talk to the doctors about this. Everybody who wants to -- wants to get tested might not get a test. But it seems like people who need to be tested aren't getting tested --


WOLF: -- and that is really concerning.

I think they're going to be talking about this and studying what exactly happened at the -- at the CDC and at the federal level where they were essentially standing in the way of states and hospitals trying to -- trying to test people.


WOLF: They weren't giving authorizations to test people. They messed up the development of the test to begin with. And then they just didn't play catch-up in a -- in a fast enough way. And now, states are trying to do end runs around the federal government.


WOLF: It seems like a total mess and really, not exactly what needs to be happening right now when we have these number of cases ballooning around us.

JARRETT: It just -- it seems like such a shame because it feels like it all really could have been avoided with better planning.

ROMANS: You know, your newsletter is so good. You said last night the coronavirus is not the zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion. The pandemic probably is not going to kill you. But it might if you're older and otherwise at risk, and that's what makes it so terrifying.

And, Zach, that's why you can see companies and communities managing the economy down to a halt, really risking a recession to stop the economy to slow the spread. It's all about pushing down this curve. You've probably seen this graphic everywhere, flattening the coronavirus curve -- pushing out, doing these broad protective measures to keep these numbers spread out so you don't overwhelm the health care system.

I think it's remarkable that the leadership is coming from local communities and local school districts, governors and mayors, and industries, Zach.

WOLF: Yes. And I do want to say I spent some time earlier in the week looking at the federal pandemic plan. There is one -- there are a couple. All the states have them.

That's a little bit the way it's supposed to be. This is supposed to be a bottom-up management of this kind of thing.

If you think of this country -- it's 350 million people. You probably don't want the Department of Education saying oh, we want to close every single school in the country.


WOLF: It's not necessary.

I live in Virginia. Some of the schools are open. They've closed them in Maryland.

You know, this sort of federalist country that we have, that's the way it's supposed to be. So I don't want to say that the federal government should be -- should be mandating all of these things.

They need to find a more effective way to communicate, however, to the states and to the local officials with one voice. Because you have Anthony Fauci saying one set of things and President Trump saying another set of things and that causes a serious amount of confusion, certainly for me and definitely, for anybody who is just diving in for the first time or not -- is not paying quite as much attention to this.

JARRETT: Zach, why won't President Trump get tested, himself? He -- we know that he has come into contact with at least one person who has tested positive -- this Brazilian official who was down with him at Mar-a-Lago. They're photographed together just extremely close.

ROMANS: Closer than us.

JARRETT: They -- he's also been around plenty of people who were at CPAC last week who were in contact with somebody who has tested positive for the virus. And yet, he continues to say I'm not -- I'm not concerned.

WOLF: Right.

JARRETT: I mean, is this -- is this a representative of the leadership that you should want to see from the President of the United States?


WOLF: Probably not. I mean, he's also -- he's older. He has underlying health conditions. He is the perfect -- he's been traveling. He is the perfect person you would think who would be able to get it. He's also the leader of the free world. I mean, let's not forget he's

maybe a little bit more important than average Joe Schmo or me or other people. He probably needs -- we need to know if he's sick or not.

Maybe it has something to do with his germophobia. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he still seems to hope that this is all just going to go away. It's not going to go away. So I don't think that's an answerable question at the moment, but they need to fix it.

JARRETT: It's just so curious. I mean --

ROMANS: I know.

JARRETT: -- other leaders who have come into even remote contact -- and Justin Trudeau is quarantined for 14 days even though he hasn't tested positive but his wife has some symptoms.

ROMANS: Because the president is a self-describe germophobe, I'm surprised he isn't, you know --

JARRETT: Just get it done.

ROMANS: Get it done.

WOLF: Right.

ROMANS: All right, Zach. You are important, Zach. You are just as important as the leader of the free world.

WOLF: I don't know about that, but thank you.

ROMANS: To us you are. Thanks, Zach.

JARRETT: Good to see you.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: All right, just about the top of the hour.

OK, so you're looking at futures right now suggesting a little bit of a bounceback. And I say little because when you adjust for something called fair value after just a really wild day, you're looking at maybe a 600-point advance on the Dow. Remember, it fell 2,300 yesterday.

In Asia, stocks closed lower following the terrible tone from the U.S. European shares have opened and they've opened higher, also trying to bounce back after their worst day in years there. Stocks recorded their worst since the Black Monday crash of 1987 in the U.S. The Dow finished down 2,300 points. We haven't seen this level, 21,200, since the summer of 2017. Two and a half years of stock market gains have evaporated on risks of a recession because of the coronavirus.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both closed down almost 10 percent. Those are just almost never seen one-day moves. They are all now in a bear market.

The stock market is telling us the U.S. economy will grind to a halt. And notable economist Mohamed El-Erian tells us a global recession is very, very likely.

The battered airline industry took more hits after news the president was going to ban European travel. Norwegian Air temporarily laying off half of its workers. American Airlines reducing capacity -- international capacity by a third this summer. And Delta is suspending flights on seven European routes to and from Paris and Amsterdam. Airline stocks hammered.

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: Post-9/11-style fear in the airline industry.

No part of the travel industry has been hit harder than -- by this outbreak than the cruise industry. Princess and Viking cruise lines will halt all operations until May.

This is not just bad for the cruise business. There's all of the downstream money that's spent. Money changing hands for food suppliers, stopovers at other destinations, restaurants, and stores. This is what happens when you halt a sector or an economy.

JARRETT: Well, if you want to see how seriously Italy is taking coronavirus, all Catholic churches in Rome will be completely closed until April third. A church historian says the move is unprecedented -- the first time in history all churches have been closed to the faithful, and that includes the Bubonic plague back in 1347.

Italy has more than 15,000 coronavirus cases, the most outside China.

ROMANS: All right.

The Pentagon wants to reconsider a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract award to Microsoft. Amazon challenged this decision in court. Amazon claimed it was influenced by the president's frequent criticism of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, also owner of the "The Washington Post." Now, the contract -- a big contract -- provides cloud storage of sensitive military data and technology for the Pentagon. Amazon Web Services praised the Defense Department for acknowledging substantial and legitimate issues with the way the decision was made. Microsoft insists it earned the business but says reconsidering a small number of factors is best.

JARRETT: We know it's been a challenging week for everyone with coronavirus chaos, so we leave you with a story to lift your spirits.

Over the past nine years, North Carolina police officer Michael Rivers has come to know the homeless in his community. This week, he noticed a new face -- a woman whose shirt read "Homeless, the fastest way of becoming a nobody."

Rivers asked if she'd eaten that day. She said no. So he picked up two pizzas, sat on the grass, and shared lunch with her. For 45 minutes, the woman shared her life story with Officer Rivers.

ROMANS: Wow, that gives me goosebumps. Exactly what we needed to hear today.

JARRETT: Yes, all day.

ROMAN: Thank you for him and best of luck for her.

Fifty-nine minutes past the hour. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. Have a great weekend. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Life screeching to a halt across the country as officials work to contain the spread of coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Concerts canceled, spring break canceled, sports seasons suspended and postponed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unprecedented. I've never seen anything like this, really, in the world of sports.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): To reduce the number of people -- no gathering with 500 people or more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All Broadway shows have suspended performances.

TRUMP: Testing has been going very smoothly.

FAUCI: It is a failing.


FAUCI: The idea of anybody getting it easily, we're not set up for that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.