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Long Lines as U.S. Travelers Return; France and Spain Restrict Movement to Stop Spread of COVID-19; Pandemic Lessons for the U.S.; Saudi Arabia and UAE Unveil Stimulus; Global Stock Markets Tumble, Wall Street Falls into Bear Market; America's Choice 2020; Third NBA Player Tests Positive for Coronavirus; Acts of Kindness Spread Hope. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired March 15, 2020 - 04:00   ET




ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): In a time that calls for social distancing, travelers across the United States are coming home to this. Hear from the woman who took these pictures.

Businesses across Europe are closing their doors as new restrictions kick in. We go live to Paris.

And acts of kindness amid the pandemic. Hear stories from across the globe.

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.


COREN: We've been following the troubled chaos overnight in some of America's largest airports as the impacts of the White House travel bans literally hit home. This was the scene in Chicago's O'Hare airport. Thousands of passengers coming in from international flights. Forget any hope of any social distances. Hand sanitizers, nowhere in sight.

Passengers spent hours in line before being screened for coronavirus. No one, not even staff, sure what was going on. A short time ago, my colleague, Michael Holmes, spoke with a woman caught up in it all.


KATHERINE ROGERS, RETURNING TRAVELER: We got off our plane. We were directed down a hall in the international terminal. We've got on an escalator and it was just -- there were people just piled up at the bottom. And that line went all as far as the eye could see, around the corner, through the customs area and snaked around.

We went through two different Customs and Immigration checkpoints before CDC screening.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: This is clearly more than one plane.

So this was multiple planes coming in from Europe to beat the ban?

ROGERS: Yes, mostly Europe and I guess also a couple of other countries that are on the list.

M. HOLMES: Absolutely extraordinary.

What was the main holdup from your perspective?

ROGERS: We had a customs official make an announcement, work his way down the line, announcing what would happen, that we would go through multiple screenings and be checked by the CDC. He said this was at the request of the president.

He acknowledged that the situation was terrible and that there was nothing else they could do.


COREN: And it could get even worse after Monday. That's when the U.S. restrictions kick in for citizens in the U.K. and Ireland.

At the White House, President Trump has tested negative for the virus. There are now more than 2,800 cases in the country but experts warn this is only the beginning.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When this is all over and it will end, you will see a curve of how the coronavirus outbreak evolved. We have not reached our peak.


COREN: And some news coming in to us a short time ago. The Vatican is canceling Easter masses and holy week celebrations due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. The World Health Organization says Europe is the new epicenter of the disease and Italy has been the hardest hit in that region.

Europe is bracing for travel chaos. On Saturday the Trump administration extended its European travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has the details.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: The U.K. government scrambling to make sense of new regulations from the United States, that European ban now expanded to include the U.K. and Ireland. That's 28 countries that for the next 30 days cannot have their foreign nationals traveling to the United States.

The exception is American citizens and green card holders who can travel back home as long as they undergo enhanced screening in about one of a dozen airports landing in the States.

Inside Heathrow airport, speaking to American citizens trying to make their way back home, they say they are confused. They don't know how to find new information and guidance and feel like everything is changing on them by the hour.

As for the U.K. government, the foreign office saying this is a decision for Americans.


ABDELAZIZ: They're working hard to provide more information for British citizens.

We have seen a rise in the death toll here, over 20 people have lost their lives. There is over 1,000 confirmed cases but health experts warn there could be thousands more, up to 10,000 more cases across the country that aren't confirmed. Prime minister Boris Johnson has called on people to take common-sense measures, isolate yourself. They called this the delay phase of the pandemic.

But critics have argued that's simply not enough, that the government needs to tackle this head-on and avoid a further growth, a further spread of this pandemic before it gets worse -- Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


COREN: France is closing all restaurants, cafes, cinemas and clubs. The prime minister says it includes all places that don't provide a essential function. Places of worship will remain open but religion ceremonies and gatherings will be postponed. We're joined now by Catherine Norris-Trent from Paris.

Catherine, obviously there's been a severe uptick in the number of cases in France, which is why the government is taking such drastic measures, such as closing businesses, restaurants, movie theaters.

Are the French obeying?

CATHERINE NORRIS-TRENT, FRANCE 24 CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far, Anna, it seems to be the case. Many of these shops will have to be closed following that announcement from the French prime minister Edouard Philippe.

He appearing on national television saying, four hours after that, all shops not selling food items would have to be closed, cafes, bars, restaurants, theaters as well. People had been continuing to enjoy the social scene. But the coronavirus is having such an impact that that lifestyle will have to change.

But what is taking place this Sunday, Anna, the first round of voting. It is going ahead as planned. People are already in the polling stations, some of this which opened at 8:00 am, there had been a lot of criticism of the government not going ahead and postponing this vote. Opposition members say they don't understand this. One of the local

political leaders saying there was total incomprehension across France, the decision not to delay.

We've had tour groups writing open letters, saying it was dangerous to still hold this vote. There had been special measures put in place. Voters are being asked to stand three feet apart. They've been disinfecting door handles, voter booths. Voters have been asked to bring their own pens to risk contamination that way.

But there are lots of questions whether this is dangerous or what impact it could have politically on the outcome of these elections.

COREN: Yes, I bet. Catherine Norris-Trent, great to have you on the ground. Thanks for the update.

The Spanish government is imposing a lockdown after a spike in coronavirus cases. The prime minister's wife tested positive. The strict measures now in place have emptied the once busy streets of Madrid. Journalist Al Goodman has our report.


AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: What Spain's coronavirus state of emergency looks like in Madrid. The city of 6.6 million people told to stay home, like the whole nation.

With the restrictions, the capital is like a ghost town. This gourmet food market, which is normally packed, is closed, like all other bars and restaurants in town. But it does make it easy to get one of these tourist tuk-tuks.

Spain suddenly has the second highest number of infections in Europe after Italy. Madrid is hardest hit with more than half of Spain's cases and fatalities. Prime minister Pedro Sanchez wants to slow down the pace of new infections that officials say could overwhelm hospitals.

Under the state of emergency starting late Saturday, the government banned people from leaving their homes except for a few essential activities. They can still go to food stores and pharmacies but they have to go alone.

People can go to work but driving must only be for essential activities and not for leisure.

This man out shopping for food is a medical doctor and a cancer specialist.

"I'm reasonably concerned, he says, "but also reasonably optimistic that this situation could be controlled more quickly than what is being predicted."

This butcher says clients are buying extra meat just in case. There are still supplies for now.

"As quickly as we opened we might have to close," he says. "The government says it will get worse.


GOODMAN: Many people do not know how this will play out."

This couple arrived from Britain for a birthday celebration weekend. They are now out searching for food.

KEVIN MEEHAN, BRITISH TOURIST: I think the virus is spreading and all cities will be getting worse, maybe on lockdown sooner than we think.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it will be the same all over Europe very quickly.

GOODMAN: But the Spanish prime minister says not so fast. It will take weeks, he says, but Spaniards working together will stop the virus -- Al Goodman, CNN, Madrid.


COREN: The White House says it will screen anyone in close contact with the president and vice president with signs of fever. One person was turned away from Saturday's press conference at the White House as the president waited for results from his coronavirus test. We get more now from CNN's Kristen Holmes.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump surprised reporters and Americans when he announced at a press conference this morning that he had decided to take the coronavirus test.

Remember this came after the president said that he wasn't too concerned, that he would probably take it but that he did not have any symptoms. Now we have the results back. We will pull up this letter for you. This came from the White House doctor late on Saturday night.

It said, "Last night after an in-depth discussion with the president regarding the COVID-19 testing, he elected to proceed. This evening, I received confirmation that the test is negative."

He goes on to talk about the week after -- it's been a week since the president had dinner with the Brazilian delegation at Mar-a-lago and that they'd been monitoring the president. At least one member of that delegation was positive for the coronavirus.

This is coming at a time when we had asked the president repeatedly if he was going to get tested. We asked what kind of precautions he was taking to keep himself safe. Essentially the president said he was not going to change anything. He said he would keep having those rallies.

He has since canceled some of them but he said he is going to keep shaking hands. We saw him as recently as yesterday him shaking hands with everyone in the Rose Garde, even though those whole health officials were the ones who told him not to come into contact, no handshaking, keep the social distancing. This is clearly an effort to ramp up the reaction to the coronavirus,

particularly when it comes to President Trump and his safety regarding the virus -- in Washington, I'm Kristen Holmes, CNN.


COREN: Caregivers are preparing for the worst at one of the worst U.S. epicenters of the outbreak. When we return, we'll show you how one facility plans to keep up as the numbers of new cases continues to climb.

Plus, the U.S. is trying to fix the nationwide shortage of coronavirus tests.

Why can celebrities get the test so quickly when average Americans cannot?

Our report later this hour.






COREN: Imagine coming off your international flight, maybe a ticket you got last minute, as the U.S. travel ban took effect and arriving to this. Of course, the irony is the efforts to prevent the spread is what prompted the measure. Now you're packed shoulder to shoulder at Chicago's O'Hare airport.

You heard earlier Michael Holmes talking with one of those passengers. Here's more of what she had to say.


KATHERINE ROGERS, RETURNING TRAVELER: Everyone was kind of surprised. Most people got word in the middle of the night or the middle of Wednesday night, Thursday morning, wherever they were, but that something was up.

But if you called your airline and asked about what you should do -- and I am a citizen, can I come back, what do I do -- the airlines had no idea what was going on. So it was very confusing for everyone. No one knew if they needed to come home immediately or if they could even get a flight. So it was not a clear situation.


COREN: Incredible.

These scenes evoked an angry response from the Illinois governor, JB Pritzker, who tweeted to President Trump and vice president Pence, he said, "Since this is the only communication medium you pay attention to, you need to do something now. These crowds are waiting to get through customs, which is under federal jurisdiction."

To drive the point home, he added later, "The federal government needs to get its s@#t together now."

The White House is already getting criticism over the threat the virus poses. The U.S. lags far behind in terms of testing. We're seeing how decisions to close schools and public events are being made at a local level rather than a coordinated nationwide approach.

Even as the travel bans expand, there are concerns about what needs to be done within the country to keep it from spreading.

Well, our Michael Bociurkiw is a global analyst and former spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

He raises the issue in an op-ed for CNN, writing, "While President Trump introduced travel restrictions for China on January 31st, the U.S. squandered the intervening weeks with confusing and inaccurate messages while continuing to cast the virus as a foreign threat all while failing to identify and test the growing number of cases within the country."

He joins us now.

You summed it up very succinctly. The United States has been behind the 8 ball from the get-go.

MICHAEL BOCIURKIW, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. You know, Anna, even the press briefing today showing how uncoordinated and unprepared they are. And even the projected signaling from the White House, with the president standing so close to his team while advocating social distancing.


BOCIURKIW: As I pointed out in the CNN op-ed, a lot of what we're seeing here is opposite of what we're seeing in Singapore and the Hong Kongs of the world.

Number one, they started early on and, secondly, really putting in strict measures like quarantines, like contact tracing and also the early, early bans on travel from China. A lot of experts have told me, it's only a one- or two-week delay between a disaster and success in combating this coronavirus.

COREN: Michael, as we know, this has been going on since December, certainly in China, and it has spread pretty quickly since then. Obviously China, Asia, which was impacted straight away, took it very seriously.

But in the rest of the world, America and the West, there's been this apathy.

Is that ignorance, misinformation or belief it was just China or Asia's problem?

BOCIURKIW: I think it's a mix of all of it. In Singapore and Hong Kong, the memories of the SARS outbreak, which was very, very difficult on them, is still fresh. They already have a couple of things that has helped them, the clean, sanitary mentality with very strict fines.

Also in times of crisis, they listen to their government. In terms of Western leaders, a lot of uncoordinated action. I listen to those WHO briefings every day. They have been advantage governments coordinated, planning, pre-position, get supplies in position before the crisis. They advised against travel and trade restrictions. That was ignored.

So I think we're in big trouble as a global community. Why?

If governments are not listening to a coordinating body like the WHO, which is very well positioned to deal with these outbreaks, we're going to be fighting this for a lot longer than we actually should be.

COREN: We heard from a top U.S. health official, he said the situation is going to get a lot worse before it improves.

How much worse, do you believe?

BOCIURKIW: It sends a chill down my back. I'm in New York and I was traveling around a bit on the island to Brooklyn. The trains are still packed. What you notice is a lot of people on the bottom of the economic ladder cannot take Ubers or afford the long walks, so social distancing is nonexistent.

And that's a big opportunity for the disease to spread. My big worry here is it seems like, (INAUDIBLE), when you have a president who (INAUDIBLE) wants to take victory laps but also points the blame elsewhere so that crucial public messaging of what to do is not coming out.

And now we're seeing local governments acting independently, proactively. Just, I believe, a few hours ago, the mayor of Hoboken declared a curfew. So all of this is going to be uncoordinated and doesn't bode well for the coronavirus response.

COREN: Well, Michael, just quickly, there was a great deal of criticism for places like China, Hong Kong, Singapore for, perhaps, their overreaction, paranoia. People are being hypervigilant. You cannot walk outside this building without putting on a mask. People will yell at you if your mouth is not covered.

In hindsight, should the West be taking this more seriously?

Should they be following what others are doing?

BOCIURKIW: Absolutely. Now is the time for draconian measures. Being here for a few days, I believe the American public is ready for sharp and short measures, even if that includes curfews, shutting down the economy. I think the mentality is, let's get this over with, have short-term pain and that's the only way we're going to beat this thing.

COREN: Really because, I mean, obviously Americans, they protect their independence. That is something they hold sacred. So being told, you know, they have to lock down. You believe they'll lock down.

BOCIURKIW: I believe so. People are already taking their own measures, canceling travel and meetings and things like that. But my big worry is when we're getting this confusing messaging from the White House and a president more concerned with his popularity ratings, it seems the Americans are in big trouble here.

I wish them the best, of course, and I hope that they will introduce some of the measures, for example, that Canada's prime minister Trudeau has introduced, that's based on science and fact and not just knee-jerk reactions.

COREN: Michael Bociurkiw, thank you for your insight. We really appreciate it.

BOCIURKIW: My pleasure.

COREN: The pandemic is hitting global markets hard.


COREN: Saudi Arabia and the UAE just announced a massive stimulus plan. What that could mean for the price of oil coming up.




COREN: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren.


COREN: Central banks in Saudi Arabia and the UAE announced a combined $40 billion stimulus plan and we're still in the middle of a oil price war as Saudi Arabia and Russia fight over the price of crude.


COREN: Our John Defterios joins us from Abu Dhabi.

How are the economies of Spain, England and Italy dealing with these new restrictions?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: It's extraordinary. It's kind of a balance, like the health of society versus the health of the economy. If you think it through, we have France, Spain and Italy ranked one, two and five in the world when it comes to tourism.

And tourism represents about 10 percent of GDP. So it's going to hit domestic growth when you have to think of the fallout when it comes to tourism. U.K. is taking a different strategy, trying to keep commerce moving.

There's an uncertainty in Europe and on Wall Street, which is making it very difficult for investors. If you take a look at the futures on Wall Street, we're pointing to an open down on Monday because of the big rise we saw on Friday trading.

We have seen losses of 0.66 percent to 1.75 percent and people think, wow, a 9 percent gain, what does that mean?

We're still in bear market territory. It's a similar tale playing out in Europe right now, with the central banks having very little room to do anything beyond the interest rates and this is the pressure.

COREN: Yes. John. Tell us about the efforts in the Middle East where you are and the impacts that they will hopefully have.

DEFTERIOS: You know, Anna, we have a perfect storm playing out here right now because we have a drop in demand for oil because of the coronavirus and oversupply because of the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

We saw two large central banks in the Middle East Sunday trading, a $40 billion stimulus plan, Egypt chip in as well with another $6 billion. But the reality is as Saudi Arabia and UAE add oil starting in April and we see the demand from South Korea dropping by 10 percent last month, this is going to keep downward pressure on prices.

We're trading at $32 a barrel. That's half the level we were in January of this year. So it's going to keep a lot of pressure on regional economies in the Middle East. The Dubai stock market index is down 4 percent and Saudi Arabia is down 0.25 percent, again, on Sunday trading.

COREN: And, of course, amid all this virus fallout, there has been that oil price war.

What's the latest?

What can we expect next week?

DEFTERIOS: Well, you know, we had Saudi Arabia wanting to cut more oil and when the Russians disagreed and said they wanted to go after the shale producers, we have a production war leading to a price war.

So we're going to see 3.5 barrels starting in April. The Russians are likely going to raise their output by half a million barrels a day. You have this new oil coming in in April and a severe drop in demand because of the coronavirus.

You can see the crisis playing out for the next six months until you see supply and demand start to rebound in the second half of the year. $30 oil, very painful. We'll see a shakeout in the Permian basin and other shale territories in the United States as a result of this that we're seeing playing out in terms of geopolitics, Anna.

COREN: John Defterios. Thank you. Many thanks for your insight.

Let's discuss all of this with Vicky Price. She's an economist and author and joins us from London.

Great to have you with us. As we know, the U.S. has passed a measure to free up billions of dollars.

Where does that money need to go first?

VICKY PRYCE, ECONOMIST: So there's going to be lots of stricken companies. That's the first thing. They're going to have to survive this period. It may be short-lived but we've been hearing all sorts of calls, whether it's the airlines sector, hospitality sector and also manufacturing. Quite a lot of places in Europe have shut down.

Even though China has begun to recover, there's huge issues of being able to sell goods abroad or even components. So it's becoming a very important sort of blockage for anything going on right now. There will be some sectors doing well, such as in Europe, where there's been panic buying and a lot of production of extra goods people need and food processing and all that.

All of that is going quite strongly but there are calls in Europe for airlines, asking for particular support. And I would imagine there are a number of sectors already putting their case because they will need that to happen. Plus you need working capital for firms if they're going to survive this period.


PRYCE: When there's little demand, people are beginning to shy away from buying or going out. That is going to be a big problem for particularly big and medium enterprises.

Again, we're seeing that in Europe. There's a call for additional help. There's been finance measures taken here and financial measures from expanding huge amounts of liquidity in the economy have come from firms screaming and saying, we're not going to survive this period of shutdown.

Not just a shutdown but also losing people from workspaces. And we need to keep them going, sick leave and so on, which firms can ill afford to do.

COREN: Vicky, so many businesses are going to go to the wall, businesses, industries.

Who's going to be, I guess, affected the worst?

Who should the bailouts go to start off with?

PRYCE: This is an incredibly difficult question. A lot of the measures that were introduced, first of all, in Europe in the last few days, were focused on SMEs, small and medium enterprises. But I'm beginning to worry about the banking system itself, which,

course, has so many loans on the books, which companies will find it difficult to meet. So a loan moratorium but if you do that, you have a wider impact in terms of sectors you are affecting.

Probably an awful lot of special support will need to go to sectors that are particularly affected in the short to medium term where otherwise we go to the wall. That includes a number of manufacturing sectors but also the shipping industry.

You know, we don't know what's going on around oil. That is harming supply chains all across. There's an issue in the U.S. about shale, oil and so on and whether some of the production is sustainable at such low prices in the longer term if it stays there.

So it's pretty wide ranging. And, of course, we have entertainment. People don't go to the cinema. Maybe they can watch it at home. But it's pretty wide. Once demand slows down, then it affects every aspect of the economy.

COREN: And we just do not know how long this is going to last. That's what's really scary for so many businesses. Vicky Pryce, thank you so much for joining us.

Investors are looking ahead to what could be another wild week on the global markets. The Federal Reserve, the world's most powerful central bank, is expected to take action in the coming days. The Fed will try to steady the ship in the week that echoed the financial crisis of 12 years ago. Clare Sebastian takes a look at the deal for equities over the outbreak.


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.



COREN: Iran is lashing out. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has written a letter attacking U.S. sanctions. They've hurt his country's efforts to fight the virus. At least 12,000 people have been infected in Iran with more than 600 deaths.

U.S. president Donald Trump is largely responsible for restoring sanctions on Iran. Tehran has rejected his offer of help with the virus.

Well, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are set to debate each other for the first time head to head later Sunday here on CNN. We look at how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the race and what states have already postponed voting.




COREN: Well, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden will debate each other Sunday night one on one with no live audience. It comes before Tuesday's primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio. All four of those states released a statement on Friday, saying the coronavirus would not stop their elections.

Ryan Nobles reports on how the pandemic is reshaping the race.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The campaign for President of the United States continues on, albeit in a much different fashion because of the way the coronavirus has gripped the United States.

We have a pretty big event Sunday night. That's the first head-to-head between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. They'll be in a studio in Washington, D.C., with no crowd of any kind that has been moved from Arizona to Washington because of the crisis.

You can bet coronavirus is going to be one of the big topics in this debate, not just how the government should respond but all the ancillary issues that are borne out of it.


NOBLES: What does this mean about the health care crisis, economic inequality and how do you deal with the economic impact this disease could have on the United States and what is the plan from both Sanders and Biden to deal with it?

Meanwhile the campaign is so much different than it was two weeks ago, the campaigns unable to hold any mass rallies. In Vermont, that's basically where Sanders has been, no plans to travel through the country. He'll travel to Washington and stay there to return to his duties in the Senate while Joe Biden is expected to spend most of his time at home in Delaware.

The candidates are trying to be creative, Joe Biden holding a virtual town hall. Bernie Sanders planning a livestream as well.

The big question is we don't know how this affects the campaign long term. Sanders at this point, no plans to get out. There will be another round of voting on Tuesday night. We expect the turnout numbers to be much lower because of the coronavirus.

It seems for the most part, because of what we're dealing with here, the coronavirus and the impact that it's having on this country, the campaign continue on for some time -- Ryan Nobles, CNN, Burlington, Vermont.


COREN: Be sure to tune in Sunday for the presidential debate between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

Acts of kindness in the midst of a pandemic. When we return, we'll show you how a few good deeds are making a big difference.





COREN: Welcome back.

Yet another pro basketball player in the U.S. has tested positive for coronavirus. He's a member of the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons played the Utah Jazz recently and as we know two players of the Utah Jazz tested positive. The easy access the team had to tests is raising questions possible preferential medical treatment for celebrities.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fifteen minutes before the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz were set to start a Wednesday night game, doctors in a state laboratory across town in Oklahoma City were learning that Utah player Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.

The race was on to stop the game and control the spread of the virus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The game tonight has been postponed. You're all safe.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): A team of state health officials descended on the basketball field and tested 58 people. Before this night, the NBA and team physicians were reportedly told to have plans in place in case players started showing coronavirus symptoms.

The team didn't leave the arena until well after midnight on Thursday morning.

LAVANDERA: How did the team get 58 tests when there's been so much struggle to get testing done across the country?

How does this one team get 58 tests in less than 24 hours?

GARY COX, OKLAHOMA HEALTH COMMISSIONER: We didn't exactly know what the situation was. Once we got the one positive test, we didn't know what the extent of that was. So you certainly do want to concentrate on those who had close personal contact with a positive case.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Oklahoma health commissioner Gary Cox says the state can carry out 100 tests a day. So the testing of the Jazz team took up more than half of the state's daily resources.

LAVANDERA: The Oklahoma health commissioner tells CNN the testing of the Utah Jazz basketball team was prioritized because of the symptoms several players were showing but also because it was such a large group of people that had traveled extensively in the weeks before arriving here in Oklahoma City.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): At the same time, a string of celebrities have been tested. Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, were tested and diagnosed with coronavirus in Australia. Celine Dion showed signs of the common cold and was tested after a series of shows in New York. The coronavirus test came back negative. And NBA legend Charles Barkley says he was tested Thursday.

CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA LEGEND: So I'm just kind of in limbo right now. I'm really hoping it was just a bug. But like I say, I was in New York earlier this week because that was a hot spot. And when I got to Atlanta, I just wasn't feeling well.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): But across the country, the lack of coronavirus testing has been a source of frustration and criticism. Kevin Hankins said he was on vacation at Disney World with his family and started feeling sick on the drive home. KEVIN HANKINS, VACATIONER: So there's no test kits that anybody's

aware of. There's no alternatives to go if somebody runs one of test kits. It's like a brick wall if you need to be tested for this.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says the U.S. testing system is failing.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It was not designed for the kind of mass distribution that we need now that we've seen in other countries.

LAVANDERA: What this week has proven is, even though the Trump administration has said repeatedly that anyone who wants a test can get one, that's not true -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, Oklahoma City.


COREN: The U.S. may soon receive half a million coronavirus testing kits courtesy of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma. The co-founder of e- commerce giant Alibaba says he'll also send 1 million face masks. His offer came when U.S. authorities were too slow to test and respond as the disease spread from Asia to America's shores.

Ma has also donated a million masks to Japan, almost 2 million to Europe.

As the coronavirus escalates, acts of kindness by people around the world are spreading something else: hope. CNN's Robyn Curnow is looking at a few of those good deeds.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): One of the most insidious effects of the coronavirus is fear. But when times feel as if they're at their worst, we can see hope through the actions of others.


CURNOW (voice-over): In Italy, residents shuttered in their homes, broke out into a round of applause from their balconies and a show of gratitude for the doctors and nurses caring for the sick.

Basketball star Steph Curry and his wife, Ayesha, are raising money to buy millions of lunches for children in California who may not have access to lunch because of school closings.

AYESHA CURRY, ACTOR, COOK AND AUTHOR: We want to make sure we rally around everyone and ensure that these kids are not wondering where their next meal is coming from.

CURNOW (voice-over): Local communities are asking people to buy gift certificate and vouchers from restaurants to keep revenue coming in as fewer people are choosing to dine out. A woman in Oregon tweeted about an elderly couple too afraid to go into the grocery store, so she went instead to get their food. Her tweet has been shared over 100,000 times.

REBECCA MEHRA, GOOD SAMARITAN: It's a difficult time. People are really scared. There are a lot of nerves. I see it in schools and grocery stores and other places around the community I live in. But you know, kindness helps.

CURNOW: People have been using the #coronakindness on Twitter to spread positive stories of how communities are coming together as more and more people are isolated and sick -- Robyn Curnow, CNN, Atlanta.


COREN: That is good to see.

Well, thanks so much for being with us this hour. I'm Anna Coren. CNN continues just after the break.