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Ohio Puts Primary on Hold; White House Finally Acts to Slow Coronavirus; Another Record Plunge on Wall Street; Brits Urged to Avoid Pubs & Work From Home; Report: Trump Tried to Buy German Lab, Lock Up Cure. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 17, 2020 - 04:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight: Ohio's battleground primary is postponed because of coronavirus. The governor ignoring a governor from a judge who refused to stop the vote.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: People acted. States acted and now the White House finally takes its cue. New restrictions on gatherings nationwide.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The market will take care of itself. The market will be very strong as soon as we get rid of the virus.


JARRETT: He better hope so. A 3,000 point drop after the Federal Reserve failed to calm investors. Why futures are looking a little bit better today.

CNN is live this morning in London, Paris, Istanbul, Berlin and Rome.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, March 17th, St. Patrick's Day. It is 4:00 a.m. in New York.

And the ripple effect from coronavirus hitting a major battleground state. After a day-long saga, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announcing polls will be closed today due to worries about putting voters and poll workers at risk of spreading the virus. DeWine using a public health emergency to keep them closed. Earlier, a judge denied a request from DeWine to move the primary to June. It is not clear how the court will respond to the governor's decision.


FRANK LAROSE, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: What the health director has is brought the authority to protect the health of Ohioans. There's a reason why that created in law, because in a public health emergency such as this, difficult decisions are going to need to be made.


JARRETT: Before the decision was made the president said he didn't think the primaries should be moved.


TRUMP: I think postponing elections is a very -- is not a very good thing. They have lots of room and a lot of the electoral places. I think that they will do it very well. But I think postponing is unnecessary.


JARRETT: Primaries in three states, Arizona, Florida, and Illinois will go forward as scheduled today, with measures in place for social distancing. Kentucky, Louisiana and Georgia have already postponed their primaries over concerns over coronavirus.

ROMANS: Americans face restrictions getting tighter day by day. States are doing their part. And yesterday, the White House seemed to accept reality, taking the more subdued and serious approach demanded by time of crisis.

In a plea to the country, especially young people, the White House advised avoiding groups of more than ten and staying away from bars and restaurants through the end of the month.


TRUMP: We'd much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it. That's what we are.

REPORTER: Is this the new normal until the height of the summer?

TRUMP: We'll see what happens, but they think August, could be July, could be longer than that.


JARRETT: There are now almost 4,500 coronavirus cases in the U.S., six times more than just one week ago. There have been 87 deaths in the U.S. West Virginia now the only state without a case. Sites like this part of the new reality. Restaurants and other big gathering spots closing in states including Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington and California. The future of those and other businesses very much in doubt.


LARRY ZEISER, BAR OWNER: How am I going to pay everybody? How is everyone going to pay their bills? How. I going to pay my bills?

SUSAN HELLIER, OWNER, CABOT FARMERS' ANNEX: It affects a lot of people. We have factories, and farmers, the farmer's co-op. Yes, I don't know how that's going to look.


ROMANS: In the San Francisco Bay Area, nearly 7 million people are under orders to shelter in place. New Jersey residents are being strongly discouraged from leaving between 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. A curfew is on the table for New York City where cancellation of elective surgeries and speedy discharge of patients is expected to free up 7,000 more hospital beds.

JARRETT: A dire new warning from top health officials. The U.S. government does not have enough stockpiled medical equipment to cope with coronavirus. That includes basics like masks, gowns, and gloves. Officials from health and human services confirm they have no solution for the looming short fall but they are working on it.

ROMANS: The threat to the health care system underscores why President Trump's more somber tone yesterday really matters. Remember, this was the president on Sunday.


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


ROMANS: Then, yesterday, a reality check.


TRUMP: If you are talking about the virus, no, that's not under control for any place in the world. I think read --

REPORTER: You said it last --


TRUMP: No, I didn't, I was talking about what we're doing is under control but I'm not talking about the virus.


JARRETT: U.S. health officials say testing is ramping up but a shortage of available testing remains an issue, because of testing failures, the U.S. still does not know how many cases there actually are within its borders.


The World Health Organization director warns social distancing will not be useful unless governments ramp up testing. The FDA has now updated guidance to speed up testing by allowing states to authorize tests developed by labs in their states.

ROMANS: All right. Stocks looking to regain a little bit of their losses after the biggest point drop in American history. Let's take a look at futures right now. They are up just shy of 4 percent, still under 22,000 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Look at markets around the world. Asia, kind of rocky. I would say this one has been moving up and down all night. Not taking too many cues from the Asian markets just yet although European shares have opened and they have opened higher here.

A natural bounce back from what was an ugly, ugly day on Wall Street, one for the history books. The Dow fell nearly 3,000 points. The worst performance percentage-wise again since Black Monday in 1987. The Dow hasn't been this low since May 2017, almost three years of gains wiped away.

You know, President Trump uses markets as his personal scorecard. He said this Monday.


TRUMP: The market will take care of itself. The market will be very strong as soon as we get rid of the virus.


ROMANS: The president said the U.S. may be heading towards a recession. The first time he acknowledged the potential consequence of the outbreak. He said once the virus was contained, there will be a tremendous surge in the economy as a result of pent-up demand. For the record, the Dow is just up 1.8 percent since his inauguration, wiping away all of that Trump rally that he has bragged about for so long.

Goldman Sachs warns stocks could plunge another 16 percent before rapidly recovering. Analysis from Moody's Analytics shows 80 million jobs and the economy are at risk. That doesn't mean all those jobs will be lost by Moody's chief economist says millions of those workers could see some effects on their paychecks. The airline industry is asking for about $50 billion in federal help and U.S. airports are asking for $10 billion in aid.

Canceled flights mean less business. Amazon said it will hire 100,000 new positions to fulfill online orders.

JARRETT: Coronavirus causing all kinds of disruptions across the country. The College Board is canceling the SATs in May, throwing college applications into doubt for millions of tens. Major League Baseball says it's pushing back the opening of the 2020 season indefinitely. NASCAR will not race again until May. The WWE Wrestlemania will wrestle without fans in the arena and the Triple Crown will have to wait. The Kentucky derby on hold until September.

ROMANS: McDonald's is closing seating in its restaurants. Sephora, Nordstrom, Foot Locker, all closing up. Regal cinemas is shutting down all theaters nationwide until further notice. That's 7,200 screens in 42 states.

One of the biggest fashion nights on the fashion calendar, the Met Gala at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art postponed indefinitely. "Saturday Night Live" won't be around to find the lighter side of the pandemic. If there is one, it has suspended production.

JARRETT: Supermarkets across the country frantically working to restock shelves. Some are taking steps to protect older customers, most vulnerable to coronavirus. Stop and Shop and Dollar General will both create hours reserved for senior shoppers. Despite public concern about the food supply, officials say things are going to be fine.


SYLVESTER TURNER, HOUSTON MAYOR: You don't need to rush into the stores as if all of the food will be gone and there won't be any left to restock. No. No problem with the food supply chain and they will be able to restock the shelves.


JARRETT: President Trump asking all-Americans to band together and support neighbors by not hoarding unnecessary amounts of food and essentials.

ROMANS: Students who depend on their schools for meals could go hungry if they are stuck at home. There are now programs to hand out food but it may not be enough.


PAT YEARTA, ATLANTA PARENT: Parents can't afford to get the food. Yes, there's food stamps, but they do run out. So I think it's a good program that they're offering to the kids.


ROMANS: Despite all the assurances, concerns remain. The supply chain could be cut. A large number of workers who may process, pack and deliver the food could become sick or be ordered to stay home themselves.


CROWD (singing): Happy birthday, dear Millie, happy birthday to you.


JARRETT: Oh, coronavirus did not stop Millie Erickson's family from celebrating her 100th birthday, serenading her from outside the window at her Massachusetts nursing home. The facility had to tighten visitation rules to protect the residents. So, her family found a work around. Millie says seeing her whole family gathered outside her window was the only present she needed, at a very safe distance from Millie there.

ROMANS: Oh, let's take care of our elders. Happy birthday, Millie.

All right. But 10 minutes past the hour. Draconian new measures in place worldwide to keep the virus from

spreading. CNN live around the world, next.



JARRETT: The number of coronavirus cases jumping by 15,000 since yesterday. There are now more than 168,000 COVID-19 infections worldwide, at least 6,610 deaths around the globe. New border closings and travel restrictions as countries struggle to keep the virus out. Three of Europe's biggest car makers, Fiat Chrysler, PSA group and Renault are closing their plants. That's nearly 14 million workers whose jobs and income are on the line.

ROMANS: At the stroke of midnight, President Trump's travel ban expanded to include the United Kingdom. That follows a weekend of chaos and confusion at airports nationwide. Officials vowed to be better prepared now and the U.K. is introducing draconian measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Phil Black live from London with the latest developments.

Phil, good morning.



Yes, this is a really dramatic change in position for the British government. Keep in mind that only a few days ago, late last week, its core message was, wash your hands and stay home for seven days if you develop symptoms.

Now, there is a range of new restrictions and instructions for people. They include don't work from home if you can, of course, and don't socialize in public. No bars, restaurants, cafes, theaters. Don't go out. Don't have contact with people if you don't have to.

If one person in a household falls ill, then that entire household must be quarantined for at least 14 days. And there is this extraordinary step for people that are deemed to be vulnerable. Everyone over the age of 70, people with underlying health issues, pregnant women, they are being told to isolate in their homes for at least three months.

Now what is clear is the government really didn't want to do this. It was reluctant to shut down whole areas of British society and reluctant to force people into long-term isolation. In announcing these measures, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself described these as draconian and drastic, but he's always said we follow the science and the advice we give.

And what this means is that in recent days that scientific advice has really shifted and started to show that the infection rates and mortality rate are going to be much higher than previously thought. This as the prime minister explaining why these measures are necessary now.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We are asking people to do something that is difficult and disruptive of their lives, and the right moment, as we've always said, is to do it when it is most effective, when we think it can make the biggest difference to slowing the spread.


BLACK: An interesting point about these measures is the British government says it has no plans on enforcing them. It is simply advice. It is the British government asking people to do or not do things as required.

It does not believe, it says, that enforcement will be required because it believes that the British people are responsible and mature and they believe under the circumstances will do the right thing, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Phil Black for us in London this morning -- thank you, Phil.

JARRETT: Some big questions this morning about whether the U.S. tried to lure German scientists to the United States to create a coronavirus cure exclusively for American use. We now have new information coming in overnight.

Senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen has the latest from Berlin -- Fred.


Yes, we're trying to dissect this new information. There are really some conflicting messages that we're getting both from the company in question, which is a German company called CureVac from the Trump administration and then also from shareholders from that company. First of all, the U.S. ambassador to Berlin, Richard Grenell, who's also, of course, the acting director of national intelligence, he said the story is not true. The company came out yesterday and denied there was an official takeover bid.

However, the German government in the form of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the interior minister have both said that according to their information, the story is true, but they think that it has now been dealt with.

Now interesting, what happened last night is that there was an interview by the main shareholder, who's also the founder and CEO of SAP software company, he said that, yes, he was informed that there had been this offer from the Trump administration.

The company in question CureVac was actually in that meeting with President Trump and the pharma industry about two weeks ago. Their CEO was there. He said he was informed about this offer and that he immediately said

that absolutely this company would not produce a vaccine for exclusively one nation. In fact, they say if there is going to be a vaccine produced by this company, it is going to be for the entire world.

Some criticism that came for the Trump administration, from the German government and other German officials as well who are saying, look, they're dealing with a global health crisis right now. The last thing they want to do is have some sort of battle over who gets a vaccine first. And so, there was some criticism that came here from Germany. Right now the Germans, however, are saying this has been dealt with and the company seems to be staying here, actually filmed at that company two weeks ago.

And they seem pretty bold. They believe they can get a vaccine done in record time, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Fred, thanks so much for that.

ROMANS: All right. Nineteen minutes past the hour.

Through all the shutdowns, the quarantines, and the cancelations, people are banding together to help those in need in this crisis.



ROMANS: Actor Idris Elba revealing he's been diagnosed with coronavirus. The 47-year-old star says he feels OK and is showing no symptom. Elba says he got himself tested after being exposed to someone who contracted the virus.


IDRIS ELBA, ACTOR: There are people out there not showing symptoms and that can easily spread it, OK? So now is a real time to be really vigilant about washing your hands and keeping your distance.


ROMANS: Meantime, Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have been released from a hospital in Australia after being diagnosed last week. The couples now in self-quarantine at their home there.

Hollywood power couple Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have donated $1 million to food banks responding to the outbreak.


JARRETT: A brother and sister team there in Clintonville, Ohio, wanted to break the isolation coronavirus is imposing on many, especially older people.

[04:25:08] Taran and Calliope Tien put on an impromptu concert for their 78-year- old neighbor Helena. They put on their Sunday best, carefully observing social distancing just to be safe.

How nice is that? They're pretty good.

All right. The ripple effects of coronavirus being felt nationwide. Now one of the biggest primaries on the calendar is off. Ohio voters will have to wait even after a judge refused to budge.