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Mayor Bill de Blasio Considering Shelter-in-Place Order for NYC; San Francisco Area under Shelter-in-Place Order; Ohio Postpones Primary Over Health Emergency; Florida Voters head to the Polls; U.S. Health Officials: U.S. Does Not Have Enough Stockpiled Medical Equipments; States Take Aggressive Steps to Stop Community Spread of Coronavirus; President Trump Changes Tone as Coronavirus Crisis Escalates. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 17, 2020 - 09:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Except for the essential outings. Ohio's governor has defied a court order and canceled today's primary moving it to June after the Ohio health director ordered the polls closed over the coronavirus threat.

The growing number of crackdowns coming as U.S. health officials warn we don't have enough, the federal stockpile, medical supplies is not adequate and that means that in America, there are not enough masks, gowns and gloves to fight what is coming.

How will the markets react to all of this? We're live at the stock exchange one day after the Dow saw its worst point drop in more than 30 years, plunging a staggering 3,000 points. Beating the mark set in days before the Great Depression.

Our team is covering all of this from every angle. Let's begin with our national correspondent Brynn Gingras in New York.

So, Brynn, San Francisco essentially on lockdown and New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio not ruling that out.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's not ruling that out, even though the state and several others, Poppy, across the country have already taken some very aggressive measures. We're talking about not only the tristate, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, but also Ohio, Illinois, Washington, Massachusetts, basically shutting down. Right now they are shut down, restaurants and bars. Restaurants can only do take-out or delivery service. But also gyms and movie theaters and casinos and other places where large crowds like to gather, essentially all entertainment,

New Jersey even taking it yet a step further and the governor asking people to not travel from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 in the morning unless it's for essential travel only. So there is a number of measures that are really being taken around this state, certainly as you said, not as strong as you're seeing in San Francisco as a shelter in place. In fact, this morning, we are here in Herald Square, which is a very

center area of shopping here in New York city, and these stores are allowed to open, although the governor says don't if you don't have to. And there are a number of stores that are making that rule across the country, Nordstrom's, Sephora, Nike, Foot Locker. These are a number of companies that decided to shut down stores across the country.

However, like I said, there are stores that are opening, maybe even adjusting their hours and we are seeing a lot of people who said they're headed to work this morning. But again not the drastic measure you're seeing in San Francisco and the mayor did talk about that, though, as a possibility on "NEW DAY" this morning.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: San Francisco has last night ordered a shelter in place edict for the whole bay area. Would New York consider something like that?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: We're absolutely considering that. We're going to look at all other options and it could get to that for sure.


GINGRAS: So certainly quiet here in New York City on St. Patrick's Day, which, Poppy. as you know is typically a very, very busy time in the city. Big celebrations that usually happen here. That's certainly not the case today.

Keep in mind, across the country, many of these states who are taking measures, they are keeping essential businesses open. We're talking about grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and in fact grocery stores in some cases are opening even earlier so that senior citizens, people, elderly, who are at high risk of this can get in there early without being impacted.

HARLOW: Yes. I'm so glad you mentioned that. Don't be alarmed, your grocery store, your pharmacy will be open.

Brynn, thank you for the reporting.

Now to those seven million people ordered to shelter in place, Dan Simon joins me this morning in San Francisco.

Tell me exactly what this means about when people can and cannot leave their homes.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, this is the strictest measure in the nation, Poppy. And this went into effect as of midnight. So right now we're looking at a shelter in place measure for some seven million people across San Francisco and across the entire bay area. So what it means is officials don't want anybody leaving their homes unless it's is for some type of essential activity, so if you need to go to the grocery store, pick up some groceries, that's fine. If you need to go to the doctor, that's OK as well.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed making the dramatic announcement yesterday afternoon. Have a look.


MAYOR LONDON BREED (D), SAN FRANCISCO: These measures will be disruptive to day-to-day life, but there is no need to panic.


Essential government services like our police, our fire, our transit and sanitation will continue. So your garbage will be picked up, police officers will be out there on the front line, our fire safety officials and others.


SIMON: So as the mayor is noting there, a lot of people are exempt like first responders, like utility workers. One thing we should point out, though, Poppy, is that, you know, it is OK to leave your house if you want to go get some exercise. If you want to take your kids outside, ride their bikes, that's fine.


SIMON: The bottom line here is they just want to limit contact between people, so the virus doesn't spread.


SIMON: Poppy?

HARLOW: Understood and that's an important distinction,

Dan, thanks for the reporting from San Francisco.

Now to the 2020 race for the White House, Ohio officials overnight defying the court order announcing they're postponing their election, their primary, today over coronavirus fears. Other states still holding their primaries on this third Super Tuesday, if you will.

Our Dianne Gallagher is with me and has details. So, I mean, Ohio's health commissioner said this is just too dangerous. But you have other states like Illinois, where people will be voting.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy. Basically the Department of Health director said it is too dangerous to vote. And because of the CDC guidelines, initially the governor has said he recommended they push this back until June 2nd due to the novel coronavirus.

There were two private citizens who brought on a lawsuit asking for the courts to go ahead and postpone the election to the date that the governor recommended. That was denied. And at that point, last night, we thought we were voting in Ohio today until nine hours before the polls opened at 10:00 p.m., the statement came out from the governor and the secretary of state, essentially reiterating their position, that it is simply not fair to ask the people of Ohio to choose between their health and their constitutional right. After that came the order from the health director that she had determined it was too dangerous to vote.

I want you to take a listen to what the secretary of State told us this morning.


FRANK LAROSE, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: Imagine a scenario where the administration is saying that gatherings of over 10 people are unauthorized and that Ohioans over 65 should remain in their homes. It was simply untenable for us to continue telling Ohioans to go to the polls.


GALLAGHER: And I cannot stress how unprecedented this really is. Again, nine hours before the polls were set to open, they went ahead and said they were postponing this election. The secretary of State saying that he does have the power to reset that date, 11 weeks from now, Poppy, Jim, of course, there are all those three other states who were voting. The rest of the country is paying attention to them right now to see exactly how one goes about voting, socially distancing during a pandemic.

HARLOW: Dianne, appreciate that reporting. Very different in Ohio than other states today like Florida where voting is happening. Leyla Santiago is in Hialeah, just outside of Miami, obviously a key crucial battleground state as is Ohio.

What are they actually expecting in terms of turnout in the middle of all of this?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, if you talk to county department election officials here, they will tell you that they really didn't expect a high turnout because of pre-voting. Already they've had a million Democratic votes cast as a result of that pre- voting. But I got to tell you, I've been here for three hours now. The polling center here has been open for two. And just now right before you came to me, the 10th voter walked into this polling site here in Hialeah.

I had the opportunity to talk to one man who came out with that "I voted" sticker. He was definitely older than 65, so that vulnerable population that we've heard health officials talk about, and I asked him why he decided to come today. He said he was a diabetic person, but he felt that if you have the right to vote, you ought to use that right. And he said that was enough to make sure that he got out today to vote.

But, you know, when you talk to the workers who were at this polling site, the people who are interacting with voters when they come, they will tell you that coronavirus is definitely a concern and part of the turnout. But, again, election officials pointing to the fact that so many people mailed in ballots and took part in early voting, being one of the causes behind such low turnout today.

But again, we've only had two hours of the polls being open here in Florida. The mayor, Miami-Dade County mayor has said that he plans to call for the closing of restaurants, bars and gyms. And this comes after -- let's go over the numbers here. Florida has had 154 cases reported and five deaths.


And we expect those numbers to increase as tests come in in a state where one in five are over the age of 65. So, again, that vulnerable population that is very much a part of Florida -- Poppy.

HARLOW: The vulnerable population, it makes up 20 percent of the state. I mean, it's remarkable.

Leyla, thank you for that reporting in Hialeah for us.

We have a lot ahead including a stark warning from top health officials. Hospitals, doctors, they don't have enough supplies to get us through the coronavirus pandemic. Details next.

And will small businesses be able to survive this crisis? You, your friends, your neighbors feeling this, we will bring you the plight of those business owners right here.

We're also watching Wall Street. Futures are higher this morning after a 3,000-point decline for the Dow yesterday. The worst in more than 30 years. Stay with us for the open.


HARLOW: All right. So a huge development overnight. Top U.S. healthcare officials are now sounding the alarm and warning there is not enough in terms of medical supplies equipment like masks and gallons and gloves in the national stockpile.


And maybe even worse, they don't have a solution for that shortfall yet. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is with me. How can this be?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. Poppy, you know, we have this national stockpile, it is for situations just like this. But now federal officials saying the stockpile is not going to be enough to get us through this crisis. There was a call with medical professionals, the Department of Health and Human Services had a call, a conference call yesterday, and they said, look, we are working on a solution.

This morning, the governor of New Jersey saying on the "Today" show, look, we don't have even a fraction of what we need, and he said that they are, you know, hoping to get more supplies, he said right now, one of his number one priorities is getting enough personal protection equipment for healthcare workers.

And, Poppy, it cannot be over emphasized how important it is that these healthcare workers are protected for their own health, and also so that they can take care of all of us, and also if they're not protected and they get infected, often people are contagious without having symptoms, they could be infected and then infect frail patients in their care.

HARLOW: Do you have a sense, Elizabeth, in terms of how long it will take before we overcome this shortage? Meaning, you know -- I mean, there's been talk about the White House being able to mandate that companies that make this stuff accelerate that, there is an act passed in 1950 that could help toward this.

COHEN: You know, all of that, I think will help, Poppy, but the -- you know, but the bottom line is that you can't invent this stuff. It can't be made overnight. It is going to take some time for this to be resolved. If you remember the nursing home in Washington that had those --

HARLOW: Yes --

COHEN: Deaths recently, you know, they said that their supplier told them, look, we're within two weeks of not being able to send you any new supplies.

HARLOW: Right --

COHEN: That is not good news.

HARLOW: Elizabeth, thank you for that sober report, we appreciate having the facts. Joining me now to talk about all of this, our medical analyst Dr. Celine Gounder; clinical assistant professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at NYU here in New York City.

And Dr. Asaf Bitton, a primary care physician and public health researcher, thanks to you both for being here. And Dr. Gounder, let me just begin with you. It feels like a lot changed overnight with this admission from HHS that we just don't have enough to take care of people.

CELINE GOUNDER, CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE & INFECTIOUS DISEASES AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Well, let me just share with you a message that I got, this is from a young woman who I mentored up in Boston.

She sent me this text last night, she says, "sorry for the delay, I've been called in as backup for sick and exposed residents. It's terrifying. Everyone here similarly enveloped in dread, dozens already furloughed several floors out of hand sanitizers and gloves and hospital running low on personnel protective equipment, asking us to re-use.

Yes, I was exposed but tested negative, just a bit scared", and I asked her, well, how long ago were you exposed? She says four days ago. Average incubation period is five to six days, and we normally quarantine up to 14. And I said to her, you know, you do need to keep monitoring your symptoms? Here in New York City, instead of using N95 masks, many of the hospitals are using surgical masks. Because people have those --

HARLOW: And the 95 are the stronger --


HARLOW: More protective ones.

GOUNDER: And meanwhile, those are sitting in boxes in people's homes --

HARLOW: Yes --

GOUNDER: People who get to stay home and quarantine at home while we are having to care for patients. I mean, it's our duty.

HARLOW: On the front lines.

GOUNDER: Right --

HARLOW: But people at home don't need that. We don't need those N95 masks.

GOUNDER: Yes, exactly. And so one of the biggest things you could actually do as a contribution here --

HARLOW: Yes --

GOUNDER: If you have a supply of those, take them to your nearest hospital --


GOUNDER: Help us out.

HARLOW: OK, Dr. Bitton, to you, what about children? Because this is a question I think we all -- every parent, all medical experts have been asking since the beginning, and something changed overnight in terms of the World Health Organization. Let me read you part of what they're saying. Quote, "we cannot say universally that it is mild in children." They go on to say, "it's important we protect them, one child that we're aware of has died." Do we fully understand how vulnerable children may or may not be to this?

ASAF BITTON, PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN: I don't think we fully understand. I think that the evidence so far globally certainly from China, Europe, et cetera, suggests that it's those who are older and who have chronic health conditions that are at the highest risk for severe morbidity, for mortality. But, you know, this thing -- this is happening so fast that it's hard to make clear and completely sure pronouncements. Mercifully, it looks like this is generally a milder disease in kids.

But I don't think that we shouldn't be so secure as to not take the necessary precautions we need to socially distance and try to keep them safe --

HARLOW: Yes, and Dr. Gounder, what about pregnant women? Again, a question I'm getting from so many friends and family members. The W.H.O. also issued a little bit new guidance on pregnant women, not in terms of fatality or anything like that, but in terms of just vulnerability.


GOUNDER: Well, we do know -- I mean, your state of pregnancy is an immuno-suppressive state. So, you are at high risk for certain infections, we saw that with H1NI, so far, we haven't seen really evidence that coronavirus is behaving like H1N1, we haven't seen mother-to-child transmission in pregnancy. But I would still caution if you're pregnant, you know, keep your distance, be especially rigorous about the social distancing.

HARLOW: There is, Dr. Bitton, a new study about a week old study out of London, and it's led by an epidemiologist named Dr. Neil Ferguson, I'm sure you've seen it, "The Times" has a big piece on it this morning, they shared it with the White House and the CDC, but it writes that if America does not change things now, rapidly, 2.2 million Americans could die.

And I am the last one to want to be alarmist, but the fact that the White House has considered this, the CDC, we heard how somber the message was from the president yesterday. Is that what we are really, potentially looking at in terms of a U.S. death toll?

BITTON: It's a disturbing study and it's a well done study. It's a model and all models rely on a set of assumptions. So, it can't fully predict the truth. But I would say that we need to be concerned. This thing -- the problem with this epidemic is that it forces us to think in a different way. It's moving exponentially and we are thinking linearly. So --

HARLOW: Yes --

BITTON: Things that we are doing now, like in San Francisco, and moving rapidly, we couldn't even imagine last week and we'll do the same next week. But we have to get in front of this because as that study and many others show, the trajectory is scary.

HARLOW: We heard Dr. Gounder, the president say yesterday this could last in the United States until July or August. That is a departure from when he had previously said in weeks prior that, you know, the warmer weather may take care of this, it may get better. What does science tell us about that, now that we're hearing actual months, July and August?

GOUNDER: Well, if you go back and look at the studies of the Spanish flu, the 1918 influenza pandemic, if you as a community really instituted very strict social distancing measures for at least a couple of months, we're talking about eight-plus weeks, you could really make a huge difference in terms of flattening the curve, really decreasing transmission. So, we are looking at doing that for at least eight weeks, and that's if we do it well. So, it's really on us to be very rigorous about it over the next couple of months.

HARLOW: Can I just ask you, Dr. Bitton, what does that really mean doing it really well? Because I still need to go to the grocery store for my family. That -- it just has to happen, right? And I'm less at risk, I'm in my 30s. But what is really effective social distancing when you still need to get groceries for your family, and I don't know that everyone can rely on delivery.

BITTON: Right. It's a great question. I mean, the most effective social distancing is the most minimum social contact with others and other public spaces. Of course, we all need food and we have to go to the grocery store. But when we go there, and we urge public officials to really reduce the number of people in a grocery store, maintain distance of at least six feet apart.

If you have to queue people in the line outside, make sure that they're distant. Wash your hands incredibly well before and after, and please don't go if you're sick. Try to limit the number of people that are coming out to the -- of each household to the minimum number of places for the minimum amount of time.

HARLOW: What are -- Dr. Gounder, what are we not talking about that keeps you up at night?

GOUNDER: I am so worried about my colleagues at the hospital, about the residents and the medical students. I mean, as I was saying, you know, this is what we're already seeing some places in Boston and very soon in New York. I am deeply concerned.

HARLOW: We're deeply grateful to them because they're the ones going to work every day to save people. Dr. Gounder, thank you, Dr. Asaf Bitton, we appreciate it very much this morning. In the middle of all of this, obviously, the economy matters so much to all of you at home. We're keeping a very close eye on the opening bell about to ring on Wall Street. There is a huge amount of volatility in the markets right now.

The Dow looks to rebound this morning when trading starts. Coronavirus fears have President Trump admitting the economy could fall into a recession. To get a sense of how much the economy has fallen in the past few weeks, the Dow is just 300 points this morning, ahead of where it was when the president took office. Next.



HARLOW: All right, so we're moments away from the opening bell after the Dow plunged 3,000 points on Monday, the biggest point drop in 30 years. The president did concede we may be headed for a recession. Before we get to the opening bell, let's get to Lauren Fox with an incredibly important development overnight on Capitol Hill, this bill that everyone thought was going to pass, that was going to give all sorts of help to people in need, has changed in a really important way. LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, essentially all day

yesterday, Poppy, there were a lot of negotiations about how to craft this Technical Corrections Bill. And that's a little bit in the weeds. But remember, this is a piece of legislation that was intended to give people incentives to stay home when they're sick, to be able to take care of their families, as so many students are going to be home from school.

And so one of the concerns was how do you structure this paid sick leave provision. And there are concerns from some Democrats that the way that it was structured in the Technical Corrections Bill may be a little bit different than what they intended. But I will tell you that this is expected to pass in the Senate.