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Ohio Gov. DeWine Closes Polls Today Over Coronavirus; Tighter Restrictions Changing American Life; Middle East Shutting Down As Virus Spreads. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 17, 2020 - 05:30   ET




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

CHRISTINE ROMANS, 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.


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

ROMANS: It is, yes.

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour this Tuesday morning.

And the ripple effect from coronavirus hitting a major battleground state now. After a daylong saga, Ohio Gov. 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 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's not clear how the court will respond to the governor's decision.

Here's the Ohio Secretary of State.


FRANK LAROSE, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE (via telephone): What the health director has is broad authority to protect the health of Ohioans. There's a reason why that's 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 primaries should be moved.


TRUMP: I think postponing elections is a very -- it's not a very good thing. They have lots of room in a lot of the electoral places and I think 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 coronavirus concerns.

ROMANS: Americans face restrictions that are getting tighter day by day. States are doing their part and yesterday, the White House finally seemed to accept reality, taking the more subdued and serious approach demanded by a time of crisis. In a plea to the country, especially young people, the White House advised avoiding groups of more than 10 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, and that's what we are.

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS: Is this the new normal until the height of the summer?

TRUMP: We'll see what happens, but they think August -- it could be July. It 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. as well. West Virginia 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, and California. The future of those and other businesses is very much in doubt. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY ZEISER, BAR OWNER: How am I going to pay everybody? How's everybody going to pay their bills? How am I -- how am I going to pay my bills?

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


ROMANS: That sentiment is part of the reason a proposal from Sen. Mitt Romney is gaining traction, giving all American adults $1,000. It's also part of Andrew Yang's presidential platform.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, nearly seven 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 on the table for New York City where cancelation of elective surgeries and a speedy discharge of patients is expected to free up 7,000 more hospital beds.

JARRETT: A dire warning this morning 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 confirmed they have no solution for the looming shortfall but they're working on it.

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


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


ROMANS: Tremendous control of.

Then yesterday, this reality check.


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

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You had said it was, so I just want to clarify. 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: Some parsing there.

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

The WHO 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 own state.

ROMANS: All right, it's 5:36 a.m. in the east -- four hours to go until the opening bell on Wall Street, and can stocks stabilize after the biggest point drop in history?

Looking at markets in Asia, closing mixed. Europe has now turned lower. It's important to watch that mood there. They have been higher -- opened higher; now they're lower.

It was an ugly day on Wall Street -- really ugly. The Dow fell nearly 3,000 points -- a record point drop -- the worst percentage drop since Black Monday in 1987. The Dow now up just 300 points since President Trump's inauguration.

President Trump, of course, has taken 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 toward recession, the first time he acknowledged that possibility. Once the virus is contained he predicted a tremendous surge -- his words -- in the economy as a result of pent-up demand.

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


KEVIN HASSETT, FORMER CHAIRMAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: We think the second quarter is going to be about minus-five percent. And we think the jobs number in early April might be as much as minus-a million or so because there are going to be a lot of people -- nobody's going to get hired next week.


ROMANS: Probably the biggest negative month on record.

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 means less business.

The flipside of staying home -- all these people staying home -- shopping online. Amazon says it will hire 100,000 new positions to fill all those online orders.

JARRETT: Coronavirus causing all kinds of disruptions across the country now.

The College Board is canceling the SATs in May, throwing college applications into doubt for millions of teens. 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 is 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 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. "SNL" 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 & Shop and Dollar General will both create hours reserved for their senior shoppers.

Despite public concern about the food supply, officials say things are going to be fine.


MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER, HOUSTON, TEXAS: No 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 public schools for meals 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.


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 make, process, pack, and deliver the food could be sick or be ordered to stay home themselves.

JARRETT: The 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 the 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 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 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: It's 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 offering this advice to homebound parents. Set a tone of understanding and empathy. Establish a routine early and stick with it.




JARRETT: I love her hat.

Coronavirus did not stop Millie Erickson's family from celebrating her 100th birthday, serenading her from outside a window at her Massachusetts nursing home. The facility had to tighten visitation rules to protect their residents, so her family found a workaround. Millie says seeing her whole family gathered outside her window was the only present she needed.

ROMANS: I needed that story this morning. Happy birthday.

JARRETT: Happy birthday.

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



ROMANS: The number of coronavirus cases jumping by 15,000 since yesterday. There are now more than 173,000 COVID-19 infections worldwide and at least 7,000 deaths around the globe. New border closings, travel restrictions as countries struggle to keep the virus out.

Three of Europe's biggest carmakers -- 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 quote "we are at war with coronavirus."

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

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Laura. In fact, I'm just outside of Paris and people are already observing the lockdown that's going to take place in about an hour from now.

Nonetheless, in the last few hours in Paris and around Paris we've seen a lot of traffic out as people are going out to the stores trying to get last-minute to try to stock up on supplies and trying to get to the train stations to get to places just like this so that they can pass the next 15 days. That's what Macron said the original timing would be -- the next 15 days in lockdown. The confinement a l'italienne, as they're calling it here. So, like the Italians are doing.

There are some problems all over France. Of course, there are now more than 6,600 cases of coronavirus in the country. But even worse, some of those most severely hurt or severely afflicted are running out -- they're running out of hospital beds in the eastern part of the country. And so, the French military has been called in to helicopter the people -- the patients from where they are to where there are more hospital beds.

The health director was on the news this morning saying, in fact, that there are 9,000 -- or rather 2,000 hospital beds available with resuscitation equipment. So they're not worried about running out of beds at the moment but they've been saturated in the eastern part of the country -- Laura.

JARRETT: Yes, hospital beds are going to become a real issue in the coming days here as well. Jim Bittermann, thanks so much.

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

CNN's Arwa Damon is live for us in Istanbul with more on this part of the story -- Arwa.


Iran still is the epicenter of this outbreak for the Middle East and Iranian leaders have been very critical, especially of the United States, because they say that they are being forced into an even more critical situation due to the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran. And that that is causing their health care system to collapse further than it actually necessarily would have had those sanctions not been in place.

That being said, the UAE has sent two planes over to Iran to help bolster its health infrastructure. But that country is still in an extraordinarily dire situation and it's unclear if health officials there are going to be able to bring this outbreak under control. Remember, it is also something of a news dark hole.

As for other parts of the region compared to Europe, for example, low levels are being reported in a number of countries, including here in Turkey. Some pretty strict measures already being put into place. Turkey shut schools down last week. They have now closed restaurants, bars, and most public spaces, as well as most children's parks and other play areas. And they have banned flights from a number of countries.


And throughout the region, you do see these kinds of stricter measures being put into place.

There is, of course, great, great concern over a number of vulnerable populations in war-torn countries such as Yemen. Iraq, another one -- a country that has suffered heavily from years of war whose medical infrastructure is still very lacking. And then, of course, there's Syria. Right now, the Syrian government has not yet officially reported any cases, something that many experts are looking at and saying this is quite difficult to fathom. The Syrian regime does not seem willing to be carrying out testing in its population.

And then, of course, you have great concern over areas like Idlib where 3.5 million are trapped there. And even if they wanted to implement measures to keep themselves safe, such as social distancing or washing their hands. They can't -- there is not access to clean water, never mind access to soap or being able to sort of isolate yourself from the rest of a potentially-infected population. Not to mention there, the incredible strain on the remaining medical facilities.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

All right, Arwa Damon for us in Istanbul laying out that part of the story. Thanks, Arwa.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: All right, let's take a look at futures on Wall Street. Really erratic, I would say, trying to find a direction, trying to find some stability after historic losses on Wall Street yesterday. The Dow fell nearly 3,000 points, a record point-drop. The worst percentage drop since Black Monday in 1987.

The Dow not really far away from where it was on Inauguration Day in 2017. The S&P and the Nasdaq also sharply lower yesterday. Those are really big one-day declines, the biggest since Black Monday.

Now, police in Newport, Oregon are pleading with residents to stop calling 911 because they're out of toilet paper. It's getting so bad they had to put a notice on Facebook ordering citizens to stop calling the P.D. for T.P. They wrote, "It's hard to believe that we even have to post this. You will survive without our assistance."

Police then went on to offer alternatives to toilet paper and urged the people they serve to be resourceful.

JARRETT: It is really hard to find toilet paper in this city. I have searched far and wide.

ROMANS: If you had told me two months ago we'd have a toilet paper shortage, I would -- I would have laughed.

JARRETT: Well, coronavirus is, of course, no laughing matter but legendary comedian Mel Brooks and his son Max put their spin on social distancing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAX BROOKS, SON OF MEL BROOKS: If I get the coronavirus, I'll probably be OK. But if I give it to him, he could give it to Carl Reiner who could give it to Dick Van Dyke. And before I know it, I've wiped out a whole generation of comedic legends.


JARRETT: And they emphasized the message with the hashtag #don'tbeaspreader. The 93-year-old Brooks is in the age group deemed to be high-risk for coronavirus.

A good message there.

ROMANS: I like that.

JARRETT: A little PSA. You've got to like that.

Well, moments after Ohio restaurants were ordered to shut down because of coronavirus -- the crisis -- a regular customer at Coaches Bar & Grill in Columbus left a $2,500 tip for the staff on a $30.00 tab. The customer wrote on the bill "Please split this equally between Tara, Nicky, Jim, Elizabeth Warren, and Arrun." The owner of Coaches says he is heartened by the generosity.

ROMANS: A brother and sister in Clintonville, Ohio wanted to break the isolation coronavirus is imposing on many, especially older people. Taran and Calliope Tien, ages nine and six, put on an impromptu concert for their 78-year-old neighbor Helena. They put on their Sunday best and played their hearts out, carefully observing social distancing just to be safe.

JARRETT: Production on late-night shows is shut off because of coronavirus but Jimmy Fallon shared a song he wrote for his kids to do their part.



Wash your hands, wash your hands, don't touch your face. If you wash your hands, then do not touch your face and the world will be a better place.


JARRETT: Jimmy Fallon's best song yet, I think.

ROMANS: I think so, too. Wash your hands, don't touch your face.

And you know what? That story about the tip at the -- at Coaches --


ROMANS: You know, I might go today and buy a couple of --

JARRETT: Gift cards, yes.

ROMANS: -- gift cards for some of the local restaurants and a --

JARRETT: A great way to support local restaurants.

ROMANS: -- new shop that just opened. I just think that's a real important gesture -- what we can all do in the economy.

JARRETT: Absolutely.

ROMANS: All right, so long, everybody. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

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


TRUMP: My administration is recommending that all Americans avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): We can't conduct an election in Ohio and meet that recommendation.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would hope the governors listen to the public health experts. I'm thinking about some of the elderly people sitting behind a desk. Does that make a lot of sense? I'm not sure that it does.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We've been behind this disease all along. Let's get ahead of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My major concern is am I going to live through this. So whatever we need to do to stay alive, then that's what we need to do.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, March 17th, 6:00 here in New York.