Return to Transcripts main page


Schools in New York Containment Zone Closed For Two Weeks as a Result of Coronavirus Pandemic; President Trump Proposes Eliminating Payroll Tax Through End of Year; Former Vice President Joe Biden Closes in on Democratic Nomination. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 11, 2020 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: This morning the National Guard has set up a one-mile containment zone around New Rochelle, which is outside New York City. The area is the focal point of a coronavirus cluster outbreak with at least 108 confirmed cases. Schools inside that containment zone will be closed for two weeks starting today. Joining me now is Laura Feijoo, the superintendent of New Rochelle schools, and Amy Moselhi; the president of the New Rochelle school board. I think we're talking what? About 6,000 students? Nod if I have that right.

LAURA FEIJOO, SUPERINTENDENT, NEW ROCHELLE SCHOOLS: We have about 5,500 students out of school today.

BERMAN: Fifty five hundred students out of school today, superintendent. And what do you think parents are going to do? How are parents going to handle this?

FEIJOO: I think it's going to be a challenge for some parents. Some parents are able to have their kids home and for others, they're going to be trying to find child care. We've set up a place where families can come and get food today at two different locations. I sent that e- mail out last night and a message. I think for some, it's going to be a bit of a challenge to keep kids home for two weeks.

BERMAN: And Amy, what's going to happen in the schools during this break?

AMY MOSELHI, PRESIDENT, NEW ROCHELLE SCHOOL BOARD: So, it is our understanding that the National Guard wants to come into the schools and clean the schools thoroughly, and we appreciate any assistance that we can get. Although the city school district of New Rochelle is very prepared to keep our own facilities clean, we have top of the line cleaning products and cleaning techniques, including the protaxis(ph) machine which creates a mist -- an ionized mist over all of our products.

And we've been really well ahead of the curve, both technologically and physically in terms of cleaning our own facilities.

BERMAN: So, Amy, you know, we all know kids. What's to keep the kids who were kept out of school, these schools inside the containment zone from interacting with other kids whose schools are still open?

MOSELHI: Actually, nothing. There are many students inside the containment zone that attend schools outside of the containment zone. And so if we understood the governor's plan correctly, he was not trying to actually isolate or segregate individuals, but rather contain facilities. And it was his idea that with advice from the CDC, that if we could contain the facilities in that area and clean them very thoroughly for two weeks, that we could more likely than not contain the spread of this virus.

BERMAN: And superintendent, I have to say, I don't live too far from you, guys, and I feel for you. And I know that everyone in the county who lives nearby is checking their e-mail every day for updates about what's going to happen in our school district. So superintendent, how convinced are you that the learning is going to continue? How will it continue over the next two weeks?

FEIJOO: So, we are providing students with chrome books starting today to be able to access information and content. We know in the short-term, students have assignments and projects and reading that they can do. That's a natural part of the course they would normally do. We're going to be sending out more information to students by grade level.

But let me just say, it doesn't replace a teacher in the classroom and an interaction in a school day. It certainly is something we can do to compensate for the time and keep kids' minds active and keep them busy at home doing things that we will certainly evaluate when they come back. But there's nothing that replaces the interaction between a teacher and students each and every day.

BERMAN: Superintendent, in your heart of hearts, do you think you're going to reopen in two weeks?


FEIJOO: I do believe in those school buildings will reopen. I cannot predict what will happen outside of what I know right now. Certainly, other cases could erupt or this could help to contain it. We're taking this on a day-by-day basis, and we're hoping for the best, and hope it clears out of here.

BERMAN: I know how hard you both have been working over the last couple of weeks. This is a really tough situation. There are no perfect answers, it's going to be hard on the entire community. I wish you the best of luck and I do appreciate your time. I also know it's not just about the schools, right? A lot of these kids are getting their meals inside the school. So, it's really a social fabric that's being tested and we'll be tested over the next several days. So, again --

MOSELHI: Absolutely.

FEIJOO: Absolutely --

BERMAN: We wish you the best going forward. MOSELHI: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

FEIJOO: Thank you so much.

MOSELHI: Thank you very much.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: All right, John, the White House is proposing eliminating the payroll tax through the end of the year to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus. Is throwing money at this problem the answer? Senator Angus King has some strong thoughts about this, next.



CAMEROTA: President Trump has proposed an emergency tax relief package to help the economy that includes eliminating payroll taxes through the end of the year. That's being met with some bipartisan opposition. The White House has yet to explain how they plan to pay for it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you going to get a trillion dollars from?

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: You know, let us put the proposal out in concrete details and flesh that out, and we'll have much better answers. Right now, I want to stay in my lane, and I think the health story, the coronavirus story is very important here.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now to talk about all this is independent Senator Angus King --

SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): Good morning!

CAMEROTA: Of Maine. Good morning, senator. You just heard Larry Kudlow there. He admits that the payroll tax cuts is not a fully baked plan. But what do you think of the concept of that in general right now?

KING: I don't think it's the right concept. It's a broad-based sort of shotgun solution. I think we should be much more focused on people who are -- whose livelihoods and ability to pay their rent is being affected by this. So, something like emergency family leave because millions of Americans don't have any family leave. If they have to go home for two weeks, they lose two weeks of pay.

And that's going to encourage them to go to work which perhaps in their community, in their situation isn't the right thing. So, I would much rather see a more narrowly focused program to help those -- we just -- you heard from the school district about people with child -- essentially emergency child care needs. That's where I think we should be focusing and a holiday on the payroll tax is not -- is going to help some of those people, but it's going to help a lot of other people who really aren't at dangerous risk. So --

CAMEROTA: And is that $8 million?

KING: Not to mention costing --

CAMEROTA: That Congress passed more focused. Is that -- does it go to things like emergency family leave like you're talking about?

KING: That -- no. What was passed two weeks ago focuses exclusively on the virus. It's for things like development of vaccines and community health situations. It's focused on the virus, it's not focused on the people whose livelihoods are being affected by this -- by this contagion. And so, we're talking about a separate kind of program.

But I don't think a -- you know, a broad-based repeal of the payroll tax is really the right answer, not to mention as being unbelievably expensive. I thought that it was very interesting Mr. Kudlow didn't give an answer to that. The estimates I've heard from $800 billion to a trillion dollars on top of already a trillion-dollar deficit. This is a good example, by the way, Alisyn, that we shouldn't have been cutting taxes in the middle of economic growth and adding to the deficit.

We should have been paying it down because now that we really need some additional spending and additional tax relief in the middle of an economic -- serious economic problem, you know, we've used up a lot of our slack. So --

CAMEROTA: Yes, for a rainy day. I mean, the rainy day --

KING: Yes --

CAMEROTA: Fund that is now here. But it sounded like Larry Kudlow didn't have an answer to how it was going to work.

KING: Well, I don't know whether he didn't have an answer or he didn't want to provide the answer, but either way, everybody knows is going to be unbelievably expensive. And again, if you're going to allocate the taxpayers' dollars, it ought to be targeted in a way that will actually address the problem at hand, which is individuals who are being impacted by this small businesses who are being impacted rather than a broad base that, you know, is going to help some people and not really focus the need -- focus on the real need.

CAMEROTA: Very quickly, are you getting enough information out of the White House and Vice President Pence's task force?

KING: Well, I found the best place to go for information is a very good website called, and I would recommend to all of your viewers, that's the best place to go to get really straight information. I've not been very happy because of the mixed messages coming from the White House. It's going to go away. It's we're only going to have 15 cases, it's not a big deal. It is a big deal.

And I think if there's a fundamental problem with the reaction of the administration, it's been more of a focus on the stock market and the economy than on the disease. And my experience with emergencies, and I had to deal with a big one when I was governor of Maine is, people want to be reassured. But they also want the facts. And to me, the best economic plan right now is to -- is to beat this disease.

Is to control it and to control its spread so it doesn't get to a catastrophic proportions, and that means doing things like limiting public contact. I just literally five minutes ago got off the phone with the governor of Maine. She said, you know, and I agree, for a politician not shaking hands is a hard thing. And she said I haven't shaken a hand in two weeks. We've got to -- we've go to be thinking about those kinds of things that will really control and mitigate this disease rather than worrying about, you know, what the stock market is doing.


CAMEROTA: Well, Vice President Pence said he's going to continue to shake hands. I don't know if you've heard that quote. But that he's not going to be changing that --

KING: Well, see, that's a mistake. I mean, that's the wrong example because this thing spreads by personal contact. And Vice President Pence of all people ought to know that. And that's one of my problems with the reaction of -- the president says I'm not going to be tested, and I'm going to shake hands, and he's shaking hands with all these people, one of whom apparently had been exposed. So, come on.

There's a kind of common set of common sense things that we need to be doing, and one of them is not having physical contact. I did a lot of elbow bumps yesterday with people. And it seems silly and it's a little awkward, but that's the way we're going to have to contain this. If we don't contain it in a limited way by limiting that kind of contact, we're going to end up like Italy with, you know, the whole country in lockdown.

And that, again, the best way to deal with this and to deal with the effects on the economy is to beat the disease and do it promptly, but it's not going to happen just by business as usual.

CAMEROTA: I know you're trying to accomplish other business as usual.

KING: Yes, we are --

CAMEROTA: In the capital. And one of those things is protecting the U.S. from cyber attacks. You're part of a commission, today, you're releasing a --

KING: Yes --

CAMEROTA: Report as I understand it, one of the headlines that grabbed my attention from that report, "our country has lost hundreds of billions of dollars to nation state sponsored intellectual property thefts using cyber espionage. What do we need to know and do, senator?

KING: Well, what we need to know is that we're under attack. You know, we're under attack right at this very moment. Our financial system, they're hitting the electric grid. I talked to a utility executive, they get hit 3 million times a day, Alisyn, by people trying to break into their system. Now, they're able to fend that off. But that gives you an idea of the level of the attack.

Billions of dollars of intellectual property theft taking plans. If you look at the picture of the new Chinese fighter jet, it looks an awful lot like the F-35 which is the one that we've developed a great extent over the past 10 or 15 years. So, there's -- not to mention elections. We haven't even mentioned elections, theft of personal data, the risk to your bank account. We're at a very dangerous place.

And this is a commission that was created by Congress about a year ago, and we've been working totally bipartisan, no partisanship whatsoever on this commission. Four members of Congress, four members from the executive and six members from the private sector.


KING: We've come up with 75 recommendations to defend the country and we need to get on it because -- here, I put it really simply.

CAMEROTA: Yes, quickly --

KING: We want to be -- we want to be the 9/11 Commission without 9/11.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that is --

KING: We want to --

CAMEROTA: That gets our attention, senator --

KING: That's it.


KING: That's it --

CAMEROTA: Have the report before the attack, and so, obviously everybody --

KING: Yes --

CAMEROTA: Needs to pay attention to this -- those numbers that you're citing are staggering in terms of the electoral grid being hit, 3 million --

KING: Right --

CAMEROTA: An attempt, 3 million times a day. Senator Angus King, we always appreciate having you on, thank you very much for being --

KING: Thank you, Alisyn.

BERMAN: Right, new information, new questions this morning on the impact of coronavirus on the elderly. We have the crucial new warnings, next.




MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The risks of contracting the coronavirus to the average American remains low. But for senior citizens, with serious underlying chronic health conditions, the potential for serious consequences is very real.


BERMAN: That's Vice President Mike Pence emphasizing that the elderly, especially those with pre-existing conditions are at the highest risk from the coronavirus. And it's a very real risk. Joining me now is Dr. Sean Morrison, Chair of the Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icon School of Medicine at Mount Sinai here in New York. Dr. Morrison, thank you so much for being with us.


BERMAN: The very first question is just -- but why? Do we know why the elderly are at such risk here?

MORRISON: I wish I had an answer for you, and we just don't know. We know a lot about this virus, and there is a lot we don't know. We know is that most people will develop mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. And there's a small group that are going to develop severe symptoms and there's going to be a smaller group that are at very high risk for death.

And it appears that, that smaller group is both the elderly and those with serious underlying medical conditions.

BERMAN: So if you are elderly and if you have serious medical conditions, pay attention because you are at a genuine --


BERMAN: Risk here. So there are many questions that I know you're getting. You provided us with some of these questions. So, I actually just want to ask you, the --


BERMAN: Older people, they go to the doctor a lot, they need to go to the doctor a lot --

MORRISON: Absolutely -- BERMAN: That's one of the reasons they leave their house. Should they



BERMAN: Be going to the doctor?

MORRISON: So, what we're telling our patients is the following. First of all, if it's a routine check-up and you feel well, and it's just to check in to see how your health is, postpone it. It probably doesn't need to happen right now. However, if you have an underlying medical condition that requires routine follow-up, call your doctor first.

Because often times, that can be done over the telephone, it can be done over video in some situations, or it may require you to come in. And if you have something going on, that's acute, that you don't know about, it's new symptoms, that's the reason to call your doctor and seek medical attention.

BERMAN: In general, how much should you be going out or not --


BERMAN: If you're 75 or older?

MORRISON: That's the other question I get is, should you be going out? And the answer is within reason. I would avoid crowded public places. I would avoid public transportation if you can. But for some people, you just can't. And in that case, take the less-crowded subway car. Take the less-crowded bus. Limit yourself to your immediate neighborhood. I wouldn't fly unless I absolutely had to.


And if I got on an airplane, I would take alcohol wipes and wipe down my tray table, wipe down my arm rest before I sit down. And as Dr. Fauci(ph) said at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, I'd avoid cruise ships right now.

BERMAN: Yes, now then there are questions, I think for people in our age --


BERMAN: Cohort, right, what do we do? How do we interact with our parents -- first, let's just talk about nursing homes --


BERMAN: Or assisted living which is the most extreme condition. I know, there are some advisories now.

MORRISON: Yes, and I think it's important to distinguish between nursing homes and assisted living.

BERMAN: OK -- MORRISON: Nursing homes have put in very rigid standards through most

of the country now to limit visitors. And I think that's appropriate.

BERMAN: So, you don't bring it in.

MORRISON: You don't bring it in. The best thing that we can do for this disease is to prevent older adults from getting it. So, don't bring it into areas where we know that everybody is at high risk. That's nursing homes. Assisted living is a little bit different because in most assisted living, that's like somebody visiting an apartment.

And again, what I would recommend, limit visitors and do what we all should be doing, which is washing our hands, really frequently. Don't shake hands. Please don't shake hands. Disinfect often. Stay home if you're ill. Don't have visitors, if they have a cough, shortness of breath, fever, sore throat, and check the CDC regularly to find out if there are new guidelines because this is evolving every single day.

BERMAN: And then when we're talking about just people with older parents who sometimes we visit or sometimes we have --


BERMAN: Come visit. What should the thought process there be?

MORRISON: Again, let's be reasonable. One of the real threats to being an older adult in this country is social isolation. We -- as we age, we often lose our friends, family, travels, lives far away, and being isolated is a real risk. So, don't cut your parents off completely. When you go to visit, wash your hands really well. When you come in, when you leave. Make sure, again, you disinfect everything that's high touch. If you have a cough, if you have a sore throat, if you have a fever, don't visit.

BERMAN: Or if you live in an area where you think there might be an outbreak --


BERMAN: Close enough --

MORRISON: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Look, I live in Westchester, so this is something I care deeply about right now --


BERMAN: Something that I'm going through right now. And just in terms of symptoms, I know, it's allergy season practically --


BERMAN: I mean, about -- it's about to be spring for God's sakes, so we're dealing with this. So, what should you look for in yourself if you're older?

MORRISON: Again, the three major symptoms that we've seen in this illness, sore throat, cough, fever. Those are the three things you should be really looking at, and if you have any of those, stay home, and don't infect anybody else.

BERMAN: All right, Dr. Sean Morrison, I have to say, this has been hugely helpful. And I think people have a lot of anxiety, that in itself can be unhealthy --

MORRISON: Absolutely.

BERMAN: So, get the answers, ask the questions and get the answers from people like you. We appreciate you coming in and helping us.

MORRISON: Pleasure, thanks for having me.

BERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: Great conversation.

BERMAN: Look, let's be honest, I mean, this is something that we're both dealing with every day --

CAMEROTA: Oh, you and I are learning something every morning.

BERMAN: I mean, this one is for me, this one is -- I know there are people watching, this was a conversation I needed the answers to right now. Thank you to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM", Max Foster is next. For our U.S. viewers, the coronavirus pandemic has hit a new milestone, NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the U.S. continues to increase.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): New Rochelle is probably the largest cluster in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The National Guard deployed.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When people need a test, they can get a test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need widespread and free coronavirus testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden is stretching his lead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be at a part where Joe Biden will be the prohibitive nominee of the party.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are very substantive differences between Joe Biden and myself.

BIDEN: We share a common goal, and together we'll defeat Donald Trump.


CAMEROTA: And good morning, everyone, welcome to your NEW DAY, it is Wednesday, March 11th, 8:00 in the east. We begin with two huge stories, first, Joe Biden is closing in on the Democratic nomination. The former vice president had decisive victories in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho. Bernie Sanders is ahead right now in North Dakota. Sanders needed a big win in Washington State.

But so far, it is a virtual tie with the votes still being counted. An adviser to Sanders says that he has a decision to make about his path forward today. Joe Biden struck a tone of unity last night.


BIDEN: We need you, we want you, and there is a place in our campaign for each of you. And I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion. We share a common goal, and together, we'll defeat Donald Trump. We'll defeat him together.



CAMEROTA: Here's the latest delegate-count, this could change this hour. Joe Biden has 787, Bernie Sanders trails with 647.