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EARLY START

Coronavirus Alters Global Way Of Life; Widespread Closure Alter American Life; Lockdowns And Travel Bans Coming; Businesses Adapt To Fight Spread Of Coronavirus; Senate To Take Up Coronavirus Aid Bill; Coronavirus Pandemic, President Trump Declares National Emergency; Coronavirus Hurts People And Business Worldwide; Europe Emerges As Epicenter Of Pandemic; Italian Death Toll Climbs Rapidly; Italy Introduces Emergency Measures; China Offering To Help Other Countries; Israel Limits Public Gatherings; Political Setback For Netanyahu; America's Choice, Biden And Sanders Elbow Bump; Airport Chaos For Travelers Facing Virus Screening; France Takes Drastic Containment Measures; Infected Jazz Star Gobert Donates $500,000. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 16, 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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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. and the world are entering a great unknown. No more big gatherings. Millions home from work and school. Bars and restaurants are close. Another emergency interest rate cut, so why does the president say this is all under control?

We have reports this morning from Rome, Paris, Madrid, Shanghai, Jerusalem, Johannesburg and Germany. Welcome back to our viewers in United States and around the world, this is Early Start. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Monday, March 16th, it's 4:00 a.m. here in New York. We begin with a new reality setting in.

Americans are thinking twice about being in crowded places, because of coronavirus. This is unknown territory wherein no end in sight and so like Times Square in New York, the country is shutting down. But there are things you do -- you can do to stay safe. The CDC now recommends canceling all events with 50 or more people across the United States for eight weeks. The White House point person on coronavirus, Vice President Mike Pence says new guidelines on curfews and social distancing will come out today.

ROMANS: All this reaching into everyday life beyond work, religious services, birthday parties, the gym, mass transit, restaurants, spring break and schools. More than 32 million public school students now at home. That's nearly 2/3 of public school pupils. New York City now added to the list at least until April 20th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR, 2020 U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL

CANDIDATE: We're dealing with a lot of unknowns and a lot of challenges and we understand how difficult it will be to achieve that goal. I have been very honest about the fact that there is a real possibility that by closing our schools now, we may not have the opportunity to reopen them in this full school year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Real concerns have been growing that not enough people were heeding warnings about avoiding big crowds. Now, governors of five states, Washington, California, Illinois, Ohio, and Massachusetts, have ordered bars, restaurants, and wineries all closed in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The mayors of major cities including New York imposing similar restrictions hours after the nation's top infectious disease specialists said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALERGY AND INFECTOUS DISEASE: 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. The virus isn't a mathematical formula. There are going to be people who are young who are going to wind up getting seriously ill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Now, in some cities, you can still get delivery and take- out, but staff like waiters and bus boys will lose some or all of their income indefinitely.

ROMANS: Members of the White House coronavirus task force divided over whether further steps are necessary. Like federal restrictions on the domestic travel or some kind of national lockdown. The president tried to address concerns last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Relax. We're doing great. It all will pass. This is a very contagious virus. It's incredible, but it's something that we have tremendous control over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Tremendous control, even as the case count and the death toll climb. Minutes later Dr. Fauci seemed to disagree with the President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: The worst is, yes, ahead for us. It is how we respond to that challenge that's going to determine what the ultimate end point is going to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: Dr. Fauci also indicated he would support a national

lockdown to stop the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. That's the strategy behind all of the cancellations and the closures nationwide. It's about socially conscious efforts to reduce the burden on the health care system which could be swamped by a sudden surge in coronavirus cases. Health care groups are already raising concerns about supply shortages during this pandemic.

ROMANS: All right, another emergency, interest rate cut. The Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to near zero to support the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump has repeatedly attacked the fed pushing it to cut rates. Sunday, he said the move is great for the country.

The emergency cut rate cut failed to calm investors. In fact it did the opposite. Futures immediately dropped to 5 percent limit overnight hitting limit down, meaning they can't fall any further. In Asia, stocks mixed really. Tokyo, down 2 percent. Hong Kong, down 4 percent. Shanghai, down 3 percent and European actually stocks are mixed at the moment. Paris up. We will watch very closely and see what happening in these markets. The economy is grinding to a halt on purpose to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Something that could throw the U.S. into a recession. Goldman Sachs downgraded its growth forecast for the U.S., 0 percent for the first quarter, down 5 percent in the second quarter. That is a steep and fears contraction.

[04:05:11]

United Airlines slashing its flight schedule by half for the next two months. American Airlines cutting international capacity by 75 percent until early May. Nike, Urban Outfitters and more retailers, temporarily shutting their doors, but they stress their online stores would reign open. Disney closing all of its stores starting tomorrow. Its hotels and resorts will close on Friday.

Despite panic, there is plenty of food in the U.S. Walmart is shortening hours at all of its stores until further notice. The shorter hours will help employees restocked the shelves overnight and clean their stores. Publics and Stop and Shop have also changed their hours.

JARRETT: The Senate is expected to take up a coronavirus aid bill that pass in house early Saturday morning. The measure provides two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave for workers affected by the virus. It will also expand federal funding for Medicaid to support health systems in hard-hit communities. The bill does have an exemption for business with 500 employees or more and companies with fewer than 50 employees can apply for an exemption. That means, as few as 20 percent of workers may actually be covered by this.

A Democratic source tells CNN the compromise was necessary just to have something rather than nothing, but it's certainly not what Vice President Mike Pence or Speaker Nancy Pelosi were touting. ROMANS: All right. Chaos and Mad House, that's how travelers describe

the scene at airports as they returned from overseas to the U.S. this weekend. This pictures are just -- that is not social distancing. Scores of people pack into overcrowded lines waiting up to five hours at the airport for coronavirus screenings. The close quarters is exactly the opposite of what is being preach by health officials.

JARRETT: All of this disarray at the airports stem from the restrictions President Trump announced last week on travelers from 26 European countries. The U.K. and Ireland are now being added to that list. Students coming in from Poland said they faced long lines and mass confusion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN HAYES, STUDENT: If I'm an American and I don't get out of here by midnight, I'm just stuck here? How does that work? That doesn't make sense. If there's a process for me getting out after that 12 a.m. deadline, that's fine but there's no process communicated. There's no idea about what we were supposed to have done if we had not gotten out. No information at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Some of the biggest wherein Chicago at O'Hare, one of 13 airports doing enhanced screenings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAD WOLF, ACTING DHS SECRETRAY: We did make the necessary adjustments at 12 of the funneling airports, however, again, at Chicago those adjustments were not made quick enough. But we have course corrected. We've adjusted our processes. We've continued to surge personnel and we are certainly glad to see certain airports and certain airlines, step up, partner with us and help address this unprecedented situation.

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JARRETT: U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it increased staffing at some airports and that wait times for travelers were lower on Sunday.

ROMANS: There were some this weekend who are looking at those pictures, I mean, those pictures were all over social media, these long lines.

JARRETT: Packed in like sardines.

ROMANS: And they were saying this is the picture of the federal response. The chaotic federal response and that was not something that added to the, you know, optimism, I think, in global markets.

All right. Fallout from all of this in all corners of the globe. Bars closed in Ireland, empty streets in major cities. CNN has reporters all around the world next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:10:00]

ROMANS: All right. At this hour there are more than 153,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide with Europe now the epicenter of the crisis. In Ireland the government is calling on pubs to close and is asking the public not to participate in any parties on the eve of St. Patrick's Day. And the Vatican has canceled all its Easter week celebrations and masses to curb the spread of a virus.

JARRETT: France taking new drastic containment measures after announcing 300 people infected with coronavirus are in intensive care. Half, half under the age of 60-year-old. CNN's Jim Bittermann is live from Paris. And Jim, what is the mood there with all of the bars, and restaurants and clubs now closed?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, pretty somber, Laura. I would say there's a lot (inaudible) has disappeared. The fact is that one is -- they came down on Saturday night by the Prime Minister, it was a real shock. I was sitting in a restaurant, as a matter of fact, it came down and we are having dinner. And the owner of the restaurant came by and looking a little shocked and said, you're going to be my last customers. We have to close down until further notice. He was like everybody else having to close their establishments.

Now, what happened on Sunday was that in fact there was a lot of sunshine, nice day. People went out and they were told by the authorities they were not happy about that. And so now, we are hearing (inaudible) from clearly reliable sources here that in fact the government is considering an even more drastic approach. They're going to perhaps confine people to their homes in the same way that we've seen in Spain and Italy. So it could get a lot worse here, although, for the next few days. Laura?

JARRETT: All right. Jim, thanks so much for the report.

ROMANS: With the majority of coronavirus cases spreading outside of mainland China, the country where the outbreak first emerged is gradually returning to normal. Now its government is offering to help elsewhere. I want to bring in David Culver live from Shanghai. David, you are

ahead of the curve for us here. You have been in quarantine. You've been through this. And now you're on the other side of it. What is Beijing doing? What does it look like there?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right. You're in eight weeks of this. And I can tell you major cities like Beijing and here in Shanghai, Christine, they are starting to come back online. And the way I've kind of described it. We're seeing two steps forward, one step back. And by that, I mean, when you start to see restaurants re- opening, there's discussion of teachers for foreign schools coming back by this time next week, so that they can start their two weeks of quarantine which shows that things are in motion.

[04:15:09]

We also start to see some easing of restrictions in some places like Hubei province, but then they withdraw that easy restrictions and they'll put back in place on the lockdown requirements. And that's because they are little bit uneasy about just about opening up the gates. And understandably so. Because the World Health Organization has stressed the greatest risk in all of this is complacency. Thinking, yes, we've got this beat. And so what we're seeing now is a warning even out of Wuhan, the capitol of Hubei, where this all started and the stressing from health officials there that the situation is still severe.

That just came out today. They're still asking folks there to avoid going outside. Now outside of Wuhan and other parts of Hubei, once again after revoking some of the easing of restrictions, they're putting back in the easing of restrictions. So, it's kind of this back and forth. There's a dance of let's see how this plays out. And they're doing so cautiously because they are a little bit uneasy of those numbers starting to rise little by little, as people starts to move around then go back to normal.

(Inaudible) to say though, it is starting to feel a little bit more like normal here. And Shanghai, a city of 24 plus million people, over the weekend you start to see restaurants filling back up again. You start to see more and more people easing back into their normal routine. So, it is reassuring, Christine, I know for folks particular where you are in the U.S. looking onward to say, is there a light at the end of this? The answer is seemingly so.

ROMANS: All right. David Culver for us in Shanghai this morning. Thank you, David.

JARRETT: Well, new limits on public gatherings are now being imposed in Israel, and they go further than anything we have seen here in the United States. The coronavirus crisis is also having unintended political consequences. Let's go live to Jerusalem and bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann. Oren, what's the latest there?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORESPONDENT: Well, Laura, Israel has been at the forefront of putting in place some of the most stringent restrictions to try to limit the spread of coronavirus and it remains that way. It used to be that you had to limit gatherings to 5,000. Well, over the weekend that number was changed to 10. Just 10 people are allowed in gatherings to try to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, restaurants, cafes are closed, entertainment venues, leisure venues, those are all closed as well with some rumors circulating here that it's not long before they shut down public transportation as well. All in an attempt to try to keep this as limited as possible. There are now some 250 confirmed cases in Israel, not that big of a number. But a number that is still rising very quickly.

On Friday that number was 100. So, you see how quickly it's rising. And in the middle of all of this, and this includes challenges to the economy, the military, the health system, and much more, there is of course, an ongoing political crisis that's lasted more than a year. As Israel hasn't had a fully functioning government since Christmas Eve 2018.

And perhaps coronavirus can do what the politicians could not. Which is bring the two largest parties together. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party and Benny Gantz, Blue and White Party and they need to find some sort of unity government or some sort of national emergency government to get Israel through this crisis. But there are no guarantees there and that's the challenge ahead.

All sides are calling on a unity government or an emergency government to deal with this. But calling for it and actually getting there are two very different things. Laura, a fourth election is theoretically at least a possibility. But how you hold an election under these circumstances, even if it's still months away. Again, that -- another challenge this country would try to deal with.

JARRETT: Yes, certainly something we are struggling with here in the U.S. We are in a middle of primary season as well. Oren, thanks so much for that.

ROMANS: All right. A much different feel to last night's debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. And Biden made a bold promise if he wins the nomination.

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[04:20:00]

JARRETT: All right. Welcome back. It was a presidential debate like none before. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders elbow bumping instead of shaking hands. Then sparring one on one while standing the recommended six feet apart in a studio with no live audience. Coronavirus topping the agenda last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, 2020 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to do testing. We have to get the testing kits up and ready. I would have the World Health Organization, I'd take advantage of the test kits they have available to us, even though the president says a million or more are coming. Let's just get all of the tests we can done as quickly as we can.

Secondly, I would make sure that every state in the union had at least 10 places where they had a drive-thru testing arrangements. I would also at this point deal with the need to begin their plan for the need for additional hospital beds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: The former vice president also make a big commitment on picking a running mate if he wins the nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: If I'm elected president, my cabinet, my administration will

look like the country. And I commit that I will in fact appoint -- pick a woman to be vice president. There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow. I would pick a woman to be my vice president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Senator Sanders says in all likelihood he would do the same. Four states vote tomorrow. Biden leads in all of them. Last night Sanders questioned whether voting should even take place as planned. States are encouraging early voting and taking social distancing precautions.

American companies are stepping up to help people cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Comcast, AT&T and Charter all offering free Wi- Fi for 60 days for students and those who are working from home. New haul providing 30 days of free storage to college students who were suddenly forced to move out.

Chinse billionaire Jack Ma vowing to donate 1 million facemasks and 500,000 coronavirus test kits to United States. And luxury perfume makers Dior and Givenchy will produce something more practical, free hand sanitizer for French health authorities.

[04:25:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GOBERT, NBA PLAYER: It's all about protecting yourself and the people around you. I wish I would take this thing more seriously and I hope everyone else will do so because we can do it together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: That mea culpa from Rudy Gobert. The infected Utah Jazz star donating over half a million dollars to arena employees and covid related social services in Utah, Oklahoma city and his native France.

ROMANS: All right. What does the world look like after coronavirus? And when will we get there? No one knows. Major changes for social and business life. Some Vegas casinos closed. Colorado ski resorts closed. People looking wherever they can for stability, including this florist in Oregon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Its funny how here this becomes a bar to a certain extent. People want to talk and be heard and so everybody's stopping by and getting a flower. I'm hearing a lot of concerns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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