Return to Transcripts main page


Outbreak Disrupting Schools, Offices, Travel, Major Events; Mark Parkinson, CEO Of American Health Care Association, Discusses HHS Warning To Elderly On Coronavirus; Soon, More Passengers Disembark From Coronavirus-Stricken Cruise Ship; NYU's Dr. Robyn Gershon Discusses Coronavirus & Answers Viewers' Questions. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 10, 2020 - 11:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And that would be incredible news. President Xi making his way to Wuhan today and with confidence they have this outbreak under control. That is the hope. This is the last two field hospitals there that they quickly built to control the patients at the epicenter. They are actually closing today.

We'll keep you posted on this all day.

And we'll be back with you tomorrow. Thanks for joining us. I'm Poppy Harlow.


"AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.

Life disrupted or you could consider this the new normal, at least for now. The coronavirus outbreak, now more than 730 Americans in 36 states infected. It is fundamentally changing the way that you will live and you will be working.

Schools, from nursery to university, disrupted. Ohio State and Harvard are the latest schools to announce they are suspending in-person classes, moving to online only, joining dozens of others across the country.

Travel disrupted. Major airlines are slashing the number of flights after a sharp decline in bookings.

Workplaces disrupted. The Securities and Exchange Commission became the first agency to ask its D.C. employees to work from home because one of its workers may have the coronavirus.

Then there's sporting events and major cultural events, disrupted. All four major professional sports leagues currently in season are limiting locker access. And all of this talk about what it may mean for fans.

We have reporters covering all of this.

Let's start with Brynn Gingras. She's joining me now.

Brynn, you are focused in on what millions of Americans are going to be going about their work in a very different way. What are you picking up?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Kate. First, it was companies limiting travel, don't go outside the country. Now they're saying the next step, phase two, saying, can you work from home if at all possible.

In New York City, we've seen the governor and the mayor ask employers, can you shift the hours, can you shift the days your employees work. Just in New York City to not have such an impact on rush hour because of the congestion on subways and the commuting overall.

These are the sort of changes that are going to start evolving, especially coast to coast.

Bigger companies we've seen ask for telecommuting. Of course, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft. Offices for Amazon here in New York and New Jersey, also in the Seattle area and San Francisco, they're asking employers, if they can, to work from home.

Everything is sort of shifting and evolving, again, from that don't travel to now stay at home if you can work.

Of course, the thing here, though, only big companies, really, can ask their employees to do that. We're not even talking about the majority of Americans who are on hourly wages or don't have the capacity to work at home in their particular job.

So it's going to be a big impact overall. And we're seeing that with the travel industry as well. As you said, flights are going down. Some airlines are having to put people on hiring freezes or put their airlines on hiring freezes. The CEO of Southwest is taking a pay cut just to hopefully not take such an impact from this coronavirus spread.

BOLDUAN: There's a lot in there.

Brynn, thank you so much.

CNN's Stephanie Elam, she's in L.A.

Stephanie, the domino effect on major cultural events has been really quite startling really just in the past week-plus. What are you hearing about all these cancellations?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's true, Kate. We think about most of this being fun but a lot of this is revenue.

Here's the latest. South by Southwest, that is something that draws companies in all throughout the country to get to Texas for this event. We saw companies pulling out of this and now they're saying they're going to go ahead and cancel it.

Moving to California, "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!," they say they're going to tape their shows without a studio audience. Keep in mind, Pat Sajak had emergency surgery in December, and Alex Trebek, the host of "Jeopardy!," has been battling cancer. Both of those men in their 70s. So from now, until things are better, they won't have a studio audience.

Then you've got concerts. We've seen other concerts postponed. Pearl Jam, which is a Seattle-based rock band, now coming out saying their tour dates for the North American leg of their tour for Canada and the United States, they are now postponing those and moving them down. They said -- the words that they used are deep frustration and regret. Their first show was supposed to be in Toronto on March 18th. They'll push those back. While the international dates will stay on as scheduled right now.

Then there's Coachella. There are many questions about whether or not Coachella will be postponed or delayed. They've not responded to CNN's request for a comment on this. We've also reached out to some of the artists who were supposed to be there. But obviously a big festival like this in April. We'll have to see if that's going to happen.


But the first big movie, Kate, we've seen that's postponed is "No Time to Die." The James Bond movie was supposed to open. It's now opening in November.

BOLDUAN: The ripple effects. These are perfect examples of the ripple effects that this virus is having far and wide.

Great to see you, Stephanie. Thank you so much.

So CNN sports anchor, Andy Scholes, is joining me now with another big part of the story.

Andy, the sports leagues have big decisions ahead of them, but they're already making tough calls. What are you hearing?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: For the first time ever, the four major sports leagues came together and restricted media access to the locker rooms and clubhouses. The four of them, NBA, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the NHL coming together and releasing a joint statement. Never seen anything like this before in sports.

I'll read the statement. It said, "After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse settings." Those changes go into effect today.

According to ESPN, the NBA owners are all getting on a conference call tomorrow to figure out what to do next. Over the weekend, the league set out a memo to all teams to prepare to play games in front of empty arenas without fans. That's something the league says that they have not made a decision on yet, and they would be the ones to make that decision if need be.

Now, there have been some other events that have been affected because of what's going on in California. Santa Clara County has banned all gatherings of more than a thousand people.

So that means the San Jose Sharks and the NHL, Stanford women's basketball team that was expected to host some NCAA tournament games, as well as the San Jose Earthquake, their team in major league soccer, their games are all affected because, if you're banning gatherings, Kate, with more than a thousand people, you won't be able to hold those games.

BOLDUAN: Right. These are disruptions as of today and things have been changing on a daily basis so we have to continue to stay on top of it.

Great to see you, Andy. Thank you so much.

Also new today, a strong new warning for the elderly coming from the federal government. Almost all the coronavirus deaths in the U.S., for which ages have been recorded so far, involve people older than 70 years old.

That has Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar, striking a new tone. Listen.


ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: I would encourage any individual who is elderly or is medically fragile to think long and hard about going into any large gathering that would involve close quarters and potential spread.


BOLDUAN: Let's focus in there. Joining me right now is Mark Parkinson. He's president and CEO of the Health Association. This is a trade group that represents more than 13,000 nursing homes and living facilities. He's also a former governor of Kansas.

It's good to see you. Thanks for coming in.

MARK PARKINSON, PRESIDENT & CEO, AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION & FORMER KANSAS GOVERNOR: Thanks for having me, Kate. I'm really happy to get our message out.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

If you've read anything or been following coronavirus, as we know people have, you know that a nursing home is really at the epicenter of one of the worst clusters so far outside of Seattle, Washington. From your perspective, what went so wrong there?

PARKINSON: Well, Kate, the grim reality is that for the elderly, COVID-19 is almost a perfect killing machine. The death rate is not the 1 percent that we've heard about in Korea or the 3 percent we've heard about in China. It's not even the 15 percent we've heard about for people that are over 80. In our facilities, the average age is 84 and everyone has underlying medical conditions.

So when you combine those factors together, we are dealing with perhaps the greatest challenge that we ever had in the history of our sector. As a result, we have taken what we think are bold steps to do everything that we can to keep coronavirus from getting into buildings. And we're hoping that the actions that we have taken will be successful.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk through that. I know everyone has questions and concerns about if it is such a problem, as you've just described in such troubling terms, what can be done here and now? Because my concern is, if this can happen outside of Seattle, Washington, what is to stop this from happening at another nursing home facility right now?

PARKINSON: Right. There's two things that we're attempting to do. One is to keep the virus out of our buildings, and second, to contain it if it gets into our buildings.

But by far, the most effective thing would be to keep it from getting into our buildings in the first place. Yesterday, we issued guidance to a near 14,000 buildings. CMS issued similar guidance last evening that is very different than normal activity.


We are encouraging all people, including family members and loved ones, to not visit nursing homes in assisted living facilities.

The problem with COVID-19 is that a younger person can have the virus and not show any symptoms of having it. Innocently visit -- doing a lovely thing, which is visiting a loved one in a facility and spreading a disease that can be deadly.

So until we get this under control, our new guidance, as of today, is to family members, to loved ones, don't visit the facilities. Instead come up with an alternative way to communicate. Communicate by phone, by text, by SnapChat, by Facetime.

We want you to be in constant contact with your loved one. We just don't want you in the buildings possibly spreading the virus.

BOLDUAN: What's the other one? You said there's another one. What's the other guideline?

PARKINSON: The second guideline is just in terms of containment. Once it does occur in a building, then at that point we have to pull out all stops to make sure it doesn't spread to other residents.


BOLDUAN: What are those stops? Because, you know, I'm looking at the statistics that we are just getting in still from the facility outside Seattle, Washington. A majority of the residents, they are now infected. Thirteen people, as we know, have died. And last night, I saw that 65 employees are showing signs of infections.

PARKINSON: That's correct. I think there's 70 employees showing signs, almost 50 residents that have been infected, about 20 deaths right now.

Our hope is, as this spreads to other buildings -- because as you unfortunately indicated, that is a likelihood -- we will be able to contain it on a much better basis than the very first outbreak, which, obviously, unfortunately, occurred in that facility.


PARKINSON: And it can be done. Yes?

BOLDUAN: Mark, can I ask, you met with the vice president, who is in charge of the task force on this last week. Do you have confidence in his ability to help?

PARKINSON: We do. We've asked the government, we've asked CDC, we've asked CMS to partner with us. Every request we've made so far has been accommodated, specifically last night by them backing up our guidance to encourage and restrict people from our buildings.

Our next one was on our equipment. As you've heard, there's a shortage of gowns, masks and hand sterilizer. We need to be a priority for those. There's a shortage of tests for those. We need to be a priority for those.

Our requests so far have been accommodated and we hope they'll continue to be.

BOLDUAN: Really quick, in addition to, you said, please don't visit your loved ones in facilities right now. What do you say to someone who says, my mother and father are in a facility right now, I don't trust this, I want to take them out?

PARKINSON: If you take an older person out of a facility, particularly our average resident, 85, with lots of problems, that in itself is dangerous. There are a lot of challenges just transferring a person in that condition.

But then you're taking them out into a community that is not at all controlled where COVID virus is probably present. We're going to learn there are many more cases that have been reported right now.

And I think you're actually exposing them to a greater risk. I would strongly encourage people to not do that.

BOLDUAN: Mark, thank you very much.


BOLDUAN: I'm going to lean on you heavily for more guidance on what you're seeing on the ground from your member communities.

I really appreciate it.

PARKINSON: Thank you, Kate. We really appreciate you getting the word out.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, after days stuck in limbo, the next round of passengers are finally leaving the "Grand Princess" cruise ship. But that doesn't mean they're in the clear yet. We'll have an update.

As the number of cases is rising, so does the concern among our viewers' questions, quite frankly. We'll answer your questions, when we come back.



BOLDUAN: This hour, a second round of passengers is expected to disembark very soon from the massive cruise ship that has been stuck in limbo for days near Oakland, California. The ship pulled into port yesterday beginning with what is believed to be a day-long process of offloading some 3,500 passengers. This is just the next step after 21 people onboard, at least, have tested positive for the virus.

The next big question: Where do they all go from here?

CNN's Dan Simon joins us from Oakland with the latest.

Dan, what are you hearing?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. Imagine being stuck on the boat for all these days. You just want to get off, go home and see your family. But now you're headed to a military installation for a 14-day quarantine. That is the position these passengers find themselves in. And the process for getting everybody off the ship is going to continue today.

But folks I've been talking to say so far the process has been anything but smooth.

I talked to one man who said he waited in line for hours to get off the ship, was told he would be traveling to Travis Air Force Base. He was told, no, you need to go back to your cabin.


UNIDENTIFIED CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: Somebody doesn't know what they're doing. We waited in line for an hour and a half. When we got off the elevators, somebody told me they saw the first person in line. An hour and a half later, that person was also on the elevator with us.

So I'm not sure, you know, the issue was they didn't have buses for us or what, but nobody got out. I know the line didn't move.


SIMON: And some passengers also expressing concern that they're being separated from family members.

One woman who lives in a different state than her parents is saying that authorities want to send all of them to different military bases, and she just wants to be with her parents. So that, of course, is also a concern.

No question, Kate, this does pose a big, significant, logistical nightmare for authorities who are trying to get everybody off the ship and to these military bases -- Kate?


BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Thank you, Dan. Appreciate the update.

As is evident with every aspect of this emergency and crisis, there are a lot of confusing questions about this virus, what to do, what not to do, how to prepare. Are we prepared?

We're going to everyday help you separate fact from fiction and get the answers to your questions about the coronavirus.

To do that today, Dr. Robyn Gershon is here. She's a clinical professor of epidemiology at NYU.

Thank you for being here.


BOLDUAN: Let's go through some. And there are a lot of questions coming in from viewers and readers to go through.

Let's start with self-quarantine. We've been hearing a lot about people having to self-quarantine. And a lot of people are asking, what does it mean to self-quarantine. What does that look like? How do you do it correctly?

GERSHON: Self-isolation is referring to that you know you have the illness. You've been tested but you're not sick enough for a hospital, so you definitely are in self-isolation at home. You're not sick enough to require direct medical care.

Self-quarantine, however, is you're suspected of being exposed. You may have a risk of that infection.

So to be prudent, we're saying 14 days at home, and that means really being at home.

Now, in New York City, apartments are very small. It's likely you have multiple roommates or at least one roommate, and you should be isolating yourself to the extent feasible from those other people. You're not yet sick, we don't even know if you're infected, but you may have that chance.

It means staying home. It means not going to the grocery store.

BOLDUAN: An additional part of that -- and this is something you've done a lot of research on -- a lot of folks, if they're having to self-quarantine, their place of work is having to be disinfected. How prepared are workplaces for what we're looking at?

GERSHON: Well, of course, this is so new and we haven't done it before, not certainly in most of our lifetimes. But we are getting some really good guidance, I think, at the CDC Web site. And I just saw today at the Department of Health Web site.

So they're saying a deep clean, some type of cleanser getting off the grime, and then using an FDA-approved disinfectant.

BOLDUAN: That's the key, FDA approve disinfectant.


BOLDUAN: Because not all disinfectants are created equally, we are learning.

Another question with get quite a bit, do adults who are not elderly but have asthma have to be particularly careful. What are you hearing about this?

GERSHON: We're not hearing a lot yet. But I think it's prudent, and right now we want to be prudent but not panicked. We want to be prepared but not panicked. We want to stay calm.

People with asthma that may not be well controlled, it might be wise to limit your meeting with crowds, to be washed up, to be one level up and alert.

BOLDUAN: How do you know when you need to be tested for this virus?

GERSHON: Well --


BOLDUAN: Is that clear yet?

GERSHON: They have put out some very good guidance on this is the very well-known signs right now. They're not a lot but they are quite well clarified and they are on both the CDC and the New York City's Department of Health Web sites.

If you have those symptoms, you do not go to the emergency room. You first contact your primary care or the health department if you don't have primary care. They might do a tele-med and they might do a phone.

If they think you need it warrants going to a hospital at that point, they will instruct you as to you -- most of the time, it means putting on some type of face mask before you get there.

BOLDUAN: We're seeing lots of questions about how to prepare, how to protect. It is not clear necessarily how to, 100 percent, protect yourself from, inoculate from or your family from this. What medicines should we have on hand in case my family gets ill, or we go into quarantine?

GERSHON: You can see in the stores now, the shelves are clearing out of cough medicines and aspirin and Ibuprofen, all those kinds of things. Having that in your medicine cabinet is a good idea, and also a thermometer. That is key.

BOLDUAN: That is key. Though, again, a reminder to everyone, there's no over-the-counter or prescription right now that is going to treat if you do get this virus. That is the crux of the problem here.

GERSHON: No, but they're working on it every day and they're getting closer.

BOLDUAN: Here's hoping.

Thank you, Doctor.

GERSHON: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

Please continue submitting your questions about the coronavirus. Go to and we will continue to answer them right here.

Also make sure to listen to CNN's new podcast with Dr. Sanjay Gupta for more answers about the outbreak. It's called "CORONAVIRUS, FACT Vs FICTION."


Still ahead for us, Wall Street trying to bounce back after President Trump proposed a plan for economic relief in the fact of coronavirus fears. What happens if that plan doesn't become a reality?