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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  March 12, 2020 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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. this is cnn breaking news. >> i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. we are tracking fast moving developments in the coronavirus pandemic. first to the breaking news, a dire day on wall street where stocks had their worst day since the stockmarket crash of 1987.
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the dow jones industrials losing more than 23 points as coronavirus fears intensify. among them a march madness basketball and disneyland cancelled. the ncaa announcing this year's tournament will not take place and disney says the theme park will be closed through the end of the month. also a gloom assessment, dr. anthony fauci admitting the government testing in his word is failing. i'll discuss today's developments with senator chris coons, and we'll have full coverage of the day's top stories. let's begin with cnn's nick watts. we are getting new information about major disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic. tell us what you are learning. >> well, washington, as you just mentioned, disneyland say they will close through the end of the month. the governor of california said expect more announcements like
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this shortly. the governor of ohio just closed all the schools in the state from monday to at least april 3rd. in maryland, they have just closed the schools for at least two weeks and new rochelle just outside fork, that containment zone has now kicked in. uniforms now on the streets of new rochelle. >> i was shocked with the national guard, but the containment area, i'm okay with. >> reporter: all new york city broadway shows will now close, so will the museums of art. no more gatherings of more than 500 people across the state. the governor calls the financial impact inyou cencalculatable. >> it would bankrupt the state. >> reporter: social distancing now key. cleaning cruise and action at palm beach aircraft after a passenger landed from new york then, told officials their test
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just came back postist. status, no barrier to infection. tom hanks and his wife rita wilson just caught coronavirus while he was filming in australia. a second utah jazz player has now tested positive. >> reporter: the majority.
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>> you are learning about president trump's concern? >> reporter: president trump is calling for concern. the white house is brushing off concerns the president needs to be tested for the coronavirus, despite his coming into contact with a brazilian official who came back positive for the virus. the president told reporters today, he's not concerned, but a source close to the president tells me, mr. trump is, indeed, concerned. he may contract the coronavirus after interacting with people who have tested positive. still struggling to deal with the reality of the coronavirus outbreak, president trump is back to downplaying the public health emergency as it is growing rapidly. >> we want it to go away with
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very, very few deaths. we need a little separation until such time as this goes away. it's going to go away. it's going to go away. >> reporter: the president is denying key facts, insisting american versus had no problems being tested for the coronavirus. >> frankly, the testing has been going very smooth. if you go to the right agency, if you go to the right area, you get the test. >> reporter: even as a leading expert dr. anthony fauci admitted the system is fail zplg very quickly the system does not, not really geared to what we need right now. what you are asking for. that is a failing. failing. >> failing? >> yes, it is a failing. let's admitt. >> reporter: the white house also brushed off concerns that the president may have been exposed as a top brazilian official tested positive for the virus after coming face-to-face with mr. trump at mar-a-lago last weekend appearing together in photos. president 2nd grisham said in a
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statement, both the president and vice president had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time. >> let's put it this way, i'm not concerned report. the defendant defended his position to halt travel except for the uk. they gave officials a heads up. they did not do the same for other u.s. allies. >> we get along very well with the european leaders. we had to make a decision. i didn't want to take time. it takes a long time to make the individual calls. >> reporter: the travel ban did little to reassure the financial marks, which were plummeting as mr. trump was speaking. >> you have to remember the stockmarket as an example is still much higher than when i got here. >> reporter: former secretary advisory tom bossert tweeted there is little value to european travel restrictions, poor use of time and energy. we have nearly as much disease here in the u.s. as the countries in europe. ever a since the president address it is office in the oval office, white house officials have been in cleanup mode. clearing up the travel ban.
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>> those prohibitions will not only apply to trade and cargo but various other things as we get approval. anything coming from europe to the united states is what we are discussing. >> reporter: as it turns out, carno from europe won't be impacted. mr. trump apparently misspoke when he said insurers will cover coronavirus treatments, when he meant tests. >> earlier of this week i met with the leaders of the health industry who have agreed to wave all payments for coronavirus treatments. >> reporter: mr. trump's potential democratic rivals say it's time for the president to get serious. >> this virus laid bare, the severe shortcomings of the current administration. public theaters are being compound, but pervasive lack of trust in this president fueled by adversary relationships with the truth. >> but we also have to face the truth and that is that the number of casualties may
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actually be even higher than what the armed forces experienced in world war ii. >> reporter: now, the president is expected to sign a new disaster declaration to free up resources to deal with the outbreak. even some of the president's fellow republicans are cringing over mr. trump's performance in the oval office last night, one trump adviser told me the president quote still doesn't know how to bring the country together. the day after that oval office, the president and his team have resumed their attacks on the media and put one more reason why they may be concerned contracting the virus, lindsey graham a top ally is going into self quarantine. >> thank you. we are joined by senator chris coons of delaware. thank you so much for taking a few moments to join us. your republican colleague senator lamar alexander says the united states in his words has a serious deficiency if testing for the virus. what needs to happen now,
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senator, to increase testing capacity all around the country? >> well, first, washington, one of the things that impressed me today was the difference between the speech we heard from president trump last night and the remarks we heard mid-day from former vice president biden on this topic. vice president biden was clear that if he were president, he would be posting results every single day, about how many tests have happened, what the results are, where they're available. and making sure that every american has access to a free test without co-pays, without expense, and the president even though he was reading his speech last night failed to speak directly and correctly to these issues. he announced a travel ban, blocking people coming here from europe. but he didn't make it clear how we were going to expand the quality and number of tests around the country. if the fda acts more quickly and state laboratories and university health laboratories are allowed to certify their
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tests up to fda standards as has been promised, i think we should be able to get the volume of tests and the accuracy of tests up and available nationally, fairly quickly. but it requires a focus and a push and transparency and accountability. we need administration effort that is respectful of science rather than driven by politics. >> so far, senator, as you know, we keep hearing these awful stories, people all over the country. they're sick, you know they have all the symptoms, they want to get a test but they can't get a test, which is a really sad state of affairs here in the united states of america. what about your office upon capitol hill, your office in delaware, are you keeping them opened? >> i just had a conference call with my staff, washington, to convey to them, everybody on my staff is being provided with a laptop and the ability to telework from home. if they develop symptoms, if they've got work-like balance
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questions, because many are hearing their children may be home from school or coming home from college, or, frankly, if they are concerned about their health. many of the public meetings we had scheduled for this coming week have already cancelled and there are real limitations being put on visitors to our senate offices in the capitol complex and, frankly, wompl, i think we need to watch what's happening in the weeks ahead as this continues to develop as to whether or not i ask all of my staff to telework. >> because there has been some cases up at the u.s. capitol, as you know, at least one senate staffer has now tested positive for the coronavirus. do you think it's safe for congress, the house and the senate for that matter to continue business as usual during these difficult days? >> well, it's important that we meet and vote on a package that responds to america's real and pressing needs. so we will likely go back into session one or two days next
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week. we have a critical civil liberties and national security issue we need to resolve, reauthorizing or reforming the surveillance powers that were granted to the federal government. up to date the patriot act they expire in the next couple of days and frankly, more urgently, passing a package like what speaker pelosi proposed today that would deal with paid sick leave, expanded unemployment insurance, guaranteeing that folks can get access to quality tests in a timely way without cost. providing suppofor those childrd their families who get school lunch to get those meals at home if our schools are closed for weeks to months. i support the package that the speaker discussed today. and i think we heard from joe biden in his very presidential and focused speech today, a plan for how we should go forward with meeting the needs of the american people. that's the one reason, wolf, that i think we should go back
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into session briefly next week, but after that you may see the congress on an extended recess. our offices should still be available for miami to call or to e-mail to get information. but in the digital age, wolf, we can answer those calls and e-mails remotely. >> yeah. things are moving very, very quickly. all public schools in ohio and maryland are shut down. senator chris coons of delaware, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. stay with us for more on the coronavirus news, including deem concerns, president trump came into con-- deep concerns president trump came into contact two a brazilian official this past weekend in mar-a-lago in florida. senator lindsey graham becoming the latest to self quarantine. plus, no march madness, the ncaa calling off this year's basketball tournament. that you can trust. plus, with most insurance
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following wave after wave of announcements of school closings, restricts, public gatherings or agencies, telling employees simply work from home in an attempt to head off the spread of the coronavirus. you are an expert at george washington hospital. how significant is it dr. anthony fauci, pro elbe the best expert we have on infectious disease here in the united states admitted today that testing around the country if his words is failing? how significant is it? >> i think he is say wag he's felt the whole time and we have all been seeing. dr. fauci is the person i listen to when i fadi information. he's the trusting voice i know i can look at in the task force and know what is going on.
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>> a sad commentary. the president, john, you covered the white house for us, he tried to assure the nation in a brief oval office address last night. it seems to have the opposite effect. people are more concerned. take a look at the stockmarket, the collapse since the 1987 stockmarket collapse. >> you had a resounding vote of no confidence in the president. and the market reaction today. the market, in fact, dropped while he was speaking. last night the futures market. there are several reasons for that one is he made a series of errors in his speech. which he had to correct, in particular about cargo and trade. >> with europe. >> that's right. but also the president didn't seem to fully embrace the gravity of the situation and call the nation together. he insisted on boasting about how well, he had done earlier. how well the economy was doing under his leadership, that sort of thing. so today you saw people like joe
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biden trying to step into the void, he is running against president trump. nancy pelosi and you had mitch mcconnell can selling the senate recess next week to try to get to the finish line with a piece of legislation. >> what do you make of the oval office address last night? >> it would have been a fine speech at the end of january when he announced he was banning travel to china. dr. fauci said yes it is a plus to close off travel as much as you can. but at this point it's all about mitigating the spread. what we didn't hear from the president is what's happening in our hospitals? what are we doing to make sure we don't have an onslaught of people rushing in, something the doctor there is and doctors around the world have been ringing the alarm on specifically about hospital beds, about testing. we didn't hear any of that from the president. he was boasting how well the country is doing. it's not a time to boast. especially as dr. fauci said
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this is a time to admit some sort of failure. this is a pandemic. i'm not a doctor. a pap dndemic is something happening around the world. the president closing off the country is the opposite way of a pandemic. >> you heard jim acosta's report that the president privately. he doesn't say public, is concerned about the contact help had with a brazilian official at mar-a-lago down in palm beach over the weekend. because this individual has tested positive for coronavirus and there is picture of the president with this guy. >> well, anybody that's coming in contact with people with the known disease feed to be concerned and they need on the tested and they need to isolate until they're cleared. we need our leadership in place and healthy the best that we can. that's our leadership both at the presidential level all the way down to the local levels. we need that with our healthcare providers around our first responders. >> as far as you know, john, has the president been tested for
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coronavirus? >> no, he says he has not been tested. he was asked is he concerned about this contact with the brazilian press secretary who says he has tested positive? he says, no, i'm not concerned. but the president's contacts with people to be concerned about, incoming chief of staff self quarantine arc couple republican members he interacted with. at cpac in self quarantine, now this case at mrg thrg tar-a-lag weekend. it show nos fault. it's the extent, it's here. it can't be stopped. the question is pitgation. >> it's interesting, because most people who come into contact with someone who does have coronavirus at a minimum they go into self quarantine a little bit until they, themselves, can be tested and see if they're developing any symptoms. there is no question the president is self quarantines. >> he falls into that age group that, worrisome age group. this is a very resilient country
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what the country needs is transparency and leadership. the reason is market is tank is not just coronavirus fears, it's because there doesn't seem to be a global plan. we did not hear the president talking what's happening internationally, leading something, the u.s. has always taken charge of. we are not doing that. that lack of trant parency is why you are seeing that in the market. >> consider what the president said why he had not notified eu leaders about the travel ban before. he said they haven't notified us when they raised tacks. indicating a at this titit for . that's not pulling everyone together. first a quick programing hotel in. later tonight, dr. sanjay gupta and anderson coup ler host a second global town hall, coronavirus facts and fears, 10:00 p.m. here on cnn. more coming up, closures and
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coronavirus pandemic. school chosiers, major event cancellations are picking up all across the united states. mayor garcetti is joining us. thank you for joining us. i know it's crazy out there as well. let me fet your thoughts did myland is closing through the end of palm beach. there are huge changes unfolding. all public schools in ohio are closed. about to close. what's happening in los angeles? >> wolf, i think we will look back at the next weeks the make or break weeks, if we don't slow this, it will be worse than we can imagine. if we do we will see it's turning the tide. in los angeles, we have taken huge stance bs, today i announced gatherings in facilities, parks, rec centers, libraries, et cetera will be banned and for folks who are 60 and/or compromised, there, too,
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we will look at banning altogether wind chill reclosing our city hall except to city workers, we are suspending some of the meetings we would normally do and banning all travel. these measures which we each can have a role in. we know folks will say, this isn't going to be me, i'm healthy. we 81 score this is about your family, your friends, your neighbors. literally the decisions you make in the next couple days can mean the difference of life or death for some of those people. >> what about schools? >> so far we have not had one single case. we are prepared to close a school, a cluster of schools where there is community spread and the district. but we have 1.5 million students across 80 different school districts here in los angeles county. so i think it is a matter of time most probably. but right now these are safe places for our children to be safer in some cases than out there in the community. we have permission to be able to feed those students outside the cools if they need to be closed.
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because that's critical for the nutrition of many of our families tapped city is going to assist with places people can go for child care and other things. for other working families this is tough. we are feeling that from dock workers to truck drivers, of course, retail folks. i have been telling people, shop locally, where everpossible, if you go out to dinner, do not patronize that place, order out, pick it up, have dinner at home. make sure we can keep these places going, here in los angeles and across this nation in moments of crisis, i believe in this country. i believe in los angeles, we come together. be good to each other. that's the most important thing. >> a lot of things we are hearing anecdotal aabout testing. can they get a test right away? >> we don't have enough places for testing. we have a more than robust capacity than other places. we have been loud and clear with the federal government. we need more tests him while i run the fourth busiest airport,
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lax, there is screening not testing, screening for symptoms and moving people. the quicker we can get tests done, the more tests we can do, the quicker we can stop the spread, we know there are many people who are carriers. >> is it safe to show up at lax? >> we have great screeners that are there. but anybody that cannot travel it is our recommendation domestically and internationally don't. >> good advice, indeed, eric garcet garcetti, thank you for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. coming up i know march madness the ncaa calling off the national championship basketball tournaments all across the country. professional sports leagues suspending their seasons all due to the coronavirus pandemipande.
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or may become pregnant while taking rinvoq. ready to take on ra? talk to your rheumatologist about rinvoq relief. rinvoq. make it your mission. people are calling off major league baseball seasons, hockey, have all been suspended or delayed. usaa columnist christine brennan is here with us. it's not just the athletes all the workers what are they going to do? >> mooark cuban has been saying we have to set up a fun.
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look at the men's possible tournament, so it's not just the professional arenas where hockey and basketball are played. of course, major league baseball stadiums. mlb will delay the start of sponsor inc. training two week. >> sprk traspring training. >> spring training, it's gone. florida and arizona the livelihoods for spring training. that's over. they won't have the full schedule and then losing that so it is enormous. i am sure we are talking about tens of million, hundreds of millions of dollars, just on that piece of it alone. >> now two nba players have actually tested positive for coronavirus. i am sure a lomt of other nba -- lot of other nba players are nervous, they're all sweating works knows what's going on? >> all the arenas and the fans nearby. the nba as you all know, are you so close to the fans. one of the great appeals is you
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can sit on the court or fear the court. i'm not saying any of those people were infected, but we don't know. i think that's one of the reasons we saw the nba come out early. that was that bellwether moment. that's what shocked the nation more than anything else. >> i heard that they announced they were suspending nba games for the rest of the season. i said, whoa. what about historic perspective? how unprecedented is this as far as sports is concerned? >> this is a first. we've never seen anything like it. first and foremost we are concerned about those who have the coronavirus. those who might be infected and their families, those who are sick or sadly have passed away so sports seems insignificant, but then when you look at it from the sports, it's kind of this fabric of our nation, a part of our culture, sick pride. it fits right in. i never seen anything like it. september 11th, 2001, we are
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saying this seems close, but nothing like. that especially because it's very different, of course, both tragedy but very different. but the cascading impact of this what we saw monday versus what we see today, it seems like a lifetime especially suspect it's only going to get worse. thank you for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. coming up, russia's continued interference in american elections. stick around. we have an exclusive report. there has never been a better time to have a favorite food. with new grubhub plus you get unlimited free delivery and cashback rewards for ordering noodles, and noodles... and noodles... and noodles. grubhub plus. free delivery, cash back, and noodles.
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- ( phone ringing ) - get details on this state program call or visit we'll have much more on the coronavirus pandemic unfolding right now, in just a little while, including a decision by multiple states to close all schools. the decisions affecting millions of students, but first, an exclusive cnn report. our chief international correspondent clarissa ward is joining us now with a very important update on russia's continued interference in the u.s. elections. clarissa, what are you learning? >> reporter: well, wolf, that's right. we worked with a team of researchers at clemson university. we actually managed to find an active russian troll operation and it's not where you might
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expect it to be, wolf. we worked with facebook and twitter who had already been investigating some of the accounts that we provided. we can now give you an unprecedented view of an anatomy of a troll factory. take a look. >> reporter: p. >> reporter: thousands of miles from the frosty seats of st. petersburg, this is a new hub for russia's infamous trolls. a cnn investigation has found that ghana was the launchpad for an online operation to stoke racial tensions and sister up social unrest in the u.s. ahead of the 2020 election. open twitter, facebook and instagram, hundreds of accounts churned out posts about issues such as racism and police brutal in the u.s. for months now, we have been investigating this new york of trolls targeting african-americans. and now we have actually come here to ghana to try to get the
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full story. in the run-up to our journey, we had discovered that all of the accounts were connected to an ngo called eliminating par years for the liberation of africa. known as ebla or ebla. looking at the website, it was clear something was off. parts of it still had dummied texts him it was impossible to make an actual donation and most mysteriously, one of the photographs had a russian file name. though the group claimed to be focused on issues like poverty in ghana, it's employees posted almost exclusively about the u.s. some used inkrepd area language, america's dis-- incendiary language. someone needs to take that senator out. often they posted on real u.s. groups an attempt to gain leity macy's and build an audience. many even implied they were in
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america. we all are sick and tired of the violence that's taking place in our communities. in reality, they were here, in a non-descript house on the outskirts of ghana's capital. this is the compound where the operation has been based. there is no sign for an ngo. we are about an hour outside of the estimate as you can see this is a very secluded residential area. people have been telling us about three years ago, services showed up here, raided the building and no one has been back since. sources if ghana's national security tell cnn that all of ebla's funding came from russia. after the raid, the accounts went quiet for a few days. then on instagram, the group changed their handle names and started posting again. we're heading out now to meet one of the ebla employees.
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they don't all l actually know that cnn is coming to this meeting. but we are desperately hoping they might be able to give us some information about how the ngo works and who might be behind it. after some discussion about their safety, the employee agrees to speak to us if we agree to keep her identity hidden. we go to the secure location and says that she was hired in 2019 and she had no idea that she would be working for russia. >> tell us how you were trained. >> we were used by using hashtags and if we were posting about black lives matter, it is here. >> reporter: they were given a different subject like police brutal toir fity or feminism.
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>> you have to be with the right. >> reporter: and that is associated with the russia's research agency known as the ira and the aim to pit americans against one another and put mistrust in the system. and a close associate of president putin, the ira was sanctioned by the u.s., and now they seemed to be trolled by the network, and one employee says she was employed by a south african known as mr. o'marra. >> he said that we was a passionate people. >> and do you know if he spoke other languages? >> according to what i heard, he spoke russian. >> reporter: but he is not south
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african and in fact, he is not mr. o'marra at all. cnn has learned that his name is seth aradu and he is ghanaian. and he has work and been in russia for years. months after starting the ghana operation, h opened up a second branch. hen posted a job in linkedin in charleston, south carolina. the raid by ghana's security services did not stop him. on the last day of necra, we have found that he has organized a secret group of employees on a university campus. he tells them to create more accounts and promises them to be paid soon. as the meeting is finishing, we approach him with the camera and greet him in russian. >> reporter: seth.
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hi. my name is clarissa ward and i work for cnn. how are you? >> i am fine. >> reporter: i have a couple of questions for you about ebla and why you posted this job in the u.s. in charleston, south carolina. >> oh, that is so strange for someone to come asking about ebla right now. so i don't know how much i can be of help to you. >> reporter: you are aware that there is a presidential e lek sn shun in november. >> no. >> reporter: you are not? >> i know that there is one in ghana. >> reporter: how long have you been working for the troll factory in st. petersburg, russia. >> i don't consider myself working for them. >> reporter: why to you call yourself mr. amata. >> anyone can trust anyone they want. i am protected by god.
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>> reporter: but you are actually doing it for russia. you might want to explain to god that there was a mix up. >> reporter: he denies running a russian troll factory and with that, our conversation ends. >> here he comes. >> reporter: moments later we see him drive off in a red mercedes and wherever his money is coming from, sheems the be doing well. the room where ebla's trolls once sat is empty and similar operations out there may be ramping up as efforts to influence the 2020 election continue. clarissa, that is amazing reporting. thank you so much. what is the scale of this overall operation? >> so, wolf, what we know is that facebook, instagram and twitter have taken down 274 accounts as a result of this investigation. those accounts reaching roughly
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a quarter of a million people and most of them americans, but what is interesting is that for the social media companies, they consider it something of a victory. they got the accounts at a early stage in the operation. the concern of course though, wolf, going forward is that you can be sure that there are other aym amara-type factories in potentially other countries, wolf. >> it is so political here in the united states, and thank you so much for that report. coming up, we will have more on the coronavirus pandemic. the closing of ohio, the state of ohio i should say is closing all schools until next month. i will speak with the governor mike dewine about the dramatic and incredibly important decision. get 'em while they're hot. applebee's 25 cent boneless wings
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this is cnn breaking news. i'm wolf blitzer in the "situation room," and we are following breaking news. u.s. stocks suffering the worst day since the black monday stock market crash of 1987 as concern over the coronavirus pandemic grows. the dow dropped more than 2,300 points today and nearly a 10% drop and erasing almost three years' gains. and meanwhile, the country's top infectious disease doctor is telling the doctors that the u.s. is failing when it comes to the coronavirus as the death toll of the virus has now climbed in the united states to 40 with more than 1,500


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