Return to Transcripts main page


Coronavirus Alters Global Way Of Life; Widespread Closure Alter American Life; Lockdowns And Travel Bans Coming; President Trump To Nation, Relax, It All Will Pass; Fed Slashes Interest Rate To Zero; Businesses Adapt To Fight Spread Of Coronavirus; Senate To Take Up Coronavirus Aid Bill; Coronavirus Pandemic, President Trump Declares National Emergency; New Studies Refute Claims About Coronavirus Spread; Coronavirus Hurts People And Business Worldwide; Europe Emerges As Epicenter Of Pandemic; Italian Death Toll Climbs Rapidly; Italy Introduces Emergency Measures; Spaniard Cheer From Windows During Lockdown; China Offering To Help Other Countries; Israel Limits Public Gatherings; Political Setback For Netanyahu; Africa Bracing For Worst-Case Scenario; Peace Corps Suspends Global Operations; America's Choice, Biden And Sanders Elbow Bump; U.S. Futures Hit Limit Down, Man Who Hoarded Hand Sanitizer Donates Stash; D.C. Restaurant Brings Free Meals To Quarantined Elderly. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 16, 2020 - 04:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, 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 shut. Another emergency 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 Early Start. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans, it is 30 minutes past the hour here in New York. You know, a new reality is setting in. Americans are thinking twice about being in crowded places, because of coronavirus. This is unknown territory with no end in sight and so like Times Square in New York, the country is shutting down. 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.

JARRETT: 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 children. New York City now added to the list until at least April 20th.


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.


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


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.


ROMANS: 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.

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


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.


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


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.


ROMANS: Dr. Fauci also indicated he would support a national lockdown to stop the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. That of course, is the strategy behind all of the cancellations and the closures around the country. It's about a socially conscious effort 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 the pandemic.

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


TRUMP: It makes me very happy and I want to congratulate the Federal Reserve.


ROMANS: Now the fed will no longer meet later this week. It had a meeting scheduled for the 18th. This emergency rate cut failed to calm investors. Just the opposite. Futures dropped 5 percent overnight hitting limit down, meaning they can't fall any further. In Asia, stocks around the world falling. Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai all closing lower and now all of the European markets are open.

Look at those declines, 7 percent, 9 percent in Paris, 7 percent also in Frankfurt. 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. A contraction remarkable. United Airlines slashing its flight schedule at 50 percent for the next two months. American Airlines cutting international capacity by 75 percent until early May. Nike, Urban Outfitters and more retailers are shutting their doors, but they stress their online stores would stay 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 is stores until further notice. Shorter hours will help employees restocked the shelves overnight and clean the 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 and can apply for an exemption. That means, as few as 20 percent of workers may actually be covered. 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 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were taunting.

ROMANS: President Trump declaring a national emergency, Friday, freeing up $50 billion in federal resources. The administrations says, it's partnering with the private sector to boost testing capacity with more coronavirus tests and with drive-thru testing. The U.S. testing system has been criticize by health officials and by people turned away despite showing symptoms.

JARRETT: New studies now casting doubt on some claims by U.S. officials about the way coronavirus spreads. Those officials for weeks had been claiming it spreads mainly by people already showing symptoms. In other words, that asymptomatic people are not a significant factor. But at least, half a dozen studies show that's not the case.

And in Massachusetts a cluster with at least 82 cases appears to have been started by people who were not yet showing symptoms. And to why, you know, they're trying so hard to get the word out to young people, who may not be showing some symptoms. I saw a lot of people out this weekend in bars and restaurants acting like nothing had happened.

ROMANS: Yes. All right. Fallout from all of these in all corners of the globe. Bars closed in Ireland, empty streets in major cities. CNN has reporters around the world, next.



JARRETT: 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 that's to curb the spread of a virus.

With Italy quarantined, one tenor and opera singer wanted to give people hope and joy. Maurizio Marchini went to his balcony and serenaded the entire town of Florence.

Well, the death toll in Italy is climbing quickly. Officials announcing 368 more deaths in just the last 24 hours bringing the current total to 1,809. Joining us live from Rome with the very latest, CNN's Melissa Bell. Melissa, what can you tell us?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, another weekend of record rises, not just that death toll, more than 350 people died in the 24 hours preceding that announcement last night but a record number of new cases as well. More than -- nearly 3,500 just under, I'm sorry. It shows that this outbreak continues to progress. It shows that authorities have yet to bring it under control and this despite this extraordinary lockdown. There is of course, the problem of the health system as stretched as

you can imagine. Essentially doctors describing the fact that the country is on a war footing, first of all trying to get everyone tested, trying to treat the most -- those that need the most urgent treatment and save as many lives as they can. With those terrible moral choices being made now on a daily basis.

And in particular in the north of the country, there are fears. We had been speaking to a doctor up there that they could simply run out of resources by the end of the month. So you have a system that is on the verge of breaking point, a country on lockdown, and economy in standstill and still those figures continue to go up.

We're expecting another injection of cash this morning to be announce by Italian authorities into the health service to try and hold it together so that it can continue to try taking on this outbreak and hopefully at some point bring it under control, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Melisa Bell at Rome for us. Thank you so much.

ROMANS: A touching show of gratitude in Spain and elsewhere. People under lockdown applauding from their windows for health care providers and others helping people during the pandemic. Officials have announced tighter travel restrictions. CNN's Al Goodman is live in Madrid. What's it like there, Al?

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine. Let me tell you a couple of phrases that a lot of Spaniards have been hearing since the state of emergency went into effect this weekend. It's been coming from the police. It goes like this, what are you doing on the street? Go home now. We are hearing that from the police. We've seen that right here at the (inaudible), right here in the city center and they brought in a unit of the military that normally is involved for earthquakes and events like that to help keep the people off the streets.

Now under the state of emergency, if you can go to work, you can shop for food, you can go to the pharmacy, you can go to the doctor, you can walk your dog. But if you are not doing one of those permitted activities, you have to be off the street to keep people apart.


Also, the government has moved to take control of the entire health system in Spain, not just the public hospitals that they already control, but also the private hospitals so they can get the doctors where they are needed and they can get the equipment, the masks and the gloves to the places where that are needed.

The urgency of this couldn't be more. This Prime Minister announce a couple of days ago, the country this week could reach 10,000 cases. They are already close to 8,000. Back to you, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Al Goodman in Madrid. Thank you, Al.

JARRETT: With the majority of coronavirus cases spreading outside of mainland China, the country where the outbreak first emerged is gradually returning to normal. The government now trying to offer help elsewhere. Let's bring in CNN's David Culver live in Shanghai who's been covering this since the very beginning of the outbreak. David, what is Beijing doing?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Israel has been on the front edge essentially of imposing some of the most stringent measures to try to limit the spread of coronavirus and it continues to be that way. Public gathering is limited to just 10 people, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced It's interesting, Laura, to see the turn around here, namely that this was the epicenter here in China, and it now has shifted to Italy. And now we are hearing that the government has sent out medical personnel along with some supplies to Italy in particular. It seems to be rather political as to which countries they decide to assist.

We know, they've also assisted Japan, South Korea and Iran. They have not yet officially from the government side sent anything to the United States, however, we are hearing that Jack Ma, who's a billionaire, founder of Alibaba, has sent over as of today from Shanghai 500,000 testing kits and a million facemasks.

So, this shows that at least from the propaganda side of things China's trying to demonstrate that they are under control to a certain extent here and that they now want to help other countries get through this. The reality is there is also a concern with complacency here, not believing that they have gotten past this just yet. And proof that, is out of the epicenter, the original epicenter, the city of Wuhan.

We know that officials there are warning people that this is still severe. They're asking folks, not to go out if they can avoid it. And they still have some of the extreme lockdown procedures in place in parts of that city and really in parts of Hubei province as a whole.

Now they have eased some of it. But there was concerned that as they start to ease more and more, people start to move around again, and you start to have these community transmissions versus the imported cases and with regards to the imported cases, Laura, it's interesting in Beijing, for example, they have now instructed that anyone coming from anywhere else in the world into Beijing is to be put into quarantine for 14 days in a government designated facility. That's how seriously they're taking it.

JARRETT: Yes, it's a new normal. David Culver, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, to Israel now. New limits on public gatherings there being posed -- imposed and they go further than anything we have seen in the U.S. The crisis is also having unintended political consequences. Let's go live to Jerusalem and bring in CNN's Oren Lieberman. Oren?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORESPONDENT: Israel has been on the front edge essentially imposing some of the most stringent measures to try to limit the spread of coronavirus and it continues to be that way. Public gatherings limited to just 10 people as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced not only have restaurants, cafe and shopping malls be closed, but all leisure venues and entertainment venues in an attempt to keep this from spreading.

There are some rumors that public transportation may be next to be shut down as again, Israel try to stay on the forefront of containing the spread of coronavirus. As of this morning, the ministry of health says there are 250 confirmed cases. That's still a relatively low number. And there had been no confirmed deaths from coronavirus. But just a few days ago that number was 100 confirmed cases. So, it is rising very quickly here of course, amid fears that it could be worse.

And let's not forget that in the middle of all of this, something that affects the economy, the military, the health system, and more, there is an ongoing political crisis. There hasn't been a fully functioning government here since Christmas Eve 2018. And the coronavirus may be able to do with the politicians could not, which is to say, bring them together.

Both Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz are calling for a national government, an emergency government or a unity government to lead the country in this difficult time. And that at least feels like what the majority of the country wants, but it's much easier to say that than to actually get there. That being said, that is what the politicians here are pushing for. We'll see if they can make progress and the coronavirus can push something that the politicians have been unable to do so far.

ROMANS: All right. Oren Liebermann for us in Jerusalem. Thanks Oren.

JARRETT: Africa has 273 cases of coronavirus. At least six people have died and basic preventive measures like hand washing aren't so simple in some places. CNN's David McKenzie is in Johannesburg, South Africa, for us. What are you learning there?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, just a couple of days ago we were in an informal settlement here in South Africa. I ask people, well, how can you wash your hands if you're sharing a tap amongst 1400 people? People can't even afford soap. And I think South African governments and other African governments have really reacted very swiftly in part because of that vulnerability on the continent.


Just on Sunday, the South African president barring any foreign visitors from the U.S., Europe, other deeply affected countries and they have closed schools in the coming days in South Africa. And in a country where there is already a recession, they are taking these massive steps much quicker than places like the U.S., because they say that to not intervene at this stage would have much harder chance to even combat this virus. You know, Africa has been able to deal with things like Ebola. I spoke to an expert who said that has helped countries prepare, but Ebola is not the same as covid-19.


CHERYL COHEN, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR COMMUNICABLE DISEASES: If you are all in a meeting room and you're close together, all those people would be exposed. Ebola, none of them would be exposed. So, the numbers get very high. No matter what I think it does to contain, if everybody else in the world there are infectious cases, and there is no way you can really completely stop movement of a respiratory illness like this.


MCKENZIE: Just moments ago the health ministry here in South Africa likened this to fighting a battle of war said, every South African needs to act like a soldier to have those behavioral changes that they still say will give this country and others on the continent a chance to beat covid-19. Laura?

JARRETT: Yes. Behavioral changes are such a big part of the story. All right, David McKenzie, live in Johannesburg, thank you so much for all of your reporting.

And overnight the Peace Corps announcing it will temporarily suspend global operations and evacuate all of its volunteers. The U.S. run service program operates in more than 60 countries and has more than 7,000 volunteers and trainees worldwide. Volunteers in China and Mongolia have already been evacuated over a coronavirus concerns.

ROMANS: All right. The Federal Reserve makes another emergency interest rate cut in global stock markets falls sharply. CNN Business has a look at markets next.



JARRETT: 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.


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 to plan for the need for additional hospital beds.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT), U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first thing we have got to do whether or not I'm a president, is to shut this president up right now. Because he is undermining the doctors and the scientist who are trying to help the American people. It is unacceptable for him to be blabbering with United Nations-factual information which is confusing the general public.


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


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.


JARRETT: 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.

ROMANS: Let's go check on CNN Business this morning. Futures dropping sharply overnight hitting limit down, even as the fed slashed interest rates. More on that in a moment. In Asia looking at futures there, looking at markets there rather, they closed down and European shares just a devastating loss this morning. Stocks are coming off their best day since October 2008. The DOW closed up 1900 points on Friday. The S&P 500, the NASDAQ also finished over 9 percent. But today that story has moved and a reminder that the DOW, S&P and the NASDAQ all down about 20 percent from their recent highs.

A Tennessee man under investigation for price gouging after stockpiling close to 18,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. He has now donated his stashed. Matt Colvin, helped church volunteers load most of the stockpile into a truck on Sunday. He made the donations after Tennessee's Attorney General began investigating him for price gouging. Colvin tells the New York Times he didn't foresee the gravity of the outbreak.

JARRETT: What a story. Well, on the flipside, a Washington D.C. restaurant delivering meals to elderly people who have been quarantined during a coronavirus outbreak. The owner of the Steak House Medium Rare, tweeted a message last week that if anyone over 70 needed a meal, he would make sure they got one. The response was overwhelming. They've already delivered more than a hundred meals.

Thanks to our international viewers for joining us today. Have a great rest of your day. For our U.S. viewers, Early Start continues right now.

ROMANS: The U.S. and the world enter a great unknown. No more big gatherings. Millions home from work and school. Bars and restaurants are shut. 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. Good morning and welcome to Early Start every one, I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Monday, March 16th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East. A new reality is setting in. Americans are thinking twice about being in crowded places, because of coronavirus.