Return to Transcripts main page


Coronavirus Screening Spark Long Lines, Confusion At Major Airports; Countries Take Drastic Measures To Stem Coronavirus Spread; Trump On Coronavirus, From Hoax To National Emergency; Life During The Coronavirus Pandemic; Joe Biden And Bernie Sanders To Debate With No Audience Amid Outbreak. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 15, 2020 - 13:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, on this Sunday. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. And I want to welcome our viewers in the U.S. and around the world.

Breaking news, the number of U.S. cases of coronavirus now tops 3,000 as the nation's top doctor in this fight says he wouldn't rule out a temporary national lockdown to stop the spread.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Would you like to see a national lockdown, basically people -- you can't go out to restaurants, bars, you need to stay home?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I would like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction that we see in restaurants and in bars. Whatever it takes to do that, that's what I'd like to see.


CABRERA: Those comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci come amid some truly stunning scenes. At the nation's largest airports, massive lines, people packed in as far as the eye can see waiting and waiting, sometimes for hours at a time in cities like Chicago, New York and Dallas. What they have in common, they've all just returned on flights from Europe, and because of new restrictions enacted by the president must undergo CDC screenings for the coronavirus.

But at a time when we're all being urged to practice social distancing, these scenes are understandably troubling. One passenger at JFK telling CNN, quote, "They didn't have pens, so they told us to share, which sounds like a great thing in the middle of a pandemic." Another passenger at O'Hare telling us, quote, "Very close quarters so if we didn't have the virus before, we have a great chance of getting it now."

These are the 13 airports around the country designated to handle CDC screenings for this massive influx of passengers arriving from overseas this weekend. And CNN's Polo Sandoval is outside JFK International here in New York.

Polo, what are people telling you there when they finally get out of the airport. What part of the process is the holdup here?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Ana, yesterday was actually the first day of the Trump administration implementing these new travel restrictions and those additional wellness screenings. And that's where a lot of the logjams are happening because these passengers, U.S. citizens and permanent residents and their families, traveling back into those 13 airports or so.

Once they clear passport control, after that they fill out what's called a health declaration form where they'd say exactly where they've traveled recently and then they're checked out for possible symptoms. Various sources telling us at least three passengers were actually referred to area hospitals after they presented some form of symptom here. So that seems to be really where that logjam is happening. Not just here at JFK in New York, but as you mentioned a short while ago, in Chicago as well.

Dallas, another airport that saw some of those delays yesterday. And those people in those cramped quarters. And of course during a pandemic, those are certainly not the ideal scenarios that health officials want to see. Here is how passengers describe what took place yesterday.


EMMA REUSCH, ARRIVING AT O'HARE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT FROM PORTUGAL: Yes. Very crowded which is not ideal considering what this contagion is. It took three hours to get through customs, it took another two hours to get through the health check, and then took another like hour to get through the CDC.


SANDOVAL: So this is something certainly that health officials are concerned about. We've heard I think Dr. Anthony Fauci say earlier, perhaps it's one o of these cases where people in Europe might try to fly tomorrow or the day after to try to avoid this massive rush because it is certainly heavy on the minds of people, Ana.

Yesterday we found out that two people died here in the city of New York. Their deaths linked to coronavirus. And just a few moments ago, a third death now confirmed. Of course the first one was an elderly woman that had been suffering from previous health complications. So that also really does punctuate who are the most vulnerable.

And those are the kinds of people that you certainly would not want to see in a cramped space waiting to leave JFK or any of the other 13 airports across the country.

CABRERA: That's right. And Polo, what are federal officials now saying about the delays and the slow processing and are they making any adjustments?

SANDOVAL: Health -- federal officials saying they are very well aware of the situation that took place yesterday, but they're asking for patients. For example, the acting security of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, took to Twitter basically saying that they're well aware of those lines that have been forming. They are working to try to add additional resources, additional screening capacity, and working with the airlines to try to expedite this process. But all in all Secretary Wolf really asking for patience saying they do have that staff.

And usually it only takes about a minute to actually go through the process, Ana, but multiply it by all of the passengers that are trying to make their way back into the United States and the result are those massive crowds, those people that are grouped up in lines waiting for their chance to meet with these medical technicians.


CABRERA: OK. Polo Sandoval, please keep us updated. Thank you.

Let's get straight to our epidemiologist, Dr. Larry Brilliant, "New York Times" politics editor Patrick Healy, and former senior adviser to the National Security adviser under President Obama, Samantha Vinograd.

Guys, President Trump just defended these long lines and these packed airports on Twitter. He writes, quote, "We are doing very precise medical screenings at our airports. Pardon the interruptions and delays, we are moving as quickly as possible. But it is very important that we be vigilant and careful. We must get it right. Safety first."

So, Dr. Brilliant, when you see those images out of our airports, does this look safe?

DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Good morning, Ana. I know everybody is really nervous. There should be a new Golden Rule I think which is don't do unto others as you would have them not do unto you that would increase transmission. Every step we take and every decision we make has got to be built around reducing transmission.

CABRERA: And so when you look at the airport pictures that we're seeing, what goes through your mind?

BRILLIANT: There must be a better way to do it. We're starting off 12 weeks late. We've given the virus a head start. We're going to have to try to make up by making all those measures we can, and social distancing, it'll give us a better chance.

CABRERA: Sam, let me ask you about this because people are still trying to get home from overseas now. We have additional restrictions that will be going into effect on Monday, also including the countries of Ireland and the U.K. Is there a better way to conduct these screenings?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, at an operational level, the real question is, once people get through these screenings, will they have to be screened again? If these people are in close proximity at an airport, they're traveling back from international countries, what happens if somebody as part of those screenings tests positive? That means everybody that they're in close quarters with is at risk of infection and will need to be tested again.

In terms of, is there a better way to do this? Certainly yes. We should not have a U.S. government officials putting Americans returning home in close quarters. But as our colleague just noted, we're playing catchup here. I think that immigration officials, law enforcement officials are doing the best that they can right now to try to identify the virus.

The questions going forward this week are whether these travel restrictions will be expanded and whether in some way there will be any kind of domestic action taken, whether with respect to closures, quarantines or domestic travel.

Dr. Fauci mentioned earlier, for example, we'd like to see people stay home. That will really take an unprecedented level of coordination between the federal government and local authorities to look at really intrastate business and travel as well as interstate business and travel as well.

CABRERA: You talk about coordination and the challenges there. We are seeing state and local governments take action of their own. And there is frustration, you can really feel it's palpable at this point. The governor of Illinois furious about the long lines at O'Hare last night, this is what he tweeted. The federal government needs to get its -- expletive -- together now.

And then you also have this from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, an open letter to the president in which he writes, "Every country affected by this crisis has handled it on a national basis is. The United States has not. State and local governments alone simply do not have the capacity or resources to do what is necessary and we don't want a patchwork quilt of policies. There should be a uniform federal standard for when cities and states should shut down commerce and schools or cancel events."

You know, Patrick, the president has really downplayed the seriousness of this situation from the very beginning. Do you have any reporting or understanding of where his head is at, at this point? Does he, you know, stand to take more drastic measures?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that we've seen over the last two months the president be very slow to get to the point of an emergency. You know, you finally have the declaration of a national emergency on Friday. And now it seems pretty clear that the comments coming out of the White House and from the president, from our reporting, is that there's still concern about dealing with the crisis forthrightly and in an organized way and the effect on the economy.

You're seeing members, leaders of the Republican Party who are still saying go out to your local pubs, go to restaurants to eat. You have the governor of Oklahoma putting up a tweet and then deleting it. You had Devin Nunes saying this morning on another channel, folks, you know, if you want to go out, it seems to be OK to go out to your local pub. You're seeing a lot of mixed messaging.

There seems to be understandable concern about the impact of the economy here. But what we've heard from Dr. Fauci, from others in the medical community, the scientific community, is that an emergency has been under way for a relatively long time now.



HEALY: And the lack of a coordinated response, whether it's at the airports, whether it's the messaging about restaurants and pubs, is really absent at the president's level.

CABRERA: And because of that, there's been a lack of transparency about the facts and the truth of the situation. Why is the president so reluctant to speak the truth on this?

HEALY: Well, look, we've heard different things from the president just over a matter of a few days about whether he thought he should get tested, then he wouldn't get tested, then he was likely to get tested, then they said he wasn't going to get tested. And then he was. I mean, clearly this is a president who, from the beginning, has wanted to project an image of being in total control of any situation possible, that he alone could fix anything, that he had all of the answers.

And it's very clear that this is a crisis that is so beyond the ability frankly of any one person to control. But what it takes is a national coordinated response. As Sam was saying, as Dr. Brilliant was saying, that is -- let's be really candid. I mean, we can be. This is sort of unlike anything that the country has had to deal with in recent times in terms of it affecting so many points of entry, so much panic and concern in the country.

And at the very least you want things like the president's Twitter feed to have a clear science-based, fact-based approach to communicating. But even that is just all over the place.

CABRERA: Everybody, thank you. Please stand by. Sam and Dr. Brilliant, you're back with me. Patrick, thank you.

Breaking news right now, we have a new statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection on those airport delays. Let me get right to CNN's Kristen Holmes at Dulles Airport.

What do we know, Kristen?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, essentially we got this statement today. They say that yesterday's lines were unacceptable. That some of their resources have been stretched thin and they are working to adjust those resources. But the big question now is whether or not they're going to be able to do that in a timely fashion.

Now I'm standing here with Ralph Harrow (PH). He was coming back from South Africa. He went through London and he experienced only one CDC agent here.

So why don't you tell us a little bit about what the screening process was like?

RALPH HARROW, ARRIVING AT DULLES AIRPORT FROM SOUTH AFRICA: Yes, so we flew through London, originally we're planning on flying through Frankfurt and so we actually got called out of the line because of that. Got pulled over at the CDC process, it was actually fairly seamless, but there was -- I think it was a Customs and Border Protection officer who was managing both the flow of folks going into CDC as well as coming out. And so we were the first ones off the plane.

We got through fairly quickly, probably 30 minutes for the whole process. But folks behind us are going to probably still take two or three hours. And there's only 20 people in line. I can only imagine what it's going to look like later this afternoon.

HOLMES: Yes, and Ana, I want to note there. That is the most important thing here. You have to keep in mind, here in Dulles, they aren't seeing a problem right now because they've only seen about one or two flights come in from Europe all day. They start to get their big swell of European travelers, those flights coming over from these 26 countries starting around 3:00 today.

So think about that. 20 people already taking so much time. What is it going to look like when you see multiple flights coming in, multiple problems, and only these few officers here to handle it all?

CABRERA: I think we know what it's going to look like. We saw it last night. It was a bit of a disaster.

Kristen Holmes, thank you for that reporting. We know you will keep us posted as well as to what happens there.

No one is untouched by this crisis. Easter at the Vatican closed to the public. Life in Spain on lockdown right now. And the U.K. bracing for these new travel restrictions.

We are taking you around the world to see the drastic measures being taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: Governments around the world are now taking drastic measures in a frantic bid to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

What you're looking at right now is just a snapshot of some of the nation's most affected. But globally there are now more than 150,000 cases and more than 5,000 deaths across 135 countries. Just since March 12th, just three days ago, more than 25,000 new cases have been diagnosed.

In Europe the concern is now affecting the most honored customs and traditions. Let's start in Italy where cases are still spiking. Now word that the Vatican has canceled all public events surrounding Easter.

We have Al Goodman in Madrid. We have Salma Abdelaziz in London. But first to Melissa Bell, she's in Rome.

And Melissa, Holy Week and Easter celebrations are really the pinnacle of the Catholic year. What is the church saying about these cancellations?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Vatican experts, Ana, are telling me that this is unprecedented. It simply hasn't happened within living memory that Catholics have not been able to take part in these services, things like the washing of feet, the Way of the Cross procession, and the Easter Sunday masses themselves.

The masses will be live streamed so the faithful will have a chance to listen to them. But not being able to attend, not being able to be at the Vatican, not being able to take part, this is really quite an extraordinary disruption for many Catholics here in Italy.

Also this morning, Ana, for the first time since this outbreak began, churches were closed. There was no mass for the faithful either. They were allowed in some churches to go in where they were opened and have private prayers and moments of reflections, but no masses were held in this country. So another sign of the effect that this lockdown is having on the ordinary lives of people.

Just a quick word on the very latest figures. We've just had them, Ana. Of course, we're watching them very carefully because these are the only measure of whether these extraordinary lockdowns and this extraordinary disruption are actually putting an end or at least bringing under control this outbreak. And sadly the answer to that is no and a fairly spectacular no. Two records again today, two very sad records, both in the rise of the number of new cases in Italy.


More than 3,500 new cases in the last 24-hour period and the number of deaths, a huge spike, 368 new deaths since yesterday. That is another tragic record for the country once again.

CABRERA: Obviously very concerning. The good news is everybody can pray no matter where you are and certainly we lean into our faith during times like these.

Melissa Bell, thank you.

Now to the U.K. where citizens are being advised against all but essential travel. And CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has the latest from London's Heathrow Airport. Tell me more about this morning, Salma.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, of course, this comes on the heels of the U.S. travel restrictions being expanded to include the U.K. and Ireland. We still have planes just behind me here going in and out of Heathrow Airport but of course these travel restrictions mean that there's a much lower volume of these flights going in and out.

And we've actually been inside Heathrow Airport speaking to American citizens who are trying to make their way back home. And overwhelmingly they told me, we're confused. We just don't know what's going to happen when we land back home. What are the screening processes that are going to take place? And as we saw earlier in your program, that looks very complicated once you land back home.

So these reciprocal actions are changing by the hour as countries try to clamp down, try to close their borders. Here in the U.K., so far it's only been over 1,000 confirmed cases, just over 30 people who have lost their lives due to the coronavirus. But authorities are of course ramping up efforts, trying to close down, trying to prevent another surge here in the U.K. -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. Thank you, Salma.

Now to Al Goodman in Madrid, Spain.

And Al, the entire country there is in lockdown. It looks very quiet behind you. Describe what you're seeing and what life is like there right now.

AL GOODMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. The latest figures to start now more than 7,700 confirmed cases of coronavirus. That's almost double from just Friday, the last two days ago. That was the day the prime minister warned the nation they could soon be at 10,000 cases. Well, they're on their way.

I'm at the Port del Sol which is the very center of the Spanish capital. And what we're seeing here with this police van is that police now are starting to really step up the enforcement of the stay- at-home order. You're supposed to stay at home for all but essential things like going to the pharmacy or to the food markets.

They've been stopping people, they've been fining people for being out basically without permission because they're trying to keep the people apart. So across the country, especially in Madrid, they've been using drones to fly overhead and advise people in Spanish, of course, you're not supposed to be out in this park. Now the parks are closed. You're not supposed to be taking a walk along the path by the river in the city. Get back home. That's what they want to do. This place is basically shutting down -- Ana.

CABRERA: Wow. Al Goodman, Salma Abdelaziz, and Melissa Bell, our thanks to all of you for your reporting. Please do take care of your selves. In the meantime Australia's prime minister is tightening restrictions

to combat the virus. He is ordering anyone arriving in that country to go into self-isolation for 14 days. In addition, foreign cruise liners will be banned from docking in Australia for 30 days, but schools will remain open. That country has reported nearly 250 cases of coronavirus along with three deaths. Similar measures were announced by New Zealand on Saturday.

We're back in just a moment.



CABRERA: Where are the tests? No question matters more to Americans right now. Other questions such as where are you going for dinner or any plans for a summer trip have ceased to matter in the face of this global pandemic. And the question of, who are you going to vote for also takes on new meaning when primaries are being postponed in an America becoming almost unrecognizable.

Yet President Trump and Vice President Pence seem particularly focused on selling Trump as the leader you can depend on.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Throughout this process, Mr. President, you've put the health of America first.


CABRERA: And that would be great if it were true, but the facts tell a different story. Go back to the question of how the world's wealthiest nation could possibly be still so behind on testing.

It's due to reductions at the CDC and issues with early tests. In 2018 the CDC stopped funding epidemic prevention activities in 39 out 49 countries, including China, after the Trump administration refused to reallocate money to a program that began as part of the government's response to the Ebola outbreak back in 2014.

And at that time Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC from 2009 to 2017, said the move, quote, "would significantly increase the chance an epidemic will spread without our knowledge and endanger lives in our country and around the world."

Just last month one of the top officials at the CDC warned Americans that health experts foresee the coronavirus, which had already killed thousands abroad, spreading in the U.S. But President Trump appeared to push back at that assessment when asked by CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is spreading. And it's going to spread within communities. That's the expectation -- TRUMP: It may. It may.

GUPTA: Does that worry you? Because that seems to be what worries the American people.

TRUMP: No. No, because we're ready for it.


CABRERA: And that would be reassuring if this were true.



TRUMP: I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, how do you know so much about this? Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.


CABRERA: OK, but that's just Trump's bluster, his defenders say. He likes to poke at the media, but he gets results, which is why he also assured Americans at that same trip to the CDC that the problem of testing in America was solved.


TRUMP: Anybody right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. We -- they're there. They have the tests and the tests are beautiful. Anybody that needs a test gets a test.


CABRERA: Nope, not true, even a week and a half later. Neither was this.


TRUMP: Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. One of my people came up to me and said, Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia. That didn't work out too well. They tried the impeachment hoax. And this is their new hoax.


CABRERA: Instead what was true was this.


FAUCI: The system does not -- is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And a failing, yes.

FAUCI: It is a failing. Let's admit it.


CABRERA: The words of an American president during a time of global crisis matter the world over. President Trump is trading on the credibility of an office he did not create. So where will the world turn when it is taught to turn off a president who said this in India less than three weeks ago?


TRUMP: I think that's a problem that's going to go away.


CABRERA: How will a U.S. president be able to reassure markets in the future when this president sends this tweet on that very same overseas trip? And I quote, "The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC and World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me."

The president is in a very difficult position. He is facing a crisis without precedent but he is not the first president to face a nation desperate for leadership. The two presidents who occupied the office Trump now sits in during World War II, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, both were able to steer the country when it needed it most.

But while President Truman is remembered for the sign he famously kept on his desk, "The buck stops here," this was President Trump's reaction on Friday, just two days ago, when asked about those tests.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Dr. Fauci said earlier this week that the lag in testing was in fact a failing. Do you take responsibility for that? And when can you guarantee that every single American who needs a test will be able to have a test? What's the date of that?

TRUMP: Yes. No, I don't take responsibility at all.


CABRERA: Mistakes are understandable. Perfect cannot be the standard, but if you take no responsibility in the toughest times then can you expect to rally Americans at a time of national crisis? FDR could lead America during World War II because he backed up these words from his first inauguration nearly a decade earlier when the country was still mired in the Great Depression.


FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, 32ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.


CABRERA: Why does it matter? Because this is an America few could have envisioned when the calendar turned to March just two weeks ago. Last weekend you could turn on the Pistons-Jazz game for a distraction. This weekend three players from that game have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and there is no professional basketball. With the NCAA tournament cancelled March Madness suddenly has a very, very different meaning.

It's explaining to your kids why school is closed or watching the market drop 10 percent in one day and wandering if you will have a job. No amount of bravado or false hope in place of facts from the president is going to solve this.


PENCE: Thank you, Mr. President. It is -- this day should be an inspiration to every American because thanks to your leadership, from early on, not only are we bringing a whole-of-government approach to confronting the coronavirus, we're bringing an all-of-America approach.


CABRERA: No, Mr. President, you have not. But you can start right now. Your country needs you.



CABRERA: Now, in just the last few minutes we learned the U.S. now has more than 3100 coronavirus cases and 62 deaths. Many of you have questions. We're working to get those answers for you. We are doing everything we can to help you stay safe and informed about coronavirus with the help of our medical experts.

Remember no questions is too small so please, tweet me your thoughts and your concerns @Anacabrera and we will do our best to get as many questions answered. And with that Dr. Larry Brilliant is back with us, he is again an epidemiologist.

Doctor, as grocery store shelves are being emptied, many people are wondering about delivery food options. One viewer wants to know, should I be worried about ordering takeout and can I get coronavirus through food?

BRILLIANT: Ana, thank you very much and thank you so much for the words you mentioned earlier. Before I answer the question about takeout, may I say that every government tries to suppress cases in an outbreak. The reason the Spanish flu from 1918 is called the Spanish flu is that every other country lied about the case count. And when governments lie, people die.

[13:40:09] What we need is radical honesty, radical transparency. And that's what testing is. About groceries, we have to balance living our life in the time of a pandemic. We have to make the decisions to minimize the chance of transmission but also don't put us in a state of mind that we do things that we don't want to do. Delivery of groceries is fine. In fact, there's a recent article just coming out in "The New England Journal of Medicine" that suggests that cardboard is a better way to package things than metal or plastic.

The virus lives shorter in cardboard and packaging than it does on flat surfaces and clean surfaces like plastic or metal. That's counterintuitive. And I think that I would have guessed the other way. So we're learning new things about this virus every day.

CABRERA: And so can you get it from food?

BRILLIANT: No, I don't think you can -- I mean, can get it or is it likely that you'll get it or is it epidemiological importance? Those are three different things. We learned late in the Zika outbreak that it could be sexually transmitted. But of course, 99 percent of the transmission was by mosquitos. This is a droplet-borne outbreak and 99 percent or something like that of all people who do get it will get it that way.

It is possible that people will get it through fomites, which is what we call inanimate objects. But they're not as important as droplets. That's why all this social distancing issue just so important.

CABRERA: Another viewer wants to know, can heat kill the virus?

BRILLIANT: Yes. Yes, heat can definitely kill the virus. This is an RNA virus with an envelope. While it's a terrifying virus in many ways, it's actually very fragile. And if you wash it with regular soap and water, bacteria settle soap or especially if you use alcohol concentrated over 60 percent, you'll kill the virus. But you need to get it in all the surfaces. And most experts recommend that, if you use alcohol or any of these cleansers, you leave it dry for four minutes. Don't just put it on the surface of the restaurant or wherever you are and then wipe it right off.

CABRERA: OK. That's a good tip for all of us. I always tell my kids, you know, cough into your chicken wing, that's what we say. People are doing that. They're sneezing and covering their mouths with their sleeves.


CABRERA: But can the virus survive on clothing?

BRILLIANT: Yes, it can survive. The question is what's the half-life? How quickly does the virus die off under different conditions of heat, temperature and the structure of what it's on? And I think clothing is going to be a lot more like cardboard than it's going to be like metal. And I don't think the half-life of the virus is going to be more like hours, or in some cases, on metal and a cool area, it may last for days. CABRERA: If you get the virus -- and this is perhaps the most asked

question I have received so far. If you get the virus and recover, can you get re-infected?

BRILLIANT: It's very unlikely. We've had some anecdotal case reports of people who were tested and they were positive, got better and they were tested negative and later they were tested positive. That doesn't really mean they've got it again. It may mean the second test was inconclusive or wrong, or it may mean they're shedding virus -- but those viruses are not infective.

Again all these things are possible. You have a kind of Gaussian distribution, got a bell-shaped curve. They're unlikely to be of any public health importance in a pandemic like this.

CABRERA: I'm going to fold in a few other questions into this question that's very basic. And the question is, what are the most common ways the virus is transmitted? But before you answer, keep in mind I've also received questions from people asking, can you get this virus from a mosquito? Can you get it through sexual transmissions?

So I think a lot of people know, perhaps, that yes, one way at least is through, you know, the coughing or sneezing and the secretions, that way. But think about it in, you know, the totality of those other questions that I just presented.

BRILLIANT: Well, they're really important questions for our everyday life. Those questioners are asking the right questions. This virus was originally blood-borne. We believe that it went from a bat to an intermediary animal, probably in a blood-borne route. That's certainly what happened with SARS, we think, probably with MERS. Then the animal transmitted to human, perhaps by being eaten.

So in the beginning the virus is transmitted by bodily fluids. So whether that's sexual transmission, we know the virus stays in species for a while. It's blood-borne. But those are not the way in which people listening to your show are likely to be exposed to it.


We should really look at what 99 percent, 95 percent of the transmission will be. It will be droplet. And droplets are more than five microns which means masks are helpful, barriers are helpful, being six feet away. These are rational things. These are not arbitrary. This is not like TSA. This is science-based.


BRILLIANT: Six-feet distancing is because the droplet probably will not infect you if you're six feet away.

CABRERA: And can a person have the flu and coronavirus at the same time? It's obviously cold and flu season still.

BRILLIANT: I wish I could say that the universe was designed so that having one would protect you from another. But having a broken arm doesn't mean you're not going to get hit by a car if you walk across the street. I think you can get both. We used to think that if you had one virus, the rest of your body kind of rallied and protected you from another. But again, this is a novel virus. A, we don't know enough about it. And B, it's unlikely but there's that kind of trans immunogenicity.

CABRERA: All right. Dr. Larry Brilliant, so much good information in that. Thank you very much for sharing your expertise with us.

BRILLIANT: Ana, thank you for having me, and thank you again for the remarks you've earlier today.

CABRERA: Thank you.

Coronavirus, what to do, what to avoid and when to see a doctor. CNN has a new podcast with a lot of answers. Join Dr. Sanjay Gupta for "CORONAVIRUS: FACT VERSUS FICTION." You can listen wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

We're back in just a moment.



CABRERA: This is what political season looks like this during a pandemic. That is the stage for tonight's CNN Univision Democratic debate. A debate that will feature no studio audience or spin rooms. And podiums that are six feet apart, per CDC recommendations.

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden face off at 8:00 Eastern tonight in Washington. You can watch it live here on CNN.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny joins us now from out of CNN's Washington bureau.

And Jeff, how will the lack of an audience change the equation tonight?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Ana, there's no question that everything is different about this debate. Certainly the moment in time is different and the setting very much different as well. This was supposed to be in Phoenix, in front of a studio audience in front of voters asking questions of these candidates. So it will be different in every respect. But one of the big differences we've seen so many of these debates. A, this is the first time, as you said, that these two candidates are side-by-side, six feet apart, but just one-on-one.

So that is a difference. But also not the feedback from supporters in the audience. That is something that drives all of these debates. So it is very much, you know, expected to be a more somber, a more serious affair. But that is very fitting for this moment this time.

Ana, everything has changed in this campaign in terms of the Democratic rivals. But certainly the context and content of everything that's changed as well. CABRERA: And one moderator has dropped out over coronavirus. Jorge

Ramos of Univision is in self-quarantine right now after realizing he had been in proximity to someone who had had direct contact with another person who tested positive. Obviously taking extra precautions here. There's no way the pandemic isn't front and center tonight, but what is most important for Biden and Sanders to do in this moment?

ZELENY: I think most important when I talked to Biden advisers, advisers to the former vice president, they are going to continue to try and use tonight as a moment to show how presidential he is. How ready for this type of an epidemic, a pandemic, a national, a serious moment like this. So Joe Biden we've seen since the primaries last week delivering a couple speeches and trying to show himself in a presidential footing, trying to move beyond this campaign where there's no question he still has to win over some Democratic voters.

So he's also, we're told, going to extend a bit of an olive branch, if you will, to some supporters of senator Sanders, trying to begin to -- you know, to win them over and show that, you know, the issue at hand here really is winning in the fall. Winning in November.

For the Sanders side of things, we've heard from Bernie Sanders what he wants to do. He laid this out clearly last week in a press conference. He is trying to hold Joe Biden accountable on some progressive issues. So we do know that he is going to keep pressing that.

Ana, the question is, what is Bernie Sanders's tone going to be? Is he going to, you know, sort of cooperate in this unifying approach and go after the president as well, or is he going to try and still mix things up with Joe Biden? So I think that will be the most interesting thing to see this evening. What does Bernie Sanders say and more importantly how does he say it -- Ana.

CABRERA: And beyond this debate, Jeff, given the coronavirus has really upended campaigning right now. It's impacting primaries and conventions. What does the rest of the primary schedule look like?

ZELENY: Well, it's sort of an open question. I mean, we do know that the next round of primaries is on Tuesday. Illinois is voting. Ohio is voting. Florida is voting. Governors in all of those states said, look, the elections are going forward. But some other primaries have been disrupted. In Georgia, for example, was scheduled to be end of this month. Now it is going to be in May. Louisiana's primary has moved back to June. So we will have to see as this goes forward if other states make a decision.

So it is still a delegate hunt. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have to get these delegates here. But it'd be extraordinary to think that the trajectory of this race could change now. Joe Biden of course leading in national polls but he does still have to win the delegates -- Ana.

CABRERA: That's right. Jeff Zeleny, reporting for us in Washington, thanks.

Starting today the largest retailer in America will cut its hours and close its doors early in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Walmart says all of its stores across the country will be open now from 6:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. And that's until further notice. The company says the shortened hours will help give employees time to restock the shelves and clean stores. And this comes as many businesses across the country continue to be hit harder by this outbreak.


Tom Hanks, who is currently in isolation in Australia after testing positive for coronavirus, is giving an update to his millions of Twitter followers. The actor writes, "Thanks to the helpers, let's take care of ourselves and each other. Hanx." The message was accompanied by a photo showing how they are adapting to life down under with an Aussie favorite, Vegemite on toast.

His wife Rita Wilson is also trying to get busy. She's assembled a quarantunes playlist, featuring songs like Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger," Akon's "Locked Up" and MC Hammer's "You Can't Touch This."

Get the theme there? We're back in just a moment.