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Coronavirus Could Swamp U.S. Health Care System; Trillion Dollar Stimulus Plan in the Works; NBA Commissioner Defends Coronavirus Testing. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 19, 2020 - 05:00   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 and soon enough for small businesses struggling to survive?


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

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Thursday, March 19th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

All right. Well, we start with this. An invisible enemy posing a very clear threat this morning. Front-line medical workers now reporting 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 8,900, 149 people have now died. Both those numbers essentially doubling in the last two days and they're going up. Medical officials tell CNN to keep up, they need more swabs and other materials even as commercial labs ramp up testing.


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 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 began -- 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 warned there won't be enough resources especially in rural areas if the outbreak rose at its current pace. That includes hospital beds, medical staff or equipment like ventilators.

Two automakers could play a role here. GM and Ford are both examining whether they can manufacture ventilators at their facilities.

ROMANS: The White House is pleading with young people to practice social distancing. Scenes like this one on Florida beaches show basic safety and health recommendations are being 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 American's cell phone location data to track the spread of coronavirus.

JARRETT: A coronavirus relief package has been signed into law by President Trump. It includes free coronavirus testing and two weeks of emergency leave, with some caps o pay. But large companies are exempt and small companies can apply to be. So, 70 million people may not benefit at all.

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

ROMANS: It provides $500 billion of cash payments for Americans, $300 billion for small businesses, $50 billion for airlines and $150 billion for other affected sectors.

Small business owners in especially dire straits. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight hundred people total that we had prepared the food for. Fundraisers to weddings, primarily, and some corporate things as well. But just everything is just shut down -- everything.

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


JARRETT: A trillion dollars sounds like a huge amount of money, 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 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 stand still. And the problem that we have to realize is that a lot of the things that governments usually do to deal with a crisis like this, 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 buybacks, 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 kind of means testing for them? Should they cut it off at $100,000? Everybody below $100,000 gets one. 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 there's lockdown in their houses through April, if they get a check, is that 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: Thanks for that, Zach.

No one's talking about deficits this time around when they're talking about bailouts or stimulus.

All right. Three years of stock market gains gone in weeks. The Dow fell the level not seen since President Trump first took office. It inched up at the close, but still closing below 20,000 for the first time since February 2017. Trading so volatile, the S&P 500 plunged 7 percent midday, that triggered the fourth circuit breaker in a month. They stopped trading. It closed 5 percent lower.

Take a look futures right now. It's been volatile all morning, trying to find some footing. Fears of a global recession are growing here. Deutsch Bank thinks the collapse of the global economy could be the worst, the biggest since World War II.

The Economic Policy Institute says the economic fallout from coronavirus could claim up to 3 million jobs by the summer. Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler all halting production in the U.S. as the virus spreads. The factory workers can't work from home. UAW said workers will receive unemployment benefits and pay from their employers that will add up together to nearly to their full pay.

Other industries are asking for billions of dollars in federal help. The nation's restaurants need $325 billion bailout. The National Restaurant Association needs help to support restaurants and a 15.6 million workers who depend on restaurants for jobs. That's just a slice of what's going to hit the labor market, the national labor market.

You'll start to see the numbers next week in weekly jobless data. And then you'll start to see just a cascading effect

JARRETT: And so many restaurants owners telling their workers to apply for unemployment benefits. But now, that system is being overwhelmed.


JARRETT: It's just really hard.

All right. Still ahead, for the first time since the outbreak, mainland China reports zero new cases. CNN has reports this morning from Shanghai, London, Berlin and Madrid.



ROMANS: Travel restrictions are expanding globally to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Countries on every continent except Antarctica now have border closures or travel bans to stop the spread. Overnight, Australia banned all citizens 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 weeks into the crisis and just announced the largest single day rise in new cases, 4,200. The country now has more than 35,000 cases. It could be a warning sign for the U.S. Statistics show the United States case growth numbers are on the same track as Italy.

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

CNN's David Culver live in Shanghai with the very latest -- David.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, normally, when we get the numbers from the national health commission here, they break it down in two parts, one being Hubei province, the epicenter of all of this, the other being the rest of mainland China.

For the first time since the start of this outbreak, we see both of those numbers for daily reported cases at zero. No new daily confirmed cases reported in the past 24 hours. That is significant but at the same time they're not breathing easy here. In fact, complacency is what they considered to be the greatest risk in all of this, thinking you got this beat.

And so, health officials are also citing that there are 34 new cases. Well, what do I mean by that? Those are imported cases. Those are cases coming in from other countries, according to Chinese officials. It's interesting to see travel bans having now been put in effect around the world against China. But now, China is concerned there are folks coming in from other countries into the People's Republic.

And so, what they are doing in places like Beijing, for example, at the capital airport, they have designated that every international passenger who's arriving be put through a screening process and then put into government designated quarantine facilities. They're taking no chance there. It's 14 days they will be screened, monitored, and allowed to continue on with their travels to Beijing or other parts of China.

They're also, Christine, interestingly enough continuing to increase hospital capacity and so we've talked about some of the tracing of some of this in China and hospital capacity's another big aspect to all of this in knowing that it's not over yet, that the resurgence or the second wave as some have called it could happen at any moment. So they're watching that quite closely.

ROMANS: All right. David Culver for us in Shanghai -- thank you, David.

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

CNN's Matthew Chance is live in London.

And, Matthew, if, in fact, this happens, how much notice will citizens get there?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the government have talked about the possibility of giving people plenty of notice, 24 hours notice perhaps, but the word is at the moment, it's not been announced by the government yet, but it's in the newspapers, CNN has been briefed by various government officials as well, is that this kind of lockdown on London, the British capital, which is the epicenter of this virus outbreak in Britain at the moment, could take force as early as this weekend.

And so, I think the expectation is people will be preparing for that. It's a big turn around and the strategy that the British government has used so far. They've been criticized. Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, been criticized particularly in Europe for not doing more to stem the flow of the virus.

But he was always saying, look, we're following scientific advice. We're doing what we can. We're using a very measured paced response to this.

But that scientific evidence seems to have changed during the course of the recent days. The statistics have gotten more concerning. The cases of coronavirus have become much greater than were anticipated. And so, that's forced the government to in some ways change tact and be much more draconian in the measures it's adopting to try and stop this spread.


First of all, they've stopped schools for the first time in Britain across the country from operating. That will take place from the end of this week. That's, of course, thrown a lot of children, a lot of parents, a lot of families into all sorts of concern about what happens, what they can do with their children. What happens to the end of year exams that are scheduled to be held here every year soon? They've been canceled at this stage.

And so, it's into the clear how people will move on in the educational process. There are big social issues concerned here.

But Boris Johnson saying this may not be the end of it and more could be done. 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: So, rule nothing out. What he's talking about is the stringent measures being imposed in Italy, France where law enforcement officials have been out on the streets preventing people from going out of their houses. Up until now, there's been a sense that that's been sort of un-British to do that if you like, and it's not something that would even be considered.

But the fact is, Laura, that this virus is now spreading so aggressively that things that were frankly unthinkable 24 hours ago are now being actively considered in the British government.

JARRETT: Yes, that's a good way to put it, certainly around the world.

All right. Matthew Chance in London for us, thanks so much.

All right. Join Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta for another town hall. "CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS" in partnership with Facebook, tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

ROMANS: So, why are so many NBA players getting tested for coronavirus while some people are struggling to get tested themselves? Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report", next.



ROMANS: Welcome back.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver defending the fact that many NBA players have been tested for coronavirus.

Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy.


You know, the NBA has come under fire for being able to get testing for all of the players it needed to while the general public still struggling to receive those tests. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is one of those critics.

Brooklyn Nets, who had four players test positive, including Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder said in statements yesterday they used private labs to get their testing. NBA commissioner Adam Silver telling ESPN that they have just been following the recommendations of public health officials.


ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: The Utah Jazz did not ask to be tested. The Oklahoma public health official there on the spot not only required that they be tested but they weren't allowed to leave their locker room. We then had an additional positive test the next day. The protocol then followed that we were -- that we then followed with, again, health officials and doctor's recommendations that we then looked at essentially that group of teams that were most proximate to the initial team that had tested positive and then the circle expanded from there.


SCHOLES: Commissioner Silver also said he hopes to be able to salvage this NBA season and everything is still on the table resuming with fans, resuming without fans. When the NBA returns, Silver said it's up to public health officials. He also said the league may look to hold a one game charity all-star game to give fans something during this period.

All right. The UFC, meanwhile, was the last league to hold fight night this past Saturday in Brazil in an empty arena. The UFC has postponed its next three events, but President Dana White telling CNN that they're going to try to start up as soon as possible.


DANA WHITE, UFC PRESIDENT: In times like these, people need to be entertained. People need to feel some sort of normalness going on and, you know, if I could still figure out ways to run the UFC and do it safely and not put any of my people in harm, then we were going to do it.


SCHOLES: All right. Finally, this is going to warm your heart. Eighty-two-year-old super Mets fan Kathleen Selig was diagnosed with lung cancer two weeks ago, and doctors gave her a grim prognosis. And Kathleen can't watch her Mets right now but she got a special message from superstar Pete Alonso.


PETE ALONSO, METS SUPERSTAR: I hope this coronavirus passes very, very soon and we can get back to playing. It's all good. I appreciate your lifelong support.

KATHLEEN SELIG, METS FAN: Oh, my God. Alonso, you have no idea what this has done for me. You have no idea.


SCHOLES: Kathleen's daughter reached out to the Mets to tell them about her. Manager Luis Rojas on the phone with her right there. He called her to tell her that the team was thinking about her. They also invited her out to see the team if and when they do resume play. So here's hoping that that can happen, Christine.

ROMANS: You know those are the kind of sports stories I love the best. Thanks, Andy, we needed that.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks.

Laura, what's coming up?

JARRETT: All right, Christine.

Health care systems could be overwhelmed as the coronavirus case count rose rapidly. Hear from doctors trying to keep people alive.



JARRETT: All right. Twitter is cracking down on any coronavirus content that contradicts health authorities. The company says it's working with trusted partners to review all material. Tweets will be deleted if they contradict expert advice for harmful or ineffective treatments or make unverified claims that can spark panic. Twitter says its tactics could evolve over time.

ROMANS: The virus is also forcing big changes for Facebook which has worked for years to curb phony information. The company plans to roll out a new coronavirus information center at the top of users' feeds with verified information from the CDC and the world health organization.

EARLY START continues right now.


ROMANS: A new barrier in the fight to slow coronavirus. The health care systems could be overwhelmed as the case count grows.