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U.S. Ramps Up Testing as Coronavirus Spreads to More States; Interview with Representative Marc Veasey (D-TX) about His Support for Joe Biden; Trump to Meet with Drugmakers About Coronavirus; Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Obamacare Next Term. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired March 2, 2020 - 11:30   ET



DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: And so the test is also important because you may get tested early in that incubation period and it may be negative, but you may actually end up developing the new coronavirus later. And so that's why it's really important to follow the guidance of your doctor. Recognizing that this is a quickly evolving situation as we get more data and more information.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And testing has actually been -- is obviously been a big concern among health experts. You raised it early on when we spoke. But there's also a question that we're receiving from viewers at this point. One viewer asking what are the real-world consequences of a lack of testing?

WEN: You know, one of the things about this new coronavirus that's both good and bad is that there are a lot of people who could have coronavirus but don't have symptoms, which again is good because it means that this could be a mild illness for a lot of people, but somebody could also have COVID-19, the coronavirus, and not realize that they have it.

So now that the U.S. is starting to do more tests, we are seeing more cases. And public health experts are expecting that we will see many more cases in the weeks to come, not necessarily because they're just more cases, but because we're doing more testing and that's what happens when we haven't had the testing capacity, but we're ramping up now.

BOLDUAN: And, Doctor, is it clear yet to you, because this is a question we were getting, can someone spread the virus without showing symptoms, without being overtly sick?

WEN: Yes. We know that this is happening in other countries, we believe it's likely happening here, too, that it looks like about 80 percent of people who get coronavirus have mild symptoms. 20 percent may go on to require hospitalization, they have more severe illness, but they're also people who may not have any symptoms at all but will be carrying the virus and can transmit it to others.

BOLDUAN: So I want to jump down to -- this is full screen six, guys. There is a lot that is not known about the virus, obviously to this point, and treatment is a big question. And one -- some viewers are asking how do -- how are people currently recovering from the coronavirus? There is no vaccine, there's no antiviral that's out there for this, so what is it? Do we know?

WEN: Right now the treatment that there is for coronavirus is similar to if you get a cold or another respiratory virus, which is that it is called symptomatic treatment. You treat the symptoms. So if somebody is coughing, if somebody has trouble breathing, you treat those symptoms. But you're right, there is no antiviral that is approved yet.

Now there are clinical trials that are already ongoing for existing antiviral medications. So, for example, with influenza, the flu, there is Tamiflu, which could reduce the severity of the illness, the length of the illness, and similar types of antivirals are being tested against coronavirus. But right now, symptomatic treatment is the only thing that's available and that's why it's so important to focus on prevention.

The good hand washing, coughing, sneezing into your sleeve and not out into the open, avoiding people who are sick, staying home when you're ill yourself, staying away from crowded places. These are all the measures that would help you prevent get other respiratory -- prevent you from getting other respiratory illnesses, too.

BOLDUAN: And that is in -- and that is the prescription for this situation as far as we know it today and right now.

Dr. Wen, thank you so much for coming in and answering some of those questions. We'll have you back. We're getting thousands and thousands of these questions because people are understandably concerned and they're helpful for everybody. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, Democratic candidates, they're making their final pitch to voters ahead of Super Tuesday. Can Joe Biden consolidate moderates? Will Bernie Sanders end the day with an insurmountable lead, with the lead that will carry him into the convention?

Much may depend on Texas and the congressman from there joins us next.



BOLDUAN: It was a huge weekend for the 2020 presidential race. And it's a huge week ahead. Super Tuesday is tomorrow. It is super because on that day 34 percent of all delegates available are to be awarded. A big portion of that comes from Texas, with the second largest number of delegates up for grabs. And the candidates, of course, know that. Former vice president Joe Biden, he's campaigning there today, holding rallies in Houston and Dallas. And this follows his big win in South Carolina Saturday.

Let's get a lay of the land right now. Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Marc Veasey of Texas. He's endorsed Joe Biden.

Congressman, thank you for coming in.

REP. MARC VEASEY (D-TX): Hello, Kate.

BOLDUAN: A win in South Carolina is something that we know that Joe Biden needed. Will Joe Biden win Texas?

VEASEY: Joe Biden is doing great in Texas and I think that he is going to win Texas. I think he's going to have a very strong showing here. Of course, the polls and South Carolina show the race being much tighter. And Joe Biden ended up winning nearly every demographic in South Carolina. He overwhelmingly won the African-American vote. And he convincingly won there, he won by a much larger margin in South Carolina than Bernie did in Nevada.

And so I think that today's going to -- tomorrow's going to be great for the vice president. And he's going to do very well here in Texas, particularly here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, Houston, San Antonio, and other areas of the state.


He's -- even in rural parts like East Texas, he is going to do very well.

BOLDUAN: We will be able to test your theory in a few short hours, that is for sure, Congressman. So Jim Clyburn, he had a blunt assessment of the Biden campaign this weekend. He was speaking to CNN. Let me play that. Listen to this.


REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): We need to do some retooling in the campaign, no question about that. I did not feel free to speak out about it or to even deal with it inside because I had not committed to his candidacy. I have now. I'm all in. And I'm not going to sit idly by and watch people mishandle this campaign.


BOLDUAN: He's talking about how the campaign -- he said has been mishandled and how it needs to be retooled. Do you agree?

VEASEY: Anything that our majority whip says needs to be taken seriously and I'm sure that the Biden campaign is going to take the suggestions that Whip Clyburn gave to them. They're going to look at them very seriously and if there needs to be some retooling, there will be some retooling. When Jim Clyburn speaks, people listen. He's been at this for a long time. And he knows what he's talking about. And I'm sure the campaign took that very seriously.

BOLDUAN: Do other areas -- are there areas that you see need retooling?

VEASEY: You know, I would say that, you know, right now after South Carolina, that we're going to continue to ride that wave. I think that a lot of the Super Tuesday states are very diverse. I have a large African-American population in favor of the vice president and, again, we're going to continue to ride the wave.

And I want to remind everybody out there listening today. If you go back to 1992 and 2008, it was African-Americans in South Carolina that decided to send Bill Clinton as our nominee and the same with Barack Obama. And I think that that's going to be the case this time around, too, in 2020. So I'm feeling really great about tomorrow.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about what happened last night. Pete Buttigieg, he dropped out of the race, he suspended his campaign, because he says he looked at the map and he did not see a path.

Are you in the camp right now, Congressman, of calling on other candidates facing similar math, like Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, to do the same?

VEASEY: I don't see a path for the other candidates that are in the race. It is up to them to decide when they suspend their campaigns or when they end their campaigns for that matter. But I just don't see a path. I mean, Buttigieg was polling very poorly with African-American voters, nationwide, and he decided to drop out. And the same with Klobuchar. She's polling very poorly with African-Americans, so Super Tuesday is not going to bode that well for her.

And -- but again, each of these candidates have to decide when they're going to drop out. I think that we're going to have a very long contest going into the summer, and so I look forward to that and look forward to continuing to talk about why I think the vice president is the best person to lead our party going into November.

BOLDUAN: And one person in the top tier is Bernie Sanders, and you have been quite blunt about your assessment and concerns about having Bernie Sanders when -- if he would win the nomination. I've seen you say that you think that he's going to take the party down with him if he would win the nomination.

I read that and I also then wonder, what are you going to say if Bernie Sanders does become the nominee and folks are playing those quotes back to you over and over again?

VEASEY: You know, unlike Senator Sanders, you know, he had some -- he actually supported someone from the Socialist Workers Party in 1980 over Jimmy Carter. He had some very harsh words to say about President John F. Kennedy and said that he was nauseated by his remarks, that he made about Fidel Castro back in some interview he was given back in the 1980s.

You know, he had some terrible things to say about our nominee. In 1984, Walter Mondale said he was going to primary Barack Obama. I am going to support whomever the Democratic nominee is. Always support a Democrat for president, and that's not going to change. And I would hope that if Joe Biden is the nominee that this time around --

BOLDUAN: Right. But, Congressman, what you just said -- in your leadup to I will support the nominee was pointing out -- it was highlighting the word socialist and socialism, and these criticisms of the party.

VEASEY: Because I'm concerned about those things.

BOLDUAN: Over and over again. That's exactly -- go ahead.

VEASEY: Because I'm concerned about those things. It is not going to be like it was at the debate the other night in South Carolina. The Republicans will drill in on these things and we have a lot to lose. The next president of the United States is going to choose at least two Supreme Court justices, I believe, and we need to make sure that it is going to be a nominee that will vote with Kagan and that will vote with the liberals on the court, and we don't need to be trying to think about a rally that we're going to plan two years from now because "Roe v. Wade" is overturned.


We need to make sure that we get a nominee in 2020 that will make sure that things like union protections, 'Roe v. Wade," voting rights protections, that there are jurists put on the court that will keep those things in mind and judge on them fairly.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you for coming in.

VEASEY: I take that very seriously. Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Let us see what happens tomorrow. Look forward to having you on again. Thank you very much.

Coming up for us, a new concern over the coronavirus outbreak, manufacturing shutdowns in China and what that could mean in terms of the supply chain of medicines among other things here in the United States. Someone who has been sounding the alarm on that joins us next.



BOLDUAN: We're watching Wall Street right now after its worst week since the financial crisis. Right now things are looking up, the Dow up more than 600 points. We'll keep an eye there, but soon President Trump will meet with pharmaceutical executives amid concerns about disruptions to U.S. drug supplies caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

My next guest has literally written a book on this. Rosemary Gibson, she's author of "China RX: Exposing the Risks of America's Dependence on China for Medicine."

Thank you for coming in.

ROSEMARY GIBSON, AUTHOR, "CHINA RX": Well, thanks for having me today, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it. You call it -- the way you described it is China's global chokehold on the medicines that Americans depend on. So what does a shutdown or slowdown that we are seeing in terms of China in their factories writ large? What does that mean for the supply chain in terms of medicines to the United States? GIBSON: Sure. We have a perfect storm right here now. We have a

production shutdown in China. Transportation routes are really hampered. We have an outbreak in China, which is the source of about 80 percent of the core ingredients in our medicines. And here we have coronavirus hitting here in the United States, so we have to watch it very carefully. There are a lot of good people in industry and in Washington looking at this closely and trying to bring some of that manufacturing back home to the U.S. so we can ramp up quickly.

BOLDUAN: You talk about 80 percent of core ingredients for these medicines made in China.

GIBSON: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Coming from China. So how quickly does this become a real world problem in terms of going to a store and not being able to get a medicine you need?

GIBSON: Well, I think we have some supplies for the coming months, but it depends upon how long this continues. We're already seeing that the FDA announced one shortage of a medicine because of coronavirus, but let's be clear. We've had drug shortages in this country for 20 years, sometimes hundreds every year, so this is not new. But now we have the overlay of coronavirus will make this more of a challenge.

BOLDUAN: Why don't people know more about what drug, that one that you're talking about, or what drugs are facing shortages specifically? Why don't we know?

GIBSON: I think right now the FDA doesn't want any situation where somebody starts to hoard them, which prevents the medicines that are available from being allocated to those who them the most. So I think there is a good reason for that.

BOLDUAN: So I was looking about the reporting -- some of the reporting from the Commerce Department. In 2018, China accounted for 95 percent of U.S. imports of ibuprofen, 91 percent of imported acetaminophen, Tylenol. You got hydrocortisone, a huge amount. Also 80 percent of U.S. supplies of antibiotics are made in China.

Are all of those things at risk right now?

GIBSON: I don't know if all of them are at risk, but we do have to begin with our generic antibiotics. That's what's really important to ensure we have enough of and to bring some of that manufacturing back home. And I hope a congressional spending bill that's going through that includes money for -- launched the manufacturing, advance manufacturing of some of these essential medicines right here at home, from soup to nuts, from all the ingredients to the finished drugs.

There are folks ready to jump on the train to do that quickly for our country, for people in hospitals and for all of us for now and in the future.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Because what we're looking at is as a long-term problem but a very immediate crisis. GIBSON: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: That we could be facing, and that's exactly what you're getting to.

Rosemary, so much more to this conversation we will continue to have.


BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for coming on.

GIBSON: Thanks for having me, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, the Supreme Court announces it will take up a major case against Obamacare. What it could mean for the fate of the Affordable Care Act. That's next.



BOLDUAN: A major announcement this morning from the Supreme Court. The justices saying that they will take up a third challenge to Obamacare and this time this case could decide the fate of the whole thing.

Joining us right now, CNN's Sara Murray. She's tracking this.

So, Sara, what does this mean -- what does this case mean for the future of Obamacare?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it means that the court is going to weigh in and perhaps alleviate some of the uncertainty around the future of this law, but they did it in an interesting way. I mean, they declined previous efforts to expedite a ruling, essentially, on the future of this law. They decided to take this one, which was something that they would take up next term, which begins in October, and likely wouldn't be decided until the presidential election is over.

But it could actually be a good sign, Kate, for defenders of the Affordable Care Act. It was California and Democratic-led states that went to the Supreme Court and were pressing them to expedite this decision-making. They wanted it to be done this term. That will not be happening. It will be taken up next term, but it does tell you that -- you know, it suggests that there are justices on this court who want to deal with the uncertainty around this law, who know how difficult it is to have that uncertainty still out there.

Kate, we know this is a law that affects millions of people, and you know, we should be clear, this law stays in place while this debate is ongoing and while the Supreme Court considers it next term, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And this -- I mean, and this is an issue that obviously the president has weighed in on, this exact case. MURRAY: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: This gets to really the core of, can the law stand without the individual mandate. That's where this kind of gets done, too. And now the justices will be taking it up.

Thanks, Sara. It's great to see you. Appreciate it.

MURRAY: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you all so much for joining me today. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.