Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Declares National Emergency to Combat Coronavirus; Trump Says He Won't Take Responsibility for Testing Delays; Drive Through Testing Begins in New Rochelle; Top Doctor Warns Against Air Travel For Pleasure; Global Deaths Top 5,000 With 136,000 Plus Confirmed Cases; 250 Deaths In One Day In Italy, 17, 000 Plus Total Cases; Sports Shutdown Impacts Hundreds Of Thousands Of Workers. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 13, 2020 - 17:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're following breaking news.

President Trump, just moments ago declaring a national emergency to fight the coronavirus pandemic, freeing up billions of dollars to combat the outbreak. And he now says he most likely will get tested for the virus after previously resisting the idea. The move comes as the number of known cases in the United States approaches 2,000 with 41 deaths, and as daily life is being upended with more schools and businesses temporarily closing and millions of employees being ordered to work from home.

Let's go straight to the White House right now. Our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us. Jim, the president was under growing pressure to take this action.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN WHITE HOUSE CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. He's been urged to do this for days now and the president decided to go ahead and declare this national emergency and announced in the Rose Garden just a short while ago that he will use his executive authorities to pump some $50 billion into the fight against the coronavirus.

He also announced his administration is going to start to cut through the red tape, so some of the labs that are stationed around the country can expedite these tests for the coronavirus that people will be taking in the coming weeks. But at one point, Wolf, a very interesting moment, and that is when he was pressed a couple of times by reporters as to whether or not he will be tested himself for the coronavirus. You'll recall last weekend down in Mar-a-Lago he interacted with a Brazilian official who came back positive for the coronavirus. The president almost stunned everybody in that Rose Garden when he said yes, he will likely go ahead and get the coronavirus test. And here is what he had to say.



QUESTION: Doctors have said you might have it even if you don't have symptoms. Are you being selfish by not getting tested? And potentially --

TRUMP: I didn't say I wasn't going to be tested.

QUESTION: Are you going to be?

TRUMP: Most likely, yes. Most likely -- not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway.

QUESTION: Will you let us know the results?

TRUMP: Fairly soon, we're working that. We're working out a schedule.


ACOSTA: Now one thing we should point out, despite the fact that the president has been downplaying this outbreak for several weeks now, saying that it will go away like a miracle, that the cases will go down to zero at one point, the president, when he was pressed by reporters whether or not he takes responsibility for what is happening right now in this country, he said he takes no responsibility. It was also a fairly staggering moment coming from this president. Here is how he handled that question.


TRUMP: Yes. No, I don't take responsibility at all, because we were given a -- a set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time. It wasn't meant for this kind of -- an event with the kind of numbers that we're talking about. And what we've done is redesigned it very quickly with the help of the people behind me and we're now in very, very strong shape.


ACOSTA: Now, one indication that we saw in the Rose Garden that the president hasn't fully embraced the seriousness of this crisis, he was shaking hands with some of these executives who were gathered onstage with him in the Rose Garden although at one point, Wolf, and we can show this to you here in real time hopefully, one of these executives, when the president offered to shake his hand - actually, there it is right there, decided to use the elbow bump instead and the president says something along the lines of that he liked that approach, although he hasn't been doing it himself.

One other final thing, Wolf, the administration officials who were gathered on stage were laying out what is going to be taking place over the next several weeks. They're going to be setting up a government website, it sounds very much like that was created for Obamacare, where people can go on to that website. It's going to be run by Google and state whether or not they are showing symptoms for the coronavirus.

So the president was even saying himself, we don't want people who aren't showing symptoms for the coronavirus to get tested. He doesn't want everybody to get tested. But if people are showing symptoms, they'll be able to go through a flow chart on that website and then potentially in the coming days, coming weeks, go to some sort of a pharmacy or area in their community where they can get a mobile test. So they're not going to a hospital or doctor's office and potentially contaminating and exposing other people to this very dangerous virus.

The question -- the big question on all this, Wolf, is when is that going to take place? Is it going to happen in some states sooner than others? Those are the questions that we were trying to ask at the end of that press conference. We didn't get those details. Hopefully the administration will be laying those out shortly. Wolf?

BLITZER: Hopefully, indeed. All right, Jim Acosta at the White House. Thank you.


The growing pandemic is impacting life in the United States in ways that few would have imagined just a few days ago. Our national correspondent, Erica Hill, is in New Rochelle, New York, the side of the country's first containment zone just outside New York City.

Erica, health officials are warning that U.S. life will be disrupted and now we're seeing it - we're seeing it happen.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That we are. And where we are right now is just a couple of miles actually south of that containment zone. We're in a park that is owned by the city of New Rochelle, Glen Island Park. And it is here, Wolf, that the mobile testing sites, the drive-through testing has been set up just behind me. Folks going over the road behind me where they can be tested, it will be open today from 8:00 to 8:00. And the goal at least initially is some 200 tests per day. But we're told that that could soon ramp up.


HILL (voice-over): An unimaginable week ends with a nation on pause.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just filing some things because my health is important.

HILL: As uncertainty grows Americans are stocking up for the long haul. Empty shelves across the country. In New York City, this bread distributor can't keep up with the demand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every single supermarket is just completely wiped out.

HILL: The entertainment industry scaling back. Every major sport canceling or postponing events and in many cases paychecks too.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MA): Obviously postponing the marathon is an incredibly difficult thing to do. It's one of the most iconic and patriotic events for our commonwealth.

The Boston marathon, one of the world's most well-known races, will now be run in September.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're trying to be cautious. And obviously the marathon attracts a lot of people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I kind of saw it coming, honestly.

HILL: Louisiana postponing its primary until late June over coronavirus concerns. In Los Angeles, the nation's second largest school district will now close for two weeks starting Monday. Across the country, at least 15 million kids home from school.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): The experts tell us, look, two weeks is too late, you know, another week is too late. You've got to try to slow this thing down early. We can't stop it. But we can slow it down.

HILL: Decisions that come with a massive impact.

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

HILL: In response, some districts around the country are using school buses to deliver meals and setting up food distribution sites. And while many schools are adding distance learning, that only works if every child has access.

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

HILL: With all the closures and cancellations, there are openings. In New Rochelle, New York, drive-through testing beginning Friday morning.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We have six lanes. We can do about 200 cars per day. And that can ramp up. You drive off, and then we call you with the results.

HILL: Colorado and Washington also using that model in some areas, a way to increase testing while minimizing exposure. But it's still not enough to meet the demand.

DAWN CLEMENTS, WAITING FOR CORONAVIRUS TEST: I'm running a fever, I have chest congestion. And nobody can test us.

HILL: A Dallas-based American airlines pilot now one of thousands of confirmed cases. A reminder of how far and how fast the virus is spreading.


HILL (on camera): And when it comes to the testing that is happening here at this drive through, it's important to point out, Wolf, this is by appointment only. And I think there were still some confusion. Our teams who were here this morning, cars were coming up and actually asking our crews, our correspondents where they should go, what they should do.

As the mayor told me last night, people need to call their doctor. First priority is given to those who have been quarantined or who are in the containment zone. They'll be given an appointment and after they have that appointment, they can drive down here. Let the folks know the checkpoint. And then, they will be told to drive through and have that test done. Wolf?

BLITZER: Erica Hill, thanks very much.

Breaking just now, the Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announcing that all schools in his state will be closing - the state closed through at least - at least April 24th.

Joining us now, Washington State Democratic congresswoman and pediatrician Kim Schrier. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. We just also been told by the way that there are now more than 2,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus here in the United States and 47 deaths. The numbers keep going up.

What are the latest numbers in Washington State?

REP. KIM SCHRIER (D-WA): Well, the latest numbers in Washington State, I'll hear later today. But we are up in the several hundred with I believe 41 deaths at this point. Most of these have been in a nursing home. And that is really the worst possible place for this kind of disease to hit.


I am so proud of our state health department and King County Health Department because they've really -- even with one hand tied behind their back without having adequate testing they've gotten ahead of this. They've been so responsible about social distancing, closing down large gatherings, and now closing the schools, that this is really how we're going to get through this. And I hope that the rest of the country will learn from our experience and get on board with these kinds of measures early.

BLITZER: What's your reaction, congresswoman, to the president's declaration of a national emergency right now? You just heard what he had to say. Did he address your major concerns?

SCHRIER: So this is a really important declaration. It's something that we have needed in our state for a couple of weeks. This will allow for much more capacity in the hospitals, it allows for some details. People who are required to have a three-day stay in a hospital in order to go out to a rehabilitation center, to be able to be moved out more quickly, to free up space in the ICU. And frankly, this will even help with things like having stand-up tents where people can go specifically for testing so they don't have to go into the medical system where they could infect others or get infected themselves. BLITZER: After initially downplaying the virus, do you think the president is finally coming around to how serious this is?

SCHRIER: It sounded like it from his talk today. Look, I was very relieved to hear that finally he is taking this seriously. And that's where we need to be as a country. This is going to get far worse before it gets better. It is going to require all of us to step up and do our part. And I really, one of my most important messages I think is to just let people know that even if you yourself may be at low risk because of your age and your health, we know that you can pass this disease to others. And unless we take this on as a whole community, we're going to see a very big spike in people needing to access hospitals, ICUs, ventilators, and our hospitals cannot accommodate that kind of spike. So please follow the guidance. Stay home if you are at all ill. Wash your hands. Don't touch your face. Cough in your elbow.

BLITZER: You're not only a member of Congress. You're a physician as well. The president said he didn't take responsibility for the failures in testing, and there have been a lot of failures in testing over these past few weeks. Then he launched into a lengthy criticism of President Obama's response to the swine flu back in 2009. What did you make of that comparison?

SCHRIER: Look, I don't really want to get into the politics of this. I think that is in his character to never take responsibility for anything. I think President Obama did a remarkable job with addressing the H1N1 flu. I was practicing in a pediatrics office at that time. This is different. This is different in so many ways, because it can be spread, we think, by asymptomatic people. It's different in that it doesn't seem to - thank goodness take a toll on children or young people but we think that they can spread it.

And that is why you know at this point, what I want to do is move forward and make sure that the rest of the country can learn from Washington State's experience to particularly protect the elderly, people with preexisting conditions and people in nursing homes.

BLITZER: We've seen these widespread school closures now all over the country, major event cancellations, teleworking. Do you think these measures being put into place right now are going to have a significant impact on the progression of the virus and how long do you think all of our lives here in the United States, indeed around the world, but especially here in the United States, are going to be disrupted?

SCHRIER: Well, here is what I can tell you. First of all, we absolutely need this kind of interventions now. If we can sort of make this a slower spread of disease, that will preserve our health delivery system. I don't know how long of a disruption we'll have. I hope not long. But the fact of the matter is we just don't know about this disease. We don't know if coronavirus settles down in the summer. We don't know how long we'll have spread. And we still have a lot to learn. And that's why we will need widespread testing and even surveillance of people who don't show symptoms. But we're not there yet. We don't have enough tests. And so, at this point, we're going back to just basic measures. Don't get other people sick. Stay away from big crowds. And think for people out there who have preexisting conditions, who are in an elderly age group. You don't have to wait for your governor, health department to close big gatherings to avoid in yourself. Be smart about this. It's not the time to go take a - you know a fun vacation somewhere.

If you're an elderly person, you're likely to get hit hard by this and potentially likely to have to self-isolate at a place that's not your home.

BLITZER: Once again, you're a physician so you speak with authority. Congressman Kim Schrier, thank you so much for joining us.

SCHRIER: Thank you, Wolf.


BLITZER: We're going to have much more ahead of the coronavirus.

Breaking news, we're also taking a closer look at the concerns that health care system, the local hospitals could be strained to the breaking point. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Breaking news. President Trump just declaring a national emergency because of coronavirus during his news conference over at the White House, the president said a large number of respirators have been ordered to deal with the coronavirus caseload in hospitals around the country. This comes as officials are worrying about the growing strain on the nation's hospitals.

Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has been looking into this situation for us. What are you learning, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what we're learning is that we all know that hospitals prepare for patient surges whether it's from a hurricane or big auto accident.


But the question is, are U.S. hospitals ready to handle the increase in patients from coronavirus.


COHEN (voice-over): Clay Bentley in a Georgia hospital with coronavirus.

CLAY BENTLEY, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: It didn't look good. It didn't look good for a while. It's been a hard road.

COHEN: Now, fears around the country that there may come to be millions of people hospitalized for coronavirus. CNN obtained one estimate presented to the American Hospital Association by Dr. James Lawler at the University of Nebraska Medical Center on March 5th predicting that over the next two months, 4.8 million patients will be admitted to the hospital because of coronavirus. That includes 1.9 million stays in the Intensive Care Unit, the university emphasizing that this is an estimate and based on the epidemiological modeling and the opinion of experts in pandemics and respiratory viral diseases.

The modeling was based on the outbreak in China. The outbreak in the United States may turn out differently. The university says there's still time to alter the numbers by following public health guidelines on stopping the spread of coronavirus.

Are hospitals prepared for the onslaught?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: This is unlike anything hospitals have seen in a very, very long time.

COHEN: Dr. Ashish Jha is director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

JHA: If we have a large spike of cases, no, American hospitals are not going to be able to handle it.

COHEN: It's not just a shortage of hospital beds but possibly a shortage of gloves, respirator masks, and for people who develop pneumonia, ventilators, and a shortage of doctors and nurses if they become ill.

DR. ROBERT KADLEC, HHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE: We did not consider a situation like this today. We thought about vaccines. We thought about therapeutics. We never thought about respirators of being our first and only line of defense for health care workers.

COHEN: Part of the problem, the testing debacle means people weren't diagnosed as quickly as they should have been and told to isolate themselves. And so, the virus spread further.

JHA: Our failures on testing have really put us at greater risk of a much bigger outbreak than if we had actually got the testing right.

COHEN: But there is reason for hope. Just in the past week, NBA games and other large events canceled. Schools have closed and other social distancing measures.

JHA: I think those were exactly the right thing to be doing. What that does is really slows down the rate of spread of that infection.

COHEN: Dr. Jha and others recommend that in addition, hospitals should take steps such as postponing elective surgeries as they've done at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. That will increase the chances that hospitals won't become overwhelmed by the coronavirus epidemic.


COHEN (on camera): Now, we can't emphasize enough the importance of protecting health care workers from getting coronavirus, both for their own health and because they take care of us and because we don't want them to infect frail patients in the hospital. Wolf?

BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much.

Let's bring in our medical and political experts right now. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, let me start with you. The president just said he expects 5 million tests to be available within a month. But then he added this, and I'm quoting him now, "I doubt we'll need anywhere near that." Is that a realistic expectation?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. I mean, right now we think that you know millions and millions of tests, as Dr. Fauci sort of labeled it, will be necessary. It's sort of an interesting point because at some point you're trying to get an idea of how widespread the coronavirus is. But once you determine that it's pretty widespread, the testing at that point may not be as useful.

Keep in mind, some patient goes in and gets a test, they're told they have the coronavirus, it's not like they are then given a particular medication as a result of that test, right? So in the beginning, now, and for the last few weeks, the testing is critically important to really get an idea of how fast it is spreading, where it's located, and to really help inform some of these strategies that we're talking about in terms of social distancing. But in the future, you know the testing may become less important.

You know, flu, for example, I mean -- I don't know how many flu tests are performed in the country every year, but my guess is it's less than that, for the same reason. So now, important, maybe in a few weeks or a few months, not as important.

BLITZER: I want to bring Dr. Phillips in, assistant professor at George Washington University, a new CNN contributor as well. Dr. Phillips, the president says he doesn't actually want people to run out there and get tests, he says he probably will be tested even though he says he's showing no symptoms. Should he be tested?

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: I think that anybody that's come in contact with people who have known virus need to be tested.

BLITZER: What are they waiting for? We've known now for a while that he was in contact with a Brazilian official down in Mar-a-Lago last weekend who has come down with coronavirus.

PHILLIPS: If I was a member of the White House medical unit I could give you an honest answer on that but I'm not. I don't know what's taking place there and I don't want to speculate on an individual's health.


What I'll tell you is that testing is the most critical thing we got right now. And in lieu of that, social distancing is the only way that we're going to be able to prevent the spread of this virus.

BLITZER: You know, Dana, he's been downplaying -- the president has been downplaying this crisis that's been going on now for the past couple of weeks or so but now he seems to be appreciating the severity of this a little bit more.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a very, very different tone. He's not there yet, considering the fact that he, you know, is saying the right things, he had you know a remarkable group of people trying to not just say to the American people but show the American people that he really is using all of the levers of American, you know, society. It's not just the government, it's the people who know what they're doing in the private sector, involving them, which is the way it should be. If you go back, you know, many, many decades, obviously it's not an actual war, but it is a war on a virus. And it is kind of a war effort that he is finally putting together.

Now there have been meetings, in fairness, behind closed doors for weeks. But that's not what the public was seeing. The public was seeing an extremely inconsistent message and a message from the president that was undermining what medical professionals like you have been saying, which is stay away from people, human contact is bad. The one thing I will say is there was a mixed message there, not just the question of testing. He kept shaking people's hands except the one CEO who you know gave him the elbow. Not exactly what the medical professionals standing next to him are telling people to do.

BLITZER: We'll show you some video of him repeatedly shaking hands with the various folks up there, not necessarily a good example for the country. You know he also was asked if he takes any responsibility, Abby, for the failures in the testing that have developed over the past few weeks. He said he doesn't take any responsibility and then he put the blame on the Obama administration for he says their failures during the swine flu crisis.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The president keeps bringing up the swine flu and it's really not clear why. He keeps implying, in many cases falsely, that the Obama administration didn't deal with it immediately which they declared an emergency pretty soon after it became clear that it would be a problem. But all of that is somewhat irrelevant to the current situation.

I mean, the president has done specific things to make it more difficult for this administration to deal with this crisis. He was also asked about the office that dealt with pandemics that was established during the Obama administration in order to deal with crises like this. He didn't even appear to -- he claimed that he didn't even know that that had happened. That's a real problem because one of the reasons that this press conference is fine, but it's a little bit late, a lot of this could have been done six weeks ago.

The first case in the United States was in January. The private sector is ready, willing, and able to help, they could have been in this position in late January and early February, to help out in the way that they're helping out right now. And so this is good but it's late.

BLITZER: Everybody stand by. There's a lot more we need to cover. We're reporting on all the breaking news, much more right after this.



BLITZER: We're back with our medical and political experts. And Sanjay, I want to play a clip. This is Dr. Anthony Fauci last night. He was on the CNN Town Hall with you and Anderson, and he was asked about getting on a plane and flying around right now. You pointed out, he's 79 years old. Listen to this.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I certainly wouldn't get on a plane for a pleasure trip. It would have to be something that was really urgent. My job is the public health. If it had to do with the public health, and I needed to do something for the public health, I might do that because I'm quite healthy. However, if it was just for fun, no way I would do it.


BLITZER: What about younger people, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Yes. Well, I think that's an important point, Wolf. I think -- I asked him that question, and I think a lot of people don't realize that, Dr. Fauci is 79 years old. But as a result, he's in that more vulnerable population group. So I think he was Drawing a distinction there as people in there who are elderly, being encouraged not to travel, being encouraged not to do any non-essential travel to try and stay inside as much as possible.

But people who are younger, I don't think he was -- and giving that same guidance. And I think it's an -- I'm glad you raised it, Wolf, I think it's an important clarification. I think a lot of people heard that and immediately started canceling their own travel. But the nuance there was he was very much talking about the older, more vulnerable people.

BLITZER: What do you think, Dr. Phillips, you're a lot younger than Dr. Fauci. Should people be getting on planes and trains right now, even if they're in their 30s or 40s?

PHILLIPS: Well, I think everyone has their own risk tolerance. But I'll tell you -- we were speaking about it during the break. The only way we're going to stop the spread of this virus, because we don't have adequate testing, is to assume everybody has it. That's it. It's simple.

If I assume everybody I walk near, touch a door after, talk to, if I assume they have it, the chances of me getting it are much less. If we don't socially isolate immediately, we are really running the risk of stressing our healthcare system versus fracturing it completely.

[17:35:11] And so the most important message that I think we can give right now, and people are going to call it inflammatory, I'm going to take that risk. People need to stay home and socially isolate. It's the only way to absolutely stop the spread.

BLITZER: So you don't want to get on a plane now?

PHILLIPS: I would not get on a plane now. Now I canceled a lecture I was supposed to give in Michigan today. And we did it over the internet and it went fine over the internet. I had the luxury of being able to do that. Not everybody has the luxury of missing work, of staying home with their children. But this is a difficult time American is going to get much more difficult, I think from a societal standpoint.

BASH: That's why when it comes to public policy, you have this scramble going on as we speak on Capitol Hill to try to make it easier for people to stay home and to follow doctor's orders to socially isolate. And it is very hard, I mean, like you have the luxury of doing that. You know, many of us have the luxury of doing a lot of things that other people don't, you know, whether it is childcare, whether it is the fact that if you don't go to work, you don't get tips, or you don't get wages at all.

And so that's why one of the big rubs right now and the reason why the House is not voting on this emergency package is because of paid leave. And the Democrats are insisting on making it broad, which you heard the President allude to that and Republicans, it's Steve Mnuchin, negotiating with Nancy Pelosi, by the way, not the President.

BLITZER: He doesn't talk to her.

BASH: They don't talk. But it is Steve Mnuchin. They're talking extensively. They've talked many, many times a day, especially today. And the concern at the White House and among Republicans is if it's too broad, that they'll encourage people to stay home and that will hurt the economy. So those two things are clashing the economy and what is appropriate medically and socially.

BLITZER: There might be some bipartisan cooperation, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was encouraged today by the declaration of a national emergency.

PHILLIP: Yes. You know, I think, first of all, the financial markets are looking for some sign that there is an adult in charge here and that people are calmly trying to put in place a plan to deal with the situation. So they're always assured when they see that and they're not assured when they see what looks like chaos and misinformation.

But I will say, you know, what we're seeing happening even as these negotiations go forward between Speaker Pelosi's office and the White House is that there is quiet talk happening despite all the bluster and even despite the President tweeting all kinds of things. Behind the scenes, they are working together, and you're hearing the Democrats basically saying, we're working on it, we're working on it, we're working on it. That should be reassuring to people. But I will note, Wolf, it was notable to me that you heard very little from the President today about real economic anxieties that people have in this country about what we are going to face collectively in the months to come. He has not really wrapped his arms around that problem, just people understanding that we're going to face some tough times as everybody stays at home. And I think that that's still a missing piece.

BLITZER: I want Sanjay -- Sanjay, you said something intriguing. I just want you to clarify. You said, even if someone gets a coronavirus, and their symptoms are very mild, they still could have some long-term lung damage. I wonder if you'd explain that.

GUPTA: Yes, it's interesting. I mean, some of these results are just coming out. Obviously, you know, we're learning in real time about this. But what they found, and I actually looked at the study earlier again today, what they found was that people who recovered even some of them from milder disease, in the weeks later, they had 20 percent to 30 percent less lung function. Now, this was a small group that was studied and, you know, we obviously be collecting more data as more people can be studied.

But I think it makes this case that even with the milder disease, is there some impact on the lungs that lasts longer I asked the -- someone -- representative from WHO about this and she saw some of that same data and said, look, you're talking about this 80 percent of people who do recover easily and seem to have no symptoms going forward. But when you start to dig a little deeper within that 80 percent, about half of them do have some evidence of lung scarring and other things that could be of a concern. It may not have significant impact on their lifestyle overall, but people who become more winded when they're walking quickly or trying to run or something like that, that was the -- those are the sorts of examples they were giving.

BLITZER: Yes, I think we're -- just all of you guys, the doctors are just beginning to learn a lot more about this virus.

Everybody stand by, we're going to have a lot more just ahead of the coronavirus outbreak here in the United States. Also, we're using CNN's global resources to give you a look at conditions in one of the hardest-hit countries. We're talking about Italy, which just has seen 250 confirmed death in one day.



BLITZER: The worldwide total of coronavirus deaths now is past 5,000 with at least 136,000 confirmed cases around the world likely many more. Italy remains one of the hardest-hit countries. Today officials there announced another 250 deaths in just one day.

CNN's Melissa Bell is joining us now live from Rome. So Melissa, what's it like there now?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, quite an eerie feeling here in Rome. Here is the Trevi Fountain that you will never see it again, Wolf, not a soul about people taking this lockdown extremely seriously as you would expect. That 250 new deaths since yesterday a record so far, and really shows that Italian authorities do not have this outbreak under control for the time being. They had warned though that this lockdown, extraordinary as it is for the entire country, would take some week to filter through in terms of results.


There is, however, tonight a glimmer of hope from Italy. We've been watching China, Korea, bring those numbers under control, get that outbreak under control. Everyone watching these daily figures to see whether Italy is managing to do the same. Nationwide, the figures are still very bad. But if you look at the figures coming out of the north of Italy, that part of the country that was the first to be hit three weeks ago today, that's how quick it's been. It's taken three weeks ago, from less than three cases, Wolf, to all of those cases that we now have in Italy, an entire country on lockdown.

What those figures, if you look at them closely in those northern regions, in those provinces that were shut down early that we're seeing, that locked down that we're now seeing nationwide, is that the figures of new infection rates. Those crucial barometers of whether the outbreak is being brought under control are now stabilizing. Now, that is good news because it shows that there is a glimmer of hope for Europe. There is some sense that these extraordinary measures might at some point bring the entire country as outbreak under control.

And what we've been watching today is really people queuing outside. The only businesses that are open now in Italy, supermarkets, pharmacies, respecting that six-foot gap between them. Everyone behaving in a very orderly way, staying at home when they can because they understand how serious it is, with all eyes on those nationwide figures to see if the ones in the north will now translate to a real change briefly as a whole, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Sixty million Italians on locked down. And the fear is what's happening over there in a few weeks could happen here. That's what everybody wants to avoid. Melissa Bell, thank you very much.

Coming up, financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of thousands of workers here in the United States now bracing for the impact of the sports shutdown.



BLITZER: The growing number of closures prompted by the coronavirus pandemic is certain have a ripple effect, including the near total shutdown of major league sports. CNN's Tom Foreman is working that part of the story for us. A lot of jobs are tied time to the world -- tied to the world of sports.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Hundreds of thousands are directly tied to sports. Many, many more are indirectly linked, meaning, all these cancellations could hit millions of folks right in the pocketbook.


FOREMAN (voice-over): The NBA shut down, the NHL stout, professional baseball, soccer and tennis on hold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The game tonight has been postponed.

FOREMAN (voice-over): All of it affecting people who work in arenas, stadiums, souvenir shops for security companies, ticket offices, marketing firms, restaurants, bars, ride services, and more. Sure, the millionaire players and billionaire owners will be fine.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Who's not going to be fine? It's that wonderful person that is taking your ticket, scanning your ticket, selling new popcorn, coming down the road selling beer or soft drinks. Those people are going to need help.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love is pledging $100,000 to tide over the staff at his home arena. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he too is working out a way to financially help hourly workers who may have no fallback jobs.

MARK CUBAN, DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER: We've already started the process of having a program in place and I don't have any details to give, but it's certainly something that's important to me.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The problems are not just for the pros, the virus hitters (ph) college basketball was roaring into its lucrative tournament season. Now, regional championships and March Madness had been canceled. The city of Atlanta was counting on more than $100 million to be generated from hosting the Final Four. That's gone too.

The big money world of auto racing is facing postponements and cancellations. The Kentucky Derby is worth $217 million to its own state with the horse industry generating 55,000 jobs. It's never been even postponed in a century and a half. But it could be this time.

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): This is community spreading, spreading from person to person.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And the venerable Boston Marathon organizers say generates $200 million every spring for its host city plus $35 million for charity. Now --

MAYOR MARTY WALSH, BOSTON: The 2020 Boston Marathon will be postponed until Sunday -- Monday, excuse me, September 14 of this year.

FOREMAN (voice-over): It's hard news for everyone involved. But former Boston champion Meb Keflezighi says it's the right move for communities and athletes.

MEB KEFLEZIGHI, BOSTON MARATHON 2014 CHAMPION: We have to unite together to be the best that we can be as leaders, as a role models to say, hey, be cautious, don't panic. But thanks, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. (END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: For the moment, Japan is insisting the Summer Olympics will go forward. They're worth billions and TV rights alone. And of course, all of the events are priceless for athletes who have trained their whole lives for the moment.

BLITZER: Well, certainly true. All right, thanks very much. Tom Foreman reporting.

There's more breaking news. Up next, President Trump declares a national emergency. What impact will that have on the coronavirus pandemic.



BLITZER: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room" with breaking news on the coronavirus pandemic.

President Trump declaring a national emergency just a little while ago. The drastic move freeze up by some $50 billion in federal funding and speaks to the gravity of this moment. After weeks of criticism, the President is promising to ramp up the government response to the health and economic crisis vowing to make more testing available and revealing. He will probably get tested himself.

The coronavirus taking a greater toll on the U.S. by the hour with a number of deaths now up to 48, more than 2,100 confirmed cases here in the United States.