Return to Transcripts main page


Coronavirus Around The World; Trump Takes Coronavirus Test; Trump Gets Facts Wrong; Sanitizing Mobile Phones; Travel Industry, Markets Take Huge Hit From Coronavirus Fears; Everyone In Teaneck, New Jersey Asked To Self-Quarantine; Confined Italians Sing Together To Boost Morale. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 14, 2020 - 20:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Boris Sanchez in New York. Thank you for joining us this Saturday night.

The deadly coronavirus blamed for the deaths of more people today, more infections, more panic, more uncertainty and more disruption to daily life. Several new, important developments to bring you just in the past few minutes. Some of them inconvenience, but others are critical and impact millions of people.

First, the outbreak has managed to do something that natural disasters and even terrorism couldn't do. It's shut down the cafes in Paris, empty the piazzas in Italy, and ground life to a halt in Spain. Three countries that have taken extraordinary measures, to say the least, in a drastic move aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Here in the United States, people are sick from the virus in, virtually, every state except one, West Virginia. A new death toll today as well; 57 people have lost their lives because of this virus. And it's not an exaggeration to say that the number of infected people rises every few minutes as emergency officials across the country report new cases.

Also today, word that 10 U.S. service members have also tested positive for the coronavirus. That word today from the Pentagon. But we don't know exactly where those people are stationed.

President Trump today telling reporters that he has been tested for coronavirus. And in just the last few minutes, we found out the results of his test. We want to get to CNN's Kristen Holmes. She is live at the White House right now. Kristen, a relief seeing these results. But, also, a lot of questions about the timeline as to when this was administered.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Boris. So, we have gotten the results back from the White House doctor. And they say that the test is negative. And just a reminder, as you said, President Trump really surprising reporters and Americans today when he announced that he had taken the test last night. This came after he, himself, had said he didn't need to take the test. That he didn't feel symptoms. And after his doctor issued a note late night, saying that President Trump and Vice President Trump also didn't need to take the test, even though they had come into contact with people who had later tested positive for coronavirus. He said that it just wasn't long enough contact.

Now, another memo from the doctor and I'm going to pull it up here. And this is what he says. He says, last night, after an in-depth discussion with the president regarding COVID-19 testing, he elected to proceed. This evening, I received confirmation that the test is negative. It's signed there by the doctor.

And I do want to point out the language that he used here, because it is very important. He really specified that President Trump elected to take this test. That is the same messaging that we've heard from the White House and the president. The president, again, saying he didn't need to, but he chose to take this test today. He said that the media was crazy so he just decided to take the test. But that doesn't diminish the fact that President Trump came into contact with multiple people who later tested positive for the virus.

And, on top of that, he came into contact with people who spent extended periods of time with people who were positive for coronavirus. So, you know, there are a lot of questions as to when exactly this was going to happen. But this is a clear escalation of the precautions around President Trump, trying to keep him safe here.

Today, I do want to note, Boris, all of the members of the press, for the first time, and it wasn't just us, it was also the task force members, had to have their temperature taken before we even went to that task force briefing. They said this is an extra precaution that they're going to start instilling here. And they want to make sure anyone who comes in contact with the president or vice president does not have those symptoms. And I will note, one reporter got turned away because they had a fever.

SANCHEZ: Yes, kind of surprising, again, that the White House wasn't doing this previously, considering that, as you know, Kristen, when one person gets a cold in that White House press office, everybody gets one. It's crammed quarters, and we're in close proximity to the president. So, it's actually a good step in the right direction.

Kristen Holmes, thank you so much.

We have our star-studded panel back to discuss all of these issues and more. Former presidential advisor to four U.S. presidents, David Gergen, is with us. Former senior advisor to the national security advisor, Samantha Vinograd, is with us. Further, former chair of President Obama's Global Development Counsel, Mohamed El-Erian, is with us, too. And the director of the Division of Infectious Disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo.


Thank you, all, again, for joining us. David, to you. The news that the president has tested negative. Just knowing that this hung in the balance, though, for the leader of the free world. The most protected person in this country. It's kind of stunning. What's your reaction?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is kind of stunning. My first reaction is exactly the same as yours and that is relief. The president did test negatively. That's reassuring as we go forward. Can you imagine if it were -- he tested positively? We'd be just in conniptions right now.

But, beyond that, I do think it's -- he's -- we look to the president to be a role model for our kids, for the younger generations and for others around the world. And I think that the way the president has approached this has caused a lot of people to be anguished, because he doesn't seem to believe in it. He doesn't believe in science. He's dismissive of climate change. He was dismissive of the coronavirus in the beginning.

But, you know, if -- the Catholics say, you know, hate the sin but forgive the sinner. And I think the fact that he's making a U-turn is welcome news. We ought to thank him for it. And I think what's really important now, in terms of this role modeling, is that he sticks to it. He sticks to a regime and a vocabulary and the kind of approach to country that says, yes, I get it. This is serious and I am here, as your president, to save every life I can.

And you've got to do these five things. You've got to do -- and you've got to be consistent about it. And stop giving us the malarkey about how wonderful his administration is. We don't need that. We need straight talk.

SANCHEZ: You know, Dr. Marrazzo, I'm curious, considering the amount of exposers that the president has had, specifically last week at Mar- a-Lago with members of the Brazilian delegation visiting the president in South Florida that tested positive for coronavirus. Do you think the president should self-quarantine or is that too drastic a step?

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: I think that, in some regards, no step is too drastic right now. And I say that not to be alarmist.

But because -- if you look at the trajectory of what's happening in Italy, what's happening in Spain, these are countries that we can identify with, from the standpoint of being part of the westernized world, right? We understand what their healthcare systems are like. They are, in some ways, very similar to our advanced healthcare systems.

Despite that, there is now a mortality rate in Italy of 10 percent. That's way higher than what we have, kind of, collectively agreed is the population level mortality rate for this virus, which we think is less than one percent, maybe two percent.

But why it's 10 percent in Italy, we really don't understand. And, part of it, may have to do with the fact that their healthcare systems are completely overburdened right now. And so, their ICUs are completely full. Their healthcare workers are getting infected, almost certainly because of the intense crowding and intense stress on the system.

We do not want to get there. We have a very narrow window in which we can pay attention to the advice that we're getting about social distancing. For both sick people, of course, but also for healthy people to really change the curve of this epidemic. Dr. Fauci mentioned that today in the presidential press briefing. And if -- I think if anybody took anything away from that, that is an incredibly important message.

SANCHEZ: Certainly. And, Sam, thinking about Italy, Spain and France. By some estimates, Italy is about 10 days ahead of where the United States might be. From your perspective, is it time to start shutting things down the way they are in Europe here in the United States?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I'm not really well- positioned to answer that. I'll leave that to the actual experts. I think one of the real question at this point is, how can we get people tested in the first instance? That is step one as we try to map out the scale of the problem at this point.

With respect to shutting things down, with respect to travel bans, this is exactly when President Trump needs to listen to his ex -- his experts. And every case is different. You know, we're here in the state of New York. Governor Cuomo has taken a differentiated response to various parts of our state, based upon the level of the outbreak.

New Rochelle has a containment zone around it. There have been rumors circulating, Boris, that New York City was going to go on lockdown, for example. I think, from what we've heard from the mayor, for example, just at the state level, and from the governor, these decisions are being made on a case-by-case basis.

And what this all comes back to is, where is the president getting his information? And how is he making his decisions? Who is he really relying on as he's make -- as he makes these huge decisions? You know, you look at something like a domestic travel ban, for example. Which would have, essentially, an enormous economic impact and cause a lot of panic. Who is advising him on whether this is necessary? And is he going to listen?

SANCHEZ: Well, sources that we've spoken to close to the president have told me that he talks to lot of advisors that aren't even affiliated with the White House.


SANCHEZ: Just friends of his who have, sort of, pushed him in a direction of thinking things aren't as bad as they actually are. Doctor, I want to get back to you and ask you the same question I asked Sam. Is it -- are we wasting time not having a total lockdown in the United States right now?

VINOGRAD: I think it depends on what you mean by a total lockdown. If a total lockdown is something that helps to enforce social distancing, then I think it's worth talking about. The problem is -- or not the problem but my observation is that we are not China, right?

In Wuhan, the way that they bent the curve of this epidemic and really forced the trajectory down was by extreme measures, right? I mean, people were told not to leave their houses. They were monitored if they left their houses. They had drones going around and making sure people didn't have fever and didn't have symptoms.

America, I think, is probably not quite ready for that approach, nor would it be welcome in many places. And so, I think we have to adapt measures and our messaging to who we are, as a culture. That said, again, I don't think you can emphasize enough that this is not going to be fun.

I read something today about this should not be treated as a snow day. This isn't a day that you get to be off work and then make a date with your friends and go out and go to the bars, like people are doing, frankly, tonight for St. Patrick's Day. That really defeats the purpose. So, we need make personal sacrifices to make an impact here.

SANCHEZ: And Mohammed, I'm eager to bring you into the conversation, in part because there is the health crisis at hand, and then there's a potential economic crisis at hand as well. We saw how the markets responded on Thursday, after President Trump address to the nation. It didn't go well. On Friday, we saw it bounce back. Is there more volatility ahead or do you think the White House, the federal government is doing enough to, sort of, stabilize things?

MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, FORMER CHAIR, PRESIDENT OBAMA'S GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL: Unfortunately, Boris, there is a ton of market volatility ahead. Look, this conversation highlights the basic inconsistency we have. And it's inevitable. The medical approach, at this stage, is all about isolation, separation, social distancing, and for good reason.

On the other hand, we have an economy and markets that are wired for closer integration all the time. So, you have two very basic inconsistencies. And, at this stage, health should and will dominate. So, what will happen, the economy will go into recession. Markets, unfortunately, will remain highly volatile with a tendency to go down even further.

And then, that builds up. More uncertainty. More fear. People will feel unsettled. And, because of that, they'll make the economic stop. And they'll make the market correction higher. I think we've got to understand that's the dynamic. And the quicker we're honest with the American people and tell them that's what's ahead of us. Now, let's, collectively, get together and behave in a way to make sure that we can navigate this (INAUDIBLE.)

Because when we get through it, we will snap back really quickly. But the journey is going to be hard. And, collectively, we can do a better job at it. As well as internationally. This is a collective global problem that requires a collective and coordinated response.

SANCHEZ: David, the president heavily criticized for his Oval Office address. It contained misinformation, contradictions, lack of specifics. Again, that was reflected in the stock market on Thursday.

We've now seen him twice in the last 36 hours. How would you grade his response now?

GERGEN: Well, better tonight than it was three or four days ago after he -- after he gave that speech. I think the speech turned out to be a bust in a variety of -- a variety of ways. So, he needed that comeback.

But I must tell you, I think so much now depends on what happens in the next two, three, four weeks. Everything seems, to me, to hinge on whether we can make this social distancing, the self-isolation, people going in removing themselves, the closure of schools, trying to protect poor families, families on the edge who are going to pay such a terrible price, you know, if they lost jobs or if they lost their sick leave or they don't get sick leave pay, that sort of thing.

I -- you know, this is going to be a real test. Can we make this effort to flatten the curve? Can we make it work? How close can we come to doing things that are really, really tough without losing our liberties or without -- you know, and I think the point about we don't want to become China.

But we do need to take this -- make it as tough as we can in order to get through it as quickly as we can. Because this -- if we drag this thing out for a long, long time -- yes, I know we want to flatten the curve indefinitely.


GERGEN: But I -- I'll tell you, we need to get -- we need to have some progress here soon, so Americans think that we're on the right track. A lot of people aren't sure right now.

SANCHEZ: Now, Sam, I -- my producers are going to get really mad because they told me to wrap. But I still have one question that's pressing that I have to ask you about. This pandemic response team that the White House cut funding for. The president, essentially, fired in 2018. How critical would they have been in a situation like this?

VINOGRAD: Well, I think we're seeing that play out right now. This NSC directorate was charged with preparing and preventing a pandemic. We are living through a pandemic, not only because we didn't have experts at the NSC who were able to see this coming, Marshall (ph) Resources, and prepare for it.

But Trump didn't just allow John Bolton to disband the office in 2018. Despite very public warnings from the intelligence community in 2018, 2019 and I'm guessing 2020, about impending pandemic. He failed to staff up the NCS appropriately to meet this challenge.

So, he's on the hook for this. And his defense, right now, is really gross negligence. That he didn't know what was happening. And we are, unfortunately, a living case study in what happens when you fail to prepare. SANCHEZ: Even though it was just days before that, he made it clear

that he could just hire them again. It's not a big deal. But then, he said he didn't know about it. We have to --


SANCHEZ: -- hold on right there. Dr. Marrazzo, please stay with me. David, Samantha, Mohamed, we'll check in with you soon. But we do have some viewer questions that we want to get answered. Many thanks to all of you.

Dr., we'll see you in the next break and we'll chat about those viewer questions. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: Health officials say the coronavirus could survive on some surfaces for up to nine days, so it's best to sanitize the areas you share with other people. But what about personal items that only you use, like your cell phone ? CNN's Hadas Gold takes a look at the risks they pose and how to clean them safely.


HADAS GOLD, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Wash your hands. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze. Avoid large crowds. But in addition to all these novel coronavirus precautions, there's a crucial item missing. Something we all touch over and over again every day. Our phones. Few of us can live without our smartphones. But they're often the forgotten link between public services and our face.

KENNETH MAK, DIRECTOR OF MEDICAL SERVICES, SINGAPORE MINISTRY OF HEALTH: And also, to be mindful of the things that you commonly touch. And the most common thing that you touch is your phone. And you might want to make sure that you clean the surfaces of your phone as well as you touch it. It's subconscious. We often do that. But these are the important things to make sure you perfect yourself.

GOLD: Let's take a look at just my daily commute. If I'm taking the bus, there are the handrails and the stop buttons. Of course, all while I'm checking my e-mails and tweets. Calling for the pedestrian signal and into the office, where I've got two sets of doors to open with my path that I touch dozens of times a day. And a stairway to climb.

Straight off, I need some caffeine with a dash of milk before my workday has even begun. I've touched public surfaces a total of 11 times and my phone a total of four times, just on my commute in. Our phone can be hot beds of bacteria, effectively a petri dish in our pocket.

MARK FIELDER, PROFESSOR MEDICAL MICROBIOLOGY, KINGSTON UNIVERSITY: There's probably quite a lot of micro-organisms on there. Because you're holding it against your skin. You are handling them all the time. And also, you're speaking into them. And speaking does release droplets of water just in normal speech.

So, it's likely that a range of microbes, including COVID-19 should you be infected with that virus, might end up on your phone. So, giving your phone a clean would be not a bad idea at all.

GOLD: So, how should we be cleaning our phones without damaging them?

(on camera): Apple recently updated their guidance, saying you can wipe your phone down with either disinfectant wipes or 70 percent isoprobyl alcohol. Other phone manufacturers recommend a mixture of hand soap and water and a soft microfiber cloth. What they recommend is that you take one of these wipes.

Wipe down the hard surfaces of your phone, while trying to avoid any sort of open ports, like the charging port or headphone jack. Or if you want to be a little bit high tech, you can try one of these ultraviolet sterilizers. What you do is you pop your phone in for about 10 minutes and let it zap the germs. But it's not clear yet how effective these are on coronavirus.

(voice-over): Considering my iPhone tells me I pick up my phone an average of 205 time as day, the latest front in battling the coronavirus may be in your hands right now.

For CNN, I'm Hadas Gold in London.


SANCHEZ: All right, thank you for that.

All night, we've been answering your questions about coronavirus. You've been tweeting and submitting questions to We appreciate it. Please keep sending us your questions, thoughts and concerns. No question is too small. We're here to help you stay safe and make sure that you're informed, too.

So, with that, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo is back with us. She's the director of the Division of Infectious Disease at the University of Alabama Birmingham. Doctor, we have a question here from one viewer. We just reported that some studies have shown the coronavirus can live on surfaces for about nine days. From your expertise, how long does this virus stay active on commonly used surfaces, handrails, doorknobs, et cetera?

MARRAZZO: Yes, it's a great question. It can hang around for a while. They're actually quite hearty. They're more likely to live longer on surfaces that are not porous. So, things that are like metal or really firm plastic tend to be the most, sort of, satisfactory places for the virus to live. And you can find them on those surfaces, you know, usually around 72 hours, three days.

But you can, certainly, if you really get a good inoculum or a load, you can find them longer that -- than that. Something like cardboard, which is commonly handled as part of daily life, is probably about 24 hours.


MARRAZZO: Again, things that are porous, and increasingly porous, are less likely to harbor the virus. Some people have asked me about clothing. I don't really think clothing is a sort of thing that's going to be a big vehicle for transmission.

I think the phones are a really good point. But remember, please, the most likely way you're going to come into contact with the virus is by touching someone else's hands, generally, or having an infected person's hands contaminate something that you then get. So, I'd be focusing a lot more on that, although it's a good advice to sterilize as much as you can, including your phone.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And speaking of sterilizing, another viewer wrote an e- mail to us saying that bleach and alcohol products are difficult to find. How effective are plant-based products?

MARRAZZO: Plant-based products, is that what you asked?

SANCHEZ: Yes. Yes.

MARRAZZO: Like, what kind of examples were they referring to?

SANCHEZ: Candidly, I don't know.


SANCHEZ: But I'm assuming all natural products, a combination of different plants.


SANCHEZ: I assume.

MARRAZZO: Yes, and I want to -- the reason I'm asking if they specified is because that term could refer to everything from something like aloe vera gel --


MARRAZZO: -- to an alcohol-based herbal product that might work because it's got alcohol in it and it's just not at prominent label on the product. So, my point was, really, you need to look at what's in the labels. They're -- the FDA doesn't really regulate this sort of stuff. So, claims made on the labels, claims what -- claims on the -- on the titles of the product are not always right.

Alcohol bleach is very good. Anything that really can disrupt the virus. I should mention that soap, basic, old soap, is a great product for this virus. This is a virus that has something called a lipid coating or a lipid layer. That's, basically, a fatty layer around the virus. And when -- you know, when you use dish soap, you, kind of, destroy greasy things. And that's exactly what you want to do.

It's why we really, really recommend -- you don't need to use alcohol- based hand sanitizer. It's great if that's what you've got and you're on the run. But just washing your hands with soap and water in a very thorough way is very, very effective.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Sing "Happy Birthday" twice. Pick whatever song you'd like. Just wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, right?

MARRAZZO: Yes. I recommend checking out Gloria Gaynor's TikTok video.


MARRAZZO: In which she washes her hands to "I Will Survive." That's much more relevant, I think at this point, than "Happy Birthday."

SANCHEZ: As long as we know how to love and wash our hands, I think we'll hopefully be OK. Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, thank you, again.

And if you have any questions about the coronavirus, please submit them at We're going to ask our medical experts to answer them throughout the weekend.

Stay with us, we'll be right back.




SANCHEZ: Welcome back. The coronavirus has triggered extreme fear in financial markets as investors face the unsettling reality that the pandemic could tip the world into a recession. The $5.7 trillion travel industry has already taken a huge hit. Some believe it could be the sector's worst crisis since the 911 terrorist attacks.

But could the coronavirus pandemic turn into a global economic pandemic?

Mohamed El-Erian joins me now. He's the former chair of President Obama's Global Development Council. He's also the chief economic adviser for Allianz.

Mohamed, you recently tweeted that neither our economy or social norms and practices are wired for such a shock. You're talking about economic stops reaching a critical mass. How do you -- seeing what the President announced today from the podium at the White House with travel restrictions, seeing what he said Friday that rallied markets at the end of the day, how do you feel about the federal government's response to this crisis?

MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, ALLIANZ: Look, they're catching up, as is the Federal Reserve, but the situation on the ground is running ahead of them.

You know, this is really hard. It took the airline because we have to understand what happened in the airline industry is going to happen all over the economy. Phase one, people don't want to travel. So demand collapses. Phase two, the airlines cut on flights, cut on staff, cut on supplies. What does that do? That cuts someone else's income. So this thing

builds on itself for a while and it will do so until we get medical advances that gives me and you and the average American confidence that we can be tested, that this can be contained and that our immunity is going up.

When that happens, we will snap back really hard. But before then, we're going into a global recession, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And you mentioned the Fed. Today, the president was sort of tongue-in-cheek talking about Fed chair, Jerome Powell. He's frequently criticized Powell for not making interest rates competitive with places like Germany, et cetera. Even if the President got what he wanted on interest rates, long term, doesn't that stand to hurt the American economy?

EL-ERIAN: So first short term, it won't do anything. If I give you a cheaper loan, a low interest rate loan, you're not going to go out and fly, you're not going to go take a cruise. So it's like pushing on a string. The time will come for that, but not now.

I think the Fed has to be laser focused on, one, making sure the market functions, and two, helping to provide credit to small and medium term businesses that may end up into -- in default. We don't want that. We want to avoid a liquidity problem becoming a solvency problem.


SANCHEZ: Yes. So about that rally on Friday evening, as the President was giving that press conference, he was posting about the rebound. Do you think that's going to continue into Monday? What do you expect the markets are going to do as we start the week?

EL-ERIAN: So if the markets were to open now, we would open down and we would probably erase all of Monday's gains. Between now and Monday morning, we may get some policy announcement.

What the market want to hear -- wants to hear, and it heard that on Friday, is, A, we are making advances on containment, and B, there was a massive, not just all in government, but private public partnership to solve this. We have enormous trust here in the private sector. And if we see a good public private partnership to solve this, it will reassure market.

But until we do this, I'd like to warn your audience, get ready for enormous volatility and it will probably be on a downward.

SANCHEZ: Downward trend. Yes. We are looking forward to that snapback, Mohammed, and those advances in medicine that you mentioned as well.

Mohamed El-Erian, thank you so much for the time. Have a good Saturday night, sir.

EL-ERIAN: Thank you. SANCHEZ: Coming up -- of course. We take you inside a nursing home at the heart of the nation's coronavirus pandemic. Many families desperate to be reunited with loved ones.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been horrible. It's like a nightmare that I just can't wake up from.




SANCHEZ: We're following breaking news tonight. Just a short distance from New York City, everyone in the township of Teaneck, New Jersey is being asked to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus. Officials say that while this self-quarantine is not a requirement, they are coming out with some very strict guidelines for residents.

Now, overnight, the presumptive number of positive cases in Teaneck, New Jersey more than doubled. They now have 25 cases there. Perhaps a sign of things to come in other places around the country.

We're also following news from Washington State tonight. They are reporting three additional coronavirus deaths, bringing the toll to 40 in that state. Statewide, there's also more than 600 cases of the virus.

We also learned today that 47 workers at a Seattle area nursing home have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN Sara Sidner has more on why that facility is at the center of the state's outbreak.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: hi, pops. Why don't you guys cover his legs up?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Better, same, or worse?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you can open the windows today.

SIDNER: Daughters and sons desperately trying to show their sick parents how much they love them without being able to touch them.

Their parents are living in a nursing home that is the epicenter of the deadliest outbreak of coronavirus in the United States to date. Sisters, Carmen and Bridget, set outside their mother's window with a picnic trying to soothe her on the phone. In reality, the sisters are filled with dread.

SIDNER (on-camera): Does she understand what's happening? CARMEN GRAY, MOTHER QUARANTINED AT LIFE CARE CENTER: Sometimes. Today and yesterday are both not good days for her. She's rather confused.

BRIDGET PARKHILL, MOTHER QUARANTINED AT LIFE CARE CENTER: She said she woke up crying this morning.

SIDNER: Do you feel that your mother is deteriorating at the center?

PARKHILL: Absolutely. Without question.

SIDNER (voce-over): They say their mother came to the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington to rehab from a knee replacement and ended up getting coronavirus.

SIDNER (on-camera): What's this process been like for you?

PARKHILL: It's been horrible. It's like a nightmare that I just can't wake up from. I just want to see mom and talk to her face to face and laugh with her and joke with her and play backgammon and all the stuff we used to do together.

SIDNER (voice-over): They do not speak their biggest fear, but they are acutely aware coronavirus has killed 22 people associated with this facility, 18 of them were patients.

Families are worried their parents and grandparents aren't getting the care they need, especially after hearing this.

TIMOTHY KILLIAN, LIFE CARE CENTER SPOKESPERSON: We've lost a third of our active employees.

SIDNER (on-camera): Are you absolutely sure that the patients who were there are getting the care they needed, considering you don't have the staff that you normally have?

KILLIAN: I'm absolutely sure that our staff is doing all they can with the resources that they have. My understanding is...


SIDNER (voice-over): That answer did not satisfy the families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you're saying they, who is they, so we can follow up with it.

SIDNER: There are too many lingering questions to count. How is it possible that some of the staff has still not been tested three weeks after the deadly outbreak? And why is this facility's entire staff not quarantined, when a third of the staff has reported coronavirus symptoms?

At the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, the U.S. government flew Americans by charter out of Wuhan and put them on a mandatory 14- day quarantine.

Meantime in this facility, where nearly two dozen people have died, and yet, staff can come and go.

SIDNER (on-camera): Why hasn't there been a self-quarantine?

KILLIAN: We have not received and we have been in discussion with the CDC, and Department of Health, and Washington. They have not told us to completely quarantine in place.

SIDNER (voice-over): He says no one else will take the patients unless they show life threatening symptoms.

SIDNER (on-camera): Do you find that odd since they were quarantined and people who they had flown out of Wuhan for 14 days, even though they didn't test positive, but they haven't quarantined a facility that has so many people...

KILLIAN: I can't speak to the CDC's own decisions and the directions that they're giving. I can only tell you what they have or have not told us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, dad. I love you. You look good.

SIDNER (voice-over): Still, the families of patients here keeps showing up trying to boost their parent's spirits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to rub your legs, get that blood flowing, okay?

Katherine Kempf's father has tested positive, though he's not showing major symptoms.

KATHERINE KEMPF, FATHER QUARANTINED AT LIFE CARE CENTER: For him to say to me on the phone, it's rough in here, that's a huge statement from my dad. So to walk in there and just like...


SIDNER: Kempf has been bringing him herbal medicine. Her dad, she says, is a stoic Vietnam veteran, but even he has indicated how bad things are.

He has been bringing him herbal medicine. Her dad, she says is a stoic Vietnam veteran. But even he has indicated how bad things are.

Now, he's losing friends to an enemy no one can see.

KEMPF: He's dealing with it stoically and, you know, he's just -- you know, doing this kind of thing. You know, but the reality is, it is his friends have died.

SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, Kirkland, Washington.


SANCHEZ: Well, thanks for that, Sara.

The White House tonight says the president has tested negative for the coronavirus. This as cases surge in the United States. This our, past 2,700. Details on what's being done to curb the spread, next.



SANCHEZ: As the world grapples with how to fight the coronavirus pandemic, CNN is taking a closer look at how epidemics start, spread, and what needs to be done to contain them. The CNN film "Unseen Enemy: Pandemic" will take you to the frontlines of the outbreaks of Ebola, Zika, and the flu to look at what it takes to fight a global pandemic. Here's a preview.


DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: In the next 20 years, 30 years, there will be a pandemic and it will have the potential to bring humanity to its knees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New strains of influenza are already infecting birds in over 75 countries. And the way we are interacting with the animal world is putting us at risk. We encroach on wetlands so wild birds mixed more frequently with domestic poultry. Our food trade is completely globalized. And factory farms are growing in scope and size.

LAURIE GARRETT, GLOBAL HEALTH JOURNALIST: With all influenzas, there is some critical moment when a virus circulating in one species of say birds, manages to mutate in a form that allows it to get into say pigs. And then from there to spread easily between people. We've seen this over and over. It's going on all the time, right at this moment.


SANCHEZ: We'd like to bring in Dr. Larry Brilliant, who you saw in that clip with the eerily dead on prediction about what we're facing right now. He's an epidemiologist at the -- and the chairman of the advisory board for Ending Pandemics. His work as a WHO medical officer contributed to the eradication of smallpox in South Asia.

Doctor, you're obviously not surprised with what we're currently dealing with. What do we have to do to get this under control?

BRILLIANT: Hello, Boris. Thank you for having me.

Well, I think we're doing many of the right things which is doing them after having given the virus a 10-week head start, because we didn't have testing. You can't give a virus that increases arithmetically, logarithmically, or exponentially, you can't give a virus that does at a 10-week Head Start.

But now, we're beginning to do the right things. All of these things of containment and closing down schools and concerts, what that does is reduce the density of susceptibles. In other words, you're putting speed bumps in the path of the virus, which is really good, because it slows down the transmission, so you don't get everybody sick at the same time going to the hospital at the same time. That's one of the biggest problems.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And when you made that comment, really, it's something that scientists have been telling us for a long time, but people just Sort of brush it off until it's at their doorstep. Is this pretty much exactly what you had envisioned? Is it better? Is it worse?

BRILLIANT: Well, it doesn't feel very good to be right. I actually advised them to -- so this one in contagion. And both of them are eerily prescient in retrospect. But that's just because we follow the science, not because we had any special magic.

Yes, this is what most epidemiologists and telling the government for the past five years, 10 years, there have been more than 50 viruses that have jumped from animals to humans, zoonotic diseases, and there's animals and human put closer to each other because we cut down forests and live in the area that animals live before, or we eat more animals, or we eat exotic animals.

We're destined to have more and more viruses jump from animals to human. And we should be taking it seriously enough that it becomes a permanent part of government to pay attention to pandemic preparedness. Not what we did. I wish to fire all the people who are working on pandemic preparedness. That's why we're playing catch up.

SANCHEZ: All right, Dr. Larry Brilliant. Thank you so much for the time.

Please watch the CNN film "Unseen Enemy: Pandemic." It airs at midnight, right here on CNN.

Life under lockdown. Just ahead, how people in the hardest hit European country, Italy, are coping with confinement through music.









SANCHEZ: An unexpected display of hope and humanity tonight. Neighbors in Italy confined to their homes are now taking to their windows singing and clapping to each other in an effort to boost morale during the coronavirus lockdown.




SANCHEZ: Italy, by far, the hardest hit country in Europe with more than 20,000 confirmed cases of the illness.