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Trump Talks Of Tri-State Quarantine; Death Toll Doubles; Navy Hospital Ship En Route; New Orleans Large Rising Cases Of coronavirus; General Motors And Ventec Partnership To Produce Ventilators; Companies Pivot To Make Medical Supplies For coronavirus Response; Trump Backs Off Possible New York Quarantine: Will Not Be Necessary; Russia To Close Most Borders At Midnight Sunday. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 28, 2020 - 20:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following breaking news, the newest numbers this Saturday night. We've just reached a tragic new threshold here in the United States. CNN now confirms more than 2,000 deaths in the United States from coronavirus over the past few weeks. That means the death toll in this country has doubled in a little over two days, three days. There are now more than 117,000 confirmed cases in the United States.

Around the globe, more than 30,000 have died and well over 660,000 people have been sickened by the coronavirus. Massachusetts, alone, is now reporting over 1,000 new cases, bringing its total to more than 4,200. And Michigan also reporting nearly 1,000 new cases.

Tonight, President Trump is considering whether to take drastic new steps to stop the spread. The possibility of a mass quarantine in parts of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it's a hot spot. New York, New Jersey, maybe one or two other places. Certain parts of Connecticut quarantined. I'm thinking about that right now.

We might not have to do it but there's a possibility that sometime today we'll do a quarantine. Short-term two weeks on New York. Probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut, restrict travel because they're having problems down in Florida. A lot of New Yorkers going down. We don't want that. Heavily infected.


BLITZER: More than 32 million people, by the way, live in the Tri- state area. So, even if only a fraction were quarantined around the New York City area, it would still be a mind-boggling moment for the nation, even after these last several weeks of changing of realities. You heard the president mention concerns over infected people traveling to Florida from the New York region. The Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says he talked with the president about that idea today.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Whatever works, I think we need -- we need to do. There's a lot of logistics involved and I think the president is well suited to be able to figure that out.


BLITZER: Florida, right now, is in the process of setting up a checkpoint on Interstate 95, in part, DeSantis says, to stop people from the New York area, who, he believes, need to self-isolate for two weeks.

Evan McMorris-Santoro is joining us now from New York City's Javits Convention Center where there's a large makeshift hospital. More than a thousand beds is being built. Evan, governors of the Tri-state area, they are reacting sort of differently from what we're seeing in Florida.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, this has been a very strange day, in the sense that we have now learned a new phrase which Governor Cuomo calls lockdown, which is whatever the president may or may not be planning for this area. The governors of the three states, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, they say, look, our people are already on quarantine. I mean, Non-essential travel has been ordered to not happen. Businesses that are non-essential have been ordered to keep their people at home.

And then, today, we hear this from the president that -- about this idea of a quarantine, some sort of a more-enforced quarantine, which Governor Cuomo called a lockdown. And dismissed, about as strongly as you can, in a pretty eyebrow-raising interview with our own Ana Cabrera.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: This is a civil war kind of -- this is a civil war kind of discussion.

ANA CABRERA, ANCHOR: So, you don't believe he really is serious about it?

CUOMO: I don't believe that he could be serious. That any federal administration could be serious about physical lockdowns of states or parts of states across this country. I don't believe it's legal. I think it would be economic chaos. I don't think the American people would stand for it. It's just a question of time, before you see the numbers growing in hot spots all across this nation.

So, I think it makes absolutely no sense. And I don't believe any serious governmental personality or professional would support it.



MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, we haven't heard anymore from the White House since that interview. And the governors of the three states involved have said that they haven't heard anything from the White House either. So, still a very up-in-the-air day, to, sort of, what this actually means and what it is. But a very, very strong condemnation of the idea from the governor of New York -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Evan, we also understand that the New York City Police Department, known as New York's Finest, has suffered yet more tragedy from the virus. What's the latest?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yes. You know, we learned on Friday that around 11 percent of the New York Police Department workforce stayed home sick on Friday. That's around 4,000 people. And we've learned that around 500 members of the workforce have been struck with COVID.

And that two civilians, earlier in the week, we learned had passed away. One, a custodian at One Police Plaza, the police headquarters and another civilian member of the staff at the 49th Precinct which is in the Bronx. And, today, we learned that a detective, a veteran detective, also passed away from the COVID virus. He was a detective in the -- in the Harlem area.

And, you know, when you put this in context, you know, these people who are catching this disease and all the downside that that might have, obviously and the tragedy of death, you're also talking about a force that is now out of their cars and walking around, making sure other New Yorkers heed the word of the governor to stay inside and not congregate. So, you're talking about police officers, who are, frankly, bravely risking maybe their own health so other New Yorkers stay safe -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Evan, thank you very much. You stay safe in New York as well.

Joining us now, Dr. Patrice Harris. She's the president of the American Medical Association. Doctor, thanks so much for joining us. I want to get your reaction, first, to the news that the U.S. death toll from coronavirus cases has now topped 2,000. And just some perspective.

And I just tweeted this as well. On March fifth, there were 11 deaths here in the United States from coronavirus. On March 12th, 38 deaths. On March 19th, 149 deaths. On March 26th, three days ago, 938 deaths. And now, as of this moment, 2,010 deaths. These numbers are hard, hard -- these are awful numbers. Hard to appreciate the enormity. And if it continues to double every three or four days, God only knows what's going to happen in this country.

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Well, Wolf, thank you for having me. And, yes, these numbers are tragic. And they should remind us all that we need an all-hands-on-deck approach. We each need to do everything within our own power to make sure we slow the spread of COVID-19. I can't emphasize enough the importance of everyone staying at home, only going out for food or medicine. Individual actions can make collective impact.

And then, a larger scale, Wolf. I'm hearing from physicians all across this country that they do not have the PPE that they need. And so, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach. Certainly, it is a positive step that the president has enacted DPA. But physicians and other healthcare professionals on the front lines still need the equipment so that they can stay safe. Their families can stay safe. And other patients can stay safe.

So, this is tragic news. And we really do need to take some responsibility, both on the individual level and at the federal level.

BLITZER: Yes, DPA, the Defense Production Act, which the president has now implemented to get some ventilators out there. They are so desperately needed.

As you know, Doctor, there's a desperate need for supplies, critical supplies. How worried are you right now for the safety, first of all of the doctors, the nurses, the healthcare technicians, the others who are risking their lives on the frontlines?

HARRIS: I'm very worried, particularly based on the stories that I am hearing. You know, physicians go into this profession knowing that we do risk our lives and that there is a risk for infection. But there is an accountability contract. We should have the supplies that we need, the PPE, to make sure that we are safe. We should make sure we have the tests out there so we can really be informed by the data. You know, the enemy is the virus.


And we need always keep that in mind.

BLITZER: We've learned that at least 12 nurses tested positive for coronavirus at one hospital in Illinois. We know of at least four Boston hospitals with at least 150 employees who have all tested positive for coronavirus. What advice do you give your colleague out there, as they try to navigate this very difficult situation where there's a shortage, hard to believe here in the United States of America, of critically-needed protective equipment?

HARRIS: Wolf, physicians are doing what we always do, and that's do the best we can to take great care of our patients. I'm hearing stories where physicians are wearing the same mask or face guards or gowns all day and trying to disinfect or sterilize them at home. They're taking great care to make sure that they are doing all that they can to minimize the risk of infection.

But, clearly, the current status quo is unacceptable. And that's why we need the DPA -- not just for the ventilators. We want that. But we also want a federally-coordinated effort to make sure that the supplies are there. You know, it would be a great idea to track the supplies. Certainly, right now, New York, perhaps, may have the greatest need, at least base on the data. But there will be others. In Atlanta, the ICU beds are at or near capacity. And we see the numbers increasing in New Orleans and, really, all across the country, as you noted at the top of this show.

So, we are encouraging physicians to do whatever they can. If they need to use their own equipment, they should do that. I mean, really, it is all of our responsibility to make sure that physicians stay healthy. You know, when physicians and nurses and other health professionals are ill or become positive, that means there are fewer workers, health professionals out there to take care of our patients.

And, clearly, there are efforts afoot to bring more physicians on. But we have a responsibility, every one of us at all levels, to make sure that our physicians and other health professionals stay safe and stay on the job.

BLITZER: Thanks for what you and your colleagues are doing. Dr. Patrice Harris, the President of the American Medical Association. You guys are the real heroes right now, and we're counting on you. God bless all of you. Thank you so much for joining us.

HARRIS: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: While New York faces its crisis, it's not the only hot spot in the country right now. New Orleans, another city caught in the crisis and searching for answers. We're about to go live to New Orleans. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Also tonight, a very important development. A U.S. Navy hospital ship, that helped Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, is now on its way to New York City, where it will offer assistance to hospitals that are now simply overwhelmed by the coronavirus.

And joining us now on the phone, Captain Patrick Amersbach, the Commanding Officer of the USNS Comfort. Captain Amersbach, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much for what your men and women aboard your ship are doing. It's expected to arrive in New York City, we're now told, Monday. It's sister ship, the USNS Mercy, is now in Los Angeles. We know both of these ships will not be treating coronavirus patients directly, but tell us what assistance will be offered and how soon it will begin.

PATRICK AMERSBACH, COMMANDING OFFICER, MEDICAL TREATMENT FACILITY USNS COMFORT (via telephone): Thank you so much for having me, of course. So, what we're going to be doing, as you mentioned, taking non-COVID- 19 patients, relieving some of the pressure on the New York City health systems.

So, some of those complex and non-complex medical patients that if we get them out of the hospitals, we'll free up some beds. They would include critically ill patients that would utilize our ICU for, as well as medical surgical patients.

BLITZER: Tell us about the capabilities of your ship. How many patients, for example, can be treated? what services are offered?

AMERSBACH: Sure. So, the ship was designed for major combat operations at the maximum capacity with 1,000 beds which included 80 ICU beds, 20 PACU beds, and the balance was medical surgical beds. The goal was to treat and return to combat wounded warriors or send them back to the United States. So, it was a rapid turnover.

While we're in New York City, our goal is to maximize the capacity of the ship with the patients that we can take, based on what is negotiated between the New York State and local health departments, the Department of Health and Human Services, FEMA and, of course, our fine physicians and medical providers on the ship.

BLITZER: Even though you won't be treating coronavirus patients, what precautions are you taking, right now, to insure no one aboard the ship is infected, either a patient comes aboard the ship and is infected but didn't have any symptoms to begin with, or some of the thousand personnel aboard the ship?

AMERSBACH: Yes, and that's a great question. So, everybody that has come aboard the ship, in recent weeks, has been screened. Since we've departed Norfolk, we've taken additional measures. Everything that we're doing follows DOD and CDC guidelines. We do everything from social distancing to frequent cleanings. We have PPE equipment aboard the ship.

So, when we start treating patients, we will be properly protected. You know, the goal, of course, is to not only take care of those in New York but do what we can or to ensure that we do not get Corona-19 on the ship.


BLITZER: I assume you have enough protective equipment, masks, gloves, everything else, gowns, that you need, right?

AMERSBACH: That is correct. And we will have a logistics support system in place that will allow resupply while we are up there. So, if we go through it like every other hospital in New York City, we will be resupplied, just like them.

BLITZER: How long will the USNS Comfort be docked in New York?

AMERSBACH: Sir, we're going to be there until we're no longer needed. And that's what we're being told and that's what we're planning for.

BLITZER: And the Mercy in Los Angeles, same mission, right?

AMERSBACH: Yes, sir, it is. Our sister ship on the West Coast has, basically, the same marching orders as us. And they're providing the same level of outstanding care to the people of Los Angeles.

BLITZER: Given what's going on in New York City right now, will the Navy personnel aboard the ship be allowed to get off the ship?

AMERSBACH: At this time, sir, no, we're not planning on any of our staff (INAUDIBLE) ship, our professional medical or military (INAUDIBLE) command personnel. What we're going to try and do is kind of have a bubble, if you will, around the ship, as much as we possibly can, to minimize the potential exposure of the COVID-19 virus go onboard.

BLITZER: Which is so important. Captain Patrick Amersbach, thank you so much for what you're doing. Thank -- and please thank all the men and women aboard your ship. We are grateful to all of you. Thanks so much for joining us.

AMERSBACK: Thank you very much, Wolf, appreciate it.

BLITZER: All right, thank you. Let's go to Louisiana right now where the death toll has just jumped by more than 40 percent in one day. In one day. Louisiana is one of three states right now singled out by the Surgeon General of the United States as the new hot spot for the virus.

And this is one of the reasons why. This year's Mardi Gras celebration packed parades in New Orleans at the end of February. Crowds of people partying in the French Quarter. It's hard to believe this was only one month ago.

But people started following guidance to avoid crowds and before stay- at-home orders went into effect around the country. Emergency officials say, yes, that Mardi Gras went off without any special precautions. It very likely is a major factor in the state's sudden spike in virus infections.

CNN Ed Lavandera is joining us from New Orleans right now. Ed, I had a chance to speak to the Mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, just a couple of days or so ago right here on CNN. And I asked her, point blank, knowing what she knows now, should she have cancelled Mardi Gras? Listen to this.


MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D), NEW ORLEANS: Well, with -- if red flags were given, I would say at the federal level, leadership matters. And leaders on the ground, we rely on the facts to make decisions for the people that we serve. Given no red flags, we moved forward. In hindsight, if we were given clear direction, we would not have had Mardi Gras and I would have been the leader to cancel it.


BLITZER: Ed, the mayor saying nobody told her to call it off. No federal officials or experts. No red flags. Do people in New Orleans blame her for the high number of virus infections right now?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not from what I've been able to tell. You know, in fact, leading up to Mardi Gras, as it has been ever since 911 in a lot of these mass gatherings where hundreds of thousands of people are on the streets, you know, really one of the concerns that law enforcement -- the predominant concern that law enforcement has is crowds and the violence that can be done to crowds.

A viral pandemic just hasn't been high on the list of things that we've heard about authorities preparing for. I'm sure it's prepared for on some levels. But, a lot of times, when you talk about security in these mass events, they're talking about, you know, people getting run over or any kind of mass chaotic situation.

This is a very different feeling. This is a city, Wolf, that is bracing for what's to come this week. The governor has been saying here that by this time next week, the state could be running out of hospital beds and ventilators. The governor has requested some 12,000 ventilators.

And, last we heard, the state has only received almost 200 of those 12,000. So, capacity is really a concern here in the coming days, as this exponential growth of patients is starting to grow. But the number of cases here in Louisiana now tops 3,300. About 1,300 of those are here in the New Orleans area alone. So, that is one of the reasons why there is so much concern. The numbers continue to escalate at an exponential rate.


LAVANDERA: And that's why there's so much concern about how this week ahead is going to unfold. And here, people are being told to shelter in place, stay at home, socially distance themselves from friends and relatives. Businesses are shuttered (ph). We're here in the French Quarter, where many storefronts are boarded up. It's almost as if this city was preparing for the arrival of a hurricane.

So, quite a dramatic scene here in New Orleans, as a normally bustling city has really been brought to a standstill. And some perspective, Wolf, as you've talked about here, in the last 30 minutes or so, about how the death toll in the coronavirus outbreak has now topped 2,000. And significant since we're reporting here from the New Orleans in the Gulf Coast region. Hurricane Katrina took the lives of 1,833 people. So, the coronavirus outbreak has now topped the death toll of Hurricane Katrina which was exactly 15 years ago -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The death toll has more than doubled over the past two or three days, alone. And if it keeps on doubling, we only can imagine how awful the situation is going to be. It's already very awful. Senator Bill Cassady of Louisiana told me in the last hour, by the way, that New Orleans is expected to run out of ventilators at their hospitals by this coming Thursday, unless there's a whole bunch of new shipments coming in and we hope there will be. Ed Lavandera, thanks very much for that report.

Around the U.S. and around the world, there's a race. There's a race right now to produce crucial medical supplies. Just ahead, a closer look at how companies are working to help and sometimes being pressed into service. Much more of our special coverage right after this.



BLITZER: Delta Airlines today announced medical professionals will be able to fly to several coronavirus hotspots in the United States for free. The program will allow certain personnel deploying to hospitals in Georgia, Louisiana, and Michigan to book roundtrip by Delta flights free of charge, with plans to expand the program to hard-hit states of California, and New York, Washington State as well. That's one example of how major companies are trying to adopt to address the nation's enormous coronavirus needs.

Another came Friday, General Motors announcing a partnership with Ventec Life Systems to produce thousands of ventilators at G.M.'s Kokomo, Indiana factory. This is President Trump said he invoked the Defense Production Act to require G.M. to start making ventilators.

But sources tell CNN the partnership with Ventec was ironed out before President Trump's directive. I spoke to Ventec's CEO, Chris Kiple earlier this evening. Here's what he said about the White House involvement in the project.


CHRIS KIPLE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, VENTEC LIFE SYSTEMS: We have been in close consultation with the White House as well as FEMA. We're doing everything to act in concert together.

BLITZER: But are you acting as a result of the Defense Production Act, the order by the President or were you planning on doing this before though?

KIPLE: We're full speed ahead. And we have been full speed ahead. We're happy that there's attention at the White House around how critical ventilators are. And the Defense Production Act just brings everyone together to solve these problems to get ventilators into medical professionals to help them on the frontlines.


BLITZER: CNN Business Editor-in-Large and Host of "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is joining us right now. We're talking about Richard Quest.

So Richard, how uncommon is this G.M. agreement with Ventec is something at this scale been done outside of, let's say, wartime efforts?

QUEST: It's highly unusual. And if we look at what happened with this agreement, well, I think we can -- it's difficult to know what exactly took place between G.M., Ventec, and the White House.

By all accounts, they were going backwards and forward on the numbers, the amounts, the terms and conditions, when all of a sudden the White House in the form of fraud Donald Trump decided to blast Mary Barra, the CEO, and then say he was going to use the GPA or invoke it. So we don't really know, Wolf.

Now, many companies are involved in this, for example, Pernod Ricard, which makes the Spirits, the alcoholic Spirits company, they'd be making hand sanitizer. Lots of companies large-scale companies like Ford are getting into the production of ventilators. But what the experts say is don't move too far away from what you're really good at such as Delta with flying, don't try and be everything. You're not going to get an upholstery company suddenly trying to make ventilators. It's too far away from what they used to making, so the DPA works best when companies are really just shifting in the same gear.

BLITZER: Richard, are the auto industry, obviously, the airline industry, the tech industry, others set up to switch gears literally and start production of totally different products that are so desperately needed right now?

QUEST: Providing, Wolf, it's the same genre, providing you're not having to retool with something completely different, if Ventec brings their expertise, GM has the machinery and can -- and can retool to make it.

Now, but it's not just the large companies small, medium-sized companies take, for example, this company, Anglo Couture, it's a wedding dress company, they make wedding dresses, all their orders disappeared. And then suddenly, the owner of Anglo Couture suddenly realized, hang on. I'm used to making wedding dresses. I can make masks instead.



QUEST: So you're now making these covers for the masks and I'm looking at the pictures now. And you're managing to keep many of the people who did work for you, or at least some of them, you're managing to keep some of them come them going.

VICKY ANGLO, OWNER, ANGLO COUTURE: Yes, Richard. The demand has been overwhelming and it's like they don't have enough medical supplies. What we're doing is we're just supplying them with a cover for their medical N95S masks so that their mask can be reused and they don't get their actual medical masks soil.


QUEST: Now, Wolf, what this shows is at the very top of the tree, the DPA is working. General Motors is now going to have to make them, the government will have to pay for them as well. And right at the other end, the micro -- the macro to the micro, small businesses are helping too. It is a national wartime effort by business against the virus.

BLITZER: Well, keywords wartime right now. That's what's going on. There's a war going on against this coronavirus.

All right. Richard quest, thank you very much. Right after the break, there's breaking news we're following. The president now backing off, yes, backing off his earlier suggestion today of a quarantine for the New York area.

Just moments ago in a tweet. He announced this. We'll have details when we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: All right. The breaking news we're following, President Trump now backing off his earlier suggestion that he might order a temporary quarantine of parts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Just a few moments ago, he tweeted -- he tweeted this, and let me read it in full, quote "On the recommendation of the White House coronavirus Task Force and upon consultations with the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, I have asked the CDC to issue a strong travel advisory to be administered by the governors in consultation with the federal government or quarantine will not be necessary. Full details will be released by CDC tonight. Thank you." End quote, that from the President of the United States.

That comes after the New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, tells CNN's Ana Cabrera earlier tonight that a federally mandated quarantine would basically be a federal declaration of war. Listen to this.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): This is a civil war kind of -- this is civil war kind of discussion.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: So you don't believe he really is serious about it?

CUOMO: I don't believe that he could be serious that any federal administration could be serious about physical lockdowns of States or parts of states across this country. I don't believe it's legal. I think it would be economic chaos. I don't think the American people would stand for it. It's just a question of time before you see the numbers growing and hotspots all across this nation.

So I think it makes absolutely no sense, and I don't believe any serious governmental personality or professional would support it.


BLITZER: All right. Let's go to Jeremy Diamond. He's joining us right now from Washington, our White House correspondent.

Jeremy, it sounds like the president blinked in the face of those very strong warnings from the governor of New York and simply saying there's going to be a travel advisory that sounds like something that's already in place.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It certainly does, Wolf. Look, the timeline of how the president consider this and the fact that he is now backing down from the proposal that he issued this morning, which was he was talking about something that would be federally enforced. He was talking about preventing New Yorkers, people in Connecticut, people in New Jersey from being able to travel elsewhere in the country.

What the President is now talking about is a travel advisory that would be done in coordination with the governors of those three states. And so you have to look at what changed between when the President proposed this and when the President is now backing down.

And all that changed is that the New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, went on CNN a few hours ago, and he essentially lambasted this proposal, talking about the fact that this would be akin to the federal government declaring war on the state, saying that he believed it would be illegal.

And so some very harsh criticism that the President face in the hours between when he proposed something like a federally enforced quarantine, and what he is now talking about, which is really simply additional guidance, it seems to people in that area not to travel elsewhere in the country.

But again, we still do not have a lot of the details here, Wolf, of exactly what the President is talking about here. We will be asking the White House to see if they can offer us any additional details.

BLITZER: Yes. He says at the end of the tweet, full details would be released by CDC tonight.

The key part though, Jeremy, is that this travel advisory, a strong travel advisory will be administered by the governors of those three states, not by the federal government.

The governors will talk, will consult with federal authorities, but they will be responsible for issuing any travel instructions.

DIAMOND: Right. And these are already states that have put in place some pretty, you know, severe restrictions on daily life in those areas. Take New York State, for example, there is a stay at home order urging all New Yorkers to stay in their homes, only to leave if they need to get groceries, get medicine, those kinds of essentials, all non-essential businesses are essentially shuttered in the state.


So there are already such severe restrictions that have been put in place by the state government there and similar restrictions in Connecticut and New Jersey as well. So it's really not clear what this travel advisory that the President is talking about, would actually change here.

What is clear, Wolf, is that this is far away from what the President was floating this morning. Of course, Wolf, we know that this president does sometimes like to put things out into the ether to see what the reaction is going to be. And he certainly got the reaction from the New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, who had not heard directly from the President on this, and was really quite incensed and quite concerned about this possibility.

Look, the President in his tweet says that he did speak with the governors of these three states, so presumably Andrew Cuomo got a call from the President at some point this evening, but we don't, at this point, have the details on that.

BLITZER: Yes. Let's not forget what the President tweeted earlier today. I am giving consideration to work quarantine, quarantine, all in caps of developing hotspots in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. A decision will be made one way or another shortly while the decision has been made no quarantine.

All right. Jeremy, I know you're waiting for the CDC guidelines on the so called travel advisory. Once you get that, let us know.

In the meantime, I want to bring back Richard Quest who does a lot about aviation travel advisory. What do you think? What's your reaction? How would this work? Will airlines be ready to help enforce some sort of new travel advisory that the governors in consultation with federal authorities might come up with?

QUEST: They would if it had the force of law, but since it's an advisory, it doesn't sound like it's going to be that. I'm guessing, Wolf, it's going to be something like the advisory the CDC put out on Thursday, when the President had said he wanted all people leaving New York to be quarantined for 14 days or self-quarantine.

In that particular one, it talks about truck drivers and other people needing supplies, stay in their vehicles, only traveling when absolutely necessary.

Bearing in mind, he doesn't probably have the legal authority to create a full-blown quarantine or lockdown. And anyway, how would you do it? You know, who's going to be across the streets to stop people from going one side to the other?

So bearing in mind, it's going to have to be based on the governors, and the governors aren't going to do it. So you're left with an advisory, which essentially means, Wolf, a reinforcing of the President Trump's existing guidelines, which is don't travel.

And we've seen this with the airlines, by the way. If you look at all the major airlines, even within their seating plans, they're now doing social distancing, giving more space between passengers on the planes, which isn't difficult at the moment, because it's widely believed that -- well, it's widely believed that load factors number of people traveling is less than 20 percent of what it was.

BLITZER: Good point, Richard Quest, reporting for us. Richard, thank you very much. The coronavirus has Russia now taking what appears to be some very dramatic moves. It's closing its borders. We'll go live to CNN's longtime Moscow correspondent to get the very latest. Stay with us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Russia is now taking a very dramatic step to contain and prevent the spread of coronavirus. Effective tomorrow night, Moscow time, nearly all of Russia's borders will be closed. This means air travel, rail, road, and pedestrian traffic into and out of other countries, all shut down.

Our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, is in London right now.

Matthew, just a few days ago, President Vladimir Putin announced to the Russian people that the outbreak of coronavirus was in his words, under control. But closing the borders indicates otherwise, doesn't it?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It does. It indicates that finally the authorities in Russia are coming to grips with in confronting with the really dire situation they've got in front of them in terms of this coronavirus outbreak. You're right, all along, they've been saying, look, this isn't affecting us so badly as other countries in Europe and in the United States.

The official figures reflect that there are only four people in a country of 140 million, remember, in Russia, only four people confirmed as dead so far, and just over 1,200 people confirmed is actually having the virus which most people think is vastly under estimating the extent that this virus has spread through the population.

The Russian government say it's because of the actions we took early on. We closed off the two and a half thousand mile border with China. We check people at the airport. But that rings hollow now that the Russians have already banned international flights in order to stop foreigners going into the country, it's why I'm speaking to you from London right now. I can't get back in to Russia.

Now, they've closed the land borders as well. Remember, they've got borders with 14 countries. It's a vast country across a vast area of territory. And so that's a major step now, to try and, you know, get Russians to stay indoors, to stay where they are, and to stop spreading this virus around the country.

Vladimir Putin, on Friday, announced a public holiday from this weekend for one week. That was the first real acknowledgement that there was a problem. They had to claw back on that even though because Russian started booking flights to holiday resorts inside the country.

And so the Moscow mayor had to say, look, it's actually not a holiday. You have to stay indoors, keep outside interaction to an absolute minimum. Another sign that Russia is, you know, slowly trying to publicly come to grips with this terrible virus that's confronting them, Wolf.


BLITZER: Yes. They have no choice right now.

Matthew Chance, reporting for us. Matthew, thank you very much.

There's another full hour of THE SITUATION ROOM, just ahead, including the latest on the coronavirus and the rising death toll in the United States. We'll be right back.