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Coronavirus Could Swam U.S. Health Care System; Trillion Dollar Stimulus Plan in the Works; China Reports No New Domestic Coronavirus Cases; Partial Lockdown Considered for London; Coronavirus Crisis Grips Spain. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 19, 2020 - 04:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: A new barrier in the fight to slow coronavirus. Health care systems could be overwhelmed as the case count grows rapidly.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president signs a bill providing some emergency relief for families. A trillion-dollar stimulus plan is next. Will it be enough for small businesses struggling to survive right now?

We have reports this morning from Shanghai, London, Berlin and Madrid. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. You feel so far away from me but we're doing it for a good reason.

ROMANS: I know. That's right.

JARRETT: It's Thursday, March 19th. It's 4:00 a.m. here in New York.

An invisible enemy posing a very clear threat. Frontline medical workers across the country now report a dire shortage of materials to conduct tests for coronavirus. With the virus spreading more rapidly by the day experts say the U.S. health care system will be overwhelmed. Consider this warning from President Obama's Ebola czar.


RON KLAIN, FORMER U.S. EBOLA CZAR: We have hospitals that are going to start to break this weekend. Not weeks from now, not months from, in the next few days.


ROMANS: The case count in the U.S. approaching 8900, 149 people have died. Now both of those numbers essentially doubling in the last two days and they're only going up. Medical officials tell CNN to keep up they need more swabs and other materials even as commercial labs ramp up testing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SCOTT STEINER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PHOEBE PUTNEY HEALTH SYSTEM, SW GEORGIA: We have -- we have gone through five months, now six months' worth of supplies in less than a week and we are scrambling. We're scrambling and even to the point where -- these are N95 masks. We've got three days of supply of N95 masks on hand. In order to preserve these and get them to last longer we have begun -- we've got a team of people sewing masks together.

DR. ROD HOCHMAN, PRESBYTERIAN ST. JOSEPH, SEATTLE: In certain cases, it's just the availability of the appropriate swab in order to take the sample.

DR. MARK RUPP, INFECTION CONTROL CHIEF, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: We're in this situation now where we actually don't have the reagents to do the extraction from the samples so that we can run the tests.


JARRETT: Officials also warn there won't be enough resources, especially in more rural areas, if the outbreak grows at its current pace. That includes hospital beds, medical staff or equipment like ventilators. Two automakers could play a role here. GM and Ford both examining whether they can manufacturer ventilators at their facilities.

ROMANS: The White House also pleading with young people to practice social distancing. Scenes like this on Florida beaches show basic health and safety recommendations are being completely ignored. And new research shows young people are not as immune as once thought.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: There are concerning reports coming out of France and Italy about some young people getting seriously ill and very seriously ill in the ICUs.


ROMANS: The administration is in discussions with the tech industry, including Facebook and Google, about how to use Americans' cell phone location data to track the spread of coronavirus.

JARRETT: A coronavirus relief package has now been signed into law by President Trump. It includes free COVID-19 testing, expanded unemployment benefits, and two weeks of emergency leave with some caps on pay. But large companies are exempt and small companies can apply to be, so 70 million people may not benefit from this.

Now the Senate is focused on passing the next relief package, a trillion-dollar stimulus for a $20 trillion economy.

ROMANS: It provides $500 billion for cash payments to Americans, $300 billion for small businesses, $50 billion to bail out the airlines, $150 billion for other affected sectors. Small business owners in especially dire straits. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 800 people total that we had prepared the food for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've shut down our operation. We've closed our office, you know, so everybody's out of work. You know, and not getting paid.


JARRETT: Now a trillion dollars sounds like a huge amount of money, no doubt, but in the grand scheme proposals so far do not approach the kind of mobilization that came in response to previous crises like World War II or the Great Depression.

CNN politics senior writer Zach Wolf has more.

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: Good morning, Christine and Laura. I think the question a lot of people have right now is, is a trillion-dollar stimulus package even going to be enough? The entire U.S. economy is essentially at a standstill.


And a problem that we have to realize is that a lot of the things that governments usually people do to deal with a crisis like this were thinking about tax cuts or having interest rates near zero. The U.S. economy has had those things for years now so we don't have some of the tools that people normally associate with dealing with these kinds of problems.

There's also the idea that essentially they're going to bail out the airline industry which did stock buy backs. It's been gouging people with airline fees. That's going to rub a lot of people the wrong way. And then there's, how do you deal with these thousand-dollar payments that may or may not go out? Should there be some sort of means testing for them? Should they cut if off at $100,000?

Everybody below $100,000 gets on, everybody above, you know, doesn't? Or should you just give everybody this $1,000 payment in hopes that it, you know, floods the economy with money? And finally, are people going to be able to spend this kind of money? If they're all locked down in their houses through April, if they get a check, is that even going to help?

But with the U.S. economy at a standstill, the government has to do something and it's going to have to do it fast -- Christine and Laura.

ROMANS: All right, Zach, thank you for that.

Yes, there is no playbook for this. And that's why three years of stock market gains gone in just weeks. The Dow fell below 19,732 Wednesday afternoon, briefly dropping below the closing level of January 2017. That's the day before President Trump took office. But it inched back to close slightly above. But they're still finishing below 20,000 for the first time since February 2017. Trading is so volatile the S&P 500 plunged 7 percent midday,

triggering the fourth circuit breaker in a month. It closed 5 percent lower. Taking a look at futures right now, the mood still a little negative here, although 1 percent moves are a relief from the 6 percent move we saw yesterday.

Fears of a global recession are growing. Deutsch Bank thinks the collapse of the global economy could be the biggest since World War II. The Economic Policy Institute says the economic fallout from coronavirus could claim up to three million jobs by the summer. Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler are all halting production in the U.S. as the virus spreads.

Factory workers, of course, can't work from home. They work very closely touching the same surfaces and sharing tools throughout the day. The UAW said workers will receive unemployment insurance and pay from their employers that will add up to nearly their full play.

Meanwhile, other industries are asking for billions of dollars in federal help. The airline industry is asking for about $50 billion. The nation's airports asking for 10 billion. The nation's restaurants need a massive $325 billion bailout. There are 4.4 million bar and restaurant jobs in just the five states and New York City that have closed since Saturday. That's just a slice of what's going to hit the national labor market.

JARRETT: Two members of Congress have now tested positive for coronavirus, Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Ben McAdams of Utah. The Capitol physician is now in contact with other House members who may have been exposed. At least 20 lawmakers have announced plans to isolate or self-quarantine. Diaz-Balart says he is feeling much better after battling a fever and a headache.

ROMANS: Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is questioning the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. He's calling on everyone to, quote, "keep things in perspective while the nation copes with the crisis." Here's the perspective he wants to highlight.

He says, "97 to 99 percent will get through this and develop immunities and will be able to move beyond this. But we don't shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. We don't shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu." Senator Johnson insists he is not denying what a nasty disease COVID-19 can be.

JARRETT: For the first time since the outbreak, mainland China reporting zero new cases. CNN live around the world next.



ROMANS: Travel restrictions are expanding around the world to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Countries on every continent except Antarctica now have border closures and travel bans to stop the spread. Overnight Australia banned all noncitizens from traveling there. And CNN has learned Americans stranded around the world after transportation shutdowns and border closures are struggling to get help from the State Department.

JARRETT: Italy is already weeks into the crisis and just announced the single largest day rise in new cases. 4200. The country now has more than 35,000 cases. That could be a warning sign for the United States. Statistics show the U.S. growth numbers are on the same track as Italy.

ROMANS: All right. Developing overnight, a major milestone for China where the coronavirus outbreak first began.

CNN's David Culver is live in Shanghai with the latest. Hi, David.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Christine. This is pretty remarkable considering that in the past eight weeks, and that's when the lockdown took effect in Wuhan, when we were there and left hours before, we have learned that there are no new reported cases in mainland China as well as in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of all of this, in Hubei Province.

However, what we are seeing is an increase in imported cases. And you mentioned a short time ago some of those travel bans going into effect around the world. And initially those travel bans were taking effect against Chinese travelers and those traveling from mainland China. Now it seems that China is really concerned about folks coming from other countries into China, specifically within Beijing capital airport.

I can tell you that they are really stepping up some of their procedures so as to screen and block all travelers from just coming on in and going to hotels or their homes. Instead, they're being funneled through and put into government designated quarantine facilities that are all set up and in place right now.

Now within Wuhan and the Hubei Province as a whole, I mean, you've still got these extreme lockdowns that are still in place. People essentially sealed inside their homes and have been in that way for several weeks now. But what we have asked is when those will start to ease.


And it seems within Wuhan, even though you've got one day now, Christine, where they are showing no new cases, they're looking for 14 straight days, consecutive days that they see no new reported cases and then they'll begin to ease those up. So you still have another 13, and that's assuming that no new cases pop up between now and then.

ROMANS: All right, David Culver for us in Shanghai. Thanks, David.

JARRETT: CNN has learned London could face a partial lockdown in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. There's concern people are not taking the advice of British leaders to stay at home.

CNN's Matthew Chance is live in London for us.

Matthew, it sounds like folks there are just not listening to how serious this is.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think to some extent that's been the case. I mean, I've been personally walking around the streets of this area of London where I'm from, in Greenwich, over the course of the past 24 hours and there's people in pubs, still people in cafes, things like that. Exactly the kind of social interaction that the British government has been trying to encourage people, you know, not to take part in.

Look, the government itself has been criticized. Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, been criticized around Europe for not doing enough to try and prevent people from catching this devastating virus. The government has said, look, we've been following scientific advice all along. But, you know, in the past 24 hours or so that scientific advice appears to have changed quite radically.

The statistics are much more worrying. Many more people than were anticipated have become infected, particularly in London with this COVID-19 disease. And the government has been forced into action so it's announcing a number of measures. 24 hours ago it said for the first time after much pressure that schools across the country would finally be shut down. The students would be coming home by the end of this week for some of us.

My child, for instance, will be my child, tomorrow. They've been reluctant to do that because it puts pressure on families, of course, essential workers, people who work in the British health service, and the police, for instance, you know, what are they going to do with their kids if they're not in school? They might have to take time off from work which the government does not want at this stage.

But, you know, Boris Johnson now under enormous pressure to do more. And he is not ruling anything out. Take a listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We don't tend to impose those sorts of restrictions on people in this country, but I have to tell you, we will rule nothing out.


CHANCE: Right. Well, I actually used the words that he used then, but what he was referring to is the restrictions that have been placed in other European countries like Italy and France where you're seeing, you know, basically law enforcement actually enforcing a curfew. He doesn't want to do that. He says here in Britain it's sort of seen as, you know, for want of a better phrase, un-British to do that.

But, you know, this virus is developing so quickly. These infections are developing so quickly. Things that were unthinkable 24 hours ago in Britain are now actively being considered -- Laura.

JARRETT: Yes. Absolutely. The same is the case here. Everyone just trying to flatten the curve.

Matthew Chance, thank you so much.

ROMANS: All right. To Spain now where coronavirus cases are rising sharply and protective gear is very short supply across that country.

Al Goodman live in Madrid for us. Hi, Al.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine and Laura. This is one of the major hospitals in the Spanish capital. It has coronavirus patients and it's in my neighborhood. We were out in my neighborhood, this area down this way, talking to people about what it's like to live under this state of emergency where they basically have to stay home. Business is shut. Here's what we found.


GOODMAN (on camera): It's kind of difficult to recognize my neighborhood these days. Everything has changed because of coronavirus. This is the bar where I have my morning coffee. But like almost everything else in this country, it's closed.

Santi, how are you?

This is my friend Santiago. I've been buying office supplies from him for a decade.

(Voice-over): His printing shop is also closed and debts are mounting.

"I owe $10,000 to suppliers," he says, "But I can't pay them right now because the little I have must be for my family."

Small businesses need an urgent injection of cash. This coronavirus safety warning for doctors and nurses at the hospital across the street was his last printing job.

The people out of their homes going food shopping or to the pharmacy. Sales are down 50 percent, he says, but they have to stay open because they're an essential service.

"We have to be very careful," he says. "We don't have enough gloves for every day. We don't know when this is going to end."

And that's just in my neighborhood. Across Spain similar stories are told.



GOODMAN: Christine, hospitals are worried they may not have enough beds for the coronavirus patients. So also in my neighborhood, just down the street, this hotel is closed, no clients. It's going to reopen today as an auxiliary hospital to take some of the patients if necessary from this hospital down the street with medical personnel there.

Back to you, Christine. ROMANS: Wow. Remarkable. All right, thanks for that walk through the

neighborhood and the situation there in Spain.

Al Goodman, thank you.

All right, how are 42 million kids nationwide adjusting to school on a screen?


JARRETT: More than 42 million kids are now home from school nationwide. That's about 80 percent of students.


Virtual learning becoming the new normal during the coronavirus pandemic.


BRENNAN ELDER, SALVE REGINA CATHOLIC ACADEMY STUDENT: We'll be assigned work and then we have to take a picture of it and send it to them or we have to do it on Google Drive and then that's when we send it to them.


JARRETT: These teachers say they've had to deal with growing pains like communication issues with parents and kids and helping families get comfortable with tech.

ROMANS: Restaurants in dire straits across the country with revenues plummeting. They may wish they had a landlord like this one in Jonesborough, Arkansas. Young Investments CEO Joe Clay Young got a call from one of his restaurant owner tenants saying he didn't think he'd be able to pay the April rent. Young said, skip the check.


JOE CLAY YOUNG, PRESIDENT AND CEO, YOUNG INVESTMENTS: I said, I know you've got hourly employees, you got single moms, we're going to get through this together. And I said, let's just do April on one condition that you take care of your employees and take care of your family.


ROMANS: Young is waiving the April rent for all five of his restaurant tenants. It's nice to see.

JARRETT: Yes, it is.

Health care systems could be overwhelmed as the coronavirus case count grows rapidly by the day. Hear from doctors just trying to do their jobs.