Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Comments On Growing Coronavirus Cases In The U.S.; New York Deploying National Guard To Largest Cluster In Nation; More U.S. Schools And Colleges Closing Amid Outbreak. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 10, 2020 - 14:00   ET




QUESTION: Mr. President, Republican senators yesterday, they seemed rather skeptical of this. They weren't sure that they wanted to do it on a payroll tax holiday. How do you convince them? Is that the right approach?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I was just with the Republican senators, and there was -- they were just about all there, mostly all there -- and there's a great feeling about doing a lot of things. And that's one of the things we talked about.

QUESTION: And what about the ideas proposed by Nancy Pelosi? It raised some --

TRUMP: Well, we're going to see. They came in very chopped up. A lot of them are things that she wanted to get for other things, and we're looking at the people. We're looking at solving this problem.

Also, some very good numbers coming out of some countries where it started earlier. And we're seeing some fairly good numbers come out of those countries -- that's a good thing -- including China.

And they've released numbers, and we've gotten some numbers from China that look pretty promising. So we'll be able to further report.


QUESTION: Mr. President, why not get tested yourself? I mean, you've interacted with Matt Gaetz and Doug Collins last week?

TRUMP: Well, I don't think it's a big deal. I would do it. I don't feel that -- any reason. I feel extremely good. I feel very good. But I guess it's not a big deal to get tested, and it's something I would do.

But again, I spoke to the White House doctor -- terrific guy, talented guy -- he said he sees no reason to do it. There's no symptoms, no anything.

QUESTION: Out of an abundance of --

TRUMP: And we're prepared, and we're doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.

We want to protect our shipping industry, our cruise industry, cruise ships. We want to protect our airline industry -- very important. But everybody has to be vigilant and has to be careful.

But be calm. It's really working out. And a lot of good things are going to happen. The consumer is ready, and the consumer is so powerful in our country with what we've done with tax cuts and regulation cuts and all of those things. The consumer has never been in a better position than they are right now.

So a lot of good things are going to happen. Thank you very much, everybody.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right. So you have been listening to President Trump there speaking on Capitol Hill answering the question, the Great question came from our own senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, asking the President of the United States as he has been around certain people who have been around certain people who have tested positive for coronavirus.

And the key question to the President of the United States is, you know, sir, are you getting tested for coronavirus? And let me just look down at my notes. He says -- this is the President, "I don't think it's a big deal. It is something I would do." And then he said he spoke with the White House doctor and the White House doctor says, he has no reason to do it.

Let's start there. Elizabeth Cohen is our senior medical correspondent here at CNN and I mean when I hear -- so many Americans want these tests, right?

I mean, there is a dearth of testing and that is that the big problem, but when they hear the President of the United States saying, I don't think it's a big deal. Is that the right message?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What I heard him say, Brooke was that he didn't think it was -- and maybe I misunderstood him was that he was saying it wasn't a big deal for him, that he felt like he didn't -- getting the test, it wasn't a big deal. He wasn't going to get it, right.

BALDWIN: That's correct.

COHEN: And his doctor said, hey, you don't need to get it. And I will say, Brooke that actually, just moments ago, I got off the phone with an Infectious Disease expert at a major Academic Research Hospital, and she said that in her hospital, even if you've been possibly exposed, even if you just got off a plane from Italy, if you don't have symptoms, they don't want to test you.

If you're not sick, they don't want to test you even if you might have been exposed as perhaps the President was since he was, you know, with other people who now may, you know, maybe have been exposed. So what he's saying actually jives with what doctors are telling me.

BALDWIN: Okay, Elizabeth, let me ask you to stand by because the story, you know, leading this hour is this new, really Ground Zero right now and in New York City suburb, New Rochelle, New York is turning into this hotspot for the virus with 108 cases of coronavirus.

In Westchester County right now, the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that he is deploying the National Guard. Their mission: Setting up a one mile containment zone in New Rochelle to try to contain the virus.

Large facilities, houses of worship, schools in the containment area, we're told will be shut down for the next two weeks.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We'll go in, we'll clean the schools and assess the situation.

This will be a period of disruption for the local community.

This is not your normal pattern, right? It's not a shotgun pattern of disparate cases. This is a true geographic clusters.

This is literally a matter of life and death.


BALDWIN: Governor Cuomo saying that this is likely the largest cluster of cases in the United States. Let's go back to Elizabeth Cohen on what's happening in New Rochelle.

So this is the largest cluster in America.


BALDWIN: What's being done? You know, we just talked about testing a second ago -- is there adequate testing for these folks? It's my understanding this is around a synagogue that's been the focus of the initial cases. Is that correct?

COHEN: Right. So a gentleman in his 50s, an attorney who lives in New Rochelle, which is in Westchester County, just north of New York City, but works in New York City. He's in his 50s, and he has some kind of an underlying medical condition that made him more vulnerable to getting sick from this coronavirus, because many people who get infected don't really feel all that sick at all, or maybe not sick, even in the slightest, but this gentleman did.

So he was identified and now there are other cases that have followed from him. And so, you know, Infectious Disease experts and epidemiologists tell me what New York is doing is very smart. They're getting in there and they're trying to attack this in a kind of a large scale way. The way this has been dealt with previously was much more, okay, we

will quarantine his wife, we will quarantine his daughters, maybe quarantine, you know, the people that he works with.

And I think that's been shown to perhaps not have worked so well, because -- it worked, I mean, to some extent. It was useful, but obviously that tactic did not contain the virus.

BALDWIN: Initially, we've covered so much of Washington State, right, that was the epicenter, and now we see how it's grown within the State of New York. And I'm just wondering, you know, the most aggressive measure I've heard about thus far is now deploying the National Guard.

Do you know what their role will be?

COHEN: We're told that what we're -- well, first, let's talk about what their role will not be. Because I think when you hear the National Guard you think police action. And so it's important to say that what we've been hearing from New York is not police action. It is not as if they've drawn a circle around the City of New Rochelle and you can't come in and you can't leave. That's not what it is.

What it is, is that the National Guard will be offering assistance in getting food in and out of there if people need that, in cleaning schools, because that seems to be needed. So really sort of help with logistics, help with transporting what needs to be transported, so not a police action.

BALDWIN: Got it. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much for all of that. Let's just broaden all of this out as the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow, so to do the disruptions to American life.

Fifty days since the first case was confirmed in the United States, there are now at least 734 cases and 26 deaths. At least 15 states have declared a state of emergency to help contain the spread of the virus.

And for those not affected, the impact of the virus is affecting daily lives. Public schools are closing. Universities are moving classes online. Harvard and Ohio State just joined the growing list of campuses canceling classes because of coronavirus.

Workplaces emptying out his company's direct staff to work from home which includes the SEC, which has now become the first Federal agency to do so after one of its employees may have gotten the coronavirus.

Also, a huge festival, South by Southwest has had to layoff approximately a third of its fulltime staff after the City of Austin Texas canceled the event.

You have game show staples like "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" will continue on, but no live audiences. Pro-sports leagues are banning media and non-essential personnel from locker rooms.

The NCAA has just announced that March Madness will go on as planned, but will make changes as deemed necessary. And in Santa Clara, California, they have now become the first county

in the United States to ban public gatherings of a thousand people or more, putting into question the future of home games for sports teams there.

The list as we mentioned a second ago of the U.S. colleges and universities now being impacted by the coronavirus is growing. You have public and private campuses like Cal Berkeley, Harvard, in the process of moving all classes online.

But this could pose to be a problem for some students who may not actually have internet access or strong connections at home. Brian Fung is our CNN tech reporter and he's with me now.

And Brian, you know, not everyone is fortunate enough to have that kind of, you know, Wi-Fi away from the classroom. So how are schools planning to address that?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Yes. So this is a major challenge for schools all around the country, as they think about how to preserve some semblance of normalcy for these millions of children who still have to learn to read, write and do math on a daily basis.

You know, how do you -- how do you preserve that normalcies for people? And you know what some schools have done, it's really interesting. Technology has in some ways made it easier for schools to continue that regular routine, some ways it's made it harder.

You know, schools in Washington State have begun using PowerPoint presentations and video recordings to help guide students through you know, the normal lesson plans.

I spoke to one teacher in Washington State who said she spent the last 40 hours over the weekend designing, you know, these video lessons for her kids.

And the hardest thing for her was, you know, just trying to figure out how to be as funny on video, on camera, as she normally is in the classroom.

But, you know, another challenge, as you mentioned, this access to broadband that could hinder a lot of students who don't have internet access at home.


FUNG: And I spoke to one teacher, one college Professor in Tennessee, who said, you know, she's really concerned if her school moves toward online learning, that, you know, she has students who don't have -- who only have internet access when the trees are bare, because their students -- those students only have internet access via satellite, which relies on sort of direct connection with satellites orbiting the Earth.

And so you know, schools all around the country are really trying to figure out how to grapple with this problem. Some schools in Washington State have said, you know, if you're

lacking internet access or lacking access to computing devices, we will provide that for you.

But some policymakers say that's not enough and that the Federal government has to get involved to subsidize some of these purchases of new Wi-Fi hotspots or new computing devices for students.

BALDWIN: So many challenges. I mean, you could just add to the list. My own sister-in-law teaches a bunch of kindergarteners with dyslexia and is having to learn how to teach them you know, remotely in Atlanta.

So it's like all of this is happening with regard to classrooms and teachers and students, Brian, thank you very much. And then of course, the other piece of this is music festivals, large gatherings, the coronavirus impact is also causing issues just for the entertainment industry. Two popular TV game shows are making changes.


ANNOUNCER: This is "Jeopardy."


BALDWIN: There will be no studio audiences at the taping of "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune." Sources close to the show tell CNN that this will go on -- this is their word -- indefinitely.

Bands like Pearl Jam are slashing tour dates on Twitter. The group explained the decision by writing, "Having no examples of our national health department's ability to get ahead of this, we have no reason to believe that it will be under control in the coming weeks."

Coachella's three-day Music Fest set to take place next month has now been postponed until likely the fall. That's according to two sources who talked to us here at CNN.

I mentioned a second ago, the South by Southwest festival in Austin has already been cancelled. Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor at "Rolling Stone" Magazine is with me now.

And my goodness. I mean, I have so many questions for you. Let's just start with --

ANTHONY DECURTIS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE: I think everybody has questions. That's the issue with all of this.

BALDWIN: There's so many unknowns, right?

DECURTIS: Completely.

BALDWIN: So take Pearl Jam. I mean, I was hoping to catch them at the Garden this spring.

DECURTIS: Yes. BALDWIN: Pearl Jam -- explain -- it's not just the band. It's the road

crew. It's the folks at the venue. Like how many people --

DECURTIS: It is an entire infrastructure that surrounds a tour of a band like Pearl Jam, you know, and all of that has been impacted, not to mention all of the venues and all of the people who bought tickets and all of the people who made plans around these shows.

And, you know, they haven't rescheduled, but, you know, talking about Coachella in the fall, that's just a way of saying, sometime in the future, you know, because nobody knows what the fall is going to look like.

That's -- you know, I'll be talking --

BALDWIN: You mean, you feel like they're just sort of having to say we're postponing because some people want to go, but they can't even really definitively say.

DECURTIS: Yes. Right. Yes. Because no one knows. You know, there's this sense of -- we're talking about something that is going to affect us for weeks, for months, you know, out beyond that.

You know, things are changing so rapidly. You know, even as we do a piece like this, we feel like by the end of it, there's going to be more news about, you know, more developments of more people canceling and postponing and trying to take some action to get a grip on a situation that you know people largely don't understand.

BALDWIN: How many years have you been covering music?



DECURTIS: Yes, yes, yes.

BALDWIN: Many years.

DECURTIS: Thirty five, I can say that.

BALDWIN: Is there -- have you -- could you think of any other example of this kind of thing?

DECURTIS: No. No, no.

BALDWIN: In your past?

DECURTIS: Certainly not. You know, 9/11 obviously had an impact.


DECURTIS: You know, after that, you know people were thinking of, you know, when will it make some sense and you know, what are the dangers and you know, clearly after the attack at, you know, in Manchester --

BALDWIN: Manchester.


BALDWIN: Arianna Grande.

DECURTIS: Those things -- you know, I remember taking my daughter who is 14 to see Katy Perry at Madison Square Garden and the place is lined with police officers with machine guns and you just go, well, I guess this is the way things are now.

And I think, you know, this is the kind of thing that people were afraid of, but, you know, I just -- I feel like we're going to see more of this.

BALDWIN: And even there's the smaller bands. I was reading a quote from a singer-guitarist from an Indi Group who was planning on playing at South By and you know it's like --

DECURTIS: Oh my God.

BALDWIN: They were planning on playing maybe a dozen gigs and they said that would have helped them versus like a month of touring and just quickly --

DECURTIS: Bands save for weeks and months to go to South By, you know, that's one of the fun things about it, like the kind of new bands.

And that's an impact that's harder to measure, you know, with clubs, small bands, you know, what happens to those people?


BALDWIN: Yes. Anthony deCurtis of "Rolling Stone." Thank you.

DECURTIS: My pleasure.

BALDWIN: Thank you. What can you do to protect yourself from getting coronavirus? A medical expert will join me to answer your questions about travel, about attending these large events, keeping things clean, whether some measures are just going too far.

And the Trump administration floating a payroll tax cut and other stimulus options to help some of these industries and workers who are suffering, but what will ultimately make it through Congress?

You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.




TRUMP: I don't think it's a big deal. I would do it. I don't feel that -- any reason -- I feel extremely good. I feel very good. But I guess it's not a big deal to get tested and it's something I would do, but again, I spoke to the White House doctor, terrific guy, talented guy. He said he sees no reason to do. There's no symptoms, no anything.

And you know what? If there were, you people would be the first to know it. You would -- you would maybe even tell me about it.


BALDWIN: That was President Trump just a second ago saying that he doesn't think he needs a coronavirus test because he isn't showing symptoms.

He was asked because of his contact over the last couple of days with Republican congressmen who unknowingly did meet with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

So let me bring in the doctor. Dr. Carlos Del Rio is a Professor of Medicine and Global Health at Emory University. He is also the Director of Emory Center for AIDS Research.

So Dr. Del Rio. Welcome back, sir. And let me just get your thoughts and what the President is saying. He is not showing symptoms, even though he has been around someone who was around someone who did test positive, should he get tested?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND GLOBAL HEALTH, EMORY UNIVERSITY: You know, I agree with the President. If he has no symptoms, there's no reason to test to test him. The tests -- this test, like any test has false positives and false negatives. And the probability of a test showing a false positive result depends on what we call the prevalence of disease.

So you're -- if you're unlikely to have a disease and you get a test, the likelihood that the tests -- a positive test that could be a false positive increases.

So without symptoms, I don't think people need to be tested. And I want to say this is not just for the President of the United States, but I want to say for everybody.


DEL RIO: This test is not a test that you need to have unless there's a medical indication for it, and if the White House doctor says you're fine, you don't have any symptoms, you don't need to be tested. I agree with the White House doctor.

BALDWIN: What about self-quarantining? Because I think people are confused over that, too. You know, if you've been in contact, you're sort of two degrees away from someone who does have coronavirus. Should you quarantine whether it's the President of the United States or someone else?

DEL RIO: You know, that's another good question. I think if you're two degrees away, probably the chances of you having to quarantine are zero.

But if you were like in close contact with somebody recently infected, that's a different story. So I think, I would take it, you know, each one has to be looked at a different way and people in public health are better to tell you which -- who needs to be quarantined and who not.

And that's why we have public health experts doing the contract tracing of cases to decide what to do.

BALDWIN: All right. Dr. Del Rio, let me get to our viewer questions because they're an inquisitive bunch and they have several, so the first question from the viewers, is this -- can you get coronavirus -- presumably if you're going out to dinner or even picking up some food at the grocery store -- can you get coronavirus through food or food prep? What precautions should be taken, if any?

DEL RIO: You're going to get food poisoning. You're not going to get coronavirus, so, you know we all want to eat healthy food. We all want to be eating non-contaminated food.

Food poisoning and food related illnesses are the most common Infectious Diseases that we see in our country. They're very common and there are all sorts of causes of them both bacterial, fungal, viral, and yes, food need to be prepared in a sterile way, in a way that is not contaminated.

But that's because it's going to free us from other GI bugs, but not of coronavirus.

BALDWIN: Okay, question two from the viewers. Is it best to drive or fly within the U.S. to minimize the risk of contracting the coronavirus?

DEL RIO: Well, you're probably better off driving by yourself in your car to not contract the coronavirus. But at the same time, you've got to think that when you're driving, you have a risk of an accident and when you think about the risk of death or serious injury, you're much better off flying than driving.

BALDWIN: Question three, are cities in warmer weather less susceptible to the spread of coronavirus?

DEL RIO: So that's something that I don't know the answer to yet, but we're all very curious about and it may be that indeed, if that's the case, but we don't know yet. I think it's something that over time we're going to know.

Other coronaviruses, other respiratory viruses, tend to be less likely to impact warmer cities.

BALDWIN: Last question, a person wants to know if I have a weakened immune system, should I cancel my travel plans?

DEL RIO: If you have -- it depends what a weakened immune system is. But if you have a weakened immune system, you're at risk of many diseases including influenza.

And I think, you know, I would be careful about my travel not just because of coronavirus, but because of multiple other things.

And again, knowing exactly what that weakness of the immune system is going to be very important.

BALDWIN: Dr. Carlos Del Rio, I appreciate you very much. I know our viewers do, too.

DEL RIO: Good being with you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you, and to all of you watching, I know you have a lot of questions. Send them our way. Also CNN's new podcast has the answers. Join Dr. Sanjay Gupta for "Coronavirus: Fact Versus Fiction." You can listen to wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

A stunning admission from the latest -- excuse me -- from the nation's leading health official, the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is telling CNN that he isn't sure how many Americans have been tested.



BALDWIN: Washington State is the epicenter of this coronavirus outbreak in the United States with 180 cases and 22 deaths.