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America Shuts Down Amid Coronavirus Fears; Millions Of U.S Students Affected By School Closings. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 13, 2020 - 07:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: In the United States and all around the world.


This is New Day.

The coronavirus is impacting our daily lives in ways we have not seen before. America is basically pressing pause. Six states have ordered all schools to be closed. That impacts nearly 5 million students, Oregon joining that list moments ago.

In New York City, all Broadway shows have gone dark. Disney Theme Parks in California and Florida shutting down for the first time since 9/11. March Madness canceled, major sports leagues suspending their seasons.

Tonight at midnight, President Trump's coronavirus travel ban takes effect and that restricts flights to the U.S. from most of Europe. Of course, none of that helps curtail current cases already here. 47 state and the District of Columbia have cases.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: 1,700 cases at least. And in some ways, nothing will fix the information black hole created by the failure in testing over the last four weeks, a failure now specifically acknowledged by the nation's top infectious disease expert.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It is a failing. Let's admit it. 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.


BERMAN: We can't do and haven't done what other countries, South Korea and Japan, have done.

Now, despite what the president says out loud, a source tells CNN he is concerned about having contact with people who have coronavirus. Last weekend at Mar-a-Lago, he was face-to-face, side-by-side, literally rubbing shoulders with a senior Brazilian official who has since tested positive. And as far as we know, as of now, the president has not been tested.

Overnight, an Australian official revealed he tested positive just after meeting with Ivanka Trump and the attorney general, William Barr. Again, Ivanka Trump literally rubbing shoulders with this man.

It is unclear if he was sick at the time. We have reached out to the White House for comment.

Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is now in isolation after his wife tested positive following a visit to the United Kingdom, a country with almost 600 coronavirus cases and a country not included in the president's travel ban.

Again, we are all waking up to a new reality in this country. You know doubt know how your life has changed.

CNN Shimon Prokupecz begins our coverage live in a pretty desolate Times Square. And tonight, Shimon, it will be dark, no shows there.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It will be dark. There's at least five shows just on this one street here in Times Square, John. There are restaurants, there are shops. All of those, obviously, going to be impacted by the word of really -- of the reality right now, the word of the day, really. And during this entire coronavirus saga, it's going to be isolation. And the governor, others ordering people to stay away, and as a result, a lot of the theaters here are closed, restaurants here not filled to capacity. And, of course, all of this as cities and states across the country just trying to stop the spread of the coronavirus.


PROKUPECZ: New York's governor taking drastic measures, banning most gatherings statewide of more than 500 people.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We all talked about how it's contagious, touching surfaces, et cetera. Reduce the density. So we're going to take very dramatic actions in that regard.

PROKUPECZ: That move turning the lights out on Broadway, until at least mid-April.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sucks for those of us who work in the theater community because we don't have jobs for the next month. Hopefully, we all have savings to get us through.

PROKUPECZ: New York City under a state of emergency, but the mayor says city schools will remain open.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): We have so many working New Yorkers who have no other place for their kids to be. On top of that, there's a reality, if a lot of parents don't have any choice, they'll simply not be able to go to work at all. They'll have to stay at home with kids. That includes people we desperately need, like first responders. PROKUPECZ: Nationally, nearly 5 million children are out of school pushing the classroom online for many. But for some districts, like in Seattle, learning will stop entirely for the next two weeks.

TIM ROBINSON, SPOKESPERSON, SEATTLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Not all 53,000 students have online access for a device, a computer. So if we can't provide that online learning for all of our students, then we can't.

PROKUPECZ: Drive-through testing centers are popping up across the nation, including this five-minute clinic in Minnesota. But you'll need permission from your primary care doctor first.

DR. PRITISH TOSH, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, MAYO CLINIC EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Until we had this set up, a lot of the testing was being done through emergency department.

PROKUPECZ: March Madness canceled this year, the NCAA halting both the men's and women's basketball tournaments.


Major League Baseball suspending spring training and delaying opening day by at least two weeks joining the NBA, the NHL, the pro tennis tour and major league soccer and pressing pause on their seasons. One official says travelers may want to reconsider flying.

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

PROKUPECZ: By Saturday morning, both Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California will be closed for the first time since the September 11th attacks. The move after California's governor banned all gatherings over 250 people.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): It is not only our strong recommendation, but codified in the executive order that we have directed cities, counties, private, public sector, large and small all throughout the State of California to no longer permit large, non-essential events in the state, sporting events, other types of conferences, music festivals and the like.


PROKUPECZ: And so one of the other things here in New York that the governor is doing is he's ordering restaurants to serve about half the customers they would normally serve. He wants there to be more room between people seated at tables or at bars. Again, of course, isolation, keeping people away from other people to try and stop the spread of this virus.

BERMAN: Again, these governors and these mayors are taking action now trying to stem the flow of coronavirus, largely because they see a lack of federal action in this case. Shimon, in Times Square, thank you very much.

One of the actions the president has taken is this ban on travel from some European countries. It goes into effect at midnight tonight. So we want to check in and see what the situation is at European airports.

CNN's Melissa Bell is live in Rome with the very latest. Melissa, what do you see?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, this is a terminal that is about to close on Tuesday and there will be no more Terminal 1 at Rome's Fiumicino Airport.

Let me just show you what an extraordinary sight this is. Look at that board, all of those flights canceled. Now, of course, Italy is a country that was under lockdown since Monday, so a lot of the cancellations are as a result of that, lots of flights between Italy, of instance, and other European countries.

But what has changed here is the result of Donald Trump's ban are those American flights, of course. We've seen a few Americans scrambling to get on them, a lot of Europeans hoping to get to the United States before that ban kicks in at midnight tonight.

But beyond the question of how it affects Europeans, even Americans trying to get home because of all that confusion of how the ban was going to take effect and what it was going to mean. And, of course, there is the practical question of how they would get home after midnight tonight since so many of those flights operated between those 26 countries that are affected by the ban in the United States are simply no longer going to take place. It's not going to be possible to fly on them anymore. That's impact on the airline industry. It's had a massive impact on a bunch of Americans trying to get home.


LEO LEOPOLDO: And as soon as we're in the air, we land and we get bombarded with messages from our families telling us Trump announced this and you can't come back and end if the world and all that good stuff. So --

NATHALY ERIKSON, AMERICAN STUDET STUDYING ABROAD: I know a lot of people are freaked out and trying to change their flights like yesterday. But I think people kind of calmed down now that American citizens can return home. But there's definitely like a lot of uncertainty, which has caused a lot of panic.


BELL: Now the last flight to New York from Rome left this morning. The last passengers made their way through here. A lot of masks being worn by those few travelers who are still making it to their destinations here today, not in the United States but other destinations, that area being entirely cleansed regularly. We've been watching it over the course of the morning.

And I think you mentioned a moment ago, John, about how the United States was waking up to a very different world, a very different reality this morning. In a sense, Europe is a few days ahead of that, Italy, especially. I think what's new with this travel ban tonight is that proximity, that sense we've all had all our lives of living in such a small world where you could travel so easily, with the coronavirus, with this ban, tonight, that feeling really comes to an end. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Melissa, thank you for showing us what's happening right on the cusp of this big decision this evening. Thank you very much.

Anxiety over the coronavirus is high. All of this disruption is a lot to deal with for adults and, of course, for children. Is it all necessary?

Joining us now is Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, she's the Director of Infectious Diseases at University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Dr. Jodi Gold, she's Director of Gold Center for Mind, Health and Wellness. She is a psychiatrist who works with children and adults.

It's great to talk to both of you, because, obviously, there is a big impact physically on people who get sick and mentally on people who even are not getting sick.


And so let's start with the medical approach today.

So, Dr. Marrazzo, America is basically shutting down. Schools are closed. People are working from home. You see New York City, Broadway is closed, sports seasons are being canceled. Is this all medically necessary or is it just somehow making people feel as though we're more in control?

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, DIRECTOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Yes, great question, Alisyn. So I would say we have an opportunity here, it's a very narrow window of opportunity to avert the kind of situation that has emerged, particularly in Italy over the last several weeks.

If you look at where we are relative to what's being experienced in Italy, which is analogous in terms of the sophistication of their healthcare, pretty close to us. We really could be where they are, the modeling says, in about two weeks.

That is a very frightening thought when you look at how stressed their infrastructure is right now. And the fact that one in five or so of their healthcare workers are out of the workforce. When you think about the bench that we have for both nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians, that is a blow that we really cannot afford to sustain. So I think that anything we can do right now in terms of social distancing is really important.

The travel ban, on the other hand, to me, is probably misguided and also really the collateral damage. It's just not helping us economically or in terms of helping to get the word out. This is a virus that doesn't respect boundaries or anything like borders.

CAMEROTA: Or nationalities, yes, absolutely. Dr. Gold --

MARRAZZO: And (INAUDIBLE) everything.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Dr. Gold, here is the paradox. If social distancing is good medically, it is also anxiety-producing for people because it's isolating, and people don't know how much to be isolating themselves right now. So, mentally -- emotionally, what's your biggest concern from the psychiatry point of view?

DR. JODI GOLD, DIRECTOR, GOLD CENTER FOR MIND, HEALTH AND WELNESS: The psychiatry point of view, I am worried about the social isolation. I'm worried about the anxiety, really, mostly worried about the anxiety. And I think it's clear that I'm not telling people not to be anxious. We all live with anxiety every day, whether you're giving a talk at work, whether if you have to take a test, this is part of our daily lives.

And right now, we just have to deal with the uncertainty and the anxiety of what's going on.

CAMEROTA: I don't think the human brain is cut out for this much uncertainty. I mean, I see the anxiety just around all sorts of people who call to ask me questions. I mean, neighbors, my doctor called to ask me questions about this. How are you suggesting that people cope with this?

GOLD: I really think that we're all in this together and we're going to have to use a lot of kindness and a lot of patience. And the first thing we have to do is deal with the medical needs, right? The first thing we have to do is take care of our kids, get older people out of the workplace and home, make sure the kids are eating. First thing we need to do is take care of the medical piece and then we have to take care of the mental health for our country. I mean, it's an imperative right now.

CAMEROTA: And we'll get to that in a second, because I know you have some tips in terms and structure.

But, first, Dr. Marrazzo, I just want to show you this coronavirus curve, because I want you to walk us through this. So here are the number of cases. his has been put out by, I guess, The Economist. It's how we flatten the curve. Without protective measures, you can see that it spikes. That's the red there. With protective measures, it's a sort of more shallow mound there.

What's interesting is it's the same amount of cases, okay? It's just about the length of time over which those cases are spread. Is that supposed to make us feel better?

MARRAZZO: Yes. You expressed it actually and explained it very eloquently. I mean, the bottom line with this curve is that you essentially tried to challenge the healthcare system with the same amount of cases over a longer period of time.

So imagine your emergency room, you've got per day five people coming in that may need to go to the intensive care unit and be put on a ventilator in that spread-out curve. In that elevated curve, you might have 30 to 50 people are coming. And you can imagine the chaos and the need that that on-rush of people really stresses the system with.

So the idea is really to try to give our infrastructure a break and not break it over time. And this can be done, and I think the social distancing impact that we're seeing might -- in other countries at least, might be able to help with that.

CAMEROTA: And, Dr. Marrazzo, can you just explain in terms of the social distancing. Does that mean we should not go out to restaurants, should we not see friends, should we not have them over to our houses, can our kids not have play dates? What level of social distancing do you as a doctor want to see?


MARRAZZO: I think it's very important, first of all, to keep sick people away from healthy people. So, remember, there are different levels of social distancing. If you are sick, please do not mix with other people. We know this virus can be transmitted very easily based on the numbers we're seeing.

The second thing is that, remember, social distancing works by reducing your personal space that you're sharing with people. So if you're in a very crowded place, like a basketball auditorium or something like that, and you're literally six to three inches from somebody, that's going to be an at-risk situation. So minimizing that is why the mayor of New York, for example, has now imposed this regulation about dining out so you can be six feet away from the people that you are eating with. So I think that that's a very reasonable approach.

CAMEROTA: Okay, that's very good to know.

Okay. Now, back to the mental aspect of all of this, Dr. Gold. So, social distancing, isolating, your tips for people to get through these next however long weeks we have are stay on the schedule, what else?

GOLD: One would stay on the schedule.


GOLD: Because I've been working with teenagers in Asia who are on this home schooling, remote learning. And what I've noticed is that there is no schedule. They do their classes, they sleep, they do their classes, they're getting depressed, they're getting isolated, they're getting anxious and I want to avoid that here.

So for the people that are really quarantined, obviously, that's a different level of social distancing, right? We get that. But in terms of being at home with your kids over the next month, we've got to help each other out. Everyone has to get up at a certain time, you have to go to bed at a certain. You have to eat meals at a regular time. If you're doing remote learning, it needs to be as close to school as possible. If you have enough space in your apartment, you need leave your bedroom to go into the kitchen to actually do your classes. You need to not sleep all the time. You need to have social connectedness.

And this is when technology is great. If you can use a video conferencing to stay connected, kids are particularly good at this, they're very comfortable with this, but for older people as well. If your parents don't have -- aren't set up for video conferencing and you can get them set up, absolutely do it, because we need people to still be connected even if they have to be six feet away or in another place.

CAMEROTA: That's a great point. Social media can actually really help because you can see -- if you do Facetime with somebody with the grandparents or whatever, that actually helps lift the spirits up.

Dr. Gold, Dr. Marrazzo, thank you very much for trying to walk us through this highly uncertain time. We really appreciate your expertise.


BERMAN: Let me say, I'm hanging on every word of these discussions, because we're not just reporting this, we're living it. My kids are home for at least a month from school. I need answers in my life. I know everyone is looking for answers about how to get through this.

CAMEROTA: I think that there is -- this morning, what I've learned, is that there's a difference between self-quarantining and social distancing. And you don't have to be as extreme as I think sometimes we think, that we have to stay locked in our house, not if -- if you're not sick, you don't need to do that but you do need to be cautious.

BERMAN: All right. As we've been saying, millions of students this morning at home, not in the classrooms. Schools closed. What's the impact on the kids? What's the impact on the teachers? That's next.



CAMEROTA: New this morning, Oregon becomes the sixth state to cancel all K-12 schools statewide because of the coronavirus, Washington, D.C. just added to the list as well. Closures across the country are now impacting more than 5 million students nationwide.

CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Yonkers, New York, with more. What's happening there, Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN: Good morning, Alisyn. Schools are closed here today. Whether they'll reopen next week, that is still a question at this point. There are a number of states where schools have not shut yet, but the residents are warned by their governors that that is very much a possibility.

All across the country, school districts for weeks have been planning for just this kind of an emergency. And in many places now, that emergency is here.


SAVIDGE: As officials try to slow this spread of the coronavirus, some states have begun shutting down their entire school systems. Maryland and Kentucky schools are down for two weeks. Ohio schools will close for three.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This action is not an action that I took lightly.

SAVIDGE: Elsewhere, school closures are more sporadic but no less dramatic for parents left scrambling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really stressful that this is happening but I understand why it has to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it was necessary. Just listening in Italy, they were saying they wish they had done their closures a week early.

SAVIDGE: Across the country, thousands of schools and millions of students are expected to be affected by the closures and those numbers are expected today rise.

In Seattle, one district explaining that dealing with the hardship of shutting down is still better than what could happen if they stay open.

ZACHARY DEWOLF, SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT: This is the best decision we can make based on public health guidance and to mitigate future risks to our students, families and communities.

SAVIDGE: Schools already on spring break are taking extra precautions to make sure their students stay healthy whenever they may return.

DR. BERNIE DUBRAY, SUPERINTENDENT, FOR ZUMWALT SCHOOL DISTRICT: I'm confident that we can provide safe haven for their children to be in.

SAVIDGE: The CDC's guidelines for schools with identified cases of coronavirus in their community leaves the decision whether or not to close to the school and local health officials.

In California, officials announced that schools there would stay open but individual areas are closing schools. And for many children who rely on school food, shutting down means more than just missed classes.

NEWSOM: We do deem that schools are essential, not non-essential. 80 percent of that student body has a reduced meal program.

SAVIDGE: It's not just California. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture across the United States, millions of students rely on more than 20 million free school meals provided each day, leaving some parents to wonder when schools closed, how will their children eat?

(END VIDEOTAPE) SAVIDGE: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been adamant that he says New York public schools will remain open in the city.


It's not just because they're important for education, but as was pointed out, he sees it as important for meals to be served to many students, and also for some students in some places, school is the safest part of their day. John?

BERMAN: There are 2 million homeless children around the country who go to school. Where will they go? Martin Savidge, thank you very much.

Joining me now is Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. Randi, thank you so much for being with us.

Let's just put the statistics back up on the screen so people know where we are this morning. Roughly 10,000 schools closed or scheduled to close. That's about 5 million students. This number will change drastically over the next 24 hours or by Monday. What do you think of the call to close the schools?

RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT; AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: So, look, closing schools is always the last resort because of all the negative impacts. We feed kids every day for breakfast and lunch.

BERMAN: 30 million lunch, 11 million breakfast.

WEINGARTEN: Exactly. We have so many homeless kids. We actually do healthcare for kids. We have -- we often talk about how schools are the centers of community. We wash kids' clothes. We do a lot of stuff. Schools become that area where kids get not just nourishment -- not just health nourishment, not just food but nourishment cyclically. And separate and apart from that, when you close schools, what happens for parents, what happens for the first responders that are in hospitals, nurses. So there's a lot of bad impacts societally when you close schools.

But the flipside is this. Without the testing, without knowing where the virus is, people are basically without facts. And so you have to reduce the vector of transmission. And that is why Ohio, Michigan, now Oregon, Kentucky, Seattle, Houston, Atlanta, that is why they have all closed schools. They've tried to do it around the spring break. But that's why they've all closed schools.

And I suspect that we're going to see more and more of it because we have to reduce the vector of transmission.

BERMAN: I think it's so interesting that you're tying the failure in testing to school closures because these decisions have to be made within an absence of knowledge. It's the unknown that's forcing Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio, who we're going to have on next hour. They only have five cases recorded, tested in Ohio. But he's assuming it's much more than that. So do you think it's the right call to close with only five confirmed cases? WEINGARTEN: Look, I think that this is the only bad decision. If somebody knows of a case and continues to expose people, that's a bad decision. Other than that, there are no bad decisions because we have no facts. So when people are saying, you look at China, you look at South Korea, they had thousands and thousands of cases, thousands and thousands of tests. And if you don't have for anybody in public health, we're the second largest teachers' union, anyone in public health will tell you that you need the facts to fight a disease and fight an infection.

So I don't think that DeWine made the wrong decision and I know that people in New York City are really up and down every single day thinking about it because of all the bad impacts.

Now, what New Mexico is doing is they're doing grab and go. So they're trying to keep the kitchens open so that they can have grab and go for kids. They're trying to keep the health clinics open.

BERMAN: It will work. We'll learn as we get through this as to what works and doesn't. Let me ask --

WEINGARTEN: But let me also -- I'm sorry. Let me also talk about a lot of teachers both in terms of higher ed and K-12, are really trying to get a crash course right now in online distance learning.

BERMAN: That's exactly what I want to talk about.


BERMAN: That's exactly what I want to talk about because so many schools, including my kids' school, which is just closed for four weeks, says they're going to shift to online education. You don't just snap your fingers.

WEINGARTEN: And, frankly, it's -- look, all of this is about engagement. Let's just be honest. I mean, one of the things we have to do is the fear has now overcome the facts. And for us to actually be able to deal with this pandemic, we have to have honesty and transparency.

What online does right now is it can be engaging. We're not going to replace schooling. And, frankly, as some of the folks said in Seattle, you have a digital divide between wealthy and non-wealthy. So why would you actually think that you're going to replace schooling with online when so many kids at home don't have Wi-Fi?