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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
W.H. Briefing on Coronavirus as U.S. Cases Grow, Stocks Nosedive; Trump Briefs Reporters as Coronavirus Cases Grow in U.S., Dow Has Worst Point Drop in History; Pence Says He Doesn't Know if Trump Has Been Tested After Contact With 2 GOP Reps Who are Self- Quarantined. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 9, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: The U.S. has the most resilient economy in the world. You saw a very large economic jobs number last month and we couldn't be more pleased that the President's economic programs of tax cuts, regulatory relief and trade have put the economy in a very good position.
I would also just say that I am in daily conversations with Chair Powell. We are committed and we just had a meeting with the President and the economic team. The President is committed that whatever support we need to provide to the U.S. economy, we will use all our tools, working very closely with the regulators.
The President has the bank CEOs coming in this week. We'll be talking to them about what they can do to help small businesses and companies that are impacted. So let me just again emphasize, our primary focus is there are parts of the economy that are going to be impacted, especially workers that need to be at home, hardworking people who are at home under quarantine or taking care of their family.
We'll be working on a program to address that. We will also be working with small businesses who need liquidity through SBA programs. We're looking at alternatives at the IRS. We have large tax payments coming up of providing certain relief to companies and individuals for liquidity.
So the President is 100% committed that we will provide whatever tools we need, that the economy will be in very good shape a year from now. This is not like the financial crisis, where we don't know the end in sight. This is about providing proper tools and liquidity to get through the next few months.
MNUCHIN: Follow up. Well, let me just say there are certain authorities that the President has that we can do on our own and we've already catalogued those tools. We have a large group. A sub task force of Treasury and NEC working on this.
We are also working with bipartisan leadership on a whole range of alternatives that we'll be discussing with them tomorrow. And as you know, we had bipartisan agreement on the spending deal. We will use the same approach to work with the leadership on the House and the Senate on this.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You just said that you have not been tested. You said you don't know if the President has been tested. But today, we learned that the President has interacted with two lawmakers who have interacted with someone who is positive for coronavirus, so why not get tested?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I just simply don't know what the White House position has recommended to the President, but I promise you we'll get you that information.
COLLINS: So when do you think you could let us know if the President has been tested?
PENCE: We'll let you know tonight.
PENCE: By the way, yes, look, this is, obviously, the White House position is their directive is to see that the health and well-being of the President of the United States and we'll get you a very direct answer on that.
PENCE: I've had no recommendation that I would be tested. But let me let me just say to everyone, I really do believe that the guidance that we put out today would be very helpful and very encouraging to Americans. It was fashioned by Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, some of the leading experts in infectious disease in the world.
And for families that are looking on tonight to go to coronavirus.gov, you can find information about how you can just make your home safer, your family safer, your school safer, your business safer and we recommend that to your attention. Yes, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Vice President, do you believe and does the President believe that what happened in the stock market today and what we're seeing among American industry, some of which that President named today as being affected and in trouble here are in any way of a result of this White House's reaction to the coronavirus crisis? Is this the markets and American businesses saying that you guys are not (inaudible) didn't think enough ahead?
PENCE: Well, I have to tell you, I'm about a week and a half into being asked to lead the President's White House coronavirus task force. And the men and women standing behind me and all the men and women standing behind them have done a remarkable job responding to this.
The President's decision to suspend all travel from China, Dr. Fauci, I think, reflected just last night on national television about the time that that bought us, the decisive action in declaring a public health emergency. I really do believe that the American people can see that this President is putting the health of the American people first.
But make no mistake about it, as we go forward and particularly as we have more testing available, and we have these communities that have community spread, there will be more cases.
But we ask today for the American public to join with us in the common sense practices that will mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. And also particularly, we're asking every American to look after our seniors who have serious underlying health issues. They are clearly the most vulnerable and that's where the focus of our energy is today, even as we do everything that we can, working with governors at every level in state and local public health officials to limit the spread of the virus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I could ask a question to Dr. Fauci?
PENCE: Of course.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
PENCE: Dr. Fauci.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More and more organizations, charities are canceling fundraising events, other events, is that proven? Is that an overreaction? Do you think the President should continue with campaign rallies? And do you believe that people even if they're healthy should get on board a cruise ship?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: OK. So there's multiple different questions. So the idea about individual entities; governors, mayors or whatever canceling activities that are not coming from a direct recommendation from the federal government, I think that they have - I don't think I know they have the authority to do that, but what they're probably acting on is what they would consider for their citizens an abundance of caution.
Most of the time when that happens, it usually is in an area where there is already documented community spread and Dr. Redfield mentioned the four areas right now that are having community spread that's documented. But there may be as we know, it's a possibility that there's community spread going on in areas in which we're not detecting it yet and I think that's the response of the individuals, be they mayors or governors who have you who are doing that.
So I wouldn't criticize them for that they're using their own individual judgment. And to me, I think that that would be prudent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Campaign rallies? FAUCI: I can't comment on campaign rallies. It really depends. We are
having, as we've all said, this is something in motion. This is an evolving thing. So not sure what we're going to be able to say at the time where you have a campaign rally, if you're talking about a campaign rally tomorrow in a place where there is no community spread. I think the judgment to have it might be a good judgment.
If you want to talk about large gatherings in a place where you have community spread. I think that's a judgment call and if someone decides they want to cancel it, I wouldn't publicly criticize them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Vice President, I'd ask one last one about cruise ships, because a lot of people were planning cruises over the spring break. Do you recommend that anybody, even a healthy person, get onboard a cruise ship?
FAUCI: Yes. I think if you're a healthy young person that there is no reason. If you want to go on a cruise ship, to go on a cruise ship, personally, I would never go on a cruise ship because I don't like cruises, that's another story.
But the fact is that if you have the conditions that I've been speaking about over and over again to this group, namely an individual who has an underlying condition, particularly an elderly person that has underlying condition, I would recommend strongly that they do not go on a cruise ship.
PENCE: And let me also, John, I think you raise a good point. We're expecting a proposal tomorrow that DHS, the Coast Guard, all of our health officials are currently discussing with the cruise line industry. I was in Miami on Saturday. We made it very clear that we needed cruise lines to be safer, to establish and to embrace new protocols, screening onboard, screening off, new medical protocols, shipboard processes for evacuating people that may contract coronavirus or a serious illness.
And I know the President was grateful that our cruise line leadership all stepped up to the table. They said they're ready to go to the next level. And so we'll be reviewing that proposal tomorrow with the objective that apart from the Americans that Dr. Fauci just describe, the seniors with serious underlying conditions, we're going to work with the cruise line industry to improve the safety, improve the health environment on cruise lines in the short-term and in the long- term. Yes, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last time, President Trump was in this room he told us the number of use cases was 15 and would soon go down to zero.
You guys are saying today that the number is going up and it's more than 500. What is the discrepancy and how is he so wrong on that (inaudible)?
PENCE: Oh, look, I think what the President was referring to is that we will have people that test positive and then they get better. President Trump wants the American people to know and I'm going to ask Dr. Birx to reflect on this for a moment.
The vast majority of people who contract the coronavirus will get better and the President has just challenged our task force as the numbers grow and they will, we'll continue to test more and more Americans. We are as I'm standing here. That it's also important to remember that people with the vast majority get better completely.
Some large percentage have mild flu symptoms. Some have serious flu symptoms. But then, of course, for the Americans, you heard the Surgeon General referred to, seniors with underlying serious health conditions, Dr. Fauci referred to, we're committed to lean in and to make sure they have the support they need.
But the President's focus here is just making sure people understand that while the numbers grow, there are people that come off the list because they get better. And Dr. Birx, did you want to reflect on what we know about the cycle of the coronavirus?
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Yes, thank you. So we know that coronavirus reacts a lot like the flu in the way it spreads and in the way we prevent it. And so when we put out the guidelines to the American people, they will reinforce the guidelines and we hope the number of flu cases go down too, because people will really be - what we call situational awareness.
I did want to add one piece to our cautions about people with pre existing condition. We also know that there are children with preexisting conditions and we know that there are individuals that are undergoing chemotherapy for their treatment of cancer.
For those individuals, if they have what we call decreased number of white cells and they will have that discussions with the doctors, they are given often a sheet of paper that really describes how they need to protect themselves and how their family needs to protect them. So I want to make sure that we understand, yes, we're concerned about the elderly, we're concerned about others with pre existing condition.
We're also concerned about anybody who may be in what we call an immunodeficiency state, having less white cells and less able to combat any virus. We want to protect all of them from the flu and we want to protect all of them from Coronavirus and that's why these guidelines are particularly important.
PENCE: It really is important, I think, and I want to ask all of the journalists in the room, do what you can to distribute this information, coronavirus.gov because exactly the reasons Dr. Birx just said so well that we want to make sure that families have the tools, businesses have the tools even in areas where we don't have a significant outbreak of the coronavirus. I want to make sure that the American people have the tools to prevent
the spread of the coronavirus, particularly with regard to the most vulnerable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... because earlier you said, tell us how many Americans have already been tested? And as a follow up to a question that was asked earlier, are the President's tweets hurting your efforts at all because he's accused the Democrats and some of the members of the press of making more of this than he said it is, he made lighter of it than you all out here.
So as his tweets hurt you and can you please tell us how many Americans have been tested?
PENCE: I'm happy to do that. Well, the President's leadership has made the difference here. I heard it again today from 47 governors. Governor Larry Hogan joined me in the situation room. He's the Chairman of the National Governors Association.
I think every American would be inspired if you could see the way under the President's leadership and in cooperation with governors in every state and every territory. We literally are working seamlessly on behalf of the health of the American people.
I'm going to invite the Secretary of HHS to come up and speak about how the number of tests that have been done and where we are - the tests that are available he's addressed, but terms of those that have been conducted.
ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: So we've told you, we'll tell you what we know and what we don't know. OK. So there are different types of tests that gets sent out. The CDC's test that CDC is sending out, that's enough to test 75,000 people that was sent out last week. Those go to public health labs. About 80 labs in the United States, one in each state, at least.
Those report results back in to the CDC, because they're part of the public health network. The larger quantity of tests that shipped, about 900,000 of the tests that shipped by this weekend and then so many of the remainder of that total 2.1 million tests, those go to hospitals, private labs, others for testing. They don't currently have to report to us that they've conducted a test or what the result of that test is.
The CDC is actively working right now to build that IT connectivity with them so we can gather that information. So right now, I could not give you a number of how many Americans have received a test because many will have received a test through hospitals or non-public health labs.
And so let's work, we're getting the system, the IT system up through CDC. We want to give you accurate information as we go. Dr. Redfield is that fair?
PENCE: If I may, everyone, thank you all for being here. We will be back here to tomorrow and we'll continue to bring the latest information forward to the American people. Again, let me encourage all of you here and everyone looking on around the country to go to coronavirus.gov. Get really useful, practical, common sense recommendations about how to make your home safer, how to make your schools safer, how to make your business and any enterprise out there safer.
These are practical recommendations from the best experts in America and we commend them to your attention. But let me also just have a word of encouragement to everyone. I want to say again, all of our medical experts, apart from the areas where we have community spread and we're focusing resource, the risk of contracting the coronavirus, for the average American remains low.
It will remain that way more so if all of us continue to practice common sense, habits in our home, in our businesses, in our schools, and our public institutions. And so it's important to remember what President Trump said, we're all in this together. It's not just going to be a whole of government approach. It's a whole of America approach and together we'll get through the coronavirus.
Again, details on all the latest information coronavirus.gov. Thank you.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett and you saw the breaking news. The Vice President just briefing the nation on coronavirus, standing beside Vice President Pence and other members of his task force, President Trump spoke this as the number of cases in the United States grew again today.
We can report at this moment now 707 cases in the United States, 26 deaths at this hour and the Dow having its worst point drop in American history.
OUTFRONT now Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Celine Gounder, she's an Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, Host of the Epidemic, an American diagnosis podcasts. And Dr. Mark Rupp, he has been overseeing treatment for a number of coronavirus patients. He's the Medical Director at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. I appreciate all of you being here.
So Sanjay, the President came out spoke briefly projecting confidence, talking about economic stimulus that he was going to put into the economy. What's your reaction as we saw him come out for the first time at one of these press conferences, which no doubt he thought he had to do after the market crash today?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes. Well, I think you're exactly right. I mean, I think there was an acknowledgement. He was at a previous press conference about a week and a half ago I was at and I think there was a distinct change in tone this time. There was acknowledgement that this is serious, that there were people
talking about this, as he said, all over the world. It's what people have been talking to him about. He did talk a lot about the ways to try and stimulate the economy, that's where he spend most of his time talking about, but he also talked about the idea that hourly wage earners, people who don't have a lot of a lot of reserve would there be relief for them if they're being asked to stay home as this coronavirus continues to spread?
That's been a big issue, as you know, Erin, for a lot of people. He talked about small businesses and he also talked a bit about discussions that he's having ongoing with the airline industry and the cruise industry. So he spent a few minutes really at the beginning and then left most of the rest of the comments to the coronavirus task force. He stepped out. The questions and all of that were given to the task force.
A lot of things came up during that Q&A and the comments including basic measures people can do in their homes and schools and businesses. And also a little bit more about the testing. You and I talked about this last week. We're not at the numbers that we thought we would be at, but we still get the impression hearing Secretary Azar there at the end that the amount of tests are increasing but not nearly the millions and millions that Dr. Fauci said would be needed, not yet.
BURNETT: I want to go to Kaitlan Collins who's in the briefing room and was there. And, obviously, you had a chance to ask a question to Vice President Pence as well. Kaitlan, what was the sort of the President's, we could see through the camera, you were actually there in the room, his sort of mood as he walked out and was obviously forced to take this step to be a part of this.
COLLINS: Yes. And that was the first time we had seen the President all day. The first time he had commented on this, which is notable that he spoke for several minutes, said he would be holding a news conference tomorrow and then left the room without taking any questions from reporters.
But as he was doing that, we did learn that the Vice President said he has not tested, been tested for coronavirus yet. He says he doesn't know if the President has.
That's a question we've been asking the White House all day, Erin. But the Vice President said he would get us an answer by tonight, which is notable that we are getting a deadline from the Vice President of when we are going to learn whether or not the President has been tested which, of course, is a question we are asking, given the developments today that we've learned the President has reacted with two lawmakers who have interacted with someone who is now a coronavirus patient.
So that is something we're still waiting on the answers for. Of course, I heard Dr. Sanjay talking about really all the topics that they hit in here. But one thing that the Vice President was stressing is they are putting guidance on coronavirus.gov. He says that's going to be information that's helpful, essentially to the American public about mitigating the spread of this virus.
But it was also really notable when the Treasury Secretary got up there and he was asked about that incredibly volatile stock market you saw today, which he was blaming on oil prices and less on the administration's response to the coronavirus so far, when we know it is certainly a combination of all of those things in there.
So we will be waiting to see whether or not the President himself has been tested, whether that calculus has changed given what we learned today. But right now, the Vice President said he personally has not received guidance that he needs to be tested for that and whether or not that changes if it does come forward that he has interacted with someone who has had it in the future is still something that remains to be seen, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. And Dr. Gounder, look, she's referring to the fact that a number of high profile Republicans have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus. Matt Gaetz boarded Air Force One today. He was in contact with the President, found out on Air Force One that he had been in contact with someone who had coronavirus. So then he went and sat by himself, but obviously had interacted with the President.
Doug Collins, the Congressman who shook hands, obviously, with the President last week. And Collins had also come into contact with that very same person who has tested positive. So how does this work? And this is a question I think a lot of people have for the President of the United States, whether he should be tested and also for anybody, if you come into contact with somebody who came into contact with somebody, could you have it?
CELINE GOUNDER, INFECTIOUS DISEASES SPECIALIST AND EPIDEMIOLOGIST: I think to be fair, the norm would be you would test the direct contact. So the person who actually shook hands with the person with coronavirus. You would only test the President and others if their direct contacts were testing positive.
Now, the exception to that would be if the President or others develop symptoms, then you would probably go ahead and test. But absent that, I don't think this is really out of the norm that there would be holding off on testing.
BURNETT: Which is a pretty significant thing and I think a question a lot of people have.
Dr. Rupp, I want to ask you another question. This is something that just came up here in the press conference as well and also relevant to the President. They were talking about the people who are most at risk, obviously, older Americans, making very clear that that is where they have seen the majority of deaths. People 70 and up, they said there in the press conference, the average age of a person who had died was 80.
President Trump, of course, is 74 in June. He's been business as usual. I made a point of that. He's gone to fundraisers. He's been holding rallies, gone to birthday parties, hosted dinners, all of that even over the weekend at Mar-A-Lago.
I guess the question to you is should he be doing all that? He wants to project strength, but he's not really doing what they're telling people, older people to do.
DR. MARK RUPP, INFECTION CONTROL CHIEF, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: Well, I would agree that the risk factors for poor outcome with this disease are well defined at this point and include older folks and those with underlying comorbid illnesses. I think it would be prudent for gatherings to be precluded in areas where there clearly was community based spread. And so again, if a rally is being done in a place where they really haven't had documented spread, it's probably safe.
But again, people who are at higher risk may want to preclude some of those activities despite that.
BURNETT: Sanjay, another thing that Vice President Pence said and wanted to emphasize this as he has again and again, is that the risk for average Americans is low and he says it again and again. Now, also today, the CDC said that 'many people in the United States will be exposed to coronavirus this year or next'.
Now, is it possible that those two things are both true.
You're going to get huge amount of exposure and yet it's still low risk?
GUPTA: Well, I think when he says low risk, I think you're right, I mean you got to define a little bit low risk of what exactly. I think in areas, as Dr. Rupp was just talking about, where there is community spread, I don't know that you could reasonably say it's still low risk to be exposed to the virus. I think I'd say it's low risk to get sick and certainly even lower risk to get seriously sick from the virus.
But the idea that the virus is spreading, I think and certainly in some areas of the country has been pretty well documented and that's without the sufficient testing that we've all been talking about. I mean, we don't have a clear view into just how widespread this is. There could be other communities where we haven't heard much in terms of spread because people really aren't getting sick there. They haven't been getting tested, so we don't know.
So I don't know if we can reasonably say all across the country that the risk of being exposed to the virus and getting an infection is low. I think the virus is spreading, I think we know that.
BURNETT: Right. And as you point out because of the lack of testing, we don't know how many cases of flu or deaths from flu were perhaps misappropriated and could have been coronavirus.
Dr. Gounder, one other thing they said at the press conference I think stands out to a lot of people and it should calm some, but it also raises questions. And that is they said that young people are more likely to die from the flu than they are from coronavirus. OK. Then why are we seeing schools close? Why are we seeing universities close? Why are we seeing such a dramatic shutdown with huge economic impacts if that is true?
GOUNDER: I think the idea is to reduce community spread and it's really about insulating the people who are at highest risk. So the elderly, people with comorbidities. So just because John or Jill who goes to school may not be at very high risk themselves, they can bring it home to their parents to their grandparents and that's what we're concerned about here.
BURNETT: And do you think it's worth closing all of these schools down? I mean, entire school district.
GOUNDER: I think there's a trade off because this is, for a lot of kids, they depend on school for free lunches. Families depend on school for childcare, not to mention how disruptive it is to their education. So I think you really have to weigh the risk and benefit in these situations.
BURNETT: Dr. Rupp, you've been treating and overseeing the treatment for coronavirus patients, what have you seen that Americans concerned about the virus would want to know?
RUPP: Well, I think a lot of it has already been brought out that this is spreading. This is something that people need to be concerned about. It's not something that we need to panic about, but we do need to have responsible social distancing put into place and we've just comment a little bit about that with regard to when do you put into the public health measures of closing schools and putting in social distancing and when do you not do that.
And I think that's the big question that a lot of people have would like to have answers for. I think we have to rely upon our public health and when they see community spread, it then makes sense to put those measures in to place. Prior to that we're probably just disrupting people's lives without really having cause to do so.
BURNETT: So, Sanjay, we are learning today and I know this is new information just the past hour or so that people infected with coronavirus could be symptom free for about five days on average and that they should expect to experience symptoms within somewhere around 12 days. How hard is this make it to contain? Because as you know this has been a big question on asymptomatic spread, you're now talking about people might not have any idea they're sick, but theoretically could be contagious for up to five days.
GUPTA: Right. And I think, the incubation period that we've been hearing about up to two weeks, 14 days, that's sort of based on some of this data as well. But as you point out, Erin, most people who are going to develop symptoms do develop them within five days.
It makes it more challenging because if someone is asymptomatic and they can be a source of spread, that does make it challenging. But I specifically spoke to Dr. Fauci about this and he acknowledged that the data did show that asymptomatic spread was possible. But his general thinking on this was that while that's possible, it doesn't appear to be a primary driver of this community spread.
So it can happen and basically what you're saying is, look, if you're coughing and sneezing and putting respiratory droplets out in the air, that's a more obvious way of spread. But even people who are asymptomatic that carrying the virus within their nose or whatever, they could still be shedding the virus in some ways that can happen, but not as big a driver of this community spread.
BURNETT: All right. All, thank you very much.
And next, the reaction, markets plunge, free fall, biggest Dow point drop in history. We're talking 2,000 points. Is this as bad as the economic collapse in 2008?
And all of Italy tonight is on lockdown. That is more than 60 million people. What does that mean? And will it stop the coronavirus?
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Will it stop the coronavirus?
BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump says he's meeting with lawmakers tomorrow to talk about a payroll tax cut. This after the coronavirus crashed the Dow sink by more than 2,000 points today. Oil posted its biggest drop in one day in nearly 30 years. The markets driven by fear and the sudden shock of a plunge in economic activity due to coronavirus.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, though, says this is not like the 2008 financial crisis. Here he is moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: This is not like the financial crisis where we don't know the end in sight. This is about providing proper tools and liquidity to get through the next few months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Larry Summers. He ran the National Economic Council during the financial crisis under President Obama and also served as treasury secretary under President Clinton.
Secretary, what do you say to this, that this is not like a financial crisis because we know the end in sight? Is that the way the treasury secretary should be presenting this?
LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY UNDER PRES. CLINTON: I hope Secretary Mnuchin's right. I don't see how he can be so confident.
We never know what's going to happen in the stock market. Most of the medical experts do not think that coronavirus is going to be over as a problem in a few months. If you look at what's happening in the futures market, the futures market for interest rates, the futures market for oil, they see major dislocations for persisting for as long as 10 years.
Markets think that here's so much deflationary psychology, that inflation even five years from now is likely to be below 1 percent on the feds preferred target, not at the feds target of 2 percent. So, we may succeed in putting this problem behind us with a really strong policy response. I certainly hope we do, but I think for the secretary to suggest that it's all in hand is to put his credibility at some risk.
And I don't think that people in positions of responsibility for economic policy should ever try to be definitive about what economic outcomes are going to be. Frankly, it suggests they're more politically motivated than analytically motivated for the benefit of the economy.
BURNETT: And I suppose he was echoing President Trump who said the economy was strong and trying to imply this is now a blip on the radar. I mean, when you look at 2008, right, you were there. You were in the Obama White House during that financial crisis, and many people watching may remember the fear they had, maybe there wouldn't be money coming out of ATMs, that maybe society as a whole were under threat.
Those were days of fear and panic in the markets. Those are the fair words to you. Panic was a word and it was accurate. Do you see any of that when you look at oil down the most in nearly 30 years and a 2,000 point drop in the Dow?
SUMMERS: We're not there. There's not the kind of total freeze-up and panic that there was at certain moments in 2008 and 2009. But a few more days like today and we will be there. And that's why it's important that our policy makers speak in ways that suggest that they have a realistic understanding of the situation or are working through in a steady way what can be done to add strength to the economy. I think there's much more danger that we will do too little than we will do too much.
And frankly it all fits together. The fact that America with 300-and- some million people is talking about producing a million or billion tests for a pandemic disease that's the kind of record that's probably closer to Zambia than it is to America. What we need is not people going back and forth congratulating each other at a press conference.
What we need is a plan that is coherent, based on a clearly laid out theory of the case that is coordinated across different parts of the government with the international institutions and critically with the other major countries and that is comprehensive, touching everything from testing people who are potentially victims of this disease to helping businesses who may have debts coming due because they don't have cash flows. And we need that kind of comprehensive approach, and I don't think we're there yet. But hopefully, we will get there, and that will imbue some confidence and help to lift us out of this situation.
BURNETT: All right. Larry Summers, I appreciate your time. Secretary, thank you.
And I want to go now to Greg Davis. He is the chief investment officer at Vanguard, which manages the largest mutual fund in the United States.
And I appreciate your time, Gregg. So, do you share the concern that there is a greater risk of doing too little than too much if you hear and I don't know if you just heard the president talk about a payroll tax cut, and then the treasury secretary, Secretary Mnuchin, talking about a whole range of tools, they have a lot of cataloging their tools. He was saying they were going to do a lot but was very vague about what a lot might be.
GREG DAVIS, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, VANGUARD: I think at this point, it's really too early to tell. We still don't know exactly what's going to happen in terms of, you know, the continuation of the virus. You know, our main thoughts are with the families and individuals impacted at this point in time and our medical professionals that are on the front lines of this virus. And they're going to continue to be in our thoughts.
You know, in terms of a response, that's one of the unknown. We don't know exactly what the monetary response is going to be or the fiscal policy response. To the extent you get a major downturn like we saw today, you know, that's clearly going to be a catalyst for a response either from the Fed or a combination of a fiscal response as well.
BURNETT: So, Gregg, when you saw that plunge today and you saw what happened to oil, you saw a 2,000-point drop, I mean, how much of a shock was that to you?
DAVIS: You know, we have to keep these things in perspective. You know, at the end of the day, you know, we've seen a 10 percent downturn in the markets. It typically doesn't happen, you know, in a big jump like we saw today in terms of a downturn over 7 percent.
But, typically, we'll see a 10 percent correction in the market once every two years and a 20 percent pull back once every seven years or so. So, these things happen in the markets on a regular basis.
Clearly, the oil situation and the price wars going on there are clearly contributing to the uncertainty in the market. And we have to remember when we came into 2020, the equity markets appeared to be overvalued and a lot of good news was priced in and some of that good news has been taken out and caused some repricing. But this is normal part of market functioning.
BURNETT: So, what -- what does someone do right now who watches this happening and is afraid, as a lot of people are, and they look at their nest egg and their 401k and all the uncertainty out there? Do they get out, or do they wait?
DAVIS: The thing we always tell our investors is take a really long- term perspective. So, you know, what you don't want to do is make significant changes in your portfolio allocation based upon, you know, significant movements in the markets. That's usually where you're going to get it wrong.
So, we're always thinking and telling investors to make sure they're thinking about that long-term perspective and these things will pass. It may seem scary during the short-term, but in the long run we go these blips happen on a regular basis and in the long run the markets produce a significant return for investors. It's also a time for investors to have a right level risk in their portfolios and to keep that in mind when there's rebalancing opportunities that present themselves.
BURNETT: All right. Greg, thank you very much. I appreciate your time, from Vanguard.
DAVIS: My pleasure.
BURNETT: And next, a top senator calls Trump's response to coronavirus, quote, denial and deception. Why?
Plus, a story we've been following on OUTFRONT. You're looking at live pictures of passengers just starting to walk off a cruise ship, more than 20 passengers have coronavirus on that at the last test on Friday. One of the passengers still on the ship joins me next.
BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump praising his administration's response to coronavirus amid growing concern about the response as the number of cases in the United States grows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just blind-sided the world, and I think we've handled it very, very well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And this as Trump went on a twitter tirade today. He tweeted a retweet more than 30 times including this one: So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shutdown. Life and the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 22 deaths. Think about that.
Obviously these numbers change, you know, by the moment. Now the number of dead and the number of cases has gone up even in the hour since he sent that.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Now, Senator, you accused President Trump earlier today at engaging in
denial and deception when it comes to coronavirus. That particular, tweet, though, obviously his facts about the flu are correct.
Do you have an issue of him pointing to the flu and comparing to coronavirus?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): What's at issue here is as failing to tell the American people the truth about the numbers of cases and numbers of death. As you have said just earlier in this program, it's now well above 700 as opposed to the number he gave.
But I'm very concerned after listening to this press conference about the complete lack of specifics and clarity.
I've spent the last two days -- ten days meeting with public health directors in Connecticut, hospital administrators and doctors, local officials who are saying, there is an inadequate -- completely inadequate number of tests. That's the only way to track the rate and route of this disease, and also the CDC guidelines are overly rigid and restrictive because they deny testing to many of the people who have symptoms because they had no contact.
And as you pointed out earlier, again, on this show, the rate of incubation all point to the need for larger number of tests.
BURNETT: So, when you hear the numbers that Alex Azar again put out there, the HHS secretary, and he said 2 million tests out there now. There'd be 4 million by the end of the week. Now, Larry Summers, the former treasury secretary, of course, compares that to the U.S. population and says it's de minimis.
But when you look at, you know, even your state -- does that provide, when you look at that, what you would need to test people who whether the CDC or hospitals or private doctors would think are at risk?
BLUMENTHAL: We have no idea, nor does any specific state, the numbers of tests that will be coming to us. But, plainly, if you just do the math, it's going to be well below the number that are needed. And the number of people already tested in Connecticut, there are three confirmed cases so far, is about 50 in total, which is well below what's needed.
And so, I think there's a need for more facts. Facts defeat fear. And denial and deception are not a strategy on the economy as well, where the president was very vague about what he's actually going to announce tomorrow, but a payroll tax cut is not going to help the real Americans who are suffering as opposed to the reassurance that he's trying to provide --
BURNETT: Would you support him in that if that is what he asks for, though, as one item? Would you support a payroll tax cut?
BLUMENTHAL: What's really necessary is a paid medical leave policy. That's what will help people who have to stay home, whether they are sick or quarantined as well as adequate insurance coverage, food security, other specific measures that will help real Americans.
BURNETT: So, a health care worker suspected and later confirmed to have coronavirus in New Hampshire attended an event at Dartmouth with students, even though this person had been told to stay at home. By the way, they had been tested and they ended up having coronavirus and they went out in that interim time period.
In Missouri, the father of a presumptive positive case attended a school function after he was told to isolate himself.
What can the government do when someone is put in a mandatory isolation or mandatory quarantine, what tools do you have to enforce it so people are scared and do what they're told and don't put others at risk?
BLUMENTHAL: The kinds of declarations of emergency that some governors have used like New York and the state of Washington provide for powers to close schools, at least temporarily, to take other police power measures that may be necessary. I know that other governors are considering doing the same.
Ultimately, there has to be a federal strategy and plan. None has been provided and ultimately, public health depends on public trust, telling the American people the truth that, in fact, the numbers will increase, perhaps soar, and we are in an economic whirlwind. We need to prepare better for it.
BURNETT: You know, they have said, the CDC and doctors, that the population at risk are older Americans. The average age of a sitting senator right now is 63 years old. There have been raised a question of contingencies, and shutting down Capitol Hill.
Sixty-five of a hundred senators are 60 or older, including yourself. I know this is something that everybody is thinking of what to do. Nancy Pelosi says today she does not think that is a good idea at all, should not shut down Capitol Hill. What do you think?
BLUMENTHAL: I think we ought to listen to the medical professionals. We have really qualified medical staff that assists the Senate. If they tell us that we're at risk down the line, so be it. We should act appropriately.
We're going to be in this crisis for some time. And it may be months. The numbers are going to increase. We may be at risk as well.
BURNETT: All right. I appreciate your time, Senator Blumenthal. Appreciate it. Thanks.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, the cruise ship that had confirmed cases of coronavirus on board now docked in California. Now, some passengers are being evacuated. But not all. And one person still stuck on that ship is OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: Breaking news, you are looking at live pictures of passengers disembarking the Grand Princess cruise ship, the 3,500 people on board have been in limbo since last week, floating off the California coast for days after 21 people aboard tested positive for the coronavirus.
OUTFRONT now is Debbi Loftus, joining us from her room on the Grand Princess cruise ship. She was vacationing on the cruise with her parents.
Debbi, so we spoke on Friday. At that time, you had very little information about what would happen on the ship. There were 21 people who tested positive out of about 40 some odd who were tested.
Vice President Pence is now saying you and other non-California residents will disembark tomorrow. Have you heard that from the captain? Do you know that to be the case?
DEBBI LOFTUS, AMERICAN QUARANINTED ON GRAND PRINCESS CRUISE: You know, it will be either probably tomorrow or the next day, hopefully not after that. Right now, things are going really slow. But they think they're going to get more efficient to getting people off the boat. They just started taking off Canadian passengers and sick passengers.
BURNETT: OK. So, after you get off, you're going to be quarantined. Have you been told anything about that process, where, and when, and how long?
LOFTUS: They'll be either going to a base in Texas or Georgia, and it will be for 14 more days. I was concerned it would be like a barracks. But it sounds like it's going to be a little bit more accommodation, so we're a lot less nervous about where we are going.
BURNETT: Are you aware of any other testing that has been done on the ship. I mean, obviously, you know, we know the close quarters and obviously the crew are working hard to keep themselves safe and 19 of the 21 who tested positive were crew members. Are you aware of anybody who has been tested since those tests came back on Friday?
LOFTUS: I am not a ware of any passengers that have been tested. I have a crew member friend and she said there's some more crew that are sick.
BURNETT: So, have you had any concern? I mean, Debbi, you know, I know your situation is tough, right? You are where you are, you can't leave. But you have been on that ship I know for 17 days. Do you worry about you know infection, even just as you what it to get off? Because you know you're stuck in that same place with everyone else?
LOFTUS: Well, we're all in our rooms still, out on our balconies. We have plenty of fresh air. We have to wear masks now when anybody knocks on the door. So -- and when we leave the ship, we will all be wearing masks.
So I think we're pretty safe going -- we are getting to where we're going to be going.
BURNETT: And now, your parents I know are in their 80s. And, obviously, in the highest risk group when you think about things like coronavirus, Debbi. Do you know where they are going next and how are they feeling? I know they had to get their medications and everything to make sure they had enough.
LOFTUS: Yes, we are expecting our medications tomorrow, because ours weren't urgent medical needs. My parents are nervous just because of their age and because of the -- my mother's asthma. But we feel very healthy and we're just praying that we weren't exposed.
BURNETT: And will they be going to the same place that you are going? Or are you unsure of that? You had mentioned Texas or Georgia.
LOFTUS: Right. Well, we are both from Wisconsin. So, we assume we're going to be going to the same place. But no, we haven't been told. We did an alert to service passenger deck to let them know that we are traveling together and they said they would do their best.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Debbi, I appreciate your time so much. I hope that next time we hear from you, it will be you are off the ship and safely in your quarantine. Thank you so very much.
LOFTUS: Yes. Thank you, Erin. Bye-bye.
BURNETT: All right. Bye-bye, and thanks very much to all of you for joining us.
"AC360" starts right now.