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U.S. Health System Braces For COVID-19's Impact; Trump Signs Coronavirus Relief Package; China Reports No New Domestic Coronavirus Cases. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 19, 2020 - 05:30   ET



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

LAURA JARRETT, 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?

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is exactly 30 minutes past the hour.

An invisible enemy posing a very clear threat. Front line medical workers across the country now report a dire shortage of materials to conduct tests for coronavirus. With the virus spreading more rapidly 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.


JARRETT: The case count in the U.S. approaching 8,900 and those are just the ones that we know about. One hundred forty-nine people have died. Both those numbers essentially doubling in the last two days and are only going up.

Medical officials tell CNN that 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.


ROMANS: Officials also warn there won't be enough resources, especially 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. GM and Ford are both examining whether they can manufacturer ventilators at their facilities.

JARRETT: The White House also pleading with young people to please, please practice social distancing. Scenes like this on the beaches of Florida right there show basic health and safety recommendations 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.


JARRETT: 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.

ROMANS: So, a coronavirus relief package has 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.

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

JARRETT: The plan provides $500 billion for cash payments to Americans, $300 billion for small businesses, $50 billion to bail out the airlines, and another $150 billion for other affected sectors. Small business owners especially -- in especially dire straits.


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


ROMANS: The Trump administration is making contingency plans for a pandemic that lasts a year and a half or longer -- 18 months. That doesn't mean the government is expecting it to last that long, but a 100-page planning document from the White House accounts for multiple waves of the virus.

JARRETT: President Trump is taking new steps to limit the virus' spread but it may take some time to see the effects.

Here's White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laura and Christine, the president came out to the briefing room yesterday and announced several new measures that his administration is taking, though there's a little bit of fine print on some of them.

One of them being the president saying he was signing the Defense Production Act. That would essentially grant him these emergency powers to be able to direct private companies to accelerate supplies that they believe are needed to help protect the national defense. Usually, it's used for things like military equipment but, of course, in this situation what's on everyone's mind is medical supplies that hospitals say they are in desperately short supply of.

However, the president tweeted a short while later saying that he was only signing the DPA; he was not actually invoking it at this time and instead, saving that for a worst-case scenario. That seems to surprise some people, including lawmakers who were praising the president for signing it and hopefully, in their opinions, invoking it.


Two other things we also want to note is the president did say they are going to deploy two U.S. Navy ships to both coasts. Those ships are not going to be treating coronavirus patients but instead will serve as a relief to hospitals nearby. They can treat people like trauma patients -- things of that nature.

Though the Defense secretary did later tell Jake Tapper it's going to be several weeks before one of them makes it to one coast, and at least about a week and a half-two weeks before the other makes it to the other coast.

So the president is also essentially viewing all of this through the lens of a wartime president, he says. He says that they're going to be taking measures you haven't seen since World War II. And now he believes he's on wartime footing in this situation.


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

All right, three years of stock market gains gone in weeks. The Dow fell to levels not seen since President Trump took office. It inched up before the close but that didn't do much. Look at that -- it still closed below 20,000 for the first time since February 2017, a huge six percent slide.

Trading so volatile the S&P 500 plunged seven percent midday, triggering the fourth circuit breaker in a month. It closed five percent lower.

Taking a look at futures right now, they've really been all over the place this morning trying to find some footing. But overall, it is fears of a global recession driving things here. 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 summer.

Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler all halting production in the U.S. as the virus spreads. Of course, factor workers can't work remotely from home. The UAW said workers will receive unemployment insurance and pay from their employers that will add up to nearly their full pay.

Other industries are asking for billions of dollars in federal help.

The nation's restaurants want a $325 billion bailout. The National Restaurant Association says it needs help right now to support restaurants and the 15.6 million workers who depend on jobs -- restaurants for jobs. That's just a slice of what's going to hit the national labor market in the days ahead.

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 as well. At least 20 lawmakers have announced plans to isolate or self-quarantine.

ROMANS: And some of that new information that 40 percent of hospitalized patients are age 25 to 54 --


ROMANS: -- I think that's interesting new data from the CDC this morning.

JARRETT: I think -- I think a lot of millennials thought they were somehow immune -- ROMANS: Yes.

JARRETT: -- and they're not.

ROMANS: For the first time since the outbreak, Mainland China reports zero new cases. CNN live around the world, next.



ROMANS: New travel restrictions around the world to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Countries on every continent except Antarctica now have border closures or travel bans. Overnight, Australia banned all non-citizens from traveling there. And, CNN has learned Americans stranded around the world are struggling to get help from the State Department.

JARRETT: Italy is already 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. That could be a warning sign for the U.S. Statistics show the United States case growth numbers are on the same track as Italy.

The case count worldwide now over 208,000. Eighty-six hundred people have died.

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. And, David, an economist I follow just sent a note to all of his clients essentially saying this is proof that COVID-19 can be beaten.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Looking at these numbers, it is remarkable, Christine. Yes, and a lot of folks are paying close attention at what's happening here.

What's interesting though is you go back just a few weeks and the rest of the world was concerned about people traveling from China. Now it's folks here in China worried about the rest of the world traveling into the mainland.

And that's been something that's echoed now in their actions, particularly within Beijing Capital Airport. What they're doing is they're taking any international traveler and they're putting them through intense screening. And then they're requiring that they spend 14 days in a government-designated quarantine. That is how stringent they are about anyone who potentially would be an imported case.

Now, let's differentiate the two cases that they're looking at. You've got community transmissions, part of the daily reported, that are now down to zero for the first time since the outbreak -- not only from the epicenter but across Mainland China. No new reported cases in those community transmissions. However, there have been 34 new imported cases, which is why we're seeing these actions taken from the government to essentially strengthen their borders when it comes to potential exposures coming back in.

And they're also continuing to move forward with the lockdown efforts that are -- that are still in place within Wuhan and Hubei. And you look particularly within Wuhan and you say well, if it's now at zero why would you continue with such extreme and what some have even considered to be brutal lockdowns? The argument Christine is that they want 14 straight days of these zero counts of the newly daily reported cases and then they'll reevaluate easing within the city of Wuhan.

ROMANS: All right, David Culver for us in Shanghai this morning. Thank you.

JARRETT: New numbers from Germany. In just the last few minutes -- 11,000 cases, 20 deaths. Angela Merkel says solidarity has not been this critical since World War II.


Let's go live to Berlin and bring in CNN's Fred Pleitgen. Fred, Merkel really pleading with citizens -- take this seriously.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she certainly was really pleading with German citizens in a way that I personally have almost never seen before. And it was really a very emotional address to the German people.

I think one of the things that the German government has noticed is that maybe some folks here in Germany aren't taking these social distancing measures as seriously as many of the folks in the government would like them to take them.

You see here out in the streets of Berlin it's pretty empty, but there are still people who are out. And the German government certainly wants to bring that number down. Therefore, Angela Merkel, in her address, was saying yesterday make no mistake, every single citizen counts. Everybody has to go along with these measures and then Germany can slow down the spread of the disease.

And you're absolutely right. Right now, the trajectory in Germany the exact opposite, pretty much, of what's going on in China with a lot of new reported cases coming in pretty much every day. Germany, by the way, number five in the world as far as reported cases is concerned.

Angela Merkel saying this country has not faced a challenge like this since World War II. Let's listen in.


ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): So let me say this is serious. Take it seriously, too. Since German unification -- no, since the Second World War, there has not been a challenge to our country that has relied so much on our joint action and solidarity.


PLEITGEN: The other giant concern here in Germany, of course, Laura, is the economy. This is one of the biggest industrial economies in the world and so dependent on international trade.

The German government has already announced a flurry of measures to try and support the economy. Angela Merkel, yesterday, once again making clear the German government will do everything in its power to make sure that the economic impact is as small as possible -- guys.

JARRETT: All right, Fred Pleitgen there in Berlin for us. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, to Spain now, where coronavirus cases are rising sharply and protective gear is in very short supply.

Al Goodman live in Madrid outside a hotel which is going to be used as a hospital for, I guess, overflow. An auxiliary hospital, really, Al. Tell us about it.


Well, this hotel has been closed like so many others because of the coronavirus pandemic -- no clients. But it's reopening this day as a hospital -- an auxiliary hospital for the main one that's just up the road.

All of this right here in my neighborhood. This is the area where I live in Madrid. We've been out talking to people in my neighborhood about the impact of this whole crisis. Here's what they -- here's what they told us.


GOODMAN (voice-over): 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?

GOODMAN (on camera): This is my friend, Santiago. I've been buying office supplies from him for a decade.

GOODMAN (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 the 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.

GOODMAN (on camera): Hey, Ernesto.


GOODMAN (voice-over): Sales are down 50 percent, he says, but they have to stay open because they're an essential service.

LOPEZ (Goodman translating): 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.

GOODMAN (voice-over): And that's just in my neighborhood. Across Spain, similar stories are told.


GOODMAN: So this hotel-hospital will take the early- and late-stage coronavirus patients who don't need -- who don't need to be in intensive care but they can't go home.

Across Madrid, the -- some 40 hotels have offered to be part of this program. That would be 9,000 beds if the authorities take them up on it. It gives you an idea of the kinds of numbers they're talking about -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Al Goodman for us in Madrid. Thank you for that.

Let's take a look at markets around the world. Asian shares fell. This is futures right now. You can see they're mixed here. This has really been a tough attempt to bounce back this morning so we'll see what happens here.

Look, your leading indicator this morning, three years of stock market gains gone in weeks. The Dow closed below 20,000 for the first time since February 2017, losing all gains in the Dow since President Trump took office.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: Welcome back.

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, STUDENT, SALVE REGINA CATHOLIC ACADEMY: We'll be assigned work and then we either have to take a picture of it and then send it to her or we have to do it on Google Drive and then -- and then that's where we send it to them. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: 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.

JARRETT: Well, restaurants looking for help across the country may wish they had a landlord like this one in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Young Investment 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 it.



JOE CLAY YOUNG, CHIEF, YOUNG INVESTMENT: I said I know you've got hourly employees. You've got single moms. We're going to get through this together.

And I said let's just do April on one condition, that you -- that you take care of your employees and take care of your family.


JARRETT: Young is waiving the April rent for all five of his restaurant tenants.

ROMANS: A construction company is donating a lot of supplies to emergency workers in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Kuharchik Construction is giving more than 1,000 masks and 95 respirators.


ROBERT BRESNAHAN, CEO, KUHARCHIK CONSTRUCTION, SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA: The flood of 2011, we used them during the cleanup recovery process. So we starting ripping through our inventory and realized that we had a pretty -- a plethora of masks. So we felt it was the right thing to do.


ROMANS: The county manager says the donation saves taxpayer dollars and keeps hospital staff and elderly caseworkers safe.

JARRETT: A Chicago area eatery taking community service to the next level. The Country House restaurant is now offering free meals to seniors forced to stay home. The owner says the response has been overwhelming.


PAUL BOUNDAS, OWNER, COUNTRY HOUSE KITCHEN, ALSIP, ILLINOIS: Like, 75,000 responses. It kind of caught us not off guard but we didn't think it was going to go like that on the first day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yesterday I met a wonderful lady. Her name was Dorothy. And I hope she calls against today.


JARRETT: The restaurant plans to provide the free meals as long as necessary or, the owner says, until their funds run out.

ROMANS: The acts of kindness keep coming. A man dressed as Mr. Incredible running through a Colorado neighborhood and dropping roses on people's front porches. Laura Ristucci posted this video to Instagram saying, "During such a strange time it was the perfect thing. I cannot stop smiling at how ridiculous and sweet it was."

JARRETT: And it's at a safe distance.

A therapy dog in Texas is still making the rounds at a senior center even though the facility isn't accepting visitors during the pandemic. Tonka, the Great Dane, and his trainer are cheering people from outside.


COURTNEY LEIGH, TONKA'S TRAINER: We really missed our visits and I thought what can I do personally on my own to try and continue some of the feel-good that this wonderful dog gives to everyone.


JARRETT: Tonka's walks outside the facility will continue as much as possible while the inside remains off limits.


BONO, SINGER-SONGWRITER, U2: Singing "Let Your Love Be Known."


ROMANS: That's Bono's chin. A new song from U2 frontman Bono inspired by the coronavirus pandemic. He says the song "Let Your Live Be Known" is dedicated to all the people in a tight spot around the world because of the virus spread. It debuted on a subdued St. Patrick's Day and pays tribute to the doctors, nurses, and other health care workers on the front lines.

JARRETT: Late-night shows are taking a break during the pandemic but that doesn't mean their hosts are out of good content; it's just coming from home.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, ABC "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!": Trump, meanwhile, has a catchy little nickname for the coronavirus. He now calls it the Chinese virus every chance he gets because you know, they say a great way to prevent a virus from spreading is to name it something racist. That way people keep it on the down low.

CONAN O'BRIEN, TEAM COCO, YOUTUBE: I'm here to assure you there are many things around the house you can use instead of toilet paper that work just as well. For example, CVS receipts. CVS receipts are long. This is for just six Tic Tacs I bought. I never throw them away because I knew this day would come.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, NBC, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": I have some good news. I saw that you can now stream the movie "Cats" online. You guys remember "Cats." This is when movie theaters where empty before the virus.


ROMANS: His kids are so cute.

JARRETT: So much good stuff on Twitter, on Facebook.

ROMANS: I know.

JARRETT: Everyone has really decided to do their part to bring a little happiness.

ROMANS: Trying to cheer each other up.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

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



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A relief package passed by the House was then approved the Senate and signed into law by President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have tremendous numbers of ventilators but there's never been an instance like this where no matter what you have it's not enough.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: There's a massive national crisis going on and he is consistently late and very marginal in what he does.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): There are so many different problems we have to deal with. We can't be partisan, we can't be timid.


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 Thursday, March 19th, 6:00 here in New York.

Hospitals and health care providers are bracing for the worst this morning as the number of coronavirus spikes. Here are the numbers for you. There are nearly 9,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. That's a 45 percent increase since just yesterday morning. One hundred forty-nine Americans have died.

This chart on your screen shows how the number of cases has steadily risen since last week as testing in this country has expanded.