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U.S. House Approves Financial Relief Package; U.S. Coronavirus Cases Climb; Airline Industry Takes a Hit; Chinese Medical Team Sent to Help in Hard-Hit Italy; Health Officials Recommend Sanitizing Mobile Phones. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired March 14, 2020 - 03:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, and welcome to Studio 7 here at CNN Center in Atlanta. I am Michael Holmes.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, a U.S. travel ban on most European nations now in effect as president Donald Trump declares a national emergency.

The U.S. president strikes a deal with Democrats on a stimulus package to combat the virus in America.

And as the number of coronavirus cases spike once again in Italy, help is on the way from an unlikely source.


HOLMES: Welcome, everyone.

The coronavirus pandemic is crushing any sense of normalcy around the world. A routine flight from Europe to the United States no longer possible for most E.U. residents. A 30-day U.S. travel ban now in effect.

In the U.S. itself, schools closed, public events canceled, many Americans facing lost wages. The U.S. House passed emergency legislation to offset some of those hardships.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We thought it would be important to show the American people, to assure the American people, that we are willing and able to work together, to get a job done for them.

We thank our Republicans, those who will be supporting the bill, we appreciate the president joining us with his tweet. But we are very excited about the prospect.


HOLMES: Now we have learned a third guest of President Trump's Florida resort has tested positive for the virus. Even so, the White House physician put out a statement saying that Mr. Trump did not need to be tested or quarantined.

The World Health Organization says it has nearly counted 137,000 infections in more than 5,000 deaths since the outbreak began back in December. The biggest cluster outside of China is in Italy. It has more than 15,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths.

The U.S. has confirmed 2,100 cases and the death toll of almost 50, but of course, testing is not widespread. On Friday, President Trump finally declared coronavirus a national emergency.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am officially declaring a national emergency. Two very big words. The action that I am taking will open up access to up to $50 billion.

All Americans have a role to play in defeating this virus. Our most effective weapon right now is to limit the damage to our people and our country and slow the spread of the virus itself.

The choice we make, the precautions we put into place, are all critical to overcoming the virus, reducing its spread and shortening the duration of the pandemic, which is what it is.


HOLMES: Yes, it is.

Many U.S. states, cities and organizations, are taking unprecedented steps to stop the spread of the virus. As Nick Watt reports, the effects are being felt almost everywhere.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In New Rochelle, New York, a drive-through coronavirus testing center just opened.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): There are six lanes. This facility can do about 200 cars per day.

WATT: The instruction, approach with windows rolled up. This is where we are now.

CUOMO: I think this could be a six-, seven-, eight-, nine-month affair, watching the trajectory of the virus.

WATT: Much of the rest of the country now shutting down. More than a dozen states have closed all schools, many more cities and districts doing the same. Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the nation, no confirmed cases, just pulled the plug.

DR. RICHARD VLADOVIC, PRESIDENT, L.A. UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: We reflected over and over again, we felt it was the right decision at the right time. These are trying times. WATT: Everywhere, authorities saying there's good reason to keep us apart. Louisiana postponing its primary until the end of June. In Ohio now, no public gatherings of 100 people or more, in Maryland and California, the bar now set at 250.

Disneyland California now shutting down for the first time since 9/11. Tamara Jackman (ph) just arrived for a 10-day trip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just very frustrating.


WATT: More dominoes falling. Disney World Florida, Universal Studios, the Smithsonian, Seattle's Space Needle, L.A.'s 50th annual Pride Parade already postponed and it wasn't scheduled until June.

And sports, adding to that growing list of delayed or suspended seasons, the fabled Masters Golf tournament now postponed. The Boston Marathon also postponed until September.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MA): The metaphor here writes itself. Today, we're on the first leg of a marathon of our own, as we battle this very serious disease.

WATT: At the Westin inside the Texas Medical Center, they're now sanitizing rooms with a robot.

ARCHIT SANGHVI, VICE PRESIDENT, WESTIN HOUSTON MEDICAL CENTER: We're the first hotel in the country to have adopted this technology.

WATT: An American Airlines pilot has tested positive. And two of four TSA agents at San Jose Airport who also tested positive were patting down passengers.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: I certainly wouldn't get on a plane for a pleasure trip.

WATT: And at grocery stores around the country, this the new normal.

RICHIE MARUFFI, ARNOLD BREAD DISTRIBUTOR: My whole route is on the west side of Manhattan.


MARUFFI: And every single supermarket is just completely wiped out.


MARUFFI: And I can't even keep up.

WATT: Bare shelves, long lines, growing anxiety.


HOLMES: Our Nick Watt reporting there. More now on the U.S. travel restrictions on European countries that

are now in effect, as of about three hours ago. Despite Americans being allowed to re-enter the country, mixed messages and confusion leaving many travelers in Europe scrambling to get home before the restrictions kicked in. CNN's Jim Bittermann with a look at the impact from Paris.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, not panic, exactly, but let's just say the ticket change desks were very popular amidst unclear and rapidly changing messages from U.S. officials.

Americans and Europeans alike were confused about what the new travel restrictions President Trump was imposing just hours later would mean to them. Many were taking no chances and getting on planes as quickly as possible.

For most, that meant changing to earlier flights and cutting short planned vacations or business travel, like Dr. David Pizzimenti and his family.

DR. DAVID PIZZIMENTI, U.S. TRAVELER: I started getting a bunch of texts and calls back from the States, saying that President Trump has made an announcement and that kind of woke me up.

I started checking the news and I guess, initially, it was unclear as to, if you are you a U.S. citizen, if you could get back, if we didn't come back before.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): But while non-Americans who have been in the 26-nation Schengen group will be temporarily banned from entering the U.S., Americans should have no problem returning.

Even so, the picture again was confused when President Trump made an impromptu remark in the Oval Office on Thursday.


TRUMP: We have a very heavily tested, if an American comes back or anybody, we're testing. We have a tremendous testing set up where people coming in have to be tested.


BITTERMANN (voice-over): But there was no sign of any testing going on in Paris. The administration also said that Americans coming in from European destinations need to self quarantine for two weeks when they hit American soil.

SANDY WEISER, U.S. TRAVELER: I am worried. I've been told that we could get tested and possibly quarantined. But I am praying that it's -- that we get off and I can get going home.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says incoming travels from Europe will face noninvasive screening and not testing when they arrive, unless they show signs of symptoms, in which case they will be taken to a hospital for testing.

For many, all the confusion and messaging meant cutting business trips or dream vacations to Paris, like for 14-year-old Carla Kritzer (ph) from Atlanta.

CARLA KRITZER (PH), U.S. TRAVELER: I'm sad. But I really just want to get home to my family and friends.

BITTERMANN: Passengers we talked to said a lot of their worries came from the confused messaging from the United States. But even with that cleared up, anxieties have not gone away since the last few days have demonstrated very clearly how quickly the coronavirus crisis can change lives -- Jim Bittermann, CNN, at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.


HOLMES: As fears over the coronavirus soar, the airline industry takes a major hit as you might imagine. Demand dropping, flights being canceled, stocks are tanking. Travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt joins me now from San Francisco. He is also president of the Atmosphere Research Group.

Thanks for being with us, President Trump today suggesting the U.K. and maybe some other nations could face restrictions coming into the U.S., along with continental Europe.

What does that sort of restriction do to the whole system of international travel?

HENRY HARTEVELDT, ATMOSPHERE RESEARCH GROUP: Michael, the U.S.-U.K. route in particular, between key markets such as New York and London, is very heavily traveled, both by business and leisure travelers. We are seeing fewer business travelers who are going.


HARTEVELDT: But it is still a key link between the two countries. We have already lost several million seats between the U.S. and Europe. We might lose 84,000 more if we go between knockout service between the U.S. and U.K.

HOLMES: What happens with Americans who missed those last flights, who didn't get out before midnight?

How restricted is travel now?

HARTEVELDT: The U.S. carriers are going to continue to operate flights from continental Europe as well as London and Ireland and other European gateways to their -- most of their U.S. hubs. There may be some changes within the next 24 hours because travelers have to return to one of 13 approved airports that have the extra screening.

But by Monday or Tuesday next week, most of those flights will start phasing out. You will see much fewer flights being operated. American, Delta and United will be scaling back their flights.

Lufthansa, KLM, Air France and others will also likely reduce their flights. Americans can still get home; when they do arrive, as was mentioned earlier, they will have to undergo a screening. And if they are found to have any of the symptoms, go through testing and then they will be asked to voluntarily self quarantine for 14 days after their arrival.

HOLMES: When you look at how big the airline industry is, speak to the financial impact there, you have a major airline like Delta today, stopping all flights to Europe for 30 days, cutting back operations 40 percent.

It is stunning, really. It's a bigger cutback than post-9/11. There are a lot of airlines out there which have been operating on razor thin margins, Al Italia for one, as well as some of the other budget carriers that have already shut down.

What is the long term impact here?

HARTEVELDT: The first quarter, the first calendar quarter, financially, for the airlines will not be as good as it was expected to be. But it will be much better than the second quarter, which will likely be a financial bloodbath for most of these airlines. You added to it other travel restrictions in other countries like India, now Argentina, Israel and others. It is a rotten year for the airline business.

Norwegian Air announced 40 percent reduction in flights and laying off half their staff. Other airlines are asking staff to take unpaid leaves of absence. It's really awful.

HOLMES: Henry Harteveldt in San Francisco, thank you so much, I appreciate you coming on and what a time for the industry.

HARTEVELDT: Thank you.

HOLMES: Coronavirus fears have been wreaking havoc, of course, on the global markets. U.S. stocks did finish up almost 2,000 points on Friday, logging what was their best day since October of 2008. But it has been a disaster overall, down 10 percent. The week was way down overall. Here's CNN business correspondent Clare Sebastian.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was an extraordinary week of trading, one that brought an end to Wall Street's longest ever bull market, 11 years, three days after it began. Here is how it played out.

It began with news of an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, sending already falling oil prices into a tailspin. With moves of more than 1,000 points on the Dow at all five trading sessions, trading was so volatile it had to be halted twice, the first time these circuit breakers have been used in their current form. The Federal Reserve had to step in to rescue U.S. Treasury markets,

usually the safest corner of the financial system. Despite Friday closing on the biggest rally for stocks since the financial crisis, the S&P 500 still closed almost 9 percent lower on the week.

In addition to the oil shock, the main driver was the global spread of the coronavirus and the extreme measures to contain it. Economic activity in a lot of places in industries is coming to a sudden stop.

This week, Italian authorities put the entire country on lockdown. The U.S. president banned people from Europe and national emergencies were declared from Spain to Hungary.

And in the final hour of Friday trading, the United States: sports, concerts have been canceled and tourist sites like Disney's U.S. parks and the Eiffel Tower have been closed.

Employees of global multinational companies are working from home and business travel is banned.

Airlines are still especially hard hit. This week, several unveiled aggressive cost cutting measures and further capacity reductions. Norwegian Airlines is temporarily laying off 50 percent of its staff. British Airways has also told staff that layoffs are coming.

Economists are warning that the odds of a global recession are rising -- Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.



HOLMES: Well, as the number of new infections increase, as doctors in Italy make some painful decisions, coming up, how the pandemic is pushing the limits of the country's health care system. We will be right back.




HOLMES: Welcome back.

Italy is reporting a grim milestone. On Friday, officials say 250 people died and more than 2,500 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed. That is just in 24 hours. The pandemic is putting a strain, as you might imagine, on health care resources. And as Melissa Bell reports, it is forcing doctors to make tough choices.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Italy in crisis as the novel coronavirus aggressively infects the country. The famous tourist-filled streets now mostly empty. Popular landmarks like the Colosseum in Rome without any visitors.

Restaurants and bars, shut down as the government slashes flights in and out of the country.

More than 15,000 COVID-19 cases, the most outside of China, after a massive jump in just the last day, leaving more than 1,000 people dead from the virus. The country is normally efficient health care system stretched to the limit.

DR. ENRICO STORTI, MAGGIORE HOSPITAL: When you receive 100 people at the same time sick as they are and all of the people need your job, otherwise they die, this is exactly what we are seeing because they arrive in the hospital with such a consistent distress that you have to treat these people in seconds.

BELL (voice-over): With not enough beds, equipment and physicians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me and Dr. Storti, we stayed here for four to five days continuously.

BELL (voice-over): Now there are reports that some doctors in Italy are being forced to make painful decisions.

YASCHA MOUNK, "THE ATLANTIC": Doctors are being pushed to the point where they might have to make a choice about which patient gets one of those ventilators and which patient is denied bed care.

BELL (voice-over): Government officials are denying that.

The pandemic hit Italy a few days before the U.S. So far, cases in the United States are mirroring the growth in Italy with no signs that American hospitals are any more prepared than their Italian counterparts.

The United States has 2.8 hospital beds per thousand people, fewer than Italy's 3.2 beds per thousand people, according to the OECD.

The former Italian prime minister issuing a stark and haunting warning to America: do not wait for it to get worse.


MATTEO RENZI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Please, do not make the same mistakes of undervaluation of the risk.


HOLMES: Now Italy is getting some help from a perhaps unexpected place, China, CNN's senior producer Steven Jiang joins us now from Beijing.


HOLMES: Tell us about the type of help, China does make a lot of things that the rest of the world needs right now. STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: That is right, we

are talking about masks and ventilators but also medical personnel from China to Italy.

In recent days, officials here have been highlighting their ramped-up their production capacity of medical supplies, including, for example, 500,000 protective suits being made on a daily basis; 1.6 million N-95 masks as well as a whopping 100 million ordinary face masks.

So with the situation domestically improving in the epicenter of Wuhan, for example, they only recorded four new cases on Friday, so presumably, they will have more spare capacity for export of medical supplies to other countries.

That is a point the Chinese President Xi Jinping made in a recent letter to his Italian counterpart, saying that China stands ready to share its experience and to offer its assistance. And international solidarity is the only way that the global community can face up to this grave global challenge together.

HOLMES: I'll ask you about something else, the U.S. State Department, they believe that China is trying to deflect criticism for its role in the virus, whatever that may be. It is getting a little nasty.

JIANG: That is right. The two governments have been pointing a finger at each other in terms of who to blame for this outbreak for a few days now. Things really took a nasty turn, as we mentioned on Thursday, when a prominent Chinese official, he is literally the face of the government, being a foreign ministry spokesman, tweeted to promote this conspiracy theory that it was the U.S. Army that brought this virus to Wuhan back in October when athletes from the U.S. military participated in a sporting event there.

It is worth noting that this theory had been circulating in Chinese social media for a while. But even the state media here has debunked it by quoting local hospital officials and saying that they have treated only five sick foreign athletes then, all for malaria.

But these facts obviously did not stop Mr. Jao (ph) from tweeting on Thursday to push out this conspiracy theory to his more than 300,000 Twitter followers. And it is also no coincidence we are seeing a very concerted global campaign by Beijing to cast doubt on the origin of the virus.

This didn't sit well with Washington. The State Department in the U.S. summoned the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. to protest these comments, saying that the U.S. will not tolerate these comments aimed at deflecting blame for the initial mishandling or alleged cover-up by the Beijing government.

HOLMES: Rather unseemly, given the circumstances. Steven Jiang, good to see you in Beijing.

Potential pathogens in your pockets. Scientists say your cellphone is loaded with germs. When we come back, we will show you what you can do about it. (MUSIC PLAYING)



HOLMES: Welcome back.

Health officials say the coronavirus could live on surfaces for days so it is best to sanitize the areas you share with other people.

What about personal items that only you touch every day, stuff like cellphones?


HOLMES: CNN's Hadas Gold takes a look now at the risks they pose and how to clean them safely.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (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 is 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 are often the forgotten link between public services and our face.

KENNETH MAK, SINGAPORE MINISTRY OF HEALTH: And also to be mindful the things that you commonly touch and the most common thing that you touch is your phone and you might want to make sure you clean the surfaces of your phone as well. It is subconscious; we often do that. But these are the important things to make sure that your protect yourself.

GOLD (voice-over): Let's take a look at just my daily commute. If I'm taking the bus, there are the handrails and the stop button. Of course all while I'm checking my emails and tweets. Calling for the pedestrian signal and into the office, where I've got two sets of doors to open, with my pass 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 touch public surfaces a total of 11 times and my phone a total of four times just on my commute in.

Our phones can be hotbeds of bacteria, effectively a petri dish in our pockets.

DR. MARK FIELDER, KINGSTON UNIVERSITY: There's probably quite a lot of microorganisms on there because you are holding them against your skin, you are handling them all the time and also you are speaking into them. And speaking does release droplets of water just in normal speech. So

there is 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 (voice-over): So how should we be cleaning our phones without damaging them?

GOLD: Apple recently updated their guidance, saying you can wipe your phone down with either disinfectant wipes or 70 percent isopropyl 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. You pop the phone in for about 10 minutes and let it zap the germs. But it is not clear yet how effective these are on coronavirus.

HOLMES (voice-over): Considering my iPhone tells me I pick up may phone an average of 205 times a day, the latest front in battling the coronavirus may be in your hands right now -- For CNN, I'm Hadas Gold in London.


HOLMES: Thanks for spending part of your day with us and watching the CNN room NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. I'll have your headlines in just a moment.