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EARLY START

Governor DeWine of Ohio Closes Polls Today Over Coronavirus; 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; Coronavirus Concerns Wipe Out Sports Calendar. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 17, 2020 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:00:00]

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Wash those hands. It's a simple message.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And don't touch your face.

JARRETT: And don't touch your face.

ROMANS: Thank you, kids.

JARRETT: EARLY START continues right now.

(MUSIC)

ROMANS: Breaking overnight. Ohio's battleground primary postponed because of coronavirus. The governor ignoring an order from a judge who refused to stop the vote.

JARRETT: People acted, states acted, now the White House finally takes its cue. New restrictions on gatherings nationwide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: He better hope so. A 3,000 point drop after the federal reserve failed to calm investors. Why futures are looking better today. Can it hold into the opening bell?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Tuesday, March 17th, St. Patrick's Day. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

ROMANS: Subdued St. Patrick's Day, isn't it?

JARRETT: Very much so. The ripple effect from coronavirus hitting a major battleground state this morning. 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 the 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 the Ohio secretary of state.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

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.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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 facing restrictions getting tighter by the day. States are doing their part. And yesterday, the White House finally seemed to accept reality, taking a more 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: There are now almost 4,500 coronavirus cases in the U.S., six times more than a week ago. There have been 87 deaths in the U.S. West Virginia is now 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Well, that sentiment is part of the reason that proposal from Senator Mitt Romney is gaining attraction, giving all-Americans and adults $1,000. It was also part of Andrew Yang's platform in the Democratic primaries.

In the San Francisco Bay, they're under the authority of leaving the House between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. A curfew is also on the table for New York City where cancellation of elective surgeries and speedy discharge of patients expected to free up 7,000 more beds.

ROMANS: We've seen before 2008 they gave tax rebates to taxpayers, $1,200 per married couple, $600 for individuals. There's precedent for that. Looks like it's getting traction both sides of the aisle. We'll see if that actually happens.

All right. A dire warning from top health officials as they don't have enough medical equipment to cope with coronavirus, that includes masks, gowns, gloves. Officials from health and human services confirmed they don't have a solution but they're working on it.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Then, yesterday, a reality check.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 -- (CROSSTALK)

[05:05:00]

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: 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 may not be useful unless 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. Can stocks stabilize today after the biggest point drop in American history? Asian shares, mixed. European shares also mixed. You know, just not a strong bounce back really from an awful, awful day on Wall Street, and it was awful.

Take a look at this, the Dow fell nearly 3,000 points, a record point drop. The worst percentage drop since Black Monday in 1987.

The Dow is now just 300 points higher than where it was at President Trump's inauguration, 300 points. President Trump is taking credit, of course, for stock market gains.

He said this Monday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The president said the U.S. may be heading towards 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, though, pain. Goldman Sachs warned stocks could plunge another 16 percent before rapidly recovering. Moody's Analytics finds nearly 80 million jobs in this economy are at risk of cut hours or smaller paychecks.

President Trump's former top economist predicts 1 million jobs lost in the next jobs report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN HASSETT, FORMER ECONOMST, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We think second quarter will be about minus 5 percent and we think the jobs number in early April might be as much as minus 1 million or so because there are going to be a lot -- nobody is going to get hired next week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The airline industry is asking for about $50 billion in federal health and U.S. airports are asking for $10 billion in aid. Canceled flights mean less business.

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

JARRETT: Supermarkets across the country frantically working to restock their shelves. Some are taking steps to protect their older customers most vulnerable to coronavirus. Stop and Shop and Dollar General will both create hours reserved for senior shoppers.

Despite public concerns about food supply, officials say things are going to be just fine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

ROMANS: They only had duck eggs in my grocery store. Just duck eggs.

JARRETT: Yes, the aisles are just decimated. You can't get any toilet paper.

ROMANS: It's so interesting.

All right. Students who depend on their schools for meals, they could go hungry if they're stuck at home. There are now programs in some states to hand out food but it may not be enough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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.

All right. Drastic new measures in place worldwide to keep the virus from spreading. As only CNN can, we are live in London, Berlin, Paris and Istanbul.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:13:01]

JARRETT: All right. Welcome back.

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 now on the line.

ROMANS: All right. 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 vow to be better prepared this time. Now the U.K. is introducing stringent measures to stop the spread of the infection.

Phil Black live from London with the latest developments.

Hi, Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi.

The U.K. government has really shifted its position in just a few days. Late last week, its core message was wash your hands and if you have symptoms stay home for 7 days.

Now it has unveiled just a few days later a whole range of new measures, including work from home, including no socializing at all. No pubs, clubs, restaurants. No dinner parties. Really avoid all unnecessary contact.

If one person in your home falls ill, the entire household has to stay isolated. There's a new extraordinary measure for people deemed to be at risk, those over 70, pregnant or with underlying health issues are being told to isolate themselves in their homes for at least seven months. Now, it's pretty clear the British government didn't want to disrupt the whole areas of society, reluctant to force people into long term isolation.

But it has always said that it is following the signs. And what has shifted over the last few days are the scientific predictions which pointed to much higher and faster rates of infection and much higher mortality rates.

[05:15:03] As many as hundreds of thousands of people being killed in the U.K. alone unless these new measures were adopted. The prime minister himself describes them as draconian and drastic. This was him speaking yesterday explaining why he believes it's also necessary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: So one thing that Britain isn't doing yet, that is closing schools. That might change but there's a real reluctance to do it because the thinking is if you shut down schools, then health workers with children, other key workers in the government's response to the virus will make it -- find it much harder to get to work where they are so desperately needed.

ROMANS: Yes, that's a really good point.

All right. Phil Black for us in London, thanks, Phil.

JARRETT: So did the U.S. try to lure German scientists to the United States to create a coronavirus cure exclusively for American use? We have new information coming in overnight.

Senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen has the latest from Berlin.

Fred, seems like there's conflicting information here.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lot of conflicting information, Laura.

We're sort of trying to piece it together right now. What we do know is a company CureVac, which is a company in southern Germany that makes this vaccine which seems pretty bold about being able to make one in a pretty short amount of time. We know that they were in that meeting with President Trump and the pharma industry about two weeks ago and that they also spoke to President Trump about developing a vaccine as well.

Now, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, who is also, of course, the acting director of national intelligence, he says the report is not true that President Trump tried to get an exclusive vaccine for the United States. The company itself also says that it never received an official offer. However, the German government said, yes, they did deal with that. There were some measures of the German government, including the foreign minister, who criticized President Trump that it was out of the question for a German company to be developing a vaccine exclusively for one market. And then overnight, there was an interview with the main shareholder

of this company. He's also a founder of SAP and a billionaire here in Germany. He said he was informed by the company that there had been this offer by the Trump administration. He said it was clear immediately that this offer was out of the question, that it would not happen and that he shot it down pretty much immediately.

He also said that this company will try to develop a vaccine. He hopes that it will happen in record time. It won't be for one market exclusively. The company now saying that as well, that they are working hard on a vaccine but they are not going to develop it for one single market. They are going to do it for the entire world, guys.

JARRETT: Sure. Everyone rushing to do it as soon as possible, of course.

Fred, thanks so much. See you soon.

All right. Join Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta for our third CNN global town hall. "CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS" airs live Thursday night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

ROMANS: All right. Major sports events shelved because of coronavirus.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's "Bleacher Report" next.

(COMMECIAL BREAK)

[05:22:55]

ROMANS: All right. For the first time in 75 years, the Kentucky Derby will not be held on the first Saturday in May.

JARRETT: Carolyn Manno has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

How are you doing?

ROMANS: Good morning.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. How is everybody doing?

ROMANS: We're all right. I think we're hanging in.

Are you all right?

MANNO: We're doing OK.

ROMANS: OK, good.

MANNO: I mean, this is really the latest example of how sports has become a focal point in this crisis. Crowds of more than 150,000 do gather annually on the first Saturday in May to celebrate a tradition all the way to the 1800s. Churchill Downs is expected to announce the postponement of the race to September 5 of this year. That date coming from sources that I've spoken with close to the race and also multiple reports that are citing the same time frame right now.

The derby is the longest running sports event in America. It was last postponed during World War II, back in 1945, that Christine just alluded.

Meantime, Major League Baseball announcing the evening of the opening of the 2020 season has been pushed back indefinitely. The league says it is following the CDC recommendation that no gatherings of 50 people or more take place for the next eight weeks. That means the earliest that opening day can potentially take place is mid May.

NASCAR is suspending its season through May 3rd, with plans to return the competition in Martinsville, Virginia. NASCAR also says it still intends to hold all of 36 of its planned races this season. That's good news for racing fans.

And the USC is postponing its next three events. UFC President Dana White says that April 18th is still set to take place in Brooklyn, New York, but he would consider it moving out of the United States if necessary. The UFC raising eyebrows by being one of the only events to be held in an empty arena.

In Brazil, the NFL will go ahead with the 2020 draft. It will look considerably different than years past. All public events around the fan friendly event which was scheduled for April 23rd to 25th are now canceled. The event will be televised.

Donovan Mitchell remains isolation with the coronavirus but it's providing an update on how he's doing. Though he was asymptomatic, test results came back positive after his teammate Rudy Gobert was confirmed to be a career of the virus. That led to reports of tension between the two, because of how careless Gobert had been about spreading his germs.

[05:25:03]

And on "Good Morning America" yesterday, Mitchell was asked what his relationship is like with Robert now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONOVAN MITCHELL, UTAH JAZZ GUARD: It took a while, you know, for me to kind of cool off, you know? I read what he said and heard what he said. So, you know, I'm glad he's doing OK. I'm glad I'm doing well. I'm just really happy that -- I hate to say this, two of us, it wasn't the whole party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANNO: And finally, if you are at home and feeling a little bit stir crazy, maybe something lighter for you this morning. A lot of sports stars are with you, indoor three-point shooting contest here. The weapon of choice here, socks. NBA players not exempt from doing laundry as they continue practice time. Normally their schedules are full of games, practice, travel, treatments.

But we've soon a lot of this on social media in the last 24 to 48 hours. They're at home, too. TikTok videos.

ROMANS: I've played a lot of horse yesterday with my fourth grader, I've got to tell you. He is a mean competitor.

JARRETT: She's got three of them at home.

MANNO: Silver lining. We're learning a lot about athletes that we didn't know. What their true passions are.

JARRETT: Got to do something to pass the time.

ROMANS: Carolyn Manno, thank you.

JARRETT: Always good to see you, Carolyn. Thanks so much.

All right. The ripple effects of coronavirus. Everyone is feeling this nationwide. Now, one of the biggest primaries is off -- that was on the calendar is off. Ohio voters will have to wait even after a judge refused to budge.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END