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Widespread Closures Alter American Life; Federal Reserve Slashes Interest Rate To Near Zero; Biden Wants Results, Sanders A Revolution At CNN Debate. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 16, 2020 - 05:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And another emergency rate cut. So why does the president say this is all under control?

We have reports this morning from Rome, Madrid, Shanghai, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, and Germany -- just about everywhere.

Good morning, this is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour this Monday morning.

And a new reality is setting in. Americans are thinking twice about being in places -- crowded places -- because of the 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 of this reaching into everyday life even 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 two-thirds of public school students.

New York City added to the list until at least April 20th.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D) NEW YORK CITY: 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: There are now almost 3,500 cases in the U.S. in 49 states. 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 -- have ordered bars, restaurants, and wineries closed in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

The mayor of major cities, including New York, imposing similar restrictions hours after the nation's top infectious disease specialist said this.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: 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 takeout, but staff like waiters and busboys will lose some or all of their income indefinitely.

JARRETT: Members of the White House coronavirus task force are divided over whether further steps are necessary, like federal restrictions on 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. It's a very contagious virus -- it's incredible -- but it's something that we have tremendous control over.


JARRETT: Tremendous control, he says, even as the case count and the death toll keep climbing.

Minutes later, Dr. Fauci seemed to disagree with the president.


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


JARRETT: Dr. Fauci also indicating he would support a national lockdown to stop the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. That's the strategy behind all the cancellations and closures we're seeing nationwide. 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.

ROMANS: Another emergency rate cut from the Federal Reserve. It slashed interest rates to near zero to support the economy during the pandemic and announced up to $700 billion in asset purchases.

President Trump has repeatedly attacked the Fed, demanding it 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: This emergency rate cut failed to calm investors -- just the opposite. Futures dropped five percent overnight hitting limit down, meaning they can't fall any further.

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. Zero percent for the first quarter, down five percent in the second quarter -- that's a contraction.

United Airlines is slashing its flight schedule by half for the next two months. American is cutting international capacity by 75 percent until early May.

Nike, Urban Outfitters, and more retailers are temporarily shutting their doors. Their online stores will stay open.

Disney is closing all of its stores starting tomorrow. Its hotels and resorts will close on Friday.

Now, 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 restock shelves overnight and clean the stores. Publix and Stop & Shop have changed their hours also.


JARRETT: CNN has just learned two emergency physicians are in critical condition after treating coronavirus patients. The American College of Emergency Physicians says the doctors are a man in his 40s from Washington State and a 70-year-old man from New Jersey.

Help for them could be on the way. The Senate is expected to take up a coronavirus aid bill that passed the 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 impacted by the virus.

ROMANS: There are a few very big caveats. The bill has an exemption for businesses with 500 employees or more and companies with fewer than 50 employees. They can apply for an exemption so they don't have to give paid sick leave. That means as few as 20 percent of workers may actually be covered with paid sick leave.

A Democratic source familiar with the negotiations tells CNN the compromise was necessary just to have quote "something rather than nothing." And it's certainly not what Vice President Pence or Speaker Nancy Pelosi were touting.

JARRETT: Fallout from all of this in all corners of the globe. 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 masses to curb the spread of the virus.




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

Meanwhile, the death toll in Italy is climbing quickly. Officials announcing 368 more deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the current to 1,809.

Joining us live from Rome with the very latest, CNN's Melissa Bell -- Melissa.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Those figures continue to rise, Laura -- both the death rates and the new infection rates. And for now, this extraordinary lockdown that Italians have been living with for a week now not yet bearing its fruit. The prime minister had warned that it would take some time to translate into a change in figures.

But in the meantime, imagine how difficult it is. People stuck at home, all of their usual habits brought to a halt. An economy at a standstill.

In this staunchly Catholic country, there was no mass yesterday. A few churches were open so people could go in and pray individually, but no Sunday mass. You mentioned there the Easter services. No washing of feet, no way of

the cross from a procession, no normal Sunday Easter masses where people can go and pray. Instead, the Pope will be celebrating that mass. It will be livestreamed to the faithful but there will be no gathering.

Yesterday, the Pope walking through the streets of Rome to pray for an end to this outbreak -- to the end -- for an end to this epidemic. But for the time being -- in terms of the national numbers at least, Laura -- it doesn't show any sign of being brought under control.

There is one glimmer of hope from the very north of the country -- one of those early localities that was shut down three weeks ahead of the country -- where the numbers are stabilizing. Everyone looking to that to see whether it will be replicated nationwide now that everyone is locked down.

JARRETT: It's amazing to see the streets there just completely bare. All right. Melissa Bell, thanks 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 for us in Madrid -- Al.


And a tweet from a doctor at a hospital in northern Spain a short while ago with a sign reading "We heard you" -- thanking those people who were applauding the doctors.

Now, the number of cases in Spain is up to more than 7,700 just from the start of the weekend. That's almost double. The prime minister warning this could go to 10,000. Madrid is the focal point of the cases and also the nearly 300 deaths.

This is the first weekday of the state of emergency that was announced at the start of the weekend and there were dense crowds on some of the commuter trains coming into the capital. Work -- going to work is one of the permitted activities that you can do to leave your home. The authorities clearly concerned about those dense crowds because they're trying to keep people away.

The Civil Guard -- that's a police force -- tweeting out video of that. So we'll have to see if the authorities are going to do something about these crowds coming in on the trains. That's the commuter trains.

On the long-distance trains -- the bullet trains, for instance, between Seville and Madrid, Madrid to Barcelona -- they're still running but only at 50 percent. And they're not allowing the trains to be filled -- only 30 percent occupancy -- so people are far apart. They're trying to keep the spread of this virus down as much as possible -- Christine. ROMANS: Remarkable efforts around the globe.

Al Goodman in Madrid. Thank you, Al.

JARRETT: With the majority of coronavirus cases spreading outside Mainland China, the country where the outbreak first emerged is gradually returning to normal. Now its government is offering to help elsewhere.

Let's bring in David Culver, live in Shanghai for us. David, what is Beijing doing to help?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know Laura that they're sending aid packages that include face masks, supplies, testing kits. And they're even sending medical personnel to places like Italy. We know some of those personnel left from Shanghai late last week. They're going to go there, they're going to teach them the protocol that they have learned here that they've deemed successful in hopes that it could help curb the rise in numbers in places like Italy.

Also, where Al was, there in Spain, we know that there are plans to send some testing kits as well as some medical supplies.


And even to the United States -- while the government here officially is not doing it, we're hearing the billionaire founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, has planned to send about 500,000 testing kits and another million face masks to the U.S. Now, of course, that's getting pushed out on state media. It's being promoted quite highly because it shows that China, in many ways, has this under control.

However, in the same breath, Wuhan health officials, where all of this started at the epicenter, are stressing that it is still severe there. In fact, there are concerns that human-to-human community transmission as they call it is still happening.

And they are restricting people from continuing to go outside. They're asking folks to avoid doing that. And they're saying that it could be something that they have to monitor in the continued weeks and months to come.

And, really, Hubei Province, as a whole -- just outside of Wuhan -- is starting to ease some of their restrictions. But what we've seen Laura is this easing of restrictions or mentioning the easing of restrictions, but then they halt and they're kind of dancing around to see if it's actually going to cause a rise in numbers. So that's how they're focused here is this cautious dancing back and forth of where, ultimately, things are going to return to normal. That's the hope at least.

JARRETT: Yes, of course. David Culver, thank you so much.

ROMANS: All right, to Israel now where new limits on public gatherings have been imposed, and they go further than anything we have seen in the United States. The crisis is also having unintended political consequences.

Let's go live to Jerusalem and bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann -- Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Israel has tried to be on the forefront of taking measures -- stringent measures, very often, to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus, now limiting gatherings to only 10 people. It wasn't that long ago that gatherings were limited to thousands of people. But that is the crackdown that's taking place to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus as much as possible.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced over the weekend that restaurants, cafes -- those are all closed. Shopping malls closed, as well as entertainment venues and leisure venues. All, again, in an attempt to try to contain this as much as possible.

As of this morning, there are 250 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country. There are no confirmed deaths. But it was just a couple of days ago that there were only 100 confirmed cases so very quickly, the number is rising.

And there's a very real possibility that coronavirus could do what Israel's politicians couldn't. Remember, that in the face of all of this, Israel has had more than a year of political deadlock going back to Christmas Eve 2018. The two main parties here, Netanyahu's party and his rival Benny Gantz's party, have talked about a unity government -- an emergency government -- but have not actually gotten together because of differences.

Now, as Israel faces the coronavirus, which will affect the economy, the military, the health system, and much more, it's very possible that emergency -- that an emergency government is very possible. We'll see how this goes. It's so much easier said than done.

ROMANS: All right, Oren. Thank you so much for that. Oren Liebermann for us.

JARRETT: Germany is taking drastic action to contain the spread of coronavirus, enforcing border controls to the west, north, and south.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live on the German-Polish border. Fred, what are you seeing there?


Well, as you can see here, we have massive traffic jams here on the German-Polish border. I just want to take you guys with me because you can how the professionals here -- this is the Polish army and back there you have two guys in hazmat suits who are actually taking everybody's temperature whose trying to go across the border.

So essentially -- and this is something, by the way, that you see in a lot of European countries as well. You have it between Germany and various other countries and between Poland and Germany right here is that trucks like you can see here -- they're still allowed to go through to try and get cargo traffic to keep going, but every truck driver has to get his temperature taken. There you can see every car driver who wants to go across also has to get their temperature taken.

So at this border, in particular, Polish people can still go across. We've seen a bunch of Germans who have been turned back, though. And the trucks really have to wait for a long time. And there you can see that even as these European countries are saying they want to minimize the economic impact of closing one of their borders, it does have a massive impact because goods just move so slowly.

You can see right here there's border control going on right here with them taking the temperature of everybody who's in this car. They do that for every car and for every truck that tries to go across the border -- checking everyone.

And then they also make people fill out health forms as well to see if they have temperatures of anything else. And if there are people who have temperatures, they actually get waved out and then they have to go into isolation.

So one of the things I have to point out is that about a day ago you would not have noticed that there was a border between Poland and Germany. All the borders had been taken out, and this is how quick they can ramp things up.

So you can see right now traffic moving a lot more slowly, goods moving a lot more slowly, and the movement of people also going a lot more slowly as you can see how deep the impact is of the coronavirus here in Continental Europe, guys.

JARRETT: Yes, it gives you such an appreciation of why the goods will take so long to get across the border when they're doing temperature checks of everyone coming through.

Fred, thanks so much for being there for us.


ROMANS: All right.

Africa has 273 cases or coronavirus, at least six people have died, and basic preventive measures like handwashing aren't so simple there.

CNN's David McKenzie is in Johannesburg, South Africa -- David.


You know, the World Health Organization and others are saying just wash your hands to help and prevent and spread of this virus. Well, what if you live in a shack and in informal settlements in places like South Africa and the rest of the continent?

I've been speaking to people over the last few days. They are extremely worried, both the officials and just ordinary citizens, because they don't have that kind of facility. Just moments ago, the health minister in South Africa said that this is a battle. He likened citizens of the country as soldiers. And just in the last 24 hours, they've installed very aggressive

measures to try and slow the spread of COVID-19 here in South Africa, as well as other parts of the continent, including stopping travelers from the U.S., Italy, and other parts of the worst-affected countries in the world from coming here. Canceling visas, closing schools, closing some ports, and even shutting down land borders.

Now, South Africa seems to be earlier on in this phase. They said there's a lot of imported cases, mostly from Europe. But there is the sense that Africa was better prepared because it dealt with recent outbreaks of Ebola in central and West Africa, but this disease is very different. Take a listen.


CHERYL COHEN, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR COMMUNICABLE DISEASES: If you're 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 South Africa does to contain, if everywhere else in the world there are infectious cases and there's no way we -- you can really completely stop movement of a -- of a respiratory illness like this.


MCKENZIE: Well, that expert said it's like a force of infection from the rest of the world potentially coming into parts of Africa -- that you can't really stop it. You can try to slow the amount of cases like everyone's doing, frankly.

The health system in South Africa, like other parts of the continent, does have problems. So they really want to avoid scenarios like you've seen in Italy -- a much more advanced health system that is practically buckling in some reasons -- regions because of the force of the infection of the COVID-19 virus.

ROMANS: All right, David McKenzie for us in Johannesburg. Thank you so much for that.

And we'll be right back.



JARRETT: Well, 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.

The former V.P. made a big commitment on a running mate if he were to win the nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I'm elected president, my cabinet -- my administration will look like the country. And I commit that I will, in fact, appoint a -- 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: Sen. Sanders says in all likelihood he would do the same.

Four state vote tomorrow. Biden leads in all of them. Last night, Sanders questioned whether voting should even take place as planned. Some states are encouraging early voting and taking social distancing precautions.

ROMANS: All right, an ugly start to the week on Wall Street, guys. U.S. futures dropping overnight, hitting limit down, even as the Fed slashed rates to near zero. In Asia, markets closed lower. European share have opened and they are having just an awful morning.

Stocks are coming off their best day since October 2008. On Friday, the Dow closed up 1,900 points. The S&P and the Nasdaq also nine percent higher, but they're going to take that back today. And still, all three major averages are 20 percent below their recent highs.

JARRETT: Ending here on a lighter note. Needy families in North Carolina receiving hundreds of pounds of food donated by the Greensboro Coliseum. It was meant for the ACC basketball tournament, which was canceled because of coronavirus.

The food was delivered by a local nonprofit, the Out of the Garden Project.


DON MILHOLIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND PRESIDENT, OUT OF THE GARDEN PROJECT: We can feel however we want to about the ACC tournament being canceled, but the blessing in that is there are going to be thousands of children who are going to get meals that may not have had that not happened. Now, I'm not saying that's necessarily worth the trade-off but it's not a waste.


JARRETT: The group's executive director says the amount of food could probably feed 1,000 or more children.

ROMANS: You know, as America and Americans are hoarding stuff for your own house, remember your local food pantry --


ROMANS: -- and maybe donate something.

JARRETT: Yes, there is some good still out in the world.

ROMANS: There is.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The effects of the coronavirus pandemic were pretty clear across the United States this weekend.

TRUMP: It's a very contagious virus -- it's incredible -- but it's something that we have tremendous control over.

FAUCI: A pandemic like this could overwhelm any system in the world, no matter how good it is.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whether or not I'm the president, we have to shut this president up right now because he is undermining the doctors and the scientists who are trying to help the American people.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We're guided deeply by what's happening, not just by anxiety, not just by fear, but by a very pragmatic response.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): We're in this for the long run. This is not going to end overnight.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, March 16th. It is 6:00 here in New York.

And chances are you are watching us from home this morning knowing that you will be there and pretty much nowhere.