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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. House Approves Financial Relief Package; U.S. Coronavirus Cases Climb; Chinese Medical Team Sent to Help in Hard-Hit Italy; Coronavirus Epicenter Moves to Europe; U.S. Restricts Nursing Home Visits; Airline Industry Takes a Hit; Questions and Answers about Coronavirus; How to Shop amid Coronavirus Stockpiling; Health Officials Recommend Sanitizing Mobile Phones. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired March 14, 2020 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:00:00]

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ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A U.S. travel ban on visitors from most European countries now in effect as Donald Trump strikes a deal to inoculate the U.S. economy against the coronavirus.

Roman ghost town: visit what a lockdown looks like in Italy, whether it is worth it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, (INAUDIBLE).

Why don't you cover his legs up?

Oh, you can open the window today.

COREN (voice-over): And a daughter desperate to show her sick mother just how much she loves her, she is a patient at a nursing home, the site of the deadliest outbreak of the virus in the U.S.

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COREN (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, we're live in Hong Kong, I'm Anna Coren. NEWSROOM starts right now.

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COREN: The coronavirus pandemic is moving rapidly across the globe, with updates coming into CNN every few minutes. Here are some of the latest developments.

Just hours after U.S. president Trump declared a national emergency, the U.S. House passed emergency legislation to help Americans deal with the unexpected costs. We'll have more about what that means in a moment.

We've also learned a third guest at Donald Trump's Florida resort has tested positive but still the White House physician says President Trump does not need to be tested.

When the U.S. Senate reconvenes next week, a coronavirus relief package will be one of its first orders of business, aimed at helping Americans who are facing economic hardships because of the coronavirus.

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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.

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COREN: Manu Raju explains what is in the bill and how the lawmakers were able to put it together so quickly.

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MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After two days of intense negotiations between Nancy Pelosi and the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a bipartisan deal was reached, a deal with the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak all throughout this country.

This legislation would deal with people who need to get tested, it would ensure that people would not have to pay for those tests, also help people who have been displaced for work, including two weeks' paid leave.

And certain food assistance, stamps and other measures including for children, who have not -- who won't be able to get lunch from school, there will be other programs in place for them to get nutrition that they need.

Also this has funding from the federal Medicaid programming to provide health care funding to the states for people who rely on that program. This is in the aftermath of another bill that has already been passed by Congress, $8.3 billion to deal with helping to essentially ensure that the resources are there for states and localities to deal with everything that they are experiencing from this pandemic.

And expect another measure to also move forward in the weeks ahead, an economic measure to deal with potentially some of the industry sectors that have been hit hard over the days and weeks and likely to suffer significantly from either employers not working, retailers not getting enough money from individuals staying at home through this quarantine.

The real dramatic economic impact, that will be the focus of the next package. But this package came in the aftermath of the Pelosi-Mnuchin negotiations and there were questions whether President Trump would sign on to the package.

He criticized the Democrats in the late afternoon on Friday but ultimately he got behind this measure.

And when I asked the Speaker of the House whether she spoke to the president at all throughout the course of the negotiations, she said, "No, I didn't have to."

She said she spoke to Mnuchin instead.

[04:05:00]

RAJU: And they came to this deal that passed the House and now is on to the Senate -- Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

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COREN: The crisis is taking a huge toll on the American public even if people are not actually sick. Nick Watt looks at how an abundance of caution is impacting day to day life.

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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.

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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, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

MARUFFI: And I can't even keep up.

WATT: Bare shelves, long lines, growing anxiety.

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COREN: And they are not alone. Nick Watt reporting there.

Italy is bearing the brunt of coronavirus infections in Europe. On Friday, officials said 250 people had died and more than 2,500 new infections were confirmed. The strict government lockdown and the U.S. travel ban are turning the capital into a ghost town. I'm joined by Melissa Bell in Rome.

Italians are abiding by the lockdown.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Respecting it, understanding that it is necessary. We watched them last night in front of the supermarkets, some of the only businesses that are now open, supermarkets and pharmacies.

And people are only allowed in little by little to ensure that you don't have too many people in any of the shops at any given time so that they can respect that distance that is now necessary.

And we watched them queue up keeping a good six feet between one another as they waited. So a good sense of protecting themselves and trying to get the country out of this.

And these are extraordinary times. The end of the first week of that nationwide lockdown, so people trying to respect what they are being told by the authorities in the hope that these extreme measures will finally help the country like China and South Korea before it break the back of this outbreak and its progression.

COREN: Does it seem that the lockdown is slowing down the rate of infections?

BELL: Well, as you mentioned, those figures that we got last night from the civil protection agency, they public will I be every evening at 6:00 pm local. And we watched to see the progression of the infection rates and progression of death rates.

And, yes, 250 extra deaths, that was a record. And so this tells us that the outbreak is still it not under control. And yet there is a glimmer of hope from the north of the country.

[04:10:00]

BELL: Remember this began with just under a dozen small towns and villages where the outbreak had begun. Some small sign of a hint of a turnaround, the figures for those localities to show signs of slowing down.

That tells us that those measures that were brought into effect a couple week earlier are helping, they are working and that is a good sign for the rest of the country.

COREN: All right. Melissa Bell, thanks for your reporting.

China is finally getting some relief from the virus. It is in a position to step in and help Italy. And senior producer Steven Jiang is joining us to explain.

Firstly, does China feel like it is getting on top of the virus?

And more importantly, do the citizens of China believe authorities are doing that?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: Well, Anna, the numbers certainly though this trend. Friday Wuhan reported only four new cases. That, of course, was in stark contrast to a few weeks ago, where they were reporting hundreds and sometimes thousands of new cases on a daily basis.

That is why now the country's new focus is trying to strengthen screening and quarantine procedures targeting international arrivals including people from Italy.

Of course, as you mentioned, the Chinese government has been offering assistance to Italy, including sending a massive aid package that includes masks, ventilators and medical personnel to Italy.

And the officials here in recent days have been highlighting their ramped production capacity, saying now on a daily basis the country can produce half a million protective suits, 1.6 million masks and as well as a whopping 100 million ordinary face masks.

So with the situation improving here domestically, presumably they will have more spare capacity to export to other countries like Italy.

COREN: And, Steven, we're learning that the U.S. State Department believes China is seek to deflect criticism for its role in the origin of the virus.

What can you tell us?

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.

COREN: Steven Jiang, good to see you.

Tech giant Apple is temporarily closing all its retail locations outside China. In a tweet, CEO Tim Cook said that Apple will be temporarily closing all stores outside of Greater China until March 27th and committing $15 million to help with worldwide recovery from the virus.

Cook added that all sites will undergo deep cleaning and health screenings. Customers can still buy Apple products online.

Coronavirus fears wreaked havoc on global markets. On Friday, U.S. stocks finished up almost 2,000 points, logging their best day since October 2008. But the week as a whole was way down. We saw wild swings of more than 1,000 points on the Dow in all five sessions.

European markets closed the day higher Friday, snapping a six-day losing streak. And investors globally are looking to central banks and governments for support and looking for a return to normalcy.

The U.S. says it is banning most visits to nursing homes as a way to stop the coronavirus spread. How the nursing home at the epicenter of the outbreak Washington state may be an illustration of things to come nationwide.

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COREN: As we mentioned, U.S. president Trump has declared a national emergency and the House of Representatives has passed a bill to bring financial relief.

But what effect will it all have?

Dr. Peter Drobac is a global health expert at Oxford University Business School.

Thank you for joining us. And let start with the U.S. response to the virus, obviously travel bans are in place and quarantining of Americans. But there is still not a coordinated nationwide reaction. That must concern you.

DR. PETER DROBAC, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. You know, China bought us time with the measures they put in place over the last couple months and the U.S. should have been using that time to really prepare and unfortunately was caught flat-footed.

The travel bans that have been instituted over the last several days are a little too little, too late, because we already know that there is widespread community transmission in many parts of the U.S. So it is really time for a very aggressive and multifaceted response to try to get this under control.

[04:20:00]

COREN: And there are also reports of lack of screening of Americans who have left Europe and this mass exodus having arrived in the United States and have not been screened.

What does that say?

DROBAC: Obviously that is a concern; at the same time, the utility of airport screenings is not as great as one might expect. And as I said earlier, we know that there are thousands of cases already in the U.S. and widespread community transmission, you know, that screenings are a piece of the puzzle.

But a lot of attention needs to be paid now on ramping up testing and contact tracing across the U.S. of people already in the U.S. and better coordinated social distancing measures, while preparing hospitals and the rest of the health system for the surge to come.

COREN: Peter, what needs to be done?

Because it looks like it is happening at a local level. Decisions are being made to cancel schools; corporations are deciding whether to cancel sporting or entertainment events. But it seems quite ad hoc at the moment to stop the spread of the virus.

So what does need to be done?

DROBAC: The U.S. obviously is a large and very heterogeneous country and very decentralized to the local level. That's true of governance but also of the health system as well.

And so what it will really require is close coordination between the federal authorities providing guidance and local authorities who have more of an on the ground picture. You know, obviously this is not an even spread across the U.S.

So in places that are hot spots like Washington state and in New York, there needs to be more aggressive social distancing measures right now; whereas, in other places, that might be able to be phased in. So the on the ground local intelligence is really important in coordination with hopefully more robust federal response.

COREN: Peter, what could the federal government do in the extreme and what would it take to get to that point?

DROBAC: I suppose the extreme case would be a situation like Italy, where the spread had really lost containment and risks overwhelming the health system. A month ago, a lot of people were saying China locked down much of the country but you couldn't do that in Europe or in America because these are free societies.

And Italy, of course, showed us that, in the extreme, that it is possible and perhaps even necessary to do that. So I suppose that is what the U.S. could be looking at a couple weeks from now if we don't act quickly.

COREN: Do you envision lockdowns taking place in the United States?

DROBAC: I sure hope not and I think that there is definitely time to avert that and reasons for optimism. Some of the measures that we've seen over the last couple days, the declaration of the national emergency that will unlock really important resources it at the state and local level.

Hopefully opening up the bottleneck of testing so that we can really get better intelligence and surveillance of where the disease is spreading and begin contact tracing will help us be much more smarter and more targeted to our approach. COREN: And I want to get your opinion on Donald Trump's decision not

to be tested, despite the fact that he came into contact with three people from the Brazilian delegation who he ate with at Mar-a-lago last weekend. They have the coronavirus but the president says he doesn't need to be tested.

Is that responsible and what message does it send?

DROBAC: Well, as I understand, there are multiple reports of potential contacts that the president may have had with people who are either infected or at risk of being infected through their own contacts.

I think that it would be important for the president to follow the advice of the CDC, giving to all Americans and really set an example of what we should all be doing.

COREN: Peter, we thank you for your time.

DROBAC: Thank you.

COREN: In the United States, visits to nursing homes nationwide will now be restricted as part of the effort to stop the coronavirus from spreading. Group activities at centers and certain daily events like communal dining may also end.

Sara Sidner shows us how the nursing home at the epicenter in Washington state is trying to cope with the virus and what visits to homes like this may look like in the coming weeks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Pop (ph).

Why don't you guys cover his legs up?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One after another --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Better, same or worse?

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

SIDNER (voice-over): -- 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 (ph) and Bridget (ph) sat outside their mother's window with a picnic, trying to soothe her on the phone.

[04:25:00]

SIDNER (voice-over): In reality, the sisters are filled with dread.

SIDNER: Does she understand what is happening? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes. Today and yesterday are both not good days for her. She is rather confused.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said she woke up crying this morning.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without question.

SIDNER (voice-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: What has this process been like for you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has 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, all the stuff we used to do together.

SIDNER: They do not speak their biggest fear, that 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 that they need, especially after hearing this --

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

SIDNER: Are you absolutely sure that the patients who are 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Non-answer.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're saying "they."

Who is "they" so we can follow up with it?

SIDNER (voice-over): 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 2 dozen people have died and yet staff can come and go.

SIDNER: Why hasn't there been a self-quarantine?

KILLIAN: We have not received and we have been in discussion with the CDC and the Department of Health in 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 (voice-over): Do you find that odd since they were quarantining people they had flown out of Wuhan for 14 days, even though they didn't test positive?

(CROSSTALK)

KILLIAN: I can't speak to the CDC's own decisions and the directions they are 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 keep showing up, trying to boost their parents' spirits.

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

SIDNER (voice-over): Katherine Hempf's father has tested positive though he is not showing major symptoms.

KATHERINE HEMPF, PATIENT'S DAUGHTER: For him to say to me on the phone it is rough in here, that is a huge statement from my dad. So to walk in there and just like --

SIDNER (voice-over): Hempf 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 is losing friends to an enemy no one can see.

HEMPF: He is dealing with it stoically and, you know, he is just doing this kind of thing, you know. But the reality is his friends have died.

SIDNER: The scenario that happened at a nursing home here in Washington, in Kirkland, could play out in nursing homes across the country in some form. And that is why the governor of this state has taken some action, saying that he is limiting visitation to nursing homes across the state -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Seattle, Washington.

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COREN: Traveling from many European countries to the United States just got tougher. The U.S. travel ban is now in effect as fears of the coronavirus soar. A look at who can still enter the country, that is next. (MUSIC PLAYING)

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COREN: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. The headlines this hour:

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COREN: For days leading up to the travel ban, mixed messages and confusion left many travelers in Europe scrambling to get home before the restrictions kicked in. CNN's Jim Bittermann has a look at the impact in Paris.

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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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 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.

[04:35:00]

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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Spain is now under a state of emergency. And in a televised speech, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says his country is facing difficult weeks ahead. But the people of Spain would stop the virus together. Al Goodman is joining us from Madrid.

We learned that Spain had more than 1,200 new cases, bringing the total to more than 4,200. And that is an alarming spike.

AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: That's right and in his speech to the nation, the prime minister warned Spaniards that, next week in the space of a few days, the number of cases could more than double to 10,000.

This is a dramatic change from just last week, when Spain only had hundreds of cases. Just a week ago, Spain was behind Germany and France in the number of people infected with the coronavirus. And now that has shot up dramatically, which prompted the government to take this emergency action.

Of those 4,200 cases across Spain, more than half of them are right here in the capital city of Madrid. Of the 120 deaths so far, more than half are right here in the city. And so the government is now trying to get a handle on this.

Just a week ago it allowed a huge march for International Women's Day, more than 100,000 people in the streets were marching, including two cabinet ministers, women, who have now tested positive for the coronavirus.

COREN: So with these emergency measures now declared, what does it mean for Spain, how will life now be?

GOODMAN: Well, the impact in Madrid in particular, schools are out. But as of today, this day, bars and restaurants are closed. We're in the emblematic Plaza Major, the 17th century plaza that is ground zero for tourism in this country.

At this hour normally on a beautiful Saturday morning, these outdoor terraces would be filled with locals and visitors having coffees, having breakfast. As you can see, there is really nothing going on here.

So this is the situation with the Prado Museum, closed for the first time since the Spanish Civil War. Real Madrid and Barcelona are not playing football nor any other teams in the first or second division. In fact there are no sporting events.

The hospitals are worried that they don't have enough masks and protective gear. And basically the government now is trying to get people to stay at home. They say everybody needs to stay at home.

They are trying to cut the speed of the infections because they fear that, if there is a mass stampede toward the hospital, it will overwhelm the health system.

COREN: Al Goodman, we appreciate it. Many thanks.

Got questions about how to protect yourself and your family from the coronavirus?

When we return, our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers some of the questions he has received about the pandemic.

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[04:40:00]

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COREN: Many of you have questions about the rapidly spreading coronavirus and what it means for you and your loved ones. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to provide some answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: All week long we've been getting all sorts of questions about the coronavirus, they keep coming in, they are different questions from last week and different from the week before.

So we wanted to try to answer as many of them as possible.

The first one, when it comes to taking precautions against COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus in the office, what can employees do?

I think basics definitely apply obviously. If you are sick, don't come to work. That is true with or without a coronavirus infection spreading.

If you see somebody sick, obviously don't be near that person. The distance that those respiratory droplets will be around is around three to six feet. So that is a safe sort of distance in terms of a social distance within an office space, within any kind of space really.

And by the way, that is why a lot of these big mass gatherings are increasingly getting canceled because it is hard to find the social distance of people sitting right next to each or standing right next to each other. So keep the distance.

Stay home if you are sick. Clean surfaces as much as possible. You know, be that crazy person with the wipes for a while. I've been that crazy person for a long time. I think it can be a benefit.

What are some of the common ways people spread germs in offices?

Same thing, typically through the respiratory droplets and by touch, touching things, moving your hand, touching something else, moving the virus from one place to another place and then someone touches it and they get infected.

So try not to touch things. It is hard. And when I say touch things, I mean touch objects, touch surfaces, touching your face. Try not do that as much as possible.

What would you recommend to keep our mental health in check as we increase social distancing and working remotely?

That is a great question and I'm thinking about it a lot personally with my own family, my own friends.

First of all, social distancing does not need to mean social isolation. There are many ways that we can still stay connected and maybe we can even stay more connected than we typically do.

One thing about this virus, as I've been reporting on it for so long now and talked to so many people here in the United States and in other places around the world, is that there is this realization I think that we are -- we're all in this together.

[04:45:00]

GUPTA: This is a pathogen that affects everyone and doesn't discriminate against anyone. We're all in this together. And we're in a position now where our individual behaviors have such an impact on the people around us. Your health is so dependent on how I behave and my health is so

dependent on how you behave. So if you are practicing good hygiene and making sure you are not a source of spread, you are doing it not just for yourself but all the people around you as well.

And I think there is something that is, in a way -- it brings us together in a way that I have not seen before. And I think that hopefully maybe that relieves a little bit of anxiety and brings us together. And we'll keep answering questions; please keep sending them in. And we'll do our best to get to as many of them as possible.

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COREN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta there.

Many officials urging Americans to stock up for at least two weeks in case they have to hunker down during the coronavirus outbreak. But with everything from food to toilet paper to cleaning supplies flying off the shelves, Brian Todd shares tips on how best to prepare and how not to.

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BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shopping in the age of coronavirus, Sera Tansever wears a mask and gloves when hitting her local grocery store in Washington because she doesn't want to transfer germs to her mother, who has an autoimmune condition.

TODD: Are you scared about this whole thing?

SERA TANSEVER, GROCERY SHOPPER: Yes, I am. I've been following it pretty closely now and it is just I don't want us to be in a situation like Italy.

TODD (voice-over): Across the U.S., stockpiling seems to be everywhere. A prominent analytics firm says online sales of, quote, "protection items" like hand sanitizer, gloves and antibacterial sprays shot up 817 percent in January and February because many people can't get them in stores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whenever we do get new rations in of hand sanitizer and wipes, we actually put them out by the registers and they go within minutes.

TODD (voice-over): And there are runs on many other items.

TODD: Were you trying to buy anything that you couldn't get?

MAUREEN MILMOE, GROCERY SHOPPER: Yes, actually. All the toilet paper is gone, a lot of the frozen foods and the breads.

CHASE HICKS, GROCERY SHOPPER: It is pretty hectic, a lot of the frozen vegetables, cleaning supplies, even to a certain extent meats and dairy are hard to come by.

TODD (voice-over): It is exhausting people on the other side of the grocery industry. At a Morton Williams supermarket in New York, bread distributor Richie Maruffi is racing to restock.

RICHIE MARUFFI, ARNOLD BREAD DISTRIBUTOR: Every single supermarket is just completely wiped out. And I can't even keep up.

TODD (voice-over): But some public health experts say, let's slow down a bit.

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: They don't need a year's word of toilet tissue. They don't need cartons of paper napkins. They don't need to buy, you know, food for six weeks.

TODD (voice-over): Experts say it is important for consumers to realize this situation is temporary. Focus on simple nonperishables that can sustain us inside our homes.

REDLENER: Figure out what your family likes and it may be cans of tuna fish, it may be peanut butter and jelly, whatever it is that you feel like you can plan for a couple weeks of not being able to go outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have medications in your home so you don't have to go out and refill a prescription if you don't need to.

TODD (voice-over): Health experts say crowding into the local grocery store is not the healthiest move, standing in those long lines within a few inches of people is not the kind of social distancing that is recommended. And they say, wherever you shop, do it calmly.

REDLENER: There's no reason to panic, to rush out and buy every item on the shelves. That just increases people's sense of doom and gloom here, which will not be necessary.

TODD: Public health and consumer experts have a couple other tips for people who want to stock up during the outbreak. They say if your favorite store is open 24/7, try going after midnight after they have restocked.

Or if it is available in your area, try a food delivery service to maybe reduce some of the overall stress -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

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COREN: Potential pathogens in your pocket?

Scientists say your cellphone is loaded with germs. When we return, we'll show you what you can do about it.

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[04:50:00]

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(MUSIC PLAYING) COREN: Health officials say the coronavirus could live on surfaces for

days. So it's best to sanitize the areas that you share with other people.

But what about personal items that you touch every day, such as your cellphone?

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

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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.

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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.

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COREN: Thanks so much for watching. CNN NEWSROOM continues after this short break.