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Ohio Governor Close Polls Today Over Coronavirus; White House Finally Acts to Slow Coronavirus; Another Record Plunge on Wall Street; France's Macron Closing Country's Border Today; Middle East Shutting Down as Virus Spreads; Another Surge of Cases in Italy; Coronavirus Clears the Air in China. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 17, 2020 - 04:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight: Ohio battleground's primary has been postponed due to coronavirus. The governor ignoring an order from a judge who refused to stop the vote.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: People acted, states acted, 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.


ROMANS: He gave himself a 10 out of 10 on the coronavirus response, but a 3,000-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average says something else. Why futures are looking better today.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. Thirty minutes past the hour here in New York.

This morning, the ripple ground effect hitting a major battleground state. After a day-long saga, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announcing late last night polls will be closed today due to worries about putting voters and poll workers at risk of spreading coronavirus. 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's not clear how the court will respond to the governor's decision.

Here's Ohio secretary of state.


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.


ROMANS: Before the decision was made, the president said he didn't think the primary 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.


ROMANS: 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 coronavirus concerns.

JARRETT: Americans face restrictions getting tighter by the day. States are doing their part for sure and yesterday, the White House finally seemed to accept reality, taking a more subdued and serious approach demanded by a time of crisis. In a plea to the country, especially millennials, 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.


ROMANS: August, could be July. Those were numbers that got a lot of attention. There are now almost 4,500 coronavirus cases in the U.S. six times more than one week ago. There have been 87 deaths in the U.S. West Virginia the only state without a case.

Sights 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, California, the future of those and other businesses very much in doubt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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.


JARRETT: 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 the house between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. A curfew is also on the table from New York City where cancellation of elective surgeries and speedy discharge of patients is expected to free up 7,000 more beds.

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

JARRETT: 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.


JARRETT: 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.


ROMANS: All right. 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 own boarders. The WHO director warns social distancing will not be useful unless the governments can ramp up testing.


The FDA has now updated guidance to speed up testing by allowing states to authorize tests developed by labs in their state.

All right. Stocks looking to regain some of their losses after the biggest point drop in American history. Looking at markets right now, a bounce back is predicted, but, you know, barely taking away some of the gains from yesterday.

Let's look at markets around the world. In Asia, kind of a rocky finish, trying to find footing there. European shares have opened higher, but they are -- now they've turned mixed. So, we'll watch very closely to see what the reaction is there.

Look, it was an ugly day on Wall Street on Monday. Really ugly. The Dow fell nearly 3,000 points, a record point drop, the worst percentage drop since Black Monday 1987.

The Dow now up just 300 points since Trump's inauguration. President Trump, of course, is taking credit for stock market gains. 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 that possibility. Once the virus is contained, he predicted a tremendous surge in the economy as a result of pent up demand.

In the meantime, pain. Goldman Sachs warns stocks could plunge another 16 percent before rapidly recovering. Moody's Analytics finds nearly 80 million jobs in the economy are at risk of either cut hours or smaller paychecks. President Trump's former top economist predicts a million jobs lost in the next jobs report.

The airline industry is asking for $50 billion in federal help, and U.S. airports are asking for $10 billion in aid. Canceled flights, of course, means less business.

Now, the flip side of all of these people staying home, shopping online. Amazon says it will hire 100,000 new positions to fill all these online orders.

JARRETT: Coronavirus is creating real hardships for American families. Most parents have worked from home on the occasional sick or snow day, but doing it for weeks or even months with kids at home can be really daunting. Throw in social distancing and it gets even more complicated. There are more than 37 million students home from school this morning. Seventy-two thousand schools are now closed.

ROMANS: In Georgia, where schools close tomorrow, one mom has been depending on technology to keep tabs on her daughter.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to work. I had to kind of do this this way as a parent to make sure that, you know, she was in a safe environment. That was my concern.


ROMANS: In Indiana, idle school bus drivers are trying to make good use of their time by delivering meals.


MELISSA CRASH, BUS DRIVER: Actually helping us also. With us not being able to work and do what we do every day, to actually come and do this.


ROMANS: Experts are offering this advice to home bound parents. Set a tone of understanding, empathy, establish a routine early and stick with it.


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


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

ROMANS: It is nice to see how people are trying to take care of their family.

JARRETT: Absolutely. Their loved ones.

ROMANS: The school bus drivers, I mean, it's nice to see people helping each other.

All right. Drastic new measures in place worldwide to keep the virus from spreading. CNN live around the world, next.



ROMANS: 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 crossings 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.

JARRETT: France's president announcing the country's borders will close today and that gatherings of all sizes are now banned nationwide. Emmanuel Macron telling his nation we are at war with coronavirus.

CNN's Jim Bittermann is live in Paris for us.

Jim, how are folks coping with this new reality?

JIM BITTTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I thought I'd give you an idea, Laura, what it looks like in the little village where I'm hunkered down and will be for the next 15 days. Basically, it's just outside Paris. As you can see, things are pretty quiet out here.

But the last I'd say 24 hours at least while rumors of this lockdown were starting, people were out shopping in all kinds of numbers, and basically causing a lot of lines everywhere and a lot of holdups and sometimes some anger. As well people were trying to get to train stations, trying to get out of the cities, out of Paris, for example, to places like this where I think they think that the life might be better for the next 15 days than it would be sitting in an apartment in Paris.

So there are a lot of people leaving the cities today. I saw yesterday, saw some people coming off the trains with their baggage for what they're going to need the next couple of weeks. The one thing I should say is that the interior minister said yesterday after the president spoke, he said that, in fact, this period of 15 days could be prolonged and that's something I think that probably set a little bit of fear through France because 15 days you could live with, something longer, maybe not.

To move -- you can move around to get essential items like your food, and medicine, things like that.


If you're an essential business, too, you can go to work everyday if you're in one of the businesses like in the medical trade, or if you're one of the workers in the food stores, things like that, but you have to fill out this, a form you download from the interior ministry and you have to carry it with you. It basically says your name and everything.

And you have to carry it with you at all times. There are fines if they find you out and about against the regulation that is have been put down -- Laura.

JARRETT: You can just imagine the scrambles, everyone trying to get what they need before the lockdown. But it looks like you are in a very nice idyllic scene there with the birds chirping. Jim, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Coronavirus is changing daily life across the Middle East. Prayers are being canceled. Great religious sites closed. The pandemic compounding war, famine, financial collapse and political unrest.

CNN's Arwa Damon is live in Istanbul with more.

Hi, Arwa.


Yes, the region is unique in a sense that there are so many vulnerable populations here in countries that are, even before all of this, largely isolated. If we take Iran, for example, where the epicenter for the coronavirus virus outbreak in the Middle East still remains, a country that is already struggling, a country whose leaders are saying that the sanctions that have been imposed on it are severely impeding its health infrastructure, had even before this. And now, they are struggling.

Leaders are arguing even more than they need to. The UAE has sent two aid planes over to Iran. Other countries are taking pretty drastic and fairly quick measures like where we are in Turkey, they have banned flights. They've shut schools down. Now they're closing down restaurants, bars, public play spaces for children trying to keep the outbreak here under control.

But if we talk about areas that are really going to potentially be nightmare scenarios if and when the coronavirus really arrives there, if we look at Syria, for example, especially the population in, say, Idlib province, they can't even begin to follow the guidelines to try to keep themselves potentially safe or clean. They can't distance themselves from one another. They're crammed into this tiny space.

Wash your hands. Many don't even have soap or access to it, nor to clean water or any sort of other sanitary precautions that they would need to take.

Yemen, another war-torn, incredibly impoverished country facing the same kind of potential crisis. Even nations within the Middle East that do have decent medical infrastructure say they themselves are going to struggle to contain this. There is still a lot of flow within the region.

People cross borders quite often and there are grave, grave concerns as to whether or not governments throughout the Middle East are accurately reporting the number of cases that have emerged, never mind even beginning to take the necessary measures.

ROMANS: Certainly real challenges there.

All right. From Istanbul, Arwa Damon, thank you, Arwa.

JARRETT: Well, another huge jump in coronavirus cases in Italy. More than 3,200 new cases in just the last 24 hours. CNN's Delia Gallagher is live in Rome with more for us -- Delia.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL: That's right, Laura. We've got a total now of 28,000 cases nationwide and, of course, half of those are in the north. So the north is really still under quite a lot of pressure.

The focus right now in the north is on hospital beds. They are building a new temporary hospital with some 400 beds according to the president of the Lombardi region. An American NGO called Samaritan's Purse has come over to the town of Crimona, and they are also building a 60-bed temporary hospital.

There's also been a call for blood donations. That has become important in all of the regions throughout Italy, especially in the north.

The prime minister yesterday announced 25 billion euros to go towards this crisis. They say that's the first step. There will be another one in April that will go towards health care, but also wages for workers who are finding themselves right now without their monthly salary.

Pope Francis as well on Sunday walked the deserted streets of Rome. He left the Vatican briefly in the afternoon and he went to two churches in Rome. One of them in particular he went on foot to a famous crucifix which back in 1522 Romans believe saved them from the plague. The Vatican says the pope was praying for this city and the world and an end to the pandemic -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right. Delia Gallagher, thanks so much for that.


Well, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he has secured the support of G7 leaders to hold the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer in their complete form. Abe would not commit to a time frame on the event when asked about the possibility of delaying the start of the games. The prime minister is also calling on the G7 nations to coordinate efforts to develop a vaccine for coronavirus.

ROMANS: All right. Can stocks begin to recover after a historic down day for investors? CNN Business has a look at Wall Street and markets around the world, next.



ROMANS: All right. Take a look at markets around the world. You can see a mixed performance in Asia and European shares have now all turned lower, really important to watch that here.

On Wall Street, looks like a bit of a rebound after a really terrible day. I mean, a 1 percent bounce in Dow futures is not really much to write home about after you look -- considering the historic selloff we saw yesterday. Almost 3,000 point decline for the Dow. More on that in just a few minutes.

JARRETT: And cities like Beijing and Shanghai, the skies are normally darkened at this time of thick, choking smog. Industry is usually ramping up production around the lunar New Year. But in 2020, the year of coronavirus, manufacturing is nearly dead and blue skies are the new normal.

Here's Ivan Watson.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what Chinese cities usually look like this time of year, thick smog blanketing the skyline, but this year there's something different in the air. Blue skies in several Chinese cities the air pollution has improved, especially Wuhan, the original epicenter of the deadly coronavirus.

The facemasks many Chinese used to wear to filter out polluted air now worn to protect against the virus. NASA and the European space agency released satellite images from January showing Wuhan's nitrogen dioxide levels and the dramatic drop in February after 11 million people there were guaranteed.

LAURI MYLLYVIRTA, CENTRE FOR RESEARCH AND ENERGY AND CLEAN AIR: CO2 emissions for the past four weeks are down by at least 25 percent because of the measures to contain the coronavirus.

WATSON: For the world's biggest polluter that, could mean a drop of 200 million tons of carbon dioxide.

MYLLYVIRTA: This is more dramatic than anything else that I've seen in the impact on emissions but, of course, the impact on people's lives and the economy was equally dramatic.

WATSON: The Centers for Research and Clean Air says the consumption of coal fired systems has a 36 percent drop compared to last year. Their research also shows carbon emissions from the aviation industry plunging due to falling demand and widespread travel restrictions.

But Greenpeace says improved environmental conditions may be temporary if China ramps up industrial output to boost the economy.

LI SHUO, SENIOR CLIMATE POLICY ADVISER, GREENPEACE: The political attention of the Chinese leaders will be distracted, I mean, in the short term, you know, to cut down the outbreak of the coronavirus. And that might distract them from other important social economic issues, including the need to fight climate change.

WATSON: In neighboring Hong Kong, air quality has also improved as the virus triggered partial shutdown.

PATRICK FUNG, CLEAN AIR NETWORK: A lot of people who went from home and that's reduced traffic volume and reduced traffic congestion.

WATSON: Activists like Patrick Fung have been warning about the long- term impact of air pollution in his home city for years. His Clean Air Network released this dramatized public health warning.

FUNG: There's 1,500 premature death one year alone in Hong Kong that is caused by air pollution.

WATSON: Now Fung says this brief period of clean air should be a wake-up call.

FUNG: If we want the children, the elderly to live healthily in Hong Kong, then we should figure out how to make business as usual change.

WATSON: There's nothing business as usual about a global epidemic that's claimed thousands of lives, but in the short term, this public health crisis for humans may actually be helping the environment.

Ivan Watson, CNN.


ROMANS: That's something.

All right. Ivan, thank you for that.

All right. Lots of items have disappeared from the store shelves in the coronavirus crisis, not the least of which is hand sanitizer. The shine distillery of Portland, Oregon, is using spare spirits to mix homemade hand sanitizer to give away for free.


JONATHAN POTEET, OWNER, SHINE DISTILLERY: I'm giving it away to not only the customers but we're giving it away to anybody who walks in the front door and needs it. We're trying to keep our neighborhood healthy and happy, and like we've been telling people, we're just two guys with a crew of 15, 20 people stepping up doing what we think is the right thing to do in this moment of need.


ROMANS: The owners say as long as they're not making a medical claim or selling the hand sanitizer, they are allowed to make it and give it away.

JARRETT: Production on late night shows has been shut down because of coronavirus. But Jimmy Fallon shared a song he wrote for his kids to do their part.


JIMMY FALLON, LATE NIGHT HOST (singing): Wash your hands, wash your hands don't touch your face if you wash your hands and don't touch your face, then the world will be a better place


JARRETT: Wash those hands. It's a simple message.

ROMANS: And don't touch your face. Thank you, kids.

JARRETT: EARLY START continues right now.